There are many different variations of shuffleboard rules but for this article, we will be talking about the largest of them all. This very traditional shuffleboard is played on a 52’ long playing surface with 6” pucks and 6’ long cues. It’s most popular on cruise ships and retirement homes but we hope to see more of it everywhere. It’s a great way to get outside and get active in the sun. Add in a little competitive spirit and you will see why this game has been around for decades.
We’ll go through the basics to get you started.
Object Of The Game
To win, you must score more points than your opponent. To do this you send your pucks along the “board” with your cue or tang. The ends of the board are painted sections each having their own point values – smaller sections are worth more. Once both players have shot all eight pucks (4 each) then the points are tallied.
Basic Rules For Beginners
The most important shuffleboard rules to keep in mind are when throwing and when scoring. When it’s your turn to shoot, keep your feet behind the baseline of the scoring zones. Your cue and hand may pass but not your feet. When it’s time to add up the scores the pucks must be fully within a scoring zone. Anything on the line does not count or counts to the lower score. If you’re on the line of the “10 off” section then only 5 points should be deducted.
Get set up, do a coin toss to see who goes first and get scoring!
To play this version of shuffleboard you will need:
- Cues or tangs
- 8 pucks
- Outdoor shuffleboard court
Bonus tip: You could use sidewalk chalk and play on any cement or asphalt as long as it’s smooth enough.
The winner will be determined by either the first player to get to 75 points or the player with the most points after 10 rounds – points get counted at the end of each round. A puck is scoring if it is entirely within that scoring zone. On the line counts as out or the lower point value (pretty harsh, right?).
There are not many penalties to worry about but the biggest one is the “10 off” section on the scoring board. If your puck is in this area then 10 points are subtracted from your score (ouch!). You lose your turn if you cross the baseline while shooting, shoot your puck off the board or shoot the wrong puck.
Learning The Shuffleboard Lingo
Puck or Biscuit – The round disk used to slide along the playing surface – and hopefully score points with!
Hanger – This describes a puck that is not fully on the board. A puck hanging can be worth more points. More commonly used in table shuffleboard.
Hammer – If a player ‘has the hammer’ then they are shooting the last puck in that round. This is advantageous and determined by the scoring of the previous round. Whoever scores the most in a round goes first in the next round and gives the hammer to their opponent.
Tang – Otherwise known as a cue, this is used to propel your puck down the board and (hopefully) into a scoring area. Tangs are a maximum of 6’ 3” long but can be shorter according to game rules.
Variations Of Shuffleboard
Most games of shuffleboard have some things in common – here are some of the most popular versions.
One of the most common shuffleboard games, this is used widely on all types of shuffleboard tables and courts. In knock-off shuffleboard, only one player may score points per round. If your puck is closest to the end of the playing surface then all your pucks score. The only pucks that score are if they are ahead of your opponent’s pucks after all eight pucks have been shot. This is also seen in curling.
When playing one on one horse collar shuffleboard, you stand at the opposite end of the table as your opponent. When playing in teams then teammates stand on the same end. This is where you’ll shoot from for the whole game. You throw all 4 of your pucks, one after another, then add up your points. When it’s your opponent’s turn they will do the same. The first to 51 points wins.
Tap & Draw
This is a tricky variation as it requires a soft touch: the purpose is to not hit any other pucks in play and still be the puck that is furthest down the board. You may tap your puck to improve its position but if you knock it off, it stays off. If you knock an opponent’s puck off then it gets replaced on the playing surface and your puck is removed from play.
Triangle is the traditional outdoor shuffleboard scoring system. The scoring triangles on the playing surface are shaped in a large triangle with the highest score being at the tip, closest to the shooter. There are also “10 off” sections. If your puck lands in this penalty zone then 10 points will be taken off your score.
Frequently Asked Questions
To score in shuffleboard your pucks must be entirely within a target area at the end of the round. If a puck is on the line between two scoring zones then it will count as the lower number. If it’s on the line of being out of the scoring section then it counts as zero points.
The winning score in shuffleboard will depend on what shuffleboard rules you are playing by. In traditional shuffleboard, the score to win is 51. You can also play a total of ten rounds and then whichever player has the higher score is the winner.
Points cancel out in shuffleboard when playing on a shuffleboard table. This style of play is called “knock off”. Only the pucks closest to the end of the table count and for only one player. If you have 3 pucks on the board but only two of them are the closest and there is an opponent puck that is third nearest then that opponent puck cancels out your third scoring puck. Only the two that are closest to the end of the board will count in these table shuffleboard rules.
Yes, there are two foul lines in shuffleboard. It is the baseline of the scoring triangle. Your feet should never cross this line when shooting. Just like in bowling. If you violate this rule then you lose your turn and your puck is removed from play. The foul line on a shuffleboard table is also the baseline but it’s your shoulder that cannot cross.
Shuffleboard is said to have been invented in the country of England, in the United Kingdom. This is where the early shuffleboard table was first invented. The triangle version was invented much later in Daytona Beach, FL. From there it has gained widespread popularity in retirement homes and cruise ships.
No need to wait until you’re retired to play shuffleboard! It’s a great way to get outside and be sociable with friends and family. Whichever shuffleboard rules you abide by will all be fun and well worth it – do a coin toss to see who goes first and get playing. Even make up your own game rules if you think of a different way to play shuffleboard. It’s all in the name of fun and games.