Shuffleboard Rules: All the Basics You Wanted to Know

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Last updatedLast updated: July 03, 2021
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Shuffleboard is a game that has been around for a good long time. Researchers aren’t quite sure how long it has been around, but most agree that it has been in existence for about 500 to 600 years. This game originally began in Europe long ago and has been continuously enjoyed ever since.

It is, however, a game that not a lot of people know how to play. Though it shares features with more normalized games such as croquet, billiards, and air hockey, shuffleboard rules are a bit different. This game has a lot of different interpretations and rules that you will need to know so that you can play it correctly. While this might sound like a daunting task, don’t worry! We have taken the time to lay it all out for you so that you can get right to it!

General table shuffleboard rules

In this section, we will go through the basic rules that are similar for each different type of shuffleboard game. This section is also focused on indoor shuffleboard rules.

Number of players

Shuffleboard can be played with either two players (singles) or four players (doubles). When playing with two players, they both move from either side of the table to play the pucks. With four players, two of the opposing players are on one side while the other players on the opposite side.

Shuffleboard Rules: All the Basics You Wanted to Know


The objective of shuffleboard is to move colored disks, or pucks/biscuits, down the court with their hand. The players attempt to get their disks into different slots that have different point values until one player has 15 or 21 points.


Shuffleboard Rules: All the Basics You Wanted to KnowThe pucks are laid out at one end of the gameboard. The board is separated into three different scoring zones, which are labeled with a 3, 2, or 1 on a table like this one from Fairview Game Rooms. On others, like this one from Playcraft, the zones might be numbered up to 4.

Who goes first?

For the first round of play, the person who goes first is usually decided by a coin toss. After that, the player that wins the previous round gets to go first. During each round, the players alternate turns.


Shuffleboard Rules: All the Basics You Wanted to KnowDepending on the variation that you choose to play, scoring can vary a bit. In the most common games, however, scoring is based on who has their pucks the farthest. For instance, if one player has their puck in the 2 zones, while the other player’s pucks only reached the 2, only the first player’s points would be counted.

Who wins?

Usually, games are played to either 15 or 21 points. The player that reaches this point total first is the winner. Players need to get to these point totals exactly.


Penalties can be incurred if a player shoots their puck off the board or not far enough. These will usually result in 5 points being removed from their score.

Outdoor shuffleboard rules

Outdoor shuffleboard rules are generally the same as on an indoor set, with a few distinct differences. These include the scoring system and the way the pucks are played. On an outdoor court, the disks are usually played with a cue, which is a stick with a flat or curved end for pushing the disks. The scoring system is in a triangle rather than lines, with each section counted as a different point total.

Shuffleboard variations rules

As we mentioned previously, there are several different ways to play shuffleboard. In this section, we will go through the most popular variations.

Knock Off

This is the most popular variation of shuffleboard. This game has the players vying to see who can shoot their pucks the furthest into the point sections. The player who goes second is referred to as the hammer and has the option of knocking the first player’s pucks out to score points in their own right.

Horse Collar

Horse collar shuffleboard is a much higher scoring affair. While a standard game is usually only played to 21 points, a game of horse collar needs to be played to 51 points. Not only that, but the player that gets to this point total needs to have the last shot in the round. This makes for an exciting and very strategic game to play with singles or doubles.

Tap & Draw

Tap and Draw are very similar to other forms of shuffleboard, with one big difference. While you need to always use your hands to shoot your pucks in most other games, in this version, you can actually use one of your pucks to shoot another one. This adds a bit more zip to the shots, which makes it easier to send them further.

Crazy eight

Crazy eight is a great version of shuffleboard to share with new players. This game is played one on one, with each player at either end of the board. The game is played until an agreed-upon score is met or surpassed, which removes some of the strategies. Each player also gets to play all 8 pucks at a time, which makes it much easier to keep track of the score and whose turn it is.


Do points cancel out in shuffleboard?


How much space do you need for a shuffleboard table?

Points do not cancel out in shuffleboard. Points are only awarded to the player that has their pucks the furthest on the board.

Do you have to score exactly 21 points?

Depending on the style of game you are playing, the official shuffleboard rules dictate that you need to score exactly 21 points. This means that you need to make sure that you make good shots and plan your moves carefully.

What is different in official shuffleboard rules?

Depending on the version of the game that you decide to play, the scoring system, point totals needed, and where the players get to stand can be different. You need to make sure that you understand the rules before you begin to avoid any confusion.

Final thoughts

Shuffleboard is a very old game. As such, it should come as too big of a surprise that there are a lot of different sets of shuffleboard rules out there. Depending on the version of the game you choose to play, you might need to change where players stand, how many points are needed to win, or who gets to go first for each round.

These rules can also differ quite a bit if you are playing on an outdoor or indoor set as well. No matter what, the most important thing to remember when you are playing shuffleboard is to enjoy yourself. After all, that is what a game like this is all about!

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