Learning how to play shuffleboard can be as easy as pushing a disk across a table. While there are variants on this ancient game, each is simple to pick up and well worth a go. It’s perfect for casual play in a pub or long afternoons outside – and we’ve put together a guide to shuffleboard to make the learning process easier than ever before.
Below you’ll find all the basics of how to play table shuffleboard and how to play shuffleboard outside. Once you’ve read up on the rules, try out a few more of our tabletop tutorials – we can teach you how to play chess like a pro, Scrabble strategy, and how to play Backgammon for beginners.
How to play Shuffleboard outside
Deck Shuffleboard can be played outside or inside, but it’s the main variant you’ll come across during outdoor play.
It’s played on the floor, with a court that’s typically 52 feet long and ten feet wide. On either end is painted a triangle-shaped scoring section. The top of the triangle is marked “ten”, behind that is a section labelled “eight”, then “seven”, and then a “ten off” penalty zone. The eight, seven and ten off sections are split by a central line.
Past the scoring section is a six-foot zone for players to stand in. Here they’ll use a cue stick to push disks across the court.
You’ll play in two teams, each of which gets eight disks of contrasting colors and stands at opposite ends of the court. The game is designed for two to four people. To decide which team goes first, we recommend flipping a coin.
Start the game
Each team takes turns pushing a disk across the court with their sticks. The aim is to push a disc into the highest-scoring section of the court possible (and, if you’re feeling strategic, to knock other disks into more favorable positions as well). It must be fully within the section’s lines to count, and if another disk knocks it out, that disk will no longer score those points.
Once all disks have been played, scoring commences. In the next round, the starting team swaps. In some games, it’s customary to swap the end of the court you were playing at, too.
A disk scores the points written on the section of the triangle it stops in. This includes the ten off section, which deducts ten points from a team’s score. You will also lose ten points if any disks were pushed out of the court.
Any disks that didn’t reach the scoring zones aren’t counted. The first team to reach 75 points wins – and if both teams reach 75 in the same round of scoring, the team with the highest points overall wins.
How to play Table Shuffleboard
Table Shuffleboard is an indoor activity played on a long, narrow table.
First, split your group into two teams. The recommended group size is four players (two for each team), but you can also play a game one-on-one. Each team gets four disks to play with, so we’d argue you can play with up to eight players – as long as your teammates don’t mind a bit more standing around.
Once you’ve decided which team is going first, everyone needs to stand at the same end of the table. Have all your disks with you – you’ll typically be able to tell which belongs to what team by their color.
Start the game
Teams take turns sliding one of their disks across the table. There’s a specific line your disk must cross to score points, and crossing subsequent lines (getting closer to the far end of the table) will score higher points. If your disk falls off the table’s side or ends, it won’t count towards scoring at all.
A round continues until all disks have been played.
The team whose disk was pushed the furthest is the only one to score for the round. Any disk belonging to the winning team that is further than the furthest disk pushed by the opposing team counts towards the score. A disk must fully cross a line in order to score for a section.
The first team to score 15 points wins the game. Alternatively, for a longer game, you can play up to 21 points.
JD Lasica’s photograph has been cropped for this article.