Table Shuffleboard Scoring Rules in a Nutshell9 min read

Everybody loves to win – whether it’s at a game of Monopoly or in indoor table shuffleboard. Even if you’re not a serious shuffleboard player, you can’t deny that there’s a certain euphoric feeling about winning a game. However, it’s important to understand the shuffleboard scoring rules so you can ensure a fair game and that the rightful team wins. That’s what you’ll discover in this post along with some useful instructions on how to keep score.

Overview of Table Shuffleboard Rules

Understanding the basic rules of shuffleboard will give you a better foundation to learning the scoring rules because the two are interrelated. You can’t truly understand one without learning the other. So take a look at a brief overview of the game rules before you can learn how to keep score:

  • Table shuffleboard involves eight shuffleboard pucks, which are sometimes known as weights. These pucks typically come in two different colors per set – one color for each team. At each round, players will shoot all eight of these pucks to try and score.
  • Players need to slide the weights across the table instead of bouncing them or throwing them in the air.
  • You can play shuffleboard between two people or four players divided into two teams. The two teams will take alternate turns in shooting their pucks.
  • Your weights should pass the foul line to be considered a valid shot.
  • The main goal of the game is to get your pucks as close to the end of the table as possible.
  • You will decide on a winning score before starting the game. Most games are played to 15 or 21 points, but you can have shorter or longer games depending on how much time you have. Whichever team manages to reach this score first wins.

How to Keep Score in Table Shuffleboard

The basic table shuffleboard scoring rules are pretty straightforward. As mentioned earlier, one team has to reach a certain predetermined point to win. Where the puck manages to land in the scoring area will determine how much score a team gets while calculating the score at the end of the frame. There are three sections within the scoring area:

  • The 3-point area that’s closest to the edge is worth 3 points
  • The 2-point area in the short middle section is worth 2 points
  • The 1-point area in the long middle sections is worth 1 point
  • If the shuffleboard puck lands in between the lines of a section, the lower point total is scored. i.e. If the puck lands between section 1 & 2, then 1, it is worth 1 point

The following diagram will give you a better idea of how these zones are divided.

Besides this, you can also score 4 points if your puck hangs off the edge of the table without falling into the gutter. This is called scoring a hanger. If your puck ends up into the gutter, however, you won’t score any points. There is also a house rule that you can score 5 points or 10 points if the puck hangs off the corner edge of the table.

It’s easy to go too hard and end up with zero points when you had aimed to score 3 points, especially when playing on shorter tables. So a lot of players try to play it safe and have their weight land in the 1-point area rather than risk going off the edge.

Counting the scores is where the shuffleboard scoring rules get a bit complicated. You can’t just add up all the points that each player manages to score during one round. Instead, only the team whose puck is farthest down the table at the end of the round will get to score points for that round.

Even then, not all of their pucks will manage to score a point. You’ll have to consider only those pucks that landed farther than the opponent’s. This means that if your opponent’s puck is right behind your farthest puck, you’ll only end up with 3 points for the whole round unless you threw a hanger. In this case, you’ll only score 4 points for the whole round.

Check out the following diagram to understand this rule better. Here, you can see five pucks with the red team getting the farthest shot. This means that the red team gets to score for this round. However, it doesn’t mean they will score a total of 6 points for getting one puck in zone 3, one in zone 2, and one in zone 1.

Instead, they will only score points for the pucks in zones 3 and 2 because the blue team’s pucks managed to land farther than the puck in zone 1. So their total points for this round would be 5 points.

Keeping Score in Shuffleboard Using a Scoring Abacus

While you may simply add up the scores in your head during a casual game, recording your score properly will give you more accuracy. You would typically use a scoring abacus for this, and there are a lot of shuffleboard tables that come with pre-installed scoring beads. Some players also prefer to use an electronic scoring system.

It’s fairly easy to use a scoring abacus to keep score in shuffleboard. There will be one at each end of the table for each team to keep their team score. The scoring team just needs to slide across the number of beads equivalent to the number of points scored at the end of each round. So for instance, you will slide across 3 beads to one side if you scored 3 points for that round. If you scored a single point in that round, you would slide across just one bead.

Different Shuffleboard Scoring Rules for Different Types of Games

Some shuffleboard players like to mix things up a bit and play variations of the game. Some would even use their shuffleboard tables to play shuffleboard bowling. These variations will have slight differences in scoring rules. For instance, the basic shuffleboard scoring rules we’ve just discussed would be used in Knock Off Shuffleboard. Once you get these rules down pat, you can also try the following variations:

  • Target Shuffleboard – In Target Shuffleboard, players try to land their pucks within a target area to score points, just like with target games such as darts and archery. Other than that, all the rules are similar to basic shuffleboard. Players can score up to 4 points for each shot.
  • Horse Collar Shuffleboard – This variation of shuffleboard is all about scoring. The winning team or player has to score 51 points or more. So if you want to play a high-scoring game, this is an excellent option.
  • Tap and Draw Shuffleboard – In Tap and Draw Shuffleboard, players will attempt to nudge their pucks closer to the edge by hitting them with other pucks. It takes a lot of skill to do this without pushing your pucks off the edge, so it’s typically a game for expert shuffleboard players. If you’re playing this game like a Horse Collar, you need to score 51 points to win.

    However, the game does not end just because one team has scored 51 points. It only ends after the player or team that’s shooting last takes their last turn. In case both teams score more than 51 points, whichever team has a higher score wins.
  • Crazy Eights Shuffleboard – Crazy Eights is a fun way to play shuffleboard and is suitable for all skill levels. In this variation, you can have two or more players and each player gets to use all eight pucks. Players need to score a predetermined winning score in order to win. However, every player must have taken their turn at that frame before the game can end.

    So just because one player reaches the winning score doesn’t mean the game is complete. At the end of the frame, the player who manages to score the highest point that’s equal to or more than the predetermined winning score wins the game. You can read our previous blog post on how to play crazy eights to learn more about the rules.

Best Types of Shots for Scoring and Defense

It takes some skill to become a great shuffleboard player and stand a better chance at winning. You can take your shuffleboard skills to the next level by learning a few scoring shots and defensive shots. These shots will help you add to your point total or protect it so you can win. Let’s take a look:

  • Free Shot – This refers to the basic shot in which you try to get your pucks down the table and land it in one of the scoring zones.
  • Hanger Shot – As mentioned earlier, a hanger shot is when your weight hangs off the edge of the table without falling into the gutter. Scoring a hanger is a great way to rack up points in shuffleboard because it’s worth 4 points.
  • Spin Out Shot – This shot is pretty much self-explanatory. It involves getting some spin on your puck so that it goes around other pucks that are blocking its path to score a higher point.
  • Guided Shot – This shot gets its name because it involves using the rail of the shuffleboard table to guide your puck and land it exactly where you want it. Some players would also call this riding the rail or shooting the rail, as explained in our shuffleboard glossary list.
  • Knock Off/Smash Shot – This shot is a great way to get your opponent out of scoring position. It involves sliding your weight as hard as you can so that it knocks theirs out of the way.
  • Guard Shot – A guard shot involves strategically placing your weights so that you can protect the point-scoring weights from being knocked off by your opponent.

What’s Next?

After understanding the basics of shuffleboard scoring rules, you can brush up your skills by practicing the different types of shots we’ve discussed. You can even try out the other variations of the game if you’re bored of the usual. If you want to become better at shuffleboard, you need a lot of practice like with any other game. So make sure you check out our previous resources to learn more about the game.

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