Three-ball (or "3-ball", colloquially) is a folk game of pool played with any three standard pool object balls and cue ball . The game is frequently gambled upon (typically for a twenty dollars (or equivalent) ante per round ). The goal is to pocket (pot) the three object balls in as few shots as possible. Theoretically, any number of players can participate, in rotation , but more than five can become unwieldy. The game involves a somewhat more significant amount of luck than either nine-ball or eight-ball , because of the disproportionate value of pocketing balls on the break shot and increased difficulty of doing so. In some areas and subcultures, such as the Asian-American youth-dominated pool hall scene of San Francisco, California, three-ball is a popular local tournament game .