How Croquet Works

Croquet Scoring

The basic rule of croquet scoring – you get a point every time you run a hoop – is pretty simple. But in (fancy pants) croquet, the placement of the hoops, as well as the order and direction the balls must pass through them, is very specific. You don't get a point if your ball goes through the hoop in the wrong direction or the wrong order, or if it doesn't go far enough through the hoop.

On rare occasions (although perhaps less rarely if you're a real pro) your ball may make it through two or more hoops in a single turn, earning a point for each hoop. But efficiency is also a factor, since whoever hits the final peg (and earns the maximum number of available points) first wins. This means the resting position of the ball in regards to the hoop can be as important as whether you've scored that point yet. If the ball doesn't go all the way through the hoop, while you await your next turn it'll be camped out in what could be a hazardous hotspot.

Handicaps are one way to affect a game's scoring and help even the playing field when competitors have different skill levels. To calculate the handicap for a six-hoop, 13-point game, players are ranked on a scale from 0 to 12. The 0s are the strongest players; the 12s are the weakest. For each handicap number, the player gets one extra turn. This system can become a little complicated in games that have more than 13 available points. In a nine-hoop, 19-point game, for instance, the ranking still starts with 0 and ends with 12, but the number of extra strokes varies from 0 to 19.

These bonus strokes, known as bisques, can usually be taken at any time during the game. But sometimes, players can't score points while using a bisque. When that happens, it's typically known as a half bisque. Especially for beginners, these extra shots are best use to get a misfired ball back to a better place on the court, or to set a ball up for a better shot on the next turn. Another possible use, though, is to roquet other players' balls out of the action.