The game of shuffleboard has been around for centuries in both forms: table and deck. From its humble beginnings as a tavern game to the organized and standardized sport it is today, shuffleboard has changed quite a bit. Though gaining momentum and popularity in booms and busts throughout the centuries, it was not until the 20th century that shuffleboarding transformed into an official entity with set rules in both varieties
There are several prominent differences between table shuffleboard and deck shuffleboard, but the basics are the same. In each variety, players slide four weighted discs each down slick playing surfaces into scoring zones. Beyond this, however, the two varieties differ greatly in size, game play, and scoring.
Differences in Size
Table shuffleboards can range from 9-22 feet in length. This makes it the more versatile variety, as it can be installed in a home game room, bar, or recreation center. A regulation size board is 22 feet long, which is what you’ll need for shuffleboard tournaments. Smaller sizes are still perfect for casual players, though.
In deck shuffleboard, the playing field is much larger. A standard size deck board is 52 feet long, nearly three times the size of the tournament-sized table shuffleboard. This is why deck shuffleboard is most often played outdoors—it’s simply easier to find the space for it. However, there are places with dedicated indoor deck shuffleboards. One such place is the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club in Florida, which is where the USA National Shuffleboarding Association began in 1931.
Differences in Game Play
The difference in game play is fairly straightforward. In the tabletop game, players use their hands to slide their disc down the playing field. In the deck variety, players push the large weights down the board using a long wooden “cue” specially designed for the game. This makes deck shuffleboard a little more active than the table kind, as players use more upper body strength to play. Still, it requires little physical fitness, which has made it popular among elderly players.
Differences in Scoring
Table shuffleboard and deck shuffleboard are scored quite differently. You can tell simply by looking at the two boards that the shapes and numbers in the scoring zone are different. Here’s what those differences mean and how it affects a player’s game strategy.
At the end of a table shuffleboard, there are three different scoring zones divided by horizontal lines: zones 1, 2, and 3. Throughout the round, players try to get their disc into the furthest zone while trying to knock their opponent’s discs off of the board and out of the running. The player whose weighted disc is closest to the edge of the board wins the points for the round, depending on which zone it is in. A disc that is hanging over the edge without falling is worth four points, however; sometimes players trying to knock off each other’s discs accidentally knock their opponent’s disc into an advantageous spot.
See more on table shuffleboard rules here.
In deck shuffleboard, both players have the opportunity to score points, and there are more scoring zones: 10, 8, 7, and 10 off, which are arranged in a triangle shape pointed toward the players. To earn the points for each zone, a player needs to end the round with their disc completely in that zone (discs on the lines are not counted). The 10 zone is at the point of the triangle closest to the side players shoot from, making it the hardest place to keep a disc for the full round. There i’s also a 10 off zone—if a player’s disc is in this zone at the end of the round, 10 points are subtracted from their score. Players will often try to knock their opponent’s disc into this zone.
Though there are many differences between table shuffleboard and deck shuffleboard, both kinds are a great source of fun for all ages. If you have the chance, try out each version to see which one you prefer. Both varieties have professional leagues and amateur tournaments, so if you are passionate about the game, you can get involved in competitive teams.
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