How is Jai-Alai Played?

Basic Objective of the Game of Jai-Alai

Individual players or teams (if doubles games) alternate catching and throwing the ball back and forth until a point is won.  The basic objective of the game of Jai-Alai is to throw the ball in a way that makes it so difficult for your opponent to catch and return the ball that they fail. Your opponent must catch the ball either before or right after the ball’s first bounce on the floor.  You must also strive to keep the ball within the playing area or you will lose the point, so in a way, it’s much like tennis in that respect. Only 2 singles game players or two 2-person teams are on the court at one time playing each other (called a “match-up”).

Serving the Ball

To begin the serve, the serving player must make the ball bounce behind the “serving line” and then hurl it with the cesta towards the front wall.  When it rebounds, it should bounce between the lines 4 and 7 on the floor (marked areas on the playing court and side wall for under-serve and over-serve lines).  If it bounces outside this area, it’s an under-serve or an over-serve, and your opponent will score a point.  Note:  if the serve hits the side wall FIRST, it’s an illegal serve (two-wall serve or carom serve) and the serving team loses the point.  Note:  In a doubles game, the front court player of the team being served to may elect to catch the serve after the serve rebounds off the wall (before the bounce).

Spectacular 7 (or 9) Scoring System

Jai-Alai is typically played in a Round-Robin Rotation fashion, with 8-Post Numbers participating (8-two person teams or 8-single players). The winner of a point gets to stay on the court and face the next opponent, while the losing opponent goes to the end of the line waiting for their next chance to enter the game.  So the game starts like this, with the winning point values worth 1-point during the first round:

Post #1 serves Post #2, the point winner stays on court, loser goes to end of line (behind #8).

The winner serves Post #3, the winner stays on court, loser goes to end of the line

The winner serves the #4-team, the winner stays on court, loser goes to end of the line

This rotation continues like this, with winner serving, until Post #8 has had their first chance to play

Then, after this first round of play, the winning point values are worth 2-points and the game continues on with the same Round-Robin Rotation until a Post is the first to reach or exceed 7-points (for a 7-point game) or 9-points (for the 9-point superfecta games).  This is referred to as the Spectacular 7 (or 9) Scoring System.

Note: After each point of the game, points are accumulating on the scoreboard (or on your video display of the game) and you can see points and the rotation sequence for all 8-Posts.

When the game winner is determined, the Post # with the second largest number of points finishes second and the Post # with the third largest number of points gets third.  In the Spectacular 9 superfecta game, the Post # with the fourth largest number of points gets the fourth spot on the superfecta ticket.   Should there be ties on points for any of the remaining positions (second, third, and even fourth in the case of a Superfecta game), playoffs are carried out according to specific rules for the particular scenario (see “Rules of the Jai-Alai Game” for more info).

Copyright 2020