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Jai Alai Tips

Items to consider when wagering on Jai Alai

This is a basic overall view of some of the important points in understanding Jai Alai.

1. Playing and Scoring. There are 8 teams in each game. Some games are singles games (one man on each team), others are double games (two men on each team). To begin play Team 1 serves the ball to Team 2. The pelota (ball) is volleyed back and forth until a point is won. The winner of the first point serves the ball to Team 3 and so on. Each time a team wins a point, they are awarded one point in the first round of play. Points double after Team 8 gets up the first time. The team reaching 7 points first (9 points in some games) is the winner. Points are won when:

  • the pelota is over served
  • thepelota is under served
  • the pelota is thrown out of bounds
  • the team fails to return the pelota
  • the pelota is juggled in the cesta (basket)

The ball must be caught on the fly or first bounce and may touch the floor only once. All three walls are in play - the red is out of bounds. Players often attempt to end a point by placing the ball so it cannot be returned off the Front or Back walls.

2. Placement. In Jai-Alai placement is just as important as power. Better players are able to return the Pelota close to the wall near the back corner putting the opposition on the defensive. Weaker returns near the center of the court provide offensive opportunities for the opposing Frontcourt player. In doubles, generally, the Backcourt man plays defense and the Frontcourt plays offense.

3. The Serve. Each point is started by serving the pelota (ball). The server must bounce the ball behind the serving line, and, with the cesta, hurl the ball directly to the front wall so that upon rebound it will bounce between lines No. 4 and 7. If it does not, it is an under or over serve and the other team will receive the point.

4. Interference. Like handball or squash, Jai-Alai players share the court with the opposition. If a player blocks another's line to the ball on the catch or to the wall on the return, the judges may rule interference if they deem that the ball was "playable".

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