What are the rules of 8 ball?

Pool Cue Guide
Written by Geekimo

Pool 8 Ball Rules


While playing pool, it is important that you are focused, knowledgeable, consistent and have a good hand-eye coordination. Moreover, your ability to strategize and patiently wait for the right opportunity also adds up to you being a good pool player.

8 ball is famous among pool players and is challenging for its strategy skills. It is a call shot game meaning you have to tell which ball you are intending to hit or pocket. The game is played with 15 object balls and one cue ball. To win the game, the players must pocket all the balls from their chosen group and then pocket the eight ball.

It helps you improve your strategy skills and is beneficial for the learners and professionals alike. Now we’ll talk about the rules that can guide you through a 8 balls game.

When starting the play, there are different ways to determine who will break the rack. But mostly flipping a coin is done to decide the breaker is preferred in international games.

  • Racking the balls: the pool balls are arranged in a triangle with ball numbered 8 in the middle and having one stripe and solid ball at each one of the bottom corners of the triangle.
  • Break shot: the breaker needs to open the game with a break shot that is legal and if he fails to do so then the opponent can either accept the positions of the balls on the table as they are or he can ask for a re-break or do it by himself.

The cue ball should be placed behind the kitchen. If the breaker stops or interrupts the course of the ball, then the opponent will get ball-in-hand behind the kitchen (head string) .

What is a legal break shot?

A break shot is legal when the breaker either pockets an object ball or makes four-object ball hit the cushion.

What does ball in hand mean?

Ball in hand behind the kitchen means that the player can shoot the ball anywhere from behind the kitchen.

Players can not hit an object ball behind the head string unless they hit the cue ball then the cue ball makes a shot that in return hits a ball behind the kitchen.

  • Open table: the table is open after the break shot. Now the players need to decide either they want to go for stripes or solids. This is determined by the first ball they pocket. This doesn’t include the ball pocketed during the break shot.

What are stripes and solids?

Balls numbered from 1-7 are called solids while the balls numbered from 9-15 are stripes.

Why choose a group?

In order to win the game, it is essential to pocket all balls from your selected group before pocketing the 8 ball.


After the game has finally started then each player needs to call shots before their turn. If the players do not call out their shots then it’s a foul shot. The opponent always retains the right to know which ball and pocket is intended during the call shot.

  • If the players misses his intended ball and scores a ball from the opponent’s group then the ball remains pocketed and the game continues but if the players fails to pocket a ball from his selected group then he lost his turn and the opportunity goes to his opponent.

The players are not obliged to explain the course of their shots such as the number of caroms, banks, cushions etc.

  • It is clear that the table is always open after the bank shot and the player making the bank shot can continue with the next shot if he has pocketed an object ball successfully. Also it is important to know that object ball pocketed during the break shot doesn’t determine the group of the shooter. The group is always determined during the open table AFTER the breaking shot.


Playing rules

Following are the rules that you should follow while playing 8 balls:

  • In order to avoid foul penalty after the break shot and open table, it is important to continue making legal shots.

What is a legal shot?

For a shot to count legal, first you must hit a ball from your group which in return hits a numbered ball. If not this, then either your cue ball or a numbered ball must hit the rail.

What is a foul penalty?

If you make a foul shot then your opponent will get a ball in hand. Unlike the ball in hand during break shot, the player can place the cue ball anywhere on the table either by using his hands or the tip of his cue sticks. Foul shots include pocketing the cue ball or knocking it off the ball, not shooting with one foot touching the ground, calling someone to coach you etc.

  • If a player pockets a ball from his group then he will play until he misses his intended ball.

This rule excludes the safety shot.

What is a safety shot?

Sometimes players intentionally choose to pocket a ball that’s obvious and doesn’t bring him any benefit at that time. When he wishes to do so, he must announce that he is going for a safety shot before taking the shot. All the balls either from the shooter’s group it from the opponent’s group remain pocketed and the game moves forward.

  • The numbered 8 ball can not be used to make a combination shot unless it’s during a break shot.

What is a combination shot?

Through this shot, the shooter hits one or more than one object ball before hitting his intended object ball.

Losing the game: there are many ways to lose an 8 ball game such as:

  • If a player pockets an 8 ball without intending to do so then he loses the game. This excludes the open break shot.
  • After pocketing all the balls from your group, you must get the 8 ball inside your marked pocket and if it ends up in an unmarked pocket then you’ve lost the game.







About the author


Self Professed Geek , into all kinds of tech including search engine optimization , Computer networks and more. I love playing pool ( eight ball , nine ball and snooker) I own my own pool table a play daily. I love to try out new pool cues and accessories. read my review of actual pool cue i have used and use often.