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March 2000 - Published by the British Association of Pool Table Operators



The Game


Requirements of the Game


Object of the Game


Commencement of the Game




Penalty Following a Foul


Loss of Game







1. The Game [back to top]

The game shall be known as 8 Ball Pool and referred to in these rules as "the game". It is intended that players and teams should play 8 Ball Pool in the true spirit of the game and in a sportsmanlike manner. It should be clearly understood that the referee is the sole judge of what is fair and unfair play. The referee will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that these rules are observed.

2. Requirements of the Game[back to top]

The game is played on a rectangle 6-pocket table with 15 balls, plus a cue ball. Balls comprise two groups, represented by two different coloured balls plus the 8 ball which is black. Alternatively, numerical balls may be used numbered 1-7, which are plain coloured balls and 9-15, which are striped coloured balls. Balls in the two groups are known as object balls.

3. Object of the Game [back to top]

The player or team pocketing their group of object balls first in any order and then legally pocketing the 8 ball (black), wins the game.

4. Commencement of the Game (or re-start) [back to top]

(a) The balls are racked as illustrated with the 8 ball (black) on the 8 ball spot, which is at the intersection of the centre and corner pockets.
(b) Order of play is determined by the flip of a coin. The winner of the flip has the option of breaking or requesting his/her opponent to do so.
(c) The opening player plays at the triangle of object balls by striking the cue ball from any position on or within the ‘D’. That player must pot one or more object balls or cause at least two object balls to return to an imaginary line joining the two centre pockets (i.e. to the 'D' half of the table). This constitutes a legal break. The breaking player shall then verbally nominate his/her group of object balls before play continues, even if a foul has been committed when rule 6 will apply (except as in 4 (f)).
(d) Any balls potted prior to groups being nominated are ignored for the purpose of establishing a players' group of object balls.
(e) If a legal break is not achieved the balls are re-racked and the oncoming player restarts the game with one free shot, following which the group must be nominated before continuing with a normal visit to the table.
(f) If the player pockets the 8 ball (black) from the break, the game shall be restarted by the same player. No penalty will be incurred. The balls to be re-racked. This applies even if other balls, including the cue ball, are pocketed as well.
(g) If a ball or balls are legally pocketed, this entitles the player to one additional shot and this continues until the player either:

i) Fails to pocket one of his/her set of allocated balls, or
ii) Commits a foul at any time.

(h) Combination shots are allowed provided that the player hits one of his/her own group of balls first (unless rule 6(b) applies).
(i) A player may legally pocket one or more of their opponents object balls providing the cue ball strikes one of their own group first and providing that one or more of their own group are pocketed on the same shot.

5. Fouls [back to top]

(a) In off (cue ball pocketed).
(b) Hitting opponents’ balls before his/her own ball or balls except when rule 6 (b)applies.
(c) Failing to hit any ball with the cue ball.
(d) Jump shots - defined as when the cue ball jumps over any part of any ball before making contact with any object ball.
(e) If a player hits the 8 ball (black) with the cue ball on the first impact before all his/her own balls have been potted, except where rule 6(b) applies.
(f) Potting any opponents balls except when rule 4(i) or 6(b) applies.
(g) Ball off the table:-

(i) Any object ball or the 8 ball (black) shall be returned to the 8 ball spot (see 4(a)) or as near as possible to that spot without touching any otherball, in a direct line between that spot and the centre of the ‘D’.
(ii) If the cue ball, the ball to be played from any position on or within the ‘D’. A ball shall be deemed off the table if it comes to rest other than on the bed of the table.

(h) If a players clothing or body should touch any ball.
(i) Player not having at least one foot on the floor.
(j) Playing or touching with the cue any other ball other than the cue ball.
(k) Playing out of turn.
(l) Playing before balls have come to rest.
(m) Playing before the ball or balls have been re-spotted.
(n) Striking the cue ball with any part of the cue other than the tip.
(o) Striking the cue ball with the cue more than once.
(p) Playing a shot before the breaking player has nominated a group of object balls following the break shot.
(q) Push stroke (see 8(a)).
(r) Moving an object ball or the 8 ball (black) when playing away from a touching ball.

6. Penalty Following a Foul [back to top]

(a) Following any foul described under section 5 the oncoming player may play the cue ball from where it lies or from the ‘D’ (as in rule 8(b) and proceed as 6(b). Moving the cue ball to the ‘D’ does not constitute a Shot or Visit.
(b) Following a foul, the oncoming player is entitled to one free shot which may be played may without nomination, play the cue ball directly onto any ball, including the opponents object balls and the 8 ball (black). However, the 8 ball (black) may not be pocketed, which would mean loss of the game, unless the player has already pocketed all of their own group of object balls and only needs to pocket the 8 ball (black) to win the game.
(c) Following the single free shot described in 6(a) the player will commence his/her normal visit.

7. Loss of Game [back to top]

(a) If a player pockets the 8 ball (black) before he/she pockets all the balls in his/her own group, except as allowed under rule 4(g), he/she loses the game.
(b) A player going in off the 8 ball (black) when the 8 ball (black) is potted, loses the game.
(c) A player who clearly fails to make any attempt to play a ball of his/her own group will lose the game.
(d) If a player seeks to gain advantage by deliberately touching a moving ball or retrieving a ball dropping into the pocket he/she shall lose the game.

8. General [back to top]

(a) PUSH STROKE - defined as when the tip of the cue remains in contact with the cue ball once it has commenced its forward motion.
(b) CUE BALL IN HAND - when a player has the cue ball in hand he/she plays from any position on or within the ‘D’ and in any direction.
(c) PLAYER IN CONTROL - A player is said to be in control of the table from the time that his/her body, cue or clothing touches the table prior to his/her shot, through his/her visit and up until his/her opponent does likewise prior to his/her visit. Any balls which fall into the pockets during this period (including the 8 ball (black)), he/she is said to have potted and he/she is liable to any penalties or benefits normally awarded to him/her for the potting of that ball or balls as are accorded to him/her in the rules of the game (rule 5(c) applies).
(d) The game is completed when the 8 ball (black) is potted in any pocket and all the remaining balls including the cue ball have come to rest, except where rule 4(f) applies.
(e) TOUCHING BALL - a player must play away from a touching ball which must not move (see rule 5(r)). If the touching ball is one of the players own group, he/she is deemed to have played that ball. If the touching ball is not one of his/her own group the cue ball must strike one of his/her own group. When rule 6(b) applies a player must play away from a touching ball and is deemed to have played that ball.

9. Stalemate [back to top]

Should any situation arise whereby a legal shot cannot be played, then the game shall be restarted by the same player whether this situation is arrived at by accident or design. If in the opinion of the referee neither player is allowing the game to progress or a stalemate situation has arisen, then the game shall be re-started taking into consideration "Guidance (h)".

10. Guidance [back to top]

(a) The term 'Shot' means striking the ball once.
(b) The term ‘visit’ refers to one turn at the table comprising one or a series of shots.
(c) The term ‘break’ refers to the first shot of the game or the first shot of a game being re-started.
(d) Coaching is deemed to be unsportsmanlike behaviour (see rule 1).
(e) A referee may, if requested, advise on the rules of the game.
(f) There is an obligation on both players to ensure the breaking player nominates a group of object balls.
(g) The referee should ensure that excessive time is not taken to play a shot and should act in accordance with competition rules or guidance.
(h) Re-racks as in Rule 9 may be a reduced number of balls in accordance with competition rules or guidance.
(i) In Doubles matches once a player is in control of the table conversation with others including the partner is unsporting and shall be dealt with under competition rules. 

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