Sanctioned by the American Poolplayers Association



American Poolplayers Association

8-Ball Rules

Sanctioned by the American Pool League -- THE GOVERNING BODY OF AMATEUR POOL

These are the Official 8-Ball game rules, used by the APA and the Professionals.

1. GENERAL DESCRIPTION -- 8-ball is played with a cue ball and normal rack of fifteen (15) object balls. Balls are racked with the front ball on the foot spot and the 8-ball in the center. The purpose of the game is for one player to pocket the solid colored group of balls numbered 1 to 7 or the striped balls from 9-15. Choice of balls to be pocketed is made by the player pocketing the first ball of the game. A player wins by pocketing all his object balls followed by legally pocketing the 8-ball in a marked pocket.

2. LAG -- Method used to start a match. Players simultaneously shoot a ball from behind the headstring, banking it off the foot rail and back to the head of the table. Striking the side rails or any pocket results in the loss of the lag. The closest ball to the head rail wins. It is permissible to strike the head rain. If the lagged balls make contact with each other, lag over.

3. BREAKING -- "Breaking safe" or soft is not allowed. For a break to be legal, at least four balls must be driven to the rails or a ball must be pocketed. Otherwise, the balls are re-racked and re-broken by the same player. A game not legally broken but resulting in a scratch or foul will be re-racked and broken by the opposite player. The rack must be struck before the a foul can occur. The head ball or the second ball must be struck on the break and the cue ball may not be shot into the rail before the rack. The League Operator may make judgments and issue penalties to teams and players who are not breaking hard. Breaking just hard enough to comply with this rule is not a guarantee against penalties. Break as hard as you can with control.

4. AFTER THE BREAK -- Various circumstances can occur upon completion of the break; they are:

a. -- A foul in the break results in "Ball in hand" behind the headstring and the incoming player has an open table as defined in "5e." The incoming player must shoot any ball outside the headstring. A ball that's dead center or "out" is playable. If it is "in", the ball is not playable. It is up to the opponent to call the cue ball "in" before it is shot. (See Master League Manual for more complete explanation.)

b. -- No balls are pocketed and it is the other player's turn.

c. -- The 8-ball is made, resulting in a win, unless the player scratches.

d. -- One ball is made, it is still the breaker's turn and he continues shooting the category of balls he just made.

e. -- One of each type ball is made. The breaker has his choice of balls He may shoot any ball, except the 8-ball, and each pocketed ball counts. If he makes one of each on his second shot, he still has an open table. If he misses on his second shot, his opponent has an "open table." "Open table" means a player can shoot a combination involving a stripe and a solid and whichever he makes would be his ball.

f. -- If two balls of one type and one ball of the other type are pocketed, it is the shooter's choice just as in "e" above.

5. COMBINATION SHOTS -- Combination shots are legal, but striking the correct ball first is required except in an "open table" situation. The 8-ball is not neutral. A player is credited with all balls he legally pockets. When a player does not pocket one of his balls but pocket's an opponent's ball, he looses his turn. The opponent gets credit for the pocketed ball. No pocketed ball is ever spotted.

6. BALL ON THE FLOOR -- If the 8-ball is knocked on the floor , it is loss of game. Object balls knocked on the floor are spotted. If the spot is taken, the ball is placed on a line directly behind the spot as close as possible. Knocking a ball other than the cue ball on the floor is not a foul. It might occur that a player pockets his ball while simultaneously knocking another ball on the floor. In the situation, it is still his turn and the ball is not spotted until he misses. If the ball on the floor is one of the shooter's balls, it is spotted when the shooter had pocketed all his other balls or misses.

7. POCKETED BALLS -- Balls must remain in a pocket to be legal. If a ball goes in a pocket, but bounces back onto the playing surface, it is not considered pocketed. If it is the 8-ball, it is not considered a win or loss. If it is the cue ball, it is not considered a scratch.

8. ONE FOOT ON THE FLOOR -- While shooting, at least one foot must be on the floor at all times if a bridge stick is available. League management cannot guarantee the presence of bridges and some host locations may not have them. There is no foul - simply stop the shooter and hand him the bridge.


a. -- The opposing player pockets his numerical group and legally pockets the 8-ball.

b. -- A player pockets the 8-ball out of turn or knocks it on the floor.

c. -- A player pockets the 8-ball in the wrong pocket or fails to properly mark the pocket.

d. -- When playing the 8-ball, a player scratches the cue ball.

a. -- A player attempting to shoot the 8-ball but missing it has fouled, resulting in "ball in hand" for his opponent. This is NOT loss of game.

b. -- A game is forfeited if the shooter alters the course of the 8-ball or the cue ball in a game losing situation.

10. FOULS -- If any of the following fouls are committed, the penalty is "ball in hand" for the incoming player. make certain you have "ball in hand" before you touch the cue ball by confirming with your opponent. "Ball in hand" means you are allowed to place the cue ball anywhere on the table (with the exception of fouls on the break which result in "ball in hand" behind the head string) and shoot any of your balls (or the 8, if all your category of balls has been pocketed.) Even after placing the cue ball, a player may, if not satisfied with the placement, make further adjustments with the hand, cue stick or any other piece of equipment. A foul is called only if the player fouls while actually stroking the cue ball, meaning a double hit of the cue ball (sometimes called double clutching). Without this rule, a player could benefit by accidentally or purposely scratching or fouling.

ONLY THE PLAYER OR THE COACH MAY OFFICIALLY CALL A FOUL, although anyone may suggest to the player or the coach that a foul should be called.


a. -- Anytime the cue ball goes in a pocket

b. -- Failure to hit you object ball first. (A player who is shooting stripes must hit a striped ball first.) The shooter has the advantage in these situations unless his opponent has asked an outside party to watch the hit. Protect yourself. If you think your opponent is attempting a shot that could result in a bad shot, get someone to watch the shot before he starts shooting. Teams involved in repeatedly calling bad shots without outside party verification may be subject to penalty points for disruptive unsportsmanlike behavior.

c. -- Failure to hit a rail after contact. A sentence that should answer many questions is: "ANY ball (including the cue ball) must go to a rail AFTER LEGAL contact." A pocketed ball counts as a rail.

d. -- The object ball is "frozen" to a rail and player is contemplating playing a "safety." In order for the "frozen ball" rule to be in effect, the opponent must declare the ball "frozen" and the player should verify. Once it is agreed the ball is "frozen" the player must drive the object ball to another rail(of course, it could hit another ball, which in turn hits a rail) or drive the cue ball to a rail after it touches the object ball. If the latter method of safety is chosen the player should be sure to obviously strike the object ball first. If the cue strikes first or appears to hit both the rail and the ball simultaneously, it is a foul unless either the cue ball or object ball went to some other rail.

e. -- It is a foul to jump a cue ball over another ball by purposely miscuing it up in the air. Accidental miscuing is not a foul unless other rules in this section are violated.

f. -- Anytime the cue ball goes on the floor, or otherwise leaves the playing surface.

g. -- Receiving illegal aid (coaching from person(s) other than the coach) during the match. It is not considered illegal aid to remind a player to mark the 8-ball, or tell a player a foul had occurred. Anyone may do so.

h. -- Causing movement of the cue ball, even accidentally, is a foul. It is not a foul to accidentally move any other balls (including the 8-ball) unless, while shooting, a player moves a ball and in turn strikes the cue ball. Even dropping the chalk on the cue ball is a foul. Any balls moved accidentally during a shot will be replaced by the opponent after the shot is over and all the balls have stopped rolling. If it occurs before the shot, it will be replaced before the shot is taken.

i. -- If the cue ball does not touch anything during a shot.

j. -- Only the player may place the cue ball in a "ball in hand" situation.

k. -- Use caution when placing the cue ball on the table. The cue ball is always "alive" and if it touches another ball, it is a cue ball foul and your opponent has "ball in hand." Be especially careful when placing the cue ball in a tight spot.

12. HOW TO WIN -- A player has won the game when all the balls of his numerical group have been pocketed and he has legally pocketed the 8 in a properly marked pocket without scratching. To properly mark the pocket, a coaster or some other mutually agreed upon marker must be placed next to the pocket the 8-ball is intended to enter. Only one marker may be on the table. If the marker is already at the intended pocket from a previous attempt or game, it is not necessary for the shooter to touch it, pick it up or replace it.

Note: You cannot play the 8-ball while simultaneously playing the last ball of your category. The 8-ball must be a separate shot.