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How to Play 8 Ball – The Rules of the Game

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8-ball pool is an easy game with very basic rules. Here is a quick guide on how to play 8 ball by the rules.

Related: Learn the rules of Cutthroat pool

Let’s Get Started Playing Eight Ball

There are 16 balls in this game. One ball is white, called the cue ball. One ball is black, called the 8-ball. Then there are 14 object balls. Seven of these are solid-colored, each numbered from 1 to 7. Seven are striped balls, each numbered from 9 to 15. One player gets the solid balls and the other player gets the striped balls.

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The object of the game is for each player to hit his respective seven balls into pockets without pocketing the cue ball. After the seven balls are pocketed, the player tries to hit the 8-ball into a pocket. The first player who does this wins the game.

eight ball pool rack on a blue tableSetting Up the Table

First, the pool table has to be set up properly. The cue ball has to be placed on the head spot. This spot is marked on the pool table halfway between the center of the table and the headrail of the table.

Then the rest of the 15 balls are racked. Place the triangular rack at the other end of the pool table with a corner pointing toward the cue ball. This corner is right behind the foot line, an imaginary line that is about one-fourth of the way from the foot rail.

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The 8-ball goes in the middle of the rack. The 1-ball is placed in the corner pointing to the cue ball. One solid ball goes in the second corner, and a striped ball goes in the third corner. Fill the rack with the rest of the balls at random, then remove the rack. Make sure the 8-ball remains in the middle of the balls.

Breaking the Rack

One player breaks the rack. With a cue stick, he aims at the cue ball and strongly hits it into the group of balls. To be counted as a legal break, the player has to hit at least four of the balls to the rails or have one of the balls go into a pocket. If neither case happens, it’s considered a foul. If the cue ball ends in a pocket, that is also a foul. The other player gets his turn.

After the Break

Player #2 aims at the cue ball and tries to hit a solid or stripe ball into a pocket. The first ball he shoots into a pocket determines the group (solid or stripe) that he will target. He calls out which ball he will shoot into which pocket. He keeps shooting balls into pockets until he misses or when the cue ball ends up in a pocket. In either case, it becomes the other player’s turn.

If a player shooting at his group accidentally shoots one of his opponent’s balls into a pocket, he just saved his opponent some work. If his own ball also went in, he continues. If his own ball does not go in, the turn goes to the other player.

Win ball. Black eight ball in the pocketShooting the Eight Ball

The 8-ball can only be shot at after a player pockets all of his seven balls. If the player accidentally shoots the 8-ball into a pocket before he finishes pocketing his seven balls, he automatically loses the game. He can also lose the game if he accidentally shoots the 8-ball off the pool table.

If a player shoots for the 8-ball, but the cue ball goes into the pocket, his opponent wins.

Winning the Game

Some experienced players can do some rather complicated combination shots to pocket their ball, like hitting a numbered ball against a second numbered ball, which in turn hits the third ball to get it into the pocket. However, if the combo shot involves an opponent’s ball, the shot must be done in the right order.

For instance, a player has a solid group. There is an opponent’s ball that is in prime position to knock one of his solid balls into a pocket. If he wants to do a combo shot, he will have to aim the cue ball to hit a solid ball, which will hit his opponent’s ball, which will then hit the targeted solid ball into the pocket. It sounds complicated, but seasoned pool players do this all the time because they have all of the geometric angles and trajectories figured out on the pool table.

The first player who pockets the 8-ball after all of his numbered balls are pocketed, without pocketing the cue ball, wins the game.