8-BALL RULES

The purpose of this document is to define the rules of play for 8-ball matches.  For non-qualifying divisions, all rule modifications by the division owners in the notes of the division take precedent over these rules.  Anything unaddressed in non-qualifying divisions’ notes will use these rules.

Table of Contents

  1. Objective
  2. Equipment
  3. Breaking
  4. Declaring groups
  5. Calling pockets
  6. Fouls (ball in hand)
  7. Fouls (game ending)
  8. Stalemate
  9. Timeouts
  10. Slow-play
  11. Self-substitutions and forfeits
  12. Unaddressed rules and rule ambiguities
  13. Division specific rule modifications
 

1. Objective

The objective of 8-ball is to clear the entire declared group, and then clear the 8-ball without committing a game ending foul.

 

2. Equipment

 

2.a. Preassembly

All equipment should be assembled and readily available prior to the match including break sticks and player sticks.

 

2.b. Changing of equipment

 

2.b.i. Breakshaft

If it is the case that a players wishes to use the same butt but different shafts for breaking and playing, then it is permissible to switch shafts only after the break.

 

2.b.ii. Jump butt alteration

Jumping is only allowed if the venue permits jump shots. In the case jumping is allowed by the venue, a player is allowed to adjust and unadjust equipment assembly when attempting a jump shot.

 

2.b.iii. Damage in the normal course of play

A player is allowed to disassemble and assemble equipment if their current equipment becomes damaged in the normal course of play. If a player intentionally damages any equipment then they forfeit the match and it is considered unsportsmanlike conduct.

 

2.c. Disassembly

If a player disassembles any equipment during a match that is not addressed in 2.b, then that player forfeits the match and the opponents does not need to perform any additional shots.

 

3. Breaking

 

3.a. Determining who breaks

If it is the first game on a given table, in order to initially determine who breaks on that table, one player flips a coin and the other player calls heads or tails. If both players agree, a lag can be substituted for the coin flip subject to the WPA lagging rules. After the first game on a given table, the winning team breaks for the next game.

 

3.b. Rack

The rack should be set by the player who is not breaking. Depending on if the spot ball is a stripe or solid and depending on if the two balls below the spot ball are in the order of stripe solid or solid strip, there are 4 potential acceptable racks patterned after the image below.

 

3.c. Non-legal break

The cue ball may be placed anywhere behind the head string for the break. A non-legal break occurs if the cue ball strikes the rack and less than 4 balls besides the cue ball hit a rail. If a non-legal break occurs, it is the decision of the opponent to continue the game, or let the breaking player re-break.

 

3.d. Scratch or foul on the break

When a scratch or foul on the break occurs, this is the only case where it is a foul that must be placed behind the head string. If a scratch or foul occurs on the break, it is not ball in hand. Note that it could be the case where it is a foul on the break and a non-legal break. For example, after the tip of the cue stick contacts the cue ball, if the breaking player misses the rack completely, it is a non-legal break, and if the opponent chooses to continue the match, the opponent is able to place the cue ball behind the head string line, but there is no re-rack in the case that the opponent chooses to continue the game.

If the breaking player makes the eight ball on the break and scratches or fouls on the break, then the breaking player loses the game.

 

4. Declaring groups

 

4.a. Open after the break

Regardless of what happens on the break, it is open after the break, unless the break results in a game ending outcome such as making the 8-ball on the break. If the breaking player makes two solid balls on the break, the breaking players shoots again and it is still open until a group is declared after the break.

 

4.b. Pocket only one group with no fouls to declare

To declare a group when the table is open, the shooting player must clear at least one ball from a group, and no balls from the other group. If the table is open and the shooting player makes a solid ball and a stripe inadvertently rolls in a pocket later in the same shot, then the table remains open for the next shot until a player clears only one group in a single shot. While the table is open, either group may be contacted with the cue ball first, but the 8-ball is still not allowed to be contacted first even if the table is open. While the table is open, it is allowed to hit a stripe first, combo into a solid, and clear just one solid to declare solids.

 

5. Calling pockets

 

When shooting the 8-ball, a pocket must always be called in all divisions.

When creating divisions, the division owner may choose “Call Pockets: Yes” in which case, after the table is no longer open, all players must call a pocket for every shot. The calling of a pocket does not include calling rails or combos or deflections, and the only information that need be declared is the pocket in which the ball will clear into. As long as a ball of the player’s group clears in the called pocket, that player may continue shooting; regardless of the order in which balls clear throughout the shot. If a player does not clear a ball in the called pocket and does not pocket any balls of their group, it is the other players turn. If a player does not clear a ball of their group in the called pocket and clears a ball of their group in a different pocket, then it is a ball in hand foul.

If the division owner has chosen “Call Pockets: No” then only the 8-ball pocket needs to be called and all other shots do not need to be called. In this case, unintentional and intentional clears are treated the same way and the shooter may continue shooting in each case.

 

6. Fouls (ball in hand)

 

6.a. Ball off the table

If a player hits any ball off the table it is a ball in hand foul. If a ball other than the cue ball and the 8-ball is hit off the table it remains out of play. If a player hits the 8-ball off the table it is a game ending foul.

 

6.b. Hit 8-ball or other group first

If a player hits the cue ball and the 8-ball is the first ball that the cue ball contacts, unless the player has cleared their group, it is a ball in hand foul. If the table is no longer open, then the player must hit their group first, if they hit the other group first with the cue ball then it is a ball in hand foul.

 

6.c. No rail after contact

If no balls hit a rail or are cleared after the cue ball makes contact with another ball, then it is a ball in hand foul. It is not a ball in hand foul for the cue ball to strike another ball and then only the cue ball hit a rail. It is not a ball in hand foul for the cue ball to strike a ball and then for a ball to clear into a pocket even if no rails are hit after contact as the ball enters the pocket.

 

6.d. No contact

If the cue ball does not make contact with any ball it is a ball in hand foul, regardless of how many rails the cue ball hits.

 

6.e. Unintentionally moving balls

 

6.e.i. Cue ball

If the cue ball is unintentionally moved it is a ball in hand foul.

 

6.e.ii. Single non-cue ball

If a single non-cue ball is moved unintentionally and it does not come in contact with any other balls, then the opponent may either choose to leave it where it ended up or the opponent may place it back where it was to the best of their ability if they recall where it was originally. If the single ball contacts any other balls then it is a ball in hand foul and the balls must not be moved from where then ended up as a result of the foul.

 

6.e.iii. Multiple non-cue balls

If multiple non-cue balls are unintentionally moved then it is a ball in hand foul and they must remain where then ended up as a result of the foul.

 

6.f. Unintentionally play out of turn

Ball in hand foul and all balls remain in their resulting positions.

 

6.g. Unintentionally strike a ball other than the cue ball first

The key here is unintentional, if this is done intentionally it is unsportsmanlike conduct and the opponent wins the game. It is possible for this to happen unintentionally especially in the case that a shooter is lining up a combo and distracted; the shooter may strike a non-cue ball. In that case it is a ball in hand foul and all balls are left in the positions resulting from the foul.

 

6.h. No foot on floor

At least some part of a shooters foot must be on the floor while taking a shot or else it is a ball in hand foul.

 

6.i. Frozen on rail

If a ball is in contact with a rail and it is contacted by the cue ball then it is not counted as a ball contacting a rail. If the opponent does not declare that the ball is in contact with the rail before the shot, then it will be treated as not resting in contact with the rail. If there is a disagreement as to weather a resting ball is in contact with a rail or not, then a third party can decide prior to the shot.

 

6.j. Push shot or double hit

If the cue stick contacts the cue ball more than once on a shot, the shot is a foul. If the cue ball is close to but not touching an object ball and the cue tip is still on the cue ball when the cue ball contacts that object ball, the shot is a foul. If the cue ball is very close to an object ball, and the shooter barely grazes that object ball on the shot, the shot is assumed not to violate the first paragraph of this rule, even though the tip is arguably still on the cue ball when ball-ball contact is made.

However, if the cue ball is touching an object ball at the start of the shot, it is legal to shoot towards or partly into that ball (provided it is a legal target within the rules of the game) and if the object ball is moved by such a shot, it is considered to have been contacted by the cue ball. (Even though it may be legal to shoot towards such a touching or “frozen” ball, care must be taken not to violate the rules in the first paragraph if there are additional balls close by.)

The cue ball is assumed not to be touching any ball unless it is declared touching by the referee or opponent. It is the shooter’s responsibility to get the declaration before the shot. Playing away from a frozen ball does not constitute having hit that ball unless specified in the rules of the game.

 

6.k. Ball in motion unintentionally disrupted

If a player disrupts a ball in motion it is a ball in hand foul. This may occur while using the bridge. If any ball hits the bridge it is a ball in hand foul. If any ball in motion hits any equipment left on the table or rail, chalk, rack, or anything, it is a ball in hand foul and the shooter is responsible for clearing all equipment from the table.

 

7. Fouls (game ending)

 

7.a. 8-ball in wrong pocket

If the 8-ball is pocketed in a pocket that is not called, then it is a game ending foul and the opponent wins.

 

7.b. 8-ball pocketed before group is cleared

If the 8-ball gets pocketed before the player’s group is cleared, then the opponent wins the game. The 8-ball may not be called to be pocketed while the player still has any of their group on the table prior to taking the shot.

 

7.c. Scratch on 8-ball

If the player pockets the cue ball while shooting the 8 ball after their group is cleared or pockets both the cue ball and the 8-ball on the break, then it is a game ending foul and the opponent wins.

 

8. Stalemates

If each player gives ball in hand to the other player without attempting a shot three times, then it is a stalemate and the players should re-rack and the same person breaks.

 

9. Timeouts

All players are allowed two timeouts per a game, and anyone on the player’s team can participate in the timeouts. The table is not allowed to be visibly marked for the purpose of aiming shots. The player’s teammates may place the cue ball for the player in the case of ball in hand.

 

10. Slow-play

Some shots may take longer than others but consistent slow-play by a player or a team can be frustrating. The first attempt to remedy slow-play should be a polite request between games.

If slow play is a known, persistent, repeating, or anticipated issue, then a team can state that they want to put the entire match on the clock. If a team request that the entire match be on the clock there are two ways to do it. Each shot can have a 40 second timer or a chess like timer can be used to limit the game time to 10 minutes total, 5 minutes for each player. The team requesting the match be on the clock must keep time accurately. If any errors in timing are reported by the team not requesting to keep time, then that game will be forfeited in favor of the team not keeping time.

 

11. Self-substitutions and forfeits

Only one self-substitutions is allowed per a team per a match with a 1 point handicap penalty. That means that if a team has less players than they need per a match, they may let one of their players play twice with a penalty of 1 ranking point added to the repeating player’s ranking for one of the two player’s occurrences in the match. The opposing team chooses which player will be repeated in the match. If a team still does not have enough players even with the one self-substitution then the remaining shortages are forfeits at a 5.0 ranking.

 

12. Unaddressed rules and rule ambiguities

Anything unaddressed in these rules is left to the discretion of the division owner.

 

13. Division specific rule modifications

Division owners may make modifications to these rules and post them in the division notes section for non-qualifying divisions. For non-qualifying divisions, the division owner rule modifications are applicable first and anything addressed in the division owner rules takes precedent if it is also addressed in these rules.