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How To Play 8 Ball

Instructions and Rules

Object of the Game

Eight Ball is a call-shot game played with the cue ball and all standard object balls (1 through 15). It is played by dividing the object balls into two groups: solids (1 through 7) and stripes (9 through 15). Each player tries to pocket all the balls in their group, and then legally pocket the 8 ball.

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Racking and Breaking

The balls are racked in a triangle at the foot of the table with the 8 ball in the center. The first ball of the rack rests on the footspot, with a striped ball in one corner and a solid ball in the other corner. Winner of the lag has the option to break. Players alternate breaking on each subsequent game.

  • The table is open immediately after the break.
  • The breaker must either pocket a ball or drive at least four object balls to the rail. Failure to make a legal break is a foul.
  • On a foul break, the incoming player has the option of accepting the table in position and shooting, or reracking the balls. The incoming player may then shoot the opening break instead or allow their opponent to rebreak.
  • If a player scratches on a legal break, all balls pocketed remain pocketed (except the 8 ball). It counts as a foul, and the table is open.
  • If the shooter jumps an object ball off the table on the break shot, it is a foul. The incoming player may accept the table in position and shoot or position the cue ball behind the head string and shoot.
  • If the 8 ball is pocketed on the break, the breaker may ask for a rerack or have the 8 ball spotted and continue shooting.

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Game Play

One player tries to pocket balls 1 through 7 (solids), while the other player tries to pocket balls 9 through 15 (stripes). The choice of group is determined by the first ball a player legally pockets after the break.

  • Obvious balls and pockets do not have to be called, but bank shots and combination shots are not considered obvious.
  • It is not necessary to indicate details such as number of cushions, banks, kisses, etc.
  • Any balls pocketed on a foul remain pocketed.
  • Combination shots are allowed; however, a combination shot can never be used to legally pocket the 8 ball.

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Once a player has pocketed his or her group (stripes or solids) the object of the game is pocketing the 8 ball. The player who can do this legally wins the game.

A player loses the game under the following circumstances:

  • If they foul or scratch when pocketing the 8 ball
  • If they pocket the 8 ball on the same stroke as the last of their group of balls
  • If they jump the 8 ball off the table at any time
  • If they pocket the 8 ball in a pocket other than the one called
  • If they pocket the 8 ball when it is not the legal object ball
  • If they pocket the 8 ball using a combination shot

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