8 Ball Rules


Eight-Ball is a call shot game played with a cue ball and 15 object balls, numbered 1 through 15. Each player or team has a group of 7 balls: the solid colored balls numbered 1 through 7 , or the striped balls numbered 9 through 15.  The 8-ball is the game winning ball.  The object of the game is for you to pocket your entire group of balls and then legally pocket the 8-ball.  The game is played by two players or two teams.


The balls are racked as follows:

  1. In a triangle with the apex ball on the foot spot.
  2. The rows behind the apex are parallel to the foot string.
  3. The 8-ball is in the middle of the row of three balls.
  4. The remaining balls are placed at random, except that the ball at each rear corner of the rack must be of a different group from the other rear corner. The left/right orientation of the groups for those two balls does not matter.


  1. You begin the break with ball in hand behind the head string. There is no requirment to call a ball on the break shot or for the cue to contact any particular ball first.  You must pocket a ball or cause at least 4 object balls to contact one or more cushions or it is an illegal break.  If you pocket a ball, you continue to shoot.  If you do not pocket a ball or you commit a foul, your inning ends. 
  2. If you intend to break softly, you must notify your opponent and allow them the opurtunity to call a referee to watch your break.  Failure to do so is a foul.  
  3. If your break is illegal your inning ends.  Your opponent may:
    • accept the table in position if you did not scratch
    • take ball in hand if you foul
    • re-rack the balls and break
    • require you to re-rack the balls and break again.
  4. If you foul on a legal break and do not pocket the 8-ball, your inning ends and any other pocketed balls remain pocketed.  Your opponenet receives ball in hand. 
  5. (no rule)
  6. In all cases on the break, jumped balls other than the 8-ball are not returned to the table except in the case of a re-rack.


  1. If you pocket the 8-ball on the break and do not foul, you may:
    1. have the 8-ball spotted and accept the table in postion or
    2. re-rack the balls and break again.
  2. If you pocket the 8-ball on the break and foul, your inning ends. Your opponent may:
    1. have the 8-ball spotted and take ball in hand
    2. re-rack and break
  3. (Removed)
  4. If the 8-ball is pocketed on the break, and it is not noticed until after another shot has been taken, the game will be replayed with the player who broke the game breaking again.


The table is always open after the break and remains open until groups are established.  When the table is open, all object balls except the 8-ball are legal object balls.  For combination shots, a ball of one group may be contacted first to pocket a ball of the other group.  The 8-ball may be part of a combination if it is not the first ball contacted by the cue ball.


  1. Groups are established whrn the first object ball is legally pocketed on a shot after the break.  The player pocketing the first ball is assigned that group, and the opponenet is assigned the other group.  You cannot establish a group on a safety.
  2. If all balls of either group are pocketed on the break or illegally pocketed before groups are established, either player may legally shoot the 8-ball during their inning.  You win the game if you legally pocket the 8-ball on such a shot.
  3. Once they are established. groups can never change for the remainder of that game.  If a player shoots the wrong group and no foul is called before the next shot and the player continues to shoot at that group. or if at any time during the game it is discovered by either player or a referee that the players are shooting the wrong groups, the game will be replayed with eplayer who broke the game breaking again.


  1. Once groups are established, play continues with each player having their group as legal object balls.  Balls in your opponents’ group and the 8-ball are illegal object balls.  When it is your inning, you continue to shoot as long as you legally pocket a ball on each shot.  Object balls pocketed in addition to the called ball remain pocketed.  Your inning ends if you do not legally pocket a ball.
  2. Jumped balls and illegally pocketed balls are not returned to the table but do count in favor of the player in that group.


Prior to any shot except the break, you may declare a safety.  On a safety, your inning ends after the shot regardless of whether you pocket any ball.  You must declare the safety to your opponent before the shot, and they must acknowledge your intentions.  If you do not declare a safety or it is not acknowledged, and you pocket an obvious ball, your inning continues and you must shoot again.  A safety must meet the requiremments of a legal shot or it is a foul.


  1. The 8-ball becomes your legal object ball on the first shot after the last ball of your group is pocketed.  The player who legally pockets the 8-ball wins the game.
  2. With the exception of the provisions of rule 2.10, it is not loss of game if you foul but do not pocket the 8-ball.  Your opponent receive ball in hand.


You lose the game if:

  • you illegally pocket the 8-ball
  • you jump the 8-ball off the table on any shot other than the break
  • you pocket the 8-ball on the same shot as the last ball of your group
  • you violate any General Rule that requires loss of game as a penalty
  • you pocket the 8-ball on a shot defined as not obvious that you do not callyou foul and the 8-ball falls into a pocket.

Note: All infractions must be called before another shot is taken, or else it will be deemed that no infraction occurred.


If a referee judges that the table is in a position that attempting to pocket or move an object ball will result in loss of game, and each player has played three consecutive innning without significantly changing the position, the referee will declare a stalemate and the balls will be re-racked with the original breaker of the stalemated game breaking again. 

Note: Three consecutive fouls by one player in 8-ball is not a loss of game.