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General Rules of Pocket Billiards

The following General Rules apply to all the games covered by these rules except when contradicted by specific game rules. In addition, the Regulations of Pool Billiards cover
aspects of the game not directly related to the game rules, such as equipment specifications
and organization of events.
The games of Pool Billiards are played on a flat table covered with cloth and bounded by
rubber cushions. The player uses a stick (pool cue) to strike a cue ball which in turn strikes
object balls. The goal is to drive object balls into six pockets located at the cushion boundary.
The games vary according to which balls are legal targets and the requirements to win a
[Editorial comments on the U.S. English version: The masculine gender has been used for
simplicity of wording and is not intended to specify the gender of the players or officials. The
word “game” is used to refer to a discipline such as nine ball rather than a rack or a match.]

1.1 Player’s Responsibility

It is the player’s responsibility to be aware of all rules, regulations and schedules applying to
competition. While tournament officials will make every reasonable effort to have such
information readily available to all players as appropriate, the ultimate responsibility rests
with the player.

1.2 Lagging to Determine Order of Play (tiebreakers only)

The lag is the first shot of the match and determines order of play. The player who wins the
lag chooses who will shoot first.
The referee will place a ball on each side of the table behind the head string and near the head
string. The players will shoot at about the same time to make each ball contact the foot
cushion with the goal of returning the ball closer to the head cushion than the opponent.
A lag shot is bad and cannot win if the shooter’s ball:
(a) crosses the long string;
(b) contacts the foot cushion other than once;
(c) is pocketed or driven off the table;
(d) touches the side cushion; or
(e) the ball rests within the corner pocket and past the nose of the head cushion..
The players will lag again if:
(a) a player’s ball is struck after the other ball has touched the foot cushion;
(b) the referee cannot determine which ball has stopped closer to the head cushion; or
(c) both lags are bad.

1.3 Player’s Use of Equipment
The equipment must meet existing WPA equipment specifications. In general, players are not
permitted to introduce novel equipment into the game. The following uses, among others, are
considered normal. If the player is uncertain about a particular use of equipment, he should
discuss it with the tournament management prior to the start of play. The equipment must be
used only for the purpose or in the manner that the equipment was intended.

(a) Cue Stick – The player is permitted to switch between cue sticks during the match, such as
break, jump and normal cues. He may use either a built-in extender or an add-on extender to
increase the length of the stick.
(b) Chalk – The player may apply chalk to his tip to prevent miscues, and may use his own
chalk, provided its color is compatible with the cloth.
(c) Mechanical Bridges – The player may use up to two mechanical bridges to support the cue
stick during the shot. The configuration of the bridges is up to the player. He may use his own
bridge if it is similar to standard bridges.
(d) Gloves – The player may use gloves to improve the grip and/or bridge hand function.
(e) Powder – A player is allowed to use powder in a reasonable amount as determined by the

1.4 Spotting Balls
Balls are spotted (returned to play on the table) by placing them on the long string (long axis
of the table) as close as possible to the foot spot and between the foot spot and the foot rail,
without moving any interfering ball. If the spotted ball cannot be placed on the foot spot, it
should be placed in contact (if possible) with the corresponding interfering ball. However,
when the cue ball is next to the spotted ball, the spotted ball should not be placed in contact
with the cue ball; a small separation must be maintained. If all of the long string below the
foot spot is blocked by other balls, the ball is spotted above the foot spot, and as close as
possible to the foot spot.

1.5 Cue Ball in Hand
When the cue ball is in hand, the shooter may place the cue ball anywhere on the playing
surface and may continue to move the cue ball until he executes a
shot. Players may use any part of the cue stick to move the cue ball,
including the tip, but not with a forward stroke motion.

1.6 Standard Call Shot

In games in which the shooter is required to call shots, the intended ball and pocket must be
indicated for each shot if they are not obvious. Details of the shot, such as cushions struck or
other balls contacted or pocketed are irrelevant. Only one ball may be called on each shot.
For a called shot to count, the referee must be satisfied that the intended shot was made, so if
there is any chance of confusion, e.g. with bank, combination and similar shots, the shooter
should indicate the ball and pocket. If the referee or opponent is unsure of the shot to be
played, he may ask for a call.
In call shot games, the shooter may choose to call “safety” instead of a ball and pocket, and
then play passes to the opponent at the end of the shot. Balls pocketed on safeties stay pocketed, and the turn goes to the next shooter. If the shooter does not specify a safety or call a shot, and a ball is pocketed, it is up to the opponent to decide who shoots next.

1.7 Balls Settling

A ball may settle slightly after it appears to have stopped, possibly due to slight imperfections
in the ball or the table. Unless this causes a ball to fall into a pocket, it is considered a normal
hazard of play, and the ball will not be moved back. If a ball falls into a pocket as the result of
such settling, it is restored as closely as possible to its original position. If a settling ball falls
into a pocket during or just prior to a shot, and this has an effect on the shot, the referee will
restore the position and the shot will be replayed. The shooter is not penalized for shooting
while a ball is settling.

1.8 Restoring a Position

When necessary for balls to be restored or cleaned, the referee will restore disturbed balls to
their original positions to the best of his ability. The players must accept the referee’s
judgment as to placement.

1.9 Outside Interference

When outside interference occurs during a shot that has an effect on the outcome of that shot,
the referee will restore the balls to the positions they had before the shot, and the shot will be
replayed. If the interference had no effect on the shot, the referee will restore the disturbed
balls and play will continue. If the balls cannot be restored to their original positions, the
situation is handled like a stalemate.

1.10 Prompting Calls and Protesting Rulings

If a player feels that the referee has made an error in judgment, he may ask the referee to
reconsider his call or lack of call, but the referee’s decision on judgment calls is final.
However, if the player feels that the referee is not applying the rules correctly, he may ask for
ruling by the designated appeals authority. The referee will suspend play while this appeal is
in process. Fouls must be called promptly.

1.11 Concession

If a player concedes, he loses the match. For example, if a player unscrews his jointed playing
cue stick while the opponent is at the table and during the opponent’s decisive rack of a
match, it will be considered a concession of the match.

1.12 Stalemate

If the referee observes that no progress is being made towards a conclusion, he will announce
his decision, and each player will have three more turns at the table. Then, if the referee
determines that there is still no progress, he will declare a stalemate. If both players agree,
they may accept the stalemate without taking their three additional turns. The procedure for a
stalemate is specified under the rules for each game.

BCA 8 Ball Rules

Skyline Billiards 8 Ball League Rules:


1. HOME AND AWAY. One team is considered the home team, and one is the away team. This is determined by the LMS system, and not by a lag or coin flip. The home team chooses who puts the first player up for the night, and then which team puts up is alternated.

2. ORDER OF THE BREAK. The team that puts a player up first also breaks first. The break is alternated after that. The team who puts up first, breaks in the first and third matches. The other team breaks first in the second and fourth matches. Every individual match is alternate break.

3. SCORESHEET. Both teams should keep score on their own score sheet. Regardless of which team breaks first, the home team goes in the top spot and the away team goes in the bottom spot.

4. TIMEOUTS. Each player is allowed five timeouts per match, but no more than two in one game. Other than asking if the player at the table would like a timeout, the shooter cannot be spoken to while they are at the table by anyone on the team, or it will be considered a time out. Timeouts can be called by the player or by someone on the team. If a teammate asks for a timeout and the player refuses, no time out is counted.

5. TEAM CAP. The maximum number of Fargo points for the 4 players playing in one night is 2000. If the 4 players add up to more than 2000, penalties apply. For 1-25 points over there will be a one game penalty, 25-50 points a 2 game penalty, for 50-75 points a 3 game penalty and for 75-100 a 4 game penalty. Anything more a 100 point overage will be considered a forfeit of match.

6. PENALTY GAMES. Penalty games will be applied as follows: Games will be applied by first subtracting from the non-offending team’s player but cannot put the player on the hill. The non-offending team’s player can never have less than 2 games. Additional penalty games will be added to the offending team’s player. For instance, if Team A is over by 97 points (4 game penalty) and their player will race to 9, while Team B has a player that will go to 3, Team B’s player will go to 2, and Team A’s player will go to 12.

7. TIE BREAKERS. Tie breakers will only be used during playoffs when the regular match score is 2-2. The players will lag for the first break, and then alternate the remaining breaks. Tiebreaker players must not have played during the first four matches. The Fargo cap only counts for the first four matches and does not count for tiebreaker matches. Ties for teams that will enter the playoffs will be broken in the following order: 1. Match wins 2. Team winning percentage 3. Captains pick (of unused players) playoff.

8. DOUBLING UP. If a team A is short one player, one player can double up, and that player will be chosen by Team B. Team B can choose any player from their team even if it is a double up, and they have additional players there. If team A is short two players, the same rule applies for one of the matches, but the other is an automatic forfeit.

9. CALL SHOT. This is a call shot (ball in pocket) league. The pocket must be called on all non-obvious shots, such as caroms, combos and banks. If the pocket is obvious, the shot will be counted. In cases where it is unclear, the league director will make the final decision.


Standardized World Rules

Except when clearly contradicted by these additional rules, the General Rules of Pocket Billiards apply.

1. OBJECT OF THE GAME. Eight Ball is a call shot game played with a cue ball and fifteen object balls, numbered 1 through 15. One player must pocket balls of the group numbered 1 through 7 solid colors, while the other player has 9 thru 15 stripes. THE PLAYER POCKETING HIS GROUP FIRST AND THEN LEGALLY POCKETING THE 8 BALL WINS THE GAME.

2. CALL SHOT. In Call Shot, obvious balls and pockets do not have to be indicated. It is the opponent's right to ask which ball and pocket if he is unsure of the shot. Bank shots and combination shots are not considered obvious, and care should be taken in calling both the object ball and the intended pocket. When calling the shot, it is NEVER necessary to indicate details such as the number of cushions, banks, kisses, caroms, etc. Any balls pocketed on a foul remain pocketed, regardless of whether they belong to the shooter or the opponent.

The opening break is not a called shot. Any player performing a break shot in 8 Ball may continue to shoot his next shot so long as he has legally pocketed any object ball on the break.

3. RACKING THE BALLS. The balls are racked in a triangle at the foot of the table with the 8 ball in the center of the triangle, the first ball of the rack on the foot spot, a stripe ball in one corner of the rack and a solid ball in the other corner.

4. ALTERNATING BREAK. The team that puts up first breaks first, and then the break is alternated. The team that puts up first breaks first and third, and the opposing team breaks in the second and fourth match. During individual competition, players will alternate breaking on each subsequent game.

5. JUMP AND MASSE SHOT FOUL. While cue ball fouls only is the rule of play when a match is not presided over by a referee, a player should be aware that it will be considered a cue ball foul if during an attempt to jump, curve or masse the cue ball over or around an impeding numbered ball that is not a legal object ball, the impeding ball moves, regardless of whether it was moved by a hand, cue stick follow through or bridge.

6. LEGAL BREAK SHOT. Defined. To execute a legal break, the breaker with the cue ball behind the head string, must either 1, pocket a ball, or 2, drive at least four numbered balls to the rail. If he fails to make a legal break, it is a foul, and the incoming player has the option of 1 accepting the table in position and shooting, or 2, having the balls reracked and having the option of shooting the opening break himself or allowing the offending player to rebreak.

7. SCRATCH ON A LEGAL BREAK. If a player scratches on a legal break shot, 1, all balls pocketed remain pocketed, exception, the 8 ball: (see rule 9) 2, it is a foul, 3 the table is open. PLEASE NOTE, Incoming player has cue ball in hand anywhere on the table.

8. OBJECT BALLS JUMPED OFF THE TABLE ON THE BREAK. If a player jumps an object ball off the table on the break shot, it is a foul and the incoming player has the option of 1, accepting the table in position and shooting, or 2, taking cue ball in hand anywhere on the table and shooting. Any ball that is jumped off the table will be considered pocketed and not spotted.

9. 8 BALL POCKETED ON THE BREAK. 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. If the breaker scratches while pocketing the 8 ball on the break, the incoming player has the option of a rerack or having the 8 ball spotted and begin shooting with ball in hand anywhere.

10. OPEN TABLE. Defined. The table is open when the choice of groups stripes or solids, has not yet been determined. When the table is open, it is legal to hit a solid first to make a stripe or vice-versa. Note: The table is always open immediately after the break shot. When the table is open it is legal to hit any solid or stripe or the 8-ball first in the process of pocketing the called stripe or solid. However, when the table is open and the 8 ball is the first ball contacted, no stripe or solid may be scored in favor of the shooter. The shooter loses his turn and any balls pocketed remain pocketed, and the incoming player addresses the balls with the table still open. On an open table, all illegally pocketed balls remain pocketed.

11. CHOICE OF GROUP. The choice of stripes or solids is not determined on the break even if balls are made from only one or both groups. THE TABLE IS ALWAYS OPEN IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE BREAK SHOT. The choice of group is determined only when a player legally pockets a called object ball after the break shot.

12. LEGAL SHOT. Defined. On all shots except on the break and when the table is open, the shooter must hit one of his group of balls first and 1, pocket a numbered ball, or 2, cause the cue ball or any numbered ball to contact a rail.

PLEASE NOTE: It is permissible for the shooter to bank the cue ball off a rail before contacting his object ball. However, after contact with his object ball, an object ball must be pocketed, Or the cue ball or any numbered ball must contact a rail. Failure to meet these requirements is a foul.

13. SAFETY SHOT. For tactical reasons a player may choose to pocket an obvious object ball and also discontinue his turn at the table by declaring safety in advance. A safety shot is defined as a legal shot. If the shooting player intends to play safe by pocketing an obvious object ball, then prior to the shot, he must declare a safety to his opponent. If this is NOT done, and one of the shooter's object balls is pocketed, the shooter will be required to shoot again. Any ball pocketed on a safety shot remains pocketed.

14. SCORING. A player is entitled to continue shooting until he fails to legally pocket a ball of his group. After a player has legally pocketed all of his group of balls, he shoots to pocket the 8 ball.

15. FOUL PENALTY. Opposing player gets cue ball in hand. This means that the player can place the cue ball anywhere on the table, and does not have to be behind the head string. This rule prevents a player from making intentional fouls which would put his opponent at a disadvantage. With cue ball in hand, the player may use his hand or any part of his cue including the tip to position the cue ball. When placing the cue ball in position, any forward stroke motion contacting the cue ball will be a foul, if not a legal shot. Also see Rule 39 in the General Rules of Pocket Billiards.

16. COMBINATION SHOTS. Combination shots are allowed. However, the 8 ball cannot be used as a first ball in the combination except when the table is open.

17. ILLEGALLY POCKETED BALLS. An object ball is considered to be illegally pocketed when 1, that object ball is pocketed on the same shot a foul is committed, or 2, the called ball did not go in the designated pocket, or 3, a safety is called prior to the shot. Illegally pocketed balls remain pocketed.

18. OBJECT BALLS JUMPED OFF THE TABLE. If any object ball is jumped off the table, it is a foul and loss of turn, unless it is the 8 ball, which is a loss of game. Any jumped object balls are considered pocketed.

19. PLAYING THE 8 BALL. When shooting at the 8 ball, a scratch or foul is not loss of game if the 8 ball is not pocketed or jumped from the table. Incoming player has cue ball in hand. Note, A combination shot can never be used to legally pocket the 8-ball.

20. LOSS OF GAME. A player loses the game if he commits any of the following infractions:

a. Fouls when pocketing the 8 ball. Exception. See 8-Ball Pocketed On the Break.

b. Pockets the 8 ball on the same stroke as the last of his group of balls.

c. Jumps the 8 ball off the table at any time.

d. Pockets the 8 ball in a pocket other than the one designated.

e. Pockets the 8 ball when it is not the legal object ball.

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

21. STALEMATED GAME. If, after 3 consecutive turns at the table by each player, 6 turns total, the referee judges or if no referee, both players agree, that attempting to pocket or move an object ball will result in loss of game, the balls will be reracked with the original breaker of the stalemated game breaking again. The stalemate rule may only be used when there are only two object balls and the 8 ball remaining on the table. PLEASE NOTE, Three consecutive fouls by one player is not a loss of game.



9 Ball Rules


Nine-Ball is played with nine object balls numbered one through nine and a cue ball. On each shot, the first ball the cue ball contacts must be the lowest numbered ball on the table, but the balls need not be pocketed in order. If a player pockets any ball on a legal shot, he remains at the table for another shot, and continues until missing, committing a foul, or winning the game by pocketing the 9-ball. After a miss, the incoming player must shoot from the position left by the previous player, but after any foul the incoming player may start with the cue ball anywhere on the table. Players are not required to call any shot. A match ends when one of the players has won the required number of games. The 9-ball must be the last ball pocketed, and if it is accidentally pocketed with a legal shot, the 9-ball will be spotted and the player who pocketed it will continue shooting.



This is a handicapped league where spot balls and/or games on the wire will be used. When a spot ball is sunk on the break, the player receiving the spot is responsible for spotting the ball before they step to the table. If more than one spot ball is made, the first one goes on the spot and the other balls are lined up behind it, as close as possible without freezing. If the opposing player makes a ball that he is spotting his opponent on the break, that player continues shooting without spotting the balls. When his inning is over, any spot ball that is left in the numerical order of the rest of the balls will be spotted. i.e. Player A makes the 6 on the break, which is his opponents spot ball. Player A continues shooting without spotting the ball. If his inning ends on the 5-ball, the 6-ball will be spotted before the incoming player begins shooting. If his inning ends on the 7-ball, the 6-ball stays down. If the player receiving a spot forgets to spot his ball before his next turn at the table, the spot ball stays down.



The object balls are racked in a diamond shape, with the 1-ball at the top of the diamond and on the foot spot, the 9-ball in the center of the diamond, and the 2 ball in the back, racked as tightly as possible. If both players agree, a template rack may be used. The 9-ball should be racked on the spot. The game begins with cue ball in hand behind the head string.


Winner of the lag has the option to break. After the opening break, players will alternate the break.



The rules governing the break shot are the same as for other shots except:


  1. The breaker must strike the1-ball first and either pocket a ball or drive at least four numbered balls to the rail.

  2. If the cue ball is pocketed or driven off the table, or the requirements of the opening break are not met, it is a foul, and the incoming player has cue ball in hand anywhere on the table.

  3. If on the break shot, the breaker causes an object ball to jump off the table, it is a foul and the incoming player has cue ball in hand anywhere on thetable. The object ball is not re-spotted (exception: if the object ball is the 9-ball or a spot ball,it is re-spotted).




On the shot immediately following a legal break, the shooter may play a "push out." If the breaker pockets one or more balls on a legal break, he continues to shoot until he misses, fouls, or wins the game. If the player misses or fouls, the other player begins an inning and shoots until missing, committing a foul, or winning. The game ends when the 9-ball is pocketed on a legal shot, or the game is forfeited for a serious infraction of the rules.


The player who shoots the shot immediately after a legal break may play a push out in an attempt to move the cue ball into a better position for the option that follows. On a push out, the cue ball is not required to con-tact any object ball nor any rail, but all other foul rules still apply. The player must announce the intention of playing a push out before the shot, or the shot is considered to be a normal shot. Any ball pocketed on a push out does not count and remains pocketed except the 9-ball. Following a legal push out, the incoming player is permitted to shoot from that position or to pass the shot back to the player who pushed out. A push out is not considered to be a foul as long as no rule (except rules 5.8 and 5.9) is violated. An illegal push out is penalized according to the type of foul committed. After a player scratches on the break shot, the incoming player cannot play a push out.

When a player commits a foul, he must relinquish his run at the table and no balls pocketed on the foul shot are re-spotted (exception: if a pocketed ball is the 9-ball, it is re-spotted). The incoming player is awarded ball in hand; prior to his first shot he may place the cue ball anywhere on the table. If a player commits several fouls on one shot, they are counted as only one foul.

  1. BAD HIT

If the first object ball contacted by the cue ball is not the lowest numbered ball on the table, the shot is foul.

  1. NO RAIL

If no object ball is pocketed, failure to drive the cue ball or any numbered ball to a rail after the cue ball contacts the object ball on is a foul.

  1. IN HAND

When the cue ball is in hand, the player may place the cue ball anywhere on the bed of the table, except in contact with an object ball. The player may continue to adjust the position of the cue ball until shooting.


An un-pocketed ball is considered to be driven off the table if it comes to rest other than on the bed of the table. It is a foul to drive an object ball off the table. The jumped object ball(s) is not re-spotted (exception: if the object ball is the 9-ball or a spot ball, it is re-spotted) and play continues.



If a match is not refereed, it will be considered a cue ball foul if during an attempt to jump, curve or massé the cue ball over or around an impeding numbered ball, the impeding ball moves (regardless of whether it was moved by a hand, cue stick follow-through or bridge).


If a player fouls three consecutive times on three successive shots without making an intervening legal shot, the game is lost. The three fouls must occur in one game. The warning must be given between the second and third fouls. A player’s inning begins when it is legal to take a shot and ends at the end of a shot on which he misses, fouls or wins, or when he fouls between shots.

If the referee decides that neither player is attempting to win from the current position, he will announce his decision, and each player will have three more turns at the table. Then, if the referee still feels that there is no progress towards a conclusion, he will declare the rack a stalemate and the original breaker of the rack will break again.


On the opening break, the game is considered to have commenced once the cue ball has been struck by the cue tip. The 1-ball must be legally contacted on the break shot. The game ends at the end of a legal shot which pockets the 9-ball, or when a player forfeits the game as the result of a foul. The 9-ball and all other spot balls must be called in the intended pocket.

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