8-Ball Pool Rules and Terms – Blatt Billiards

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8-Ball Pool Rules and Terms

by David Roeder |

Playing pool with friends and family is a great way to spend quality time together while having fun. There are many different types of pool games you can learn how to play. One of the most popular pool games people start with is 8-ball pool, so you must learn 8-ball pool rules.

What Is 8-Ball Pool?

close up of billiards balls on pool table

8-ball pool is a classic pool game played on a regulation-size pool table. It is played using fifteen numbered balls, numbered from one to fifteen. The balls numbered one through eight are solids, while nine through fifteen are striped. You also need a solid white or yellow cue ball, a rack, and pool cue sticks.

What Is the Object of the Game?

Hilton – Blatt Billiards

The object of the game is to sink all seven of your balls into the different pockets on the pool table before the opposing player. You will be solids or stripes, and your opponent will have the other set of balls. For example, if you are solids, your opponent will be stripes or vice versa.

To win the game, you must also sink the 8-ball but can only do so after you have sunk all of your seven balls. If you accidentally sink the 8-ball before you sink all seven of your balls, your opponent automatically wins the game.

8-Ball Terms/Rules You Need to Know

pool billiard table with a cue pointing at the number 1 ball.

Call Shot

Call shot is where you call what ball you intend to pocket and the designated pocket. However, you and your opponent can decide not to have to do call shots, especially if you are playing for fun or just learning the game—although it is beneficial to get into the habit of calling your shots and the designated pocket as you become more proficient.


This is where you pocket the cue ball into any pocket during your turn, whether you sink any object balls or not. Your opponent can place the cue ball anywhere on the table they desire. Some people also use the rule that your opponent gets to return one of your pocketed balls onto the table on the foot spot.

Object Balls

The object balls are the pool balls you are attempting to pocket.

Foot Spot

This is the spot on the pool table used for racking the pool balls. There will usually be a spot on the foot string to indicate the precise location.

Head Spot

This is a spot on the head rail on the table where you will usually place the cue ball on this spot or behind it when breaking.


Racking is using a triangle rack to rack the pool balls into their starting position on the foot spot. The balls can be racked in any order you desire. However, the eight ball must always be the middle ball in the third row.


This is the opening shot you or your opponent makes to start a game of pool. You can decide who breaks by flipping a coin or some other method.


The bridge is how you hold your hand to position the cue stick. It also refers to the pool bridge, which looks like a short cue stick with a special end that you can use to make difficult shots.

Pool Chalk

Chalk is used to help improve contact between the cue stick tip and the cue ball.

Spotting the Ball

This is returning a ball onto the table either from a pocket or if it jumped off the table.

Playing 8-Ball Pool

Billiard balls in triangle at blue table

Whoever goes first must make a legal break shot, where they must have at least four balls bounce off the rail at the opposite end of the table or pocket any number of balls, except the 8-ball.

If the 8-ball is pocketed during the break shot, the opposing player can choose to spot the 8-ball back on the table and take their turn or have the balls re-racked, and the game starts over.

What if stripes and solids are pocketed on the break?

The breaker can choose whether they want to be striped balls or solid balls when they pocket both types of balls on the break. Otherwise, by default, they will be whatever balls they sink—either stripes or solids.

What if no balls are pocketed on the break?

If no balls are pocketed on the break, and at least four balls bounce off the rail, then it is the opponent’s turn. Players keep alternating until a ball is sunk. Otherwise, the balls are re-racked, and play starts over.

What is the duration of a turn?

A turn consists of the player pocketing their balls. As long as they are pocketing their balls, their turn continues. If they happen to pocket all of their balls and legally pocket the 8-ball without allowing the other player to have a turn, this is called cleaning the table or running the table.

Is it against the rules to pocket an opponent’s balls?

It is not against the rules if you accidentally pocket an opponent’s balls, whether you sink one of your balls or not. The pocketed ball remains pocketed. It is only considered a foul when you scratch and pocket one of their balls. Then both their object ball and cue ball are spotted back on the table.

Can 8-ball pool rules be varied?

Happy friends playig pool together

For friendly games of pool, it is acceptable to alter the rules to suit your style of play. However, if you are playing in a competition or tournament, you will need to adhere to the official rules of 8-ball pool.

How can you lose 8-ball pool?

There are several ways you can lose 8-ball pool, including:

  • The opposing player legally pockets all their balls and the 8-ball before you do.
  • You pocket the 8-ball any time during the game before sinking all your balls.
  • You jump the 8-ball off the table.
  • You do not pocket the 8-ball into the designated pocket but a different one.

As you can see, the rules of 8-ball pool are not too complicated. To enjoy 8-ball pool and other pool games at home, get a custom, handcrafted pool table, cue sticks, ball sets, and racks from Blatt Billiards. Explore our pool tables and accessories today or contact us at 212-674-8855 for further assistance.