How to Play 8-Ball Pool – Blatt Billiards

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How to Play 8-Ball Pool

by David Roeder |

One of the most popular pool games you can learn how to play is 8-ball pool. The rules for the game can vary, depending on whether you are playing for enjoyment or want to play pool adhering to each specific rule.

The game of 8-ball pool consists of playing with 1 white cue ball and 15 numbered balls called object balls. The balls numbered 1 through 7 are called solids. The balls numbered 9 through 15 are called stripes. The remaining ball is the 8-ball and is a solid black ball. 

Racking the Pool Balls

billiards pool

Before you can play 8-ball pool, you need to rack the pool balls. A dot on the pool table called the foot spot indicates where you rack the balls. Place the triangle rack over the foot spot so one of the angles is just in front of the foot spot. The opposite end of the rack should be parallel with the end of the pool table.

The balls should be arranged in a specific order. Most players will place the 1-ball over the foot spot. Next, they will place a solid ball in one of the remaining corners and a striped ball in the other corner. Then, they will fill in the remaining spaces by attempting to alternate between stripes and solids as best as possible.

However, the middle position in the third row is reserved exclusively for the 8-ball. Last, they will carefully roll the rack slightly forward and then back to tightly pack the balls before removing the triangle rack.

Breaking

pool billiard - ready for break shot

Breaking requires hitting the white cue ball into the racked balls using a pool cue stick. The cue ball is placed on the opposite side of the table. To break, carefully line up your shot to hit the cue ball with the cue stick to shoot it into the racked balls. You want a powerful yet controlled shot. Your objective is to either sink balls into the pockets or have at least four balls bounce off the rails.

Choosing Stripes or Solids

If you sink any of the balls during the break, you will choose stripes or solids depending on what balls you pocketed. For example, if you pocketed solids, then you will be solids. If you pocketed both stripes and solids, you get to decide which one you want.

After choosing stripes or solids, the other player will be responsible for sinking the other balls. So, if you are stripes, they would be solids.

Order of Play

Handsome man playing pool in pub

The order of play is determined by whether any balls were sunk during the break. If so, then the pool player who broke continues to play and attempts to shoot the balls they choose into the pockets. If you cannot pocket a ball, then play passes to the other player.

If you did not sink any balls during the break and only managed to bounce four or more balls off the rails, then play passes to the other player. They will then attempt to sink a ball. If not, play switches back to you until a ball is sunk and stripes and solids are determined. 

Winning the Game

Billiards with balls

To win the game of 8-ball pool, you must first sink all of your balls into the side pockets. Once you do, you can then attempt to sink the 8-ball into a side pocket.

However, you must call what pocket you intend to sink the 8-ball into. If you do not sink it into that pocket, your turn is over. If you sink it into a different pocket, the 8-ball is placed back on the table, and it is the other pool player’s turn.

Scratching and Fouls

Match ball. Black eight ball to the pocket

Scratching is where you attempt to hit the cue ball and miss, sink it into a corner pocket, or send it flying off the table. If you scratch while also sinking your balls, the balls are placed back on the table. The other pool player is allowed to place the cue ball anywhere on the table.

If you scratch during the break, the other player can request that the balls get re-racked, and then they break. They can also decide to leave all balls where they are at and take their turn.

Fouls are slightly different from scratching and including the following:

  • You scratch when attempting to break the balls.
  • You sink the 8-ball when you break.
  • You hit a numbered ball off the table.

Whenever a foul occurs, play automatically switches to the other pool player. If you sink the 8-ball during the break, the balls are re-racked, and the other player gets to break them.

As you can see, learning how to play 8-ball pool is not difficult. It is why so many pool players enjoy the game.

Playing Pool at Home

pool table with balls and pool cues

To find ball sets and ball racks to play 8-ball pool, please feel free to browse our collections in our online store. You may also contact Blatt Billiards at 212-674-8855 if you have any questions, require assistance, or are interested in one of our handcrafted pool tables.