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Rules of the game - Pool

  • General
  • Eight Ball
  • Nine Ball
  • Ten Ball

(Effective 1/1/08)

1 Player’s Responsibility
2 Lagging to Determine Order of Play
3 Player’s Use of Equipment
4 Spotting Balls
5 Cue Ball in Hand
6 Standard Call Shot
7 Balls Settling
8 Restoring a Position
9 Outside Interference
10 Prompting Calls and Protesting Rulings
11 Concession
12 Stalemate

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 match.

[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 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.

2 Lagging to Determine Order of Play
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.
In addition, a lag will be bad if any non-object-ball foul occurs other than 6.9 Balls Still Moving.
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.

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 referee.

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.

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. In some games and for most break shots, placement of the cue ball may be restricted to the area behind the head string depending on the rules of the game, and then Bad Cue Ball Placement and Bad Play from Behind the Head String may apply.
When the shooter has the cue ball in hand behind the head string and all the legal object balls are behind the head string, he may request the legal object ball nearest the head string to be spotted. If two or more balls are equal distance from the head string, the shooter may designate which of the equidistant balls is to be spotted. An object ball that rests exactly on the head string is playable.

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. Whether balls are being spotted after safeties depends on the rules of the particular game.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

1 Determining First Break
2 Eight Ball Rack
3 Break Shot
4 Open Table / Choosing Groups
5 Continuing Play
6 Shots Required to Be Called
7 Spotting Balls
8 Losing the Rack
9 Standard Fouls
10 Serious Fouls
11 Stalemate

Eight Ball
Eight ball is played with fifteen numbered object balls and the cue ball. The shooter’s group of seven balls (one through seven or nine through fifteen) must all be off the table before he attempts to pocket the eight ball to win. Shots are called.

1 Determining First Break
The player winning the lag has the option to determine who has to execute the first break shot. The standard format is alternate break .

2 Eight Ball Rack
The fifteen object balls are racked as tightly as possible in a triangle, with the apex ball on the foot spot and the eight ball as the first ball that is directly below the apex ball. One from each group of seven will be on the two lower corners of the triangle. The other balls are placed in the triangle without purposeful or intentional pattern.

eight ball rack
Eight Ball Rack

3 Break Shot
The following rules apply to the break shot:
(a) The cue ball begins in hand behind the head string.
(b) No ball is called, and the cue ball is not required to hit any particular object ball first.
(c) If the breaker pockets a ball and does not foul, he continues at the table, and the table remains open.
(d) If no object ball is pocketed, at least four object balls must be driven to one or more rails, or the shot results in an illegal break, and the incoming player has the option of

(1) accepting the table in position, or
(2) re-racking and breaking, or
(3) re-racking and allowing the offending player to break again.

(e) Pocketing the eight ball on a legal break shot is not a foul. If the eight ball is pocketed, the breaker has the option of

(1) re-spotting the eight ball and accepting the balls in position, or
(2) re-breaking.

(f) If the breaker pockets the eight ball and scratches, the opponent has the option of

(1) re-spotting the eight ball and shooting with cue ball in hand behind the head string; or
(2) re-breaking.

(g) If any object ball is driven off the table on a break shot, it is a foul; such balls remain out of play (except the eight ball which is re-spotted); and the incoming player has the option of

(1) accepting the table in position, or
(2) taking cue ball in hand behind the head string.

(h) If the breaker fouls in any manner not listed above, the following player has the option of

(1) accepting the balls in position, or
(2) taking cue ball in hand behind the head string.

4 Open Table / Choosing Groups
Before groups are determined, the table is said to be “open,” and before each shot, the shooter must call his intended ball. If the shooter legally pockets his called ball, the corresponding group becomes his, and his opponent is assigned the other group. If he fails to legally pocket his called ball, the table remains open and play passes to the other player. When the table is “open”, any object ball may be struck first except the eight ball.

5 Continuing Play
The shooter remains at the table as long as he continues to legally pocket called balls, or he wins the rack by pocketing the eight ball.

6 Shots Required to Be Called
On each shot except the break, shots must be called as explained in Standard Call Shot. The eight ball may be called only after the shot on which the shooter’s group has been cleared from the table. The shooter may call “safety” in which case play passes to the opponent at the end of the shot and any object ball pocketed on the safety remains pocketed.

7 Spotting Balls
If the eight ball is pocketed or driven off the table on the break, it will be spotted or the balls will be re-racked. No other object ball is ever spotted.

8 Losing the Rack
The shooter loses if he
(a) fouls when pocketing the eight ball;
(b) pockets the eight ball before his group is cleared;
(c) pockets the eight ball in an uncalled pocket; or
(d) drives the eight ball off the table.
These do not apply to the break shot.

 

9 Standard Fouls
If the shooter commits a foul, play passes to his opponent. The cue ball is in hand, and the incoming player may place it anywhere on the playing surface.

10 Serious Fouls
The fouls listed under Losing the Rack are penalized by the loss of the current rack. For Unsportsmanlike Conduct, the referee will choose a penalty appropriate given the nature of the offense.

11 Stalemate
If a stalemate occurs, the original breaker of the rack will break again.

1 Determining the Break
2 Nine Ball Rack
3 Legal Break Shot
4 Second Shot of the Rack – Push Out
5 Continuing Play
6 Spotting Balls
7 Standard Fouls
8 Serious Fouls
9 Stalemate

2. Nine Ball
Nine ball is played with nine object balls numbered one through nine and the cue ball. The balls are played in ascending numerical order. The player legally pocketing the nine ball wins the rack.

1 Determining the Break
The player who wins the lag chooses who will break the first rack. The standard format is to alternate the break, but see Regulation 15, Subsequent Break Shots.

2 Nine Ball Rack
The object balls are racked as tightly as possible in a diamond shape, with the one ball at the apex of the diamond and on the foot spot and the nine ball in the middle of the diamond. The other balls will be placed in the diamond without purposeful or intentional pattern.

nine ball rack
Nine Ball Rack

 

3 Legal Break Shot
The following rules apply to the break shot:
(a) the cue ball begins in hand behind the head string; and
(b) if no ball is pocketed, at least four object balls must be driven to one or more rails, or the shot is a foul.

4 Second Shot of the Rack – Push Out
If no foul is committed on the break shot, the shooter may choose to play a “push out” as his shot. He must make his intention known to the referee, and then rules Wrong Ball First and No Rail after Contact are suspended for the shot. If no foul is committed on a push out, the other player chooses who will shoot next.

5 Continuing Play
If the shooter legally pockets any ball on a shot , he continues at the table for the next shot. If he legally pockets the nine ball on any shot (except a push out), he wins the rack. If the shooter fails to pocket a ball or fouls, play passes to the other player, and if no foul was committed, the incoming player must play the cue ball from the position left by the other player.

6 Spotting Balls
If the nine ball is pocketed on a foul or push out, or driven off the table, it is spotted. No other object ball is ever spotted.

7 Standard Fouls
If the shooter commits a standard foul, play passes to his opponent. The cue ball is in hand, and the incoming player may place it anywhere on the playing surface.

8 Serious Fouls
For Three Consecutive Fouls, the penalty is loss of the current rack. For Unsportsmanlike Conduct, the referee will choose a penalty appropriate given the nature of the offense.

9 Stalemate
If a stalemate occurs the original breaker of the rack will break again.

1 Determining the Break
2 Ten Ball Rack
3 Legal Break Shot
4 Second Shot of the Rack – Push Out
5 Call Shots & Pocketing Balls
6 Safety
7 Wrongfully Pocketed Balls
8 Continuing Play
9 Spotting Balls
10 Standard Fouls
11 Serious Fouls
12 Stalemate

Ten ball is a call shot game played with ten object balls numbered one through ten and the cue ball. The balls are played in ascending numerical order and the lowest numbered ball must be contacted by the cue ball in order to establish a legal hit. If the ten ball is pocketed on a legal break shot, it will be spotted and the player continues with his inning. Only one ball may be called on each shot, except on the break shot where no ball may be called. 


1 Determining the Break
The player who wins the lag chooses who will break the first rack. The standard format is to alternate the break, but see Regulation 15, Subsequent Break Shots.


2 Ten Ball Rack
The object balls are racked as tightly as possible in a triangular shape, with the one ball at the apex of
the triangle and on the foot spot and the ten ball in the middle of the triangle. The other balls will be
placed in the triangle without purposeful or intentional pattern.

10 ball
Ten Ball Rack

 

 

 


3 Legal Break Shot
The following rules apply to the break shot:
(a) the cue ball begins in hand behind the head string; and
(b) if no ball is pocketed, at least four object balls must be driven to one or more rails, or the shot is a foul.

4 Second Shot of the Rack – Push Out
If no foul is committed on the break shot, the shooter may choose to play a “push out” as his shot. He must make his intention known to the referee, and then rules Wrong Ball First and No Rail after Contact are suspended for the shot. If no foul is committed on a push out, the other player chooses who will shoot next. The ten ball pocketed during a Push Out is spotted, without penalty. 

5 Call Shots & Pocketing Balls
Whenever the shooter is attempting to pocket a ball (except the break) he 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.

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.

6 Safety
The shooter, after the break at anytime may call “safety” which permits him to make contact with the legal object ball without pocketing a ball and end his inning. However, if the shooter pockets the legal object ball the incoming player has the option to play the shot as left, or hand it back to his opponent. (See 9.7 Wrongfully Pocketed Balls which also applies during a safety.)

7 Wrongfully Pocketed Balls
If a player misses his intended ball and pocket, and either makes the nominated ball in the wrong pocket or pockets another ball, his inning has finished and the incoming player has the option to take the shot as is, or hand it back to his opponent.

8 Continuing Play
If the shooter legally pockets a called/nominated ball on a shot (except a push out, any additional balls pocketed remain pocketed (except the ten ball), and he continues at the table for the next shot. If he legally pockets the called ten ball on any shot (except a push out), he wins the rack. If the shooter fails to pocket the called ball or fouls, play passes to the other player, and if no foul was committed, the incoming player must play the
cue ball from the position left by the other player.

9 Spotting Balls
If the ten ball is pocketed on a foul a push out or during the break shot, or without calling it, or accidentally in the wrong pocket, or driven off the table, it is spotted. No other object ball is ever spotted.

10 Standard Fouls
If the shooter commits a standard foul, play passes to his opponent. The cue ball is in hand, and the incoming player may place it anywhere on the playing surface.

11 Serious Fouls
For Three Consecutive Fouls, the penalty is loss of the current rack. For Unsportsmanlike Conduct, the referee will choose a penalty appropriate given the nature of the offense.

12 Stalemate
If a stalemate occurs the original breaker of the rack will break again.

 

   
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