The Rules of the Pool


The game of Eight Ball is a game that I greatly enjoy. For most of my childhood I had a pool table. I’d play against my parents and relatives, especially around Christmas and Thanksgiving. In fact, right about the time the holidays came around, I would start to practice, trying to up my game so I would have the upper hand when my relatives came over to play. I actually got fairly good at the game, but for some reason I stopped for a while and my parents got rid of the pool table, so I didn’t play that much.

These day’s, I’ve been playing at some places around town, I think I have a long way to go before I am at the top of my game, nonetheless I am quite fond of the game again. There is one problem when you play pool and that problem is the rules. Even though there is a certain set of rules, everyone has their own set of rules, mostly because of where they learned to play the game. I am going to show you three nonexistent rules that are wrongfully imposed. This might make things a little clearer when you are playing Eight Ball with your friends.

1. You don’t loose if you scratch on a legal break.

I must say that I didn’t even know this rule existed. I thought you lost if you scratched on the break, apparently that is not the case. “If a player scratches on a legal break shot, (1) all balls pocketed remain pocketed (exception, the 8-ball: see rule 4.8), (2) it is a foul, (3) the table is open.” Isn’t that an interesting one.

A legal break shot is “(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.”

So what do you do if someone doesn’t legally break? “When the breaker 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 re-racked and having the option of shooting the opening break or allowing the offending player to re-break.”

2. No spotting!

This is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to pool. If a player scratches while simultaneously making another ball in, the made ball is NOT spotted or taken out of the pocket, it remains in the pocket.

In order to understand this rule you first have to look at foul rules. A scratch is considered a foul and nothing more.

Now you should observe the rules for illegally pocked 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 and are scored in favor of the shooter controlling that specific group of balls, solids or stripes.” The words “remained pocketed” are key here, you do not spot the object ball if pocketed on a scratch.

3. No need to keep it in the kitchen!

The “Kitchen” is not the place where you cook your food, in the game of pool the kitchen is the space between the headstring and the back rail on the breaking side of the table. Many people think that when a foul is committed, most notably a scratch, one must place the cue ball in the kitchen, or behind the headstring, when it is your turn to take a shot. That is actually false.

If your opponent commits a foul you shouldn’t be punished for your opponents foul, you should have an advantage over your opponent. You get an advantage by gaining the ability to place the cue ball anywhere on the table. When a foul is committed “Opposing player gets cue ball in hand. This means that the player can place the cue ball anywhere on the table (does not have to be behind the headstring except on opening break). This rule prevents a player from making intentional fouls which would put an opponent at a disadvantage. With cue ball in hand, the player may use a hand or any part of a 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.”

There you have it, some pool tips that might help end some arguments when you are playing pool with your buddies.

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