NYC Pool Championships 8-Ball Rules



8-Ball is a call shot game played with a cue ball and fifteen object balls numbered 1 through 15. Each player has a group of seven balls: the solid colored balls numbered 1 through 7, or the striped balls numbered 9 through 15.  The 8-ball is the game winning ball.  The object of the game is for you to pocket your entire group of balls and then legally pocket the 8-ball.  The game is played by two players.

8-ball rack rules.jpg


The balls are racked in a triangle with the apex ball on the foot spot.  The 8-ball is in the middle of the 3rd row of balls and the remaining balls are placed at random, except the ball at each rear corner of the rack must be have one solid and one striped ball.  (See picture.)

Grand Masters Division: You must rack the balls in solid, stripe, solid, stripe order.

Starting your match:

Once your match is called, immediately proceed to your table.  If you are not at the table, lagging for the break within 15 minutes of the match being called, you will be forfeited.  If you are one of the players with a published time (ie. 9am first round matches) and you are not at your table 15 minutes after the published start time, you will be forfeited regardless of when the match is called on the day of the event.  Players are responsible for being in the room, listening for when their match is called.  Tournament directors do their best to accommodate special requests when possible, but ultimately it is a player's responsibility to be alert and ready to play when their match is called.  


  • Lag for the break

  • Rack your own

  • Alternate Break

  • Break from anywhere behind the line

  • There is no requirement for the cue ball to contact any particular ball first.

  • A legal break requires a ball to be pocketed or at least four object balls to contact one or more cushions. If you legally pocket a ball on the break, the breaker continues shooting. If you do not legally pocket a ball or you commit a foul during the break, your inning ends.

  • The 8-ball does not count on the break regardless of which pocket it goes into. If a player starts to collect the balls after the break thinking they won the rack, they lose that rack. If the 8-ball is pocketed on the break, the breaker has two options:

    • Spot the 8-ball and continuing shooting where the cue ball rests.

    • Re-rack the balls and break again.

These same options apply even if the cue ball scratches on the break when the 8-ball is pocketed on the break.

  • If a player pockets the 8-ball and scratches on the break, the 8-ball is spotted and the player’s inning ends.

  • The rack cannot be played if there is an illegal break. If a player commits an illegal break, the opponent may

    • Re-rack the balls and break

    • Require you to re-rack the balls and break again

  • If a foul is committed on a legal break, the breaker’s inning ends, and the incoming player has ball in hand anywhere on the table.

  • Jumping the cue ball off the table during the break is a foul, not an illegal break. Ball in hand is awarded to the incoming player.

  • In all cases on the break, jumped object balls other than the 8-ball remain down and a foul is considered committed and ball in hand is awarded.

  • Absolutely no checking your opponents racks except to confirm that a solid and stripe are at each rear corner and the 8-ball is in the middle of the 3rd row.


The table remains open immediately following the break regardless if a ball is pocketed on the break.  When the table is open, all object balls except the 8-ball are legal object balls. 

  • For combination shots, a ball of one group may be contacted first to pocket a ball of the other group. The 8-ball may be part of such a combination so long as it is NOT the first ball contacted by the cue ball.


Solids or stripes (groups) are established when the first object ball is legally pocketed on a shot after the break.  The player legally pocketing the first ball is assigned that group, and the opponent is assigned the other group.  You cannot establish a group on a safety.

  • A player must call the pocket they intend to shoot the object ball into to establish their group and for all future shots their inning to continue. Obvious shots need not be called. Any banks, kisses, combos or carom shots are not considered obvious and should be called out loud.

  • Once groups are established, groups can never change for the remainder of the game. Once it is discovered that a player has shot the wrong group, it is a foul and ball in hand for the incoming player. If a player shoots at the wrong group and no foul is called before the 8-ball is pocketed, the game stands as it ended and the winner is the player that pocketed the 8-ball.

  • If all balls of either group are pocketed on the break or illegally pocketed before groups are established, either player may legally shoot the 8-ball during their inning and win.

Once groups have been established, balls in your opponent’s group and the 8-ball are considered illegal balls.  To continue shooting, a player must legally pocket a ball from their group on each shot.  Object balls pocketed in addition to the called ball stay down.  Your inning ends if you do not legally pocket a ball from your group. 


Prior to any shot except the break, you may declare a safety.   On a safety, your inning ends after the shot regardless of whether you pocket any ball. 

  • If you do not declare a safety and you pocket a ball on an obvious shot, your inning continues and you must shoot again.

  • A safety must be a legal shot or ball in hand will be awarded to the opponent.

BALL IN HAND FOULS (including but not limited to):

  • If the cue ball scratches at any time.

  • If you fail to hit a rail after contacting a legal ball.

  • If you fail to hit a ball from your designated group first.

  • If a player moves an object ball in any way (with their cue, their hand, the bridge, their clothes, a piece of chalk) AFTER the cue ball has been struck and at any time while the balls are still moving.

    • NOTE: If a player moves an object ball BEFORE he/she strikes the cue ball, your opponent has the option of keeping it where it moved to or placing it back to its original position. If the shooter moves it back without giving their opponent the option, it is a foul & ball in hand.

  • If a player accidentally moves more than one ball illegally.

  • If the player has ball in hand and moves another ball with the cue ball or the hand holding the cue ball.

    • NOTE: It is NOT a foul if the cue ball is accidentally pocketed during the ball in hand placement or if an object ball is pocketed during the ball in hand placement by anything other than the hand holding the cue ball. The pocket ball is placed back to it’s original position by the opposing team.

  • If any balls are jumped off the table.


The 8-ball becomes your legal ball immediately after there are no balls from your designated group on the table.  The player that legally pockets the 8-ball wins the game. 

  • If a player fouls during an attempt to pocket the 8-ball and the 8-ball was not pocketed or jumped off the table, it is NOT a loss of game and the incoming player has ball in hand.


You lose the game if:

  • You illegally pocket the 8-ball.

  • You jump the 8-ball off the table on any shot other than the break.

  • You pocket the 8-ball on the same shot as the last ball of your group.

  • You pocket the 8-ball on a shot defined as not obvious that you do not call. This includes but is not limited to banks, caroms, kisses, kicks.


Jump cues are allowed but it is illegal to jump with just a shaft. The penalty for jumping with a shaft is ball in hand for your opponent. 


If a referee judges that the table is in a position such that any attempt to pocket or move a ball will result in loss of game on that shot, or that the game is not progressing because the position of the table has not significantly changed through three consecutive innings by each player, the referee will declare a stalemate and the game will be replayed with the player who broke the game breaking again. 


Only one 5 minute break per match can be taken when it is that player's turn to shoot. If you leave the playing area while your opponent is at the table, you will be warned once, then lose that rack if it’s done again. One warning per tournament.

The finals:

The finals of each event will be a modified race.  If the undefeated player wins the standard rack race first, the match is over and they are the winner.  If the one-loss side player reaches the standard rack race first, the match is extended by two racks for both players.  The player that gets to this increased rack score first is the winner of the event.   For example, if your division's standard race on the winner's side is 6 racks, the undefeated player must win 6 racks to win the event.  If the one-loss player wins 6 racks before the undefeated player, then both player's races are extended to 8.  The player that wins 8 racks is declared the winner of the event. 


Players must maintain the highest level of sportsmanship and professionalism when playing on the live-stream.  Matches chosen for the live-stream are at the tournament director's discretion.  We do our best to stream the finals of each event, however, due to time constraints, we cannot guarantee all finals will be streamed.  


  • You must be seated when your opponent is at the table - if you do not remain in your seat a warning will be issued. If you do it a second time, you will lose that rack.

  • Players are not allowed to talk to spectators when their opponent is at the table – first a warning will be issued. If it’s done a second time, the offending player will lose the current rack. One warning per tournament.

  • Cell phones must be turned off during your match - If your phone rings during the match a warning will be issued. If this occurs a second time it will result in the loss of a rack. One warning per tournament.

  • Any player involved in any type of physical confrontation will be ejected from the tournament and forfeit all fees paid and any prize money that he/she may have won.


Tournament directors (TDs) should be called to watch any questionable hit before the shot is taken. If you fail to call a TD, or an agreed upon bystander, for a hit call, the call will go to the shooter.  The TD/hit caller’s decision is final.  If a player decides to call a TD and the opponent decides to shoot before the tournament director gets there to make a hit call, that is a foul and ball in hand for the opposing player.