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.


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.)


  • 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 breaking team 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. 
  • 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.


  • When it is your team’s turn to break, either player may break. You may discuss the decision with your partner. You are not required to maintain the order of play from any preceding game.
  • The team not breaking may discuss who will take the first shot for their team but the decision must be made before the breaking team’s inning ends. If you do not make the decision by the time the breaking team’s inning ends, then the player listed whose first name comes first in the alphabet must shoot.
  • In 8-Ball, if you pocket the 8-ball on a legal break, and do not foul, your partner must make the decision whether to spot the 8-ball and continue to shoot or re-rack and break again. If a re-rack is chosen the player who broke the original rack must break again.
  • If you pocket the 8-ball on an illegal break the incoming player must make the decision whether to take the break or have the original breaker re-break. In either case, the decision may not be discussed between partners.


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.
  • In Scotch Doubles, after the break, players on a team alternate shots during their inning. The order of play must be maintained between innings. If a player shoots out of turn it is a foul.


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.

  • Once groups are established, groups can never change for the remainder of the game.  If a player shoots at the wrong group and no foul is called before the next shot is taken, the game will be replayed with the player who broke the game breaking again.
  • 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.
  • SCOTCH DOUBLES: Shooting out of turn.


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 hour 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.

In Scotch Doubles, each team, not player, is entitled to one five-minute time out per match. The time-out must be taken between games. It is a foul if a team member leaves the playing area without authorization during a game. 


During your innning, you may not communicate with your partner or make suggestions of any kind (e.g., offer a mechanical bridge without being asked). Whether coaching has occurred is determined solely by the judgment of the referee.  Exception:  Master division players may communicate with partners at any time, as long as they stay within the 30 second shot clock.  

During your opponent’s inning, you may quietly discuss anything you wish with your partner. All discussion and communication must stop immediately when your opponent’s inning ends except in the Masters division.


Any player on either team, regardless of whose turn at the table it is, may:

  • call a foul;
  • request a stoppage of play to summon a referee, or suggest that a referee be summoned;
  • inquire whose turn it is;
  • inquire what group they have.

The finals:

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


  • 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.


When available, tournament directors can make a hit call. If you fail to call the director for a hit call, the call will go to the shooter.  If a player decides to call the director 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.