How to Play 8 Ball Pool: A simple game guide

What do you imagine playing when your pals casually challenge you to a game of pool? Does 8-ball pool ever come to mind? If so, then this 8 Ball Pool rules guide will teach you how to play.

If you interpret pool as a game played with 15 balls, striped and solid, that revolves around this bad blackball or the 8 ball; you’re simply one of the millions who think eight-ball pool is synonymous to pool. 

8 ball rules are easy to learn and the game is fun to play. It’s not only popular among every international organization associated with billiards like the WPA, but also in most clubs and bars.

Proudly one of the most celebrated games of billiards, the 8-ball pool has an extensive list of popular names that the game goes by, including spots and stripes, high and lows, or stripes and solids. 

The eight-ball pool game also has an extended family with members having slightly different rules in different parts of the world; blackball being the most popular one from Europe. 

Let’s take a look at a few of the 8 ball rules, and how you can find a winning strategy here.

What Is an 8 Ball Pool Game?

8 Ball Pool Game Info image

One of the most common pool games in clubs and global tournaments alike, the eight-ball pool is a rotational cue game that ends with a call shot. The game does not end unless the black ball numbered 8 is pocketed in a legal shot. Eight-Ball pool rules set the standard framework for most of the pool game rules.

Number Of Players: 2

Ages: Teenagers and above

Difficulty: Medium

Main Objective: Pocketing all assigned object balls and then the eight-ball in a legal shot and a called pocket.

Why We Love It: It is the game of the pros, and makes us feel like one. Blending the right amounts of casual fun and serious concentration, eight-ball pool makes for one of the best games of substance. 

Brief History Of Eight-Ball Pool

One of the most ancient variations of the game of billiards, the eight-ball pool game ironically is also the first game that most closely reflects modern-day pool game rules.

It was developed around the year 1900 in the United States and was a direct variant of the pyramid pool. Eight-ball pool games gained popularity because of the advanced change in the gameplay and the increased significance and challenge of pocketing the black ball or the 8 ball.

This was the first pool game that won the glory of having a purpose-made ball set in its name and went on to quickly become the most popular pool game in the earlier parts of the 20th century. Today, the pool game is giving a tough competition to its nine-ball counterpart and straight pool. 

Equipment And Set-Up: How To Get Started?

The equipment used in playing an eight-ball pool game is often considered to be a standard pool apparatus that can be used in playing various related games. This makes it all the more important to get it right. Know the how-to of 8 ball rules, with this informative list:

Pool Table

  • The most standard forms of billiard or pool tables are used to play eight-ball pool.
  • According to formalized regulations, these are typically 9ft in length with 6 pockets.
  • The pool table set by Barrington Hatherly is known for its smooth finishing, sturdy features, and professional design.
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  • A total of 16 balls are required — 15 numbered and a single white cue ball
  • The 15 balls are divided into solid and striped sets wherein numbers 1-7 are solid and 9-15 are striped (or spotted).
  • The 8 numbered ball is solid and black in color

Related: How to Clean Pool Table Balls


  • With the 8 ball in the center, the remaining 14 balls are racked randomly.
  • The rack is placed parallel to the bottom railing, with the topmost object ball placed on the foot stop.

Cue Stick

  • Generally, a cue of about 59 inches in length is ideal for the game.
  • A pack of cue sticks like that offered by Billiard Depot is a good deal for high-quality, precision friendly cue sticks.
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8-Ball Rules And Game Guidelines

Several international billiard bodies have rules that tweak eight-ball pool in different variations, however, most common standard of rules of the American game is as follows: 


For a break shot to be successful in an eight-ball pool game, a player needs to either pocket 1 object ball or make sure at least 4 object balls hit the cushions. Pocketing the black ball at this stage leads to re-spotting or reracking, the choice depends on the opponent. The balls pocketed during this stage do not determine the player’s set.

Determining The Object Ball Set

Another shot is played to pocket any ball except 8 to determine which player will be assigned which set. 

If Player A, for instance, pockets a solid ball during the shot following the break, then for the rest of that game, that player will only target balls numbered 1-7 that belong to the solid-patterned set.

Playing The Game

Once assigned, the players play to pocket all balls in respective sets to reach the 8 ball, and with every successful sinking, the player gets to play another shot in the same turn. Two things need to be noted during the game —

  1. Pocketing balls of the opponent’s set does not lead to re-spotting
  2. Fouling leads to ball-in-hand of the opponent

Taking the above example forward, say Player A accidentally pockets ball number 9 (spotted), then that player has scored the number for Player B, the opponent. No further penalty is required. 

In the next turn if Player A accidentally knocks ball number 10 off the table, this will be considered a foul, and player B gets the chance to have the ball-in-hand and re-spot it wherever convenient on the table. 8 ball rules are simple once you get hold of the basics.

The Money Ball Shot

The deciding shot of the game is that of the moneyball — the black 8 ball. Pocketing the ball anytime during the game leads to re-spotting. 

Once all other object balls are done away with, the player calls the shot for the 8 ball. That means the player will have to claim a pocket before shooting, succeeding to sink the ball in, which will win the game for that player.

In any other case — sinking the 8 ball in a different pocket or knocking it off the table — the player will lose the game.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the most common fouls in an eight-ball pool?

Most common fouls in the game include:

  • Pocketing the cue ball 
  • Fewer balls hitting the cushions during a break and no ball being pocketed
  • Knocking an object ball off the table
  • Double-hitting 

How is the British version of the eight-ball pool game different from the American version? 

Now, 8 ball game rules can vary depending on which version you are playing. American pool is generally played with big, striped, and solid billiard balls that are numbered whereas British version of the game, more popularly called the Blackball, is played with small unnumbered billiard balls, with the black ball signifying the American 8 ball.

Along with relatively smaller dimensions of the pool table, English cues tend to have smaller tips to ensure control over the ball, and the American cue has a comparatively larger tip for accurate power shorts. 

Eight-ball pool is played in which International Tournaments? 

Eight-ball pool is a popular international game with exclusive tournaments in its names like the WPA World Eight-Ball Championship, PBT World Eight-Ball Championship, WEPF Eight-Ball Pool World Championship, and the PPPO World Eight-Ball Championship.

Similar Games You Might Like

Eight-Ball pool is a game so immersive that it can speed up time, and before you realize, you would be reaching the break of dawn. Be warned.

However, if you plan on making the most of your game night and want to drop in some fun variants, be sure to check out our guides for Carrom Board rules and Bagatelle rules.

If the black ball call-factor is what entices you the most about a game of eight-ball pool, the ten-ball pool game is a must-try for you. If you have a thing for classic versions of games, there’s nothing better than a game of 301 Darts.

A simple conclusion we can make here is, for any successful game night, all you need is good company, a good itinerary of games, and a reliable game-rules companion like GroupGames101.

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