How To Be Good At 8 Ball Pool Game Pigeon

The most popular American pocket billiard games is hands down – 8-ball.

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The rules of the game are pretty simple. The first person to make all of their assigned groups (Solid or Stripes) of balls and then make the 8-ball in a designated or “called” pocket wins the game. Let’s break down some basic terminology before we move on.

Basic Definitions

We’ll go over some basic definitions so everyone is on the same page.

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Cue Ball = White ball

Object Balls = 15 colored and numbered balls

-Solids = Numbered 1 through 7

-Stripes = Numbered 9 through 15

-8 Ball = Black ball numbered 8

Rail = The bank or walls within the box of the pool table (think of 4 walls in a room, but called Rails)

Scratch = When a player accidentally makes the cue ball into a pocket or commits a foul

Example: You are Solids but you accidentally hit a Stripe ball first

Pockets – There are 6 holes in which you can make the Object balls in called “Pockets”

  • The 4 pockets in the corner are called Corner Pockets
  • The 2 other remaining pockets on the sides are called Side Pockets

Cue/Cue Stick/Pool Stick – The main playing stick you use to strike the object balls

Quick Summary of 8-ball game


The pocket billiard game 8-ball is played with 15 object balls (labeled 1 through 15) and a cue ball (the white ball). Played with two players, whoever pockets their group of balls first (you can be SOLID – 1 through 7, or STRIPES – 9 through 15) and then pockets the 8-ball will win the game.

This is a call shot game, so you must call which ball you intend to make and the pocket it will go in. Failure to make it in the intended pocket forfeits your turn and it is now your opponent’s turn.

Universal Rules

(Regardless if you are playing bar rules or league rules – they are the same)

Most of the rules in all formats have some universal rules that are the same across the board. It may alter slightly from format to format.

  • A player must sink their appropriate balls (Solid or Stripes), then pocket the 8-ball in the “called” pocket to win the game.
  • The first player to make the 8-ball, wins the game.
    • A player cannot shoot the 8-ball until all of their appropriate balls are pocketed first.
  • If you make the 8-ball on the break without scratching, you instantly win.

How to Rack

You must “rack” or place the balls in a triangle at the “Foot” of the table with

  • The 8-ball in the center
  • A stripe ball in one corner of the rack
  • A solid ball in the other corner of the rack and
  • The first ball on the rack on the “Foot Spot”.

The rest of the balls don’t really matter where they go.

The Foot Spot usually has a black sticker or designated marked area.

What’s a “Tight Rack” or “Frozen”?

A Tight Rack – This means all the balls in the rack are touching without any space between the balls. This can also be called “Frozen”.

Be sure to make the rack “Tight” or “Frozen” which refers to each of the balls touching each other with no gaps. This ensures that the rack spreads better with energy transfer from your break is at a maximum.

Where to Break

The player who is breaking must break with the cue ball behind the “Head String”. This is also known as the Kitchen.

  • This is also where the 2nd diamond is, so you can break from anywhere behind the 2nd diamond and there may be a sticker or spot to help you identify this area.

Image Correction: The Head Spot is supposed to be labeled the Head String*

If you want to know some common tips on how to improve your break, click here to go to my post about 5 ways to improve your breaking!

Common Bar Rules

These are common bar rules that I have come across. The rules in your bar may be different and that’s okay too. FYI (For your information, they may vary so please confirm with your opponent on all rules before proceeding with the game, it will save you future headaches later).

After the Break:
  • Whatever you make is what you are (You made only solid balls on the break, you are solids for the remainder of the game)
  • If you make the 8-ball and don’t scratch, you automatically win the game
  • If you scratch or the cue ball flies off the table, your opponent must shoot from behind the Head String (in the Kitchen)
    • The object ball they decide to hit from here must be beyond that head string too so you are hitting towards the longer side of the table
No “Ball-in-Hand”
  • After a foul or table scratch has occurred, you just lose your turn and the cue ball stays where it is
    • In other League formats, this would result in a Ball-In-Hand which means you can place the cue ball anywhere. A lot of bar players feel this is too much of an unfair advantage, I will leave that up to you guys to decide for yourselves!
Call Your Shots!
  • A Player must call every single detail of how the ball is going to be pocketed or else the turn ends and it’s the opponents turn (Leave the cue ball where it stops naturally)
    • This means if you make the Orange 5-Ball but it hit off of the Green 6-Ball but you didn’t say something along the lines of “5-Ball off the 6-Ball”, your turn is over even though you made your ball.
    • Another example of this is if you call your Orange 5-Ball in the Corner Pocket but it misses, bounces and goes into the Side Pocket by accident. Sorry, you didn’t call the side pocket so – you got it, your turn is over!
Make the 8-Ball Clean
  • Just like Calling Your Shots, you have to call which Pocket the 8-ball will go into
    • No caroms allowed, only “Clean” shots so it can’t hit off another ball
    • You can bank it off a rail

Carom – When you hit the ball you’re trying to make off of another ball and your original ball goes into a pocket

League Rules (APA vs. BCA)

The two most popular and well-known Billiard/Pool Leagues today are APA and BCA.

APA stands for American Poolplayers Association (Largest American billiard league with over 260,000 Members) and BCA stands for Billiard Congress of America. We’ll go over some of the biggest differences between the rules for APA and BCA. I will have a link below if you want to read all the rules for either league format.

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With APA and BCA being the most popular, we will go over their most popular rules, differences and similarities.

After the BreakWhatever you make on the break is what you areIt is still “Open” and you can still choose between solid/stripes
Scratching (Only) After the BreakYou must shoot from behind the Head Spot or KitchenYou have Ball-In-Hand, take the cue ball and shoot from anywhere
Scratching or Table ScratchResults in Ball-in-HandResults in Ball-in-Hand
Call ShotsYou do not need to call any shots, “Slop” or “Lucky” shots count (Regardless of a Carom)You must call each shot into each Pocket (Regardless of a Carom)
8-Ball Call ShotYou must “Mark” your 8-ball pocket with a “Marker” or “Object”.

Example: Cell phone, small toy, coin, etc.

This is not always the case in League play as some players will just let you call or point to the pocket

You must call the pocket you intend to make the 8-ball in (Regardless of a Carom).
Scratching on the 8-BallIf you scratch on the 8-ball, that is an automatic lossYou do NOT lose! Your opponent just gets Ball-in-Hand and the game continue

These are obviously not all the rules or differences between APA and BCA, but I wanted to go over the main ones. If you want to know the official rules for both APA and BCA, check out the links below to their official websites:

Major Differences:

So there are some slight differences between APA and BCA. The biggest takeaway I noticed are two rules:

  1. After the break – In APA, you are what you make. In BCA, it is “Open” and gives the player more options.
  2. If you scratch on the 8-ball – You lose in APA, but in BCA you do not.

If you are interested in how to find a nearby bar or league, check out my post that goes into detail called How to Find a nearby Bar, Tournament or Pool League.


Bar Rules or BCA Rules appear to be fairer to most players while APA is very forgiving because “Lucky” or “Slop” shots still count. There can be an argument made that since APA is the largest league for Amateurs and players need the handicap. This is a big debate between a lot of pool players and it’s common for players to complain about.

Be sure to choose the best format and rules for you to enjoy billiards. Most of the general rules are similar but there are slight tweaks.

Pool is a popular game that is played all over the world by millions of people. However, there are many different varieties of the game, all with distinctly different rules and regulations. By far, the most popular forms of the game are the ones that originated in the USA, known as ‘eight-ball’ and ‘nine-ball’ pool.

Both are played on a normal sized pool table with the regulation six pockets and both have multiple championships around the world. However, it is eight-ball that is the more common game – the one you’ll most likely see being played at your local pool hall and the one that most people first think of when the word pool is mentioned.

Eight-ball pool can be played as a singles or doubles game and is played with cues and 16 balls, 15 object balls, and one cue ball (the ball the players strike to try and hit the other balls). Pool can be a relatively high-speed game compared to its close relatives snooker and billiards but that makes it no less skilful with players requiring a high degree of skill, concentration, and tactical thinking to play the game at a high level.

Object of the Game

The object of pool is to pot all of your designated balls (either stripes or solids) and then pot the 8 ball, thus winning the game. As pool matches often consist of several games in a ‘best out of’ format, players attempt to win as many games as needed to win the match. Players must use their skills in both attack and safety play, as well as tactical nous to help them win the match.

Players & Equipment

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To play pool, the following pieces of equipment are required:

  • Table: The table used in pool is approximately 9 feet by 4.5 feet although games can often be played on differing sized tables.
  • Balls: 16 balls in total, comprising a white cue ball, seven striped balls, seven solid balls, and one black ball (8 ball).
  • Cues: Players have a cue each which can be made from wood, carbon fibre, or fibreglass and this is used for striking the cue ball.
  • Chalk: To ensure they have more control over their shots, each player tends to chalk the end of their cue to ensure there is good contact between the cue and the ball.


There is no score as such in pool with both players simply attempting to pot all of their designated object balls and then potting the 8 ball into the pocket that they have chosen. However, pool matches are often played over a number of games, so for example, in a best of nine frame match, the first player to reach five frames would be declared the winner.

Winning the Game

8 Ball pool is won when one of the following occurs:

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  • A player pots all of their designated balls and then legally pockets the 8 ball into their nominated pocket.
  • The opposing player illegally pots the 8 ball before clearing their own set of balls.
  • The 8 ball is knocked of the table by the opposition.

Rules of Pool

The rules of pool are some of the most contested of any sport, with slightly differing variations being played in different countries, cities, areas, and even establishments. However, the World Pool Billiard Association (WPA) have produced a standardized set of rules for both amateur and professionals by which to abide.

  • Before the game begins, the object balls should be placed in a triangular rack and positioned at the lower end of the table so that the apex ball of the rack lies on the foot spot. The order of the balls should be random apart from the black 8-ball, which should be placed in the middle of the third row. The white ball should be placed anywhere behind the service line on the table.
  • If it is the first game in a match, a coin should be tossed to decide who gets to choose whether to break. After that, the break is taken in turns.
  • To make a legal break, the player must hit the balls and ensure that four balls hit cushions and that the cue ball doesn’t go down a pocket. If the 8-ball is potted on the break, the player is entitled to ask for a re-rack.
  • The first player to pot an object ball will then have to continue to pot the balls from that category (stripes or solids). The opposition player will have to pot the other group.
  • A player will continue to make shots until they foul, or fail to pot an object ball. Then it is the turn of the opposing player. Play continues like this for the remainder of the game.
  • If a player commits a foul, the opposition player is entitled to place the cue ball anywhere on the table. There are numerous fouls in pool, some of the most common being:
    • Failing to hit your own object balls.
    • Hitting the cue ball off the table.
    • Potting one of the opposition's object balls.
    • Hitting the cue ball twice.
    • Pushing the cue ball rather than striking it.
    • A player taking a shot when it is not their turn.
  • Once all of a player’s balls have been potted, they must then sink the 8 ball. They must first designate which pocket they intend to pot the 8-ball in and then do as stated. Failure to do so will result in the opposition player returning to the table. If the player pots the 8 ball in any other pocket other than the nominated one, they forfeit the game.