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Eight ball (8-ball) is a very popular billiard game that is played with 15 object balls in two different patterns (solids and stripes) and one cue ball. Playing this game is easy as it has simple rules. However, it requires great precision, focus, and patience.
But how to play eight ball? What are the rules and the steps?
If you find this game interesting and would like to play it, you are in the right place. In this article, we show you how this game is played (the steps) and the rules of playing. You’ll see it’s not difficult at all. So, let’s check it out!
What Equipment Is Used to Play Eight Ball Pool?
To play this game you need:
- 2 cue sticks – Each player has one cue stick with which they hit the ball(s). The sticks are usually wooden or from fiberglass.
- 16 balls – There are 16 balls in total. One of them is white and it’s called cue ball because the player hits it with their stick aiming to hit one of the other balls. One ball is black – it’s the 8 ball (the number 8 is written on it). The other 14 balls have two patterns: 7 are in solid colors and 7 in stripes.
- Pool table – Looks like other pool tables and has 6 pockets.
The Goal of the Game
The 8-ball pool game doesn’t have a score, which we have to admit is a bit relaxing as you’re not chasing a score. Instead, each player has to pot their 7 assigned balls (solids or stripes), from 1 to 7 and from 9 to 15. The first player who pots all their balls and gets to pot the black, 8 ball, wins the game. It’s that simple.
Eight Ball Terms
Before we head to the rules of the game, let’s check out the terms related to it. This will help you better understand the game, especially if you enter some sort of competition. Although you may not remember all the terms, you will remember some of them. To help you memorize them more easily, we’ll start with the easier ones:
- Cue ball – It’s the ball you hit with the stick aiming to hit other balls. It’s white and doesn’t have a number on it.
- Solids – These are the fully-colored balls. They go from number 1 to number 7.
- Stripes – These balls are in stripes. They go from number 9 to number 15.
- Rack – It’s the triangular object in which the balls are arranged and placed in the middle of the table before the game begins. It’s usually made of wood but can also be made from other materials.
- Pocket – Those are the holes on the sides of the pool table. The balls that are well-hit go into one of them. There are 6 of them – one in each corner and one in the midway of the longer sides of the table.
- Pocketing – This is the action when the player hits a ball (or more) and the ball ends up in one of the holes.
- Rail – It’s the cushion on the sides of the board that makes sure the ball returns to the playing surface.
- Open table – This is the very beginning of the game when the game still hasn’t started and the players choose the balls they will play with.
- Aim – It’s when the player targets the cue (white) ball with the stick aiming at one of its balls.
- Bank shot – The shot that hits the target ball and it goes to one of the holes.
- Break shot – It refers to the first shot of the game.
- Legal break – It’s when the breaker hits the cue ball and pockets one of the balls or drives at least four balls to the rail.
- Snookered – It’s when the player shoots the cue ball but it doesn’t hit any of its balls.
- Foul penalty – This type of foul gives the opponent a chance to play and place the cue ball in any position they want.
- Scratch – It’s when the player shoots the cue ball into one of the pockets. When this happens, the player loses its turn and of the already pocketed balls.
- Carom shot – This is one of the difficult tricks a player can do. It’s when the player hits the cue ball and it rebounds to hit and pocket the targeted ball.
The Rules of Eight Ball
Now that we’ve gone through all the terms you should know, let’s take a look at the rules of the game. You can’t play the game if you don’t know them.
Balls in the rack – Before the game starts, the balls must be arranged in the rack. This is done systematically, with the 8 ball in the middle, a stripe ball at one of the angles of the rack, and a solid ball at the other angle. The ball with number 1 is placed at the angle facing the head string.
Choosing the balls – Each player chooses whether they will play with the solid-colored or the striped-colored balls. The choice is made after the legal shot – the shot that follows the break shot (first shot).
Scratch – This foul happens when the cue ball is pocketed in one of the holes. If it happens on a legal break, the balls that may have been pocketed stay in their place, except if the 8 ball is also pocketed. And, of course, the player loses their turn.
Foul penalty – This foul can happen if a player:
- Hits the cue ball more than once.
- Hits their own balls.
- Pushes the cue ball instead of striking it.
- Pots the opponent’s balls.
- Plays when it’s not their turn.
When this happens, the player loses their turn and the opponent can place the cue ball anywhere on the table.
Legal break shot foul – This happens if the shot doesn’t pocket any of the balls nor drives at least 4 balls to the rail. Then, the other player decides if the balls should be racked or they accept the outcome.
An illegal pocket of balls – This happens when the targeted ball is pocketed into the hole where a foul has been made or called. It can also happen if the target ball doesn’t get to the designated pocket.
When is the game lost?
A player can lose a game if:
- The 8 ball goes off the table.
- The 8 ball is pocketed during the game, except when it’s pocketed on the break.
How to Play the Game?
If you want to learn how to play the game properly, you need to follow these steps:
Arrange the Balls in the Rack
As already mentioned there is a specific way to arrange the balls in the rack. All the numbered balls are inside the rack and the cue ball is out of the rack. The 8 ball is placed in the middle of the rack, a stripe ball is placed at one of the angles of the rack, and a solid ball is placed at the other angle. The ball with number 1 is placed at the angle facing the head string.
Take the Break Shot
When all balls are arranged in the rack, the rack is removed, and the cue ball is placed at the head string. Then, the players flip a coin to see which player takes the break (first) shot. When it’s decided, the player who will shot first takes the shot. To be legal, the shot must pocket one or more of the balls or at least drive one or more of them to the rail.
Choose the Group of Balls
Once the break shot is made, the players choose which of them will play with the solid and which with the striped balls. In case the break shot pocketed a ball(s), then that ball determines with which group the breaker plays. For instance, if the breaker pocketed ball number 7, it means they play with the solid-colored balls. This automatically means the opponent plays with the striped-colored balls.
Take Continuous Shots
When the legal shot is taken successfully, the player continues to take shots at the balls trying to pocket as much of them as possible. This goes on until the player loses their turn, which happens if they don’t pocket a ball or make one of the fouls.
It’s important to mention that there’s no foul if you hit and pocket more than one of your balls. Also, it’s no foul is your shot at your balls pockets the opponent’s ball(s).
Foul happens if you hit and pocket your opponent’s ball. It also happens if the 8 ball or the cue ball gets pocketed.
Shoot All Your Balls
The goal of the game is to pocket all your balls. Therefore, use your turn to try to hit and get as much of your balls as possible to the holes.
Shoot the 8 Ball
When one of the players pockets all of their balls, they get to shoot the 8 ball. If they manage to pocket it, they win. If not, the first player who pockets the 8 ball, wins the game.
End the Game
The game ends when one of the players pockets the 8 ball.
As you can see playing eight ball isn’t very difficult. However, there are many rules you need to follow so that you make the most of your game. If you follow them and don’t make fouls, your turn will last longer, hence, you will have more chances to hit and pocket your balls.
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