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Can You Shoot at the 8 Ball When You Still Have an Object Ball Remaining?

Can You Shoot at the 8 Ball When You Still Have an Object Ball Remaining?

When playing eight ball pool, can you directly shoot at the 8 ball (to move it) when you still have an object ball remaining on the table?

My friend and I were playing eight ball. Everything went fine until we got to the ending of the game. It was my shot next. I had one object ball left and my friend didn't have any. He only had the 8-ball remaining.

His 8-ball was lying very close to the pocket as such that he would surely attempt to put the 8 ball into that pocket. Because of that, I chose to shoot the 8 ball away from that pocket, instead of shooting at my own ball.

Is this allowed?

As far as I know, it's only an "unwritten rule" which says that you can't do that, but he says that it's forbidden according to the official rules.

Who is right and who is wrong?

This question relates to the following billiard rules:

Can You Shoot at the 8 Ball When You Still Have an Object Ball Remaining?

Replies & Comments

  1. SornGbilliardsforum on 12/11/2007 6:12:56 AM

    When one or more of your object balls remain on the pool table, it is a "standard foul" to contact the 8 ball first with the cue ball. You must contact one of your own object balls first with the cue ball, if any exist on the pool table.

    If a player has object balls remaining (as you did), and they shoot the cue ball into the 8 ball first, they have committed the standard foul of striking the "wrong ball first". Standard fouls in eight ball pool result in the opponent taking the cue ball in-hand from anywhere on the playing surface.

    Here is a summary of how the rules of 8 ball apply to this situation, and below this are the detailed World Pool-Billiard Association ("WPA") rules which apply (emphasis mine).

    1. Standard foul #6.1 - "Wrong Ball First" says that players must always ensure that the cue ball first contacts a ball from their own group (solids/stripes). The 8 ball isn't part of either group. This is listed under the "Standard Fouls" section of the rules of 8 ball.

      6.2 - Wrong Ball First

      The first ball contacted by the cue ball on each shot must belong to the shooter's group, except when the table is open. [...] It is a foul for the cue ball to first contact any other ball.

    2. 8 Ball rule 3.9 - "Standard Fouls" tells us that the penalty for any "standard foul" is that your inning is over and play passes to the opponent with ball-in-hand from anywhere on the table.

      3.9 Standard Fouls (8 Ball)

      If the shooter commits a foul, play passes to his opponent. The cue ball is in hand, and the incoming player may place it anywhere on the playing surface. (See 1.5 Cue Ball in Hand.)

    3. Also note that all of the above only applies if the 8 ball isn't accidentally pocketed. If the 8 ball is accidentally pocketed (e.g. by mistake) during the scenario in question, then the shooting player automatically loses the rack.

      3.8 Losing the Rack (8 Ball)

      The shooter loses if he

      • (a) pockets the eight ball and fouls.;
      • (b) pockets the eight ball before his group is cleared;
      • (c) pockets the eight ball in an uncalled pocket; or
      • (d) drives the eight ball off the table.

      These do not apply to the break shot. (See 3.3 Break Shot.)

      3.10 Serious Fouls (8 Ball)

      The fouls listed under 3.8 Losing the Rack are penalized by the loss of the current rack. [...]

    4. It is also worth noting that the above also applies even if your scenario happened in an open-table situation after a break shot.

      3.4 Open Table / Choosing Groups (8 Ball)

      Before groups are determined, the table is said to be "open", and before each shot, the shooter must call his intended ball. If the shooter legally pockets his called ball, the corresponding group becomes his, and his opponent is assigned the other group. If he fails to legally pocket his called ball, the table remains open and play passes to the other player. When the table is "open", any object ball may be struck first except the eight ball.

  2. SornGBen from Cali on 1/17/2008 6:46:30 PM

    Yes, as he just knocked it away from the pocket, I believe his opponent would get ball-in-hand.

  3. SornGFenwick on 1/17/2008 8:12:23 PM

    The opponent gets ball-in-hand as it was not a legal shot.

    So your strategy of moving the 8 ball away from the pocket may not have been well thought out. Since it gives your opponent ball-in-hand, and he's shooting for the 8 ball, it would surly be a loss for you.

    For reference, here is the full version of the BCA rules:


    I would suggest getting the latest copy and take it with you to an event and kindly share it with your friends. I agree with the above answers on this one.

  4. SornGtedmauro on 1/18/2008 2:53:37 PM

    There is a crazy game here in Southern Colorado called "bar rules". I have also seen these rules in western Kansas and Wyoming.

    Going by the so called "bar rules", there would be no foul and your opponent would shoot from where the cue ball lies.

    Twenty years ago this was the most common rule for this 8 ball scenario in the bars and taverns. They are bad rules however because of situations as described in this thread.

    Differing from standard rules, the regional bar rules say that:

    • You should always try to pocket a ball,
    • Safeties are a form of cheating.
    • There is no ball-in-hand
    • All cue ball scratches are shot from the kitchen only.
    • It is illegal to hit a ball in the kitchen from the kitchen on a scratch unless the cue ball strikes a rail outside of the kitchen before contacting the object ball in the kitchen.

    I wrote a complete article about this on my site about a year ago. There are several links on that page which cover most of the different rules.


    Hope this helps.

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Can You Shoot at the 8 Ball When You Still Have an Object Ball Remaining?

  • Title: Can You Shoot at the 8 Ball When You Still Have an Object Ball Remaining?
  • Author: (Soeren G.)
  • Published: 12/11/2007 6:06:41 AM
  • Last Updated: 12/11/2022 11:42:40 AM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)