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Using the 8 Ball in Combination Shots

Using the 8 Ball in Combination Shots

Is it legal to use the 8 ball in a combination shot?

For example, in a game of 8 ball, I am shooting stripes and I shoot the cue ball into the 8 ball, the 8 ball into the 10 ball, and the 10 ball goes into the pocket.

Is that a legal shot?

This question relates to the following billiard rules:

Using the 8 Ball in Combination Shots

Replies & Comments

  1. user1498424466jana on 6/25/2017 5:37:36 PM

    Yes and no. Here is the breakdown.

    When you can use the 8 ball for a combination shot:

    1. Open Table: The only time you can hit the 8 ball as part of a combination shot is immediately after the break when the table is still open e.g. choice of group is still being determined. You can only hit the 8-ball as part of a combination shot at this point during the game. Otherwise, if you make a direct hit on the 8-ball (before it is time to shoot for the 8 ball), you lose your turn and any pocketed balls remain pocketed. Your opponent continues play on the open table at this point. When it is not the open break, the 8 ball can't be used in a combination shot at all.
    2. 8 Ball in Middle of Combo Shot: When you do a combination shot where the 8 ball is NOT the first ball your cue ball hits. E.g. you can do cue ball to the 5 ball, to the 8 ball, to the ten ball, etc... and that is legal since you didn't hit the eight ball first.

    When you can't use the 8 ball for a combination shot:

    1. You can not use the 8 ball in a combination shot when the choice of group has already been determined and the 8 ball is the first ball your cue ball hits in executing the combination shot.

    As always, confirm any nuances to the rules wherever you are playing.

    Hope this helps.

  2. user1498424466DougFraser on 11/16/2017 1:17:51 PM


    I am struggling with the distinction between a legal shot and a foul in these rules.

    In the latest copy of the BCA rules I can find It reads . . .

    OPEN TABLE. Defined. The table is open when the choice of groups stripes or solids, has not yet been determined. When the table is open, it is legal to hit a solid first to make a stripe or vice-versa. Note: The table is always open immediately after the break shot. When the table is open it is legal to hit any solid or stripe or the 8-ball first in the process of pocketing the called stripe or solid. However, when the table is open and the 8 ball is the first ball contacted, no stripe or solid may be scored in favor of the shooter. The shooter loses his turn and any balls pocketed remain pocketed, and the incoming player addresses the balls with the table still open. On an open table, all illegally pocketed balls remain pocketed.

    So I'm confused - it says it is LEGAL if you hit any ball first in the process of pocketing the called ball - but it doesn't specifically say you may continue at the table? A bit odd because a legal shot is really just one that is not a foul - correct? But then it seems to suggest that if you hit the eight ball first your called shot doesn't count as scored. So doesn't the above rule mean that if you hit the eight ball first it is "legal" (ie not a foul) - but you lose your turn?

    PLEASE help!

  3. user1498424466billiardsforum on 11/21/2017 11:01:55 PM

    It is a subtle distinction:

    • a shot can be "legal" (meets the criteria in the rules) or "illegal" (fails to meet the criteria)
    • a "foul" results from the outcome of that shot.

    So, a shot might be legal (in that it met the criteria for a legal shot) but may still result in a foul based on what happens after the balls come to rest after the shot is executed.

    Hopefully that helps clarify the illegal shot vs foul and if you follow what I am saying, I think the rules you highlighted make more sense.

    Also, for what it's worth, I am sure others can explain it better than I can...

  4. user1498424466DougFraser on 11/21/2017 11:07:38 PM

    Thanks - that does clarify but the rule still seems a bit odd - it doesn't specify that hitting the eight ball first when the table is open can lead to a score - so I guess if you "accidentally" strike the eight ball first when the table is open then it is not a foul according to this rule but I don't know why they bother referencing using the eight ball in a "called shot" when it goes on to say such a shot can not be used to score.

  5. user1498424466billiardsforum on 11/22/2017 4:43:53 AM

    When table is open (and your shot is legal)...

    • If you hit the 8 ball first, then pocket another ball, those balls stay down, but are not scored in your favor, and play passes to your opponent with the table still open.
    • If you hit any non-8-ball first, then pocket it, or any other object ball (except the 8 ball), you may continue at the table.

    Generally the 8 ball can never be the first ball contacted unless all other balls in your group have been pocketed and you are actually shooting at the 8 ball.

  6. user1498424466DougFraser on 11/22/2017 9:08:08 PM

    That is how I interpreted the rule as well - but of course, that means striking the eight ball first would never be intentional even with an open table so it would be rare indeed.

    About your second point - I assume that you are still required to call the ball that is pocketed in order to score and stay at the table or is that not required when the table is open?

  7. user1498424466billiardsforum on 11/22/2017 10:51:23 PM

    Correct. It is still required that you call the ball and the pocket, even when the table is open. If other uncalled balls also fall (either before or after your called ball falls), they stay down, and you continue play at the table.

    Regarding shots when the table is still open:

    3.4 Open Table / Choosing Groups

    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.

    I hope we got you all straightened out with this stuff!

  8. user1498424466DougFraser on 11/22/2017 11:05:20 PM

    Thanks that is great - but you have added a wrinkle I wasn't aware of.

    If, when the table is open, you call a ball and you do pocket it in the called pocket BUT a different uncalled ball drops first (obviously not the 8) then do you lose your turn? I.E. does your called ball have to be the first ball to drop when the table is open? If so, I assume that you have still made a legal shot but lose your turn and the table remains open?

    Is that also required when the table is not open? I.E. does the called ball always have to be pocketed first?

    Many thanks for your time. This has been very helpful!

  9. user1498424466billiardsforum on 11/22/2017 11:15:28 PM

    In that scenario, you are fine. As long as you:

    1. Contact your object ball first, and
    2. Make your called ball in the called pocket

    If you meet those criteria, you continue to play. Any incidental balls dropped into the pocket stay down, but you remain at the table.

  10. user1498424466DougFraser on 11/22/2017 11:55:32 PM

    OK - so the first situation holds - when the table is open if you sink an uncalled ball BEFORE your called ball you lose your turn.

  11. user1498424466billiardsforum on 11/23/2017 5:21:18 AM

    No - order of pocketing doesn't matter. What matters is that your called ball goes in the called pocket.

  12. user1498424466DougFraser on 4/6/2020 2:28:09 PM

    Thanks again @billiardsforum - So does that mean that you mis-typed when you included the reference to the order of falling in your first response on 11/22/2017 10:51:23 PM?

    "If other uncalled balls also fall after your called ball falls, they stay down, and you continue play at the table."

    So now my understanding is that the order of any other (non-8) ball falling is irrelevant in all shots.

    You just need to contact a legal ball first and make your called ball and pocket.

  13. user1498424466billiardsforum on 4/7/2020 8:59:33 AM

    Yes, correct, and thanks for pointing that out. I've corrected that earlier statement.

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Using the 8 Ball in Combination Shots

  • Title: Using the 8 Ball in Combination Shots
  • Author:
  • Published: 6/25/2017 5:01:09 PM
  • Last Updated: 6/25/2017 5:29:54 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)