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Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules

Last-pocket 8-ball is a popular eight-ball variant that can help you hone your skills. These last-pocket 8 ball rules will explain how to play last pocket 8 ball.

Last pocket eight ball is a variation on the very popular game of eight ball. Last pocket eight ball is played the same way as regular eight ball throughout the game, with a slight variation at the end.

In last pocket eight ball, the requirement is that you must pocket the eight ball in the same pocket where your last object ball was made. For example, if you are shooting solids and you made your final solid ball in the far left pocket, then that far left pocket is considered your last pocket, and is the pocket in which you must make the eight ball.

If your opponent pockets your last ball by mistake, your last pocket is still the pocket in which that ball was made. This puts a significant spin on the end of a game of 8 ball, and can dramatically change one's strategy.

Player Pockets Last Object Ball in Opponent's "Last Pocket"

Opposing players cannot have the same "last pocket". The first player to sink their last ball in a particular pocket "owns" that pocket. If his or her opponent sinks their last ball in the same pocket, usually the first player gets to assign the second player a different last pocket. We say "usually" because this scenario is un-documented in any official rules, and there are three common variations on how this is handled (in order of most-to-least common):

  1. First player to "own" the contested pocket gets to assign the second player a different last pocket, with the following caveats:
    • If a corner pocket is contested, the first player can designate any of the three other corners for the opponent (but not a side pocket).
    • If the contested pocket is a side pocket, the opponent is automatically assigned the opposite side pocket.
  2. Same as above, but without any of the caveats. The first player to "own" the contested pocket may choose any other pocket for the opponent, including side pockets.
  3. Fully automatic last-pocket selection for the 2nd player if his last ball goes in his opponent's last pocket. Automatic last pocket selection is as follows:
    • If the first player's last pocket is a side pocket, the 2nd player is automatically assigned the opposite side pocket.
    • If the first player's pocket is a corner pocket, the 2nd player is automatically assigned the diagonally-opposite corner pocket.

Once the second player's pocket has been designated, he continues his inning at the table.

Some of these rules were referenced in the July 2010 edition of Billiards Digest by Larry Schwartz in his last-pocket 8 ball article, "Last-Pocket Thinking":

... there is one catch to the designation of the players' last pockets. Both players cannot have the same last pocket. In the event that both players do pocket their final balls in the same last pocket, the player who declared the pocket first will get to assign the other player's "last pocket". In general, he must assign a corner pocket. Side pockets are not allowed unless it is agreed upon before starting. At the same time, you can play for a side pocket and shoot your last object ball in it, declaring that pocket.

Source: Billiards Digest article "Last-Pocket Thinking" by Larry Schwartz

3-Rail Shot on 8 Ball if 8-Ball is Hung

When the 8 ball becomes jawed or stuck in front of a pocket that isn't anyone's last pocket, players have a "3 rail minimum" shot option on the 8 ball at any time, as long as all of their object balls have been pocketed. This is also known as the "3-rail shot" rule or the "3-rail kick" rule.

If the 8 is hanging in the jaws of a non-last pocket, the player can shoot a minimum 3-rail kick to pocket the 8 into the non-last pocket and still win the game.

Both players much agree that the 8 ball is "stuck" and can not be dug out (or in tournaments, the team captains must both agree) then the player can do the 3-rail option.

To exercise this option, a player must make declare a 3-rail-or-more shot on the cue ball to knock that 8 ball into the pocket in which it is jawed. If a player decides to shoot a 3 rail shot, he or she must let the opponent know verbally.

This variation is mentioned in several BCA rule books. In 1980, it was as follows (also see image below):

Variation: If agreed, player may designate a legal pocket other than his last group ball's pocket provided that on the shot he causes the cue ball to contact three or more cushions prior to the cue ball contacting the 8 ball and pocketing it.

Strategy for Last-Pocket 8 Ball

Here are some ideas for a strategical end to a game of last pocket eight ball.

  • If you notice your opponent is close to his or last object ball, you may assess the location of the 8 ball in relation to where the opponent may pocket that last ball. It may be a good decision for you to relocate that 8 ball if you have a shot.
  • If you are close to running out, you may choose a specific pattern as such that your last object ball is near the 8 ball and that the cluster is near a pocket.
  • Do as the one pocket players do, and ensure that you leave the ball close to a pocket if you think there is a chance you'll miss the shot.
  • If you are playing your inning at the table, and your opponent has only the eight ball remaining, you may be wise to relocate it as far from their last pocket as possible, or to a location where his or her clear shot to their last pocket is obstructed by one of your object balls.
  • If you are in a position to be nominating your opponent's last pocket (e.g. in the case where they shoot their last ball into your last pocket), remember that most players consider the side pockets to be more difficult than corner pockets.

As you can see, the last pocket 8 ball rule can make the game of eight ball more interesting, and perhaps last a little longer.

Other Rules for Last Pocket 8-Ball

Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules

If you have any questions about Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules, please post them in the pool rules forum.

...or view existing Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules questions in the forum.

Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules History

Apparently, last pocket eight ball was created by players to slow down the tail-end of the 8-ball game on coin operated and other billiard tables where table fees are paid per game rather than by the hour.

In the 1980 BCA rulebook, the last-pocket "option" was mentioned on page 65 as part of the 8 ball rules. It was also in the 1982 edition, but gone in the 1985 edition, according to the San Francisco Billiard Academy.

Here is what it looked like:

1980-bca-last-pocket-option.png

SPECIAL OPTIONS:

Cue Ball In Hand Option

No point penalty. Incoming player has cue ball in hand anywhere on the table. Loss of game (h) above applies to any third successive foul.

Last Pocket Option

In this form, the player does not designate into which pocket he will score the 8 ball, but rather is required to pocket the 8 ball into the same pocket that his last group ball was scored. Player must nonetheless confirm the pocket per Rule of Play #6 above. There are two exceptions to the last pocket requirement:

  1. 8 ball pocketed on a legal break shot still wins, regardless of pocket, per Rule of Play #2 above; and
  2. scratching when the 8 ball is the object ball is not loss of game. (Variation: If agreed, player may designate a legal pocket other than his last group ball's pocket provided that on the shot he causes the cue ball to contact three or more cushions prior to the cue ball contacting the 8 ball and pocketing it. All other rules apply as written above.)

The official Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules are predominently observed in North America, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

The official governing body for Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules is the Billiard Congress of America.

How to Play Last Pocket Eight Ball

Questions about Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules:

  • Title: Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 6/15/2008 9:44:00 AM
  • Last Updated: 3/23/2019 3:43:46 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum
  • Source: Internet

Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules

The Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules article belongs to the Pocket Billiards Rules category. Pocket billiards is a class of cue sport game commonly referred to as pool.

Last Pocket Eight Ball Rules Comments

  1. user1238435187user1238435187 from San Juan, PR on 3/30/2009 5:46:27 PM

    I have found that the game of "last pocket eight ball" is usually played by half drunk, poorly talented individuals who want to greedily hoard the use of a public pool table.

  2. Jose VazquezJose Vazquez from United Kingdom on 5/9/2009 11:46:43 PM

    Last pocket 8ball is played a lot in Puerto Rico too. In Puerto Rico, is is most common that if the shooter sinks his last group object ball in your last pocket, then you in turn choose his "last pocket". After you make your choice, it will still be his shot.

  3. Che CazzoChe Cazzo from Chicago, IL on 10/28/2010 12:19:26 AM

    @user1238435187 - If you know how to run the table and set up your shots then there is no reason to cry. Get some talent behind your cue first, then open your mouth. 8 ball last pocket is actually meant to be a more skillful game. Just because you might have to 2-rail, 3-rail, or even 4-rail your 8 ball or cue ball to win that just makes you learn your angles. This is what the marks, diamonds, or whatever you want to call them, are for. So quit your crying and get some talent.

  4. TypeauxTypeaux from San Francisco, CA on 2/11/2011 5:23:17 PM

    @user1238435187 - I know a lot of well-heeled players who enjoy last-pocket 8-ball in some of the better pool halls. However, I have seen the kind of people you mention.

  5. Gilbert QuilesGilbert Quiles from Tampa, FL on 7/31/2011 1:14:29 PM

    Here is a summary of rules for last pocket 8 ball. It should cover most of the common situations players encounter when playing last pocket 8 ball:

    • To win you must sink the 8 ball in the pocket into which you sank your last ball.
    • If you sink your last ball in the same pocket as your opponent, then your opponent must choose you pocket.
    • If you sink the 8 ball and scratch, you lose.
    • If you shoot at the 8 Ball and miss, and scratch, you don't lose. e.g. If you scratch will trying to sink the 8 Ball but don't pocket the 8 ball, you do not lose.
    • If you sink your opponent's last ball, your opponent must indicate his last pocket before you resume your shot. It can not be changed afterwards.
    • There is NO "Ball-In-Hand" in last-pocket 8-ball.
    • If you sink your last 2 balls into different pockets with one shot (e.g. one of them went in unintentionally), you must choose which one of those pockets will be your "last pocket" before you resume your shot. It can not be changed afterwards.
  6. loubaruloubaru from Ocean Beach, CA on 6/28/2017 1:38:06 PM

    Where did last pocket 8 ball originate and who started the "last pocket" craze?

  7. billiardsforumbilliardsforum from Halifax, NS on 3/23/2019 9:55:20 AM

    @Gilbert Quiles,

    I disagree on the part where you say There is NO "Ball-In-Hand" in last-pocket 8-ball.

    Can you point me to any WPBA rule sections or other written references that support this?

    What about when you scratch on the 8 ball (and you DON'T pocket the 8-ball)? Doesn't your opponent get cue-ball-in-hand anywhere on the table after that?

  8. TypeauxTypeaux from San Francisco, CA on 3/23/2019 12:13:13 PM

    @Gilbert Guilles,

    Your second bullet needs to be expanded. There are rules about choosing your opponent's pocket in Last Pocket 8-ball.

    • Should your opponent sink his or her last ball into the same pocket as your last ball, and the last pocket is a corner pocket, you may choose any one of the other three corner pockets.
    • Should your opponent sink his or her last ball into the same pocket as your last ball, and the last pocket is a side pocket, the opponent's last pocket defaults to the opposite side.

    Please see the updated rules stated above in this thread.

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