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Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's)

These "strict 8 ball rules" are the ULTIMATE playing rules for professional 8-Ball players, since by having to call everything, it forces them to perform the shot exactly as called. These rules greatly enhance a player’s ability to control his/her game, while not being overly restrictive, and therefore tend to produce the utmost displays of skill by players in 8-ball games.

This set of strict pool rules provides for the most comprehensive method of playing 8-Ball: You say what you will do, and you do what you say. This equates to a highly rewarding 8-ball experience and at the same time, helps you to become a highly regarded pool player.

Players must behave and play at all times in the most polite and professional gentlemanly manner possible. If a shot did not happen exactly as called, the player must immediately go to the sideline, wait for his next turn, and stay away from the pool table. This provides the opponent the opportunity to evaluate, call, and make his shot.

If any of a player's calls are ambiguous, the opponent shall ask for clarification prior to the shot. A sidelined player may not take the chalk to his area, hang around, or disturb his opponent at any time except to clarify a call or a shot.

The highest regard can be held for not only a good player but also a mediocre player that behaves in a professional manner.

Excuses should never be made for any shot missed. Foul language or behavior along with a bad disposition are inexcusable and definitely abstains the player from being held in high regard. Simple praise to an opponent is always expected and providing it is the mark of a true professional gentleman.

If there is any valid disagreement after a shot as to whether or not the shot was performed as called, the player should immediately turn the table over to his opponent in a gentlemanly fashion.

The primary goal of players that play under these strict eight-ball rules is to:

  • Enjoy a good game of pool.
  • Enjoy the competition posed not only by their opponent but also by their own personal skill deficiency.
  • Strive to always excel in every shot, be as creative as possible, and take each shot with the utmost reverence.
  • Strive to RUN-OUT every time you are playing. Plan all balls, from the time you break to the time you sink the 8-ball. Re-evaluate after every shot.
  • If your opponent RUNS-OUT from the break, congratulate the player, and feel lucky that you are playing someone who is a worthy challenge. Always strive to play someone with a higher skill set than you to allow yourself to be challenged and enhance your own abilities. Be true and respectful to the game.

Calling Shots in Strict 8-Ball

Call everything associated with making the shot, including kisses/double kisses, clean, caroms, rails, etc. A valid shot must occur exactly as called.

Balls that are not part of the called shot do not count as part of the shot. If they happen to go in by contact with the balls in the called play that is a bonus for their assigned player and do not get re-spotted unless there is an associated foul that calls for it.

  • The calling of the shot shall be limited to the energy transfer from the cue ball to the object ball. In other words if a combination shot is called such as:

    cue ball into the 5 ball, 5 ball into the 10 ball, 10 ball off the 12 ball, 10 ball into the 3 ball, 3 ball clean by the 15 ball and into the corner pocket

    ...then the carom of the 10 ball must be called and must happen. If the 10 does not carom off the 12 ball, or if the 3 ball brushes against or kisses the 15 ball, the shot is no good. Any other balls that get hit or sunk by the 5, 10, or 12 balls after they have participated in the domino effect of the shot, are irrelevant unless one of them is the 8 ball and is pocketed (which would result in a loss of game).

  • All rail contact shall be called as either "off the rail" or "banking". The only exceptions are long rail shots when the object ball is hit and scurries down the rail into the pocket, or when the object ball is actually against the rail and is being shot down rail. These shots are not considered to be "off the rail". However, if either the cue ball or another ball is played "off the rail" and coming out clean to hit another ball, then it should be called as either an "off the rail", or a "bank". The difference is minimal, however on long shots down the rail, the correct terminology should be utilized to prevent discrepancy. Something like "Cue ball into the 5 ball, and 5 ball hugging the rail down to the corner pocket" should suffice as a clear explanation that you are going to hit the 5 and it is going to hug the rail and drop into the pocket at the end.

Combination Shots

Neither the 8-ball nor any opponent’s balls are neutral. As such, they cannot be used as the first ball hit.

They may be used in combination shots, if identified in the calling of the shot. Anything identified and not utilized, (such as a called kiss or rail) is a miss just like something that was not identified and happened.

Penalty for Scratch

The penalty for scratching in strict 8 ball rules depends on what kind of pool table the game is being played on.

Playing on coin-op pool tables:

  • On coin-op pool tables where you can't re-spot object balls, the incoming player gets cue ball-in-hand in the kitchen.

Playing on standard pool tables: * If any of your own group of balls are pocketed during a scratched shot, they are re-spotted to the head spot (and additional balls directly behind it). Any balls pocketed from the opponent's group of ball shall remain pocketed. * If you scratched and did not sink a ball, then one of your previously pocketed balls gets re-spotted, and the opponent gets the cue ball in-hand * from within in the kitchen if opponent has at least two balls minimum beyond the kitchen, or * from anywhere on the table if the opponent has less than two balls beyond the kitchen

Safety Play

A "safety" is allowed in strict 8 ball rules, as long as the following conditions are met:

  • It must be called and,
  • the cue ball must travel at least 2 inches and,
  • either the cue ball, or the object ball (or another ball) must hit a rail

If the above conditions aren't met, it is a foul.

"Follow-In" Shots are Allowed

A shooter may sink an opponent's ball which is blocking a pocket by utilizing his own ball. This must also be called in full detail. When this is done, the shooting player loses their turn unless subsequently sinking one or more of their own balls.

For example, the shooter may call his ball going in after his opponent's ball (known as a "follow-in") but the shot must be specifically called as such in order for the shot to be legal. All the balls can be called to follow an opponent's ball in. Care must be taken to call "double kisses" in these cases, because if it occurs but not called, it results in loss of turn.

A few notes on this:

  • You can call two balls going in, but if you do, they both have to be pocketed as called otherwise it's a miss because part of your shot did not happen as called.
  • You can call the 8-ball "off-of" or "following" an opponent's ball. You can also call it following your own last ball, but it MUST be the last ball dropping into the pocket in that case.
  • Your last ball must be sunk before the 8-ball even if in the same shot. If the 8-ball is to be shot in (even in the same shot as the last ball, it must be called, otherwise, sinking the 8-ball (even if it is the last ball either for you or on the table) without specifically calling it is an automatic loss.

Jump Shots and Massé

Jump shots by scooping from underneath are not allowed unless previously agreed upon prior to breaking or if the opponent is willing to make a specific shot exception if asked prior to the shot.

Jump shots made by stroking downwards are allowed.

Massé shots are allowed.

Break Shots

Players decide who will break either by mutual agreement or by lagging (in which case, the player lagging their ball closest to kitchen rail wins, even if it hits it).

The balls must be racked acceptably tight. The shooter may request re-rack.

For a break shot to be legal, at least two balls must contact a rail. If this does not occur, the balls are re-racked. The breaking player gets two attempts at a legal break shot. If they fail at both, then the balls are re-racked and the opponent breaks instead.

Upon a successful break, if the player sinks balls from only one group, then that is the group which the player is assigned. If the player sinks balls from both groups, then the player has "open table" choice, regardless of how many balls were pocketed from each group.

If cue ball is scratched during the break shot, the table remains open and the opponent has ball in hand in the kitchen. If the 8 ball is sunk during a break-shot scratch (or anytime, or sunk out of turn), the shooting player loses the game. If only other balls were sunk, the opponent has open table. No balls are re-spotted on the break shot.

Sinking the 8-ball on the break is an automatic win (unless you scratch or any other ball leaves the table, in which case it is a loss of game).

Missed Shots

A "miss" is defined as when the shooting player fails to make the intended shot exactly as called, and doesn't otherwise foul. A simple example of a "miss" would be calling your ball in off a specific opponent's ball, but it goes in clean without hitting the opponent's ball at all. This is a miss.

Fouls in Strict 8-Ball Rules

Depending on severity, fouls result in either (a) loss of inning or (b) loss of game.

Strict 8-ball fouls are as follows:

Fouls resulting in loss of inning: Fouls resulting in the loss of inning also result in any of the shooter's balls being re-spotted.

These fouls include:

  • Interference - Bumping the table causing a hanging ball to fall in, allowing the cue or clothing to interfere with any of the ball either in movement or stationary positions.
  • Miscuing - Miscuing purposely.
  • Scratching on the break - Scratching on break shot including sinking the cue ball or jumping the cue ball off the table
  • Shooting a "miss" as defined above, or the shot not happening exactly as called
  • Failure to contact the 8-ball when it is your active object ball (failure to contact your regular object ball is not a foul)
  • Intentionally hitting an opponent ball first
  • Shooting a safety and not meeting the requirements for a legal safety
  • Balls Leaving Table - Any game ball jumping off of and coming to rest outside of the pool table. These balls are re-spotted and the incoming player has ball in hand (kitchen or table depending on opponent’s ball layout - see above).

Fouls resulting in loss of game:

  • Scratching when pocketing the 8 ball on the break shot, or when causing the 8 ball to leave the table on the break shot.
  • Stepping away from the table/playing area for a period of time greater than five minutes (abandonment of game).

Players Joining the Group

In general:

  • The game winner "controls the table".
  • Newcomers to the table must play against winner (King of the Hill).

Ranking Players

Under these strict rules for 8-ball, players are ranked on a demonstrated ability to either: (a) sink the 8-ball on the break and/or (b) run the table from the break (regardless of who broke), and win, consecutively.

  • Diamond Eagle Player - 7 consecutive times
  • Gold Eagle Player - 6 consecutive times
  • Silver Eagle Player - 5 consecutive times
  • Bronze Eagle Player - 4 consecutive times
  • Brass Eagle Player - 3 consecutive times
  • Hawk - 2 consecutive times
  • Player - Anything less than above

Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's)

If you have any questions about Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's), please post them in the pool rules forum.

...or view existing Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's) questions in the forum.

Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's) History

Editor's Note: The following "strict 8 ball rules" were submitted by a Billiards Forum user in 2014 under the title "The GUIDE TO: Gentleman Jim's (Strict) Rules". They have been edited for quality and structure but for the most part remain as the original. We've since reached out to the user for more information about the original author, but have yet to hear back.

The official Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's) are predominently observed in North America.

How to Play Strict 8-Ball (Gentleman Jim's)

  • Title: Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's)
  • Author: (G. V.)
  • Published: 12/12/2014 12:50:16 PM
  • Last Updated: 3/19/2019 6:59:43 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)

Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's)

The Strict 8-Ball Rules (Gentleman Jim's) article belongs to the Pocket Billiards Rules category. Pocket billiards is a class of cue sport game commonly referred to as pool.

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