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Calling "through the pack..." in 8 Ball Rules

Calling "through the pack..." in 8 Ball Rules

A table has a cluster of balls together that cannot be witnessed as to what struck what during the shot nor "called" as to what each of the cluster will do what - as it explodes, but the CB strikes a legal ball first and "thru the pack" a legal ball is pocketed.

Because the cluster is so dense (not all kissing, but almost) and nothing but a high speed camera could validate the exact sequence of multiple caroms, is calling e.g., "4-ball thru the pack via the 2-ball" a valid shot?

This question relates to the following billiard rules:

Calling "through the pack..." in 8 Ball Rules

Replies & Comments

  1. ZekeBrucifer on 10/28/2010 1:22:32 PM

    Depends entirely on the game and the house rules...

    However, from a strategy standpoint this is a reckless move. You've lost control over what's happening on the table and if you miss, which is likely, you will have spread that pack making it easier for your opponent to run the table.


  2. ZekeZeke on 10/29/2010 6:01:18 AM


    At a bar table, after the fourth beer, the definition of "strategy" becomes muddled, more like assuming the form of controlled chaos and the bravado we see all too often of a slurred, "I kin make dish shot."

    Of course you were referring to the elevated level of play, the kind that occurs only BEFORE the second beer(;-o)

  3. ZekeBrucifer on 10/29/2010 6:23:16 AM

    I did neglect to mention though, most 8 ball leagues don't require you actually call the ball or the pocket as long as you start the combination with a legal hit on one of your designated object balls. Then it doesn't matter what hits what if one of your balls drops it's still your shot... Unless of course you sink the 8 or the cue ball which results in a foul or loss of the game.

  4. ZekeZeke on 10/29/2010 7:16:37 AM

    Is that what we call "slop" shooting?

  5. ZekeFenwick on 10/29/2010 11:11:54 AM

    @Brucifer - Ridiculous!

  6. ZekeMitch Alsup on 10/29/2010 11:23:59 AM

    Tournament rules: If you make a legal stroke, the CB impacts a legal ball first, and the called ball drops in the called pocket. Its a good shot, and inning continues.

    No Slop Bar rules: You have to call (almost) every nuance in the combination. In this case, the described shot is not acceptable. UNLESS you ask your opponent if he will allow.

  7. ZekeFenwick on 10/29/2010 11:35:43 AM


    Have you ever heard of rules like the O.P. stated? Hit the pack and holler $hit and hope one of your ball goes in.

  8. ZekeMitch Alsup on 10/29/2010 12:05:22 PM


    Yes, its called "playing with girls". Anytime they make a ball, you let them have it regardless of rule infractions.

  9. ZekeZeke on 10/29/2010 3:12:44 PM

    Mitch, ya gotta lighten up. Anybody who plays 8-ball on a coin machine on 6' table in a bar may shoot pool, but unless they're hustlers, they drink a lot more than they shoot. It's the booze firat, the level of play a very distant second.

    Ever seen the tables in those joints Mitch? It's not always the case, but in places I have known, there's not a straight stick in the house and a new chalk hasn't been paid out for months.

    With few exceptions, these places are all "girls."

  10. ZekeMitch Alsup on 10/29/2010 3:30:59 PM

    @Zeke - That WAS lightened up.

    I go to one of those places you mentioned about 2-3 times a week.

    Still, we have two sets of rules:

    1. Bar rules = No Slop, Ball in Kitchen,
    2. Tournament Rules = Called ball in called pocket, B in Hand
    3. (...and occasionally) Loose rules = "girls"
  11. ZekeFenwick on 10/29/2010 3:41:32 PM

    @Zeke - Don't blame Mitch; I started it. I've played on small tables starting when I was 10 and even then we has some form of rules.

    Now if you're playing just to pick up girls and letting them play that way that's fine. Otherwise your rules or lack there of is nuts.

    Now don't get offended; that was not my intent. This is a pool site and we're serious players and we try to give our best advice based on a lot of experience playing pool.

  12. ZekeZeke on 10/29/2010 3:44:57 PM

    Thanks Fenwick. I did rush to judgement. Wrong author. Mea Culpa.

    Sorry for the misdirected reply Mitch.

  13. ZekeFenwick on 10/29/2010 4:17:50 PM


    This may help you understand where I'm coming from. I haven't played in a bar or on a bar table for at least 25 years. I do play on 8 foot tables during leagues at one of the largest Pool/Billiard halls in the country. Most of my time is on a 9' X 4/5' tables playing straight pool, 14-1 or 9 ball for $. Most, 90% of the players don't drink alcohol during match play so I can't relate relate but I did in my youth. Furthermore I never drink and drive or even drink at all for the most part. So cut me some slack; I'm almost as old as dirt. ; - )

  14. ZekeZeke on 10/30/2010 5:17:10 AM


    I am older than dirt and the pool halls I frequent don't even sell booze. Diet Pepsi is the strongest beverage on tap.

    Straight pool is also the game I prefer.

    And since gambling is illegal, I never played for money either (;-o)

  15. ZekeFenwick on 10/30/2010 3:40:26 PM

    Ya doesn't have ta call me Fenny ;- (

    Based on your first post about, (Calling, "thru the pack.), I wrongly thought you were real young. Then I read your other post about re - covering and or re-installing a pool tabel and thought this can't be the same person. Wrong again.

    I gamble every day on my way to and from the pool hall; dodging drunks and deer.

    Welcome to the old folks home.

  16. Zekesophie hart on 11/25/2010 4:20:51 AM

    As there are many experienced members on this forum, I want to ask what are the top three most important skills to sharpen in terms of perfecting your overall billiards skill?

    Please share your top 3 priorities when it comes to billiard techniques. I have been playing billiards for about 6 months and I think it is going well, but I just want to set a criteria from which to analyze my skills.

  17. ZekeZeke on 11/25/2010 6:48:02 AM

    Practice, practice, practice.

    Inside those three is one I find most often misunderstood, that being: "playing position."

    One should not focus on "play position" without being able to make 80% of shots attempted.

    Once you can make over 80% of all shots, you could switch primary focus from making a shot - to setting up the results of made shots - to allow shots that will follow.

    This is NOT to say a follow up strategy isn't useful. It assumes one can only truly focus on a single complexity at a time.

    Making over 80% of the shots attempted is in and of itself an overwhelming focus issue for most.

  18. ZekeFenwick on 11/25/2010 1:46:44 PM

    sophie hart,

    Sorry I never saw your first post. I must clarify I'm no expert but I'll give it a try.

    Question, Billiards or Pool?

    Fundamentals. Your grip, bridge length, stance, stroke including a pause at the end of your back swing and a clear focus on where you intend to hit the object ball, ( OB ).

    Practice. I don't mean just randomly shooting balls. Mother drills are my favorite. You line up the balls on the narrow width of the table two diamonds from the foot string and pocket half the balls to the left corner pocket and the others half the right. After some time you line up across the table next to the side pocket. After every shot you take ball in hand behind the foot string and make the next ball. In the beginning if you miss just remove the ball. This drill will show you any flaw in your stroke.

    Last I would find a good instructor who teaches in a way you can learn. I know a few who might spend a short time with you and not charge. Give me a general area where you live and I might be able to recommend someone.

  19. Zekesophie hart on 12/6/2010 12:38:12 AM

    Thank you very much for the guidance and helping me in getting started with it. Learning billiards from scratch is never easy, as you don't know where to start with. So these guidelines are very valuable for me.

    I have been practicing, improving aim, and getting to know more about the rules and general shot making techniques

    My uncle is a good pool player and he is helping me out in learning a lot in terms of knowing the basics. He also advises me to learn to focus more. That is why I am on this site trying to learn as much as I can.

  20. Zekegibson on 12/7/2010 10:49:43 AM

    I think it is a bad strategy to play pool in a bar against a stranger for money. That being said, if this situation occurred, and the opponent is large in stature and small in intellect, I would answer any rules challenge by telling my opponent that I will sit down and wait for him to miss.

  21. ZekeZeke on 12/7/2010 12:03:51 PM

    On a somewhat different note, I am amazed at the divergence of the rules promulgated by the BCA - from my experience in north Jersey and now northern VT!

    "Straight Pool" is now called 14.1? How many bodies of rules makers are there? I find the straight pool, eight ball and rotation - names and rules so changed, I question the authority making the changes.

    Even golf has two rules makers. The basic USGA and the PGA. Yes, the PGA adheres to most USGA rules, but PGA rules are different in actual play sometimes.

    Likewise, in sports, we have NCAA rules and we have NFL/NBA/NHL rules.

    How strong is the ABC? Is other any consistent, formal source for rules?

  22. Zekegibson on 12/7/2010 2:54:30 PM

    Zeke, you must be of my generation that grew up in the fifties and sixties. When we played eight ball there were two rules: hit one of your balls first and call the 8 ball in a designated pocket: what is now called slop. Loss of game on an 8 ball scratch (actually three rules) Nine ball we played 6 and 9, got money for sinking the 6 and double for sinking the nine. A buck on the 6 and two on the nine. 6 was racked at the bottom and 9 in the middle and 1 on the spot. I saw a table at the local poolhall that had a sign "14.1 only" but that was the only time I heard anyone say anything but straight. We used to play money games to 50, but tourneys were 150 per game. I was never good enough to play straight pool in a tourney, there were some excellent players back then and the best players played straight pool. I played a lot of rotation too, that was a good money game. Some of the guys played rotation like gin rummy, where you played the points. Play so many games and subtract the losers points from the winners points and pay the difference, then pay by the most games won. That could be expensive. since the games did not end until all the balls were pocketed. (instead of 61)

  23. ZekeZeke on 12/8/2010 7:11:21 AM

    Gibson, I obviously AM from your age group!

    I guess my question really becomes, "Who died and left the ABC as sole rules maker"?

    More pointedly, just because they claim to be the ultimate authority - does not make it so.

    If there are other rule "authorities" out there, who are they?

    I like rules. I like standardization. I hate "house rules" that contradict fundamental principals. But are ABC rules that dominant that 90+% of all true tournaments or more are played by their rules?

    If so, I'm willing to concede the argument and adapt to the "standards" promulgated. Somehow I think competing but less well-funded (and therefore less well-known) rule-makers exist.


  24. ZekeMitch Alsup on 12/8/2010 12:45:00 PM

    The first way to analyse your progression is by counting mistakes per rack. A mistake can be caused by not potting the object ball, not getting position, or not making a good safety and loosing control of the table.

    • A beginner will make a dozen mistakes per rack (with positional errors about 3X shot errors)
    • A novice will make a handful of mistakes per rack
    • An up and coming player will make 3
    • A descent player will make 2
    • A good player will make 1
    • A quality player will make 1/2
    • A professional will make less than 1/4

    Notice that the progression is from multiple mistakes per rack to multiple racks per mistake.

    Another metric is innings per rack. Here you don't terminate an inning just because the 8-ball or 9-ball gets potted, the inning continues through the break. An inning continues AFTER a successful safety, also; since you never lost control of the table. You should be shooting for a rack to last less than 1.3 (of your) innings.

    During practice, you can count balls in a row, or misses per rack, long runs, and a variety of things. But nothing is quite as good as Ghost.

    In Ghost you start by rolling 3 balls on the table, and give yourself BIH. The object is to sink the balls without a miss, a scratch. Every failure to sink a ball or any scratch means the Ghost wins. If you win 10 games before Ghost wins 10 games, add one ball and continue, if Ghost gets to 10 before you get to 10, remove a ball and continue.

    The top 10 pros (worldwide) Ghost about 13, A pro will Ghost above 9, A class-A amateur will Ghost 7-8, a good bar player will Ghost 4-5, and most tolerably good players never get beyond 3. {I'm hovering in the 5-6 range.}

  25. ZekeZeke on 12/9/2010 6:45:29 AM

    Mitch, your description of Ghost as a practice drill and self-evaluation technique is awesome.

    I thank you for the lesson.

    I knew I'd like this site!

    BTW, is ghost an acronym and if so, for what?

    If not, the word alone suggests an obvious explanation.

  26. ZekeMitch Alsup on 12/9/2010 10:02:12 AM

    The "ghost" is the invisible opponent, that never misses and always wins if you give the ghost a chance. In other words, if you don't have your game together, you don't have a ghost of a chance (pun intended).

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Calling "through the pack..." in 8 Ball Rules

  • Title: Calling "through the pack..." in 8 Ball Rules
  • Author: (Ken Secor)
  • Published: 10/28/2010 10:58:26 AM