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Regional Variations on 8 Ball Pool Rules

We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but billiards is a pretty weird sport. Unlike most games, which take one central set of rules and refine them over time, billiards refers to about forty billion different types of games, with the only thing that really connects them being the equipment you use to play them. On top of that noise, the types of billiard games that are popular change all the time as people invent new games, and people in different places in the world play each of these types rather differently from one another.

If one style of billiards had to be called the biggest or most common in the world right now, it would probably be 8-ball pool. Americans typically call it just “pool.” If you think there would be a consistent set of rules for 8 ball pool that could be easily understood, think again. The rules of 8-ball are one of the most argued and disagreed on subjects in billiards, and people in different countries play it pretty damn uniquely.

This piece discusses the regional variations of eight ball pool rules.

"Standard" Rules of 8 Ball Pool

Now, you can go look up the actual rules to 8 ball pool on this site, but what we're gonna talk about here is where those rules come from and how they differ from one set to the next. Though 8-ball was invented in the early 1900's, coming from another game first recorded in 1908, there were no "official" rules until 1940. As of now, there are actually quite a few "official" 8 ball pool rulebooks out there in competition with each other.

The most commonly used and accepted of these, and the rulebook from which many others get their foundation, is the World Pool-Billiard Association's Pool Rules – The Rules of Play. The basic set of rules listed in this book are the ones that most people are familiar with; however, depending on where you're playing, you might find a few surprises.

8 Ball Rule Variations in America

Most of the variations of 8 ball pool rules used in the America fall under the game known as "bar pool," named because, well, it's played in bars (not to be confused with English Bar Billiards - a totally different game played on a totally different type of table).

Not all bar pool variants are used by every American bar, but some common ones include:

  • Calling all shots completely, including what balls and cushions will be hit (otherwise a turn ending foul occurs) or, conversely, calling no shots.
  • Re-shooting the original shot if the rack isn't hit (no foul).
  • Fouls other than scratching the cue ball result in loss of turn.
  • Scratch results in ball-in-hand behind the head string.
  • Scoop-under jump shots are legal.
  • Shooting the cue dead on with a ball it is touching or near touching (shooting in line with both balls) is legal.
  • What constitutes an instant loss or win can vary extensively, including pocketing the 8 ball, knocking the cue off the table on the break and touching the 8 ball and scratching, among many, many others.
  • Two common variations that change the game pretty extensively involve pocketing the 8 ball, called "bank-the-8" and "last-pocket." In bank-the-8, the players can only pocket the 8 ball from a bank shot, while in last-pocket, they have to shoot it into the pocket into which the last ball was shot.

There are dozens and dozens of other small varieties found in American bar pool, but these are some of the ones you're more likely to encounter.

Canadian 8 Ball Pool Rule Variations

Pool is a big deal in both Canada and Latin America, and both have a few common quirks in the rules that make for interesting play for visitors.

  • The "hooked yourself on the 8" rule says that missing the 8 ball when shooting for it is a loss of game, unless you're in a position where the opponent has caused it to be impossible.
  • Pocketing an opponent's ball, even on a legal shot, can very often be a game-loser.
  • Split shots are usually legal.
  • Pocketing a ball that wasn't called (even your own), results in the other player's turn.

Latin America 8 Ball Rule Variants

Latin American pool gets seriously weird. Check out some of these variations:

  • Racking is often entirely different, with a rack sometimes not being used, and balls being loose, crooked or bunched in strange groupings.
  • No shots need be called.
  • The 1 ball sometimes has to be shot in the right pocket, while the 15 goes in the left.
  • In Mexico, the rack is sometimes placed with the 8 ball at the foot spot instead of the apex ball, and the only ball-in-hand foul scratching.
  • Brazilians often play where any foul except scratching results in the lowest numbered ball for the opponent being automatically pocketed.

Eastern Hemisphere Variations

Some rules only show up in eastern hemisphere countries, causing even more confusion to us Amuricans:

  • North African 8 ball pool is an amalgamation of that of other countries, including pocketing the 1 and 15 on the sides (except this time left and right, respectively), always playing "last-pocket," never taking a ball-in-hand on fouls and often adding the "bank-the-8" to last-pocket.
  • In New Zealand, a "snookered" player can nominate an opponent's ball as a legal ball to hit first, and breaks must be shot from a "D" drawn above the baulk-line.
  • Pakistani players whose opponents have failed to hit one of their own balls or have hit the opponent's with the cue ball get 2 shots unless only the 8 ball remains. Pakistan also tends to use the "D."

British Blackball Rules

Americans asked to play a round of "pool" in the UK or Ireland are likely to find themselves rather freakin' confused when the game ends up being hugely different from what they expect. That, is because what is known as "pool" in the UK is actually a game called "blackball" here in America (and by the WPA).

This game is extensively different from American pool, so much so that it would take another article to explain all the rules, but the main thing Americans will notice is that the balls are smaller, red and yellow and unnumbered, instead of being solids and stripes, while the pool table has smaller, rounded pockets, can be of different sizes than American tables and can also require a "rest," or British mechanical bridge.

Basically, what we've learned from today's article is that there are pretty much as many types of 8-ball as there are cities to play it in and, when you're playing in another town, always ask what the rules are before you start. Especially if you're throwin' money down.

Regional Variations on 8 Ball Pool Rules

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Regional Variations on 8 Ball Pool Rules History

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How to Play Regional Variations on 8 Ball Pool

  • Title: Regional Variations on 8 Ball Pool Rules
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 2/28/2017 11:45:39 AM
  • Last Updated: 2/28/2017 12:04:32 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum

Regional Variations on 8 Ball Pool Rules

The Regional Variations on 8 Ball Pool Rules 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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