8 Eight ball ‘pool tourist’ rules
Many people play a game of pool in the weekends to entertain themselves at a pub before going to a club. Eight ball is often the only game these ‘pool tourists’ know. They all know that one player has to shoot the stripes, the other the solids, and that the eight ball has to be pocketed last. The official rules however, are often a somewhat vague area where people tend to get creative.
Pool is often confused with other cue sports, which is probably the reason why some people apply snooker rules to a game of pool. I can’t blame them. I’m just here to tell you how it really works. These are 8 pool tourist rules I often hear and which you should forget.
1. Shoot twice when you make a foul
When people say you can shoot twice, they mean you have two turns. So, when you miss, you can try another shot. That’s not how it works. When you make a foul (e.g. pocketing the white ball or hitting the wrong ball first), your opponent gets a ball in hand. That means the white ball can be placed anywhere on the table. There’s one exception to the rule. When a player makes a foul on the break, the white ball has to be placed in the kitchen, the area behind the head string. This is also the area where you need to put the white ball for the breakshot.
2. The 8-ball should be pocketed in the opposite pocket of your last shot
It’s a good rule to make the game a little harder, especially during money games, but normally it doesn’t matter in which pocket you make the 8-ball. It does matter that you call the shot. Meaning, you have to make the intended ball in the intended pocket.
3. Lucky shots count
The intended ball and pocket must be indicated for each shot. There’s a possibility you make the intended ball in the intended pocket, but not in the way you wanted. So, in some way you can still be lucky and continue your turn.
4. Make the 8-ball on the break and lose or win the game immediately
When you make the 8-ball on the break, you can choose whether or not you want to continue with the rack. If you want to proceed, the 8-ball comes back on the table and is placed at the foot spot (the point where you place the first ball of the rack). If you make the 8-ball on the break and you don’t like the lay out, you can decide to go for a re-rack and break again.
5. Spin the 8-ball when you rack the balls
Are you wondering why the balls don’t spread well after the break? If you spin the 8-ball in the middle of the rack, it means there’s space between the balls. All balls should be frozen to each other in order to create a maximum transfer of speed from the white ball to the rack for the balls to spread well over the table.
6. Play a snooker without hitting a cushion is a legal shot
No it isn’t. This is a by snooker influenced mistake that many people make in pool. The word snooker in this paragraph has two meanings. Snooker is, as many of you know, a popular cue sport. A snooker, when it’s used as a noun or verb, also refers to a situation in which a player can’t hit the required ball directly. In the game of snooker, a player is allowed to play a shot without hitting a cushion after contact. In pool it’s obligatory to hit a cushion after contact, which makes escaping from a snooker a little harder.
7. You can move the white ball when it’s frozen to the cushion
Shots get harder when the white ball is frozen to the cushion. Your options are limited, but it doesn’t mean you can just move the balls around to make it easier. Of course, when you’re playing for fun with some friends and everybody agrees on moving the white ball when it’s frozen to the cushion, it shouldn’t be a problem. That actually applies to every rule I’ve explained so far, but I wouldn’t be doing a good job as a pool player if I didn’t tell you the official rules. It would feel like I’m being a deserter.
8. When you’re snookered and try to hit the required ball, you’re allowed to miss it by a hand’s distance, or less, for the shot to be legal.
It’s not a rule I often hear from pool tourists, but I definitely had to include it in this list. I couldn’t wrap my head around this one. I mean, how does that work exactly? Whose hand do you use? How can you see, in a split second, whether or not it was a legal shot? Obviously, you should hit the ball and a cushion afterwards. The worst part is that they were playing doubles for €200 per rack 8-ball. It, surprisingly, didn’t lead to any bad arguments.
You can check the WPBA rules of play for all the rules of all different pool games.