Billiards Game Rules: Scotch Doubles

Updated February 21, 2017

Modern billiards games have their origins in the 15th century, when Europeans used to playing croquet games outdoors moved their fun indoors to escape bad weather. By the 1920s, billiards as we know it today had been invented, with the rules for eight-ball and nine-ball games becoming standard over the years. Scotch Doubles billiards allows players to shoot pool in teams of two, and knowing the proper rules can enhance your playing experience.

Starting the Game

Flip a coin to determine which team is the home team. The home team breaks first when play begins.

For Scotch Doubles, you rack the balls in a traditional triangular rack. Place the eight ball in the centre of the rack, with the point of the triangle resting on the footspot, the small white spot at one end of the table. Rack the remaining balls with a striped ball in one corner and a solid ball in the other at the bottom of the triangle.

One player from the home team breaks the rack by placing the cue ball behind the headstring (the small white spot at the other end of the table) and hitting it towards the racked balls. If the breaker pushes at least four balls to a cushion, or if he pockets at least one ball, it is considered a legal break. If not, a player on the other team can choose to shoot where the balls lays, to re-rack the balls and have the original breaker shoot again or to re-rack and break it himself.

If the breaker pockets any balls during the break it does not determine the solid or stripe designating of his team. No matter what, the board is open after the break shot, meaning that any player can shoot for any ball.

Continued Play

If the breaker sinks any balls on the break, his partner takes the next turn. Partners take turns shooting until one of them does not make a ball. Play then passes to the other team, which uses the same procedure.

The first player to sink a ball after the break determines solids and stripes based on what type of ball he sinks. From then on, players must hit one of their group balls with the cue ball first, and should only shoot to pocket his group.

In professional shooting, a player must call his shots, or indicate into which pocket he will sink the ball. If he fails to call his shot, he loses his team's turn.

Once a team pockets all of its group balls, the players shoot for the eight ball.

Eight-Ball Rules

The eight ball is the key ball in a game of Scotch Doubles, and there are a number of rules regarding its use.

Teams have two options in regards to rules about sinking the eight ball on the break. Either the breaking player wins the game automatically (unless he also scratches, or sinks the cue ball, in which case the opposing team automatically wins), or the breaker re-racks and breaks again or spots the eight ball where it went in and keeps shooting.

If a player pockets the eight ball or jumps the eight ball from the table at any time during regular play, his team automatically loses.

When shooting for the eight ball at the end of the game, the player must call his shot. If the eight ball goes into the wrong pocket, or if the player scratches the cue ball while shooting for eight ball, his team loses.


Any player involved in the game can call a foul when he sees one, as long as he calls it before the next shot. Players guilty of fouls must stop shooting immediately. The opposing team receives the cue ball to place anywhere on the table.

Foul offences include not switching players correctly, playing too slowly between shots and shooting without at least one foot on the ground.

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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.