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Basic pool game rules

Updated April 17, 2017

Standard pool, more accurately known as eight ball, is a widely popular game. Because of this, there are many variations on the rules, including tournament rules and innumerable sets of local "house rules."

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Players and Equipment

Eight ball is a two-player (or two-team) game using a standard billiards table and cues. It uses sixteen balls; one white (the cue ball), one black (the eight), seven solid coloured and seven striped.


The object of the game is to use the cue ball to knock all striped or solid-coloured balls (depending on the player) into the pockets, then knocking the eight ball in to win.


All the balls but the cue ball are placed tightly in a triangle with the apex ball on one of the two spots on the table. A stripe and a solid must be at the back corners of the triangle, and the eight must be directly behind the apex ball, but the order of the others doesn't matter. The cue is placed anywhere behind the other spot on the table.

Game play

Players take turns hitting the cue ball to knock the other balls into the pockets ("pocketing" them). Players may pocket any ball but the eight until the first ball is pocketed, at which point the player who pocketed the ball must continue pocketing the same type of balls and the other player the other type. Whenever a player pockets a ball of his type, that player may go again. Once a player has pocketed all of his type of ball, she can attempt to pocket the eight to win. When doing so, the player must indicate ahead of time which pocket he will knock the eight ball into.


A player fouls, ending her turn and allowing the other player to place the cue ball anywhere on the table, if shes pockets the cue ball, drive a ball off the table, touches any balls, hits a ball before they all stop moving or fails to hit any balls with the cue ball. A player automatically loses the game if he pockets the eight ball prematurely, pockets the cue ball while trying to pocket the eight ball or knocks the eight ball into a pocket other than the one he indicated before the shot.

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About the Author

Ryan Voss

Ryan Voss is a freelance writer/blogger and artist/graphic designer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His areas of specialty are current events, politics and the martial and fine arts. He has been freelancing in a variety of creative fields since 2005.

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