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Mastering Eight Ball Pool: A Comprehensive Guide to Rules and Strategy

Hello, pool fans! Ready to explore the world of pool games? Great!

Pool is a super popular game enjoyed by people all over the globe. Whether you're at a bustling pool hall in the city or a cozy spot in your neighborhood, pool is a hit everywhere.

In this blog, we're focusing on how to play eight-ball pool, which is probably the game you think of when you hear "pool." It's fast-paced and loads of fun!

Whether you're a pro or just starting, join us as we delve into the exciting world of playing 8-ball pool. Let's break, rack 'em up, and have a blast sinking those shots together.

How to play eight ball pool game

8 pool ball rules

The rules in 8-ball pool can vary depending on where you play, but the World Pool Billiard Association (WPA) has set standards for both amateurs and pros. Here's a simplified version of how do you play 8 ball pool:

  1. Before starting, arrange the object balls in a triangle rack at the lower end of the table. The 8-ball goes in the middle of the third row, and the white ball can be placed anywhere behind the service line.

  2. Decide who breaks by tossing a coin. Then, players take turns breaking.

  3. To break legally, hit the balls so four of them hit the cushions and the cue ball doesn't go into a pocket. If the 8-ball goes in on the break, you can request a re-rack.

  4. The first player to pot an object ball keeps shooting, aiming to pot all balls from their category (stripes or solids).

  5. If a player commits a foul, the other player gets to place the cue ball anywhere on the table.

  6. Once all their balls are potted, a player must sink the 8-ball in their nominated pocket to win. Potting it in any other pocket forfeits the game.

Remember, fouls include things like hitting the wrong balls, potting the cue ball, or taking a shot out of turn. Stick to these rules in 8 ball pool, and you'll be playing like a pro in no time! 


How does 8ball work

In an 8-ball pool, you have a white "cue ball" and 15 numbered balls, including the black "8-ball." One player aims to pocket the solid-colored balls (numbers 1-7) while the other tries to sink the striped balls (numbers 9-15). You can only pocket the 8-ball once you've cleared all your designated balls (solids or stripes). The game ends when a player pots the 8-ball after finishing their designated balls. 

1. Setting Up the Game - how do you play 8 ball

Setting Up the Game The 8 Ball Pool Game

Locate the Head Spot:

Find a small dot or triangle in the middle of the felt, about a quarter of the way down the table. This is where you'll put the cue ball to start the game. The line that goes through this spot is called the "head string".

Rack The Balls

  • Get the rack and place the numbered balls inside. Put the rack at one end of the table, with one corner pointing towards where you'll break.

  • Position the rack at the "foot spot," which is three-quarters down the table's length, right in the middle.

  • Put the 8-ball in the center of the rack, the 1-ball at the front, and one stripe ball and one solid ball in the back corners.

That's it! You're ready to start playing 8-ball pool.

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2. Beginning the Game - how to play 8 ball

Beginning the Game - how to play 8 ball

Break The Rack:

Position the cue ball behind the head string and aim at the triangle of balls. Hit the cue ball with force and accuracy. A good break means pocketing a ball or hitting at least four numbered balls to the rail. If the break isn't done correctly, it's considered a foul.

What to Do When There's a Scratch or Foul:

In 8 pool ball rules, if the player who breaks the game scratches or makes a foul, the game is not fully started yet. When there's a foul, the next player has two choices: keep playing from where the balls are or start over by setting up the balls again for a new break. They can decide to break themselves or let the first player try again.

If a player scratches during the break

Keep the balls that were pocketed.

It's the other player's turn to shoot.

The table is open, so the player who makes the next ball gets to choose stripes or solids as their group for the game.

If a player accidentally makes a numbered ball jump off the table during the break, it's a foul

The next player can either continue playing from where the balls are or start over by setting up the balls again for a new break.

If the 8-ball is pocketed during the break

The broke player can choose to re-set the balls for a new break or continue playing with the 8-ball spotted and keep shooting.

If the player broke scratches while pocketing the 8-ball during the break, the next player can choose to start over or keep playing with the 8-ball spotted and the cue ball behind the head string.

Select Your Group:

At the beginning of the game, the table is considered "open." The player who sinks a numbered ball first gets to choose their group for the game. For example, if you sink the striped 13-ball, you become the "stripes" player. Your aim then is to pocket all the striped balls and the 8-ball before your opponent pockets all the solid balls and the 8-ball.

To make it clear which group you are in, announce "I'm stripes!" or "I'm solids!" when you pocket a ball. If you sink both a stripe and a solid at the same time as the first shot, you get to choose which group to belong to based on what gives you the best advantage.

3. Playing the Game

Playing 8 Ball Pool Game

Keep taking your turns until you miss pocketing a ball:

When you're aiming for "stripes" and manage to pocket the striped 12 ball, you get to keep shooting. Try to pocket another striped ball after that. If you succeed, you get another turn. But if you miss or scratch, your turn ends, and it's your opponent's go next.

You can attempt combination shots, where you sink two balls of your group with one shot. However, you can't use the 8-ball as your first shot in a combination unless it's the only legal ball left for you to pocket. Otherwise, it's considered a foul.

To win, pocket all the balls in your group:

If you're playing "solids," aim to pocket balls numbered 1-7 to set up the 8-ball shot. If you're playing "stripes," aim for balls numbered 9-15. Be careful not to pocket your opponent's ball, or you'll lose your turn.

Call Your Shots:

In official pool games, players have to say which ball they're aiming for and which pocket they're trying to sink it in before taking their shot. For example, you might say, "4-ball, corner pocket," and point your cue stick to show which pocket you mean. But you don't have to call your shots if you're playing a relaxed game with friends.

Pocket the 8-Ball:

To win at pool eight ball, follow these steps: First, you must pocket all the balls in your group (stripes or solids). Then, aim for the 8-ball. But here's the catch: you must call which pocket you're aiming for before you shoot. For example, you might say, "8-ball, corner pocket." If you make the 8-ball in the called pocket, you win! But if you miss, it's your opponent's turn. Remember, you haven't won or lost until you make or scratch while aiming for the 8-ball.

End The Game:

To end an 8-ball pool game, players must legally pocket the 8-ball after all their group's numbered balls are pocketed. However, specific actions lead to a player's loss. These include pocketing the 8-ball right after the break or on the same stroke as the last of their group, jumping the 8-ball off the table post-break, pocketing it in an uncalled pocket, or pocketing it when it's not the legal "object ball.

Ready to practice your skills? Check out our selection of high-quality pool tables: link to your pool table page for the perfect home game!


Mastering the game of 8-ball pool involves understanding the rules, practicing your skills, and strategizing your shots. With patience and dedication, anyone can become a skilled player and enjoy the thrilling experience of this popular game. So, grab your cue and get ready to rack 'em up!

More From Maria Azalea

Author: Maria Azalea

Author: Maria Azalea

Maria Azalea is the Founder and CEO of Maximilliano Gameroom, an online platform dedicated to providing high-quality pool tables and exceptional customer service. With a commitment to continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, humility, innovation, and integrity, Maria leads her team with a clear vision. Her goal is to establish Maximilliano Gameroom as one of the nation's premier billiard companies, recognized for its outstanding products and customer support. Maria's drive to enhance the customer experience and improve satisfaction fuels her passion for excellence in the industry.


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