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Rules of Pool | How it is Played?

Pool tables have a long history, they were discovered in the 15th century and it is believed that the pool game was played by Kings in those times. It was considered an indoor game in the beginning but soon it emerged out as a versatile sport played with wooden tables and green cloth to stimulate the grass – pretty much the same look that you have in snooker.

Rules of Pool

The game is played in many forms, but the most common forms are eight-ball and nine-ball pool. The table size remains the same in both with the same number of pockets. The setting of the game is very much the same as in snooker except the difference in number of balls and players.

Objective of the Pool Game

The objective of a pool game is to pot all your designated pool balls – either stripes or solids. Then you attempt to pot 8 balls to win the game. A single pool match consists of several games following a “best out of“ format. The player who wins the most games, ultimately ends up as the winner of the match.

How to Play?

There are two forms of Pool games, 8-ball pool and 9-ball pool. Each format is played with 15 and 9 balls respectively, of different colours. Players use traditional cue sticks to hit and pocket the ball while there are some restrictions which ball you can pocket and pocket which ball will result in a foul.

To learn the differences between 8-ball Pool and 9-ball pool, make sure you read all the rules and differences discussed below.

General Rules of 8-Ball Pool

  • Before the start of the game, object balls are placed in a triangular rack positioned at the lower end of the table in such a way that the apex ball of the rack lies on the foot spot.
  • The order of the balls should be random except the black 8-ball, which goes into the middle of the third row.
  • White ball can stay anywhere behind the service line on the table.
  • If it’s the first game of the match, who gets the first break is decided on toss. After that, the break is taken in turns.
  • A legal break is only considered when the player hits the balls and ensures that four balls hit cushions and the cue ball is not potted. If the 8-ball is potted, the player has the right to ask for a rerack.
  • If 8-ball is potted early, then the player who pots the ball loses the game.
  • The first to pot the object ball will then have to continue potting from that category – stripes or solids. Likewise, the opposition player will go for the second category.
  • Just like snooker, a player will continue to pot until he commits a foul or fails to pot an object ball.
  • In the case of foul, the opponent player is entitled to place the cue ball anywhere on the table.
  • After all the player’s balls have been potted, then players have to sink the 8-ball. And before that, they have to designate which pocket they intend to pot and then do as stated.
  • In case of failure to do so, the opponent will return to the table.
  • If the player pots 8-ball in other than the stated pocket, they forfeit the game.

How 9-Ball Pool is Different from 8-ball

Unlike the 8-ball pool, which is played with 15 balls, a 9-ball pool uses only 9 balls and a cue ball. These 9 balls consist of 8 solid-colored balls and 9-ball – striped. Here’s how 9-ball pool’s balls are arranged and played with:

  • At the beginning, the balls are arranged in diamond shape using a rack. In the 8-ball pool, we had these balls placed based on certain measurements.
  • Once the rack has been removed, one player will break the balls using his cue ball.
  • In the 9-ball pool, players shoot at the ball in numerical order starting from the 1-ball and going up to the 9-ball.
  • You lose your turn once you have failed to hit the object ball in the pocket.
  • If a player fails to make a direct contact with the object ball – using the cue ball – the opponent can place the cue ball anywhere on the table.
  • A 9-ball pool can end in multiple ways. Either the table has to be cleared of all the balls except the 9-ball, leaving the 9-ball for the player who can win by sinking it. Or, a player can also win it through a “combination shot” in which a player hits the next ball in order.
  • Let’s say, he hits the 9-ball with a 3-ball and sinks the later – this is known as winning by “combination shot”.

Difference Between 8-ball Pool and 9-ball Pool:

Area of comparison8-ball pool9-ball Pool
Number of balls169
Ball positionsBased on measurementsAll balls are arranged in a diamond shaped rack
Types of balls1-7, are solid color and 9-15 are striped balls1-8 are solid colour balls and 9-ball is striped ball
Winning MethodPot every ball before potting the stripeEither pot all the balls numerically or win through a combination shot

Summing up the differences, remember the 8-ball pool is played with 15 balls while the 9-ball pool is played with 9 balls. In an 8-ball pool, the object is to hit striped or solid colored balls whereas in the later, you must hit the ball in numerical order or try to hit a “combination shot” that knocks the lowest-numbered object ball into the 9-ball and send the later in the pocket.

Toss in Pool Games

In the first game of the match, a toss takes place based on which it is decided which player will take the first break. Afterwards, they take breaks in turns.

Time Duration of Pool

A typical 8-ball or 9-ball pool game can last for 15 minutes average. That means, the whole match can go on for roughly 3-4 hours.

How Many Players Can Play Pool?

Because players have to nominate balls and there are restrictions regarding who is going to hit which ball to get points, only 2 players can compete in a pool game.

Players & Equipments in Pool

Equipment required for a pool game are very much the same as in snooker except the slight change in the quantity of balls and dimensions of table.

Pool Table: 8-ball and 9-ball pool games are played on pool tables that measure (standard size: 9 feet by 4.5 feet). Though you can play it on different sizes as well as there is no size limit.

Pool Cue Stick: Cue sticks are used to hit the ball, these sticks are generally made from wood, carbon fibre or fibreglass.

Pool Balls: Number of balls required depends on the type of play – whether you are playing an 8-ball pool or a 9-ball pool. 16 balls are required in the 8-ball pool while 9 balls are required in the 9-ball pool.

Chalk: Chalk is used to ensure that players get more control over their shots. Each player uses this chalk as per his own preferences to ensure that there is good contact made between the cue and the ball.

Referees in Pool Games

A referee is the official in charge of the pool game. His responsibility is to ensure and monitor that both the players or teams adhere to the rules of the game. Usually everything is clear in a pool game but if there’s a neutral decision required, a referee is there to take care of toss, fouls and point scoring verdicts.

Common Fouls in Pool Games

Some of the common fouls that occur in a pool game are listed below:

  • Failing to hit your own object balls.
  • Hitting the cue ball off the table.
  • Intentionally or unintentionally potting one of the opponent’s object balls.
  • Hitting the cue ball twice.
  • Pushing the cue ball to maintain contact with the object ball white hitting it, instead of striking.
  • A player taking a shot when it is not their turn.
  • Shooting without at least one foot on the floor.

Famous Pool Tournaments

Pool is mostly common in the USA and beside the World Pool Championship that is played on varying venues, some of the famous pool tournaments take place there throughout the year. Including:

  • US Open Bank Championship
  • Open 8-ball championship
  • US Open 9-ball championship

Pool Rankings

Pool players are ranked on the base of their performances. The more games they win the more points they earn, and their rankings keep improving. There aren’t many yearly awards but rankings that determine who is dominating the business.

Who Governs the game?

The World Pool/Billiard association governs the game with the objective to promote the game in different communities and make certain changes in the laws of the game if required.