How do you play the pool game 8-ball?

Eight-ball (8-ball) is a pool game played with all 15 balls racked in a triangle pattern, where the objective is to pocket the 8-ball after pocketing all seven of your designated balls (stripes or solids). Here’s a concise rules summary for 8-ball and 9-ball (based on the WPA World Standardized Rules), and here’s an even-shorter 1-page summary for 8-ball (PDF versioneditable Word version), suitable for posting in a bar (created by Nathan Rhoades, Newport RI).

Here are some useful resources related to 8-ball:

A good variation on 8-ball for advanced players is rotation 8-ball, where each person must always contact the lowest-numbered ball in their group first. There are many other rules variations. One example is Alabama 8-ball.

When one player is much better than the other, possible ways to handicap the game include:

  • require that the ball group be pocketed with standard rotation rules (balls shot in order).
  • require that the 8-ball be pocketed in the pocket in which the last OB was pocketed (i.e., “last pocket”).
  • disallow pocketing balls in the side pockets (or required that all balls be pocketed in the side pockets).
  • require that every shot be a caroms, kiss, banks, or kick
  • allow the less capable player two misses with each inning.
  • etc.

Any or all of these handicaps can be applied depending on the “weight” required.

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