The “official rules of pool” are the WPA World Standardized Rules. Here’s a concise rules summary of the WPA rules for 8-ball and 9-ball, and here’s a good demonstration of all types of legal and illegal shots:

League system rules deviate from the “official” WPA rules slightly. Below is a concise summary of the main differences:

  • APA 8-ball
    • Slop counts (i.e., you don’t need to call your shots).
    • You are allowed to call time-out during a game to get advice from a designated coach on your team.
    • If you legally pocket solids (or stripes) and no stripes (or solids) on the break, you must “take what you make.”
    • On the break, you must hit the head ball or a 2nd-row ball first.
    • A slow/soft break is not allowed.
    • Pocketing the 8 on the break is a win (unless you also scratch, in which case it is a loss).
    • When hitting an OB frozen to a cushion, the OB must be driven to a different cushion (or off a ball and back to the same cushion) if nothing else hits a cushion or is pocketed.
    • Jump cues are not allowed (except in the Masters Division).
    • Jumping OBs off the table is not a foul and the balls are spotted when done pocketing remaining balls or after a miss.
    • You must mark the pocket where you intend to make the 8.
  • CSI, BCAPL, USAPL 8-ball
    • If you scratch on the break, your opponent gets ball in hand anywhere on the table.
    • When hitting an OB frozen to a cushion, the OB must be driven to a different cushion (or off a ball and back to the same cushion) if nothing else hits a cushion or is pocketed.
    • If an illegal impeding ball moves during a jump or massé shot, whether it is hit by the CB or not, it is a foul (unlike when playing under the “CB fouls only” variation of WPA rules).
    • You don’t need to keep a hand on your cue when using it to help aim a shot.
    • If a player shoots the wrong group and no foul is called, and it is later noticed that someone is shooting at the wrong group, the game will be replayed with the same breaker. If the game has already ended, the game is not replayed and the result stands.
  • VNEA 8-ball
    • When the table is open, you are allowed to hit the 8 first to pocket an OB.
    • When hitting an OB frozen to a cushion, the OB must be driven to a cushion on a different rail (or off a ball and back to a cushion on the same rail) if nothing else hits a cushion or is pocketed.
    • Any OBs jumped off the table are spotted. As with WPA rules, jumping any ball off the table is a foul. If you jump the 8 off the table during the break, it is loss of game.
    • You must mark the pocket where you intend to make the 8 (unless it is agreed to ahead of time that marking is not required).

Dr. Dave’s Commentary

Why can’t everybody use the same “official rules” of pool? I personally like all of the improvements CSI/BCAPL/USAPL has made, and I hope the WPA (and all league systems) eventually embrace these improvements. Some of the APA and VNEA “special rules” are just plain ridiculous and should be eliminated.


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