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).
    • Any OBs jumped off the table are spotted. As with WPA rules, jumping any ball off the table is a foul.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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).
    • If you jump the 8 off the table during the break, it is loss of game.

Dr. Dave’s Commentary

Why can’t everybody use the same “official rules” of pool? I personally like all of the improvements CSI/BCAPL 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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