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Pool Leagues - VNEA 8 Ball Official Rules of Play

For a complete list of rules, please visit VNEA's website.

Balls and Racking

  • The game is played with one cue ball and 15 numbered object balls.
  • The balls are racked in a triangle at the foot of the table with the 8 ball in the center of the triangle, the first ball of the rack on the footspot, a stripe ball in one corner of the rack and a solid ball in the other corner.
  • The object of the game is to make one group of numbered object balls, either stripes or solids, and then legally pocket the 8 ball, which then wins the game.

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Break Shot

  • Start of play – the home team breaks first and writes their line-up down first. The break will alternate thereafter.
  • If the breaker hits the racked balls with the cue ball driving four or more numbered balls to a cushion or pocketing one or more object balls, the games is considered started. If the player fails to make a legal break, it is not a foul; however, the opponent has the option (1) accepting the table in position and shooting, or (2) have the balls re-racked and shooting the break himself or have original breaker re-break.
  • Stopping or deflecting the cue ball prior to hitting the racked balls are considered fouls and loss of turn. The opponent will receive cue ball in hand behind the headstring.
  • When positioning the cue ball for the break shot, the base of the ball must be behind the headstring (kitchen).
  • If a player scratches on a legal break shot, (1) all balls pocketed remain pocketed (exception: the 8 ball), (2) it is a foul, (3) the table is open.
  • The opposing player must inform the breaking player of improper position of the cue ball before the shot is made. If the opposing player does not so inform the breaking player before the shot is made, the break is considered legal. If the shooting player is informed of improper positioning, he/she must the reposition the cue ball.
  • Our leagues choose Option #2 from the VNEA rulebook:  Making the 8-Ball On The Break:  The breaker may ask for a rerack or have the 8-ball spotted and continue shooting.  Should the breaker pocket the 8-ball and scratch, the incoming player has the option of spotting the 8-ball and shooting from behind the headstring or reracking and assuming the break.  Using Option #2, a game cannot be won or lost with an 8-ball on the break, regardless of what is pocketed on the same shot.
  • If the player legally breaks the racked balls and does not make any balls, the opponent then shoots, having open table.
  • If a player jumps an object ball off the table on the break shot, it is a foul and the incoming player has the option of (1) accepting the table in position and shooting, or (2) taking cue ball in hand behind the headstring and shooting.

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Open Table

  • The table is "open" when the choice of groups (stripes or solids) has not yet been determined. When the table is open, it is legal to hit a solid first to make a stripe or vice versa and the 8 ball. The table is always open immediately after the break shot. The choice of group is determined only when a player legally pockets a called object ball after the break shot.

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  • In call pocket, obvious balls and pockets do not have to be indicated. It is the opponent’s right to ask which ball and pocket if he/she is unsure of the shot. Banks and combinations are not considered obvious and both the object ball and the pocket must be called or it is a loss of turn. When calling the shot, it is never necessary to indicate details such as number of cushions, banks, kisses, caroms, etc. Any balls pocketed on a foul remain pocketed, regardless of whether they belong to the shooter or the opponent.
  • The opening break is not a "called pocket." Any player performing a break shot in 8 ball may continue to shoot his/her next shot so long as he/she has legally pocketed any object ball on the break.
  • When a player has pocketed all of the balls in his/her group, he/she then shoots at the 8 ball physically designating his/her pocket with a pocket marker. The marker is to be placed on the table completely within the first diamond on either side of the pocket. The entire area between the diamonds included. You do not have to touch or move the marker if it is already at your intended pocket.

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  • If a shooter inadvertently pockets his/her opponent’s ball, it remains down, however, if the shooter does not legally pocket one of his/her own group, he loses his turn.
  • Each player continues to shoot so long as he legally pockets any of his/her object balls. Should a player fail to pocket his designated group ball, he shall lose his turn.
  • If a player fails to hit or make the 8 ball while shooting at it, the game continues.
  • In the event the cue ball or an object ball stops on the edge of the pocket then falls into the pocket because of vibrations, fan or stamping of feet, it shall be replaced on the edge of the pocket as near as possible to its position before interference.
  • If any object ball is jumped off the table, it is a foul and loss of turn, unless it is the 8 ball, which is loss of game. Any jumped object balls are spotted in numerical order.
  • Slow play rule: Exaggerated slow play will be penalized. After a warning, any longer than one minute between shots will be a foul. The third infraction will result in loss of game.
  • Stalemated game: If in 3 consecutive turns at the table by each player (6 turns total), they purposely foul or scratch and both players agree that attempting to pocket or move an object ball will result in immediate loss of game, then the game will be considered a stalemate. The balls will then be re-racked and the breaker of the stalemated game will break again.

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Loss of Game

  • Pocketing the 8 ball when it is not the legal object ball except on an opening break.
  • Pocketing the 8 ball on the same stroke as the last of his/her group of balls.
  • When the 8-ball is the legal object ball, a scratch or foul is NOT a loss of game if the 8-ball is not pocketed or jumped off the table.  Incoming player has cue ball in hand.
  • Jumping of knocking the 8 ball off the table at any time.
  • Pocketing the 8 ball in a pocket other than the one designated.
  • Fouling while (pocketing) the 8 ball in the designated pocket.
  • Third infraction of the slow play rule.
  • Pocketing the 8 ball and the cue ball on the same stroke.
  • Not correctly marking the pocket while pocketing the 8 ball.
  • Note: All infractions above must be called before the next shot is taken.

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Legal Shots

  • On all shots (except on the break and when the table is open), the shooter must hit one of his/her group of balls first and (1) pocket any group ball, or (2) cause the cue ball or any other ball to contact a rail.
  • Note: It is permissible for the shooter to bank the cue ball off a rail before contacting his/her object ball; however, after contact with his/her object ball, any group ball must be pocketed, or the cue ball or any other ball must contact a rail.
  • Safety shot: For tactical reasons a player may choose to pocket an obvious object ball and also discontinue his/her turn at the table by declaring a "safety" in advance. A safety shot is defined as a legal shot. If the shooting player intends to play safe by pocketing and obvious object ball, the prior to the shot, he/she must declare a "safety" to his/her opponent. If this is not done, and one of the shooter’s object balls is pocketed, the shooter will be required to shoot again. Any ball pocketed on a safety shot remains pocketed.

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  • All fouls must be called and acknowledged before next shot is taken. (Exception: scratching)
  • Failure to make a legal shot as noted above.
  • Shooting the cue ball into a pocket or off the table.
  • It is a foul when a player scratches on the break, or deflects the cue ball prior to hitting the racked balls. The incoming player receives cue ball in hand behind the headstring.
  • When placing the cue ball in position, any forward stroke motion contacting the cue ball will be a foul, if not a legal shot.
  • Shooting without at least one foot touching the floor.
  • Coaching is a foul. Any member of a team called for coaching will result in a foul on the team member shooting.
  • If a ball is frozen on a cushion, (the opposing player must notify the shooter before the shot) the player must contact the frozen ball and then: (1) pocket the frozen ball, or any other object ball, (2) cause the cue ball to contact a cushion, or (3) drive the frozen ball to another cushion, or (4) cause another object ball to contact a cushion. Failure is a foul.
  • Accidentally moving or touching any ball is not a foul unless the ball is the cue ball (cue ball only fouls). Only opponent may replace the ball moved as closely as possible or leave it where it rests. If the shooter replaces the moved ball; it will be considered a foul. However, if you accidentally move an object ball during a shot and it makes contact with the cue ball it is considered a foul.
  • Picking up or shooting the cue ball while any balls are still in motion is a foul.
  • Push shots and or double hits will be considered fouls.
  • With cue ball in hand, touching any object ball with the cue ball is a foul or touching any object ball with your hand while touching the cue ball is a foul.
  • When the slow play rule is enforced taking longer than one minute between shots is a foul.
  • Jumping object balls off the table.
  • After a scratch on a legal break, if a player positions the cue ball completely and obviously outside the kitchen and shoots it is a foul.
  • If your opponent commits a foul and you do not receive his/her acknowledgement of such foul prior to touching the cue ball you have committed a foul. (exception: scratching)
  • Illegal jumping of ball.

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  • You can only be called for Coaching when it is your turn at the table. When it is not your turn at the table, you and your teammates can talk about whatever you want.  Your turn at the table is over once you have missed and the balls are no longer in motion.

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