What is Eight Ball?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Eight Ball is a popular game of pocket billiards that is considered to be a staple of both amateur play and professional competitions. The game is played with the use of fifteen object balls, including the 8 ball, and the cue ball. While the official rules of Eight Ball vary from one location to the next, there are a few basic guidelines that govern just about every official set of rules that are used in competitions.

Eight Ball is a popular form of billiards.
Eight Ball is a popular form of billiards.

Eight Ball is played on a pool table, with the player using a pool cue to execute moves that are designed to sink or pocket each of the fifteen numbered balls by using the pool cue to drive the cue ball into the other balls on the table. To begin, the balls are arranged in a triangular shaped track, with the eight ball in the center of the grouping. The cue ball is used to break the rack, sending the balls to different positions on the table. If the person breaking the track pockets a ball, his or her turn continues until a move fails to pocket a ball. The game continues with each player continuing to play until he or she fails to sink a ball into a pocket.

The goal for this billiards game is to pocket all the numbered balls on the table, until only the eight ball is left. At this juncture, the player must call which pocket he or she will attempt to use for pocketing the eight ball. If the player does not pocket the ball, or the eight ball lands in a different pocket than the one designated by the player, the turn is lost. In some versions of Eight Ball, the opposing player has the option of placing the eight ball back on the table and attempting to sink the ball. In other versions, the game is considered to be complete, once the eight ball is sunk in any pocket.

Because there is some variance in the rules that apply to Eight Ball, players that choose to participate in competitions should always review the rules in use before beginning to play. The same is true with friendly games at the local pool hall as well. Clarifying the rules before beginning play will help the game to be more entertaining and also encourage good sportsmanship.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


In most variations of the game, if your opponent hits in your ball first and then his goes in, he loses his turn. I don't think any balls come out as a result, but this may vary somewhat on whether you are playing in a professional tournament or not.


in 8 ball if i am playing solids and my opponent hits in mine first then his goes in right after who shot is it and do any balls come out.. thanks

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