These are the general rules of billiards, which apply unless
playing one of the specific games listed below.
All of the pocket games are played on a table with six
pockets. The four corner pockets are 4 7/8 to 5 1/8" wide,
with an opening angle of 142 degrees. The two side pockets
are 5 3/8 to 5 5/8" wide, with an opening angle of 103 degrees.
The foot end of the table is the end on which the balls
are racked and the head end is the end from which the break
shot is made. The exact center of the playing area is marked
by the center spot. Halfway between the center spot and
the ends of the table are two other spots, the foot spot
and the head spot. Four imaginary lines called strings subdivide
the table into eight sections. The long string runs the
length of the table, through the center spot. The foot,
center, and head strings run across the table, through the
spots for which they are named.
To assist players in calculating angles for bank shots,
the cushions are marked by 18 diamonds, three between each
set of two pockets. Pool balls are 2 1/4 inches in diameter,
with a weight of 5 1/2 to 6 ounces. The cue stick must be
at least 40 inches long, with a weight of no more than 25
ounces. The maximum width of the tip is 14 millimeters.
There are 15 object balls, numbered 1 through 15. The "low
balls," 1 through 7 are solid colors, and the "high
balls," 9 through 15, are striped. As the middle ball
in the sequence, the 8 ball stands alone. The object of
is to knock object balls into pockets by action of the cue
ball. Before a match, players "lag" to determine
the order of play. Each player strokes the cue ball against
the foot cushion from behind the head string. The player
whose ball comes nearest the head cushion after rebounding
from the foot cushion is given the choice of whether to
shoot first or second.
The scratch is a special kind of foul in pocket
billiards. The most common scratch occurs when the cue
ball goes into a pocket or jumps off the table. It's a table
scratch if the cue ball remains on the playing surface but
the shooter fails to fulfill certain requirements: for example,
if the cue ball doesn't touch an object ball. The specific
penalty for a scratch varies with the type of pocket billiards
being played. Generally, though, the opponent is given the
ball in hand to be placed on the table for the next shot.
Pool is played by 2 players or 2 teams using a standard
set of balls numbered 1-15, plus cue ball. The balls are
placed in a standard triangle rack with the apex ball on
the foot spot, 1 ball on the racker's right corner, 5 ball
on left corner and other balls placed at random. All balls
must touch their neighbors. The game is played to a pre-determined
The player must nominate a ball and pocket. He is awarded
one point for every correctly nominated and pocketed ball
on a legal stroke and continues his turn until he either
fails to pocket a nominated ball or commits a foul. Any
ball legally pocketed counts one point for the shooter.
At the opening break, the starting player must either (1)
designate a ball and a pocket and accomplish the designated
shot or (2) cause the cue ball to contact a ball, then a
cushion, plus cause two object balls to contact a cushion.
Failure to do so is a breaking violation, and the offender
is assessed a two point penalty for each breaking violation.
The opponent has the choice of (1) accepting the table in
position or (2) having the balls reracked and requiring
the offending player to repeat the opening break.
If the starting player scratches on a legal opening break,
he is assessed a one point penalty. The incoming player
is awarded the cue ball in hand behind the head string,
with object balls in position.
A shooter continues at the table until he fails to legally
pocket a called ball on a shot. He may shoot any ball, but
must designate the ball and pocket. Any additional pocketed
ball on a legal stroke is scored as one point for the shooter.
When the fourteenth ball of a rack is pocketed, play stops
with the fifteenth ball remaining in position on the table.
The fourteen pocketed balls are racked, with the space at
the foot spot vacant. The shooter then continues, normally
pocketing the fifteenth ball so as to have the cue ball
carom into the rack and spread the balls.
Illegally pocketed balls are all spotted. If object balls
jump off the table, the stroke is a foul and any jumped
ball(s) is spotted after the balls come to rest. If the
cue ball jumps off the table or is scratched, the incoming
player has cue ball in hand behind the head string.
is a call shot game played with a cue ball and object balls
numbered 1 through 15. The balls are racked in a triangle
at the foot of the table with the 8 ball in the center,
the first ball of the rack on the footspot, a stripe ball
in one corner and a solid ball in the other corner. One
player must pocket the balls numbered 1 through 7 (solids),
while the other player must pocket balls numbered 9 through
15 (stripes). The player pocketing his group first then
legally pocketing the 8 ball wins the game. The table is
always open immediately after the break. The choice of group
is determined when a player legally pockets a called object
ball after the break.
Obvious balls and pockets do not have to be indicated.
The opponent may ask which ball and pocket if he is unsure.
Bank shots and combination shots are not considered obvious.
It is not necessary to indicate details such as number of
cushions, banks, kisses, etc. Any balls pocketed on a foul
Winner of the lag has the option to break. Players alternate
breaking on each subsequent game. The breaker must either
(1) pocket the ball or (2) drive at least four numbered
balls to the rail. Failure to make a legal break is a foul.
The incoming player has the option of accepting the table
in position and shooting or having the balls reracked. He
may then reshoot the opening break or allow his opponent
If a player scratches on a legal break shots all balls
pocketed remain pocketed (except the 8
ball), it counts as a foul, and the table is open. If
the shooter jumps an object ball off the table on the break
shot, it is a foul. The incoming player may accept the table
in position and shoot or take the cue ball in hand behind
the head string and shoot. If the 8 ball is pocketed on
the break, the breaker may ask for a rerack or have the
8 ball spotted and continue shooting.
Combination shots are allowed; however, a combination shot
can never be used to legally pocket the 8 ball.
A player loses the game if he fouls when pocketing the
8 ball, pockets the 8 ball on the same stroke as the last
of his group of balls, jumps the 8 ball off the table at
any time, pockets the 8 ball in a pocket other than the
one designated, or pockets the 8 ball when it is not the
legal object ball.
is played with object balls numbered 1 through 9, plus cue
ball. The object balls are racked in a diamond shape, with
the 1-ball at the top of the diamond and on the foot spot,
the 9-ball in the center, and the other balls in random
order, packed as tightly as possible.
On each shot, the first ball the cue ball contacts must
be the lowest numbered ball on the table; however, the balls
need not be pocketed in order. If a player pockets any ball
on a legal shot, he continues until he misses, fouls or
wins the game by pocketing the 9-ball.
After a miss, the incoming player may start with the cue
ball anywhere on the table. Players are not required to
call their shots.
To break, the shooter must strike the 1-ball first and
either pocket a ball or drive at least four numbered balls
to the rail. On the following play, the shooter may play
a "push out" in an attempt to move the cue ball
into a better position for the option that follows. The
player must announce his intention before the shot or it
is considered a normal shot.
If the shooter misses or fouls, the other player begins
his inning and shoots until he misses, fouls, or wins.
The match ends when one of the players has won the required
number of games.
When a player commits a foul, he must relinquish his run
and no balls pocketed on the foul shot are respotted, except
the 9-ball is respotted if it is pocketed. The incoming
player is awarded the ball and hand, and he may place the
cue ball anywhere on the table prior to his first shot.
If the first object ball contacted by the cue ball is not
the lowest numbered ball on the table, the shot is a foul.
If no object ball is pocketed, failure to drive the cue
ball or any numbered ball to the rail, it is a foul. If
an object ball is driven off the table, it is a foul. The
ball is not respotted (unless it is the 9-ball) and play