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GOALS | RULES | CONTROLS | CLOCKS & TIME LIMITS | RANKINGS | ENDING | STRATEGY | DID YOU KNOW?

Game Goals

8-Ball Pool is a game for two players. You win by legally pocketing the 8-Ball. (The 8-Ball is the black ball.)

Game Rules

Overview

At the start of the game, there are 16 balls on the table: the cue ball (the white ball), the 8-Ball (the black ball), 7 striped balls, and 7 solid balls.

All shots in 8-Ball Pool are made by using a wooden stick, called the cue, to hit the cue ball into another ball.

Based on the rules below, one player will become solids and one will become stripes. Before this has been decided, the table is considered "open". Once it has been decided, the table is "closed".

Once you have pocketed all the balls of your type, you may try to pocket the 8-Ball. The person who legally pockets the 8-Ball wins.

The Break

The break is the initial shot of the game, when all 15 balls other than the cue ball are "racked" into a triangular formation. The player who goes first has "ball-in-hand", meaning that he or she can reposition the ball, as long as it remains "behind the headstring" - that is, in the leftmost quarter of the table.

Note that, on the break, it is impossible to pocket either the cue ball or the 8-Ball (the pockets will act like rails, as far as those two balls are concerned).

To be a legal break, at least one ball must be pocketed or at least two balls beside the cue ball must hit a rail. If the player who goes first fails to make a legal break, the balls are re-racked, and the other player gets to break.

Even if balls are pocketed on the break, the table remains open. However, pocketing one or more balls on the break allows the player who broke to continue his or her turn.

Open Table Shots

Open table shots occur after the break, but before it has been determined who has solids and who has stripes.

On an open table shot, you may hit the cue ball into any ball except the 8-Ball. If you pocket a solid ball, you become solids and the other player becomes stripes. If you pocket a striped ball, you become stripes and your opponent becomes solids. The display on the right side of the game window, just below your username, shows whether you are solids or stripes.

If you sink one (or more) balls of each type, you get to choose whether you will be solids or stripes, via a pop-up dialog box.

If you sink the 8-Ball on an open table shot, your opponent wins.

In the event of an illegal shot, control goes to the other player, with full-table ball-in-hand. Any balls pocketed on an illegal shot remain pocketed, and the table remains open. An illegal open table shot is:

  • the 8-Ball is the first ball struck by the cue ball
  • the cue ball is pocketed (a "scratch")
  • the cue ball doesn't hit any other ball
  • after the initial collision, no ball is pocketed and no ball hits a rail If you legally pocket one or more balls, in additional to closing the table, you get to go again.

Closed Table Shots

Closed table shots occur once it has been determined who has solids and who has stripes. Most of the shots in a typical game will be closed table shots.

On a closed table shot, you may hit the cue ball into any ball of your group - solids or stripes.

If you sink the 8-Ball on a closed table shot, your opponent wins.

In the event of an illegal shot, control goes to the other player, with full-table ball-in-hand. Any balls pocketed on an illegal shot remain pocketed. An illegal closed table shot is:

  • the 8-Ball is the first ball struck by the cue ball
  • a ball from the opponent's group is the first ball struck by the cue ball
  • the cue ball is pocketed
  • the cue ball doesn't hit any other ball
  • after the initial collision, no ball is pocketed and no ball hits a rail

If you legally pocket at least one ball from your group, you get to go again.

8-Ball Shots

An 8-Ball shot occurs once you have pocketed all the balls of your group. When attempting to pocket the 8-Ball, you must "call" a pocket. You can change your mind and call a different pocket, as long as you have not yet hit the cue ball. This allows you to attempt to set up your shot and, if the angle isn't optimal, select a different pocket instead.

If the 8-Ball is then pocketed into the called pocket, you win - unless you also pocket the cue ball on the shot, in which case your opponents wins. If the 8-Ball goes into a non-called pocket, your opponent wins. If the 8-Ball stays on the table, control merely moves back to your opponent.

In the event of an illegal shot, control goes to the other player, with full-table ball-in-hand. Any balls pocketed on an illegal shot remain pocketed. An illegal 8-Ball shot is:

  • the cue ball hits a ball from the opponent's group before hitting the 8-Ball
  • the cue ball is pocketed
  • the cue ball doesn't hit any other ball
  • after hitting the 8-Ball, no ball is pocketed and no ball hits a rail

Game Controls

Whenever you have ball-in-hand, such as on a break shot or after your opponent has made an illegal shot, you can reposition the cue ball by clicking and dragging it.

To shoot, you must first aim the cue stick. Left-click in the game window, then move your mouse to aim the cue by rotating it around the cue ball. A "ghost image" of your cue ball shows where it will initially strike another ball (or the railing of the table). You can also use the left and right arrow keys to rotate the cue.

A solid line shows the direction of that target ball, while a dotted line shows the direction the cue ball will take following that initial collision. The length of the direction line from the target ball will be proportional to the distance between the cue ball and the target ball.

Once you have your cue aimed properly, right-click your mouse on or near the cue, then drag the cue away from the cue ball. The further the cue from the cue ball, the more powerful the shot. The power meter on the right side of the game window also shows the power of the shot.

Finally, release the right mouse button to shoot. You can also use the up and down arrow keys to adjust the power of your shot, and hit the space bar to shoot.

You can control the "English" (spin) on the ball using the English control in the lower left corner. Click on the English control to move the plus sign to a different part of the cue ball. Moving the plus sign to the top of the English control will give the cue ball top spin, and so forth. Following your shot, the plus sign will return to its default position, in the center of the cue ball.

When making an 8-Ball shot, you must call the pocket. You will see arrows pointing to all six pockets; click on one to select it. The other five arrows will disappear, leaving one remaining arrow pointing to your selected pocket. You can change your selection at this point; just click on one of the other pockets.

Click the Resign button if you want to give up without waiting for the game to end. Note, however, that comebacks in 8-Ball Pool are common, even when your opponent has sunk many more balls than you have.

Messages from the game will appear in the box immediately below the table. Messages from your opponent will appear in the chat window in the lower right corner. If you want to send a message to your opponent, type it in the box below the chat window, and click the Send button. This is a private chat; you and your opponent will be the only ones who see these messages.

Clocks and Time Limits

Part of agreeing to a game with another player is agreeing to a time limit. At the start of the game, each player will have the agreed-on time limit on their clocks. (In other words, the total time of the game may be as much as twice the agreed-on time limit.) Your clock is located below your username, on the right side of the game window.

While it is your turn, your clock will count down, and your opponent's will be frozen. Once you have hit the cue ball, your clock will freeze. As soon as all the balls come to a rest, your opponent's clock will resume counting down.

If a player's time runs out before the completion of the game, that player loses. An alarm will sound when your clock reaches 30 seconds.

Rankings

All players start with an 8-Ball Pool ranking of 1500. Your ranking goes up when you win games, and down when you lose games. Your ranking is never effected by a Free game.

The magnitude of your rank change is based on three factors:

  • The rank of your opponent - your rank will go up more if you beat a higher-ranked opponent than if you beat a lower-ranked opponent. Similarly, your rank will go down more if you lose to a lower-ranked opponent than if you lose to a higher-ranked opponent.
  • Your previous rank - your rank change will get smaller as your rank gets higher.
  • The entry fee for the game - the higher the entry fee, the greater the change in your rank.

Ending the Game

To recap, you win a game of 8-Ball Pool if

  • You legally sink the 8-Ball.
  • Your opponent illegally sinks the 8-Ball.
  • Your opponent resigns.
  • Your opponent runs out of time.
  • Your opponent gets disconnected from the game.

At the conclusion of the game, a message box will display any prize you've won, and your current account balance. It will also show any change to your 8-Ball Pool ranking as a result of this game. Note that Free games do not affect your account balance or your ranking.

This message box will also ask if you'd like to play another game against the same opponent, rather than returning to the lobby.

Game Strategy

Avoid illegal shots. Giving your opponent ball-in-hand is a huge advantage for him or her.

Use the right amount of power. A ball that reaches the pocket with too much speed is less likely to sink, and more likely to rebound. Also, using too much power is also a good way to scratch, as you cue ball goes bounding wildly around the table.

Also keep your next shot in mind. Use English to direct the path of the cue ball following its initial collision.

If you don't have a direct shot on one of your balls, you can still avoid an illegal shot by banking a shot off one of the railings. You don't need to hit a target ball before hitting a railing, only before hitting a non-target ball.

Use the arrow keys to fine tune your aim, after getting the cue into approximately the right position using the mouse.

Did You Know?

  • Pool originated as an outdoor lawn game in the 14th century, and migrated to an indoor table-top form sometime over the next hundred years. The traditional green surface of a pool table is believed to be traceable to the game's lawn-based origins.
  • The game was so popular in 16th century Britain that while Mary, Queen of Scots, was awaiting execution in 1586, she complained about being deprived of playing.
  • When the first book of pool rules was written, in 17th century Britain, pockets had not been developed yet; players aimed for a small arch-shaped object that was placed on the table.
  • Pool is sometimes also called "pocket billiards", to distinguish it from "carom billiards" which is played on a pocketless table. The name "pool" came into use in the U.S. in the 19th century, when the game was widely played in "pool rooms", which were parlors for collective horse race betting.
  • The Magic 8 Ball, with its predictive messages such as "Reply Hazy, Try Again", was invented by Abe Bookman of the Cincinnati-based Alabe Crafts Company, in 1946. Through a series of acquisitions, ownership passed to the Ideal Toy Company, Tyco Toys, and finally Mattel.

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