UPA Official 8-Ball Rules
1. OBJECT OF THE GAME
8-Ball is played with a cue ball and fifteen object balls, numbered 1 through 15. Balls 1–7 are solid colors and commonly referred to as “low balls”, and balls 9–15 are striped and commonly referred to as “high balls.” One player must pocket balls of solid colors, while the other player must pocket the striped balls. The player who pockets their entire group and then legally pockets the 8-ball wins the game.
2. LAG FOR BREAK
The player with the lowest official UPA Speed (rating) shall break first with an alternating break format taking place thereafter. In the event that two players with equal Speeds play, a coin toss shall take place to determine who breaks first with an alternating break format taking place thereafter.
2.1 HOW TO RACK: To begin the game of 8-ball, the colored balls are placed randomly in a triangle, called a “rack”. The base of the rack is parallel to the short end of the pool table and is positioned so the ball in the tip of the rack is located on the foot spot. The balls in the rack are pressed into contact with the foot spot, and remain in contact after the rack is removed. Within the rack, the 8-ball is centered while the two corners are occupied by the two opposite groups (one solid ball and one striped ball). The game begins with the cue ball in hand placed anywhere behind the head string. The head string is the quarter of the billiard table farthest from the rack, or an area also commonly referred to as the “kitchen.”
NOTE: The UPA acknowledges that tables may have flaws that do not allow for acceptable racks directly upon the foot spot. In these cases, players are allowed to rack within a dime’s radius of the direct foot spot to achieve a desired rack.
2.2 RACK YOUR OWN: When there is no official available, each breaking player shall be responsible for providing himself/herself a legal and solid rack.
3. LEGAL BREAK SHOT
For the break shot to be legal, the breaker (with the cue ball behind the head string) must either pocket a ball or drive at least four numbered balls to one or more rails. No ball is called, and the cue ball is not required to hit any particular object ball first. If the breaker pockets a ball and does not foul, he/she continues at the table and the table remains open. If the breaker fails to make a legal break, it is a foul. When a foul occurs, the incoming player has the option of accepting the table in position and shooting, or requesting the offending player to re-break.
Break fouls include the following:
a. If the cue ball is touched by the cue tip and does not meet the legal break requirement, it is a foul and gives the non-breaker an option of accepting the table in position and shooting or requesting the offending player to re-break.
b. If the cue ball is pocketed or driven off the table it is a foul and the non-breaking player has cue ball in hand behind the head string (from the “kitchen.”)
c. If any numbered ball leaves the table or comes to rest on top of a rail, it is a foul and the non-breaking player has cue ball in hand.
4. 8-BALL POCKETED ON BREAK
Legally pocketing the 8-ball on the break wins the game for the breaker, assuming no other foul has been committed.
8-ball break losses:
a. When the 8-ball is pocketed on the break and the break did not meet all legal break requirements or another foul simultaneously occurs, it results in a loss of game for the breaker.
5. OPEN TABLE
The table is always open immediately after the break shot. The player’s designated group (solids or stripes) will not be determined until a player legally pockets a called object ball. The table is considered an “open” table when the choice of groups (solid or stripes) has not yet been determined. When the table is open, it is legal to hit one group of balls in order to pocket another ball from the opposite group.
NOTE: The 8-ball can never be struck first; this action would result in a foul.
6. CALL POCKET
In Call Pocket, it is encouraged that all balls be specified along with their intended pocket. However obvious balls and their respective pockets do not have to be specified. Any bank shot (object ball to rail), kick shot (rail(s) to object ball), or combinations (2 or more balls from either group) must be called to their designated pocket, or they are considered a miss. When a player successfully pockets his/her designated object balls, they continue their inning until either a miss or a foul occurs.
Call Pocket Notes:
a. It is never necessary to specify details such as the number of banks, kisses, caroms, rails, etc.
b. Any balls pocketed, legally or illegally, as a result from a called shot will remain pocketed, regardless of group (stripe or solid).
c. Any ball pocketed as a result of a legal shot will remain pocketed, and the shooter continues his/her inning.
d. The break shot is never considered a “called shot.”
7. BALL IN HAND FOUL PENALTIES
When a player commits a ball in hand foul, he/she must relinquish his/her turn at the table. The incoming player may now place the cue ball anywhere on the table to start his/her inning. If a player commits more than one foul on one shot, only one foul will be called. A player must make sure he/she has ball in hand before touching the cue ball.
The following are cue ball in hand fouls:
7.1 CUE BALL FOULS ONLY:
a. Touching the cue ball: Touching or causing even the slightest movement of the cue ball (other than a normal shot), even accidentally, is a foul. However a player may use the ferrule or shaft of his/her cue to line up the cue ball when a “cue ball in hand” is in play. Using the tip is a foul, and ball in hand will be given to the other player.
b. Touching a moving object ball: Touching a moving object ball or allowing a moving ball to hit a foreign object is a ball in hand foul.
c. Touching a still object ball: Any still object ball moved accidentally can only be replaced by the opponent. However the opponent may exercise the option of keeping disturbed ball(s) in new position if they so choose. Only after receiving consent from the opponent, the player who has committed the foul may move the fouled object ball back to original position. If the player who has fouled touches any of the disturbed balls without consent of opponent, it will result in a loss of turn with ball in hand to the opponent.
7.2 SCRATCH: Pocketing the cue ball or driving it off the table is a ball in hand foul. If a scratch occurs while shooting the 8-ball, but the 8-ball was not pocketed or removed from the table, the game continues with ball in hand to the opponent.
7.3 BAD HIT: If the first object ball contacted by the cue ball is not a numbered ball from the shooter’s established group, it is a ball in hand foul.
NOTE: If the shooter has no remaining balls from his/her group in play, the 8-ball may then be contacted first.
7.4 NO RAIL: If after the cue ball first strikes a legal ball and neither the cue ball nor any other ball hits a rail or is pocketed, it is a ball in hand foul.
7.5 BALLS OFF THE TABLE: Causing any ball to come to rest off the playing surface is a foul and any such ball(s) are pocketed. This includes any accidental movement of a ball which results in a ball falling into a pocket. The ball accidentally pocketed is not brought back into play, and the incoming player has cue ball in hand.
If a player knocks a ball off the table and the ball returns to the playing surface after hitting a person or an object, it is a foul (the ball remains on surface). If no object or person was contacted, then normal rules of play apply once the ball returns to the playing surface.
NOTE: If a player removes the 8-ball from the playing surface, it results in a loss of game.
7.6 FOOT ON THE FLOOR: Failure to have at least one foot on the floor at the moment the cue tip strikes the cue ball is a ball in hand foul.
7.7 JUMP SHOT: Any miscue on a jump shot is a ball in hand foul. A legal jump shot must be executed by stroking down through the cue ball (no scooping or miscues).
7.8 MOVING BALL: Shooting while any ball is moving or spinning is a ball in hand foul.
7.9 DOUBLE HIT: If the cue tip strikes the cue ball twice on the same stroke, it is a ball in hand foul. The cue ball must be struck at a minimum of a 45° angle when in contact with intended object ball in order to avoid a double hit.
7.10 HEAD STRING: The base of the cue ball must be inside the head string on the break, or it is a ball in hand foul.
7.11 BALL IN HAND PLACEMENT: Touching an object ball in any way while placing the cue ball is a ball in hand foul.
7.12 INTERFERENCE: Not remaining seated while the shooting player is at the table may result in a tournament official calling a foul for interference. The non-shooting player may check a table briefly in order to determine whether or not a referee should be called; however, he/she must be seated again after determination. If a player shoots out of turn, or moves any ball except during his/her inning, it is interference.
While the shooting player is at the table, the non-shooting player cannot disturb, make noises, move around, cause distraction (sharking) in some way, or conduct himself/herself in a manner unbecoming that of a professional, or it may result in an official warning followed by the calling of a foul for interference.
7.13 MARKING THE TABLE: Marking the table in any way that could provide a player with an advantage in executing a shot is a foul, unless the mark is removed to the satisfaction of the opponent or referee prior to shooting.
7.14 PLAYING OUT OF TURN: Playing out of turn is a foul, and play passes to the opponent. The cue ball is in hand, and the incoming player may place it anywhere on the playing surface.
7.15 USE OF EQUIPMENT: Out of play balls may not be used to measure gaps or spaces of any kind. Using any equipment in a non-customary manner is never allowed and constitutes a foul. It is the responsibility of the shooting player to know what the intended use of each piece of equipment is: the bridge, jump cues, etc.
8. SAFETY PLAY
For strategic reasons, a player may choose to pocket an object ball and discontinue his/her inning by declaring “safety” to the opponent prior to the shot. The player calling “safety” must be sure that the opponent is aware of the declaration. Otherwise, he/she would be forced to continue playing. Any ball pocketed during safety play remains pocketed.
NOTE: A safety shot still requires the normal attributes of a legal shot.
9. LOSS OF GAME
9.1 OPPONENT WINS: The opponent legally pockets the 8-ball.
9.2 8-BALL FOUL: An 8-ball foul occurs when the 8-ball is removed from the table, when the 8-ball is pocketed in the wrong pocket or out of sequence, or when the 8-ball is pocketed while a foul occurred (i.e., shooting player pockets the 8-ball and simultaneously scratches). The game continues if the 8-ball has not been pocketed.
9.3 CONCEDING A GAME: Concession of a game or games in tournament play is never encouraged. The shooting player must finish his/her inning, or the result shall be a loss of game(s) for the conceding player.
9.4 CONCESSION OF MATCH: Unscrewing any cues during the last game (or while the shooting player is on the hill), putting on a jacket, or undertaking any other actions which would indicate that the match is over is considered a forfeiture of the match.
9.5 BALL TAPPING: Tapping balls is not permitted. After a clear warning has been granted to the offender, the penalty for ball tapping shall be the loss of the current game. Only tournament officials may tap in balls when warranted.
9.6 COACHING ASSISTANCE: During their inning and only once per game, a player is allotted the right to ask any team member for input or advice in planning or preparing to execute a shot. Should the player receive advice from respective teammates spontaneously or purposely, a ball in hand foul shall occur in favor of the opponent.
NOTE: When the shooting player decides to receive instruction from his/her team, the player is to call a “Time Out.” When a “Time Out” is called, the player is to then name one of their team members. The team member selected is to immediately assist the player without conferring with other members and may not use any items or tools to aid the shooting player. This “Time Out” period may last no longer than two minutes.
If in 3 consecutive innings by each player, the players purposefully foul or scratch because both players agree that any attempt to pocket or move an object ball would result in an immediate loss of the game, then the game is considered a stalemate. At this time, the game would be re-racked and the breaker would remain the same, maintaining the integrity of the alternate break format.
11. GENERAL POOL RULES
11.1 SPLIT HITS: If the cue ball strikes a legal object ball and a non-legal object ball at about the same instant and it cannot be clearly determined which ball was hit first, the judgment will go in favor of the shooter.
11.2 BALL REBOUNDS FROM POCKET: Balls must remain in a pocket to count as pocketed. If a ball goes into a pocket and bounces back on to the playing surface, it is not considered pocketed. If it is the 8-ball, it is not a win. If it is the cue ball, it is not a scratch. Clearing pockets that are full or nearly full of balls is the responsibility of the shooting player.
11.3 HANGING BALL: If an object ball hangs in a pocket and drops in 5 seconds or less after coming to complete rest by the hole, the ball is considered to be pocketed. If a hanging ball drops in the pocket after being at rest for more than 5 seconds, the ball is returned to the original position on the edge, and the incoming player may begin his/her inning. Both players will have the opportunity to argue their case, and the referee’s decision is final.
11.4 SUSPENDED BALLS: If one or more balls become suspended in a pocket beyond the edge of the slate because it is partially supported by other balls, it is considered pocketed if the removal of the supporting ball(s) would cause the supported/suspended ball to fall into the pocket. Tournament officials are the sole judges of whether this rule applies to any situation.
11.5 SETTLING INTO PLACE: A ball may settle slightly after it appears to have stopped, possibly due to slight imperfections in the cloth or table slate. Unless this causes a ball to fall into a pocket, it is considered a normal hazard of play and will not be moved back. If a ball falls into a pocket as a result of such settling, it is replaced as close as possible to its original position on the lip of the pocket. If a ball falls into a pocket during or just prior to a shot and it has an effect on the shot, the referee will restore the ball to its original position and the shot will be replayed. Players are not penalized for shooting while a ball is settling.
11.6 JUMP SHOTS: It is legal to cause the cue ball to leave the surface of the table by elevating the butt of the cue and, with a downward stroke, force the cue ball to rise off the playing surface. For the shot to be legal only the cue tip may touch the cue ball—the shot must not be “scooped” by the ferrule or shaft. Any miscue on a jump shot is a ball in hand foul. A legal jump cue must be at least 40 inches in length and constructed in typical cue fashion.
NOTE: Standard jump cues are accepted, including phenolic tips. However, cues that are not typical in appearance must be accepted and approved by the United States Professional Poolplayers Association (UPA).
12. TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR/REFEREES
12.1 PLAYER RESPONSIBILITY: It is the responsibility of each member to be aware of all rules, regulations, and schedules relating to his/her competition. Tournament officials will make every reasonable effort to make the information readily available to all players. However the ultimate responsibility rests with each individual player. There is no recourse if a player does not obtain correct or complete information.
NOTE: Players may always call for rules clarification during league play. This is not considered a “Time Out.”
12.2 REFEREES: The League Operator (or his/her assistants) will perform the duties of a referee in the event that referees are busy or not utilized. If the Tournament Director, his/her assistants, or a referee cannot be found within a reasonable time frame, a spectator may sub as an official referee when agreed upon by both players.
12.3 PLAYING WITHOUT A REFEREE: When a referee or tournament official is not available, the players in the match will be responsible for racking balls, watching for fouls, and insuring adherence to the rules of competition. Both players may agree on an audience member to stand in and perform any duty of a tournament official.
12.4 QUESTIONABLE SHOT: If there is a shot that could be a questionable hit or foul, the seated player is responsible for calling for a tournament official to watch the hit before the opponent shoots. Once notified, the player at the table must then wait for an official to watch the shot. Likewise, if a player is uncertain whether some rule has been broken, he/she is responsible for seeking immediate clarification from league officials or the rulebook before play continues. After play continues, it is unlikely that a problem can be remedied.
12.5 ADVICE VS. RULES CLARIFICATION: The referee must NEVER give advice nor offer an opinion on points of play. Only when asked by either player for clarification of a rule will the referee then explain that specific rule to the best of his/her ability. Any incorrect statement given by the referee will not protect a player from enforcement of the actual rule. If the referee sees that a foul is about to be committed by either player, he must say nothing until after the foul, since any warning before the foul would constitute “advice” from the referee.
12.6 PROMPTING WARNINGS: If either player has the opinion that the referee is failing to issue a mandatory warning, he/she may remind the referee that such a warning is necessary.
12.7 CALLING FOULS: The referee will call all fouls as soon as they occur and will inform the incoming player that he/she has ball in hand.
12.8 PROTESTING FOULS: If a player believes that the referee has failed to call a foul, he/she must protest to the referee before his/her opponent takes his/her next shot. If the player fails to do so, the foul is considered to have not occurred.
12.9 RESTORING POSITION: When it becomes necessary, the referee will restore disturbed balls to their original positions to the best of his/her ability. If the referee is not sure of original positions, he/she may solicit information for this purpose. If the balls were disturbed by a player in the match, his/her opponent has the option of preventing restoration. If the balls were disturbed by someone else, it is mandatory for the referee to restore the balls. In this case, if the outside interference had an effect on the outcome of the shot, the referee may instruct the shooter to replay the shot after restoration. If not, the referee will instruct the shooter to continue play after restoration.
12.10 VERIFICATION: The referee may use any means to gather needed information in order to make a decision concerning a disputed play or game situation.
12.11 REPLAY OF GAME: If a tournament official or his/her appointed substitute cannot make a clear determination of the facts or specific circumstances relating to a given rule or game situation, the tournament official has the option of requiring that shot be replayed or a game be restarted.
12.12 RESOLVING DISPUTES: Any disagreement between the two players will be resolved by the League Operator, his/her appointed substitute, or any administrative member of the UPA.
13. SPECIAL RULINGS
Any rule or situation not covered in this text shall be decided in an expedient manner by the League Operator, his/her appointed substitute or any administrative member of the UPA in accordance with UPA ideals and guidelines for the purposes of league play to continue. Such expedient rulings shall then be made known to the administration of the UPA Corporate office and its Touring Professionals before further instruction or implementation of the matter is finalized.
13.1 BYLAWS: These rules are not to be altered in any form, and implementation of bylaws is prohibited.
a. ADDENDUM: From time to time there may be addendums issued by the UPA to the UPA official Rulebook, and it is the individual player’s responsibility to keep current.