Rules of Pool

Pool rules vary from establishments to establishments. The following are the basic rules that many pool playing contests will use in one form or another. For the official rules, see epa or the bpa.


Setting up

Pool is played with 15 balls, 7 yellow, 7 red, 1 black (8 ball) and 1 white(cue ball). Note, on some tables, the yellow and red maybe interchanged with balls with a stripe and balls with a spot. All 15 balls are placed in a triangle, alternating the yellow and red, with the black ball in the centre.

The Break

In the absence of any competition / tournament rules to the contrary, a coin will be tossed to determine which player will break. The opening pool player must pocket a ball or at least two balls must hit any cushion; failing to do so will result in balls being re-racked and the break being re-taken.

If opening player pockets 1 or more balls of the same group they are committed to that group. Should the opening pool player pot one or more balls of both groups they must nominate a group and they are then committed to that group. Should the opening player fail to pot from the break, the next player accepts the balls in position and the same break rules apply as to the opener. Should the opening player pocket one or more balls off the break and at the same time commit a foul, any balls pocketed are ignored.

If the player pockets the 8 ball (black) from the break, the game shall be restarted by the same player. No penalty will be incurred. The balls to be re-racked. This applies even if other balls, including the cue ball, are pocketed as well.

The Play

The following pool player plays and pots from both groups and the free table rule applies. Each player, or side, attempts to pocket all balls of his group and then the black ball.

If a ball or balls are legally pocketed, this entitles the player to one additional shot and this continues until the player either:
  1. Fails to pocket one of his/her set of allocated balls, or
  2. Commits a foul at any time.

The black ball can only be potted after the entire players group have been cleared. After a group has been nominated, should a pool player pocket one or more of his opponent's balls, all balls are credited but players visit ends and two shots are awarded to his opponent. Following any foul the offending pool player loses their next visit to the table, giving their opponent two consecutive visits to the table.


Cue ball is pocketed

Hitting opponent's balls before their own ball or balls

Failing to hit any ball with the cue ball

Playing out of turn

Playing before the balls have come to rest

Should any balls leave the table during a visit the following rules will apply:

Should both players be on the black and a foul is committed, the frame is awarded to the opponent. Combination shots are allowed including in off the opponents ball provided a ball of the correct object group is struck first by the cue ball.

After a Foul occurs

Following a foul the oncoming player places the cue ball behind the line, and may take a shot in any direction.

The player is also awarded two shots. On the first of the two shots, they can play the cue ball directly onto any ball, including the black. However the game is lost if the black is pocketed and there are still balls remaining of the players colour.