International 8-Ball Pool Rules


The game shall be known as International 8-Ball Pool with rules that must be played in a sporting manner at all times.


All equipment that is generally accepted throughout the industry is permitted. No other equipment is allowed unless ratified by the Tournament Director. However, using any equipment in a non-customary manner is never allowed and constitutes a foul. International 8-Ball Pool is played on a six pocket rectangular table with six cushions. Equipment permitted:
(a) A spotted white called a cue ball
(b) Two groups of object balls consisting of seven reds and seven yellows
(c) A striped eight ball
(d) Spider, rest, gooseneck rest, cross rest
(e) Prescribed cues
The playing surface is the flat part of the table bordered by the cushions.
The surface must be marked with an eight ball spot at the intersection of two imaginary diagonal lines joining the centre and corner pockets. The surface must be marked with a ‘rack line’. The rack line must be a 280mm vertical line going down through the eight ball spot towards the top cushion (See Rule 5 for an illustration of the rack line). On the rack line must be two marker points, one for the head ball and the other for the black ball. The cloth is marked with a break line parallel to the bottom cushion 1/5th of the length of the table away from baulk cushion.


International 8-Ball pool is played with a spotted cue ball and fifteen object balls, seven red, seven yellow and a striped eight ball. One player must pocket all balls of one group, while the other player must pocket the alternate coloured balls. The player who pockets their entire group and THEN legally pockets the eight ball wins the game. The eight ball must be potted in a separate shot.


4a - A “Lag for Break” shall determine who breaks first with an alternating break format taking place thereafter. The winner of lag is the player whose ball is closest to baulk cushion. The winner of the lag is given the choice to break or not.

4b - Lagging Procedure:
(1) Balls shall be of equal size and weight
(2) To start the lag the referee will count the players in by counting back from 3 to 1.
(3) The players must simultaneously strike balls on the referee’s indication towards the top cushion.

4c - It is automatic loss of lag if a ball:
(1) Crosses into the opponent’s half of the table OR
(2) Fails to contact the top cushion OR
(3) Drops into a pocket OR
(4) Hits a side cushion OR
(5) Jumps from the table OR
(6) Comes to rest on the playing surface within the area of the corner pocket OR
(7) Player commits any standard foul.

4d - Players will lag again if:
(1) Both players foul OR
(2) The referee cannot decide on which is closest to the bottom cushion OR (3) One player's ball strikes the top cushion before the other player’s ball is hit.

4e - The Break will be deemed a ‘Legal Break’ if the player breaking, obtains a minimum of three cumulative points. 1 point for each object ball potted (eight ball included, so thus does count). 1 point for each ball that has passed an imaginary line between the two centre pockets, that is not potted. A ball is deemed as having ‘passed’ the centre line if the whole ball is over the imaginary line.

4f - Failure to perform a legal break MUST result in a re-rack. The opponent has the option to break or to choose to give the break back to the original breaker.

4g - Groups are not decided on the break. The table remains open after the break. If the player in control of the table does not make a legal pot, the table is still deemed open for the incoming player.

4h - If the eight ball is potted off the break, it is always re-spotted after all balls have come to rest on the table. To respot the eight ball, the centre point of the eight ball is placed on the eight ball spot or if this is not available as near as possible to the spot in a direct line between the spot and the centre of the top cushion. If there is no space available on this line, place the eight ball as near as possible to its spot in a direct line between the spot and the bottom cushion. If the eight ball is the ‘only ball potted on a legal break’ then control of table goes to incoming player. If it’s potted with other groups and the criteria of a legal break has been fulfilled, the breaker continues.

4i - If the cue ball, on a legal break:
(1) Goes “in-off”, a loss of turn occurs and the incoming player is awarded one visit with cue ball in hand, to be played from behind the break line, in any direction.
(2) Leaves the playing surface, a standard foul will be called against the breaker, with the incoming player receiving one visit, played from anywhere on the table. (See 6l (1))

Arrange as shown with the eight ball on the eight ball spot. Top apex ball on the head marker of the rack line. (See the diagram to the right for an illustration of where the balls are racked in relation to the rack line).


6a Deciding groups
(1) Groups are decided on the first ball legally potted (See 6e(12)). The referee will call first group in play.
(2) The table is considered an “open” table when the choice of groups (red or yellow) has not yet been determined. The table is always open immediately after the break shot. Balls potted from the break are disregarded. The player’s designated group (red or yellow) will not be determined until a player legally pockets an object ball. Once groups are determined, object balls from a player’s group are referred to as ‘on’ ball(s).
(3) Failure to make a legal pot result in the table remaining open.
(4) If one of each group is potted in one shot, the player will be ‘on’ the group struck by the cue ball first unless a foul has occurred, in which case the table remains open.
(5) Where the choice of group is not obvious. (e.g. player cues up to a group of object balls / object balls of both groups sitting close to each other / player is snookered behind the eight ball / the lay of the table is such no object ball is a clear target).
(a) The player MUST indicate to the referee and/or the opponent the intended group.
(b) Failure to call a group, after potting a ball, whilst the table is open, is loss of turn (See 6d), table remains open.
(c) Failure to strike called group is loss of turn (See 6d), table remains open.
(d) Striking called group but potting other group is loss of turn (See 6d), table remains open.
(e) Potting called group is a legal pot and group is assigned to striker.
(f) The onus is on the player in control of the table to make the call in order for the groups to be decided in a fair and sporting manner.
(6) Simultaneous contact is allowed so in the case of a 50/50 ball the player will be deemed to be 'on' the called group.
(7) Groups are not decided on a foul shot.

6b Continuing a frame In the course of play, if a legal shot is played and the balls(s) from the player’s own group are potted, play continues and the player is entitled to an additional shot. The player will lose their turn and return control of the table to the opponent if they: (a) Fail to pot one or more of their own group AND / OR (b) Commits a standard foul.

6c Combination shots Object balls from both groups can be potted without penalty in a single 'combination' shot. The potted balls may drop into the pockets in any order but 'on' ball must be struck legally first. Attempting to complete a combination shot that results in only potting ball not 'on' is LOSS OF TURN. Combination shots do not have to be called.

Loss of turn As long as the player strikes an 'on' ball first, should an opponent’s ball be potted without also potting an ‘on’ ball, it will be loss of turn. Control of the table returns to the opponent; cue ball is played from where it lies. The only exception to this is during an open table where choice of groups has yet to be decided, see point (4) below. For example:
(1) Potting an opponent's ball accidently.
(2) Failing to complete a legal combination shot.
(3) A tactical shot e.g. playing designated group legally to pot an opponent’s ball.
(4) Failure to call a group, after potting a ball, whilst the table is open, if the group was not obvious.

Standard fouls Standard fouls are to be called by the referee as soon as they occur, the fouling player is in control, until all balls from that shot come to rest. The referee awards cue ball in hand, which can be placed anywhere on the playing surface with one visit to the opponent.

(1) Potting the Cue Ball - "In Off" (Except off the break See 4i)
(2) Playing from outside Baulk when obliged to play from Baulk. The break line is considered to be part of the baulk. The base of the cue ball must be on or behind the break line.
(3) A player who plays a shot immediately after playing a foul or immediately after the referee has called a foul on that player, has played out of turn. This also covers breaking out of turn.
(4) Striking the cue ball with any part of the cue other than the tip in general play. Positioning the cue ball with the cue is allowed as long as the tip of the cue is not used.
(5) Striking any ball other than the cue ball with any part of the cue or cue tip.
(6) Playing a shot before all balls have come to rest from the previous shot.
(7) Playing a shot before any balls that require re-spotting or replacing, have been re-spotted or replaced. (See 6m).
(8) Coaching: During a frame, a player is required to play without receiving any advice from other persons relating to the playing of the frame. If a team member or bone-fide supporter of a player offers advice, the referee will issue a "First and final warning" to that person that a repetition will result in the player being penalised via a Standard Foul. Because it may not always be possible for the Referee to hear if a statement made to a player is advice, the referee may issue the first and final warning on the grounds that any statement made to a player, other than general barracking, is deemed to be coaching. In a tournament setting, a First and Final warning may be given once only, before the commencement of the day's play as a block warning to all players and spectators.
(9) Leaving the playing area without permission. If a player needs to leave the playing area during a frame or match, "Time Out" must firstly be granted by the referee. Timeout may be called for:
(a) Player requests a rest or bridge OR
(b) Something or someone is obstructing the player OR
(c) The referee has to make a decision OR
(d) The referee has to replace or re-spot a ball.
(10) Playing a “Push Shot” (defined as when the tip of the cue remaining in contact with the cue ball once it has commenced a forward motion).
(11) Double hitting the cue ball.
(12) Failing to perform a “Legal Shot”. DEFINITION OF A LEGAL SHOT - To play a legal shot the player must cause the cue balls initial contact to be with a ball 'on' and THEN must either: (a) Pot any ball or balls OR (b) Cause the cue ball or any object ball to contact a cushion.
(13) Playing a shot while not having at least one foot touching the floor.
(14) Failing to "Play Away" from a touching ball(s).
(15) A ball remaining off the table.
(16) A player’s body, clothing, jewellery or accessory, or part of a cue (with the exception of the tip in a legal shot), comes into contact with any ball. A tip falling off a cue or chalk dropped, is the player’s responsibility. Should any of these contact a ball on the table, it is deemed a foul. A player is responsible for their ‘own’ equipment brought to the table but not that which is ‘supplied’ by the competition itself. For example, If the end falls off a rest that has been ’supplied’ by the competition which contacts a ball, this is deemed not a foul.
(17) Jump shot: If the cue ball leaves the bed of the table and does not strike an object ball that it would have struck had the cue ball not left the table on an otherwise identical shot, then the cue ball is deemed to have jumped over that ball.
(18) Marking the table to assist a shot.
(19) Time foul.

Loss of frame fouls
(1) Deliberately not playing a ball from his/her own group first, or an “on” ball after a foul.
(2) Unsporting behaviour / bringing the game into disrepute. Including but not exclusive to:
(a) Foul language OR
(b) Throwing a cue around / unscrewing as if to concede OR
(c) Continually arguing with the referee or opponent OR
(d) Interfering when the opponent is on the shot either verbally or physically.
(3) Committing a foul in the same shot that the eight ball is potted. (Except on the break)
(4) Potting the eight ball when a ball or balls of the player's own group are still on the table. (Except on the Break) Including potting last group ball and eight ball in same shot. (5) A player who clearly and intentionally fails to make an attempt to play a ball(s) of his/her own group.
(6) Intentionally positioning the cue ball in hand after a foul to create a re-rack situation.

Stalemate situation If any situation arises whereby a legal shot cannot be played, Rule 6e(12), the frame shall be restarted with a re-rack. The player who originally broke will restart the re-racked frame. NB: After an illegal break, if a stalemate occurs in the following rerack, the break shall also always return to the player who originally broke to commence the original frame i.e. the illegal break.

6h Frozen balls
(1) An object ball is deemed frozen whilst touching a cushion. It is a standard foul if the cue ball initially contacts a frozen ball first and the shot does not result in:
(a) A ball being potted OR
(b) The cue ball contacting a cushion OR
(c) The frozen ball contacting a cushion attached to a different rail OR
(d) Any other object ball contacting a cushion with which it was not already in contact with before the shot is played.
(2) A ball is only deemed frozen if announced by the referee or player, prior to the shot being taken.

6i Outside Interference
(1) There is no penalty if balls are moved in these circumstances:
(a) By persons other than players taking part in the frame OR
(b) As a result of players being bumped OR
(c) Events deemed not within a players control.
(2) The referee will return the balls as close as possible to their original positions whenever possible. Re-racks will only be granted in extreme circumstances. The referee’s decision is final.
(3) The referee can reset the shot clock if they consider situation warrants. The decision is at referee’s discretion.

6j Shot clock Each player is allotted 45 seconds for each shot. The tip of the cue must have made contact with the cue ball within this time or a standard foul shall be granted to the opponent. The 45 second shot clock will commence once all balls come to rest. The time keeper will verbally announce a warning at 10 seconds, then count down from 5 seconds. One extension per frame is permitted per player, whereby the referee will add 45 seconds to the remaining time at the request of the player.

6k Balls falling into a pocket without being hit If any 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 any ball drops in the pocket after being at rest for more than 5 seconds, the ball is returned to the original position, and the incoming player may begin their visit. The referee’s decision is final. If any ball falls into a pocket without playing a part of any shot in progress, it shall be replaced and play continues.
If any ball falls into a pocket without being hit during a shot, but would have been hit by another ball had the fallen ball still been there, all balls are to be replaced to their original positions before the shot was taken, so the player then may replay the shot or choose a different shot if they so wish, with no penalty.

6l Balls off the table
It is a ‘standard foul’ if a ball leaves the playing surface at any point during the frame AND does not return by its own means and remains off the playing surface (other than being potted)
(1) If it is the cue ball, then it is ball in hand, to be played anywhere on the table.
(2) Object balls are re-spotted.

Returning object balls to the table which leave the playing surface An object ball is re-spotted with its centre point on the eight ball spot or as near as possible to that spot in a direct line between the spot and the centre point of the top cushion.
Object balls are re-spotted in the following order:
(a) Eight ball
(b) Red
(c) Yellow Return balls as close as possible to other balls without touching.

6n Player responsibility It is the responsibility of each player to be aware of all rules. However, a referee on request may advise on the rules of the game but must not provide any subjective opinion that would affect the result of the frame. 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. Players may always call for rule(s) clarification during play. However, this is not considered a “Time Out”.


A frame is over when the eight ball is potted on a legal shot and all the balls have come to rest or in a loss of frame situation. The referee waits for all the balls to stop moving and announces FRAME. If the referee has not made this announcement, then a player will be penalized by LOSS OF FRAME if a further shot is played or the player interferes with the remaining balls.