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IBA Official Rules

Eight-ball (8-ball) is a game played with a cue ball and fifteen object balls, 1 through 15. One shooter must pocket balls of the group numbered 1 to 7 (solid colors), while the other shooter must pocket balls from the group 9 through 15 (stripes). The shooter pocketing his group first and then legally pocketing the 8-ball wins the rack.

In the Leisure format, at the start of a set the two players must agree to play “call your pocket”. If the players can’t agree to “call your pocket” then the players will play the set as “slop counts”. If the two players agree to play “call your pocket” then the following rules apply:

Calling a pocket is done by either, verbally announcing the designated pocket to the opponent or any shooter on the opposing team or by pointing at the pocket with your hand or pool cue.

It is encouraged that all balls be specified vocally to your opponent along with their intended pocket. Obvious balls and their respective pockets do not have to be specified, however, when performing a bank shot, a kick shot, a jump shot, a masse shot or a combo shot, the shooter must call their intended object ball and pocket.

If the shooter does not call their intended object ball and pocket when performing a bank shot, a kick shot, a jump shot, a masse shot or a combo shot, it is a loss of turn.

When calling your pocket, it is never necessary to indicate details such as the number of cushions, banks, kisses, caroms, etc. Any ball pocketed on a foul remains pocketed, regardless of whether they belong to the shooter or the opponent.

On all shots (except on the break and when the table is open), the shooter must hit one of his group of balls first and

  1. Pocket a numbered ball.
  2. Cause the cue ball or any numbered ball to contact a cushion after initial cue ball contact with an object ball.

Note: It is permissible for the shooter to bank the cue ball off a cushion before contacting their object ball; however, after contact with their object ball, an object ball must be pocketed, or the cue ball or any numbered ball must contact a cushion. Failure to meet these requirements is a ball in hand foul. The stroke is not a legal shot if some other form of foul is committed on the stroke, even if rules 1 and 2 have been satisfied.

The object balls (1-ball through 15-ball) are to be racked as tightly as possible in a triangular shape, with any stripe or solid at the apex of the triangle and on the foot spot, the 8-ball in the middle of the triangle, a striped ball in one corner of the rack and a solid ball in the other corner. The base of the rack should be parallel to the foot cushion.

8-Ball Rack Diagram

If, after the balls have been racked, all balls in the rack are not in contact with one another, also known as a "loose rack", the shooter who is to break may request a re-rack, at which time the opposing shooter is to re-rack the balls so that all balls in the rack are properly contacting one another, also known as a "tight rack"

Note:The condition of the felt often makes it impossible to perfectly satisfy the rules above. In this case, accept the best rack possible. The breaker’s opponent normally racks the balls, but the opponent may designate anyone they wish to rack as long as it is not themselves. IBA leagues are not “a rack your own” league. Players must rack for their opponents.

To execute a legal break, the breaker, with the base of the cue ball behind the head string must either

  1. Pocket a ball.
  2. Drive at least four unique numbered balls to a cushion.
  3. The first ball contacted by the cue ball must be a ball in one of the first three rows of the rack.
  4. The break must be a hard stroke. Intentional soft breaking is not allowed, even if four balls have contacted a rail. Intentional soft breaking is a violation of sportsmanship rules.

Note: In the event a shooter places the base of the cue ball over the head string the opposing shooter must call it before the break shot is made, not after.

If the shooter performing the break shot, during their stroke, completely misses and makes no contact with the cue-ball (basically a "swing and a miss"), this is not considered a foul and the shooter may try the break shot again.

  1. DID NOT EXECUTE A LEGAL BREAK

    If the breaking shooter did not execute a legal break (including a miscue) the breaker gets to attempt the break again until they execute a legal break or commits a foul. There is one exception to this rule, if playing Masters and a break foul is committed; the incoming shooter gets to break. If a foul is committed, the incoming shooter has the option of

    1. Accepting the table in position and shooting.
    2. Taking cue ball in hand behind the head string and shooting the current position of the numbered balls.
    3. Asking for a re-rack, taking the cue ball in hand behind the head string and taking responsibility for the break.

    Note: If the incoming shooter opts for (1) or (2) it is then considered a regular turn at the table. If the incoming shooter opts for (3) he does not have to call his pocket since it is considered a break.

  2. CUE BALL POCKETED OR DRIVEN OFF THE TABLE

    If the cue ball is pocketed or driven off the table during the break shot, it is a foul. The non-breaking shooter has cue ball behind the head string and the table is open.

    Note: The incoming shooter has cue ball in hand behind the head string and may not shoot any object ball that is behind the head string, unless he first shoots the cue ball past the head string and causes the cue ball to come back behind the head string and hit the object ball.

  3. OBJECT BALL OFF TABLE

    If any object balls were driven off the table, they are to be returned to the table and placed on same foot spot where the rack took place in numerical order. If there are any balls on the foot spot or blocking the foot spot the balls that were knocked off the table are to be placed directly behind the balls blocking the foot spot toward the foot cushion.

  4. CUE BALL INTERFERENCE

    The shooter interferes with the travel of the cue ball when the cue ball could possibly scratch. This rule requires some level of judgment, but would result in the non-breaking shooter having cue ball behind the head string and the table is open.

Legally pocketing the 8-ball on the break wins the game for the breaker; assuming no foul has been committed. Although unlikely, it’s possible that the breaker prefer to have the game ball spotted instead of accepting the win. If this is done, it is the breaker's responsibility to retrieve the game ball. The breaker’s inning will then continue with all other balls left as they came to rest.

Note: In the Masters format when legally pocketing the 8-ball on the break the breaker has the option of spotting the 8-ball and shooting from the current position or re-racking and breaking again. Spotting the 8-ball doesn’t necessarily mean the player has accepted the table, the player still has the choice of re-racking and breaking even after they spotted the 8-ball as long as no other stroke has been attempted.

The table is always open immediately after the break shot. The shooter's designated group (solids or stripes) will not be determined until a shooter legally pockets an object ball. The table is considered an "open table" when the choice of group (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.

When the table is open, if a shooter pockets an object ball and scratches, the table remains open. The incoming shooter has cue ball in hand.

When the table is open, if playing “call your pocket” and the shooter pockets an object ball in any pocket other than the designated pocket, the table remains open to the incoming shooter who must shoot the table from the current position. The incoming shooter does not have cue ball-in-hand unless the previous shooter has committed a foul.

Note: The 8-ball is not “neutral” and can never be struck first in a combination; this action would result in a ball in hand foul.

Legally pocketing the 8-ball on the break wins the game for the breaker; assuming no foul has been committed. Although unlikely, it’s possible that the breaker prefer to have the game ball spotted instead of accepting the win. If this is done, it is the breaker's responsibility to retrieve the game ball. The breaker’s inning will then continue with all other balls left as they came to rest.

Note: In the Masters format when legally pocketing the 8-ball on the break the breaker has the option of spotting the 8-ball and shooting from the current position or re-racking and breaking again. Spotting the 8-ball doesn’t necessarily mean the player has accepted the table, the player still has the choice of re-racking and breaking even after they spotted the 8-ball as long as no other stroke has been attempted.

If a shooter intends to play a safety they must notify their opponent. If a safety is called and the shooter intentionally or unintentionally pockets one of their balls, the shooters turn at the table ends.

Note: In the Leisure format if the shooter calls a safety and either intentionally or accidentally pockets one of their object balls without committing a foul, the shooters turn at the table continues.

A shooter loses the game if he commits any of the following infractions:

  1. Pockets the 8-ball on the same stroke as the last of his group of balls.
  2. Pockets the 8-ball in a pocket other than the one designated. (Refer to Pocket Patch - Section 1.6)
  3. Pockets the 8-ball when it is not the legal object ball (8-ball out of turn).
  4. Knocks the 8-ball off the table “jumped ball”
  5. Cue ball scratches or is a “jumped ball” while shooting the 8-ball.
  6. The cue ball scratches or is a "jumped ball" on a break stroke that also pockets the 8-ball.

    Note: In the Masters format this is a re-rack and break for the incoming shooter.

  7. The shooter commits any type of ball-in-hand foul during a stroke in which the 8-ball is pocketed.
  8. The shooter interferes with any ball that then causes or allows the 8-ball to be pocketed.
  9. The shooter interferes with the cue ball or the 8-ball in a game losing situation.

Note: It is not a game-ending foul if the shooter merely fails to execute a legal stroke while they are shooting at the 8-ball (hitting another ball first, failing to drive a ball to a rail, etc.). Unless some other form of game ending foul has also been committed, this is a ball-in-hand foul.

The normal penalty for any game ending foul is loss of game. However, all game-ending fouls provide the opponent with a choice. Whenever a shooter has committed a game-ending foul, their opponent may choose to take ball-in-hand penalty instead of the game win. If the shooter has pocketed the 8-ball and their opponent has chosen this ball-in-hand option, it's the shooter's responsibility to retrieve the 8-ball and the 8-ball is spotted. If the 8-ball has been pocketed in some other way than the result of a stroke (player's body, interference with the shot, sweep of the cue stick, etc.), it is placed by the opponent as near as possible to its original position. If you’ve committed a game-ending foul, don’t touch any ball until your opponent accepts the game win. A shooter should either wait for their opponent to choose or ask the opponent for their choice. If the shooter has moved any balls, every reasonable attempt should be made to return those balls to their original position. Just as in the case of an accidentally moved ball, the opponent controls the placement. 8-ball, in cases where it is impossible to reconstruct the table (and only then), the shooter will receive one point for each of their group of balls which were already pocketed and their opponent will receive 15 points for the win. Advice from a teammate is an act of coaching. The coach may provide advice if there is a time-out available, but if a teammate who isn't the coach provides advice or the coach provides advice when there isn't a time-out available, the player loses this option and must accept the game win. If a player exercises the ball-in-hand option and takes a stroke, the rack is "live".

Race To Points - Game winner receives 8 points for legally pocketing the 8-ball and 1 point for each ball pocketed from their group and the opposing player receives one point for every ball pocketed from their group.

Race To Games – Game winner receives 15 points for legally pocketing the 8-ball and the opposing player receives 0 points for the loss.

Round Robin - Game winner receives 8 points for legally pocketing the 8-ball and 1 point for each ball pocketed from their group and the opposing player receives 1 point for every ball pocketed from their group.