World Eight Ball Rules

The World rules are the official world tournament rules. 

The object of Eight Ball is to pocket all seven stripes or all seven solids then pocket the eight ball. The table is said to be open at the start of the game and there is no ownership of ball. The first player to legally pocket a stripes or solids is assigned ownership of those balls. After ownership is assigned, you must pocket all your balls before shooting the eight ball.


Fifteen balls in a triangle with the eight ball in the middle, a stripe on one corner a solid on the other.


An open break is required. Failure to do so gives opponent choice of accepting table in position or re-racking and breaking or making the shooter break again. If the eight ball is pocketed on the break the shooter has a choice of spotting the eight or re-racking and breaking. If there is also a scratch the opponent has the same option.


The table is always ‘‘open’‘ (any ball can be pocketed except the 8) after the break. Ownership is not assigned until a called shot is made without fouling.

Valid Shot

All balls must be called except for balls made on the break. If the table is open, the shooter may pocket any ball except the eight. If ownership has been assigned, the shooter must hit an owned ball first and pocket an owned ball to continue at the table. Combinations are valid with any ball if the table is open. If ownership has been assigned, an owned ball must be hit first. It is a foul to strike a non-owned ball first. This includes the eight ball unless all owned balls have been pocketed. The eight ball shot must be a called shot.

Balls Off Table

Balls driven off the table are not spotted unless it is the 8-ball on the break.

Spotting Balls

All balls knocked off the table are pocketed.

Penalty for Fouls

Ball-in-hand anywhere on the table except after the break is ball-in-hand behind the headstring.

Three Foul Penalty


Called Safety

Players may explicitly call a safety. On a called safety, pocketed balls are not spotted and the turn changes.

Loss of Game

The game is lost if the any of the following occur:

  • the 8-ball is pocketed before all owed balls are pocketed

  • the 8-ball is knocked off the table

  • the 8-ball is made in the wrong pocket

  • the 8-ball is scratched when playing

Winning the Game

The game is won when the 8-ball is pocketed in the called pocket after all owned balls have been pocketed


Determine if a running the table is possible. If not plan on playing safe at some point. Never shoot balls without having another shot or safety in mind the next shot. If you clear most of your balls off the table and give your opponent a chance they will probably run the table. Pocket balls until you reach your safety shot and try to snooker your opponent so they have to kick at balls or foul and give you an opportunity to win. The best type of safety is one that snookers your opponent and clears up any balls you have clustered. This improves your chance of winning on the next turn and puts your opponent in a bad position.