US Eight Ball Rules

US rules are used for some leagues and tournaments. 

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 8-ball in the middle.


An open break is required. Failing to do so the shooter must break again. Making the eight ball on the break wins the game. Scratching and pocketing the eight ball on the break loses the game.


On the break, if the shooter pockets only one ball type (stripes or solids), the shooter is assigned ownership of those balls. Otherwise the table is ‘‘open’‘ and the shooter can shoot at either ball type. Upon pocketing just one ball type ownership is assigned.

Valid Shot

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

Knocking object balls off the table is not a foul in Eight Ball. Knocking the eight off is loss of game.

Spotting Balls

All balls knocked off the table are delayed and spotted at the end of the players inning unless all the players balls are pocketed and the player has delayed balls then they are spotted at this time.

Penalty for Fouls

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

Three Foul Penalty


Loss of Game

The game is lost if 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 one of the following occur:

  • the 8-ball is made on the break without scratching

  • the 8-ball is pocketed in the called pocket after all owned balls have been pocketed


Determine if 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 chances of winning on the next turn and puts your opponent in a bad position.

If you are breaking you can win by pocketing the 8-ball on the break. Try to break from near the side rail and hit the second ball as full as possible. The 8-ball will tend to go in the opposite side