Black Ball Rules

Pub Pool is a popular type of Eight Ball played mainly in the United Kingdom on a small pub sized table with rounded pockets. Black Ball rules are a popular professional and league rule set.


Fifteen balls in a triangle with the black ball in the middle and the yellow an red balls in a specific pattern.


On the break, at least two balls must cross the center of the table or a ball must be potted. Failure to do so is a foul. If the black ball is potted the shooter re-breaks.


The table is always ‘‘open’‘ (any ball can be potted except the 8-ball) after the break. Ownership is not assigned until a single colour is potted without fouling.

Valid Shot

If the table is open, the shooter may pot any ball except the black. If ownership has been assigned, the shooter must hit an owned ball first and pot 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 black ball unless all owned balls have been potted. Potting your opponent’s ball is a foul unless you also pot one of your own balls or you have a free shot.

Free Shot

A free shot is awarded after fouling and the shooter can legally hit any ball. Balls potted are counted except for the black ball which is a loss. The player then continues to shoot regardless whether or not a ball was potted. The free shot must contact a ball and then a rail or it is a foul. Scratching on the free shot is a foul.

Spotting Balls

All balls knocked off the table are spotted.

Ball To a Rail

Either the cue ball or an object ball must strike a rail after the cue ball contacts an object ball, or a ball must be potted, or it is a foul. The exception is when you are playing from a Full Snooker where no part of any ball on can be seen, then the ball to rail rule is suspended.

Penalty for Fouls

Scratching is or cue ball off the table is ball in hand in baulk. For all other fouls, opponent has a free shot.

Three Foul Penalty


Potting the Black Ball

Unlike the US Eight Ball variants, the black does not have to be called in Pub Pool.

Loss of Game

The game is lost if any of the following occur:

  • the black ball is potted before all owed balls are potted

  • potting the black ball on an illegal shot

Winning the Game

The game is won if The black ball is potted in after all owned balls have been potted.


Determine if a running the table is possible. If not plan on playing safe at some point. Pub Pool is harder to run out than US Eight Ball so play safe more and put your balls into blocking positions. Play for Snookers so you can get free shots and break up clusters and blocking balls.

When you have a free shot look to use it to clear up clusters or knock opponents balls that block yours out of the way. Trying to make a ball on a free shot is not always the best play.