General rules that apply to all pocket billiard games as stated by the BCA (Billiard Congress of America). Pool, Its everybody’s game.
BALLS, TABLES, AND EQUIPMENT
All of the games described in these rules are designed for balls, tables, and equipment that meet the standards described by the BCA’s Equipment Specifications.
1 RACKING THE BILLIARD BALLS
When racking the balls you must use a triangle, and the apex ball should be spotted on the foot spot. All of the balls must be lined up behind the apex ball and together so they all have contact with each other.
2 STRIKING THE CUE BALL
All legal shots require that the cue ball only be struck with the cue tip. Failing to meet this requirement is considered a foul.
3 CALLING A SHOT
For games with a call-shot, a player can shoot any ball that he/she chooses, but before he/she shoots, they have to designate the called ball and called pocket. They don’t need to indicate any detail such as combinations, cushions, kisses, or caroms (all of which are legal to use). “Any additionally pocketed ball or balls in a legal stroke counts in the shooter’s favor.”
4 FAILING TO POCKET A BALL
If any player fails to pocket a ball on a legal shot, the player’s inning is over, now it’s the opponent’s turn on the pool table.
5 TO LAG FOR BREAK
You should use the following procedure for the lag on the opening break. Each player should use balls of identical size and weight. Cue balls are preferrable. With each ball in hand behind the head string, one player on the left and one on the right of the head spot, shoot the balls simultaneously toward the foot cushion and back toward the head of the table. The player’s ball that is the closest to the edge of the head cushion wins the lag. The lagged ball must contact the foot cushion at least once. Other cushion contacts do not matter, except as prohibited below. Results in an automatic loss of the lag if:
(1) If the ball crosses over to the opponent’s half of the table;
(2) If the ball does not contact the foot cushion;
(3) If the ball drops into any pocket;
(4) If the ball jumps off of the table;
(5) If the ball touches any of the side cushions on the long end of the pool table;
(6) If the ball stops within the corner pocket and past the nose of the head cushion, or;
(7) If the ball contacts the foot rail more than one time. If both of the players violate any of the automatic-loss lag rules, or if the referee is not able to determine which ball is closer, the lag is considered a tie and is replayed.
Pool. It’s everybody’s game.
6 THE OPENING BREAK SHOT
Opening break shot is to be determined by either lag or lot. (The lag for break procedure is required for competition.) The player that wins the lag or lot chooses to perform the opening break shot or assigns it to his/her opponent.
7 THE CUE BALL ON OPENING BREAK
The break shot is taken with cue ball in hand anywhere behind the head string. The object balls are positioned according to the specific game’s rules. At the opening break, the game is considered to have started once the cue ball has been struck by the cue tip.
8 DEFLECTING OF THE CUE BALL ON OPENING BREAK OF THE GAME
During the opening break shot, deflecting or stopping the cue ball after it has already crossed the head string and before hitting the racked balls is considered a foul and loss of turn. The opponent has the option of getting the cue ball in hand anywhere behind the head string or passing the cue ball in hand anywhere behind the head string back to the offending player. A warning must be given that a second violation during the match will result in the loss of the match by forfeiture.
9 BALL IN HAND BEHIND THE HEAD STRING- CUE BALL
This occurs in specific games where the opening break is administered or a player’s scratching is penalized by the opponent having the cue ball in hand behind the head string. The opposing player may place the cue ball anywhere behind the head string of the pool table. The shooter may shoot at any object ball as long as the middle of the object ball is on or below the head string. He/She may not shoot at any ball, the middle of which is above the head string, unless he/she first shoots the cue ball below the head string and then by hitting a rail causes the cue ball to bounce back above the head string and hit the object ball. The middle of the ball (where the ball touches the table) determines whether the ball is above or below the head string. If the player accidentally places the cue ball on or below the head string, the referee or the opposing player must inform the shooter of the improper positioning of the cue ball before the shot is made. If the opposing player does not inform the shooter before the shot is made, the shot is considered a legal shot. If the shooter is informed of the improper positioning, he must reposition the cue ball. If a player positions the cue ball completely and obviously outside of the kitchen and shoots the cue ball, it is a foul. When the cue ball is in hand, it is not in play until the shooter strikes the cue ball with his cue tip. The cue ball can be adjusted by that player’s hand, cue, etc., so long as it remains in hand. Once the cue ball is in play as described above, it may not be impeded in any way by the shooter; to do so is commiting a foul. Also, if the shot does not contact a legal object ball or fails to drive the cue ball over the head string of the table, the shot is a foul and the opposing player has ball in hand on the table, according to the specific game rules.
10 POCKETED BALLS
Any ball is considered pocketed if it drops off the bed of the table into the pocket and remains there except as a result of an otherwise legal shot. Any ball that drops out a ball return system onto the floor is not to be considered a ball that hasn’t remained pocketed. A ball that bounces from a pocket and back onto the pool table bed is not a pocketed ball.
11 POSITION OF THE BALLS
The position of any ball is judged by where its middle (or center) is.
12 FOOT ON THE FLOOR
The shooting player must have at least one foot in contact with the floor at the moment that the cue tip contacts the cue ball, or the shot is considered a foul. Foot attire must be normal in regard to shape, size, and manner that it is worn.
13 SHOOTING WHILE THE BALLS ARE IN MOTION
It is a foul if any player shoots while any ball is in motion (a spinning ball is considered in motion).
14 COMPLETING A STROKE
A stroke is not complete until all balls on the table have stopped moving after the stroke. A spinning ball is considered moving.
15 HEAD STRING AS DEFINED
The area behind the head string doesn’t include the head string itself. An object ball that is dead center on the head string is considered playable when a specific game’s rules require that a player must shoot at a ball that is past the head string. Likewise, when the cue ball is put into play behind the head string (cue ball in hand behind the head string), must be placed behind the headstring and may not be placed directly on the head string.
16 GENERAL RULE, ALL FOULS
The penalties for fouls differ from game to game but the following applies to any fouls:
- The player’s turn is over;
- If during a stroke, the stroke doesn’t count and any pocketed balls are not counted for the shooter, and;
- Any ball(s) is re-spotted if the rules of the specific game requires it.
Pool, Its everybody’s game.
17 FAILURE TO CONTACT THE OBJECT BALL
It is considered a foul, if during a stroke, the cue ball fails to make contact with any legal object ball first. Playing away from a touching ball does not count as having hit that ball.
18 A LEGAL SHOT
Unless stated differently in a specific game rule, the shooter must cause the cue ball to contact a legal object ball and then:
- Pocket any numbered ball, or;
- Cause the cue ball or any numbered ball to contact any cushion or any part of the rail. Failure to meet both of these requirements is considered a foul.
19 SCRATCHING THE CUE BALL
It is a scratch or foul if, the cue ball is pocketed on a stroke. If the cue ball touches an object ball that was already pocketed (like in a pocket full of object balls), the shot is considered a foul.
20 FOULS BY TOUCHING BALLS
It is a foul to strike, touch or in any way make contact with the cue ball in play or any object balls in play with anything other than the cue tip (while attached to the cue), which can contact the cue ball in the execution of a legal shot. Whenever a referee is watching over a match, any object ball that is moved during a standard foul must be returned as close as possible to its original position as decided by the referee, and the incoming player does not have the option of restoring it.
21 A FOUL BY PLACEMENT
Touching any object ball with the cue ball while it is in hand is considered a foul.
Pool, Its everybody’s game.
22 FOULS FROM DOUBLE HITS
When the cue ball is touching the required object ball before the shot, the player can shoot towards it, providing that any normal stroke is used. If the cue stick strikes the cue ball more than once on the same shot, or if the cue stick is in contact with the cue ball during or after the cue ball contacts any object ball, the shot is considered a foul. If there is a third ball is near by, take care not to hit that ball according to the first part of this rule.
23 PUSH SHOT FOULS
It is considered a foul if the cue ball is pushed by the tip of the cue, with contact being maintained for more than the momentary time used with a stroked shot. (Those shots are normally referred to as push shots.)
24 PLAYER RESPONSIBLE FOUL
The player is responsible for chalk, bridge, files and any other equipment or items that he/she brings to, uses at, the pool table. If he/she drops a piece of chalk or knocks off a mechanical bridge head, for example, he is guilty of a foul if such an object makes contact with any ball in play (or the cue ball only when no referee is presiding over the match).
25 ILLEGALLY JUMPING THE BALL
It is considered a foul if either player strikes the cue ball below center and intentionally causes it to rise off the bed of the pool table in an effort to jump an obstructing ball. Such jumping action may occasionally occur on accident, and these are not to be considered fouls on their face; they may still be ruled foul strokes, if for example, the cue shaft itself, makes contact with the cue ball in the course of the shot.
26 JUMP SHOT
Unless otherwise stated in rules for a specific game it is not legal to cause the cue ball to jump off of the bed of the pool table by elevating the cue stick during the shot, and forcing the cue ball to rebound off the bed of the table. Any miscue during the execution of a jump shot is considered a foul.
27 BALLS JUMPED OFF OF TABLE
Balls coming to rest other than on the bed of the pool table after any stroke are considered jumped balls. Balls may bounce off of the cushion tops and rails of the table in play without being jumped balls if they return to the bed of the table without touching anything including any part of the table. The pool table shall consist of the permanent part of the table proper. (Any balls that touch or strike anything not part of the table, such as a light fixture, chalk on the rails and cushion tops shall be considered jumped balls even though they could return to the bed of the pool table after contacting items that are not parts of the table proper). In all pocket billiard games, when any stroke results in the cue ball or an object ball being a jumped ball off of the table, the stroke is considered a foul. All jumped object balls are spotted (except in 8 and 9-Ball) when all of the balls have stopped moving. See specific game rules for putting the cue ball into play after a jumped cue ball foul.
28 SPECIAL INTENTIONAL FOUL PENALTY
The cue ball, while in play, shall not be intentionally hit with anything other than the cue’s attached tip. While any such contact is automatically considered a foul, if the referee thinks that the contact is intentional, he will warn the player once during the match that another violation during that match will result in the loss of that match by forfeiture. If a second violation occurs, the match will be forfeited.
Pool, Its everybody’s game.
29 ONE FOUL LIMIT
Unless the specific game rules indicate otherwise, there’s only one foul per player in each inning; if different penalties can apply, the worst penalty is the factor that determines which foul is assessed.
30 BALLS SPONTANEOUSLY MOVING
If a ball settles, shifts, turns or otherwise moves on its own, the ball should remain in the position it assumes and play continues. A hanging ball that falls into a pocket after being motionless for 5 seconds or longer should be replaced as close as possible to its prior position and play shall continue. If an object ball drops into any pocket “by itself” as the shooter shoots at it, so that the cue ball passes over the spot the ball had been on, unable to hit it, the cue ball and object ball should be replaced to their positions prior to the stroke, and the shooter may shoot again. Any other object balls disturbed on the stroke should also to be replaced to their original positions before the shooter replays.
31 SPOTTING THE BALLS
When specific game rules call for spotting the balls, they should be replaced onto the table on the long string after the stroke has been completed. A single ball is placed on the foot spot; if more than one ball needs to be spotted, they are placed on the long string in ascending numerical order, beginning on the foot spot and advancing to the foot rail. When balls near or on the foot spot or long string interfere with the spotting of the balls, the balls to be spotted are placed on the extension of the long string “in front” of the foot spot (between the center spot and the foot spot), as close as possible to the foot spot and in the same numbered order as if they were both spotted “behind” the foot spot (lowest numbered ball will be closest to the foot spot).
Pool, Its everybody’s game.
32 JAWED BALLS
If two or more balls are locked between the sides or jaws of the pocket, with one or more suspended in the air, the referee shall inspect the balls in position and use the following procedure: he will visually (or physically if he/she desires) project each ball directly downward from its locked position; any ball that in his/her judgement would fall in the pocket if so moved directly downward is considered a pocketed ball, while any ball that would come to rest on the bed of the table is considered not pocketed. The balls are then placed according to the referee’s assessment, and the play continues according to specific game rules as if no locking or jawing of balls had even occurred.
33 ADDITIONAL POCKETED BALLS
If any extra balls are pocketed on any legal scoring stroke, they are counted with the scoring rules for that particular game.
34 NON-PLAYER INTERFERENCE
If the balls are moved (or a player bumped such that play is directly affected) by a non-player during any match, the balls should be replaced as near as possible to their original positions immediately prior to the incident, and play shall resume with no penalty on any of the players affected. If the match is officiated, the referee shall replace all the balls. This rule also applies to “act of God” interferences, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, a light fixture falling, power failures, etc. If the balls cannot be restored into their original spots, replay the game with the original player again breaking. This rule is not applicable to a situation where the game consists of multiple successive racks: the rack in progress will be discontinued and a new rack will be started with the same requirements of the normal opening break (players lag for break). Scoring of the points is to be resumed at the score as it stood at the moment of game’s disruption.
35 BREAKING SUBSEQUENT RACKS
In a match that consists of multiple short rack games, the winner of each game breaks again in the next. The following are common options that may be designated by tournament officials in advance:
- Loser breaks.
- Players alternate break.
- Player trailing in game count breaks on the next game.
Pool, Its everybody’s game.
36 PLAY BY INNINGS
During the course of play, the players alternate turns (innings) on the pool table, with a player’s inning ending when he either fails to legally pocket any ball, or fouls. When an inning ends free of any foul, the incoming player accepts the table in position as is.
37 OBJECT BALL FROZEN TO A CUSHION OR TO THE CUE BALL
This rule applies to any possible shot where the cue ball’s first contact with a ball is with one that is frozen to a cushion or to the cue ball itself. After the cue ball makes contact with that frozen object ball, the shot must either:
- A ball must be pocketed, or;
- The cue ball must contact a cushion, or;
- The frozen ball being caused to contact a cushion attached to a different rail on the table, or;
- Another object ball must be caused to contact with a cushion with which it was not already in contact with. Failure to satisfy only one of those four requirements is considered a foul. A ball which is touching any cushion at the start of a shot and then is forced into a cushion attached to the same rail is not considered to have been driven to that cushion unless it leaves the cushion first, contacts another ball, and then contacts the cushion again. An object ball is not to be considered frozen to a cushion unless it is examined and announced as such by either a referee or one of the players prior to that object ball that is involved in that shot.
38 PLAYING FROM BEHIND THE HEAD STRING
When a player has the cue ball in hand behind the head string (or in the kitchen), he must drive the cue ball to a point across the head string before it contacts either an object ball, a cushion, or returns back to the kitchen. Failure to do so is considered a foul if a referee is presiding over a match. If there is no referee, the opponent has the option to call it either a foul or to make the offending player replay the shot again with the balls restored to their original positions prior to the shot (and with no foul imposed). Exception: if any object ball lies on or outside of the head string (and is playable) but so close that the cue ball contacts it before the cue ball is out from the kitchen, the ball can legally be played, and will be considered to have crossed over the head string. If, with cue ball in hand behind the headstring and while the shooter is attempting a legal shot, the cue ball accidentally hits any ball behind the head string, and the cue ball crosses the line, it is considered a foul. If with cue ball in hand behind the head string, the player causes the cue ball to hit any object ball accidentally, and the cue ball does not cross the headstring, the following occurs: the incoming player has the option of calling it a foul and having cue ball in hand, or having the balls returned to their original position, and having the opposing player replay the shot. If any player under the same conditions intentionally causes the cue ball to make contact with an object ball behind the headstring, it is considered unsportsmanlike conduct.
39 FOUL WITH CUE BALL IN HAND
During the cue ball in hand’s placement, the player may use his hand or any part of his cue (including the tip) to position the cue ball on the pool table. When placing the cue ball in position, any forward stroke motion of the cue stick that contacts the cue ball will be considered a foul if it is not a legal shot.
If the non-shooting player distracts his/her opponent or interferes with his/her play, he/she has fouled. If a player shoots out of their turn, or moves a ball except during his/her inning, it is considered to be interference.
Players are not allowed to use a triangle, ball, or any other measuring device to see if the cue ball or an object ball could travel through a gap. Only the cue stick may be used as an aid to judge gaps or to align a shot., so long as the cue is held by the shooter’s hand. To do otherwise is considered a foul and unsportsmanlike conduct.
42 ILLEGAL MARKING
If a player intentionally marks the pool table in any way (including the placement of any chalk) to assist in the shot, it is considered a foul.
Pool, Its everybody’s game.
The following are rules that are referred to within the General Rules of Pocket Billiards above. For the complete World Standardized Rules, please consider Billiards: The Official Rules and Records Book, published by the Billiard Congress of America.
43 USE OF THE EQUIPMENT
Players are not to use equipment or accessory items for the purpose of or in a manner other than those for which the items were intended to be used. For example, chalk cubes, powder containers, etc., may not be used to prop up a bridge (or natural hand bridge); no more than two mechanical bridges may be used at a time, nor may they be used to support anything other than the cue shaft itself. Extra or out-of-play balls may not be used by the players to check for clearance or for any other reason (except to lag for break); the triangle may be used to ascertain whether a ball is in the rack when a match is unofficiated and the table has not had pencil markings around the triangle area.
44 EQUIPMENT RESTRICTIONS
The following is a list of acceptable equipment that a player may bring to the table to use in a World Pool-Billiard Association sanctioned event:
A. Chalk – The player may apply chalk to his tip to prevent miscues, and may use his own chalk, provided its color is compatible with the color of the cloth.
B. Talcum Powder
- Cue Stick – Each player is permitted to use one or more cue sticks that meet the specifications listed in the equipment specifications section. He/She may use either a built-in extender or an add-on extender to increase the length of the stick.
D. Gloves – The player may use gloves to improve the grip and/or bridge hand function.
E. Mechanical Bridges – The player may use up to two mechanical bridges to support the cue stick during the shot. He may use his own bridge if it is similar to the standard commercial bridges.
Pool, Its everybody’s game.
45 CUE BALL FOULS ONLY
When a referee is presiding over a match, it is considered a foul for a player to touch any ball (cue ball or object ball) with the cue, clothing, body, chalk, or mechanical bridge, before, during or after a shot. However, when a referee is not presiding over a game, it is not a foul to accidentally touch stationary balls located between the shooter and the cue ball while in the act of shooting. If such an accident occurs, the player should allow the Tournament Director to restore the object balls to their correct positions. If the player does not want to allow such a restoration, and a ball set in motion as a normal part of the shot touches such an unrestored ball, or passes partly into a region originally occupied by a disturbed pool ball, the shot is a foul. In short, if the accident has an effect on the outcome of the shot, it is a foul. In any case, the Tournament Director must be called upon to restore the positions of the disturbed balls as soon as possible, but not while the shot is taking place. It is a foul to play another shot before the Tournament Director has restored any of the accidentally moved balls. At the non-shooting player’s option, the disturbed balls should be left in their new positions. In this case, the balls are considered as restored, and subsequent contact on them is not considered a foul. It is still a foul to make any contact with the cue ball while it is in play, except for the normal contact during a shot.
46 REFEREE RESPONSIVENESS
The referee shall be completely responsive to either player’s inquiries regarding objective information, such as whether a ball will be in the rack, what the count is, if a ball is in the kitchen, how many points are needed for a victory, if a player or his opponent is on a foul, what rule will apply if a certain shot is made, etc. When asked for a the clarification of a rule, the referee will explain the applicable rule to the best of his/her ability, but any incorrect statement by the referee does not protect a player from enforcement of the actual rules. The referee will not offer or provide any subjective opinion that would affect the play, such as whether a good hit can be made on a shot, whether any combination can be made, or how the table seems to have been playing, etc.
47 INAPPROPRIATE USE OF THE EQUIPMENT
The referee should be alert for a player using the equipment or accessory items for purposes or in a manner other than those that were intended, or for the use of illegal equipment, as defined under “equipment specification”. Generally no penalty will be applied. However, should any player persist in such activities or use of such equipment, after being advised that such activity or use is not permitted, the referee or other tournament official may take appropriate action under the provisions of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct”.
48 JUDGING DOUBLE HITS
When the distance between the cue ball and the object ball is less than the width of the chalk cube, special attention is required from the referee. In this type of a situation, unless the referee can positively determine a legal shot has been made, the following guidance may apply: if the cue ball follows through the object ball more than 1/2 ball, it is considered a foul.
49 OUT OF HEAD STRING WARNINGS
When any player has the cue ball in hand behind the head string, the referee should warn him before he shoots that if he has placed the cue ball on or within 1/2 ball width outside of the head string. If the player then shoots from on or within the specified distance outside the head string, the stroke is considered a foul. If the shooter places the cue ball outside the head string beyond the specified limit, no warning has to be made and the stroke is considered a foul.
Pool, Its everybody’s game.