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Basic Rules of Billiards

Sep. 112017

billiard tablesAh, billiards. The game seems simple enough: just hit some balls into pockets on billiard tables. However, there are specific rules, as with everything. If you were to play 8 or 9 ball, would you still be able to move from game to game? Are all the rules the same? Many of us are familiar with the basics of 8 ball, as that is the typical form of the activity. Many rules go between the two types of billiards, but each game has its core rules that are needed to follow as well.





The general rules are valid across all forms of pool, according to the World Pool Association. Each of these rules is to ensure that each player is following a standard.

  • “It is the player’s responsibility to be aware of all rules, regulations, and schedules applying to competition.”
  • “The lag is the first shot and determines the order of play.” The lag is done by the referee placing a ball on each side of the table behind and near the head string. The players then shoot at the same time to make the balls contact the foot cushion. The goal is to get the ball to return closer to the head cushion than the opponent.
  • “The equipment must meet existing WPA equipment specifications.”
  • “Balls are (returned to billiard tables) by placing them on the long string as close as possible to the foot spot.”
  • “When the cue ball is in hand, the shooter may place the cue ball anywhere on the playing surface and may continue to move the cue ball until he executes a shot.”

These rules are the main rules to recall when it comes to playing all versions of the game.



Nine Ball

Nine ball one requires nine pieces and is one of the more popular billiard games. The game occurs in numerical order, meaning the balls must get sunk from 1-9. The player that sinks the last ball wins the game.

  • “The player who wins the lag chooses who will break the first rack.”
  • “The balls are racked as tightly as possible in a diamond shape, with one ball at the apex of the rack and on the floor spot and the nine ball in the middle of the form.”
  • “If the nine ball is pocketed on a foul or push out, or driven off the table, it is spotted. No other object ball is ever spotted.”
  • “If the shooter legally pockets any ball on a shot, he continues at the table for the next shot.”



Eight Ball

This game is the most popular version of pool with many individuals. It has 15 balls and the cue ball. Each player has their group of 7 shots, one through seven or nine through fifteen. These balls must get cleared before attempting to pocket the eight ball. The shots get called in this game.

  • “The fifteen object balls are racked as tightly as possible in a triangle, with the apex ball on the foot spot and the eight ball as the first ball that is directly on the top ball.”
  • “Before groups are determined, the table is said to be open, and before each shot, the shooter must call his intended ball.”
  • “The shooter remains at the table as long as he continues to pocket called balls legally, or he wins the rack by pocketing the eight ball.”
  • “The shooter loses if they…

-Steal the eight ball and fouls

-Take the eight ball before his group gets cleared

-Take the eight ball in an uncalled pocketDrive the eight ball off the table.”




Billiards have maintained their popularity through the years. These rules can help you the next time you want to open up some billiard tables and play with your friends. Try it out and see how much you knew about the rules.

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