how to play 8 ball pool

How To Play 8 Ball Pool In 3 Steps: Pool Professionals Guide

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8 ball pool, also known as "stripes and solids”, is a popular American pocket-billiards game. Regarding 8 ball pool rules, the game is played with six pockets, using 16 balls: 1 cue ball (white), 7 striped balls, 7 solid-colored balls, and 1 black 8 ball.

So, how to play 8 ball pool? This guide will introduce beginners and intermediate players to the 8 ball rules and tips to understand them. Chalk up your cue, line up your shot, and prepare to embark on a 8 ball pool journey!

how to play 8 ball pool

Image via MPL

How To Play 8 Ball Pool

Unlike the bumper pool, 8 ball pool is easier to play. However, pool players must understand 8 ball rules first. Below are some rules and 3 steps to play it.

8 ball Rules

First and as always, preparing a good pool cue. You can visit the Big Cat for more high-quality pool cues to master this gameplay.

According to billiards 8 ball rules from Corlando University,  there are 11 important things that you need to remember. They are






Be the first player to pocket the 8 ball.



Pool table, 16 balls (1 cue ball, 7 solids, 7 stripes, 8 ball), pool cues



Rack balls in a triangle with ball number 8 in the center and 1 at the foot spot.



The kicked player breaks first by hitting the cue ball towards the triangle. At least four object balls must hit rails or be pocketed.


Calling Shots

The player must announce which pocket they will shoot the first ball of their assigned group.


Winning Turn

Successfully pocket a ball from your assigned group.


8 Ball Scratch Rules 

When playing the 8-ball, you scratch. You lose whether or not you pocket the 8 ball.



  • Scratching
  • Pocketing 8 ball on break (opponent ball in hand behind the head string)
  • Double hit
  • The cue ball leaves the table
  • Pushing cue ball across a table with hand, etc.


Foul Penalty

The opponent gets the ball in hand anywhere on the table (except behind the head string after the break foul).


8 ball Sinking

After pocketing all assigned balls, you can target the ball number 8. You must call the pocket you intend to sink it in before shooting.


Winning the Game

The player pocketing his group first and then legally pocketing the 8 ball wins the game

Additional Notes:

  • Players switch turns after each shot unless a foul is committed.
  • The ball in hand can be placed anywhere on the table (except behind the head string after a breaking foul) unless a specific foul penalty applies.
  • 8 ball scratch rules are defined as a cue ball driven off the table or pocketed. For most of the game, these actions are considered standard fouls and result in ball-in-hand for the opponent either on the entire table or behind the head string.

How To Play 8 Ball

After exploring 8 ball rules, this is a complete guide on how to play 8 ball pool:

Step 1: Rack them Up and Break:

  • Arrange the balls in a triangle at one end of the table, with 8 ball in the center.
  • Choose your side (solids or stripes) by calling the pocket you'll pocket your first ball in.
  • Break the balls by aiming the cue ball towards the head of the triangle with moderate force. The goal is to pocket balls and scatter the remaining ones for easier shots.

billiards 8 ball rules

Rack the cue balls. Image via Liberty Games

Step 2: Pocket Your Side's Balls and Avoid Scratching

  • Take turns shooting, aiming to pocket any ball from your chosen side (solids or stripes).
  • You can use the cue stick technique to control the cue ball after hitting another ball.
  • Avoid scratching (pocketing the cue ball) because it gives your opponent a penalty turn.

8 ball rules

Pocket the ball. Image via PoolDawg

Step 3: Sink 8 ball to Win

  • Once all your side's balls are pocketed, you can legally target 8 balls.
  • Choose a pocket for 8 balls and call it before shooting. Pocketing 8 balls in the designated pocket will win the game. 

Remember, these are just the basics. Mastering your pool playing skills involves strategy, practice, and learning from your mistakes. 

How To Win 8 Ball Pool

The question how to win 8 ball is not easy to answer. It requires professional skills and years of experience. However, we have researched and listed 6 tips on mastering 8 ball pool you need to know

1. Master the Break

Aim for at least 4 balls to hit the rails or be pocketed for a legal break. Here are two effective techniques:

  • Center Ball Break: Hit the cue ball slightly above the center of the head ball, creating a controlled ball spread. This technique can help you pocket one and leave yourself in a good position for your next shot.
  • Draw Break: Hit the cue ball low on the head with topspin. This process makes the cue ball roll forward after contact, potentially pocketing a ball and leaving you behind the head string for an easy follow-up shot. Below is an example of a draw break:

how to win 8 ball

Image via basicbilliards

2. Notice The Position, Not Just Pockets

Don't just focus on pocketing the immediate ball. Analyze the table after your shot and visualize how the cue and remaining balls will move. Plan your next shot based on this, even if it means leaving the first ball unpocketed. 

8 ball scratch rules

Image via Home Leisure Direct

This "position play" helps you control the table and keep your opponent on their toes.

3. Control the Spin

Spin plays an important role in your game. Apply topspin for a forward rolling cue ball after contact, backspin for a backward roll, and sidespin to make the cue ball curve. 

8 ball pool rules

Image via Miniclip Player Experience

Pool players can use the spin to:

  • Control cue ball path and position.
  • Draw balls closer to the pocket after contact.
  • Make difficult bank shots or caroms.

4. Think Before You Shoot

Only whack the cue ball with a plan. Analyze the table, visualize the potential outcomes of your shot, and choose the one that gives you success. 

how to play 8 ball

Image via Freepik

Consider factors like

  • Ball positions and potential pockets.
  • Cue ball path and spin application.
  • Obstacles and potential blockers.
  • Your opponent's possible responses.

5. Stay Calm Under Pressure

The 8 ball can be a mental game. When the pressure is on, stay focused and composed. Take your time with your shots, trust your practice, and remember that even the best players miss sometimes. Take a deep breath, visualize your shot, and execute with confidence.

6. Practice Makes Perfect

Dedication and practice are key to improving your 8 ball skills. Work on your aiming, cue ball control, and different shot techniques. Focus on skills like drawing, stopping, and banking shots. 

The more you practice, the more confident and accurate you'll shoot on the table.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Play 8-ball Pool Step By Step?

Similar to 9 pool balls, 8 ball pool is hard to play if you don’t know about the rules. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to play 8-ball pool:

  • Step 1: Rack the cue balls up and break
  • Step 2: Pocket Your Side's Balls and Avoid Scratching
  • Step 3: Sink 8 ball to win

To win the game, you must first pocket all of your group's balls (solids or stripes) and then legally pocket the 8-ball. "Legally" means pocketing the 8-ball without scratching or pocketing it in the same shot as another ball.

What Are The Basic Rules Of Pool?

Here are the basic rules of the pool that you should know before playing:

  • Turns: Players take turns shooting, with the player who pockets a ball in their designated group going next.
  • Fouls: Fouls are committed when a player makes an illegal shot, such as pocketing the cue ball, hitting the cue ball off the table, or hitting an opponent's object ball. A foul usually results in the opponent getting the "ball in hand.”
  • Scratching: If a player pockets the cue ball, it is called a "scratch" and results in a foul. The opponent gets the ball in hand behind the imaginary "scratch line" in the middle of the table's long side.

How Does The 8-ball Work In Pool?

Once all of a player's (or team's) group of object balls are pocketed, the pool player tries to sink the 8 ball. The first player to legally pocket the 8-ball after clearing their group wins. Even if your opponent has one or two balls left on the table, legally pocketing the 8-ball takes will be the winner. 

Understanding how to play 8 ball pool is key to enjoying this classic game. By familiarizing yourself with the billiards 8 ball rules, you can confidently master each match. Remember, practice and patience are essential to developing your skills in this strategic and rewarding game. Keep playing, keep learning, and have fun at the pool table!