Old 08-26-2002, 10:33 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 10,386
Bar pool rules

Every once in a while I take a look at the official rules for eight ball, and just get amazed at how different they are from the game we all play in bars. This is kind of a quick poll about what rules you expect to play by when you put your quarters down and play a complete stranger.

usual rules in my bars.

If you scratch the cue ball on the break(either in a pocket or off the table you lose). ALthough unless it is a money game you usually either rerack and let the the other side break, or just play keep going.

If you sink the eight ball on the break you win(I have only seen this happen twince in thousands of pool games played and watched). Sink the eightball at any other time and you lose(unless you are shooting for it obviously). The eight ball is not neutral, ie you cannot hit it before hitting one of your balls and keep on shooting.

If you sink one normal ball on the break you are not that set yet. You then must make at least one ball to pick that set. You can shoot for either set no matter how many of each fell on the break.If nothing falls on the break it's the other sides turn.

You must call your shot exactly. Any balls or rails the cue touches before the target ball, and any balls or rails the target ball touches on the way to the declared pocket, must be declared. If it doesn't take that exact path then you don't get to shoot again. The corners inside the pocket area don't count, they are part of the pocket and don't need to be declared. Assuming you make your shot, anything else(other than cue or eight) that falls doesn't matter, you still get to shoot again. You can try to hit the eight ball or oponents ball first without a penalty, but if yours falls you don't shoot again, but you don't pull it.

You can jump if you want, but it is your problem if the bar owner objects. You can even cheesy jump by shoving the cue under the ball.

You can hit the ball as pathetically as you want for a safety. Nobody counts rails hit or anything.
Old 08-26-2002, 11:32 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 11,261
Bar rules are really squishy. Some people call a combo that starts out with cue ball striking one of your opponent's balls first a scratch. Period. Others play that as a scratch if you don't make the shot. Yet others play that as just a missed shot and it's the other player's turn.

It's best to do a little rule review when playing a stranger, especially if you're not in your hometown.
Old 08-27-2002, 01:54 AM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Kennewick, WA
Posts: 3,363
Different racking rules are hilarious. A pool partner almost got nailed by a guy that INSISTED that both corners had to be solids. I've also heard of people requiring all the balls be racked in order. All sorts of strange stuff.

Most common thing I see wrong is people “scooping” the ball intentionally and thinking that is a legal jump. Problem is they get all mad when you tell them they can’t do it.

Among the others, people not knowing that the table is still open even if the breaker sinks a ball. People thinking you have to place the ball in the “kitchen” on ANY scratch. Some don’t even think you have to HIT a ball.
Old 08-27-2002, 02:39 AM
MrO MrO is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Posts: 755
Most of the people I play with in bars pretty much agree with the rules in the OP, except my experience is that a scratch on the break shot is not considered a loss. It just means the other player takes a turn. I have seen some disagreement about whether sinking a ball on the break but not on the following shot means the table is still open. (The way I play, it does.) I recently almost got beat up by a woman who insisted that I was racking wrong, but generally I rack with the 1 in the front, the 8 in the middle, and alternating solids and stripes along the sides. This leaves a solid in each corner, which is not really official (I think), but it's the way most do it around here.

Since there are lots of nationalities represented in the bars where I play, I often hear references to Aussie rules, or Brit rules, or Filipino rules. I once overheard two English guys arguing over the rules used in different parts of London.
Old 08-27-2002, 03:51 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: The Time of Legends
Posts: 2,983
Most of the ones you mentioned I've seen in bars too. Except the "lose if you scratch on the break" and including rails in declaring the ball's path. Additional rules were:

Can't hit the opponent's ball first in order to hit your own. Treat as a scratch. You can, however, use your opponent's ball in a "split" shot, as long as the cue ball touches both yours and your opponent's ball at the same time.

No more than three rail hits for the cue ball traveling to your ball or your ball to it's destination. Treat as a scratch. This one's not so common.

Not hitting anything with the cue ball is a scratch.

One foot must remain on the floor at all times while shooting. No sitting on the table to do a "behind the back" shot. I only heard this in SF and the person referred to it as "San Francisco Rules".
Old 08-27-2002, 09:12 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Levittown, PA
Posts: 707
A quick summary of the "bar rules" around here:
- Any scratch puts the cue ball behind the head/foot line (I get them confused)
- If a ball is sunk on the break, the shooter is that set. If he makes one of each it's his choice.
- You only need to call the pocket for the object ball. The path it takes is irrellevant.
- 8-ball is neutral.
- One foot on the floor
- Do not need to hit a cushion or even a ball

It's a pretty relaxed way to play, seeing as there aren't many rules to interfere with the flow or the game. Sometimes we play APA rules when just shooting around, and we always play APA rules when we're playing our league matches.
Old 08-27-2002, 10:04 AM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 11,148
I always played with the rules Frank #2 listed. It's been years, however, since I played with strangers in bars and I didn't do much of it even then. I had a friend who played in tournaments more recently, and I always thought those rules were way overdone.
Old 08-27-2002, 11:08 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Adirondacks ♀
Posts: 4,772
Here are the rules for the pool league I play in.

-Scratch on the break - You lose
-8-ball in on the break - you win
-Make a ball on the break - That's your set
-Make a ball of each set on the break - It's your choice
-Make a ball on the break and scratch - It's your opponents shot and choice
-Must call all shots and paths
-No combos off your opponents ball
-If shooting for the 8-ball, you must hit it and it must be the first ball you hit.
-If the cue ball leaves the table, it's "ball in hand", meaning your opponent may place it anywhere on the table.
-No intentional "Snookering"
Old 08-27-2002, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Schlaraffenland
Posts: 20,611
Of course, in "real" rules, you lose if you sink the eight on a break. At least that's what I've read in two different sets of published rules.

I've played pool in lots of countries, on several continents. The only constant is that they are all different. British Commonwealth countries tend to prefer ball-in-hand for a scratch.

Here's Thailand rules, which I find fairly strange (maybe similar to Philippines?):

On scratch (pocketed cue ball) shoot from behind the breaking line, but you get a free shot. So whenever you miss on your turn you can take a free shot. If the scratch was some other foul, ie, playing opponents ball first, then play from spot and still get a free shot. Exception is if you scratch.

Also, but variable, if you scratch on the eight they generally keep playing (with the aforementioned rule).

All slop counts (no called pockets). This leads to a lot of just banging the hell out of the ball and hoping that one of yours goes in.

Honey: No "intentional" snookering? What fun is that? So only offensive pool? Yuck!

One point that has always been vague for me is whether you can use your opponents ball in the middle of a combination. In Thailand, for sure, as long as yours is touched first. Other places seem to vary. Wonder what's the "official" rule on that?

Final point for Yanks: Brits who play snooker will generally find normal pocket billiards quite easy, so be careful!
Old 08-27-2002, 03:20 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 42,400
ShibbOleth, you are correct. You technically do lose if you sink the eight on the break. That would really suck, though, and such a rare occurance should be rewarded in bar-room pool. I've once in my life sunk an eight on the break. Actually, that was the only time I've ever seen it done. And if it's done to you in a bar, I suggest not bringing up the official rules.

In Chicago, we generally played this:

-Eight-balls are NOT neutral.

-Sink a ball on the break and you ARE set.

-Pocket a ball while the table is OPEN and commit a foul in one turn (e.g. pocket a stripe and scratch; hit the eight and pocket a solid, etc...) and the table is still open

-Shots must be called, but it varies as to how specific. If you call 3 in the corner and the 3 doesn't go straight in, but hits the felt then rattles around the corner and goes in, that's usually okay. If it rattles and kisses your cue, some people count it, some people don't. Caroms and banks and the such must all be called.

-Scratch on the break - Other person breaks. No automatic loss. Too many games would end this way in my old neighborhood. I can't vouch for whether most Chicagoans play this rule or not, but I've never seen any.

-I think we used to play one rail for safety shots.

-Jumping generally not permitted (because of bar rules. This is good, since most people I know were generally of the shove-the-cue-stick-under-the-cue-ball jump school. Technically illegal. Jump shots must be struck above the center of the cue ball.)

-At least one foot on the ground at all times

-Balls are racked with the eight in the middle (duh) and solids-stripes alternating on the perimeter. I've never seen anybody try to start this sequence with a stripe at the apex (usually, it's the 1), but I don't think we technically prohibit it.

-Games are usually played "pick pocket" or "last pocket." I don't see this latter variation very often anymore. In this variation, the eight ball has to be sunk in the same pocket as the last object ball you pocketed.

The British have really wimpy rules for 8-ball. You get something like six free shots after an oppenent's scratch, as well as the right to drink his beer and indenture one of his children into a days' domestic servitude. Don't ever scratch in British-rules 8-ball.

(Actually, you get two shots after a scratch, and if you make the first, some people play with a carry-over rule, meaning you keep playing until you miss, and then you can use your second shot.)
Old 08-28-2002, 05:41 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,593
I believe slop shots are a gift from God, and it's not polite to turn those down. (Sure, YOU piss him off!)

In these parts, outside of league play, you only call the eight shot. On the other hand, many players will often wave off the odd unintentional two-rail miracle.

I always concede the game to a chronic arguer. Life's too short for that nonsense. I never play for more than a dollar a game. If the other fellow insists on "making it interesting," I say, "Okay, the loser tips the bartender an extra five."
"You know what they say about sleeping dogs; you can't trust 'em." --Oliver Faltz
Old 08-29-2002, 04:26 AM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 42,400
Wow...you play somewhere where slop is allowed? Goodness me. If only I found bars like that. Sexist as it may be, slop was only allowed for women where I've played.
Old 08-29-2002, 06:24 AM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: a condo in hell 10th lvl
Posts: 2,655
Well most of the pool halls i play they play by bca league rules except for me becuase well I suck terribly at it

And most of the serious pool players in this town are in the tournaments and leagues so theres not much quibbling over the rules

And since the pool hall owners play in the big money tourrnaments they encourage the rules
"its easier and better to get forgiven than permission"

"theres no point in telling me that the wisdom of a fool cant set me free "
Old 08-29-2002, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 21
At my local bar here in Osaka, the "house rules" are fairly relaxed. Also distinctly unofficial--many players choose to follow their own rules (which is fine as long as both players agree). The biggest difference I've noticed between different versions is by country, between "British" and "American" rules. The American rules (which more or less match the ones I played by at home in the States) state that if you scratch, your opponent can play from anywhere behind the line. According to the British rules, on the other hand, the opponent has to play from within a small "D"-shaped area behind the line, but gets two shots.
The house rules (which I believe are fairly standard in Japan) are pretty close to the American version, though as I mentioned some players use their own rules (I have been shouted at for playing from outside the "D" by a player who insisted on the British rules, and who didn't bother to tell me this before the game). However, most of the Japanese players generally prefer to play 9-ball anyway (it seems more popular than 8-ball here).
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