The rules of pool : the different types of game


American pool, highly entertaining and sociable, is a game for everyone. Discover all you need to know about this practice as well as the rules of its different variants: 8-ball, 9-ball, 14.1 continuous, or even Poker Ball. It's a great way to spend quality time with friends or family! Florian Kohler, known worldwide in the realm of artistic pool under the pseudonym Venom, explains the rules of 8-ball and 9-ball in a video. Explore other variants further down the page.


The game of 8-ball is the most common variant of American pool. The game is played by calling shots, meaning the player must announce which pocket they intend to sink their ball into. 8-ball is played with 15 numbered balls: one player must sink the solid balls numbered 1 to 7, while the other player must sink the striped balls numbered 9 to 15. The number 8 ball, the black ball, must be pocketed last by the player who has already pocketed all their balls. Therefore, the winner is the first player to pocket all their balls, followed by the black ball.

A game consists of several rounds. The number of rounds is flexible, and it's up to the players to agree on this number at the beginning of the game. When a player pockets a ball, they continue playing. A player can lose the game at any time by pocketing the black ball by mistake or if it goes off the table.

The player who starts the game performs the break. The white ball can then strike any ball. Once a ball is pocketed by a player without committing a foul, that group of balls is assigned to them. The other player must therefore try to pocket the balls of the opposing group.

If a player enters two balls from different groups at the break, he is free to choose which one he prefers.

The black ball must be pocketed by a player once he has entered all his other balls. He then wins the game.


In this variant of American pool, only the white ball and balls numbered from 1 to 9 are used. The objective of the game is very simple: pocket the number 9 ball! The game is played in multiple rounds, the number of rounds being defined by the players.

At the beginning of the game, the balls are arranged in a diamond shape. The number 1 ball is at the front point of the diamond, and the number 9 ball is at the back point. The player performing the break must first hit the number 1 ball, otherwise it is a foul. The rule that defines the game of 9 is as follows: the ball first struck by the white ball must always bear the lowest number present on the table.

The balls are usually pocketed one by one, up to the number 9 ball. However, it can also be won by combination. For example, if the smallest ball on the table is the number 4, and the player hits this ball first with the white ball and manages to pocket the number 9 ball with this shot, they win the game. Following the same principle, a player who pockets the 9 ball immediately after the break also wins the game.


Like 8-ball, 14-1 continuous is played with 15 balls placed in a triangle in the centre of the table. Players are not allocated a group of balls and can pocket any ball in any order. Each ball is worth 1 point. The game ends when the score set by the players has been reached. Each ball pocketed must be announced, including the break. If a ball is pocketed in the wrong hole or not announced at all, it is not a foul, but the point is not counted. The ball in question is then put back into play. The starting break must therefore be made more defensively than in 8-ball or 9-ball play, i.e. by trying not to pocket balls at random. When there is only one ball left on the table, this ball and the cue ball are left in their place. The other 14 balls are then placed back in the triangle. This pack must be broken using the last ball left in its place. And so the game continues!


Poker Ball is an original practice in pool that combines American pool and poker. A deck of 52 cards is needed to play. The ideal number of players is 3, but it can be played with up to 6 players. The 15 balls and the white ball are used. They are arranged in the same way as in the game of 8-ball.

Each player receives 7 cards. Like in poker, the player must keep them hidden from opponents. Each card corresponds to a ball, which the player must try to pocket. The objective of the game is to pocket all the balls represented by the cards you have in hand.

  • Ace = Ball n°1
  • 2 = Ball n°2
  • 3 = Ball n°3
  • 4 = Ball n°4
  • 5 = Ball n°5
  • 6 = Ball n°6
  • 6 = Ball n°7
  • 8 = Ball n°8
  • 9 = Ball n°9
  • 10 = Ball n°10
  • Jack = Ball n°11
  • Queen = Ball n°12
  • King = Ball n°13

If during the break a player pockets a ball that does not correspond to one of their cards, it is put back into play. If they pocket one or more balls, they place the relevant cards on the edge of the table to show them to the other players. When a player lays down their second-to-last card, they must inform their opponents by saying "Last card".


The basics of American pool

In competitive play, American pool has the particularity of being played with two cues: one for breaking and one for regular play. The first one is slightly heavier to exert more pressure when scattering the balls. The second one, lighter, can vary according to players' preferences but has a tip with a diameter always measuring between 13 and 14 mm. However, in casual play, many players do not have a breaking cue, and most of the time the game is played only with a playing cue. Six pockets are positioned at the four corners and in the middle of each length of the table to receive the balls.

The balls used for American pool are 16 in number:

>15 numbered balls from 1 to 15

>1 white ball (the cue ball)

The numbered balls are not all colored in the same way and are divided into two categories: balls 1 to 8 are called "solid" or "low" balls, and balls 9 to 15 are called "striped" or "high" balls.

How do you position the triangle?

Place the cue ball opposite the intersection of the diagonals.

How do you place the balls in American pool?

Game 8

The 8-ball game is the most common. To start a game, place all the balls except the cue ball in the triangle supplied with your pool table. Only the placement of four balls matters. The rest of the balls can be placed randomly.

>The 1-ball should be placed in the top point of the triangle: the one closest to the cue ball.

>The black ball, the 8-ball, should be placed in the centre of the triangle

>The remaining two corners should be occupied by a solid ball on one side, and a striped ball on the other, regardless of their numbers.

Number 1 ball in the upper point of the triangle

Number 8 ball placed in the centre of the triangle

One of the lower corners of the triangle must be occupied by a solid ball and the other by a striped ball.

Fill the rest of the triangle with the other marbles, at random.

Game 8

Number 1 ball in the upper point of the triangle or rhombus

Number 9 ball placed in the centre of the triangle or rhombus

Fill the rest of the triangle or diamond with the rest of the marbles at random

Playing the 10

Number 1 ball in the upper point of the triangle

The 10-ball is placed in the centre (in the middle of the row of 3 balls).

The remaining balls are placed at random.

At the beginning of a game of 10-ball, only the placement of two balls is important: the ball #1 must be placed at the top point of the triangle, and the ball #10 must be in the center of the triangle. You can use the same triangle as for playing the 8-ball game and skip filling the base of the triangle (see figure above).

In the game of continuous 14-1

Even though the official rule indicates that the balls can be placed freely, it is customary for ball #1 to be placed at the top point of the triangle and ball #15 at another end of the triangle.

Fouls in American pool

In the various game variants, a foul occurs if:

- The cue ball does not touch any ball or any cushion
- The ball struck by the cue ball is not pocketed or does not touch a cushion
- The cue ball is pocketed
- A ball is ejected from the table
- A player moves a ball with anything other than their cue, or with a part other than the tip
- There is a double hit, meaning the player touches the cue ball twice

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