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8-ball :: Standardized rules of play

American-style eight-ball rules are played around the world by professionals, and in many amateur leagues. Nevertheless, the rules for eight-ball may be the most contested of any billiard game. There are several competing sets of “official” rules. The non-profit World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) – with national affiliates around the world, some of which long pre-date the WPA, such as the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) – promulgates standardized rules as Pool Billiards – The Rules of Play[6] for amateur and professional play.

Meanwhile, many amateur leagues – such as the American Poolplayers Association (APA) / Canadian Poolplayers Association (CPA), the Valley National Eight-ball Association (VNEA, international in scope despite its historic name) and the BCA Pool League (BCAPL) – use their own rulesets; most of these are at least loosely based on the WPA/BCA version. Millions of individuals play informally, using colloquial rules which vary not only from area to area but even from venue to venue (“house rules“).

A summary of the international rules follows. See the WPA/BCA or other leagues’ published rules (which may conflict on minor points) for more details.

8-ball :: Setup

To start the game, the object balls are placed in a triangular rack. The base of the rack is parallel to the end rail (the short end of the pool table) and positioned so the apex ball of the rack is located on the foot spot. The balls in the rack are ideally placed so that they are all in contact with one another; this is accomplished by pressing the balls together toward the apex ball. The order of the balls should be random, with the exceptions of the 8 ball, which must be placed in the center of the rack (i.e., the middle of the third row), and the two back corner balls, one of which must be a stripe and the other a solid. The cue ball is placed anywhere the breaker desires behind the head string.