What are the American rules for pool?


Quick Answer

The game of pool has no official American rules, as multiple organizations such as the Billiard Congress of America and the American Poolplayers Association offer competing rule sets, as of 2015. The game is generally played on a rectangular table with six pockets, four on the corners and two on the long sides. Players strike a white cue ball with a stick's tip to hit object balls into called pockets, with special attention paid to a black eight-ball pocketed last.

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Full Answer

There are 15 numbered object balls in American pool. Numbers one through seven are solid colors, while nine to 15 are striped. The eight-ball is solid black. The object of the game is to call either stripes or solids and pocket all seven of them before sinking the eight-ball with the final shot. Players must strike a ball belonging to their set before any other balls in order for a shot to be legal.

The first shot is the break, as the object balls start in a compact triangle before being broken. The first player to sink any ball calls that type, while the opponent is assigned the other type. Players alternate shots, with each player continuing to shoot until he fails to legally pocket a ball.

When only the eight-ball remains, players must call a pocket in order to legally sink it and win the rack. Scratching, or the cue ball leaving the table for any reason, causes a player to lose at this point even if the opponent has yet to sink a single ball. Previously, scratching merely ended a player's turn and allowed his opponent to place the cue ball anywhere on the table. Players also lose if they sink the eight-ball out of turn or knock it onto the floor at any point after the break.

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