If You Scratch on the Break in Pool, Do You Lose?

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According to the rules of play posted by the World Pool-Billiard Association, the governing body of pool, a player who scratches, or pockets the cue ball, on the break in pool does not lose the game. A scratch is considered a foul, and if the break was otherwise legal, the opponent takes the cue ball in hand behind the head string and shoots.

When playing eight-ball, the most popular form of pool, the official rules state that for a break to be valid, the breaker must either pocket an object ball or cause four balls to strike the rails. Otherwise, the break is illegal, and the opponent must choose to accept the table as it is, re-rack and break again or have the same player re-rack and break again. If the eight ball is pocketed on the break shot, the breaker either re-spots the eight ball and accepts the break or breaks the balls again. If the breaker pockets the eight ball and scratches, the opponent has the option of spotting the eight ball and accepting the break or re-breaking.

In other games of pool such as nine-ball, ten-ball, black-ball and straight pool, rules for the break shot vary slightly, but scratching is always considered a foul. In some local areas that do not conform to official rules of play, scratching or knocking the cue ball off the table on a break may be interpreted as an instant loss. These peculiarities should be agreed upon before game play.