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Pool/Billiards/breaking foul, bad play from behind headstring and obvious shots


Hi there, just a few questions I would to ask all regarding BCA rules.

1. What happens in 8 ball, 9 ball and straight pool when there is a foul after the break. I understand that it says balls are in position but is that the object balls only? Does the cue ball have to go behind the headstring on ANY foul after the break?

2. Does bad play from behind the headstring in straight pool apply to every foul? I understand in 8 ball and 9 ball it is only on the foul after the break or am I mistaken?

3. If you miss an obvious shot in an obvious pocket and you havent called since it is obvious, what happens if the ball lands in another pocket?

4. Finally in 9 ball if the breaker fouls on the break and the opponent accepts table in position, can he play a push out?

Thank you :)

Hi Andrew

First question: :
It depends on the game. After the break, fouls of all types in eight ball and nine ball are penalized by ball-in-hand anywhere in the table. This means that if you scratch, double hit, don't hit your object ball first, don't get a rail, etc. your opponent gets to pick up the cue ball and place it anywhere he wants to (it's never behind the headstring in nine ball at all, even on the break, and it's only behind the line in eight ball if the foul is on the break shot itself). Straight pool (and one pocket) is totally different. In straight pool you never pick up the cue ball unless it scratches or goes off the table, and in those two events occurring after the break it's always behind the headstring. On all other fouls you don't get to move the cue ball at all--it's just penalized by loss of points (and of course the three foul penalty applies).

Second question: :
Yes, it applies to every foul that results in that penalty (see above). It cannot apply to nine ball because as I said above there is no ball-in-hand behind the headstring in the game. Likewise, it only applies in eight ball to a foul on the break because that's the only time in the game a foul results in ball-in-hand from the kitchen.

Third question: :
You didn't tell me the game and this could apply to eight ball or straight pool so: In eight ball, you lose your turn, the ball stays down, no foul penalty--basically it's the same as missing. In straight pool, you lose your turn, the ball gets spotted, no foul penalty.

Fourth question: :
No, there is no push out if there is a foul on the break.

Best regards,

Pool Teacher  


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I have wide ranging knowledge of all the cue sports, with the exception of snooker. I can answer most questions related to playing any of the standard games such as straight pool (14.1 continuous) eight-ball, nine-ball, one-pocket and 3-cushion billiards and the variations on these games. Questions welcomed regarding technique, strategy and rules, history of the sport, trick shots, the mental game, practice, practice drills, pool/billiards publications, and so on. I DO NOT DO CUE OR TABLE APPRAISALS OR IDENTIFICATION. See below.


I have been a dedicated player of pool and 3-cushion Billiards for many years. I have given lessons professionally and have run and participated in too many tournaments to name, including professional events such as the U.S. Open. I am also a cue collector and student of all aspects of the game. Note: I was starting to get far too many questions about pool cue (and pool table) valuation and identification and will no longer take these questions, sorry. I am a player and historian of the sport and the heart of my expertise is not product comparison or appraisal.


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