Pool/Billiards/Pool Controversy.


Hi there,

I have asked these questions before on another expert but I would just like your opinion please. Again I appreciate the time you take to answering my questions so thank you!

for question 1, one expert told me you could ask the opponent to break again, however I've heard from others that you cannot if cue ball is scratched or driven off the table from a break, this only applies if 8 ball is pocketed as well, the cue ball can only be played behind the head string. Who's correct?

1. I understand that the only time bad play behind the head string in 8 ball only applies after either scratching the cue ball on the break or if any ball including the cue ball jumps off the table on a break the opponent either accepts the table in position or takes cue ball in hand behind head string. I believe that is right, but from these infringements can the opposing player ask the offending player to break again?

2. In straight pool I heard if you scratch on the break you lose 1 point instead of 2? Surely thats an illegal break and 2 points should be deducted?

3.On subsequent breaks in straight pool does the breaker still have to meet the requirements of 2 object balls hitting a rail and the cue ball?

4. I played a friend not so long ago at straight pool and I set up the rack following a previous rack he thought because he was breaking that he could move the cue ball. He moved the cue ball where he wanted behind the head string different from where it was originally, whats the procedure?

5. Can bad play from behind the head string apply every time in straight pool following a cue ball scratch? Or only once in the match or current rack e.g. the initial break shot of the rack or match?

7. When playing straight pool if you do not nominate a ball and pocket or call a safety, what happens?

8. In straight pool, the initial rack of the break the breaker fouls and 2 points are deducted from his score. The opponent gets him to break again and commits another foul. Is it now another 2 points deducted making -4 points for the breaker or is just reset back to zero?

Sorry for all the questions, these all relate to BCA rules by the way which I am interested in learning and the rule book doesnt always make sense and leaves ambiguity.

Thank you :)

Hi again Andrew:

1.  First you have to note the rules for illegal and legal breaks. On a legal break, either a ball must be pocketed or at least four object balls must strike rails. The failure to complete a legal break always results in a re-rack until a legal break is completed. Specifically, after an illegal break, the offending player's inning ends, the ball are re-racked, and the opponent has the option of making him break again, or breaking themselves. A foul does not make a break illegal.

If you foul on a legal break shot, there is no option to re-rack and re-break. The inning ends and the opponent takes ball in hand from the kitchen.

2. It's a two-point penalty for any opening break shot violation.

3. No, inter-game breaks are treated like any other shot in the game during normal play.

4. It was an immediate foul, and one defined as also taking a deliberate foul penalty (regardless of the person's actual intent or ignorance of the rule), resulting in a loss of 16 points, 1 for the foul and 15 for the special foul penalty. I would never call this in a friendly game but would always inform them of the technical rule. Procedurally, once committed, you would have the options of accepting the table in position (wherever he left the ball), ball in hand from the kitchen, or requiring a re-rack and for him to repeat the opening break shot, as if the game was just starting, but your scores would remain.

5.  The rules for what you can and can't do when you have ball in hand behind the head string never change throughout the game; the same rules for bad play apply every time.

7. In my answer to your previous post about calling shots, we went over the rules regarding whether you need to call shots aloud, how obvious and in-obvious shots are defined and so on. Keeping those rules in mind, if the shot was obvious, nothing; if in-obvious and there is no nomination, they lose there turn, the ball pocketed was done illegally so it is spotted, but there is no foul and so no point penalty.

8. Every time a player repeats the opening break shot and fails to meet the requirements it is a two foul penalty; if you've made them repeat it multiple times and they fail on their tenth attempt the score would be 0 to -20 . Note that the three contiguous foul penalty does not apply to the opening 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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