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Pool/Billiards/8 Ball combinations


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There had been a question posted about the 8 ball as the first ball hit in a combination and the reply was NEVER.
A number of years ago, the 8 ball was allowed to be the first ball hit in a combination BCA Rules.
In 1997, Rule #16 stated."combination shots. combination shots are allowed however the 8 Ball cannot be used as the first ball struck, EXCEPT when the table is open.

Hello Ken,

Ah, a history quiz. Both statements are correct. Currently, the 8-ball is never a neutral ball and can never be the first ball struck in a combination shot, table open or not. Period.

But you're certainly right, years ago, and for many years, when the table was open all balls   were eligible to be used as the first ball struck according to BCA rules. So with an open table you could play the 8-ball into any number of balls and as long as the ball you called fell where you called it the shot was good. After the choice of suits was made the 8-ball became an entity of its own and was no longer a neutral ball. That used to be one of the questions you'd ask a guy if you had never played him, "is the 8 neutral"? And some places you'd find played the 8-ball was always neutral even though official rules never specifically allowed for that.

Anyway, years ago yes, the 8-ball was neutral until the selection of suits was made. Nowadays, no, the 8-ball is never neutral and can never be struck first until it is the shooters only legal object ball. It can, however be used as a third ball in the middle of a three (or more) ball combination, i.e., 1 into the 8 into the 5 in the corner is legal.

Play well and enjoy,



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Bill Newsted


I can answer questions related to shot-making, aiming, position play, strategies, practice, mental preparation and the psychology of the game. Also, rules as they vary from venue to venue and how to become a winning player. I have experience recovering and maintaining tables and will also answer questions related to cues and billiard equipment. However, I prefer not to make brand recommendations. I do not offer information identifying old tables and equipment or estimating their values.


I have played over forty years in every state in the US (except Alaska). My experience is largely in pool rooms but I have also played extensively on bar tables and in league organizations. I have directed numerous tournaments up to the professional level and have played several world champion players. I am a former Billiard Congress of America instructor.


B.S. in Visual Communication M.A. in Education: Career and Technology Education

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