Pool/Billiards/Calling a Safety



Player breaks and makes nothing.  So, the table is open.  Incoming shooter comes up and calls a safety and pockets a stripe.  Is the table still open to the next player or does the next shooter have solids?

Hi Barb:

In authoritative rules, the table always remains open until a player makes a legal shot by pocketing a designated ball in a designated pocket without committing a foul and "You cannot establish a group on a safety" (BCAPL Rule 2.6(1)).

The fact that you've told me that "Player breaks and makes nothing.  So, the table is open" leads me to believe that you are playing by some set of informal rules, since pocketing a ball on the break never assigns group.

I can only tell you what the authoritative rules hold, but they are quite different in many respects from the rules that are used by many who play in informal venues such as bars/pubs. The reason I am qualifying it in this way, is that you can't cherry pick from authoritative rules to establish what is "correct" unless you take them all on.  If you are playing by some set of informal rules (and they vary all over the map with little consistency), then there is no definitive answer.

I invite you to read the BCAPL (Official Rules of the Billiard Congress of America Pool League), the best most logical and nuanced ruleset there is: http://www.playbca.com/downloads/rulebook/completerulebook.aspx

Best of luck

Pool Teacher


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




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.


©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.