Pool/Billiards/Spotting a Ball


I was taught that if your last ball on the table is behind the head string of the table and the other player scratched, you have the option to spot the ball because it's the only ball you have left and it behind the point on the table in which you can shoot at it.so you can place it on the spot that the rack is lined up on. I need to know if this is accurate. I also was told you can spot the eight ball.

Hi Darlene

It's true that, generally, if you are on the eight ball and your opponent scratches and you are playing the version of eight ball where you have to shoot from behind the line, if either the eight ball or your last ball is also behind the line, then you do get to spot them.

The reason I say it this way is that you are playing the informal and very poor rules that are seen in casual venues ("bar rules"), where unfortunately, there is no correct, or as you put it, "accurate" call I can make because these are not codified rules and they vary wildly from venue to venue.

In authoritative rules the issue wouldn't come up because when you scratch (except on the break shot) the opponent doesn't take the ball from behind the line but may place it anywhere on the table. But yes, having the opportunity to spot the ball in these situations is the more common informal rule.

If you want to read the far better and more logical authoritative rules--what all serious players and professionals play--I recommend those of the Billiard Congress of America Pool League:


Best of luck,

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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