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Pool/Billiards/Re rack rule 8 ball


Hi Bill,
Country England.
I have played for more than 20 years. I won the toss and elected to break. I played a foul shot on the break with only 1 ball hitting the cushion. The referee stated to my opponent foul you can have a re rack or play the balls from where they lie. I disagreed and said the correct rule is a re rack. The referee said I was wrong and against my will the game continued. My opponent decided to play the balls from where they lay and with the advantage of having 2 free shots potted 3 balls so under protest I started the frame 3 balls behind. I made up ground and we were both on the black. My opponent potted the black winning the frame. If the referee quoted the wrong rule surely every shot played by my opponent there after is a foul when he eventually potted the black. Another foul? Surely this was a void or illegal frame? The referee 3 days later apologised to say I was right and he was wrong. Kind regards Geoff

Hi Geoffrey,

Ahhh, you're playing Black Ball.

Of course in a tournament situation the director or manager can make some adjustments to the rules of play that may be customary in a particular billiard room. This is particularly true when playing in "sanctioned" matches; you have to play by the rules of the sanctioning body. The situation you describe is normal play according to the World Pool and Billiard Association (WPA) rules.

The WPA states it this way:

4b. THE BREAK The first shot of a frame is the break. To ‘break’, the cue ball is played from baulk at the triangle of object balls. Frames commence when a player’s cue tip contacts the cue ball.

(a) The break is legal if a ball is potted, OR at least two object balls fully pass an imaginary line joining the middle of the centre pockets.

(b) If it is an illegal break the opponent is awarded a free shot plus one visit. The cue ball can be played from where it lies OR from baulk OR there is a re-rack.

So, according to WPA rules for Black Ball your referee called it correctly.

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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