All the different rules surrounding billiard games can be pretty confusing. It doesn’t help that, if you’re playing a friendly game at a bar or someone’s house, they may play by rules you’ve never even heard of. These are often called “house rules” and they’re the reason you should clarify major rules before you take the first shot. And one of the most common rule questions we get here at Billiard Beast is “Do you get two shots on the 8 ball?”
You can get two shots on the 8 ball when your opponent fouls — according to the rules of certain billiard games. However, there is no two shot rule in any standard American pool rule book. In fact, if you’re playing American 8-Ball or 9-Ball, you definitely do not get two shots on the 8 ball. Not by any common or standard rule sets, anyway. English pool is a different story . . .
What Games Include Two Shots on the 8 Ball?
The reason why many people are confused about the two-shot rule is because of the difference in rules between American 8 Ball and English 8 Ball or Blackball. The specific rules for English 8 Ball and Blackball differ slightly, especially in pubs and homes, but they both allow for two shots when there’s a foul committed.
Blackball & English 8 Ball
So, according to these rules, when Player A commits a foul, Player B then gets the chance for “two visits to the table.” In other words, they get two shots. But this rule doesn’t just apply to the 8 ball. In fact, it can happen at any point during the game, even when neither player is shooting for the 8 ball.
But, the rules get a little confusing when it comes to 8 ball shots. So, say Player A commits a foul. Player B gets two shots. If Player B has already potted all of his/her balls, it’s fine to shoot for the 8 ball. But, if Player B still has balls on the table, potting the 8 ball will result in a foul. That said, if Player B can legally pot the 8 ball, he/she wins that frame.
But, on the first shot after a foul, Player B can legally hit any ball on the table, including the 8 ball, without consequence. Unless, of course, the 8 ball is potted. So, in the event of balls becoming clustered, Player B may use the first shot to break those balls up while still getting a second shot afterward.
It’s worth noting that there are many variations on these rules. You always want to check what the house rules are before you start playing.
American 8 and 9 Ball
There’s really no two shot rule anywhere in American 8 or 9 ball. Instead, there’s a ball-in-hand rule for most fouls. Some 8 ball house rules state that if a player pots the cue ball on an 8 ball shot, that player loses. However, this is not a rule that most American billiard associations follow. Instead, it’s simply a ball-in-hand foul.
The only time someone gets two shots consecutive shots without legally potting a ball is when a “push out” rule is in play. A push out shot happens in 9 Ball and 10 Ball. It’s usually only allowed on the first shot immediately following the break. The shooting player can call for a push out and legally shoot the ball anywhere on the table. The cue ball doesn’t have to come into contact with any object ball or it can contact any object ball.
The idea behind the push out is to put the opposing player in a position where they can’t get a good shot, or they won’t be able to make more than one shot. However, the opposing player can also send the push out back to you, making you take the shot. Push outs are not a very common occurrence.
Two Shots on the 8 Ball?
If you play American rules, you won’t be getting two shots on the 8 ball. In some instances in English 8 Ball, you may get two shots on the 8 ball, but the circumstances leading up to this are not very common. However, there are some house rules that do call for two shots on the 8 ball, mostly in England and Australia and those countries that have a basis in English pool rules.
Check with your opponent before you shoot when playing a friendly game. Chances are you’ll be able to come to an agreement on the rules you’ll play by within just a few minutes!