American pool, specifically the famous eight-ball game, is a popular game for all ages and levels of players. The object of eight-ball pool is to put all of your balls (either stripes or solids) into pockets and legally put the eight ball in a pocket. While there is a wide variance between house rules and official World Pool Association (WPA) eight-ball rules, the general objective and structure to the game is identical.
Rack the balls as tightly as possible with the eight ball in the middle, a solid in front, and an alternation in solids and stripes around the outside border. Official rules state that the two back corners of the triangle should have a solid and a stripe, but house rules usually allow solid balls in all three corners. The person who racks the balls is an opponent of the side that gets the first break.
Break the triangle of balls by first striking the cue ball on the opposite end of the table. You may place the cue ball anywhere behind the head string, or the imaginary horizontal line that passes through the dot. Before breaking, chalk the tip of your queue by gently and evenly brushing the chalk on the tip. Billiards Digest recommends performing a "power break," meaning a break that splits up the balls as much as possible. To do this, use the cue to strike the center of the cue ball and follow through with your dominant arm.
If the person who breaks sinks one or more balls into a pocket, that person can now choose to pursue stripes or solids (or "highs" and "lows"). In both house and WPA rules, he must call his intended shot. If the first player misses his intended shot (or sinks a ball in a pocket other than where he was aiming), the table remains "open," meaning the opponent is free to pursue either stripes or solids.
If the breaking player makes his intended shot, play continues for him until he does not successfully sink a ball.
Switch players. Play continues for the opponent until they do not sink a ball. For combo shots (shots that make contact with multiple balls), players must always strike one of their balls first. They may not strike the eight ball first in a combo, and if a player accidentally pockets the eight ball, she automatically loses the game.
When a player has pocketed all of the balls in her group, she must finally pocket the eight ball. In typical house rules, she must “call” the pocket she is aiming for.
If the player shooting for the eight ball misses, play continues alternating. If she fouls on her eight ball shot, she automatically loses the game. Eight ball fouls include hitting the ball off the table, sinking the ball in the wrong pocket, sinking the cue ball, or sinking the eight ball before pocketing all of the balls in her group.