What Happens If The 8 Ball Goes In On A Break? (The Real Rules)

What Happens If The 8 Ball Goes In On Break (The Real Rules)

Pool can be a confusing game at the best of times. There are many rules to understand and abide by for each game – whether you’re playing in varying pool leagues or following a set “Bar Rules”.

Pocketing an 8 ball on a break is a difficult thing to accomplish, but it isn’t impossible!

It may be down to the randomized chaos of the move or may be carried out intentionally using a combination of skill, knowledge, and a whole load of luck. But there are varying rules surrounding this action.

The result depends upon the agreed tournament rules whether you’re playing against a singular opponent in a professional environment or in a pool hall.

But what happens if an 8 ball is pocketed during a break?

The simple answer: it depends on which set of rules you are following. So if you want to find out what happens if this ball goes in on the break, this guide will set you on the right path.

Pocketing An 8 Ball On The Break

Pocketing an 8 ball on a break is an extremely difficult shot that cannot be made by any pool player at 100% accuracy every time.

While there are techniques that can be implemented to increase the chances of making the shot, there is actually a large amount of luck involved, too! If the shot is missed, it will lead to an entire game of 8 ball pool.

If it were easy, every professional player would do it. The fact that most players cannot do it proves that pocketing an 8 ball on the break is difficult to accomplish.

If you miss this shot then you’re also giving your opponent ample opportunity to throw away your potential to win!

So the question remains: is using this move in a game truly worth the risk?

Spotting And Scratching The 8 Ball

Spotting the 8 ball after potting it on a break means you have to remove it from the pocket and place it as close to the foot spot on the table as possible without disrupting the other balls.

It is also usually done close to the foot rail, too. This applies to all balls in the game and doesn’t just refer to the 8 ball.

Scratching the cue ball can be broadly defined as driving it off the table, or pocketing it.

These actions are considered fouls during a standard game and mean that the ball has been pocketed using a non-legal method. This may result in ball-in-hand for the other opponent.

Scratching also occurs if one or more balls are pocketed within the same shot.

What Happens If The 8 Ball Goes In On A Break

What Happens If The 8 Ball Goes In On A Break

There are multiple sets of rules to follow when playing 8 ball pool that determines the way the game is played and the overall outcome. We have outlined these below.

Bar Rules

Bar or “house” rules can be tricky to pin down. They may vary depending on your opponent or on the establishment in which the game is taking place.

Regardless, it is always a good idea to understand the set rules prior to starting a game to prevent confusion and penalties from occurring.

Some venues will be more clear-cut with their rules than others. But if there are no rules set by the establishment around potting an 8 ball on a break, then you and your opponent will have to set up boundaries of your own to ensure a fair game. These must be adhered to.

Bar Rules: Pocketing The 8 Ball

If you are playing in a pool hall or a bar then potting an 8 ball on a break will likely end up providing you an automatic win, only if you ensure no scratches have occurred after breaking.

However, if you land the 8 ball and a cue ball, you will lose the game immediately.

If this occurs in normal games, the other player can request a re-rack.

They may also require you to spot the 8 ball and re-do the match from the head spot, but this is completely optional (and up to your opponent!) Either way, the breaker will have won this game.

Bar Rules: Scratching And Potting

Bar rules revolve around the idea that sinking the 8 ball whilst scratching on the break results in a loss.

Without this rule, players would have no reason not to try to pot the 8-ball every time, which can sometimes make for a less-than-ideal break for your competitor.

However, some bar rules state that scratching at all on the break results in a loss, so it’s best to clear up any confusion about these rules before you attempt an 8 ball shot!

Additionally, if you manage to sink only the cue ball, you will not lose automatically. Instead, your opponent will have control over the cue ball to take their first shot.

APA Rules

The American Poolplayers Association (APA) is the largest global pool league, with 250k+ members, and allows all players to take part thanks to an Equalizer handicapping and scoring system.

There are many billiards players that defer to APA rules when cued up at a table. Thankfully, APA rules set clear boundaries about what happens if you pot the 8 ball on a break.

APA Rules: Pocketing The 8 Ball On The Break

APA rules dictate that being able to pocket the 8 ball on the break will ensure an automatic win. This is a straightforward rule for any player and is important during any game.

Though it is possible for you to practice this action, other factors will help to determine whether you’ll be able to sink the ball or not. If you can sink the 8 ball using a combination of luck and your own set of skills, then you rightfully deserve to win!

However, if you manage to scratch on the break, it will create an entirely different outcome.

APA Rules: Scratching And Potting

With APA rules, it is considered an immediate loss if you simultaneously scratch and pocket the 8 ball on a break. However, if you scratch on a break and the 8 ball doesn’t go into a pocket, it is considered to be a foul.

In this instance, the opposing player will be behind the head string, with the ball in hand.

To summarize: with this set of rules, if an 8 ball is pocketed on a break, the player wins the game automatically – so long as no scratch has occurred after breaking. It’s pretty straightforward and is quite an easy rule to adapt to.


However, penalties can be issued if a player breaks incorrectly, also known as an illegal break, or if they break too softly or safely. The latter means that the player is purposely not putting much power into their break.

If a player can sink an 8 ball without scratching but uses a disallowed break (as mentioned above) then there is an equal risk of being disqualified, and losing the win.

This can be a devastating loss in bar games and in official league games. If you can make a legal break and sink the 8 ball without any scratching, according to APA rules, you’ll become the winner of the match!

We have included more information about the legal break later in this article.

BCA Rules

BCA Rules

Billiard Congress of American Pool League (also commonly known as BCA) is a smaller league containing 50k+ members – the majority of which are more skilled than the typical APA player.

BCA Rules: Pocketing The 8 Ball

Unlike APA and Bar rules, BCA rules dictate that pocketing an 8 ball in a break without scratching doesn’t automatically win you the game. Instead, it is left up to the breaker.

They can ask for a re-rack or can choose to spot the 8 ball to continue playing the game.

BCA rules are deemed as more “fair” for all players as making an 8 ball in a break will primarily depend upon luck or skill, or even a mixture of the two.

These rules may result in an open table which entails the player pocketing the 8 ball, spotting it, and proceeding to play without sinking other balls.

This ensures that the player has free rein to decide when making the first shot.

BCA Rules: Scratching And Potting

The BCA says that scratching on a break, whether the 8 ball goes in or not, is a foul.

In this case, the opposing player has the choice to either spot an 8 ball on the table and continue to play with ball in hand, or request that the balls are re-racked and the break done over again.

The big difference between the two is who gets to make the decision.

When the breaker pots the 8 ball, the decision on how to proceed is up to them. If the breaker pots the 8 ball and the cue ball, the decision goes to the other player.

Additional Information

Pool is more than simply retaining information about the 8 ball.

You’ll need to know about different shots and how they may impact your play.

Combination Shots

Combination shots are legal, but you can never use the 8 ball as the first contacted ball. In other words, you can use the 8 ball in combination with another object ball to pocket an object ball, as long as you don’t strike it first.

Some pool halls come with a set of rules about combination shots, but bars generally do not. However, you must always ensure to hit one of your own balls first!

These are the Combination Rules of other formats:

  • BCA Rules – Combination shots are permitted if the first ball that is hit isn’t the 8 ball.
  • APA Rules – Same as BCA.
  • Bar Rules – Confirm set rules with your opposition, so you’re both on the same page.

Safety Shot

Safety shots are legal shots taken when there’s no intent to pocket a ball. They are carried out in adherence to APA and BCA guidelines but aren’t typically present when playing and adhering to bar rules.

And, if you choose to incorporate the safety shot as part of your game, you should discuss this with the opposition prior to starting the game.

  • BCA allows you to make a coherent shot and call safety. By doing this you can pocket the ball and call “safety”, but you will have to give up the remainder of your turn.
  • APA rules do not permit this. According to these guidelines, you can pause your turn if you have yet to pocket a ball.
  • Bar rules remain similar to APA and BCA. However, bar games don’t contain safety shots.

Executing a legal break under all rules greatly limits your shooting options. However, refusing to perform a legal break is a foul under BCA rules.

If you’re interested in 8 ball then it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what a legal break actually is, and it’s also highly significant if you plan on attempting to pocket the 8 ball on the break.

BCA Rules

A legal break under BCA rules must be shot from a location behind the head string.

To make the break legal it must either result in one or more pocketed object balls, or it must drive a minimum of 4 object balls to impact the rails.

If the shot is not legal, the opposition can:

  • Play the table as it is.
  • Request the balls to be re-racked and break it themselves.
  • Request the balls to be re-racked and insist the other player must re-break.

APA Rules

APA guidelines are a little different in terms of legal breaks. You can abide by the following rules to ensure a legal break occurs:

  • Shoot from beyond the head string.
  • Strike the head or second ball.
  • Use as much power as possible while remaining in control of the shot.
  • Similarly to BCA rules, if a ball is not pocketed on a break, at least four object balls should reach the rail.

Bar Rules

The bar rules surrounding legal breaks usually vary but tend to be similar to the APA rules.


There isn’t one exact answer to determine what happens if the 8 ball goes in on the break. Instead, it largely depends on the venue, your opponent, and the type of game being played (bar, APA, or BCA).

But as long as you establish the rules beforehand regarding what to do if this action occurs, then you and your opponent can look forward to a stress-free, authentic game of 8 ball pool!

Dave White