EPA/BAPTO rules rack

UK 8-ball rules

© Rupert Ward 2001

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World Rules rack


Differences between the 3 sets of rules for UK 8-ball

  (EPA) World Rules (old) EPA Rules BAPTO Rules (also called Federation rules)
Standard penalty for foul
  • 2 visits (opponent misses next visit).
  • IF partially snookered, can nominate (for the first shot following the foul only) an opponents ball or the black as a free ball which can be played and/or potted (if not the black!). NB unlike the other 2 set of rules, the free ball must be explicitly and specifically nominated. you can't nominate one of your opponents balls and use it to pot another
  • IF partially snookered, can elect to move the cue-ball to baulk. Only gets free ball now if still partially snookered (from all positions in baulk).
  • 2 visits (opponent misses next visit).
  • Free ball. On first shot following the foul any ball can be played and/or potted (except the black if it's not "on"). No nomination is required.
  • Ball in hand. Can elect to move the cue ball and play it from anywhere in baulk, with no loss of privilege (still have a free ball)
  • Free shot.
    On first shot following the foul any ball can be played and/or potted (except the black if it's not "on").
    No nomination is required.
    The player continues with a normal visit regardless of whether a ball is potted on the free shot.
  • Ball in hand. Can elect to move the cue ball and play it from anywhere in the D, with no loss of privilege (still have a free shot)
The Break
  • The balls are racked as in the picture on the right hand side of the title above
  • 4 balls must hit a cushion (or one be potted).
  • The balls are racked as in the picture on the left hand side of the title above
  • 2 balls must hit a cushion (or one be potted).
  • The balls are racked as in the picture on the left hand side of the title above
  • 2 balls must come back up the table past the line joining the middle pockets (or one be potted).
Foul Break
  • Standard foul (see above), but balls are re-racked and cue ball played from baulk if 4 balls failed to hit cushion
  • If the cue-ball goes down it is no foul: play passes to the opponent.
  • If the cue-ball leaves the table it is a foul (2 visits to opponent)
  • Standard foul, but balls are re-racked and cue ball played from baulk if 2 balls failed to hit cushion.
  • Standard foul, but balls are re-racked and cue ball played from D if 2 balls failed to come up the table past the line joining the centre pockets.
Deciding colours
  • If nothing goes down on the break, play continues with the first legally potted ball deciding colours.
  • If one (or more) of both colours are potted on the break, the shooter must nominmate their choice of colours before playing the next shot (and colours are decided by this nomination)
  • If a ball or balls of a single colour are potted on the break the shooter must nominate colours:
    • if they nominate the colour they have potted, colours are decided.
    • if they nominate the other colour, they must now pot one of that colour for colours to be decided. If they fail to pot one, it is "open table" still ie first legally potted ball decides colours.
  • First legally potted ball decides colours.
  • If on the first legal shot that pots a ball, one or more of both colours goes down, the shooter must nominate their choice before playing the next shot. This nomination decides the colours.
  • Following the initial break shot, the breaker must state their choice of colour.
  • This applies whatever happens on that break shot. ie if a ball of one or both colours drops, if no ball drops, if it is a foul, etc.
  • The only exception is on a foul break (see above) in which case the other player must nominate immediately after their (free) break shot (and before starting their subsequent visit)
Note: The above has been used in International competition since 1999, by County regions since 2000, and is now very much the norm.

The previous rule was as follows:

  • If a ball or balls of a single colour goes down on the break, the shooter takes that colour.
  • If one or more of both colours goes down on the break, the shooter must nominate their choice before playing the next shot. This nomination decides the colours.
  • If nothing goes down on the break, the breaker must nominate colours before the oncoming player can take their first shot (even following a foul on the break). This nomination decides colours.
NB: these old rules date back to the BAPTO national finals in November 1998. Previously, no balls down on the break meant that the oncoming player had to nominate before playing.
Deliberate Fouls
  • Deliberate fouls are not punished over and above the punishment for the foul itself (except for abusive fouls such as deliberately moving balls with the hand)
  • Deliberately playing a ball that is not "on" leads to loss of frame.
  • Deliberately playing a ball that is not "on" leads to loss of frame.
Hitting a cushion
  • On every shot on which a ball is not potted, a ball must strike a cushion after the white has made contact with an object ball.
  • ...unless the player is in a Total Snooker in which case the requirement is waived.
  • No equivalent rule.
  • No equivalent rule.
Potting an opponent's ball
  • potting an opponent's ball is always illegal except when you have a "free ball" following a foul and it is the nominated ball.
  • potting an opponent's ball is always illegal except when you have a "free ball" following a foul.
  • On any shot where one or more of one's own colours are potted, it is legal to pot one or more of one's opponent's coloirs too, so long as the shot is otherwise legal.
Push shots & touching balls
  • Push shots are not illegal per se. The rules say that a push shot is only illegal if the balls remain in contact long enough for the cue to be visibly pushing the cue ball along, or if a double hit is seen. In practice this means that if the balls are close but not touching, the player can "jack up" and play the cue-ball, with a sharp stroke, directly into the object ball. Push shots and double hits, in the above sense, must be seen (not merely inferred) for a foul to be called.
  • In most situations, a player must play away from a touching ball (the exception occurs when the cue ball is touching more than one object ball which is "on". In this case you only have to play away from one of them).
  • Push shots are illegal (as in Snooker).
  • A player must always play away from a touching ball
  • NB. in the years preceding the introduction of the World Rules, the EPA fiddled with this rule a few times. This is reflected in the rules published on their website (see link below) which say that you don't have to play away from a touching ball, so long as you take care not to play a push shot (yes, this is impossible, but that's what it says!). In practice, this means simply that you're allowed to play a glancing shot which moves the touching ball, although some people interpret it to mean that a "jacked-up" cue and sharp stroke into the touching ball is also ok. Most people find this rule a nightmare to adjudicate, and so most leagues etc that use EPA rules play by the snooker-style "must play away" touching ball rule. But the moral is, if you've got a touching ball situation and aren't absolutely sure which rule you're playing to, check with the ref or your opponent.
  • Push shots are illegal (as in Snooker).
  • A player must always play away from a touching ball
Official rules links From the EPA website...
- Rules
- Guidance to refs
- Foul snookers explained (pictures)

See also these minor amendments, due to come in in 2004

From the EPA web site...
- Rules
From the EUKPF web site...
- Rules

General differences between UK and US 8-ball

There are also various differences from other sets of (eg US) pool rules which are common to all 3 codes...

The balls and the table

  • Since American pool game such as 9-ball and straight pool, requiring spots (solids) and stripes are really only ever played on American-style tables in dedicated clubs, these kinds of balls have been almost completely phased out from UK 8-ball tables. When playing on a UK table, you will almost always find that there are 7 solid red balls and 7 yellows, plus the black which retains its white spot and number and is still called the 8-ball.
  • In EPA and BAPTO rules, the balls are racked like this. In World Rules there is a slight difference (swap the balls 2nd and 3rd from the right in the bottom row)
  • The game is played with 2" object balls. Usually the cue-ball is slightly smaller (1 7/8"), although very rarely (when not paying per frame) one comes across sets where the cue ball is the same size as the others).
  • Tables vary in size. The table should be twice as long as it is wide, and can be 6ft, 7ft, or 8ft long.
  • The jaws of the pockets are more rounded than on a US table. This tends to mean that potting a ball into a corner pocket down the cushion is much harder. Potting into side pockets, from a narrow angle, is however much more feasible than on an American table.

Legal shots

  • Jump shots are illegal (defined as the cue ball jumping over any part of any ball before making contact with any object ball). In World Rules, a Jump Shot is a "serious foul" ie doing it twice leads to loss of frame!
  • In most situations a player must play away from a touching ball (which if it is a ball "on", will be deemed to have been hit). But see above for EPA and World Rules exceptions)
  • There is no concept of calling shots whatsoever. Occasionally one comes across people who like to play call pocket on the black, but this does not appear in any official rules.
  • There is thus no concept of "calling a safety". If a ball is potted on a legal shot, the player at the table is always obliged to play again.
  • The US requirement that a ball hit a cushion if nothing goes in only appears in World Rules (see "Hitting a cushion" above). In the other 2 codes, simply rolling up to your own ball to leave one's opponent snookered behind it is a common tactic. In World Rules, rolling up to your opponent's ball is a more common tactic! (because they won't be able to move the cue ball or play a free ball, so will often have to "waste" their first visit in playing the cue ball to somewhere more useful)

"House Rules" (local variations)

You'll find some pubs, people, and even a few of the smaller local leagues play "house rules" which vary slightly from the published sets. Some of the more common variations include:
  • Call pocket on the black (often you have to stick to the pocket once it's been called)
  • Push shots allowed (see "Push shots & touching balls" above).
  • Can never move the white after a foul. This is how it used to be played years ago.
  • Can only move the white after a foul if you're snookered (this is an old variant from EPA and BAPTO rules, when moving the white after a foul was first brought in, this was how it worked). Note that there are different definitions of "snookered". It can mean
    • "can't see any part of any ball 'on'"
      (cf World Rules 'Total Snooker' ), or
    • "can't see to play 'thinnest possible cut' on any ball 'on'"
      (cf World Rules 'foul snooker/f ree ball') or
    • "can't see to play full-ball shot on any ball 'on"
      (once upon a time official BAPTO rules said you could only move the white after a foul if snookered in this sense, still played in some local leagues: every variant that there ever was is still played in some local league somewhere!)
  • You only ever have one shot on the black. It's surprising how many people think this variant makes sense. They suggest that having 2 shots on the black makes it too easy for the person who's on the black. Actually their variant makes it far too easy for the person who's NOT on the black.
  • Some places have extremely non-standard rules. One of the oldest is the Bridlington rule set used in the East Riding of Yorkshire. They play call-pocket on the black, and push shots are allowed.

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© Rupert Ward 2014, Rupe@arseweb.com

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