How to Play 8-Ball, So You Can Teach Your Tiny Pool Sharks

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How to Play 8-Ball
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Stripes or solids? That may be a familiar question from your college days, or at least those pre-baby early 20s. Today, 8-ball pool is still a popular game with the younger crowd. But, hey, that doesn’t mean moms can’t knock back a few Shirley Temples (or something a little stronger) and let loose once in a while with this old-school bar game. If it’s been a minute since you last stepped foot into a pool hall — or if you’ve never played at all — we’ve got you covered. We’re gonna break down how to play 8-ball right here in this post: the setup, the rules, and some helpful hints to help you bring your A-game next time you play.

Though there are several ways to play pool, 8-ball is the most common. Admittedly, there’s quite a bit involved in this seemingly simple game. But we’re gonna cover the basics and give you enough knowledge to get started. Let’s jump in, shall we?

How to Play 8-Ball

The Setup

So, what do you need to play a game of 8-ball? Well, a few things — pool sticks, 16 numbered balls (seven stripes, seven solids, a white cue ball, and a black 8-ball), a pool table, and a partner to play with. Oh, you’ll also need a triangle to rack the balls, and you may want some chalk to keep your pool stick from slipping on the cue ball as you take your shot.

Depending on your preference, 8-ball can be played one-on-one or in teams. The first step after finding a willing opponent is to rack the balls. The exact placement of the balls is up for debate in different circles. But the generally agreed upon positioning looks something like this: 8-ball in the middle, number 1 ball at the very top, and a solid and a stripe in the two bottom corners. The rest of the balls should be randomly placed in no particular order. Then, the apex (number 1 ball) should be lined up at the foot of the table, which is usually marked with a small dot or triangle.

Once the balls are racked, it’s time to decide who goes first. This is typically done with a coin toss. One of the interesting aspects of playing pool is that you don’t keep score. The first one to pocket all their balls — solids or stripes — and then the 8-ball is the winner. However, many people like to play games in sets. If you plan to play this way, it can prove helpful to decide how many games you’ll play at the outset. That way, you know the winner is the best of five (or whatever number you pick).

The Rules

Once the coin toss determines who goes first, that person “breaks.” If any balls are legally pocketed during the break, the first player can continue their turn. If not, the next player takes their first shot. Eight-ball is a “call shot” game. That just means that for a shot to be counted, you’ve got to name it — the ball and the pocket — and then make it. Once the first shot is called and made, stripes and solids are decided. To win the game, you’ve got to successfully sink all seven of your balls, followed by the 8-ball.

When playing 8-ball, a solid strategy is to have a plan in place. Begin with the end in mind. Keep your eye on the 8-ball at all times and keep its positioning in mind as you take each shot. Doing so will help you come up with a winning strategy. Obviously, there’s more to it than that, but this quick explainer should get you going. Game on!


With any sport, learning a few tricks and tips is a great way to improve and win. Here are a few basic words of advice that will help you become a better player.

  • If your stance isn’t stable, your aim and shot won’t be either. Make sure you have room to make a comfortable shot.
  • To avoid your cue stick slipping off your ball, chalk your tip before each shot.
  • Look up different ways to hold a cue stick. There are several styles you should try because it’s important to find the position that works best for you.
  • Shoot safe shots to increase your chances of winning. Billiards can easily turn into a game of theatrics and fancy shot making. And although banking an impossible shot makes you look super cool, playing it safe is more beneficial. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket or bank it on one move you’re not 100 percent sure you can make. So, try to score the shots you know you can make whenever you can.

How to play 8 ball on iPhone

Playing 8-ball with an actual cue and billiard balls can be a lot of fun, but so can the iPhone version. Here’s how to play the game on your phone.

  1. Go to the AppStore and download GamePigeon.
  2. Then select “8-Ball” from your app drawer.
  3. Once it’s downloaded, there will be a triangular play icon. Tap it so you can begin making shots.
  4. There will be an indicator on the screen that tells you whether you’re stripes or solids.
  5. After you make a move, tap the V-shaped button in the top right and send it to your opponent in the same way you would a text message.
  6. You and your opponent will do this until the game is over. The rules are still the same!

Do pool balls get old? Unfortunately, billiard balls deteriorate quickly. Due to the heaviness of the balls and the constant banging, it causes a lot of wear and tear. They usually last about a year, but the cue ball is usually the first to go (since it’s the one doing most of the bumping). So, if you’ve bought a pool table for your home, prepare to replace your pool balls after a while.

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