Scratching on the 8 Ball or 9 Ball – Pool Rules

  • By: Rob
  • Date: April 23, 2023
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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In this series, I have written all about scratching in pool and answering popular questions such as what is a scratch in pool and what happens if you scratch on the break. If you want to learn more about that then I highly recommend checking them out also. 

Now its time to answer what happens if you scratch on the 8 ball or 9 ball in pool.

As you are here, I assume you have a knowledge of what scratching is and perhaps you are looking for some clarity on certain scratches in the game, such as scratching on the 8 ball or 9 ball. Well, I’m here to answer these questions for you.

scratching on the 8 ball

I’ve heard many different rules when someone is guilty of potting the white ball and the 8 ball together, same for when someone sinks the white and 9 ball. 

A common rule I’ve heard is you instantly lose the game. Is this the correct rule and if so is it applied to both games? Well, I’m here to shed some light on this mysterious rule so many people misunderstand.

If you scratch on the 8 ball do you lose and if you scratch on the 9 ball do you lose, lets answer that now!

Scratching on the 9 ball

Let’s start by answering what happens when you skink the 9 ball and scratch. Do you instantly lose? 

It is true that if you sink the 9 ball, then you win the game.

But, scratching on the 9 ball doesn’t mean that you win the game, this is also is not a loss. 

In this situation, it’s considered a foul and as such, the 9 ball will be respotted and the opponent will have a ball in hand.

If the spot is unavailable then the 9 ball is respotted just below the 9 ball spot.

A ball in hand for the opponent means the cue ball can be placed anywhere on the table in order for the shooter to take aim at the lowest numbered ball.

Remember, that even though the aim is to pot the 9 ball to win the game, using the lowered numbered ball to cannon into the 9 ball to pocket it is allowed.

Scratching on the 8 ball

So, what happens if you scratch on the 8 ball? Same rules as 9 ball or is there a different punishment.

Scratching on the 8 ball is considered a foul, as it is with 9 ball. The major difference here is scratching on the 8 ball will make you lose the game. 

Any foul when pocketing the 8 ball is deemed a loss, with the exception of potting the black on the break. 

There are some variations with “house rules”, leagues and tournaments that may also include such rules as, Scratching while on the 8 ball but not sinking it may result in a loss. 

For the most part, that rule won’t apply, but its good to be aware of it.

If you scratch on the 8 ball do you lose

So, to answer the question that’s been asked so many times at a billiards table; if you scratch on the 8 ball do you lose? 

The answer is yes!

Don’t get confused between the two games, 8 ball and 9 ball are different games and therefore have different rules. 

If you scratch on the 8 ball, the black doesn’t get re-spotted, the white doesn’t get re-spotted, you just lose the game. It’s as simple as that.

Now, if some were to ask “what happens when you scratch on the 8 ball”  you should have no problem in answering, unless, of course, it’s you scratching on the 8 ball, then ignorance is bliss.

Final thoughts

There is a lot to take in here. There is always a lot of confusion surrounding scratching and scratching in different scenarios.

To makes this even more complicated is there are different rules for scratching in 8 ball and 9 ball.

As explained, if you sink the white ball and the black ball together in 8 ball, that’s an instant loss.

If you sink the white ball and 9 ball together in 9 ball then that’s a ball in hand.

Whichever game you decide to play and focus on, I can only insist you learn how to play pool following the official rules of the game. If you do this and there is a dispute then you can always hold your ground knowing you are playing according to the rules of the game.

Remember scratching on the 8 ball is something you will do multiple times at times, even the professionals have been known to lose a game or two doing this. So when it happens just remember its only a game and its there to be enjoyed. 

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Rob is an avid player and fan of all cue sports, particularly 8-ball, and snooker. He has competed in a few local 8-ball tournaments and although he is not a professional, he can compete with the best of them.

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