You can't selectively follow the rules when playing pool, and you certainly can't make up rules as you go along. An example...

Playing pool with my friend Jill, against my friends Craig and John (who once tried to pick a fight with Jaromir Jagr). Jill is not what you'd call a 'pool expert'. And by 'pool expert', I mean someone who can hit the ball straight. But rest of us can hold our own. At some point in the game, John doesn't have a shot, and all of our balls are at one end, so he pockets the cue ball on purpose. Now, because of the rules of pool, Jill now has to send the ball all the way down and back before it can hit one of our balls.

So I tell her to put the ball behind ours and tap it. Then they have no shot. She does it, and John shouts "BALL IN HAND! BALL IN HAND!" Apparently, the rule is that on a table scratch, the opponent gets ball in hand. Now that's fine. I think taking advantage of the one person who isn't good at pool is a bit prickish, but oh well, that's the rule.

THE VERY NEXT SHOT... the cue ball is resting against the edge of the table. John PICKS IT UP, measures two stick ends out, and puts the ball back down. Without another word he takes his shot. When I ask why he moved the cue ball, he claims that one is allowed to move the cue ball two stick widths from the edge.

POOL IS NOT MINIATURE GOLF! After a brief argument, in which his own teammate tries to tell him he's wrong, he throws the stick across the table, displacing all of the balls and ruining the game, and announces that he can't play with a bunch of people who don't know the rules.

OK, number one, we DON'T know the rules, but neither does he. And two, IT'S A FRIENDLY FUCKING GAME OF POOL. It's not the fucking World Series. But what do you expect from a kid who rooked his own dad out of twelve-thousand dollars?

There are rules for playing pool? Woops.

I always consider it an extreme accomplishment if I can so much as get the ball into the pocket (that's what they're called, isn't it?), nevermind all of this other stuff about hitting the other persons ball. Pool is more fun when you pretend you know what you're doing, at least when you really suck at it.

Every couple of weekends we (my family) all go out and hang out around some pool tables for a while. My mother hits the cue ball off the table at least seven or eight times in a game, and I tick the edge of the ball just enough to make it roll an inch at least once. It's beautiful stupidity, awful playing, copious amounts of fun. We laugh a lot. I could care less if I'm actually playing properly or if anyone else does.. unless of course it effects my chances of winning!

I guess my family is kind of strange, though.. we never ever play any game seriously, something stupid always ends up happening and it turns into nothing more than a way to get a good laugh. (Either that or people end up really mad at eachother, and my parents don't take us to do that particular thing anymore..)

I guess I could see people who selectively follow the rules of pool being annoying, but what about those who completely disregard them? That's me!
What are the rules of pool? Which game eight ball, nine ball, cutthroat, or something else? No matter. Like many games the rules are variable. The problem wasn't the moving of the ball, but the not asking if it was an understood rule or not. I'm by no means a pool expert. But I've played enough that I know there are variations. For instance I believe in league play scratching the que ball on a break is a loss, but most people don't play this way in a friendly game. Now what if any other balls were made on the break, usually this meant it was still an open table for the other team/player. But not always. What about using the eight ball (in eight ball) to knock another ball in, usually this is a forfeit of your turn even if you make the target ball or not, some people say it is cool. What about calling the shot? I've played games where you had to call every shot, others where you had to call every non-obvious shot, others where you absolutely had to call eight ball/nine ball shots, and still others where you didn't need to call anything. Usually House Rules are followed (in other words you play by the rules of whoever's house you are at), if you are at a neutral site the rules must be agreed upon.

Now in eight ball there isn't that much room for variation, but there is some. While I've never played where you can move the que ball off the rail, I don't see why this couldn't be allowed if it was agreed upon. I imagine this would only happen if all the players were pretty poor.

Some rule variations I've seen:

  • Slop: does sloppy shots count or not
  • foot on the ground: atleast one foot must be touching the ground, sometimes even flat, this comes into play when making rather difficult shots with the pool stick behind your back and sitting on the edge of the table.
  • calls: what shots do you have to call.
  • scratch on break: game over or not? In eight ball is it still open or not?
  • accidents: say you are not sober and you tap the que ball a quarter of an inch while preparing to shoot. Sometimes that is a shot, sometimes the ball is just reset.

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