One Pocket Rules
by OnePocket.org 1-19-05*
contradicted below, general pocket billiards rules of play and etiquette
apply to One Pocket, and complete General Rules are available
from the World
Pool-Billiard Association (WPA).
‘house rule’ variations are noted in italics.
Object of the game
One Pocket is a game for
two players or two teams, where each player or team can only score
into one of the two corner pockets on the foot end of the table,
while the other player or team can only score into the other corner
pocket at the foot end of the table. The other four pockets are
neutral pockets, and any balls pocketed in a neutral pocket are
spotted at the end of the shooter’s inning. There is no requirement
to ‘call your shot’ in One Pocket, and no special
order or significance to any numbered object balls. The first player
(or team) to legally score eight balls into their own pocket wins
the game, whether they pocket their game-winning ball by their own
shot, or as a result of their opponent’s shot. The
game may be handicapped either by agreement between players or as
designated by a tournament director. Standard handicaps are created
by adjusting the required winning score for either one or both players,
either for all breaks or for specified player's breaks.
note that with One Pocket's long tradition of after hours play,
many other creative variations in handicapping have been invented
over the years. As long as all those involved agree before play
begins, virtually everything is negotiable in after hours contests.
2.1 All fifteen balls are tightly racked in no
particular required order in a standard triangle with the apex ball
placed as nearly as possible on the foot spot. In tournament play,
players lag for the first break. For games that follow, the break
alternates back and forth between the players, regardless of who
wins each game. Prior to breaking,
the breaking player selects one of the corner pockets at the foot
of the table as their own, thus the opponent is assigned the other
foot pocket by default. In subsequent games, whoever breaks is free
to change their pocket selection on their own break.
standard practice the breaker does not 'call his pocket'; their
pocket selection is considered obvious by virtue of the orientation
of their break. Players employing an unusual break are advised to
make their pocket selection clear prior to the break, to avoid conflict.
opponents rack the balls for the breaker, with the breaker having
option to inspect the rack and ask for a re-rack if they are not
satisfied with the quality of the rack. In current tournament
play, players may rack their own balls, with the opponent having
the option to inspect the rack. 'Racking your own' is recommended
at all times, to reduce racking complaints.
a handicap situation when one player or team is awarded the break
in every game, unless otherwise agreed, they should break towards
alternate pockets on alternate breaks.
opening break begins with ball in hand behind the head string. On
the break, the cue ball may contact either a cushion or any ball
in the rack first, but in either case, after contacting at least
one ball, an object ball must be pocketed, or the cue ball or at
least one object ball must contact a rail, otherwise it is a one
foul penalty. As long as a legal stroke is employed from behind
the head string on the break, the incoming player must play the
balls where they lie – there are no re-racks for a pocket
scratch or failure to contact a cushion or pocket a ball on the
3.1 A player’s inning continues only as long
they pocket a ball or balls in their own pocket on a legal stroke.
While it is perfectly legal to pocket a ball in a neutral pocket
or in the opponent’s pocket, doing so does not entitle the
shooter to continue their inning, unless on the same stroke they
legally pocket a ball into their own pocket. Any balls pocketed
either accidentally or intentionally into the opponent’s pocket
are counted for the opponent, unless on the same stroke, either
the cue ball pocket scratches or jumps off the table.
the event that a player pockets both their own game winning ball,
and their opponent’s game winning ball, both on the same legal
stroke, then the shooting player wins. There are no ‘ties’,
and it does not matter which ball drops first, as long as they both
drop as a result of the same stroke.
There is no option to ‘call a safety’ in One Pocket;
if a player legally scores a ball into their own pocket they must
shoot again, unless the game is over. Players may play safe to the
same rail as many times as they wish, as long as either the cue
ball or at least one object ball is driven to a cushion after the
cue ball contacts an object ball. Standard ‘frozen ball’
rules apply to safety play.
Players may use jump shots
in One Pocket as long as they are performed with the player's
own standard playing cue using legal jumping techniques as defined
in General Rules. Specialized jump cues are not permitted
in One Pocket.
note that many players, poolrooms and tournament directors have
differing opinions on specialized jump cues. It is recommended that
players check with their opponent, the 'house man' or the tournament
director prior to an important match to come to agreement on whether
specialized jump cues shall be permitted or not.
6.1 Unless otherwise announced by the tournament
director, One Pocket is played according to the World General
Rules 1.16.1, ‘cue ball fouls only’. In the event that
a player accidentally moves a ball, the opponent may elect to have
the disturbed ball remain in its new position or be restored to
its original position. When balls are restored, they shall be placed
as close as possible to their original positions, with no advantage
to be gained by the offending player. If no official is available
to restore disturbed balls, then the players must come to agreement
on satisfactory replacement of the disturbed balls prior to continuing
scratch or foul results in the end of the shooter’s inning,
as well as a standard one ball penalty. All balls pocketed in the
shooter’s pocket as a result of a stroke that includes a foul
do not count for the shooting player and are to be immediately spotted,
along with the standard one ball penalty. Also, any balls pocketed
in the opponent’s pocket on a stroke that ends in either a
pocket scratch or with the cue ball off the table are not to be
counted for the opponent, and are to be immediately spotted. However,
on a stroke when any other foul is committed (such as a push shot,
double-hit or illegal ball contact), any balls scored into the opponent’s
pocket are to stay down and be counted for the opponent.
either a pocket scratch or the cue ball jumping the table, the incoming
player has cue ball in hand behind the head string. Following any
other foul, the cue ball is played where it lies.
the offending player has no balls to
spot, then they will owe one for each such scratch, which must be
repaid by spotting at the end of the first inning or innings in
which they score. All owed balls must be repaid before any pocketed
balls count towards a player's game score.
any owed scratches are indicated by placement of a small coin on
the rail top adjacent to the offending player's pocket. An additional
coin is placed to represent each additional scratch without a scored
ball to spot. One coin is removed for each owed ball repaid by spotting
at the end of the first inning or innings in which they are scored,
until all owed scratches have been repaid, and standard scoring
either the cue ball or an object ball off the table is a foul, whenever
either comes to rest off the playing surface, or comes in contact
with anything other than the table itself while airborne.
One Pocket has been traditionally played in many areas
without a foul charged for jumping an object ball off the table,
contrary to current general pocket billiards rules;
therefore it is important to verify house rules or your tournament
director's interpretation prior to an important match.
fouls are an accepted part of One Pocket tactics as long
as they are played by use of a legal stroke, such as by lightly
touching the cue ball with the cue tip; by rolling the cue ball
to a new location without regard for legal contact with either an
object ball or a cushion; by pocket scratching the cue ball; or
by using a legal jump technique to force the cue ball off the table.
However, if the acting official rules that a player has used an
illegal technique to direct the cue ball or any object balls to
a more desirable location, then the incoming player has the option
of either playing the balls where they lie, or requesting the official
to restore all such moved balls to their location prior to the illegal
maneuver. The offending player is charged the standard one ball
foul penalty, and in addition may be further penalized at the discretion
of the acting official under the general rules of unsportsmanlike
shall not be a foul to accidentally touch the cue ball while removing
an object ball from an adjacent pocket, or when spotting a ball
where the cue ball interferes. It shall be a foul for the incoming
shooter to accidentally touch an object ball with the cue ball while
placing it in a ball in hand situation.
Three fouls in a row
Three consecutive fouls is loss of
game, however the opponent or tournament referee must notify the
player that is on two fouls, prior to their third foul. Should no
notice occur until after the shot resulting in the third foul is
in motion, it is not immediate loss of game, but the player will
be considered to be on two fouls for their next shot.
three fouls rule is often waived in after hours situations by agreement
between the players.
8. Frozen balls
For a foul to result from failure to legally strike a rail after
contacting a frozen ball, the ball in question must be inspected
and designated as frozen prior to a player’s shot, otherwise
the ball is not considered frozen. If the cue ball becomes wedged
between an object ball and the cushion and frozen to both, then
legal shot requirements must be met by pocketing the frozen ball,
or by contacting either another ball or another cushion enroute
to a legal shot. Failure to do so is a foul.
9.1 Balls are to be spotted on the foot spot, or
in a direct line below the foot spot, and tightly frozen to other
object balls that fall in or interfere with that line. However if
the cue ball interferes, the spotted ball is to be placed on that
line close to, but not quite frozen to the cue ball. In the event
that the line below the foot spot is full and the bottom rail interferes
with a spotted ball then balls are to be spotted on the same line,
but above the foot spot.
penalty balls owed by the shooter, or balls pocketed in a neutral
pocket, are to be spotted at the end of the shooter’s inning.
However, if a player runs off all the balls on the table without
reaching a winning score, then all such balls are spotted immediately
(all at once, not one ball at a time), and the shooter continues
their inning. At no other time in One Pocket are balls
spotted during any shooter’s ongoing inning.
the event of a handicapped game with the combined winning ball count
needed by the two players or teams totals greater than sixteen at
the start of the game, then the player going to the longer count
must spot the first ball or balls they score, immediately at the
end of the first inning in which they score, as necessary to bring
the combined winning ball count back down to sixteen, at which point
the game continues in standard fashion.
any owed balls, or balls that have fallen into a neutral pocket
are forgotten and later remembered, then instead of being spotted
after the current shooter’s inning, they are spotted after
the end of the next player’s inning, unless there are no balls
left on the table, in which case they are all spotted immediately.
In any case, any owed balls are not forgiven, but still must be
practice, forgotten balls may be spotted at any time after they
are remembered, as long as both players agree on the timing; if
either player objects to an earlier spotting, then rule 9.4 should
note that playing ‘snooze you lose’ is the rare exception
in house rules; it is by no means the standard rule, and it should
only be accepted when it is clearly and mutually agreed on by both
players before play begins.
the event of a scratch with the offending player having no balls
to spot when all of the balls are located behind the head string,
the ball nearest the head string may be spotted at the request of
the incoming player. If two or more balls are equally close to the
head string, the highest numbered ball would be spotted.
10.1 It is the responsibility
of the shooting player to verify their own ball count as they approach
their out ball, and the non-shooting player should avoid making
comments about how many balls are needed. However, if the non-shooting
player disturbs the balls, or breaks down their stick, or in the
judgment of the acting official otherwise significantly disturbs
the shooter in the assumption that the shooter is already out, such
acts are considered a concession, and the shooter is considered
to have won, regardless of whether a subsequent count reveals that
more balls are needed. Likewise, if it can be verified that the
non-shooting player’s mistaken statement of the number of
balls needed leads directly to the shooter pocketing said number
of balls and the assumption of the game being over, then the shooter
wins, even if it is subsequently determined that the non-shooting
player’s statement of balls needed was in error.
10.2 If the shooting player disturbs only one of
the remaining balls on the table under their own mistaken assumption
that the game is over, play continues under the terms of rule 6.1.
However, if the shooting player disturbs two or more of the remaining
balls in play on their own mistaken assumption that the game is
over, then it is the shooting player that forfeits the game.
should refrain from moving or removing balls from their opponent's
pocket or scoring tray for any reason, except to spot a ball following
a scratch or to sufficiently clear a pocket to permit entry of additional
balls for an impending shot, and should only do so with respect
for their opponent's scoring preferences.
11. Keeping track of which pocket is whose
11.1 It is each player’s responsibility to
keep track of which pocket is theirs; opponents are under no obligation
– other than good sportsmanship -- to correct such an error
prior to an opponent’s shot. A ball legally pocketed in the
wrong pocket counts for the player who legitimately has that pocket,
regardless of who shot the ball. However, a ball shot into the wrong
pocket does not entitle the shooter to continue their inning, unless
on the same stroke they legitimately score into their own pocket
In the event that a player shooting into the wrong pocket is permitted
to continue the same inning at the table (beyond what is entitled
by legally pocketing a ball in their own pocket) by their opponent’s
or the referee’s failure to notify them of their error, such
failure of notification does not legitimize any additional balls
pocketed in that inning, whether pocketed in the shooter’s
pocket or their opponent’s pocket. Thus the first shot to
the wrong pocket in a given inning is the shooter’s responsibility,
and the shooter’s opponent is entitled to any balls pocketed
on that first stroke. However, any subsequently pocketed balls in
the same inning are to be spotted as illegally pocketed balls, because
it is the referee’s or opponent’s responsibility to
notify the shooter before they erroneously continue their inning.
Close calls and conflict resolution
12.1 Unless a referee is assigned, players shall
be responsible for refereeing their own match. Whenever the players
themselves can come to an amicable agreement on any scoring or officiating
issues to their satisfaction, and play continues, their decision
shall be deemed final. If at anytime in a match either player anticipates
a close call, or would like a neutral party to spot a ball, or wishes
to have an official ruling in any conflict, then an official should
be called. The non-shooting player bears extra responsibility to
call an official if they anticipate a close call. In the event of
any ‘too close to call’ situation, arbitration should
favor the shooter unless there is verifiable mitigating evidence
in the judgment of the official. In the event of a disagreement
over a contested ball, with no evidence in the judgment of the official
to warrant crediting the ball to either player, then the contested
ball shall be deemed a neutral ball, and spotted according to rule
there is no tournament official, then the ‘house man’
or another mutually agreed on impartial observer should be summoned
to arbitrate. Their decision should be considered final.
here for a printable version in PDF format
would like to acknowledge the Billiard Congress of America for their
basic One Pocket rules, and Grady Mathews, for his “Grady’s
rules” wherever their influence appears in these expanded