All rule references are to the official rules of the CueSports International (CSI),  and the USA Pool League (USAPL). Unless clearly contradicted in the rules of the USAPL or by its local bylaws, the official rules of CSI will govern play. Post a comment below if you have questions about the rules.

General Rules


Each player begins with a ball in hand behind the head string on either side of the long string. Players shoot approximately the same time. Each player's ball must strike the foot cushion and return towards the head rail. The player whose ball lands closest to the head rail wins the lag. The winner of the lag can choose to break or can require their opponent to break. A player will lose the lag if their ball: Hits a side cushion; is pocketed or jumps off the table; crosses the long string.

Splitting Tables     

    If the host location has two or more tables available for league play, the captains may agree to start the matches on two tables.  During the first hour after the time in which the match is scheduled both captains must agree in order for the matches to take place on two tables.  Any time after one hour after the scheduled start time for the match, either captain may request that the matches be played on two tables and the other captain must agree or forfeit the next match. 


   You must rack for yourself when breaking. The balls should be racked as tightly as possible. Your opponent may inspect the rack and require a re-rack if not satisfied. All formats are alternating break. Players alternate the break regardless of who wins the previous rack.

All shots are call Pocket shots

Except for the break, the shooter must call the intended object ball and intended pocket before the shot is made. This is a "Gentleman's Call Pocket" game. The shooter is not required to call obvious shots, even if shooting the 8-ball, or 10-ball. If the called object ball falls into the called pocket, it is a legal shot even if the object ball unintentionally contacts another ball or a cushion prior to going into the pocket. As a general rule, bank shots and combination shots should be called as they may not be obvious to one's opponent. If an object ball goes into an unintended pocket, the ball stays in the pocket and the shooter's turn is ended.

 9-ball is a "Slop" game.  We do not play 9-ball in the New England USAPL or the New England BCAPL.  We are a call pocket league. 

Legal shot

For a shot to be legal, the cue ball must first strike a legal ball (as determined by the game being played) and, after contact:


Time outs should not exceed 90 seconds. A time out may be called by the shooter or anyone on the shooter's team roster and it must be acknowledged by the shooter's opponent. Once a time out is called, the shooter will name the member of his/her team to act as coach and only that coach may confer with the shooter. No other player may offer advice to the shooter or to the coach. The coach may point to and touch the table but may not mark the table or the rail in any way and must not touch the cue ball or an object ball. The coach must leave the table area before the shot is made.


A safety must be called by the shooter prior to making the shot. If a safety is called in 8-ball and a legal object ball falls into a pocket during the safety, the object ball stays in the pocket and the shooter's turn is ended. If a safety is called in 10-ball and an object ball falls into a pocket then the shooter's opponent has the option of returning the shot to the shooter or taking the shot him or herself. Calling a safety in 9-ball (except when shooting the 9 ball) has no effect on the validity of the shot. It affects only the determination of the shot as a "missed shot".

Jump shots and Masses

Jump shots and jump cues are permitted unless otherwise prohibited by the "house rules" of the host establishment. All jump shots must be legal by striking down on the cue ball. "Scooping" the cue ball is illegal and will result in a foul.

Split hits

A split hit occurs when the cue ball strikes both a legal and an illegal object ball at the same time. If the referee (or the shooter in the absence of a referee) can not tell which ball is struck first, it is a legal hit.

Unsportsmanlike conduct

The USA Pool League (USAPL) has been designed to provide every player the utmost fun and excitement from their pool league experience. By using the proven "Fairplay" handicap system, the league provides an even playing field for all players. Weekly competition between players of diverse skill levels is fun and fair as they compete for cash, prizes, and a chance to play in post-season events culminating in an exciting National Championship Tournament. Inappropriate and unsportsmanlike behavior will not be tolerated. This behavior includes, but is not limited to actions that are embarrassing, disruptive, or detrimental to other players, spectators, officials, referees, the league or to the sport in general. Players may be penalized for such behavior with or without warning. Penalties may include a warning, loss of game, loss of match, suspension from league play or disqualification from future league play.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

The USA Pool League will not tolerate unsportsmanlike conduct. In addition to the rules regarding sportsmanship as specified in The Official Rules of CueSports International, specific attention and scrutiny will be given to the

following situations:

a. Failure to comply with league rules

b. Displays of anger or poor sportsmanship in general

c. Rating manipulation (sandbagging)

d. Illegal coaching to avoid taking a time-out

Penalties for Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct may range from a warning to permanent expulsion. Any pattern or history of unsportsmanlike conduct may affect this decision.

Some specific possible penalties include:

a. Warning: Any warning to an offending member or team should include a clear indication that further violations will lead to more severe penalties.

b. Rating assignment: If league management is convinced that a player is intentionally playing below their ability, they may assign that player a rating that will remove any unfair advantage.  In the event that a player's handicap is raised for displaying a pattern of intentionally playing below their skill level then the Captain of the team on which the player has engaged in this behavior will also have their handicap raised. The Captains are the first line of defense against "Sandbagging" and will be held responsible for the behavior of the players on their team, especially where there is a pattern of such behavior. 

c. Forfeiture of points: Points may be deducted for any game, set, or match. In the case of manipulating ratings, forfeiture of standing points earned in previous matches may be imposed.

d. Removal as captain or coach: A league member that is frequently involved in disputes may lose the privilege to act as a team captain or coach.

e. Disqualification from post-season tournaments: a team may be prohibited from participation in postseason play for that season. Forfeiture of any prize money for that season may be included.

f. Suspension: A member or team may be suspended from all league events for a period to be determined by management. The period of a suspension may be defined or may be open-ended.

g. Expulsion: A member or team that has shown themselves to be unfit to participate may be expelled from the league. Their membership will be revoked, they will not be allowed at any league event, and they will not receive any refund of league fees.

Right of Appeal

Players receiving notice of Suspension or Expulsion from the league may appeal the ruling of Suspension or Expulsion to the National Corporate office.  The  Appeal will first be submitted to the League operator who will forward the Appeal and any  associated Statements to the National office with a response from the league operator.  The sanction imposed by the league operator will remain in effect during the pendency of the appeal. 

The penalty being appealed may be upheld or overruled, or a different penalty may be imposed (more or less severe). If a more severe penalty is imposed, it is not subject to further appeal. In addition, the National Office may define a future penalty to be imposed if the player or team commits a future offense. The decision is final.

Ball in hand fouls

If a player commits a foul, his/her opponent will begin their turn with ball in hand anywhere on the table. The following acts are ball in hand fouls:

Disturbed object ball

It is not a foul if the shooter accidentally touches or disturbs a single object ball with any part of the body, clothing or equipment (Unless the shooter is holding the cue ball, in a ball in hand situation, or the object ball touches another ball after being disturbed). The opponent has the option of leaving the disturbed object ball where it is or restoring it to its previous undisturbed position.

Hitting the cue ball while a ball is in motion is a ball in hand foul.  

Calling a foul

A foul may only be called by a player playing in a game or a referee (BCAPL Rule 1-23). In Higher Level play (Playoffs and in Nationals) a violation of this rule is itself a foul. See BCAPL rule 1-41. However, during normal weekly league play, a foul called by someone other than a player playing in a game or a referee may result in a Sportsmanship Violation. Repeated intentional violations may result in sanctions including, but not limited to loss of a rack or a match.

Rules suspended or modified for weekly league play

The USA Pool League is, above everything else, a recreational league. While there are plenty of opportunities to compete on the local, regional and national level, the primary purpose of the league is to create an atmosphere of fun and fellowship. In that spirit, there are some rules which, while perhaps appropriate for a regional or national tournament, will be modified or suspended during normal weekly league play.

The following rules will be so modified:

BCAPL rule 1.3

makes it a ball in hand foul for any player to use a cell phone, electronic devise or earpieces of any kind. The purpose of this rule is to avoid unauthorized communication, and presumably coaching, between the player and his or her teammates. This rule is suspended for weekly league play. However, use of a cell phone or electronic device by a player during a match which delays a match could be considered a sportsmanship violation.

BCAPL rule 1.8

makes it a ball in hand foul if the player or any of his or her teammate's practice while a match is in progress. This rule is suspended for weekly league play. Members of a team who are not involved in a match are encouraged to practice and enjoy the evening. Players who are involved in an active match may be committing a sportsmanship violation if their actions unreasonably delay the match.


Team Rosters:   Players may be added to a Team Roster up to the mid-point of the session plus one week.  For example a team playing in a 22 week session may add a player up to and including week 12.  A team playing in a 12 week session can add a player up to and including week 7.  After this point a team may only add players for survival of the team.

    All new players must  play a minimum of 6 times in the session to qualify in the playoffs.  New players, are also subject to a handicap review prior to playoffs.  Established players must play a minimum of 4 matches in the session on the team in order to be eligible for playoffs. All players must have played 8 times in one session during the league year (June 1st - May 31st) to qualify to play in Las Vegas at the USAPL Singles and Team Nationals. 

Weekly Dues and Score Sheets

Captains of each team are responsible to collect the weekly dues from the players and to send those dues to the League.  The New England USA Pool League no longer accepts :

8-Ball Rules

The rack

The rack should be placed so that the apex ball rests on the foot spot. The 8-ball must be placed in the middle of the triangle and the remaining balls should be placed randomly except that that the ball at each rear corner of the rack must be from a different group (stripes or solids) from the ball located at the opposite corner.

Break requirements

The incoming breaker/shooter must place the cue ball behind the head string. There is no requirement to call a ball on the break or to strike any particular ball first. For a legal break to occur an object ball must be pocketed or at least four object balls must contact a cushion.

8-ball on the break

Pocketing the 8-ball on the break does not win the game. Conversely pocketing the 8-ball on the break and scratching is not a loss of game. If the shooter, on the break, pockets the 8-ball, he/she has the option of either spotting the 8-ball and continuing with the their turn or re-racking the balls and breaking again. If the shooter pockets the 8-ball on the break and commits a foul then the opponent has the option of either having the 8-ball spotted and taking a ball in hand or re-racking and taking the break.

Table open after break

The table is always open after the break even if the shooter pockets one or more balls. Groups are established when the shooter pockets a ball of one category on a shot after the break.

It is a loss of game when:

9-Ball Rules

The rack

The 1-ball must be placed at the apex of the triangle and on the foot spot. The 9-ball must be placed in the center of the rack. All other balls are placed at random.

Break requirements

The shooter must place the cue ball behind the head string. The cue ball must contact the 1-ball first. After striking the 1-ball an object ball must be pocketed or at least four balls must strike a cushion. If the shooter fails to hit the 1-ball first or does not pocket a ball or does not cause at least 4-balls to strike a cushion, then it is a foul. 

Jumped balls

Balls that are caused to be jumped off the table are not returned to the table, except for the 9-ball. If the 9-ball is jumped off the table it is returned and spotted.

Push out

If no foul occurs on the break then the player taking the first shot after the break has the option to "Push". On a push out:

Three foul rule

A rack may be won if the player's opponent commits three consecutive fouls and the opponent is advised, prior to making the third foul, that he/she has just committed two consecutive fouls. If the shooter commits three consecutive fouls, after receiving a warning prior to the third foul, then the rack ends and the game points are awarded to the opponent. Please remember that a scratch or a foul on the break counts as "one" foul for purposes of the three foul rule.

10-Ball Rules

10-Ball rules are exactly the same as 9-ball except for the following:


The 10-ball rack appears in a triangle shape, using balls numbered 1-10. It is racked like an 8-ball rack without the last row of five balls. The One-ball is placed at the apex of the triangle on the foot spot. The 10-ball is placed in the middle and the 2-ball and the 3-ball are placed in the corners at the base of the triangle. The 2-ball and the 3-ball may be placed in either of the corners.  

10-ball is a call pocket game

Please refer to the General Rule Summary at the beginning of this document for the definition of "Call Pocket". Any ball not legally pocketed is a "Dead Ball" and no point is awarded to the shooter.

Illegally pocketed ball

In the event that a ball is pocketed illegally then the shooter's opponent has the option of taking the shot or retuning it to the original shooter. In the event that a ball is pocketed illegally and there is also a foul committed by the shooter then the opponent must take the shot (with a ball in hand) and does not have the option of returning the shot to the original shooter.


If the shooter calls a safety and then pockets a ball, the Illegally pocketed ball rule above applies.

Masters divisionRules are slightly modified for Masters 10 ball.  We play call safety as well as call shot.  In the event a player misses a shot, without legally pocketing a ball and without calling safety, the opponent has the option of taking his turn or returning the shot to the shooter.  Additionally, the 10 ball must be the last ball pocketed on the table.  There are no "early 10s" in the masters division. 

Vegas National Tournament Requirements

"Go to Vegas" tournaments

A team may qualify to compete in the New England USAPL "Go to Vegas" tournament in either the Spring, Summer or Fall sessions.  We operate on a calendar year. However, the qualifying team will Play in the "Go to Vegas" Tournament using its Fall Roster. Players must have played a minimum of Six times on the same team during the Fall session to be considered active on the Fall Roster.  

    Each player competing in a "Go to Vegas" single or team tournament must also be qualified to play in Vegas.  This means that each player must  have played either eight (8) matches, in the appropriate game format, in the same division, on the same team, and in the same session during the league year (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31st). 

Handicaps and ratings:

1.  Players on teams that qualified for the Go to Vegas Tournament either in the Summer or the spring session will play using the highest Fargorating attained by that player during the league year, determined either at the end of the session in which the team qualified or at the end of the spring session. 

2.  Teams that Qualify for the "Go to Vegas" Tournament in either the Spring or Summer Session are expected to finish in the top 1/3rd of the Fall Session. Teams must finish in the top half of the division in the spring session in order to remain eligible to compete in the spring "Go to Vegas" Tournament.

In the event that a team that qualified for the "Go to Vegas" tournament in the Spring or Summer or fails to finish in the top half of the division in the Spring session then:

A. The team May be disqualified from competing in the "Go to Vegas" tournament as well as winning the trip to Vegas to compete in the National Championships. And/or

B.  The Handicaps of some or all of the players on the team may be raised at the discretion of the league operator.

3.  In any event, the handicaps of players that have less than a 200 robustness level in Fargo are subject to adjustment prior to the start of the "Go to Vegas" tournament. 

Fall Roster

There must be at least two "Original" members of the qualifying team on the fall roster to qualify to play in the Vegas


Vegas Winning Team

If a team us unable to field enough players, after winning the Vegas trip, from its Fall roster then it may supplement its Vegas roster from players from its Spring or Summer session roster from the same league year. The winning team, however, must have 2 original members in the spring session that were also on the team when the team qualified for the Vegas tournament.  

USAPL National Play Requirements

In order to compete in the USAPL National Vegas Competition, a team and its players must be in good standing.  Players are required to have played eight (8) matches, in the appropriate game format, in the same division, on the that same team, and in one session during the league year.  At least two players on the team must be "original" members of that team. Those two players must qualify in the fall session and the same team to be considered original team members. The National tournament is held in Feb/March and the league year runs from Jan. 1st  to December 31st of each year.