Do You Lose If You Scratch On the Break?
For those who are just starting to learn to play pool, or players who aren’t yet familiar with many rules, we’re going to address one common question – does a scratch on the break result in a loss?
Sometimes, you do lose the game if you scratch on the break, under special circumstances. Other times, you do not lose when scratching on the break. This depends on what type of rules the player is using (house rules/APA rules/BCA rules).
First, let’s briefly discuss what a “scratch” is.
What is a Scratch In Pool?
When playing a game of pool (8-ball, 9-ball, 10-ball, etc.), a scratch is when you pocket the cue ball, or drive it off the table during a game. A scratch results in a loss of turn for the player who pockets the cue ball.
Even if you make object balls during the same shot where the cue ball is pocketed, you still lose your turn and you keep the made object balls in the pocket.
Do You Lose When Scratching on the Break?
You can lose the game when scratching on the break, but only when playing 8 ball under the APA rulebook. According to these rules, you lose the match when you scratch (foul) the cue ball, and make the 8 ball on the break at the same time. See page 7 of the official rules.
But, in all other situations where you scratch on the break, you don’t lose the game. Your opponent simply gets the next turn and gets ball in hand for the next shot (and places it behind the head string (kitchen).
Let’s dig just a little deeper into the rules.
Scratch on break rules – APA & BCA
8 Ball APA Rules:
As mentioned above, you can lose the match when you scratch (foul) the cue ball and make the 8 ball on the break.
9 Ball APA Rules:
In 9 ball, under the same APA rules, you do not lose the game when you scratch AND make the 9 ball on the break. See page 8 of the official rules linked above.
8 Ball BCA Rules:
Under BCA rules, you can’t lose the game on a scratch during the break in 8 ball.
If you scratch and make the 8 ball, your opponent has two options – he or she can re-spot the 8 ball and place the cue ball in the kitchen to continue the game, or they can re-break. See the official rule here under rule 3.3.
9 Ball BCA Rules:
In 9 ball, under BCA rules, you can’t lose the game on a scratch during the break.
If you scratch on the break, your opponent always gets ball in hand and can place the cue ball anywhere on the table. If you also make the 9 ball on the break, the 9 ball gets re-spotted before your opponent continues play.
So, the only time you can scratch on the break and lose is when you are playing under APA rules.
That being said, there are lots of places and smaller leagues that have house rules that can override APA and BCA rules. This is why it is important to know exactly what rules you are playing under, or what rules you and your opponent agree to.
This is what’s great about pool – it encourages good communication and doesn’t limit everyone to only one way of playing the game.
If you’re interested in learning more about 8 ball vs 9 ball and each game’s rules, check out this recent article from The Cue Cave!
We hope you now know exactly when a game of pool can end on the break, and we hope you don’t ever come across that situation (unless you’re the winner of course)!
Pool rules can be a slippery slope. Sometimes players aren’t always on the same page when it comes to specific rules, and sometimes the rules are open to interpretation.
But as long as everyone communicates and gets on the same page from the start, your matches will be a lot more enjoyable.