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Playing 8 Ball in Thailand

I'm a terrible pool player but for the past 6 months I've played more games than I have in my entire life! It's already a hard game to play but what's fascinating to me is the rules and I was recently educated to the way people play in Bangkok. How it started was I was at the Stumble Inn at Nana Plaza, a place I like to play because there's an endless stream of people coming in and the tables are actually really good and worth the 20 baht. But what this place needs and in fact what most bars really need is a "House Rules" board that people can follow to avoid any troubles, and trouble is what I got into.

I'd been playing pool for about 4 hours with maybe a dozen guys no one really serious about it just having a laugh until the waitress found this Engilsh dude to play with me. I broke and it was tit for tat until I was on my last ball and the black. I shoot my ball and it misses the pocket but bounces again and lands in another pocket, Lucky Shot. All of a sudden the guy tells me "no lucky shots!" and tries to shoot. I'm like hang on dude what are you talking about no lucky shots? He says this is Thailand, Thailand rules. I've played games all over the country except the south and normally if you're going to say no lucky shots you say so in the beginning. So I tell the guy "I saw you pick up the white ball and put it at the end of the table and take a shot and I didn't say shit so don't tell me I can't have lucky shot! Since I won't let him take the shot he throws the cue on the table and walks away (bitch!). It wasn't until the next day when I go back to play when I meet another English guy (without a stick up his ass) who educates me on how they play in Bangkok (which may just be an English thing who knows).

Bangkok Rules

No lucky shots

Your opponent pockets the white ball then you get one shot from ANYWHERE on the table

Chiang Mai Rules

Lucky shots allowed

Pocket the white ball you either get one shot ANYWHERE on the table or shoot forward only from the line and you get 2 shots.

Pattaya Rules

Lucky Shots (depends who's playing apparently English don't like lucky shots, bar girls are cool 😉

Pocket the white ball two shots forward from behind the line only.

Phuket Rules

I don't know, someone tell me in a comment?

I was really pissed at the guy trying to tell me rules at the end of the game and since it was my game and he was invited it should have been my rules anyway and not what he said "Thailand Rules" because that's not really true since most Thai's don't even play pool they play Snooker on 9ft tables. Grumpy old English Thai Visa dicks like this guy are like that though, they have a disagreement and without their keyboard they get the shits and walk away.

So what are the real rules anyway? Was I right or the grumpy Englishman? Again that depends on who's rules you're following however it's generally accepted (anywhere in the world) that novice players (which this guy and I both are) are allowed lucky shots unless otherwise stated BEFORE the beginning of the game.

When this guy tells me ball in hand but no lucky shots I don't really agree with that because you foul and the guy just places the ball anywhere on the table and 95% of the time they will sink a ball, personally I believe that's just as lucky. A lot of guys here in Bangkok are playing ball in hand but you foul there's no two shots it's really confusing. No one seems to play straight shots either, that is if you have a straight shot on a ball you must take it you can't play off the bank if there is a straight shot. Even the staff are clueless, I asked to re-rack the balls after this twat didn't even make 2 balls hit the bank off the break and the staff wouldn't re-rack the balls.

Again I don't know who made up this rule ball in hand and put the cue ball anywhere on the table for 1 shot but personally I think it's a dumb rule. What do you guys think?

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About Chris

Chris founded LivingThai.org in 2011 and has received over 3 million visitors. He has lived here for over 10 years and speaks reads and writes very good Thai.

20 Responses to Playing 8 Ball in Thailand

  1. ChiangMaiGuy January 30, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    Actually mate, sorry, but he’s right it’s standard wherever I have played that ‘lucky shots’ are not allowed which is why you have to NOMINATE a pocket. Top right for the black – if it misses and goes top left you lose.

    I always say before a game ‘ball in hand – no lucky shots’ and, generally, that’s how most people play (unless you are playing a bar girl for fun then who cares?).

    But, in this case, he was right

    • Chris January 31, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

      Thanks Chiang Mai Guy, still really confused by all these different ways to play. Maybe you can help clarify also in the UK do they shoot the white after the foul from anywhere on the table? After the guy did this I just figured he was playing whatever rules, I assumed that everyone shot behind the baulk line or maybe that’s just for 9 ball and snooker?

      • ChiangMaiGuy February 1, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

        Hi Chris, it’s tournament rules, a whole bunch of us played at the large place near Monkey club (before it closed) and no ‘lucky shots’. If you are going for top right pocket and miss and it goes in the left there is no foul BUT you don’t get to take the next shot as you MISSED.

        Also ball in hand is standard in most countries I have played in and you can place the white anywhere on the table. But if you both discuss this before playing there are no problems – some do do the ‘2 shots’ thing in Chiang mai and so as not to cause trouble I go along with it but it’s not standard.

        IF you are on the black and miss the pocket and the black goes down another pocket you LOSE. I think it’s very fair. You are aiming for a pocket and miss why should you get the credit for a pot? same in tournaments.

        Bars anything goes! lol if playing more seriously those are the rules mate.

        • Chris February 3, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

          Yeah I still don’t get it, placing the ball anywhere on the table for a foul would be the same as in basketball let the guy take a shot from anywhere on the court! Doesn’t make sense to me.

          After doing some research online I found that while most people play that way you suggested but it also suggests that bar pool played behind the line.

          According to the website ball in hand http://www.theballinhand.com/rules.php you play behind the headstring as I always thought and a call shot game you must say BEFORE the game starts.

          I guess to avoid further confusion before a game starts I should say.

          Call all shots and Ball in hand behind the line

  2. IGOR January 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    I don’t get the lucky shots thing.

    I’m a Welshman so play UK rules (we have old and new rules), never heard of lucky shots. Is this where you aim for say the middle pocket, miss, but your ball goes in another pocket? To me that’s perfectly fine/normal, play continues like you’ve potted your ball. It’s lucky, but there’s no rule or name for it where I’m from.

    Played a few games in Chiang Mai and was confused a little, rules are different here, but again no lucky shots. Mainly just foul ball changes.

    It’s standard to agree on what rules you’re playing before a game for Brits too, back home you agree on old or new rules, and every time I’ve played here I ask what rules are being played before a game, surprised this guy didn’t.

    Probably just a dick who couldn’t take a loss, there’s always a few who get super serious when it comes to pool.

    • Chris January 31, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

      Probably right just a dick wasn’t anything serious

  3. ChiangMaiGuy February 3, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    naa ball in and is anywhere – you dun like it? DONT PLAY

    • ChiangMaiGuy February 3, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

      I fucking hate moaners Chris – go play snakes and ladders for fucks sake

      • Chris February 4, 2015 at 2:19 am #

        Moaning? Whatever dude.

    • Chris February 4, 2015 at 2:24 am #

      Don’t worry I’ve already decided anyone with an English accent I’ll avoid playing.

      • ChiangMaiGuy February 4, 2015 at 11:22 am #

        LOL was winding you up a bit mate for fun…

    • IGOR February 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm #


      Point I’m making is people usually agree on rules first. Solves everything.

  4. ChiangMaiGuy February 3, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    Also cue ball in-hand. The option of placing the cue ball anywhere on the table prior to shooting”

    Live with it it’s the RULES source: Wikipedia

    whine, whine, whine

    • Chris February 4, 2015 at 2:18 am #

      The whole point of the article was to point out the differences in rules between regions and bars and the fact that this prick that I played chucked a hissy fit after the fact. Where i’m from in Australia and when I lived in California we played the ball behind the line every bar in Chiang Mai I played the same way, we called them pub rules back home and it seems your reference to Wikipedia backs me up here.


      A common variation, used in games such as straight pool and often in bar pool, is ball-in-hand “behind the head string”, also “behind the line” or “from the kitchen”, meaning the ball-in-hand option is restricted to placement anywhere behind the head string, i.e., in the area of the table known as the kitchen.

      Where i’m from if you picked up the ball and put it anywhere on the table to take a shot you’d probably get kicked outta the pub if not laughed out. There’s a distinction between tournament rules and bar rules. At least that’s what I understood until I met an anal Englishman that started all this. Don’t be that guy!

      • ChiangMaiGuy February 4, 2015 at 11:24 am #

        LOL anyway seriously, check with whoever you are playing, to be honest I always say ‘ball in hand and no lucky shots’ if they want different they can play someone else as that’s the rules I play. In girly bars I don’t even ask and see what turns up!!! have fun 😛

        • Chris February 4, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

          You’re terrible 😉

  5. James May 3, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

    In Bangkok and I thought anywhere else you need to call your pocket on the black. Foul shots are 2 shots behind the line going in up the table direction or place ball anywhere on the table. You must decide carry the 2 shots or not. Shouldn’t be carried shots but some thais try to cheat by saying carry is allowed later if they need to carry. Carry shots are if you pot a ball on your first shot then miss the next or next then you still get another shot…

  6. James May 3, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    American rules ball in hand but British rules 2 shots.

  7. Procopius March 11, 2017 at 9:30 pm #

    It’s characteristic of 8-Ball, every place has different rules. If you haven’t played in a place before, or if you think the guy you’re going to play against hasn’t, make sure you agree on the rules beforehand. For example, the international tournament rules are that if you don’t pocket a ball, or neither the object ball nor the cue ball touches a rail, the shot is a foul and your opponent gets ball in hand. If he’s any good that’s probably game. Sometimes in a bar this rule is not followed. Snooker players, especially, are likely not aware of this rule, which can lead to trouble. Some places you can only place the ball behind the head string. One place I know, that only applies if you scratch on the break. There are lots of variations, so agree before you start playing.

  8. Ethan Silver April 16, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

    There rules are OK. No lucky shots is OK, you can tell me or I can ask. Some bars its all lucky shots, and people mess the balls around every shot. I have had people slop 4 or 5 balls in, in a row. Its just bar pool. I shoot what ever kind of shot I like. I like to bank and it often loses games when I miss. So what? I believe banking and taking chances advances my skill. Technically I am a rather poor pool player and am not getting better. I am about 70. I see people getting annoyed I am slow sometimes, or they snub me off if they are too good. Its just part of bar pool. There should be bar pool for everybody. I never tried to play in a tournament and never will. Buy the time I get used to a table at Hustlers, my legs already want to give up. I also learned late. So I watched pool movies hoping some of it would stick in my head. Because of the computer age, I did all games the same way. Chess, backgammon, and cards you can play on android. Even the pool games can help you. It don’t hurt to have a pool buddy or guys you like to play with. Taking pool seriously here will cost you a lot of money and time. Most bar girls will beat the crap out of me, but its ok. I have found playing in bars fun. The drinks are expensive on the little money I get, but I don’t go there often. I know my 2 cents isn’t worth much, but this is what I think.Calling my pockets is ok with me. I know I will lose more, thats OK with me. Even when you call a bank and make it people still think you are lucky. Well, I am just guessing and hoping the bank will work, so, yes, it is lucky.

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