cueSports - shop till ya drop!

International Pool Rules & How to Play them!

International Pool Rules (formerly known as Supreme Rules) are the new pool rules on the block. This is a continuation of the “Pool rules” series where we’ll continue to simplify the different rules currently being played in 8ball pool today. This mini-series covers Old Rules, World Rules, Blackball and International Rules. The aim is to cut to the chase and simplify the rules so that you can try them for yourself!

Background: The Supreme rules originally took their name from the table manufacturers of the same name. The rules were launched early 2018 by Lee Kendall of Players Pool Club (Stoke-on-Trent), which is consequently the first club I ever played for. Supreme Rules were billed as a hybrid of World Rules and Blackball rules so let’s take a look at what they’re all about!

The Top 3 things you need to know about International Pool Rules:

  1. No such thing as 2 shots. Following a ‘standard foul’ the incoming player is awarded one visit only with the added benefit of having ball in hand and being able to place the cueball anywhere on the table. This rule is new to 8-ball and has been borrowed from 9-ball.
  2. Combination shots are legal – taken from Blackball rules, a player can legally pot any opponent’s ball on the basis that they strike a ball of their own first and also pot any of their own balls on the same shot. However, in Blackball, a failed combination attempt results in a standard foul and awards your opponent 2 visits. Whereas a failed combination attempt in International Rules simply means a loss of turn, the same as if you generally fail to make a pot. A loss of turn is not a foul and therefore, the incoming player must play their shot from where the cueball lies. This change enables a different tactical style, whereby players can strike their own ball first and remove an opponent’s ball that may be a causing a problem, for example; blocking a pocket. This is called a ‘Tactical Shot’.
  3. The ‘tactical shot’ is to International Rules what the combination shot is to Blackball Rules. It’s the new addition, the progressive change. There is a big change in fusing the tactical shots and combination shots in the same set of pool rules. This change is that covering pockets no longer holds the advantage that it has done previously in other rules. In Old rules and World Rules it has long been a big advantage to take control of a pocket. Blackball made a dent in this school of thought with the combination shot. Now these Supreme rules have added further fuel to the flames that 8-ball pool is pushing to become a no guts, no glory sport. This tactical shot means that a providing you strike your own ball you can also pot your opponent’s ball without it being deemed a foul. This leads only to a “loss of turn” meaning that your incoming opponent must play from where the cueball lies. Consequently, this means you can now unsuccessfully attempt a combination shot without fouling.

The other main things you’ll need to know to start playing International 8ball Rules:

  • Standard fouls are not exclusive to, but do include going in-off (potting the white ball). Going in-off on the break-off shot means that the incoming player must play from behind the baulk line. Not from anywhere on the table as mentioned previously.
  • As in World Rules; a ball failing to strike the cushion after the cueball contacts your object ball.
  • Failure to nominate your set on an open table. This rule can be bypassed if the referee deems it obvious which ball you are attempting. However, to save confusion or potential disagreement I’d recommend nominating in the event of an open table. Keep things simple.
  • In the event that any ball leaves the bed of the table and remains there at rest.

Other things that may crop up:

  • When you successfully play a combination shot in open play the sets, you will be on the colours of the same ball that the cueball struck first.
  • Mirroring Blackball rules, players must make a genuine “bona fide” attempt to play their own object ball. Failure to do so will result in loss of frame.

Final Thoughts on the International offering.

International Rules are a very attacking addition to the 8ball pool community. They encourage players to go “all-out attack” almost without consequence. International 8ball rules also prevent players from slowing down a game by pursuing snookers in the hunt for 2 visits before they feel confident enough to go for the finish.

In the original edit of this post I wrote: This may sound controversial for some of you World Rules players but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the EPA adopt Supreme Rules in the coming years and go head to head with Blackball to become the “go-to” pool rules.

In July 2020 the WEPF released a statement highlighting their intent to replace World Rules with Supreme Rules.

It was following these events in 2021 that the Supreme Rules were rebranded as International Pool Rules. The rebrand coincided with the birth of the Ultimate Pool Events. The Ultimate Pool tournaments also introduced a few new ingredients to the rules mentioned in this post.

To conclude, Blackball rules slightly favour the average pub player as they are more forgiving. After taking away the second visit comfort blanket that club players sometimes reply on; International Rules favour the elite players, those cuesits with the confidence, skill and know how to back themselves with just one visit.

Will these rules reign Supreme?

Ultimate Pool continues to evolve and the buzz around 8ball pool continues to grow. The future of the game is bright. Let’s see how it plays out!