Chinese 8-Ball has taken the world by storm, and is rapidly growing to become the next huge thing in televised cue sport, with simply enormous TV coverage, and rapidly growing prize funds. Our beginner’s guide to the game will get you acquainted with the equipment, some exciting new technology that has been developed off the heels of Chinese 8-Ball’s success, as well as some of the rules that have made Chinese 8-Ball so riveting to watch on Television in China.
What is Chinese 8-Ball – What’s the Appeal?
At a distance, Chinese 8-Ball is easy to understand. It combines elements from the three key cue sport disciplines into one game.
The game itself is just the standard game of 8-Ball that most people know – One player focuses on spots, another on stripes in a race to pot the 8-ball. There is however some key differences that shakes the game up a little.
- The table is a 9 foot table, using the full sized 2 ¼” American pool balls.
- The rules is your standard game of 8-Ball, but with a slightly tweaked rule set (covered below).
- The cut of the pocket is more akin to a Snooker pocket.
With these changes, many professional players appreciate the game for having elements of all cue sport disciplines factored in, making for an ideal middle ground for players of all backgrounds to play, and have a somewhat even chance against each other. For example, the top Snooker players can go directly head to head against the top 9-Ball players.
With this in mind, the World Chinese 8-Ball Masters has attracted players from every corner of the world of cue sports, with simply remarkable prize payouts (At the time of writing, the most recent prize pool for the event was $300,000, with $150,000 to the eventual champions. The event itself is treated as a massive sporting event in China as well, rocketing in popularity to receive in excess of 100 million live viewers.
Chinese 8-Ball Rules for Television
Chinese 8-Ball has seen multiple rule revisions and modifications to streamline the game for Television purposes, pretty much all changes made to speed the game up, and make the game as exciting and tense for viewers as possible.
The general rules for the game are exactly the same as you would expect for normal 8-Ball Pool, but with some slight modifications.
How to Win a Match
In modern Chinese 8-Ball tournaments, matches operate on a timed format where there are one of two ways to win. Players win matches either by being the first player to win 13 frames, or having the most frames won in 140 minutes for example (or whatever the allocated time limit is).
Like regular 8-Ball, Chinese 8-Ball inflicts penalties onto players for making foul shots. A foul can be made up of any one of the following offences –
- Not having the cue ball or the object ball contact a cushion following a shot (unless it is potted)
- Potting your opponents ball (without contacting your own)
- Potting the cue ball
When a foul is made, instead of two shots the opposing player is allowed to continue on with a ‘Ball in Hand’ shot, allowing them to place the cue ball wherever they wish, anywhere they like on the table. one notable omission is potting your opponent’s ball after contacting your own. This results in a simple loss of turn, but also play into a strategic play known as the ‘skill shot’.
If you read above, you will notice that there are no penalties for potting your opponent’s ball in your turn. The specific rule goes as follows –
You are allowed to pot your opponent’s balls on the table if you pot your ball in the same shot.
In the example seen in the video above, the shot pots your own ball, but then proceeds down the table to pot your opponent’s ball in the same shot, however in this instance, this would have been a tactically wise play, as it lines up the final shot on the 8-ball perfectly for you to win the frame.
More specific rules can be seen in the video above, but the general point of these rules is to speed the game up, and encourage attacking, skilful play during matches.
The Chinese 8-Ball Cue – How it’s Different to Others
An interesting fact is that initially; there was no such thing as a cue specifically for playing Chinese 8-Ball. Instead, players normally played with either an American cue, or in some cases even a Snooker cue. Whilst these were serviceable for some players, a more refined cue for the game was conceptualised and brought to fruition by Chinese 8-Ball Masters champion, Gareth Potts.
Named the ‘Potts’ Cue, the basic design has been altered to make the cue ideal for playing Chinese 8-Ball. The cue itself has two key features that set it apart from any other style of cue:
- Tapered ash shaft.
- Carbon-Fibre, Thermoplastic ferrule (11.5 mm)
These two changes mean that the cue is well equipped for striking the larger, heavier balls used during the game, and the different ferrule completely eliminates any deflection whilst making shots, especially when making shots with side-spin.
The new cue design has become a runaway hit for players of the game, leading to long wait lists in China for players to procure one.
We have the Gareth Potts Cue available to buy on our website- Click here or on the above button for more info.
The Chinese 8-Ball Table – Joy’s Premium Table
A Chinese 8-Ball Table itself has a few key differences to most tables available on the market. The main producer of Chinese 8-Ball specific tables are Joy. Joy produce the table of choice for the Chinese 8-Ball Masters: The Q8 Pool Table. Externally, Joy’s tables look to share a lot in common with snooker tables, and are similar in many ways. For example, the pockets on Joy tables are cut very similarly to Snooker pockets, giving a very similar aperture.
Whilst the table has a lot of similarities to Snooker tables, the tables themselves are actually considerably smaller than most Snooker tables, with regulation Chinese 8-Ball tables being 9 feet in size, bringing them more in line with the regulation sizes of American pool tables.
Joy Chinese 8-Ball tables are made using solid woods, and very thick 3-piece slates on the playing surface, levelled with multiple adjustment pins to help level the table anywhere that’s needed. The slate itself is produced completely in-house by Joy themselves, giving them complete control over the entire production process, also allowing them to fine tune the slate composition to produce the best possible playing surface. The slate itself is coated in a Strachan No. 10 grade cloth.
The cushions are specially made as well, using a steel base to the cushions, then coated in a northern rubber to provide the perfect response off of the cushions themselves.
Home Leisure Direct offers a choice of three of Joy’s best Chinese 8-Ball tables : The Q3+, the Q7 and finally the Q8.
All three are available to order on our website at the link here or above.
iPool – The Brand New Technology that’s changing Pool as we know it
One of Joy’s other technologies that is rapidly gaining momentum is iPool – A brand new concept that could be seen as the next logical step in how cue sports can be enjoyed, and how we can sharpen our own skills at the same time.
iPool comes in the form of a special computer and projector positioned directly above the table which projects real-time images and animations onto the playing surface whilst you play, and reacts to your play!
This in a way brings the dynamic world of video gaming to tabletop cue sports, allowing for all kinds of fun and unique games to try out away from the standard game of 8-Ball, 9-Ball or Snooker. Not only this, but the system offers a number of brilliant training aids that will help players with their shooting accuracy and control of the table.
The iPool system keeps track of all manner of different things happening on the table at any one time – The direction a player is cueing in, the speed at which balls are hit, ball location on the table and much more. Keeping track of these factors, iPool is able to show animations on the table that reacts to your shots! One particular effect we were impressed by was a water themed projection with Japanese Koi swimming around the surface of the table. Upon making a shot, the water would ripple following the ball’s path, and the koi would then move out of the way and react when any ball got close.
This technology has even been used to create special prize games at various locations in China. One such example is an average speed challenge, where a player is given three attempts to hit the cueball at a certain exact speed. If they average the requested speed over their three attempts, then they receive a prize.
iPool is adaptable too. Whilst it will work on a standard green pool table cloth, iPool itself comes with an optimised grey cloth to ensure the best possible performance. The technology also works on any table up to 9 feet in length, making it suitable for most pool tables.
Interested? Ask us More!
Home Leisure Direct is very excited to be able to introduce these incredible pool tables to the wider market here in the UK, and we are due to have our very own Joy pool table as well as an iPool projector set up in the showrooms very soon for you to try a few frames yourself.
Equally if you're in the area, Gareth Potts' own pool and snooker hall in Newcastle-under-Lyme has a Joy Q8 table set up for you to try the game out for yourself. Drop by Players Pool and Snooker Hall for more details.