What Does Ball In Hand Mean?

Ball in hand is basically a penalty for scratching or fouling in pool. If a scratch or foul is committed, the player shooting loses his shot, and his opponent gets to take the cue ball "in his hand" and place it anywhere he wishes behind the head string to take his shot. This is an advantage, because it allows the opponent to set himself up with an easier shot than he may have had, if the first shooter had simply missed his shot.

Even though this shooter gets to place the cue ball anywhere behind the head string, he may not shoot directly at an object ball that is behind the head string.

If the ball behind the head string is his last ball, or if he just wishes to shoot that particular ball, he must first bounce the cue ball off a bank that is past the head string, and cause the cue ball to come back and hit his object ball. The shooter may, in this way, attempt to make this ball.

While this is the 8-ball rule in World Standardized Rules, the American Poolplayers Association has a different interpretation. In APA league play, when a scratch or foul occurs in a game, the opponent may place the cue ball anywhere on the table, and he may shoot for any of his balls, regardless of where they sit. This is a huge advantage for the person with ball in hand, as it opens up the entire table, and practically guarantees that this shooter will have a decent shot.

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