Do You Lose if You Scratch on the Break in Pool?

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According to the rules posted by the World Pool-Billiard Association, the governing body of pool, a player who scratches, or pockets the cue ball on the break, does not lose the game. Scratches are considered fouls, and if the break was otherwise legal, the opponent takes the cue ball in hand behind the head string and shoots.

For a break to be valid in eight-ball, the most popular form of pool, the breaker must either pocket an object ball or cause four balls to strike the rails. Otherwise, the break is illegal and the opponent must accept the table as is, re-rack and break again, or have the same player re-rack and break again. If the eight ball is pocketed on the break shot, the breaker must either re-spot the eight ball and accept the break or break the balls again. If the breaker pockets the eight ball and scratches, the opponent has the option of potting the eight ball, accepting the break, or re-breaking.

Scratching is always considered a foul in all pool variants, including nine-ball, ten-ball, black-ball, and straight pool. Scratching or knocking the cue ball off the table during a break may be interpreted as an instant loss in locales that deviate from the official rules of play. These peculiarities must be agreed upon prior to game play.

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