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Irish pool

Variables in Irish pool

Rules of play at the Irish pool table vary from pub to pub and region to region. This is true* to a degree that most non-Irish would find astounding.

Here is a partial list of potential issues:
Two shots? On a "foul" the opponent is awarded two shots on his or her proceeding turn. The criterion for "foul" is variable, and there are exceptions in the application of this penalty.
• If the opponent fouls on the break by sinking the cue ball, one might or might not get two shots only while shooting for the color that the opononent did not sink. (Irish pool balls, besides the white cue and the black "8," are only red and yellow.)
• Two shots on the black? Some pubs allow it in the end-game, some don't.
• Do two shots carry? Can one sink a ball and retain the privilege of two shots — or is one of those shots "used up" upon first miss?
• Free ball? — On a "free ball," one may hit the opponent's ball first in play toward one's own. Sometimes it is part of the penalty award. Sometimes it's not.

Challenger breaks? This appears to be a difference that manifests regionally. In Kilkenny, for example, yes — in west Clare, no.

Backtable The Irish pool table has a semi-circle about the width of an outspread hand extending backward from the 1/4 break-line. The cue-ball returns to the table within this "D" after any foul into a pocket or on the floor. [There may be variations/addendums to this ruling somewhere.]
• Can one shoot backtable?
• If one can shoot backtable, can one shoot backtable on the black?

The 8 ball There are numerous other concerns about how the black ball is played.
• Does a player hold the pocket after calling it (barring opponent from picking the same one?)
  • Does this pertain until player fouls, or for the entire end-game?
• Must one sink the black in the pocket you called (or can one switch, once original choice is missed?)
• Must one sink the black in the pocket of the last colored ball played? ...
  • As I've said, this is a partial list.

* House rules are tenacious — a given rule within a given pub holds for all players at all times. If nobody knows a rule, somebody will have to ask.

That doesn't mean that one cannot play by another rule-set, if both/all players agree; but the normal unspoken agreement is that house regulations pertain.

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