Meaning and Symbolism of 8 ball

The eight ball is one of the balls used in billiards. In a game called 8-ball, the eight ball plays a crucial role because it determines whether a player wins or loses.

Also called the stripes and solids or pocket billiards, many of the rules in this game involve using or manipulating the eight ball on the billiards table.

Aside from the cue ball, which is plain white with some markings, the eight ball stands out on the billiards table because of its appearance.

While the other balls have bright and striking colors, the eight ball is relatively simple because it is either solid black or black with the number 8 in the middle of a small white circle.

Because of its significance, different meanings and symbolisms have been attached to the game as well the actual eighth ball in billiards.

Symbolism of 8 ball

What Does The 8-Ball Symbolize?

As the ball that can determine the results of the game, the eight ball has become a symbol used in pop culture. It has been featured in music, film, and toys and even gave birth to an idiom in the late 1920s that is still being used today. Here are ten of the most popular symbolisms associated with the eight ball:

1. Luck

Luck can either be good or bad, and this is represented in the eight ball. Whether a player wins or loses depends on how the eight ball is played in the game.

If it is pocketed incorrectly, it can result in a foul or a loss, but if played correctly, the player wins. However, even if a player is skilled and plays by the rules, the balls could roll in a different direction than intended, resulting in a loss.

This is why talent and skill will not always get you to win. Sometimes a bit of luck would come in handy in this game of billiards and life.

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2. Success And Prosperity

The number eight stands for success, achievement, and unlimited potential in many cultures because it resembles the infinity sign.

In numerology, this number represents the harmony between the universe and material things, which places the soul on the path to success.

It is a popular number in feng shui because of its association with wealth, abundance, and prosperity. The Chinese word for eight is “ba”, which sounds similar to the words “prosper” or “wealth”, as well as the word “baak”, which means “hundred” and represents greater wealth in the local culture.

3. Planning In Advance

According to the rules of the 8-ball game, the eight ball must not be placed in a pocket before the player finishes all the other balls in his set.

The eight ball also cannot be placed in just any of the available pockets on the table, as this depends on either the call of the player or where the last ball in the set fell.

This shows the importance of creating a strategy or plan in advance. When the player pockets the other balls on his set, he already has a vision of where the eight ball should land before he takes the last shot.

Likewise, having a plan before doing something increases your chance of success in life.

4. Challenges And Difficulties

Many of the rules in the 8-ball game involve the eight ball, which is why it represents the many challenges and difficulties a player must overcome in order to win.

Thus, aside from pocketing the rest of the balls, the player must also strategize how to position the eight ball on the billiards table to maintain his gameplay.

The idiom “behind the eight ball” has since been coined about the challenge of managing the eight ball during a game. This phrase means that you are in trouble.

Behind the eight-ball means being in a tough situation from which you are not likely to escape.

5. Balance And Duality

Because the eight ball can determine loss or win in the 8-ball game, it represents balance.

Both players have an equal chance to win, depending on how they handle the ball. For the player that wins, the eight ball is the cause of his win, but for the other player, it will be the source of his defeat.

Physically, the eight ball also carries the colors of Yin Yang, a Taoism symbol representing opposite but interconnected elements.

It is depicted as a circle split in half, with one side being primarily black but with a small white circle inside, while the other half is predominantly white with a small black circle inside.

6. Power And Authority

An eight ball tattoo stands for power and authority in the prison world.

This serves as a warning to other inmates not to get too close or not to bother someone who has the tattoo. Sometimes, the tattoo can be seen in gang members as well.

In pop culture, the eight ball was personified as a powerful villain in a comic book by Marvel, an American comic book publisher.

The character, Jeff Hagees, used to be an engineer who turned to illegal activities to support his financial needs. He fought with several heroes during his time, including Sleepwalker, She-Hulk, and the Avengers.

7. Destiny

As the ball that determines win or loss in an eight-ball game, the eight ball symbolizes fate.

Also called the “ball of destiny”, the last position and pocket of the eight ball is the one that decides the results of a match.

This implies that sometimes, winning or losing is not just dependent on skills alone and that the ending has been predetermined before the game even starts. That is why fate also plays a big part in life.

8. Taking A Chance

Playing the eight-ball game in billiards is similar to gambling in some ways.

Despite a player’s skills, experience, and talent, there is no way to guarantee victory because anything can happen to the balls on the table.

Because of this, the eight ball can also mean taking chances. The future is unknown, and sometimes, the rewards go to those who dare to take risks and grab the opportunities that come their way.

9. Divination

Some people believe that the eight ball can be used to read fortunes or to provide answers to important questions that they find difficult to resolve.

Because of this, the eight ball is also seen as a symbol of divination. In relation to this, the toy company Mattel released a toy inspired by the eight ball.

Called the “Magic 8 Ball“, the toy is an oversized plastic ball that was made to look like the eight ball used in billiards. To play, the user will ask a question that is answerable by yes or no, then turns over the ball to check the answer in the space provided.

10. Hope

When playing the eight-ball game, the winner will be determined once the eight ball is pocketed legally.

This means that even if one player seems to have an advantage during the game, it does not guarantee a win until the eight ball has been sent to the right pocket and in the correct order.

As such, the eight ball represents holding on to hope until the very end. Keep going even if the opponent is advancing too fast or is way ahead of you because the game is not over until the eight ball falls into the pocket.


In the eight-ball game in billiards, no one can determine the winner until the last shot is taken. Because of this, the eight ball has been associated with luck, destiny, hope, power, and taking chances.

The eight ball itself is crucial to the game because it is the one that determines the winner and the loser. With this dual role, the ball stands for balance, success, and divination.

Aside from this, the players need to be strategic with their placement of the eight ball throughout the game in order to comply with the rules.

As such, the ball also symbolizes advanced planning, as well as the challenges and difficulties that you encounter in your journey through life.