Eight ball was invented in about 1900 when continuous pool (a family of games similar to straight pool) was still the most popular game-form in American billiards. At the turn of the century, the British and American versions of eight ball divided into two different entities mainly having to do with the size of the table. Many countries, including the United States, play eight ball on larger tables than the ones traditionally used in the United Kingdom and other countries like Australia and South Africa. As a result, the game evolved with varying rules from country to country and therefore developed separate governing bodies. In the United States, the American version of eight ball is administered by the World Pool-Billiards Association (WPA), while there are several organizations that oversee the British version of the game, including the World 8-Ball Pool Federation (WEPF).
Because of the differing rules, in this chapter you will learn the “world standardized rules” — the rules that the Billiard Congress of America advocates. Once you know these rules, you won't feel so awkward about learning the variations on the game.
In 1960 there were virtually no pool tables in Britain, but almost thirty years later, the estimated number of tables in pubs and clubs skyrocketed to about 45,000.