Shown below are rules for playing the game of Jai-alai in the United States. Information is shown on Jai-alai rules regarding interference, the two-wall or carom serve, holding, juggling, illegal motion and serving the ball. Also shown are the Jai-alai rules playoff situations for second, third, and even fourth place positions in the Jai-alai game in the case of ties with other players or teams after a winner has been declared in the Jai-alai game. It’s the Jai-alai judge(s) responsibility to watch the game as in any sport and make calls based on observations. There are no instant replays in the game of Jai-alai, so the judge(s) decision is final.
Interference will be called by any judge when player is blocked from making a play for the ball by their opponent. If, in the judge’s opinion, the player that was interfered with had no chance of reaching the ball, whether or not they were blocked, no interference will be called. Interference will be called on any Court judge when that judge has blocked a player from making a play for the ball. The interference rule for players and for judges is adaptable for all interference violations.
When interference is called, the point is replayed, and the initial serving team will begin the re-play by serving the same opponent to start the point again.
“Two Wall” or Carom Serve (illegal) and “Mis-Serve”
Only one serve shall be allowed for each point in all games (except in cases where the Interference rule is called). The serve known as a TWO WALL (aka CAROM) SERVE shall not be allowed and is considered an illegal serve. In other words, the serve must hit the front wall FIRST; it cannot hit the side wall first and then hit the front wall. Also, after the player bounces the ball for the serve, should the player “whiff” on the serve, it’s considered a “mis-serve” and the player loses the point; there are no second attempts, i.e. no mulligans as in some golf outings.
The player must catch and throw the ball in one fluid motion. If a judge determines the player has held the ball for too long before throwing, the judge can make the HOLDING call and the point is lost.
Juggling is essentially when the judge observes that part or the entire ball pops out of the cesta during a catch. The Juggling of the ball will not constitute a foul except in the case where a player holds the ball in the basket more than the required time to be decided by the judge(s). Note that interpretation of this rule is solely at the judge’s discretion.
A player is not allowed to catch the ball on their right side and then switch and throw the ball from their left side (or vice versa), this would be called “Illegal Motion” and player would lose the point. The illegal motion is basically not a fluid motion and constitutes the holding of the ball too long.
To begin the serve, the serving player must make the ball bounce behind the “serving line” and then hurl it with the cesta towards the front wall. When it rebounds, it should bounce between the lines 4 and 7 on the floor (marked areas on the playing court and side wall for under-serve and over-serve lines). If it bounces outside this area, it’s an under-serve or an over-serve, and your opponent will score a point. Note: if the serve hits the side wall FIRST, it’s an illegal serve (two-wall serve or carom serve) and the serving team loses the point. Should the ball be served into an out-of-bounds area, the point is lost. Note: In a doubles game, the front court player of the team being served to may elect to catch the serve after the serve rebounds off the wall (before the bounce).
Out-of-Bounds (Red Line) & Instant Replay (not done for Jai-Alai) – info added 8/10/2023
The ball is ruled out-of-bounds if any part of the ball touches the red line on the floor which separates the playing court from the apron area (the area between the playing court and the vertical screen). The judge’s ruling is official and final in Jai-Alai as there is no instant replay used for this sport. Games would take far too long if instant replay were utilized for this sport.
Playoff Rules for Ties
- After a winner of a game has been declared, playoff rules to decide 2nd or 3rd positions, and even 4th in the case of a 9-point superfecta game, vary according to the NUMBER of players or teams tied. There are, however, two rules applicable at all times during playoffs:
- Playoffs follow the teams or players ROTATING POSITION (the order in which they are seated on the waiting bench, aka the order on the rotating board shown on the video display between points), not Post Position, but the order in which they were defeated.
- If, at any time during a playoff, a player or team reaches the designated number of points, said player or team is immediately awarded the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th position as the case may be, and the remaining players or teams forfeit the right of further play for said position (i.e. there may be players or teams that have no chance in the playoff due to their position in the rotation).
- IN CASE OF A TIE after a Win position has been officially declared, it shall not be necessary, in order to determine 2nd or 3rd positions, or both, for the players or teams to score the full game’s number of points.
- WHEN THERE STILL REMAIN 5 or 7 PLAYERS OR TEAMS, all of which are tied without a point to their credit, the play-off shall be to the total points of one point less than the number of post positions represented in the playoff (i.e. if 5 teams, they play to 4-points; if 7 teams, they play to 6-points).
- WHEN THERE STILL REMAIN 5 or 7 PLAYERS OR TEAMS, all of which are tied with one point or more, the playoff shall be continued until the player or team reaches the number of points designated for the winner of the game (i.e. 7 points for Spec 7 game; 9 points for Spec 9 game).
- IN CASE OF TWO TIES, after a Winner has been declared official, and there are still two players or teams tied with the same number of points, the 2nd position shall be awarded to the player or team making the next point, and 3rd goes to the loser of said point.
- IN CASE OF THREE TIES, after a Winner has been declared official, the 2nd and 3rd positions shall be decided among the three players or teams, with the same number of points, through elimination, according to their ROTATING POSITION. However, if after playing the first play-off point, any player or team score reaches the number of points that the game calls for (7 or 9-pts), said player or team shall immediately be awarded 2nd, 3rd, or 4th position, as the case may be, and any remaining players or teams shall forfeit the right to play for said position.
- IN CASE OF FOUR OR SIX TIES, after a Winner has been declared official and there remain 4 or 6 players or teams, tied for 2nd or 3rd, or both, the play-off shall be through elimination according to their ROTATING POSITION. The first two players or teams will play the first play-off point (with each win being still worth 2-points at that point of the game), the next two players or teams pair-off and play the next play-off point, and the remaining two players or teams (in the event of 6 players or teams) play a play-off point. Winners of above points will play additional play-off points to decide the finish positions, as the case may require. If at any time during a play-off, a player or team reaches the designated number of points that the game calls for (7 or 9-points), said player or team, shall immediately be awarded the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th position, as the case may be, and the remaining players or teams shall forfeit the right to play for said position. Note that 4th place playoffs only happen in the event that Superfecta wagering is offered and those are only for 9-point games.
NOTE: There is incentive for players to play to the best of their abilities as the players are awarded bonus prize money for their finish positions in a game (top 3 positions in a 7-point game). This incentive prize money each game is in addition to a player’s regular salary and benefits. Here are the bonus prize money amounts that were in place for the 2020 Magic City meet for the top 3-finishers (Note: amounts are larger now):
Win $100, Place $50, Show $25
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