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9 Ball Pool – How to Play

9 Ball Pool – How to Play

When looking for another game to play other than the classic 8 Ball Pool, look no further than 9 Ball Pool. This game is great in that it switches things up and can help to improve your skills and strategies for any other game you might play. Below is a simple guide on how to play 9 Ball Pool on your billiard table!


Overview of the Game

This game is most commonly played by two people going head-to-head, but can be played by four people split into two teams. The object of this game is to be the first person to knock the 9-ball into the pocket. While this sounds quite simple, there are a few rules that must be followed that make the game more difficult and strategic. The most important rule to note is that when shooting, the cue ball must first hit the lowest numbered ball on the table before any other ball.



How to Play

1.  The first step is to properly rack the balls. 9 Ball Pool utilizes the first nine object balls set up in a diamond formation. To do this, use the diamond-shaped 9-ball rack if you have one. If not, use the standard triangle rack and group them as tightly as possible. The 1-ball should be placed on the footstring, the 9-ball in the center, and the rest of the object balls placed at random.

2.  The next step is to break. The person to do this can be decided by a simple coin toss. Place the cue ball on the headstring and shoot towards the rack. Since the 1-ball was placed on the footstring, the player breaking will not receive a foul for not hitting the lowest numbered ball first. The player who breaks must either sink one of the balls into a pocket or send at least three balls to the rail. If this does not happen, re-rack and have the other player break.

3.  After the break, more skilled and competitive players may call for a “push-out.” This rule allows for the player shooting immediately after the break to announce that they are making a push-out and not abide by the normal rules of 9-ball. With this shot, the player does not have to make contact with the lowest numbered ball and does not have to pocket a ball or send one to the rail. This shot is often used in order to gain better positioning after the break among other strategies. Any balls pocketed during this shot remain pocketed but that player does not get to continue their shot. If the 9-ball is pocketed on the push-out, it is spotted back on the footstring.

3.  The next step is to simply play! Keep in mind that when shooting, the cue ball must hit the lowest number first before any other ball. This means that if the 1-ball is still on the table, the cue ball must hit that ball first. Once the lowest numbered ball is hit, there is no restriction on what ball can be hit. For example, after the 1-ball has been hit, either the cue ball or the 1-ball can travel to any ball and hit it into a pocket. This means that, theoretically, a player can hit the 9-ball into a pocket on their first turn and win the game!


Specific Rules

1.  If a player makes first contact with a ball that is not the lowest numbered ball, it is a foul and the other player can place the cue ball anywhere on the table for their next shot

2.  If a shot results in no ball being pocketed or hitting a rail, it is a foul and the other player can place the cue ball anywhere on the table for their next shot

3.  Standard pool fouls also apply such as knocking a ball off a table, scratching, touching a moving ball, or hitting the cue ball out of turn are all fouls. 


For more information in regard to terminology or fouls, our in-depth explanation of 8 Ball Pool may help!


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