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9Ball Pool is a game played with 9 balls marked 1-9 and a cue ball. 9-Ball is a rotation-game in which players attempt to shoot at the smallest number on the table.

The balls don’t have to be pocketed in numerical order, but the cue ball must first hit the lowest numbered ball on the table. You have to pocket the 9ball first to win.

Here are the facts and tips on how to play 9ball.

Aim of the game

Nine-ball is played with 1-9 numbered object balls and one cue ball

For each shot, the 1st ball that comes in contact with the cue ball must be the least numbered ball on the table, but the balls don’t have to be pocketed in sequences.

Racking the Balls

Only balls 1-9 are made use of. With a conventional 9 ball diamond rack, the balls are racked in a diamond shape.

The 1-ball must be set to lie at the upper part of the diamond. The 9-ball will be in the center of the rack.

Placement of the remaining balls can be anywhere in the diamond in random order. The balls don’t have to be in line.

Use a standard triangle rack, if you don’t have a diamond rack, and create the diamond shape using your hands. Ensure you push firmly from the bottom of the diamond shape up to the top of the rack.

Make the rack as fitted as possible. The top of the diamond and 1 ball should line up on the foot spot of the table; this the center spot in the racking end of the table.

Basic 9-Ball Rules

9ball pool aims to pocket the balls in increasing order, 1 – 9. The player who makes the 9 ball legally in the mentioned pocket wins.

However, combo shots allow you to win before all balls are eliminated from the table.

You can use the combo to balls with a higher number, including the 9ball, if you touch the ball with the lowest number first.

For instance, suppose you shoot the 5 ball but notice that you can “combo” the 5 into the 9 and sink the 9, you’d win the game if you took this shot and pocketed the 9 ball without scratching.

You can’t shoot the 9 directly until it’s the only ball left on the table. And you must always first hit the object ball with the least number.

A variety of rules may apply, as halls and leagues have their own rules. However, with 9ball, you do NOT need to call all shots, except for the 9-ball.

If you take your shot, without executing a foul, continue shooting. If you miss, your opponent will play the cue ball from where you left it.


Breaking in a 9-ball pool can be a definite benefit. The breaker wins if the 9 ball is made on the break (without a scratch)!

The player breaks from the back of the head spot, which means behind the midpoint at the breaker’s end and between the second diamonds by the full table’s sidebar.

For the 1st game, you can toss a coin to choose who will break. Or use the “lagging” method.

Lagging means that the cue ball is shot over the table so hard that it returns and brings the ball back to the bumper whoever gets the ball closest to the bumper wins.


In the case of a foul in a 9-Ball game, the other player almost always takes over and may place the cue ball on the table anywhere they want.

This is called ‘Ball-in-Hand’.

A foul doesn’t mean the end of a round, but a foul always leads to it. The most common causes of fouls are:

  • The ball with the lowest number isn’t hit first
  • After being hit by the cue ball, the object balls fail to enter a pocket or hit the cushion
  • The cue ball doesn’t strike an object ball
  • Sinking the cue ball, or a ‘scratch’
  • The cue ball gets knocked off the table
  • The cue ball isn’t hit but pushed
  • Hit the cue ball twice in a row
  • Touching the cue ball, or one of the object balls with your hands or another way except with the cue tip
  • Hitting the balls before they’ve settled and come to a standstill

Unlike 8-Ball, with 9-ball, there’s only one possibility to lose. That is: Don’t just pocket the 9-Ball.

If the 9-Ball is pocketed during a foul or pushed off the table, the 9-Ball is simply put back on the ‘foot spot’ or as close to it as possible.

If a player comes into contact with any of the object balls in an illegal way, the player loses his turn. And the opposing player has the choice of either leaving the moving ball, where it is or returning it to the position it was before the foul occurred.

Additional Rules and 9 Ball Terminology

Push Out

Players can verbally request a “push out” where the only purpose of the push-out is to put in a better position.

You don’t have to touch any balls or rails during a push out. The foul rules also apply to a push out.

All balls pocketed during a push out don’t count, but they should remain pocketed, except for a pocketed 9-ball.

The next player after a push-out may shoot from that position or pass to the player who initially shot the push out.

Bad Hit

If the first object ball touched by the cue ball isn’t the ball with the lowest number on the table, the shot is a foul.

No Rail

When you take a shot where no balls (neither the cue ball nor a numbered ball) hits a cushion, in all shots, at least one ball must hit a rail.

If this isn’t the case, this shot is considered a foul, and the next player starts with ball-in-hand.

Target/Object Ball

These are the balls on which a goal is to be scored, 9 of them, each numbered and marked with a stripe or solid color.

They are numbered 1-9 for the 9-Ball game.


The cushion, or popularly known as the ‘rail’, is the soft padding that lines the sides of the table and serves to protect the table from damage, and in certain circumstances, to facilitate the rebound off target balls.

Head Spot/String

This is the area of the table where the head string and the long string meet.

These are points that run on the table from one end to other, either vertically or horizontally, and are marked by diamond markings along the outer rail.

Where these two ‘points’ intersect, in the ‘kitchen’, the cue ball is placed to start the game for a break. The reverse of this is the ‘foot spot’ where the rack will be placed.


A scratch is a foul where the cue ball goes into the pocket at any time. This usually leads to the forfeiture of the round, and no points are given.

Cue Ball-in-Hand

If you commit a foul or a scratch during the game, the other player gets to choose where to put the cue ball. And he or she can set it wherever on the table for the next shot — this is called “ball in hand.”

But, on a break, the cue ball is only placed in hand behind the head-string.

Object Balls Jumped Off the Table

A ball that hasn’t been pocketed is considered to have been knocked off the table if it comes to rest on a table other than table bed.

It’s a foul to hit an object ball off the table. The object ball(s) that jumped will not be respotted (exception: if the object ball is the 9-ball, it is respotted), and the game continues.

Jump and Masse Shot Foul

If a game isn’t refereed, it is deemed a cue ball foul.

While attempting to jump, masse or curve the cue ball over or around an obstructing numbered ball, the obstructing ball moves (irrespective of whether it was moved by a hand, cue stick follow-through, or bridge).

Three Foul Rule

The game is over when 3 fouls/scratches are made in three consecutive rounds.

For this rule to come into effect, the other player must declare orally that two foul shots have been taken.

Final Thoughts

9-ball pool has been around for some time. It’s an exceptional cue sport as you’ve to act strategically to outwit and outplay your opponents.

9-Ball Pool is frequently a much faster game than its other cue game cousins. Consequently, it has become ubiquitous, especially in the United States.

It can be played wherever there’s a pool table, and doesn’t need any additional equipment or table except the standard for Pool in general.

Understanding how to play 9ball is also an excellent way to practice.

There’s so much strategy in this game.

There’s even more space on the table, so you have to work on placing the ball and arranging the shots correctly.

Refreshing some necessary skills and getting more experience will help you cultivate a more excellent grasp of game-winning strategies.


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Cues for Beginners

8-Ball Rules and Instructions

Cut-Throat Pool Rules