How to Play 9 Ball Pool – Complete List of Rules

9 Ball Pool is played with 9 balls labeled 1-9 and a cue ball. 9 Ball is a rotation game wherein players try to shoot at the lowest number on the table. Balls do not need to be pocketed in numerical order, however the cue ball must strike the lowest numbered ball on the table first. Are the ideas beginning to flow? In order to win, you must be the first to pocket the 9 ball.

How to Play 9 Ball Pool - Simple Rules

9 Ball Pool Queen Pan Xiaoting showing you how it’s done!

This simple list of 9 Ball Rules is brought to you by Game Tables Online. This is where serious billiards players shop!

9 Ball Rules Simple

In accordance with Official 9 Ball Rules, the game begins with a diamond rack. The 1 ball is placed in front at the point of the diamond so that the player who has the opening break can hit the 1st ball without fouling. The 9 ball is placed in the middle of the diamond to prevent advanced players from winning the game within the first few shots. Now you can begin the game by tossing a coin to decide who goes first.

The Break – Begin by tossing a coin to decide who goes first. The game begins with the cue ball in hand behind the head string. The breaker must hit the 1 ball first and either pocket a ball or move at least four balls to the rail. If the breaker doesn’t do this, it is the next players shot.

If you pocket a ball, it is still your turn until you miss, foul, or win the game by pocketing the 9 ball. After you miss, the next player must shoot from where the cue ball is left on the table. If the incoming player is shooting after a foul shot by the previous player, the incoming player has ball-in-hand and can place the ball anywhere on the table.

The first player to pocket the 9 ball is the winner. Of course you will experience other odd situations so continue reading to understand how to play a game of 9 ball pool from beginning to end.

9 Ball Pool Rules Simple

Notice how the 1 ball is at the point and the 9 ball is in the middle of the rack.

How to Play 9 Ball Pool Game

Unlike other cue sports, you do not have to call shots when playing 9 ball pool. What makes the game unique is that the cue ball must come into contact with the lowest number on the table. Balls can be pocketed out of order so long as the lowest number ball receives initial contact.

When you take your shot, one of the balls must touch a rail or sink into a pocket (refer to the “No Rail” definition listed below). If you fail to do so, the incoming player receives ball in hand. This means that the next player gets to set the cue ball wherever they want. Don’t make this beginners mistake! As you can tell, 9 ball pool takes a lot of strategy and finesse to come out victorious.

Cool Car Pool Table

Now this is one cool pool table!

Additional Rules and 9 Ball Terminology

Push Out - Players can verbally call for a “push out” where the shot is only intended to move the cue ball into a better position. During a push out, you don’t have to contact any balls or rails. Foul rules still apply to a push out. Any balls that are pocketed on a push out do not count but they are to remain pocketed except for a pocketed 9 ball. The incoming player who follows a push out is allowed to shoot from that position or pass to the player who originally shot the push out.

No Rail - When you make a shot where no balls (whether the cue ball or a numbered ball) hits a rail. All shots must result in at least one ball hitting a rail. If not, this shot is considered a foul and the incoming player begins with ball in hand.

Three Foul Rule - The game ends if 3 fouls/scratches are shot on three consecutive turns. In order for this rule to be put into play, the other player must verbally declare that two foul shots have been made.

9 ball pool has been around for some time now. It’s a unique cue sport in the way that you must strategize to outshoot and outwit your opponents. Brushing up on some basic skills and gaining more experience will help you develop a deeper understanding of game winning strategies.

More Cue Sport Instructionals:

  1. Snooker Rules – How to Play the Right Way
  2. Top Tips to Step up Your Pool Game
  3. How to Jump a Pool Ball
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