How to Play 9 Ball Pool: A Quick Guide

There are many pool games. Some of them need first-hand skills to play. However, 9-ball pool is not a difficult game to play. You can easily play it even if you don’t have any experience. If you arm yourself with the right set of equipment, you can follow a few instructions and the game will kick off successfully. 9-ball is a very popular game played by experts in tournaments and other individuals for recreational purposes. Professionals win in this game when they combine both skills as well as strategies.


9 ball pool is played with 9 balls. These balls are numbered from one to nine. The main objective of this game is to ensure that the balls are pocketed in an orderly manner, that is, from the one that carries the least number to the one with the greatest number.


How does the game start?

9-ball game requires two or more people in order to kick off. If you are more than two, a player from a certain team is matched to another player from the other team. If it is a friendly game, more teams can join in the fun.


The decision on the individual or team that will go first can be determined by flipping a coin. However, “lagging” is more fun than coin flips. Here, every person who is playing is required to place a ball at the back of the head string. The balls are hit simultaneously, each player hitting the one they had placed behind the head string. When this is done, the balls are expected to come into contact with the farthest end of the table, then spring back further without making contact with the sides or the near ends. If your ball gets closest, you will take the first shot.


The first player to take the shot will place the balls labelled 1 through 9 in the ball rack. The lowest labelled ball is positioned near the player while the 9-ball is placed in the center, all in a diamond shape.


Breaking in 9-ball plays can be advantageous to a player. If the 9-ball is made without a scratch (break), the one who breaks definitely becomes the winner.


Basic rules of the 9-ball pool

If you want to make it in 9-ball plays, you have to be keen and be ready to follow the rules. The rules are simple and easy to follow.

  • Anytime you sink a ball, you are allowed to shoot again. You will continue playing the game until you fail to sink any ball anymore or you break the rules of the game. When this takes place, the next player will take over. If the last player had played fairly, the player who plays next will be required to continue from where the cue ball is positioned.
  • Each of the players has to know their objectives. For example, whenever a player sinks the 9-ball, he is declared a winner. If they play the game fairly or they conform to the established rules of the game, then they are allowed to continue playing the game until they fail to sink any ball or they play foul.
  • The ball with the lowest number should be hit first. You will apply this strategy every time you take a shot. Here, you have to ensure that the cue ball comes in contact with the lowest-numbered ball before any other ball is hit. The shot becomes foul if no balls are hit or if a different one is hit. There are instances where you can sink any numbered ball into a pocket hole and you will not receive a penalty. This happens when you take a legal shot. For example, you can hit the lowest numbered ball with a cue ball, which would then bounce off and aim at a higher numbered ball. If the latter ball is pocketed, you will not get any penalty. If you want to win the game faster, you can use this method to pocket the 9-ball.
  • When the ball with the least number is hit, at least one ball is expected to hit the rail or get pocketed. If not, the shot is declared to be foul.
  • If you or your opponent has committed a foul, the player who goes next has the right to place the cue ball in the place he prefers the most on the pool table and take a shot.
  • The standard pool rules should be obeyed. For example, if you make a shot and the ball gets knocked off the pool table, if you sink the cue ball, if you accidentally touch a ball in motion, or if the cue ball gets hit out of motion, you will have broken the rules. For this reason, your opponent can place the cue ball wherever they deem fit on the table.
  • 9-ball plays end faster in comparison with the other pool games. The players come into agreement before the game kicks off that the one who is playing has to continue till a specific number of games has been won by any individual or a team.


If you love competitive plays, consider the pushout rule. This rule applies after the break. The players get additional control over the kickoff. This way, the competitive matches are added more strategies.


The second player who takes the shot can announce it of fail to do so. If he announces it, pushout is ruled out. If he does not, then the game will continue unperturbed.


If the pushout has been announced, you are allowed to break the 9-ball rules. For example, a player will not be required to hit the lowest-numbered ball. In addition, you can hit the ball and if it fails to reach the rail or get pocketed, you will not be penalized.

A player can decide whether take a shot or not. This is after the pushout. The player is allowed to decide if the pushout had sunk the ball in the pocket. After this, the game will continue as expected.

As you have seen, 9-ball is a great game that you can play with your friends for fun. If you never played this game before, try it out. With these guidelines and rules, you will become a professional player. You can even find yourself taking part in tournaments.