how to play 9 ball pool

How To Play 9 Ball Pool: Expert Tutorial

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If you are a beginner learning how to play 9 Ball Pool, we are here to help. This expert tutorial will unravel the secrets behind setting up, legal breaking, and winning in this game. From the basics to advanced tips, join us as we break down the essential elements that can turn you into a pro 9 Ball Pool player. 

How To Play 9 Ball Pool?

Understanding the basics is crucial before diving into the fast-paced world of 9 Ball Pool. To learn how to play pool, let's start by exploring how to set up 9 Ball pool.


The setup is a massive difference between 8 Ball Pool and 9 Ball Pool. In the 9 Ball pool, you must arrange the balls on the table in a diamond shape: 

  • The 1-ball sits at the tip, right over the foot spot, and the special 9-ball takes place in the middle. 
  • The other numbered balls (2 through 8) get more random.
  • If you use the 8-ball triangular rack, stack two balls under the 1-ball for the second row. 
  • Ensure the balls are snug before taking off the rack, and you're all set for the break!

how to set up 9 ball

9 Ball Pool setup

Legal Breaking

After setting up, players will do a break – the opening move that sets the game in motion.

  • To start things off, position the cue ball behind the head string. 
  • A legal break is to ensure the 1-ball first or at least four balls get hit into the table rails – excluding the cue ball.

Game Process

With the balls set up and the break done, it's time to reveal: What are the basic rules of the 9 Ball Pool? Here is a breakdown of a 9 Ball Pool game process: 

  • Players take turns, each aiming to pocket the object balls. What matters is that you're sinking balls and keeping the momentum alive.
  • Unlike some pool variations like bumper pool or cutthroat pool, 9 Ball is more laid-back. You don't need to call your shots; just trust your instincts and let the game flow.
  • Your turn continues as long as you keep pocketing balls. If you miss a shot or cause a foul, the next player steps up and takes their shot.
  • Every turn must kick off with the cue ball hitting the lowest-numbered ball on the table. There's no strict order for sinking the balls. 
  • Once all the other balls are in their pockets, you can deal with the 9-ball.

Fouling Rules

how to play 9 ball

Illegal break in 9 Ball Pool (Image Source: Youtube)

Even when you play pool by yourself, various moves are considered foul shots. Here are some common fouls and penalties in 9 Ball rules you should know:


  • If you scratch while hitting the cue ball on the break, it's a foul. The other player gains the advantage by placing the cue ball anywhere on the table.
  • Hitting any ball other than the lowest-numbered one is a foul.
  • If no ball is pocketed or fails to hit a rail after hitting the lowest-numbered ball, it's a foul.
  • Pocketed balls (except the 9-ball) stay put, but the player's turn ends. The other player takes control, moving the cue ball anywhere.
  • Multiple fouls in a single shot count as one. However, three consecutive fouls mean an automatic loss.


  • If the break fails, the other player places the cue ball anywhere and takes their turn.
  • Missing the 1-ball on the break ends your turn. The other player takes charge with the cue ball in hand.
  • Shooting a numbered ball off the table ends your turn. If you pocket the 9-ball, however, you can return to play.

Winning the Game

The 9 Ball rules indicate that you win by pocketing the 9-ball. Yet, many prefer engaging in a 9 Ball match to extend the playtime, as individual games can be brief. In a match, you are the winner when you win a chosen number of games. For instance, winning the match may require gaining three-game victories.

The Push Out

In 9 Ball Pool, "The Push Out" is a strategic move that follows the break, allowing players to reposition the cue ball without the usual contact requirements. While not widely adopted, this age-old tactic can be a game-changer for those seeking a better shot angle. 

Announcing the move before performing it is essential, as failing to do so turns it into a standard shot. Despite its strategic appeal, fouls are still on the table during The Push Out, so you must be cautious when using this move.

Tips To Score A 9-Ball

9 ball rules

Score a 9-ball (Image Source: WPA Pool)

Now that you've gathered all your gear and have a solid grip on the rules, let's discover how to play 9 Ball Pool properly and effectively. Here are some crucial tips to enhance your skills:

  • Break smart: The break is crucial in 9 Ball. Aim to pocket the 1-ball and set yourself up for an easy shot on the 2. A decisive break increases your chances of sinking balls and controlling the game.
  • Play position: Always think a few shots ahead. If you're sinking the 2-ball, consider where the cue ball will end up for the 3. Plan your shots strategically to make the run-out easier.
  • Safety play: If you don't have a clear shot, don't force it. Consider playing a safety by placing the cue ball in a challenging position for your competitor. This situation forces them to either attempt a difficult shot or play safe as well.
  • Know your opponent: Pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses. If they struggle with long shots, for example, try to leave them with those. Use your strategy based on your opponent's skill level.
  • Master the angles: Understanding how the cue ball reacts off rails and other balls is vital. This skill lets you control the cue ball for precise positioning on the next shot.
  • Be mindful of the 9-ball: Always keep an eye on the 9-ball. If you can sink it early in the game, go for it. Whether it's a combination shot or a carom off another ball, seize the chance to win.
  • Stay focused: 9 Ball can be fast-paced, so stay focused on the game. One missed shot can change the momentum, so take your time and make confident, calculated decisions.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you play and refine your skills, the better your chances of consistently coming out on top in the 9 Ball pool. Make this process easier by following us - Big Cat, and get advice on the best pool cues to upgrade your game! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of the 9 Ball Pool?

The goal in 9 Ball is to secure victory by legally pocketing the 9-ball. The cue ball must initially contact the lowest-numbered ball to achieve a legal hit. Following this contact, either the cue ball or any numbered ball can be used to pocket the 9-ball in any pocket, resulting in a win.

How do you keep score in 9 Ball Pool?

Balls 1 through 8 are equal to one point each, while the 9-ball is two points. The score is kept with two lines, one for each player in singles or each team in doubles. After each rack, the player or team records the points earned—those with the higher total score at the end of the match are the winners.

What are the rules for the 9 Ball in the APA pool?

This article has shared the essential rules for the 9 Ball in the APA pool. For further information, please refer to this APA guideline.

Time To Play!

Knowing how to play 9 Ball Pool is the first step to winning the game. By understanding the basics, from setup to fouling rules, you can enrich your playing experience. As you chalk up and break, remember it's not just about sinking shots but adapting and strategizing. So, cue up with confidence and enjoy the game!

See more: How To Play 8 Ball Pool In 3 Steps