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How To Play 9 Ball

Instructions and Rules

Object of the Game

Nine Ball is played with object balls 1 through 9, and the cue ball. Each shot must touch the lowest numbered ball on the table first, but the balls need not be pocketed in numeric order. This non-call game is won when a player legally pockets the 9 ball, and is often played in a best-of series.

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Racking and Breaking

The object balls are racked in a diamond shape, with the 1-ball at the top on the footspot, the 9-ball in the center, and the remaining balls in random order, packed as tightly as possible. To break, the shooter must strike the 1 ball first and either pocket a ball or drive at least four object balls to the rail.

  • After a successful break, the shooter may play a "push out," moving the cue ball into a better position for the next shot.
  • Failure to make a legal break is a foul.
  • If the shooter misses or fouls, the other player begins their "inning" and shoots until they miss, foul, or win.

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Game Play

Each player uses their inning to try to pocket the 9 ball, while always touching the lowest numbered ball first in each shot. Shots do not need to be called in this game.

  • After a miss or foul, the incoming player may set the cue ball anywhere on the table and continue their inning until they miss, foul, or win.
  • When a player commits a foul, they relinquish their inning and balls pocketed on the foul remain pocketed.
  • The 9-ball is respotted if it is pocketed on a foul.
  • If the first object ball contacted by the cue ball is not the lowest numbered ball on the table, the shot is a foul.
  • If no object ball is pocketed and neither the cue ball nor any numbered ball are driven to the rail, the shot is a foul.
  • If an object ball is driven off the table, it is a foul.
  • While the lowest numbered ball on the table must be first touched in each shot, the balls need not be pocketed in order.

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The player who legally pockets the 9 ball wins the game and the match ends when one player has won the agreed-upon numbr of games.

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