How to Play 9-Ball Pool

By eHow Sports & Fitness Editor

It's considered by some as the most challenging pool game, by others as the best pool game. 9-Ball is a game in which players can win or lose on any shot of the game. Here's an overview of the rules, along with advice on how to play a better game of nine ball.

Racking and Breaking

Place the rack at the foot spot of the table.

Insert the 1-ball at the corner of the rack touching the foot spot. Place two balls other than the 9-ball behind it, touching tightly.

Put the 9-ball behind the two balls and place one ball on each side of it. Place the remaining 3 balls in the rack to form a diamond shape, with the 9-ball at the center. Remove the rack.

Designate which player breaks. That player shoots the cue ball at the 1-ball to drive it into the other balls and separate them. The break must cause either four balls to hit the rail or one or more balls to be sunk, or it is ruled a foul. If the shooter sinks the 9-ball on the break, he wins. The player continues shooting if she sinks any other numbered ball. The other player shoots if the first player fails to sink any ball.

Continuing Play

Study the way the balls are distributed on the table. Players must always shoot at the lowest numbered ball on the table, but the balls do not have to be sunk in number order.

Aim for the lowest numbered ball on the table. The cue ball must contact this ball, the object ball, before contacting and sinking any others, or the object ball may be knocked into any other ball on the table to sink it. Striking any ball out of numbered sequence is a foul, as is failing to drive either the object ball or the cue ball to the rail on a shot where no balls are pocketed or driving the object ball off the table.

Sink the object ball or use it to sink another ball into a pocket. If you do, you get to shoot again. If you miss, your opponent takes over, playing the cue ball at the spot where it comes to rest. If you foul, your opponent takes over and may place the cue ball anywhere on the table he sees fit.

Repeat Steps 1 through 3 until the 9-ball is sunk legally, whether by first sinking the previous eight balls or as a result of being sunk by the object ball in play hitting it, with the player sinking the 9-ball winning, or until one player fouls on three successive shots, at which point the opponent wins.

Start the entire procedure over for successive games. Players may alternate who breaks, or the player who lost the last game or has won the fewest games may break for the next game. Continue until one player has won the agreed-upon number of games to win the match.