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9 Ball Pool and Billiards Rules

Nine ball is played with nine object balls numbered one through nine and the cue ball. The balls are played in ascending numerical order. The player legally pocketing the nine ball wins the rack.

Determining the Break

The player who wins the lag chooses who will break the first rack. (See Lagging to Determine Order of Play.)

Nine Ball Rack

The object balls are racked as tightly as possible in a diamond shape, with the one ball at the apex of the diamond and on the foot spot and the nine ball in the middle of the diamond. The other balls will be placed in the diamond without purposeful or intentional pattern.

Legal Break Shot

The following rules apply to the break shot:

  • (a) the cue ball begins in hand behind the head string; and
  • (b) if no ball is pocketed, at least four object balls must be driven to one or more rails, or the shot is a foul

Second Shot of the Rack - Push Out

If no foul is committed on the break shot, the shooter may choose to play a “push out” as his shot. He must make his intention known to the referee, and then rules Wrong Ball First and No Rail after Contact are suspended for the shot. If no foul is committed on a push out, the other player chooses who will shoot next.

Continuing Play

If the shooter legally pockets any ball on a shot (except a push out, see Second Shot of the Rack – Push Out), he continues at the table for the next shot. If he legally pockets the nine ball on any shot (except a push out), he wins the rack. If the shooter fails to pocket a ball or fouls, play passes to the other player, and if no foul was committed, the incoming player must play the cue ball from the position left by the other player.

Spotting Balls

If the nine ball is pocketed on a foul or push out, or driven off the table, it is spotted. (See Spotting Balls.) No other object ball is ever spotted

Standard Fouls

If the shooter commits a standard foul, play passes to his opponent. The cue ball is in hand, and the incoming player may place it anywhere on the playing surface. (See Cue Ball in Hand.) The following are standard fouls at nine ball:

Cue Ball Scratch or off the Table
Wrong Ball First The first object ball contacted by the cue ball on each shot must be the lowest-numbered ball remaining on the table.
No Rail after Contact
No Foot on Floor
Ball Driven off the Table The only jumped object ball that is spotted is the nine.
Touched Ball
Double Hit / Frozen Balls
Push Shot
Balls Still Moving
Bad Cue Ball Placement
Cue Stick on the Table
Playing out of Turn
Slow Play

Serious Fouls

For Three Consecutive Fouls, the penalty is loss of the current rack. For Unsportsmanlike Conduct, the referee will choose a penalty appropriate given the nature of the offense.


If a stalemate occurs the original breaker of the rack will break again. (See Stalemate.)