How To Rack In 9 Ball?

Red Pool Table in a Bar

Racking the balls in 9-ball is simple. Most people may not know at first, but that’s totally normal.

You place the balls like a diamond using a rack with the 1 Ball at the front and the 9 Ball in the middle. The rest of the balls don’t matter.

Now if you’re playing in APA or BCA. All this info will vary so double check with your specific format rules. Here is the links for APA and BCA.

If you’re just playing at the bar with some friends, APA/BCA rules don’t have to apply here (but are a good place if you want to see how league play does it).

What Are The 9-Ball Rules And How Do You Play?

The basics are easy, one person breaks. Take turns (same as 8-Ball), and each player can only shoot the balls in order (1 to 9). Whomever makes the 9-ball wins!

The fouls/scratching are the same as you would play in 8-Ball. Rules may vary depending on what format you are playing.

9-Ball can get a little more detailed but I’ll save that for a later post.

What’s The Best Way to Break in 9-Ball?

There are a lot of proven ways to do an effective 9-Ball break. I usually break from the right side of the “kitchen” (behind the 2nd diamond/dot) and hit it firm. I usually hit the 1-Ball full on too.

Dr. Dave is a great resource and he’s written this PDF which explains different strategies of breaking in 9-Ball for the curious.

Other Things To Consider

Tight Rack

The most important thing to remember is you need a TIGHT rack. Make sure all the balls are touching. This is going to help the balls the power from your break transfer. It’ll also help the balls move around so you have a better chance to make a ball on the break.

I highly recommend using a Magic Rack if you want a perfect rack every time. Here is the same one I use from Amazon.

Decent Table

If you are shooting on a bad table that’s ripped up and not taken care of, you won’t get the same rolls. The table is just going to under perform so keep this in mind.

Good stick

Can’t break a good rack with a bad stick. If you’re using a house cue, make sure its straight and its tip is still on!

A classic way to tell if your stick is straight or not is simple. Try these steps:

  1. Pick the stick up and place it on a pool table
  2. Roll the stick back and forth
  3. Observe if it bumps as you roll it or if its a smooth roll

This is a quick way to see if that house cue is straight or not. Another method is picking the stick up and looking at it from top to bottom and rolling it. Now check if it’s straight as you roll it.

Final Note

I love 9-Ball, its a great game. It’s a much simpler game but you’ll find it to be difficult in setting up for the next shot. If you want to improve your break, I have a great article here on some tips.

Remember, if you can’t run out the rack – play defense.


Benny is the owner of Supreme Billiards and has been shooting pool and teaching people how to shoot pool for a few years now. He enjoys showing new players techniques and drills to improve their pool game.

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