Is 8 Ball Better Than 9 Ball? (Which is Harder?)

Both 8 Ball and 9 Ball Pool are arguably the two billiards games most frequently played as well as pinned against one another. While there is a great deal that these two games have in common, they each have their own unique set of rules and pose different challenges to players. So, if a particularly ambitious pool player wanted to choose the hardest of the two, which would it be?

Most players agree that 9 Ball Pool is harder than 8 Ball Pool, especially once you’ve reached the pro levels. 8 Ball Pool offers players more leniency with mistakes and more potential target balls than 9 Ball Pool, where balls must be sunk in numerical order. Of course, some argue to the contrary.

This article will discuss both sides of the debate regarding whether 8 Ball Pool is harder than 9 Ball Pool and vice versa. We’ll cover differences in rules, strategy, and skill level that ultimately gives one game a leg-up in difficulty over the other and why some avid players disagree with the general consensus on this topic.

Why Do People Think 9 Ball Pool is Harder Than 8 Ball Pool?

Although 8 Ball and 9 Ball pool are both considered shooter games by billiard’s standards, they differ in the number of balls they have and how they are played. Because of these differences, players generally agree that one game is harder than the other.

Despite the degree of debate for and against each side, the majority of billiards players agree that 9 Ball Pool is harder to play than 8 Ball Pool. This consensus is founded on the fact that 9 Ball Pool requires players to shoot in numerical order, which significantly reduces the number of potential shots and target balls on the table.

8 Ball Pool is often seen as the more forgiving game because players merely have to sink balls of their assigned category without sinking the 8 ball ahead of them or scratching. The only additional rule, apart from fouls, is calling your shots.

Comparatively, if you want to play run-out 9 Ball Pool, you have to be extremely strategic with your ball placement and have a firm grasp on nearly every type of shot since you only have one target ball, and missing it could cost you dearly.

Because of the game’s rules, 8 Ball Pool is usually deemed the more beginner or intermediate friendly game, as they have a higher chance of creating run-out opportunities with less skill than in 9 Ball Pool.

What is the Counter Argument?

For the most part, players will stand firm that 9 Ball Pool is harder than 8 Ball Pool regardless of the circumstances, but some players either argue the contrary or refuse to state one game is harder than the other due to their differences.

Those who state 8 Ball Pool is harder usually stand behind the argument that 8 Ball Pool is more of a mentally challenging game versus 9 Ball Pool which is more of a shooter’s game. While you definitely won’t get far in a game of 9 Ball Pool if you aren’t strategizing your shots, 8 Ball Pool has the additional challenge of more ball clusters than 9 Ball Pool, which could completely eliminate potential shots.

Therefore, they need to think critically about when they’re going for run-outs and when they need to play it safe to sink balls.

Some will argue 8 Ball Pool is more challenging at the pro levels since failing a run-out could effectively lose the game for you. Pros can win a game of 8 Ball Pool in one or two turns, which is why they spend so much time analyzing the table and strategizing their shots because they know the odds of them getting another turn at the pro level is slim.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of which side of the debate you take, both of these billiard games are exceptional ways to play pool and can teach any player a lot in terms of technique and strategy. For the most part, 9 Ball Pool is renowned for having harder shots, and so, its players must be top-notch shooters who have mastered nearly every shot type in existence.

On the other hand, 8 Ball Pool arguably requires more mental effort and strategy than 9 Ball Pool. It might be a little more forgiving since you have more target balls, but you run the risk of these balls being packed into a cluster. Plus, one failed to turn, and it could be all over once you reach pro levels. Ultimately, both games are hard, and it’s up to the player to decide which suits their ambitions and preferences best.


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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