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How to play 9 ball pool, history and rules

9 Ball Pool


The game can be traced back to the 1920’s in the USA.

Historically it was associated with “money” and betting. However the major tournaments for
9 ball pool

have helped to ensure that this game is now one for all the family.

It is typically played at a fast pace and
trick shots are very common.

Object of the Game

There are 9 balls each numbered 1 to 9,  plus a cue

One of the balls is the “9” ball and the object is to pocket this ball.

The lowest valued ball has to pocketed first and then the next number upwards but

remembering that the “9” ball can be pocketed at any time to win the game.

When you pocket a ball you get another shot and so on until either the table is cleared or the 9 ball is potted.

aerial view of pool table

How to Play

9 ball is played with
9 object balls numbered 1 through 9 and a cue ball. 

On each shot, the first ball the cue ball contacts must be the lowest numbered ball on the
, but the balls need not be pocketed in order.*

If a player pockets any ball on a legal shot, he remains at the table for another shot, and continues until missing, committing a foul, or winning the game by pocketing the 9 ball. 

After a miss, the incoming player must shoot from the position left by the previous player, but after any foul the incoming player may start with the cue ball anywhere on the table. 

Players are not required to call any shot. 

A match ends when one of the players has won the required number of games. 

Example 1 

Ideally, if the balls were suitably spread out, a player would strike the cue ball and hit the
1 ball first and the 1 ball would go into a pocket. Then they would strike the cue ball and hit the
2 ball next with the 2 ball going into a pocket and so on right through to finally the 9 ball. 

Example 2 

Sometimes the balls are not spread out very well –
e.g. the 5 ball is sitting right over a pocket and blocking the path of the
1 ball (or lowest ball on the table at that time). As long as a player strikes the cue ball and hits the
1 ball (or lowest numbered ball on the table) first, and if that 1 ball (or lowest numbered ball) or indeed the cue ball then hits the
5 ball and it goes into the pocket, then it’s a legal shot.

Effectively, any ball on the table may be knocked into a pocket as long as a player strikes the cue ball and hits the lowest numbered ball first.