How to Get Better at 9-Ball Pool

9-ball is another pool game that gets played in a lot of tournament and bars. This game uses only 10 balls – 1 through 9 and the cue ball.

The balls are racked in a special diamond-shaped rack with the one ball in the point position on the footspot and the nine ball in the middle.

This game is sometimes called “money ball”. In one variation, players assign a monetary value to each ball, with the 1 through 8 being a certain amount and the 9 usually a larger amount. This game can be played with more than two players.

Having multiple players can be quite profitable if you are on a hot streak in this game, because whenever a ball is made, all players pay the shooter the fixed amount for whatever ball was sunk. A good player could conceivably break the 9-ball rack, sink all the balls, and get paid for each ball from each opponent. Good money if you can do it!

In tournament play, 9-ball is played with two players. The game starts with one shooter hitting the cue into the rack. As long as at least one ball is made, the shooter continues to shoot.

In 9-ball, the balls are hit in rotation, meaning that they must be targeted in numerical sequence starting with the one ball. However, the balls don’t necessarily need to be pocketed in sequence. As long as the ball of the correct number is hit by the cue ball first, any ball may be sunk and the shooter allowed to continue.

This game does not require shots to be called. As a matter of fact, if a player cannot make a clean shot on his targeted ball, he may simply smash that ball around the table and be credited for any balls that fall in. If any ball falls in he continues to shoot.

One unique feature of this game is that the 9 ball does not necessarily have to be pocketed in rotation. It may be made at any time as long as the shooter’s object ball is hit first. A player may carom or combination shoot his sequential object ball into the 9 ball and cause it to go into the pocket, resulting in a win. Whenever the 9 ball is legally made the game is over.

9-ball, like most other pool games, is subject to several events during the course of a game. If the cue ball is sunk or knocked off the table, it is called a scratch or foul, and the opponent is given ball-in-hand, meaning that he may pace the cue ball anywhere he likes on the table and begin his shot from there.

If any ball is pocketed illegally, it is “spotted” or placed on the foot spot. An illegally pocketed ball would be one which is sunk, in or out of sequence, without the cue first contacting the object ball. An object ball that is knocked off the table is also spotted on the footspot.


  • Break the rack with a good hard smack – you may sink the 9 ball and win immediately.
  • Try to see several shots ahead so you know where to leave the cue ball for your next shots.
  • You can carom the cue ball off of your object ball to sink another one.
  • Be aware of the location of the 9 ball at all times so you may take advantage of a combination shot and win the game early if an opportunity should occur.
  • If you cannot get a clean hit on your object ball and may miss the shot, try to leave the cue behind other balls so that your opponent will not have a good shot either.
  • If you cannot make your shot, try to leave the cue next to a rail, thereby making it a little harder for your opponent to make a clean hit.
  • If you have a very difficult shot, it is usually better to play a safety than risk giving your opponent an opportunity to run the table.

General Tips

  • Consider playing safe instead of going for a low percentage shot
  • Choose “Solids” or “Stripes” wisely after the break
  • Pocket balls in groups to avoid having to go up and down the table
  • Think 3 shots ahead, not just 1 or 2
  • Have a plan but re-evaluate after every shot

We have more playing tips on how to better your game.

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