Nine Ball Rules

Nine ball is a low-ball first game, so balls must be struck in numerical order. The goal is to pocket the 9-ball which ends the game; other balls have no scoring value. This is the most popular game played today among pool players.


Nine balls in a diamond with the one ball in front and the 9-ball in the middle.


Open break required. Failure to do so is a foul.

Valid Shot

Pocket any ball in any pocket without a foul to continue at the table. Must hit low ball first.

Spotting Balls

Only the 9-ball is spotted. All other balls pocketed on a foul or driven off the table remains off the table.

Penalty for Fouls

Ball-in-hand anywhere on the table.

Three Foul Penalty

Three consecutive fouls is loss of game.

Push Out Rule

On the first shot after the break, the shooter may ‘push out‘. The ‘No Rail‘ and ‘Bad Hit‘ rules are suspended for that one shot and no ball pocketed counts. The opponent then chooses to shoot or to pass the shot back to the player who pushed.


If possible, run all the balls off the table from the break. If that seems unlikely, keep an eye out for good safety possibilities. Play to miss and leave the cue ball where it is impossible or very difficult to hit the object ball. If your opponent fails to hit the lowest object ball first, you get ball-in-hand anywhere.

Look for shots to pocket 9-ball early, but if you play a combination shot on the 9-ball, be sure to hit it firmly enough so the 9-ball is not left a sitting duck in the jaws of the pocket in case you miss. If you push out after break, try to leave a hard, but not impossible shot...make it hard for your opponent to decide whether to pass it back to you.