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9 Ball Pool Rules: A Complete Guide

When we talk about famous Pool games, in terms of variations, 8 ball Pool and 9 ball pool stand out as the most famous of the Pool variations practiced in the world. However, if you want to learn the two games, you’d have to spend some time reading their rules and how they vary from one to another.

In this article, we’ll be going through the rules of 9 ball Pool and how these rules are changed when we switch from one region to another. For instance, there are APA 9 ball pool rules, BCA 9 ball pool rules, Texas Express 9 ball rules, WPA 9 ball rules, Tap 9 ball rules, etc.

So by the end of reading this article, you’d be well aware of the common 9 ball pool rules, and the rules that are slightly changed in these variations.

List of 9 Ball Pool Rules & Fouls

Like variations in any sport, there are some rules in 9 ball Pool which are common in more or less every variation. So in this section, we’ll discuss those rules.

1. Object Of 9 Ball Pool

Before we talk about the rules and how they vary from variation to variation, let us talk about the objective first. It is played with 10 balls, including 8 object balls one cue ball, and the 9th ball. The 9th ball serves as the neutral ball.

You are always supposed to hit the lowest number ball on the table, however, it is not necessary that the balls must be pocketed in a certain order.

When you play a legal shot, you remain at the table for another shot. And you continue to play shots until you miss one or make a foul. To win the game, you have to pot the 9th ball. But you can’t hit it directly until it’s the only one left. If you pot the 9th ball at any point, you win. However, it is to remind you again that you must hit the lowest number ball to do this if other balls are present on the table.

Unlike 8-ball pool, there is no such concept like calling a shot.

The object is true for all variations of the 9 ball pool including WPA, BCA, APA, etc.

2. Racking in 9 Ball

And just like objective, racking balls in a 9-ball pool is the same as in all variations of the game. All the object balls (from 1-8) are racked in a diamond shape such that one ball is at the top of the diamond while the other on the foot spot. The 9th-ball is kept in the center of the diamond. The 1-ball goes at the top of end so that the breaker can hit it easily.

Except for this sequence and the condition that the 9th-ball must be in the center, you have the freedom to keep the balls in diamond shape irrespective of their numerical order.

This racking sequence applies to all variations of Pool including WPA, BCA, Texas Express, etc.

3. Break Shot

Before we go in the technical aspects of a break, let us first discuss who gets the first break. How is it determined? It can be a coin toss, or it can be done by Lagging.

Lagging is an exercise in which both players simultaneously shoot a solid ball from cue balls from behind the head string towards the foot of the table such that the ball strikes the top rail and returns as close back to the bottom rail as possible. The one whose ball returns further back than the other, wins the lag.

The procedure for determining break shot is the same in all variations.

3.1. What’s A Legal Break Shot

And now we’ll talk about the legal break shots. Here are some conditions regarding a shot to be legal:

3.2. The Breaker Must Hit The Lowest Number

For a break to be legal, the breaker must hit the lowest number ball first, i.e. 1, and he must either pocket a ball or drive at least four number balls to the rail. If he scratches, the other player will get the ball-in-hand, the freedom to place the cue ball anywhere on the table.

This rule is true for WPA, BCA, APA, and Texas Express.

3.3. Cue Ball Gone Off Table During Break

Another important rule here to note here is that if the cue ball is pocketed or driven off the table during the break, it is called 9 ball pool rules scratch on break. And as a penalty, the opponent gets the opportunity to place the cue ball anywhere on the table and hit it.

This rule is also true for Texas Express, APA, WPA, BCA, and all common variations of 9-ball pool.

3.4. Object Ball Gone Off Table During Break

Likewise, if during the break, the breaker causes the object ball to go off the table it is considered a foul and here too, the other player gets the ball in hand advantage.

This rule is also true for Texas Express, WPA, BCA, and all common variations of 9-ball pool.

4. During The Play

And now, we’ll talk about the rules and their consequences if not followed that must be kept in mind during the play, and after the break.

4.1. Push Our After The Break

There is an interesting term used “Push Out” in 9-ball pool. After the break, the breaker can call for it. Let me explain what it is.

4.2. Push Out in 9 ball

What happens in push out is a player tries to push the cue ball in a better position where he might be able to reach his objective easily. During a push out, you must not contact the rails or any ball. A player must call “Push out” loudly in order to let the other player know.

It is to keep in mind while going for a push out that all foul rules still apply during it. If you pocket a ball or hit the rail, it will be considered a foul and your opponent will get the ball in hand along with the turn.

The rule of Push Out is also common in different forms of Pool including WPA, BCA, and international 9-ball Pool ball rules

4.3. Bad Hit in 9 ball

Another common term used in 9 ball pool rules is bad hit. This occurs during the continuation of play, after the break. It implies that both the players must hit the lowest number ball available on the tabe. Just like break, this rule also applies in the middle of the play, if a player hits another ball, it’s considered a 9 ball pool rule foul and the other player gets the ball in hand.

This rule applies to all common forms of 9-ball pool including WPA, BCA, APA, Texas Express, etc.

4.4. No Rail

Likewise, just like the break, during every shot you play in the continuation of the game, either one ball should always be pocketed or you must hit any ball to a rail after the cue ball contact. Otherwise, it will be a foul (scratch) and the same ball in hand rule will be applied.

This rule also applies to all common forms of 9-ball pool including WPA, BCA, APA, Texas Express, etc.

4.5. Object Ball Gone Off The Table

Likewise, if during the play, after the break, any object ball is driven off the table, it is considered a 9 ball pool rules scratch. And the same ball in hand rule will be applied. And the object ball will not be respotted.

This rule also applies to all common forms of 9-ball pool including WPA, BCA, Texas Express, etc.

4.6. Jump & Masse Shot

Normally, in such matches where referees are monitoring, you don’t have to assert these rules. However, like other snooker and pool games, this shot is considered a foul. If you attempt to jump, curve or masse the cue ball over or around any other ball that might impede its movement, it’s illegal. Jump and Masse Shot foul gives your opponent a ball in hand.

Except APA, no variation of 9-ball pool allows this.

4.7. Early Shot

If you play the shot before the ball that was hit by your opponent hasn’t come to rest yet or pocketed, it is considered a foul. And your opponent gets a ball in hand.

In no form of 9-ball pool, you can do this.

4.8. Touching Cue Ball

Touching the cue ball with your stick when it’s not your turn or causing it to move by any other means is also considered a foul. Your opponent gets a ball in hand in this case, too.

This too, can’t be done in any form of 9-ball pool.

4.9. Touching Numbered Ball

While placing the cue ball, if you intentionally or unintentionally touch any numbered ball, you lose your turn and your opponent gets a ball in hand.

This foul remains a foul in all forms of 9-ball pool.

4.10. Miscue

If any other part of the cue other than the tip comes in contact with a numbered or cue ball during play, it’s considered a foul. And your opponent will get the ball in hand.

No 9-ball pool variations allows you to hit the ball with any other part of the cue stick except than the tip.

4.11. 9 ball Pool Rules Combo

And as you might have guessed from the rules mentioned above, the combo of 9th ball with another is not allowed. You can’t hit the 9th-ball directly from your cue ball. However, if you hit the 9th-ball with the lowest numbered ball, it will be legal. But it’s the lowest numbered ball that should hit the 9th-ball, not the 9th-ball itself.

In all common forms of 9-ball Pool, like WPA, BCA, and APA, this rule applies.

4.12. Practice During Match

Except for APA, it is not permissible to practice during the match. If you do so, it’s considered a foul which results in the ball in hand.

5. End Of Game

So, now comes the ending of the game. How does the game end, is it always one person winning the game by pocketing the 9th ball or like 8-ball a player can be declared loser because of a certain error?

5.1. Winning

To win the game, the objective is simple. Pocket the 9th ball. If you manage to pocket it any time during the play, you’ll be deemed as the winner. There are no restrictions like all object balls must be pocketed before the 9th-ball, as there is no such rule regarding choosing stripes or solid as object balls to hit during the game.

Games are won in this fashion in all forms of 9-ball Pool.

5.2. Losing The Game

There is no shot in 9-ball pool that straightaway leads you to loss in 9-ball pool. However, there are certain instances, in which the referee can intervene and declare forfeiting of a game if one player is intentionally causing fouls.

For instance, if a player makes two consecutive fouls without any intention of playing a legal shot, the referee would warn him after the second, and if he makes another one, the third one in a row, he will declare the other guy as the winner.

The rule of intentional fouling applies to all forms of 9-ball pool.

9 Ball Pool Rules in Different Associations

Actually, there are more than pool associations in the USA, and when it comes to the number of Pool associations in the world, who knows how many we have. So these associations usually mould the game of 9-ball pool to look different. However, these are very minor changes, and don’t matter much.

I’ll talk a bit about the associations with slight differences in rules, so, just in case, you want to learn about the rules they have moulded.

1. APA

Here are a couple of changes that I have learnt about APA:

  • APA allows you to jump, but you should jump properly (30-45 degree down angle) and no scooping.
  • You can’t use a shortened jump cue.
  • In APA, if the object ball is hit off the table, it is spotted back.
  • In APA, you can practice during the match.
  • The shooter can measure the distance with part of the body or equipment.

2. BCA

BCA is different from APA and others because of this rule.

  • In BCA, you can’t practice during the match.
  • You can use a jump cue or shorten your cue.
  • Shooters can only use their vision to make any sort of judgement before hitting.


Do you have to call the 9 ball in 9-ball?

No, you don’t have to call the 9 ball.

Can you combo 9-ball?

Yes, as long as you hit the lowest numbered ball first, there is no problem in it.

When can you hit the 9-ball?

You can’t hit it directly, until all balls have disappeared from the table. However, if you hit it via hitting the lowest numbered ball, it would be legal any time.

What is a cut break in 9-ball?

When the 9th ball is racked on the spot and you hit the ball 1 at a slight angle on the outside to pocket the winged ball (the ball at the lateral extreme) it is called a cut break.


If I sum up this article, the game of 9 ball pool varies hugely from one region to another. But the general rules remain the same. Only minor changes in rules are made to make one variation look different than the other. Moreover, casual players also tend to make slight changes in the rules for their convenience. However, with different rules of variations mentioned at the top, it won’t be a problem for you to practice any of these forms.

About Maryam Shaw

Hello Everyone! I am Maryam, the reason behind creating this website is to help people with the detailed information and reviews about sports products