The Game Of 9-Ball

The game of 9-ball is another very popular pool game. This is a common tournament game as well, with many contests to be seen on television. Like 8-ball, this game is easy to understand, but it calls for some real talent and concentration to be exceptional at it.

The game of 9-ball uses only the balls 1 through 9 and the cue ball. This is a rotation game, meaning that the balls must be pocketed in numerical order starting with the 1 ball. If the one ball is already in the pocket, the next lowest ball is the object ball. The balls are racked with a diamond-shaped rack. The one ball is placed at the head position on the foot spot, and the nine ball is placed in the center of the rack. When the rack is broken, the one ball must be the first ball that is contacted by the cue ball.

nine ball rack

If a ball is sunk on the break, the breaking player continues to shoot. He must start with the lowest ball on the table and continue upward from there, sinking the balls in numerical order. This player shoots until he misses or until he wins by sinking the nine ball.

An interesting twist to this game is that the game may be cut short by getting the nine ball in early. The balls must be hit in order, but the shooter may knock the current ball into any other ball and pocket that ball. If the current shooter can combination the nine ball in off of the current ball in rotation, the nine ball counts and the game is won by this shooter.

"Slop" also counts in this game. After you have hit the correct object ball with the cue, any other balls that go in count towards the current shooter continuing his turn. So, even if you didn't pocket the ball you were aiming at, as long as you made at least one other ball legally, you continue to shoot. Players sometimes just smash the balls around if they don't have a clear shot, and sometimes get lucky and slop a ball in.

The game is won when the nine ball is legally pocketed. So, you can either sink all the balls in rotation, or you can pocket the nine ball by caroming the cue ball off of the current object ball, or you can sink the nine by making it in a combination with the object ball. There are other rules which may be found on the game rules page.

The game of 9-ball is sometimes called "money ball". In this version, each ball is worth a certain amount of money, say one dollar, while the nine ball is worth more, say five dollars. If multiple players are in the game, every time that a ball is sunk, each player pays one dollar to the player who sank it. When the nine ball is pocketed, each player pays five dollars to that shooter.

The strategy for 9-ball is similar to 8-ball - try not to leave your opponent a good shot if you miss. If you can't see your current shot going in, leave the cue ball in a tough spot for your opponent. When breaking, hit the rack good and hard so you have a better chance of making some balls.

If you make the nine ball on the break and don't scratch, you win. Keep your eye on the nine ball throughout the game in case you get a chance to make it early by combination or carom. Whether you make the nine at the beginning of the game or the end, it still counts as a win.

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