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9 Ball Rules

World-Standardized Rules
Rules taken from the BCA player handbook

Jump to 8 Ball Rules


      Nine ball is played with nine object balls numbered one through nine and a cue ball. On each shot, the first ball the cue ball contacts must be the lowest numbered ball on the table, but the balls need not be pocketed in order.

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

      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. (EXCEPTION: On the break if a foul is committed by scratching it is ball in hand behind the string line.)


      The object balls are racked in a diamond shape, with the l-ball at the top of the diamond and on the foot spot. The 9-ball in the center of the diamond and the other balls in random order, racked as tightly as possible. The game begins with cue ball in hand behind the head string.


      Winner of the flip has the option to break. In 9-ball, the break is determined by the outcome of the previous game. If the player won the previous game, the incoming player has the break.


      The breaker must strike the one ball first and either pocket a ball or drive at least four numbered balls to a rail. If the cue ball is pocketed or driven off the table, or the requirements of the opening break are not met, the incoming player has ball in hand behind the string line. If on the break, the breaker causes an object ball to jump off the table, the incoming player has ball in hand behind the head string. If at least four numbered balls do not hit a rail then the breaker will rack and the incoming player has ball in head behind the string line. 

    5. PLAY

      On the shot immediately following a legal break, the shooter may play a "push out" (push rule defined in rule 6). If the breaker pockets one or more balls on a legal break, he/she continues to shoot until a miss, a foul or wins the game. The other player begins an inning and shoots until missing, commits a foul or wins.

      The game ends when the 9 ball is pocketed on a legal shot. 

    6. PUSHOUT

      The player who shoots the shot immediately after a legal break may play a push out in an attempt to move the cue ball into a better position for the option that follows. On a push out, the cue ball is not required to contact any object ball nor any rail, but all other foul rules still apply. The play must announce the intention of playing a push out before the shot, or the shot is considered to be a normal shot. Any ball pocketed on a push out stays down with the exception of the nine ball which must be spotted.
      Following a legal push out the incoming player has the choice of shooting from this position or pass the shot back to the player who pushed out. If a player scratches on the break the incoming player cannot play a push out, he has the choice of shooting from behind the head string or passing the shot back to the player that scratched. 

    7. FOULS

      When a player commits a foul, he must relinquish his run at the table and no balls pocketed on the foul are re-spotted. (Exception the nine ball) The incoming player receives ball in hand anywhere on the table. (Exception on the break) The incoming player may place the ball on the table and move it as many times with his/her hand before shooting. If a player commits several fouls on one shot, it is considered only one foul.

    8. BAD HIT

      If the first object ball contacted by the cue ball is not the lowest numbered ball on the table it is a foul Ball in hand is awarded to the incoming player. (Exception on the break) 

    9. NO RAIL

      If no object ball is pocketed, failure to drive the cue ball or any numbered ball to a rail after the cue ball contacts the object ball it is a foul. Ball in hand. 


      Any object ball jumped off the table is a foul. Ball in hand. The object ball goes down and is not re-spotted. (Exception the nine ball)

    11. JUMP OR MASSE SHOTAll jump or masse shots must be shot above the center of the cue ball. No scooping of balls. Jump cues may be used. 
      Jump Buddy is legal equipment.


      If while in the act of shooting a player accidentally touches or moves a ball other than the cue ball it is not a foul. The opponent has the option to replace the ball as closely as possible to its previous position or leaving it lie as it is. If the ball is accidently pushed into a pocket the opponent will re-spot it as close to its original position. 


      Nine on the break wins the game. 


      If a ball is frozen to the rail the player must drive the cue ball or another ball to a rail or the object ball to an opposite rail. If the cue ball and an object ball are frozen together you may shoot through the shot. If the cue ball and object ball are close together (closer than a piece of chalk) but not frozen, the shooter must either draw the cue ball back or shoot the shot at a minimum of a 45 degree angle.  This does not mean you still can’t foul, just that you are less likely to. 
    15. COACHING

      There is no coaching. Team members should not be talking to the player while they are at the table about the game in progress. A player can ask of a specific rule but not how to shoot a shot. 


      Since we are playing with no referees, Captains are responsible for watching close hits. The player must ask the shot to be watched by both captains. If an agreement cannot be met on a close hit, the game will be re-racked by the original racker and played over. A split hit is a good hit. Other members of the team should not be calling fouls. It is your responsibility to watch your own game. 


      Cue balls provided by the tavern are to be used for the match unless other arrangements have been made by both captains. Red circle cue balls may be used if the table is open. 


      The nine ball must be called. During play if the nine ball is pocketed in the wrong pocket it is spotted and the player continues to shoot. If the nine ball is the only ball on the table and is pocketed in the wrong pocket the nine is spotted and the opponent shoots from where the cue ball lies.

    19. PUSH SHOT

      A push shot is a foul. This occurs when the object and the cue ball are less than a piece of chalk distance apart. To avoid committing a foul the player must shoot at a 45 degree angle away from the ball. However, if the two balls are frozen to each other any legal stroke may be executed.


      If a player has ball in hand he may place the cue ball anywhere on the table and move it as many times necessary prior to taking the shot.  You cannot use the tip of the stick to move the ball when placing it.  You can use the shaft.


      Coaching or distracting the player is considered unsportsmanlike and can constitute a foul.  The player must give a warning to the opposing team and then if it continues will receive ball in hand.

      During a game if a player breaks down his/her cue (unless changing shafts) is it considered a loss as they are conceding the game.


      When the bar has more than 1 table and multiple teams are playing the tables are first come first serve. 


      Balls are spotted (returned to play on the table) by placing them on the long string (long axis of the table) as close as possible to the foot spot and between the foot spot and the foot rail, without moving any interfering ball. If the spotted ball cannot be placed on the foot spot,it should be placed in contact (if possible) with the corresponding interfering ball. However, when the cue ball is next to the spotted ball, the spotted ball should not be placed in contact with the cue ball; a small separation must be maintained. If all of the long string below the foot spot is blocked by other balls, the ball is spotted above the foot spot, and as close as possible to the foot spot.


      You must have 3 players by 7:00p.  If a player is late they have until the end of the 2nd round to get there and make up the 1st round.  If it goes past the second round the late player will forfeit the first 2 games and continue to shoot the rest.



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