9-Ball is one of the most frequently played indoor games. There are several rules for playing 9-Ball. Often decided by the players themselves, the game can be played with mutually agreed rules of foul and continue. However, there are some standard 9-Ball rules set by the Billiard Congress of America. These are important for the players to learn and follow. Following is the detailed description of the 9-Ball rules:
I. Object of the game
9-Ball is played with nine object balls and a cue ball. The nine object balls are numbered from one to nine. On every shot, the cue ball must hit the lowest numbered ball on the table. However, it is not important to pocket the balls in numerical order. If a player pockets any ball on a legal shot, he continues playing and aims at the next ball. If there is a miss-hit or a foul, the incoming player takes the shot. In case of miss, the cue ball is to be shot from the same position the last player missed on. In case of foul, the player can shoot from any position on the table.
The game is won by pocketing the nine ball. The matches have fixed number of games agreed among players. The one to win more games is the winner.
II. Racking the balls
The balls are racked in diamond shape on the table. The nine ball is placed at the center and one ball is placed at the top of diamond on foot spot. Other balls can be randomly placed but the rack should be tightly placed. The game starts with the cue ball in player’s hand when he is ready to place it on table and open the break shot.
III. Order of Play
The order is decided by a toss or by lag. The winner has the option to break out. In the following games, the winner of a game has the chance to break out the next game.
IV. Legal break shot
Legal break shot is the opening break shot. The game starts as soon as the tip of cue touches the cue ball. For the opening break shot, the cue ball is placed and shoot from behind the baulk line. The rules for legal break shot are a little different than other shots such as:
- The breaker must hit the 1-ball first or at least drive four numbered balls to the rail.
- If the cue ball gets pocketed or jumps off the table upon hit, it is considered as a foul. The next player is free to place cue ball anywhere on table surface.
- If the object ball jumps off the table upon break shot, it is a foul and the ball is not re-spotted except if it is the 9-ball. The incoming player can then place the cue ball anywhere on the table.
V. Continuing play
After the first successful shot, the player continues playing the game until he misses, fouls or wins the game. In case of missing out or any foul, the other player takes his turn and continues playing until any miss, foul or pocketing the 9-ball and win. Another immediate thing after the legal break shot is that a player can play ‘push out’.
VI. Push Out
Push Out is an opportunity that can be utilized right after breaking out to take the cue ball to a better position for a good hit. To take a push out, the players needs to announce ‘push out’ before taking a shot. Otherwise, it is taken as a normal shot. In case of push out, the cue ball is not strictly supposed to touch any object ball or any rail. However, the other foul rules still hold. After the legal push out, the next player can take a shot from the same position or is free to pass the shot back to the ‘push out’ player.
After a foul, the player can have no run on the table. No balls pocketed on a foul are re-spotted except 9-ball. The other player can place cue ball anywhere he wants. All the fouls in one run are counted as a single foul. Following actions are considered as fouls:
If the first object shot is the not the lowest numbered ball, it is a foul.
If there is no ball pocketed on break shot and then no ball either cue ball or object ball, touches the rail, it is again considered a foul.
VIII. Cue ball in hand
Having the cue ball in hand, the player is free to place it anywhere on the table except that it touches any object ball and can adjust its position as many times as he wants before taking a shot.
IX. Jumping off the table
If any object ball jumps off the table on a shot, it is not re-spotted except for the 9-ball, and the game continues. Every ball is supposed to rest back on the table. If not, it is considered a foul.
X. Three successive fouls
A player loses the game if he fouls three times on three subsequent shots and there is no legal shot in between. Three fouls are supposed to occur in a single game. The player is given a warning between second and third fouls. The player’s turn starts on a legal shot and ends when there is a miss, foul or win, or when there is a foul between shots.
XI. Ending the game
The game starts at a legal shot and the cue ball is aimed at 1-ball. The game ends when the 9-ball is pocketed by any of the player on a legal shot. Also, when a player is dismissed due to consecutive shots, the other player wins and the game ends.
So, these are some of the standard 9-ball rules to play a healthy game. Otherwise, it is up to players to decide the final rules before starting the game.