Last Updated on May 5, 2021.

The rules of pool can seem complex for beginners. However, anyone can learn them fairly quickly and start enjoying this fun game

The two most common pool games are 9 ball and 8 ball. While 8 ball is beloved by amateurs and professionals worldwide, 9 ball is more popular on the professional level

8 and 9 ball are similar, with a few significant variations. In both games, players use a wooden cue tip and a white ball to sink a colored ball into any pocket on the table. 

Differences Between 9 Ball and 8 Ball

8 ball is usually played between two people, and to win a game, you must hit the 8 ball into a pocket. Before doing so, you must sink all the balls of one pattern, choosing either solids or stripes at the start of the game. 8 ball has 14 colored balls and the black 8 ball. 

9 ball pool differs slightly since it involves 9 colored balls, numbered 1 to 9. The game’s objective is to sink the 9 ball in any pocket after sinking the other balls in numerical order

The Basic Rules Of Pool

One of the essential rules of pool is that you get another shot after sinking a ball. If you miss a shot, then your opponent takes their turn. This is standard across most pool games, including the popular 8 ball and 9 ball and lesser-known versions of the game like straight pool. 

Even though both 8 ball and 9 ball are played in a similar style, they are different kinds of games with varying rules. In 9 ball, a player must sink the balls in numerical order, which creates a very different dynamic. In general, a player has a broader range of possible plays in 8 ball every turn. 

Additionally, in 9 ball, if a player sinks all the first 8 balls and misses the last shot, the opponent can come along and steal the game by sinking ball number 9. Therefore, both games’ playing style is different, and each game has specific rules regarding the break and possible fouls. 

The Break

While most people know that you must place pool balls in a specific order before beginning the game, not everyone realizes the shape differs between 8 and 9 ball. In 8 ball, the balls are in the shape of a triangle, while in 9 ball, they form a small diamond

You can hit any ball on the triangle to start off the game in 8 ball, but in 9 ball, you must hit ball number 1, right at the top of the diamond. The breaks in 9 ball tend to be a lot more precise, while the start of the game can be messy in 8 ball. 

However, there are two similar rules in the break of both games. At least four balls have to hit the railings on the table, and you can’t sink the cue ball. If the cue ball goes into a pocket, then the break isn’t legal. The cue ball must be shot from the line on the other side of the table in both games for the break. 

Choosing Solids Or Stripes

In 8 ball, whatever pattern of ball you sink first at the beginning of the game is the one you have to stick with for the rest of the game. If you sink two or more balls during the break, then you can choose either stripes or solids. This doesn’t happen in 9 ball, where players always go for the ball on the table with the lowest number. 

What Fouls Can You Make in 8 Ball?

8 ball has many rules. Breaking them could result in a foul

  • You can’t touch any of the balls with anything except the cue.
  • You can’t sink the cue ball.
  • You can’t hit one of your opponent’s balls before your own. 
  • You can’t sink one of your opponent’s balls. 
  • You can’t miss hitting the object ball
  • You can’t hit any of the balls off the table.
  • You can’t hit the ball twice in a single shot.
  • You can’t push the ball with the cue. 

The last foul can happen when a player tries to hit the cue ball so slowly that he gently pushes it along the table. If you make any of these mistakes in 8 ball, your turn ends, and your opponent gets the cue ball. Your opponent can then place the white ball anywhere on the table for his next shot.

This last rule is often not followed by beginner players. Since it seems too much of a reward to place the cue ball anywhere on the table, many people place the ball behind the break line after a foul. 

What Fouls Can You Make in 9 Ball?

9 ball has several of the same fouls as 8 ball, with one crucial difference.

  • You can’t touch any of the balls with anything except the cue.
  • You can’t sink the cue ball.
  • You can’t hit any balls off the table.
  • You can’t hit the ball with 2 strokes.
  • You can’t miss hitting the object ball. 
  • You can’t hit an incorrectly numbered ball out of turn

Like in 8 ball, if you make any of these mistakes, your opponent gets the cue ball, and can place it anywhere on the table. In professional 9 ball, you have to hit the ball within 30 seconds. You can take another 30 seconds as long as you inform the referee, but this can only be done once every game

Finally, there’s one last crucial 9 ball rule. You can hit the correct numbered ball and make any other ball sink into a pocket. This is tricky because it can end a game very suddenly. In 8 ball, ball number 8 can only be sunk after a player has sunk every striped or solid ball. But in 9 ball, a player can suddenly sink the 9 ball in the middle of the game, as long as they hit the correct numbered ball first

Enjoy an Exciting Game of Pool

Pool can be a fun and exciting game once you understand more about the strategy involved. When your shots become more precise, and you can make more complicated plays, you’ll enjoy the game even more. Even for those new to the game, knowing the correct rules can help you become a much better player in the long run.