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What is 9 ball pool?
9 ball pool or just 9 ball as it is known in the USA, is a variation of pool or billiards.
Nine ball has apparently been around since the 1920’s and appears to have originated in the USA. 9 ball pool was primarily a gambling game played between 2 players.
Played on a table with six pockets, a traditionally green cloth or baize and rubberized rails. The dimensions of the tables vary from the 3′ 6″ inch x 7′ bar tables (bar boxes) found in pubs and restaurants to the popular 4′ 6” x 9′ tables used in competition and seen on television at professional events.
There are a total of 10 balls, one white ball or cue ball and 9 numbered object balls. Each player strikes the white ball with a stick or cue in order to send the numbered balls into a pocket in sequence. The person who legally pockets the nine ball first is considered the winner.
9 ball is the second most popular pool game next to 8 ball. However 9 ball is the number one game played by professionals world wide. Many people think that eight ball is the preferred game played in the US and World pool championships but this is not the case. Both 8 ball and 9 ball pool are now more popular than traditional straight pool even though many purist find both games less skill-full.
How to Play?
How to Play 9 ball What are the rules. what competitions use this format.
9 ball pool is a version of pool or Billiards as it is also known, where the number Balls are dealt with in strict numerical rotation. As the name suggests there are nine different colored and numbered ball from one to nine.
The object of the game is to make the nine ball in any pocket. So long as contact is made first with the lowest numbered ball at any time including on the break (on the snap.) When the game starts the player breaking must make contact with the one ball first. During the break shot if any ball goes into a pocket the same player will continue to shoot. Players must always hit the remaining balls lowest number first.
There are times when a player will make the first 8 balls in rotation but then miss the 9 ball leaving a shot for the opponent who subsequently makes the 9 and wins the game despite only making one ball. Usually the winner breaks which can lead to a player stringing together numerous racks of nine ball without the opponent having a chance to shoot. Breaking and running 6 consecutive racks of 9 ball would be referred to as a “six pack.”
As you can imagine some games of 9-ball all over very quickly where as some last up to 30 minutes when the situation becomes very tactical and neither player will give ground.
One of the biggest differences between games is the scratch or foul. In 9 ball any scratch or foul shot results in ball in hand for your opponent. This means that you immediately give up the table and your opponent may place the white anywhere.
Where is this Pool Game Played?
Nine ball is played locally, nationally and internationally. The game is enjoyed in bars and pubs all over the world. Friendly local competitions exist in most Cities and the game is one of the components played in the APA American Poolplayers Association which boasts thousands of members all over the country.
Competitive organisations are also running tournaments at the regional and state level with most states recognizing their own state champion and holding an annual event. The USA also runs a US Amateur championship annually with many winners turning professional as a result.
Most professional pool players and tournaments all over the world choose 9 ball. Nine ball pool is the game of choice for 80 plus countries. Nine ball is the game of choice for the US championships and the world championships.
How do Nine Ball players Compare their Skill Levels?
Nine ball is also a more popular game for those wishing to compete on even terms as the game is so easily handicapped to make the game competitive even between two players of unequal skills.
For instance a better player could offer his opponent an extra winning ball or even a number of balls such as the 8 ball, the 7 and the 8, the last 2 balls or the last 3 balls. This means that if a player is “giving up the 8” his opponent win if he makes either the 8 or the 9 ball first.
When grading a group of players they are usually compared to each other in relation to how many balls would be necessary to compete on even terms. The best player in a discussion would be classified as “scratch” and all other players would be compared to each other in relation to the best player.
This makes small amateur events more even but very competitive and hard to win, although in my experience scratch players do still tend to have an advantage.
However the handicap system does even out the abilities of the players and encourages more people to take part in tournaments which they could not normally expect to compete.
A similar system exists in golf but the players are compared to each other by their ability to take more or less shots on a particular 18 hole course. Generally speaking a scratch (even) player would take 72 shots to complete a full round of golf whereas a 4 handicapper (plus 4) player would take 76.
Is Playing 9 Ball Pool More Difficult than Other Games of Pool?
There have been many debates over the years about the relative difficulty of 8 ball pool versus 9-ball pool. Each discipline requires an extremely different approach. In 9 ball pool games for instance the balls are made or potted in strict numerical rotation. This makes the players position on the next ball not only more difficult but imperative.
With eight ball you can make any of your chosen balls en route to the 8-ball. This aspect of the game makes shape easier. The increased number of balls on the table makes it harder to succeed. Fifteen balls on the table inhibits makes it harder to get good position on the next ball.
My experience has been that both games equally demanding both physically and mentally. When playing against skilled knowledgeable opponents it becomes harder it to predict the outcome. The player can experience additional pressure just knowing how quickly nine ball can be over. One miss or slight mistake can be the difference between winning and losing. Players often play eight ball like a game of chess. Neither player wanting to make a ball unless they can run out and make the 8.