What are the Differences Between 9 Ball and 10 Ball?
Since the 15th century, many varieties of billiard games have been played. 9-ball and 10-ball are a couple of the most popular billiards games, and have pushed straight pool and other forms of pool further down the list.
Although they appear and play very similar, there are key differences between 9-ball and 10-ball. In this article, we will look at the history and rules of each, and the differences between them.
What is 9-Ball?
In 1920, 9-ball was established in America, but the full details of origination are unknown.
In 9-ball, the cue ball and object balls numbered 1 through 9 are used. To rack the balls, a special diamond-shaped rack is used. The 9 ball must be placed in the middle while racking. 9-ball is often a solo (1 vs 1) game, but it can be played in doubles.
9-ball is played in pool tournaments around the world and by professionals on television. This is a great bar game as it is fast-paced and requires a unique combination of strategy and skill (and sometimes luck).
A couple other pool games have been derived from 9-ball. One example is 6-ball, which is played like 9-ball with fewer balls. The most common game derived from 9-ball is 10-ball.
How to Play 9-Ball
Racking: The 1 ball must be placed at the top of the rack, with the 9 ball in the center. All of the other balls can be placed randomly as long as the balls are in no particular pattern or order.
For racking tips outside of 9 ball and 10 ball, check out this recent article!
After racking the balls, the rack is removed so the first player can break. If a ball is made during the break, that player is allowed to continue their turn.
If you successfully pocket the next numbered ball, your turn will continue, but if not, then it is the other player’s turn.
There are two ways you can win in 9-ball:
- Sinking the 9 ball after all the other balls have been pocketed in the correct order
- A combination shot – The player hits the next ball to be played, which then hits the 9 ball into a pocket
In 9-ball, the player does not have to call their shot. As long as the player hits the next ball in the sequence first, it’s a legal play. So, slop counts in this game.
In 9-ball, luck becomes much more of a factor than in other billiard games, because balls can be pocketed on poor shots and still continue the player’s turn.
Rules of 9-Ball
- The player has to sink the balls in numerical order.
- If you pocket a ball out of numerical order, foul or miss a shot, the play passes to the next player.
- To win the game, the player does not have to call the 9 ball.
- To be counted in 9-ball, the ball has to remain in the pocket. If it goes in and then bounces back onto the table, it is not considered pocketed.
- The player cannot shoot directly at the 9 ball until it is the last ball remaining.
- At the start of a game, the player must hit the 1 ball first.
- As long as you hit the next numbered ball first, other balls can be pocketed, and your turn continues.
- Failing to hit a rail with any ball after you have made contact with the object ball is a foul.
These are the standard rules of 9-ball, but many pool halls and bars have their own rules for 9-ball.
What is a Push Out in 9-Ball?
A push out is when a player tries to move the cue ball into a better position following the break. During the push out, it is not required that the cue ball come into contact with any rail or any other ball. All other foul rules will be valid.
After the push out, the other player has the option to shoot the cue ball in its current position, or let the shooter continue from the new spot. This is a good strategy if you see a shot or safety opportunity that your opponent might not see.
Learn more about the push out in the video below!
Worldwide, 9-ball events are run at the highest level by the WPA World Nine-Ball Championship. There are events for women, junior players, and men.
Generally, the tournaments are open to any player that can afford the entry fee. There are also some tournaments that are based on the player’s qualification or skill level.
Some other 9-ball tournaments that are held by the WPA are the China Open, U.S. Open Nine-ball Championship, and Turning Stone Classic.
What is 10-Ball?
10-ball is similar to 9-ball, but in this game, the object balls numbered 1 through 10 are used. The object of 10-ball is to be the player to sink the 10 ball last after all the other balls have been pocketed.
This game is a more modern approach to pool. In recent years, it has slowly gained popularity because it is a more challenging game of pool.
In 10-ball, the player needs to call the pocket before making their next ball (after the break). Because of this, 10-ball typically requires more skill and strategy than 9-ball.
How to Play 10-Ball
Racking: To play 10-ball, you need to rack the 10 balls using a triangle rack. The 1 ball is positioned at the top, then the 2 ball and 3 ball on the bottom left and right corners. The rest of the balls can be placed in the rack in any order. Typically, the 10 ball is placed in the middle of the rack.
In 10-ball, the balls have to be pocketed in numerical order, just like in 9-ball.
Like 9-ball, you can also combo the 10-ball for a win. This requires hitting the next ball in the sequence into the 10-ball, then into the called pocket.
Rules of 10-Ball
- If the player fails to pocket the ball that was called, the shot does not count.
- When breaking, the cue ball needs to be behind the head string (or the “kitchen”).
- If no ball is pocketed on the break, then at least four object balls have to be driven to one or more rails. If not, this results in a foul.
- A push out may be called on the shot right after the break. If this happens, the shooter must make their intentions known.
- If the 10 ball is pocketed during the push out play, it is spotted without a penalty, and the next player shoots.
- 10-ball is a call shot game. The player shooting has to call out the shot and the pocket the ball is going in.
- After the break, the player can call safety at any time. This will permit the player to make contact with the legal ball without pocketing it. This will end the player’s turn. If the player does pocket the legal object, the next player has the option to hand it back to the other player or play the shot as it was left.
- If a ball is wrongly pocketed, whether it be the legal ball in the wrong pocket or pockets a different ball, the turn is finished. The next player has the option to hand it back to the other player or take the shot as is.
- With standard fouls, the play passes to the next player. The cue ball will be in hand allowing the next player to put it anywhere on the table.
- If the player has three consecutive fouls, the player loses the current game.
- If a player displays unsportsmanlike conduct, the director of the tournament will decide the penalty.
Who Breaks First in 9 Ball and 10 ball?
In both 9-ball and 10-ball, the players need to decide who breaks first. The way that most players choose who breaks is to lag. A lag is when each player will take a shot at the same time from the head rail.
See an example of a lag shot in the video below.
The player that breaks first is the one whose ball banks off the foot rail and ends up closer to the head rail. After the first game, the players alternate who breaks.
What is the Difference Between 9-Ball and 10-Ball?
The key difference between 9-ball and 10-ball is the number of balls that are in play on the table. Both games have to have the balls pocketed in numerical order, but with 10-ball, the player has to call all the shots and state which pocket it is going in. This means that slop is only allowed in 9-ball.
One last difference is that in 9-ball, the balls can be racked in any order as long at the 1 ball is at the top, and the 9 ball is in the center.
In 10-ball there are three balls that have to be racked in a certain position. The 2 ball and 3 ball have to be at the left and right corner with the 1 ball at the top of the rack, and the 10 ball in the middle.
Although 10-ball is derived from 9-ball and shares many similarities, there are several differences in the games. The general rules are all the same, except for calling pockets.
After reading this article, I hope you have learned more about both of these fun billiard games. Good luck at the tables!
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