When you’re playing pool, you probably don’t think about the way you’re racking the pool balls, right?
This is certainly the case for a lot of people that play pool, and yet it’s actually a lot more important than you think.
To start with, if you have a rack that’s bad in general or loose, then your break is going to suffer, and thus will impact the overall game. A weak break can mean that there are a bunch of easy shots formed in the middle of the table ready for your opponent to take advantage of.
Thankfully though, it’s not difficult to learn how to rack correctly, regardless of what kind of billiards game you’re playing. We’re here to let you know how you can rack your pool balls for the best possible effectiveness.
Racking: Game Rules
Of course, the way that you rack pool balls can largely depend on what game you’re actually playing. The number of balls and the kind of rack is also going to vary depending on the kind of game that you’re playing.
Before we look at that though, we should mention that the vast majority of professionals suggest using a racking template and then tapping the balls into place. For this reason, certain tournament level tables even have the template on the table.
This isn’t the case for all of us - you may just be playing in a bar with your friend! If that is the case, then the chances are that you’re probably going to be using the normal wooden or plastic triangle/ diamond shaped racks.
Racking in a Game of 8-Ball Pool
When you are playing 8 ball, the 8 ball needs to be placed in the center of the rack. This will be the first ball that is directly beneath the apex ball. The apex ball will sit on the foot spot. Generally, the majority of pool tables will have this position marked. You should also ensure that you have a stripe and solid in each bottom corner of the triangle.
Every other ball should be positioned randomly in the triangle, there is not intentional pattern required.
In order to avoid the occurrence of clustering, try not to have more than two solids or stripes in a row.
When you have all of the balls set up properly, you can then remove the eight ball from the triangle. Then, move the balls that are still in the rack so that the eight ball ends up sitting over the black circle on the pool table. This is also known as the foot spot, and it shows you where the balls need to be positioned for the break.
Then, remove the triangular rack without risrupting any of the other balls or making any slack among the balls you’ve arranged.
What about Breaking in Eight Ball Pool?
We naturally think to place the cue ball in the middle of the table when we break. With that being said though, a lot of the top professionals will place the cue ball a little to one side of the table.
If you hit the pack of balls from more of an angle they are more likely to spread more effectively, and you are increasing your chances of potting the balls when you break.
Racking in a Game of 9 Ball Pool
9 Ball is a little bit different to 8 ball. When you play 9 ball, there are 9 object balls that are numbered one through to ten. These balls are racked in a diamond kind of formation. To help with racking, there are diamond racks designed for this purpose. If you don’t own a diamond rack though, all you need to do is make the diamond within your normal triangular rack.
The one ball needs to be at the apex of the diamond and will need to be put on the foot spot of the table. Then, the nine ball should be positioned in the middle of the diamond. You will need to place the other balls into the diamond but you don’t need any particular pattern.
What about Breaking in 9 Ball Pool?
When you are breaking in a game of 9 ball pool, you need to hit the number one ball first. This means that a straight on shot would probably be the most effective option for you.
Racking in a Game of 10 Ball Pool
As we’re sure you can imagine, ten ball pool is played with 10 object balls with the balls numbered 1 through to 10, in addition to the cue ball.
When you play ten ball, you rack the balls in the triangle shape, placing the one ball in the apex of the rack on the foot spot. Then, the ten ball is put in the middle of the triangle.
Then, you position the other balls randomly inside the triangle.
Racking Straight Pool (i.e 14:1 Continuous)
When you conduct the opening break in a normal game of pool, all of the 15 object balls need to be racked in the triangle, with the apex ball positioned on the foot spot.
As you play, when the balls get re-racked you need to leave out the apex ball if only 14 balls are going to be racked.
Racking in Cutthroat Pool
Cutthroat pool uses a standard triangle rack. The one ball is positioned on the foot spot, while the 6 and the 11 balls are on the bottom two corners of the triangle. The other balls need to be placed randomly within the rack.
Creating a Tight Rack
When playing all of these games, players need to create the tightest rack that’s possible for the best results. This is pretty much essential no matter what game of pool you are playing, so here’s how you achieve a tight rack.
When using a diamond rack in 9 ball, you begin by putting the one ball at the apex of the rack. Then, you let the ball settle into position, then fill in the balls that remain behind the one ball, putting the nine ball right in the middle. Then, tighten the 9 ball rack by pushing forward using both of your hands, and apply pressure downwards.
If the balls happen to move out of place once you have tightened, you could try spinning the outer balls towards the middle, as this will create friction from the felt fibers in order to secure the rack better.
If you see a couple of gaps, you may wish to change the pattern and rotate the balls until you find a fit that’s tight enough. It doesn’t need to be perfect though!
Once the rack looks tight enough, remove it from the back first. Then, lift the back of the diamond straight up and then slide the front forward, making sure it’s away from the top ball.
Using Triangular Racks
It’s important to know how to use a triangular rack properly because it’s certainly the most common rack out there, and it’s used in most pool games.
Put the balls in the rack in accordance to the rules we’ve already set out for the game you are playing above. When you have the balls in their proper place, then slide the entire rack up to the foot spit in one fast movement, and this is going to lock the balls into the proper place.
Once you have done this, apply pressure using your fingers by placing them in the gap that is behind the last row of balls and push forward. If you are able to see any gaps between the balls in the rack then it could be because the balls are damaged, warped or misshapen in some way.
Attempt to maneuver the balls around and then rotate them to get a good fit. If the rack looks tight enough, lift the triangle from the back to the front gently. Make sure that you don’t displace any of the balls when you remove the rack. In accordance to most of the rules, you are not allowed to touch the balls after the rack has been removed, so it’s vital that you get it right the first time.
So that’s all you need to know when it comes to racking pool balls! It’s actually pretty simple once you get the hang of things, and to summarize, there are three main things you need to consider.
Firstly, ensure that you get the ball placement correct in accordance to the rules of the game that you are currently playing.
Secondly, make sure that the rack is as tight as it possibly can be.
Thirdly, make sure that you don’t displace any balls when you remove the rack.
Those are the key things that you need to know! As we’ve said already, having the proper racking technique is pretty important when it comes to getting the right kind of leverage over your game, and doing it incorrectly could spell disaster for your game. Hopefully this article has helped you to get the best out of your head start in a game of pool!
I’m Lia and I love playing games. I started this site to share things with friends and they encouraged me to post more and now I’m trying to share things with the world – indoor and outdoor sports, and board and bar games. I write about things like Bocce, Croquet, Billiards, Darts and other fun ways to enjoy time with your friends and family!