How to Rack Pool Balls for 6 Different Games

This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of our affiliate links, we'll earn a commission, at no extra cost to you.

How to Rack Pool Balls

Pool is one of the most popular games in homes or at the bar, and being able to properly rack the pools balls is an essential part of getting the game started. Badly racked balls can completely change the course of the game, so although this may seem like a trivial details, it’s actually very important to the game. Balls that are tightly racked properly placed will give all the players a fair chance and the game will be more enjoyable.

If you’re looking to ace the game, you need to carefully adhere to a few instructions related to racking. Don’t worry. These rules are easy to follow and remember!

This article will help you learn how to rack pool balls for various games. The next time you play with your friends, you’ll know how to do it perfectly.

How to Rack Pool Balls

To begin the guide, you must understand how to position the rack on the table. If you are not a beginner, you will know basic terms like foot spot and foot string.

As the name suggests, the foot spot is located at the table’s foot side, which is also called the racking end. One corner of the triangle (or diamond) rack is placed over the foot spot. Keep in mind that the base of the triangle should face the foot of the table.

Now it’s time to fill the rack with balls!

The apex ball is placed on the foot spot. The rest of the balls fill out a diamond or triangle rack.

Some tables have the pattern imprinted on the surface, but these are tournament-level tables. Professionals often suggest using a template, but it’s not available everywhere, and most pool games are played in homes and bars. So, it’s better to learn a few tricks and make your life easier.

Billiards has been played for over a decade now. Over time, many variations have surfaced, and it’s fun to try all of them. So here is a guide to racking balls in all the types of pool games.

Photo
CueSports Magic Ball Rack 8, 9, and 10 Ball Combo Pack
GSE Games & Sports Expert Mahogany Billiard 8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Pool Ball Racks (8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Racks)
OwnMy Set of 2 Wooden Billiard Ball Rack Set, Vintage Solid Wood Billiard 8-Ball Triangle Rack & 9-Ball Diamond Rack Table Pool Ball Racks (Red)
Name
CueSports Magic Ball Rack 8, 9, and 10 Ball Combo Pack
GSE Games & Sports Expert Mahogany Billiard 8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Pool Ball Racks (8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Racks)
OwnMy Set of 2 Wooden Billiard Ball Rack Set, Vintage Solid Wood Billiard 8-Ball Triangle Rack & 9-Ball Diamond Rack Table Pool Ball Racks (Red)
Current Price
$14.50
$17.99
$16.99
Photo
CueSports Magic Ball Rack 8, 9, and 10 Ball Combo Pack
Name
CueSports Magic Ball Rack 8, 9, and 10 Ball Combo Pack
Current Price
$14.50
Get it at Amazon
Photo
GSE Games & Sports Expert Mahogany Billiard 8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Pool Ball Racks (8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Racks)
Name
GSE Games & Sports Expert Mahogany Billiard 8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Pool Ball Racks (8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Racks)
Current Price
$17.99
Get it at Amazon
Photo
OwnMy Set of 2 Wooden Billiard Ball Rack Set, Vintage Solid Wood Billiard 8-Ball Triangle Rack & 9-Ball Diamond Rack Table Pool Ball Racks (Red)
Name
OwnMy Set of 2 Wooden Billiard Ball Rack Set, Vintage Solid Wood Billiard 8-Ball Triangle Rack & 9-Ball Diamond Rack Table Pool Ball Racks (Red)
Current Price
$16.99
Get it at Amazon

How to Rack for 8-Ball Pool

You’ve probably played eight ball pool or at least seen people play it, as this one is the most popular billiards game. Now, don’t be fooled by the game’s name. 8-ball pool is not played with 8 balls. Instead, it’s played with 15 balls consisting of solids (1-8) and striped balls (9-15). The white ball, also known as the cue ball, is used to hit and pocket the rest of the balls on the table.

This game is called an 8-ball pool because the primary endeavor is to pocket the black ball with the number 8, after pocketing all of the stripes or all of the other solids. Mystery solved!

Now it’s time to discuss the racking in the 8 ball pool.

Typically a 15-ball triangular rack is required in this variation. A common way to do it is to place all the balls in the triangle randomly, but good players don’t place balls just randomly.

Some exceptions are followed to achieve the best ball-racking, which include:

  • Placing the 8-ball right in the middle, i.e., second row from both the apex and base of the triangle,
  • Adjusting a solid and a striped ball on either side of the bottom of the triangle,
  • Arranging to avoid more than two solids or striped balls in one row.

The 8-ball is placed in the center to reduce the probability of it being pocketed on the break. You can put any numbered ball at the apex. There is no hard and fast rule in 8-ball to place 1-ball at the apex.

Now you can rack an 8-ball pool in less than a minute!

For further clarification, watch this explanatory video:

How to Rack for 9-Ball Pool

9-ball pool is played with 9 balls, no confusion here! The balls numbered 1 to 9 are used, and the main goal is to pocket the 9-ball. Since the number of balls is less in this game, a diamond rack is preferred. But if you don’t have a diamond rack, you can use the triangle after a little practice. The formation is almost the same as 8-ball with some exceptions that include:

  • Placing 9-ball at the center of the rack
  • 1-ball goes to the apex
  • The rest of the balls can be easily placed at random.

For this triangle formation, you will have to tighten the balls with your hands to make sure the rack is cohesive and perfect.

On the other hand, the diamond formation consists of five rows and is relatively easy to make.

  • Place 1 ball at the apex, 2 balls in the second row, 3 balls in the third row, 2 balls in the fourth row, and the last ball at the fifth row.

Simple, isn’t it? Let’s learn about another pool variation.

See our reviews of the:

How to Rack 10-Ball Pool

10-ball pool is played with 10 balls. Now that you know how to rack 8 and 9-ball pool, racking a 10-ball will be a piece of cake. This game is a modern rotation game in which the 10 numbered ball is called the ‘Moneyball.’ Some professionals find this game more challenging than 9-ball, as it is more crowded, and it is difficult to pocket balls on breaking.

In this game, the focus is to pocket a 10-ball, which is placed at the center of the triangle. The 1-ball is carefully adjusted at the apex, and the rest of the balls are randomly arranged. Voila! No complications in this formation.

Photo
Pro Level
Playcraft Southport 8' Cherry Pool Table - Ball Return
Budget-Friendly
Hathaway Fairmont Portable 6-Ft Pool Table for Families with Easy Folding for Storage, Includes Balls, Cues, Chalk (Blue)
Product Name
Playcraft Southport Cherry Pool Table
Hathaway Fairmont Portable Pool Table
Length
8 feet
6 feet
Current Price
$2,895.00
$420.75
Pro Level
Photo
Playcraft Southport 8' Cherry Pool Table - Ball Return
Product Name
Playcraft Southport Cherry Pool Table
Length
8 feet
Current Price
$2,895.00
Buy on Amazon
Budget-Friendly
Photo
Hathaway Fairmont Portable 6-Ft Pool Table for Families with Easy Folding for Storage, Includes Balls, Cues, Chalk (Blue)
Product Name
Hathaway Fairmont Portable Pool Table
Length
6 feet
Current Price
$420.75
Buy on Amazon

How to Rack Straight Pool

Straight pool is also known as 14.1 continuous because it is continuously played until a predefined score is reached. In official games, a score of either 125 or 150 is decided, and the one to reach the score first wins the game.

As you might have noticed, this game requires balls to be racked multiple times during the game. When 14 out of 15 balls are pocketed, the 14 balls are quickly re-racked, and the game is resumed. So, it is better to learn the racking to save time and have seamless enjoyment.

At the start, the pool rack consists of all 15 balls. This formation is simple:

  • Adjust the apex position at the foot spot and place all the 15 balls randomly inside the triangle.
  • Some players prefer the 1-ball and 5-ball at the left and right corners of the triangle, respectively, but this rule is not official.

The next rack is made with only 14 balls. In this, the same random formation is followed except that the apex spot is left empty.

Photo
Top Choice
Hathaway Classic Floor Billiard Pool Cue Rack, Antique Walnut
Cue Rack Only - 10 Pool - Billiard Stick & Ball Set Floor - Stand Choose Mahogany, Black Or Oak Finish (Black-)
Budget-Friendly
Flintar Wall Cue Rack, Premium Billiard Pool Cue Stick Holder, Made of Solid Hardwood, Improved Direct Wall Mounting, Cue Rack Only (Cues, Balls and Ball Rack not Included), Black Finish
Name
Hathaway Classic Floor Billiard Pool Cue Rack, Antique Walnut
Cue Rack Only - 10 Pool - Billiard Stick & Ball Set Floor - Stand Choose Mahogany, Black Or Oak Finish (Black-)
Flintar Wall Cue Rack, Premium Billiard Pool Cue Stick Holder, Made of Solid Hardwood, Improved Direct Wall Mounting, Cue Rack Only (Cues, Balls and Ball Rack not Included), Black Finish
Current Price
$88.99
Price not available
$49.99
Free Shipping?
-
Top Choice
Photo
Hathaway Classic Floor Billiard Pool Cue Rack, Antique Walnut
Name
Hathaway Classic Floor Billiard Pool Cue Rack, Antique Walnut
Current Price
$88.99
Free Shipping?
Get it at Amazon
Photo
Cue Rack Only - 10 Pool - Billiard Stick & Ball Set Floor - Stand Choose Mahogany, Black Or Oak Finish (Black-)
Name
Cue Rack Only - 10 Pool - Billiard Stick & Ball Set Floor - Stand Choose Mahogany, Black Or Oak Finish (Black-)
Current Price
Price not available
Free Shipping?
-
Get it at Amazon
Budget-Friendly
Photo
Flintar Wall Cue Rack, Premium Billiard Pool Cue Stick Holder, Made of Solid Hardwood, Improved Direct Wall Mounting, Cue Rack Only (Cues, Balls and Ball Rack not Included), Black Finish
Name
Flintar Wall Cue Rack, Premium Billiard Pool Cue Stick Holder, Made of Solid Hardwood, Improved Direct Wall Mounting, Cue Rack Only (Cues, Balls and Ball Rack not Included), Black Finish
Current Price
$49.99
Free Shipping?
Get it at Amazon

How to Rack for a Cutthroat Game

Cutthroat is the kind of variation that can be played with only three people. Cutthroat is a casual game in which both the players are assigned the set of balls. For example, 1 to 5, 5 to 10, and 10 to 15.

The players must pocket their opponent’s balls and hope that their set does not get pocketed first. The player has more than one of his balls on the table at the end, takes the winner’s seat.

This game’s racking is quite like an 8-ball pool racking with slight differences, not hard to memorize.

  • Place 1-ball at apex position on the foot spot
  • Now arrange 6-ball and 1-ball1 at the left and right side of the rack, respectively.
  • Adjust the rest of the balls randomly

Not so tricky, right?

How to Set Up for Snooker

We have saved the most complicated racking formation for the end. In snooker, every ball has a specifically designated spot on the table. It requires practice and knowledge to set the balls precisely according to the strict guidelines and rules of the game. If in case, any ball is slightly misplaced, the game cannot be played and must be restarted.

Carefully go through each step below, and you will understand it in no time:

  • First, rack all the 15 red balls in a triangular rack and place them slightly below the foot spot on the table.
  • Now put the pink ball at the top of the apex and on the foot spot. Make sure that the pink is very close to the tip of the red ball.
  • Place the black ball at the bottom of the triangle, precisely in the middle. Keep in mind that it should be placed at a balls-width away from the red ball.
  • Move to the head region of the table, where you’ll find an imaginary balkline, which is exactly 29 inches away from the head cushion. Usually, a D-zone is imprinted in the center of the balkline. Place the brown ball in the center of balk and green and yellow on either side. The best way to memorize this sequence is by remembering the phrase ‘God Bless You.’ The capitalized letters mean green, brown, and yellow, respectively.
  • Place the blue one in the middle of the table.

Practice this formation a couple of times, and you will get the hang of it.

How to Perfectly Rack Pool Balls

You can now rack for pool of any game type, but do you know how to rack ‘tightly’? Although it may seem like all you have to do is place the balls inside the triangle, to achieve the pro-level racking skills, you have to follow a few tips.

  • One easy way to achieve a tight rack is to stick thumbs in corners of the bottoms in a triangular rack while filing it up with balls. This way, the balls find a smaller space and fit in perfectly.
  • To check whether you have achieved a tight rack, roll the triangle rack on the table. If the balls’ roll’, then you have done a bad job. On the contrary, if the balls’ slide’, you have achieved the best tight rack.
  • For a filled diamond rack, move the formation up and down to develop friction between the balls and simultaneously press the rack downward. On rotating, you will find the suitable adjustment and cohesiveness in the formation.

Types of Racks to Buy

You can find wooden and plastic racks in both triangular and diamond shapes. But there are racks called ‘magic racks‘ that truly work like magic in forming the tightest and most secured ball-formation. The formation is far better and easily achieved using a magic rack than using a regular wooden or plastic rack.

These racks are thin plastic that sits smoothly on the table and doesn’t affect the break. Balls tightly sit on the small holes made on these sheets, and you can set up the formation in less than 20 seconds. After breaking, this rack can be removed from the table as the balls disperse away from it.

Photo
CueSports Magic Ball Rack 8, 9, and 10 Ball Combo Pack
GSE Games & Sports Expert Mahogany Billiard 8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Pool Ball Racks (8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Racks)
OwnMy Set of 2 Wooden Billiard Ball Rack Set, Vintage Solid Wood Billiard 8-Ball Triangle Rack & 9-Ball Diamond Rack Table Pool Ball Racks (Red)
Name
CueSports Magic Ball Rack 8, 9, and 10 Ball Combo Pack
GSE Games & Sports Expert Mahogany Billiard 8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Pool Ball Racks (8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Racks)
OwnMy Set of 2 Wooden Billiard Ball Rack Set, Vintage Solid Wood Billiard 8-Ball Triangle Rack & 9-Ball Diamond Rack Table Pool Ball Racks (Red)
Current Price
$14.50
$17.99
$16.99
Photo
CueSports Magic Ball Rack 8, 9, and 10 Ball Combo Pack
Name
CueSports Magic Ball Rack 8, 9, and 10 Ball Combo Pack
Current Price
$14.50
Get it at Amazon
Photo
GSE Games & Sports Expert Mahogany Billiard 8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Pool Ball Racks (8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Racks)
Name
GSE Games & Sports Expert Mahogany Billiard 8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Pool Ball Racks (8-Ball Triangle & 9-Ball Diamond Racks)
Current Price
$17.99
Get it at Amazon
Photo
OwnMy Set of 2 Wooden Billiard Ball Rack Set, Vintage Solid Wood Billiard 8-Ball Triangle Rack & 9-Ball Diamond Rack Table Pool Ball Racks (Red)
Name
OwnMy Set of 2 Wooden Billiard Ball Rack Set, Vintage Solid Wood Billiard 8-Ball Triangle Rack & 9-Ball Diamond Rack Table Pool Ball Racks (Red)
Current Price
$16.99
Get it at Amazon

Final Words

Pool is extremely fun and challenging, and there are many different variations that you can play. After reading the article, you must have realized how racking plays an integral part in keeping the game fair.

A loose rack will make it easier for the opponent to pocket the ball on breaking. It’s best to learn the tips and tricks of professionally racking the pool, and we have provided all the details you can use to polish your racking skills.

Aside from racking, finding the best tools and pool equipment is also necessary. A roughly finished wooden rack can damage the cloth and even leave scratch marks on your valuable pool balls. This can disrupt the smooth play and develop unwanted friction on the table. For this reason, it’s advisable to invest in a magic rack.

You have all the tips to become a skillful and formidable player in any billiard game. So, go ahead and boast of your racking expertise in the next round with your friends!

About the Author Alberto Restrepo

I live in Pennsylvania with my wife and four children. Time with family is very important to me, so I started Gameroom Vault to help others find fun ways to spend time with their families at home.

follow me on: