Nine ball is a rotation game. That means you have to strike the lowest-numbered ball on the table before pocketing, or even contacting, any other ball. You don't choose solids or stripes like you do in eight ball, you shoot according to the number on the ball. Now you see where the challenge lies: If you need to hit the 3 ball and it is wedged somewhere beyond the 6 and 7 balls, you will have to use all your skill to get to it. That doesn't mean you have to pocket the lowest-numbered object ball on the table, but you do have to hit it with the cue ball first before you can pocket another ball. So in the previous example, you would have to hit the 3 ball first before pocketing either the 6 or 7 ball.
There is a certain element of luck in all billiard games, and the nine ball break isn't an exception, but there is a lot more strategy involved in breaking than you might imagine at first. You've already discovered how important the break shot is in pool, but in nine ball a strong or strategic break could be your greatest ally.
As you know, a good break allows you to pocket several balls at a time — the more balls you pocket on the break, the fewer you will have to pocket during play. You won't know for sure what balls will be pocketed on an open break, but you can raise your percentages of pocketing certain balls by where you place the cue ball behind the head string and by how you strike the cue ball. Experiment, experiment, experiment. In nine ball, a successful break could lead to a very quick win. You'll learn more about that as you read on.
Movies and TV have helped the game of nine ball achieve its place in the billiards society outside of professional tournament play. It's fun to watch Paul Newman and Tom Cruise as they use all their ingenuity to shoot out of a tight spot in
Nine ball has arguably become the most popular pool game in the United States — perhaps even surpassing eight ball. While you will still find many people playing eight ball in your local pool hall and taverns, there is no doubt that you will also find more and more people huddled around the game of nine ball. Nowadays many people who know eight ball will also know the rules of nine ball. It's hard to deny that nine ball provides a pace and challenge that it is appealing to all players with even a little bit of experience.
Because of its fast pace and the challenges involved, nine ball has been the game of choice for tournament play in recent years. The game adds extra excitement, with its dramatic breaks and strategic safety and position play, making it even more appealing than eight ball to pool enthusiasts and those that have a flair for the dramatic.
When you watch the game played, you can't help but absorb the feeling of anticipation that hovers over every strike of the cue ball.
One of the elements that makes nine ball so challenging is that you don't have as many choices of balls to shoot, which makes the game very different from eight ball and straight pool, where you have a much wider selection of shots.