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Beginners Guide to Racking Pool Balls

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 08:59:04 Europe/London News , By Jack Grandorge

How to Set Up Pool Balls

Man putting chalk on tip of pool cue

How Do I Set Up Pool Balls?

There are a number of different ways to set up pool games, each using a different number of balls..

Let’s start by understanding how to set up balls for the most popular pool game, eight ball pool. 

Eight ball pool consists of 7 striped balls, 7 coloured balls, the black eight ball, and the cue ball.

The aim of the game is to be the first to pot all 7 of your balls (either stripes or colours), followed by the final eight ball. 

There are many pool games, with more popular games including English black ball pool, ten ball pool, nine ball pool, three ball pool, straight pool, and cut- throat (elimination) pool.

 Dimly lit pool room with two red pool tables

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How to Set Up English Pool Balls

Most pool tables in the UK use the black ball pool balls, consisting of 7 red balls,7 yellow balls, and the eight ball.

Correct set up of English (Black ball) pool balls

The black ball pool set up uses alternating lines of red and yellow, with two extra yellows on the left side creating a half flower pattern. 

The eight ball is always positioned in the middle of the triangle, over the foot spot.

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How to Set Up for Eight Ball Pool

First of all, you’re going to need a triangle rack to accurately set the balls up. 

To start off with, take the number one ball and place it in the top corner of the triangle. This is known as the apex ball. 

Next comes the eight ball, which should be placed in the centre of the rack, directly below the apex ball. 

Now we must ensure that there is both a solid and a stripe in the bottom corners of the triangular rack. 

The remaining balls can now be set up at random within the rack. 

It is important to try spread the balls randomly, ensuring that the solids and stripes are evenly mixed other than the corner balls. This helps to get a greater spread from the break and avoids clustering.

Pool balls on a table with out of focus player in the background

Once you have the balls correctly set up, remove the eight ball from the triangle. 

You should now move the balls still in the rack so that the eight ball is sitting over the black circle on the pool table. This black circle is known as the foot spot, indicating where the balls should be positioned for the break. 

Finally, you need to remove the triangular rack without disrupting the balls or creating any slack amongst the arranged balls. 

The balls are racked, now you’re ready to break!

Top Tip for Breaking in Eight Ball Pool

It feels instinctive to place the cue ball in the middle of the table when breaking. Many of the top professionals, however, place the cue ball slightly to one side of the table. 

Hitting the pack of balls from an angle is likely to spread the balls more effectively, whilst also increasing the chances of potting from the break.

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How to Set Up for Nine Ball Pool

Needless to say, nine ball pool uses nine balls.

It is important to use the balls numbered 1-9, as the rules of nine ball pool state that every shot you take must hit the lowest numbered pool ball on the table.

Nine ball pool balls can be set up in a triangular rack, however, a diamond shaped rack would be preferable. Using the correct diamond shaped rack will help to keep the balls tight. 

Setting up for nine ball pool is simple. Ensure to place the number one ball in the apex of the rack, with the nine ball in the very centre. 

The rest of the balls should be placed randomly.

Correct nine ball pool set up

Top Tip for Breaking in Nine Ball Pool

Nine ball pool requires the breaker to hit the number one ball first. This suggests that a straight on shot should be more effective.

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How to Rack Ten Ball Pool

 Ten ball pool is also simple to set up. This game requires the billiard balls numbered 1- 10. 

There are no specific rules regarding the set up of the balls, other than the the one ball must be placed at the apex and the ten ball placed in the centre of the rack. 

The rest of the balls should be placed as randomly as possible.

Bohemian pool room with “Do not touch” sign on table

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How to Set Up for Straight Pool (14:1 Continuous)

Straight pool is a little more complex to set up than other pool games.

Straight pool requires a triangle rack and 15 balls. There are no set rules regarding the placement of the balls, however most people use specific corner balls. 

Typically, players place the one ball in the bottom right corner of the rack, whilst placing the five ball in the bottom left corner of the rack.

The rest of the balls should be set up at random.

Pool player leans over table

Straight pool differs from other games in the sense that the apex ball must be placed over the foot spot, rather than the centre ball in most other games.

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How to Set Up for Cut Throat (Elimination) Pool

Cut throat pool also uses a very simple set up.

Uniformed soldiers playing pool

The game requires fifteen balls to be set up in a triangular rack. There are few other rules.

The one ball should be placed at the top of the rack, with the apex ball covering the foot spot.

The only other set up rule concerns the corner balls, stating that the six and eleven balls should be placed in the corners of the triangular rack. 

The remaining balls should be set up as randomly as possible throughout the rack.

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Pool Tournaments

Once you’ve mastered the basics of setting up pool balls, why not join or start a tournament for your favourite game? 

Playing in tournaments is a great way to put your skills to the test, encouraging you to adapt your skills to each opponents individual playing styles. 

Pool tournaments are also a great way to meet like minded people, so get social and get practising!

Man taking a shot on a red pool table

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