Racking the balls before playing a game of pool is a very simple and overlooked step as it is a standard practice in every pool game. However, the quality of the rack should not be taken lightly, especially if you are an avid pool enthusiast. Having a bad or loose rack will potentially cause the initial break to suffer along with the rest of the game.
A poor break could also potentially make it easier for your opponent to win by creating a cluster of easy shots formed right in the middle of the table. Luckily, learning to rack balls like a pro in your favorite billiards game isn’t as hard as it seems even if you’re a complete beginner to the game.
There are a variety of billiards games, each with their own rules for racking. We will be going over the proper tools and techniques for achieving a tight and cohesive rack for some of the most common games which include 8 ball, 9 ball, 14.1 continuous (straight), cutthroat, and snooker.
Not only will racking like a pro make you look good, but it will also improve the quality of your games tenfold.
Rules for Racking Pool Balls in Various Games
It’s not uncommon as most people know that there are specific rules for how you are supposed to rack pool balls depending on the variation or game of pool that you’re playing. Another factor that commonly changes is the number of balls in play as well as the type of rack used.
A noteworthy mention is that most professional players recommend using a racking template if available and tapping the balls into place. Many tournament level pool tables have templates on the tables themselves which makes this process very quick and effective.
Although using a template is the best approach to the tightest rack possible, most people will be playing at a bar, over at a friend’s house, or playing at home. This means a standard wooden or plastic rack is what will most commonly be used.
We will be going over how to rack balls using a standard wooden or plastic rack, as well as recommending one of the most popular templates to use if you want to up your rack game.
How to Rack Balls for 8 Ball Pool
In 8 ball pool you will need to utilize a standard 15 ball triangle rack. The most important rule to remember is that the 8 ball must be placed directly in the center. The center is located just beneath the apex ball which sits on the foot spot. Most tables will have a mark that designates the foot spot.
When racking for 8 ball, it is good practice to make sure that you have a stripe and solid in each bottom corner of the triangle. Then proceed to place the other balls randomly throughout the triangle. In order to help prevent the balls from clustering, make sure that you don’t have more than two stripes or solids in a row.
How to Rack 9 Ball Pool
In 9 ball you will be utilizing the balls 1 through 9. You can either use a standard triangle shaped rack or a special diamond shaped rack which is the preferred method of the two. Using the special rack designed for 9 ball will make it easier to make that perfect tight rack.
If you don’t have a diamond rack, you can create the diamond shape in the middle of your triangular rack. When racking for 9 ball, remember that the one ball must be at the apex of the diamond and placed on the foot spot of the pool table. The nine ball will be in the middle of the diamond rack.
Proceed to place the other balls throughout the rest of the triangle in a random assortment without any intentional patterns.
How to Rack in 14.1 (Straight Pool)
In straight pool, or 14.1 continuous, you will need to utilize a standard triangle rack. A tradition of straight pool is to place the 1 and 5 balls at the bottom corners of the triangle. The 1 being placed in the rack’s right corner while the 5 is placed in the left corner. This is not an official rule, so it really doesn’t matter. Just be sure to place the rest of the balls randomly throughout the triangle.
During the game, there will be a time where you need to re-rack the balls with no apex ball. When the balls are re-racked, simply leave out the apex ball and rack the remaining 14 balls like normal.
How to Rack in Cutthroat Pool
In cutthroat pool you will need to use a standard triangle rack with 15 balls. There will be one ball placed on the foot spot along with the 6 and 11 balls on the two bottom corners of the triangle.
The rest of the balls will be randomly placed throughout the rack in no particular pattern or order.
How to Rack Snooker Balls
Snooker is played with a variety of balls, but the ones you will be racking are the 15 red balls. Use a standard triangle rack and place the 15 red balls inside. You will then move the triangle until it hits the pink ball spot. The pink ball should be at the nose of the triangle.
How to Create a Tight Rack for Any Pool Game
Having a tight rack before the break in pool is the most important aspect when it comes to racking for any game in pool. Whether you are using a triangle rack or diamond rack, your goal is to create the tightest rack possible with no gaps between any of the balls.
Here is a great video tutorial showing how to rack with a standard triangle rack:
How to Use a Triangular Rack
A wooden or plastic triangle shaped rack is the most common rack used in the majority of pool games. It is used in 8 ball, 14.1, cutthroat, snooker, and many other games.
Place all the balls inside of the rack according to the game you are playing. Slide the entire rack up to the foot in one quick and swift movement. The momentum from sliding the rack onto the foot will put the balls into place. Next, use your fingers to apply a good amount of pressure by pushing forward on the last row of balls by using the small gap behind them.
Gently lift your hands off of the balls and check to see if there are any gaps between any of the balls. Repeat this process a few times until the rack looks good and tight. Carefully remove the triangle rack from the back of the balls to the front.
Try not to move or displace any of the balls when you are removing the rack or you will have to start all over. According to the official rules, once the rack is completely removed you are not allowed to touch the balls
Try not to displace any balls when removing the rack. According to the rules, you cannot touch the balls after the rack has been removed.
How to Use a Diamond Rack in 9 Ball
When using a diamond shaped rack for 9 ball, start by placing the 1 ball in the apex position in the rack. Once the apex ball is settled, fill in the remaining spaces behind the one ball while placing the 9 ball directly in the center.
You can tighten the 9 ball rack similarly to how you tighten a triangle rack. Push the rack forward with one swift motion while applying down pressure to the rack. Stop once the 1 ball reaches the foot mark on the pool table. If any balls moved out of place, repeat the process.
Carefully inspect the balls for any gaps. Try rotation the balls and changing their positions if you are still having trouble making them tight. When the rack looks good, remove it starting from the back of the balls to the front being careful as to not dislodge any balls in the process.
Consider Using a Magic Ball Rack Template
If you want to perfect and simplify this process for any pool game, consider using a Magic Ball Rack. You can check the current price by clicking here to see it on Amazon.
The Magic Ball Rack is a very thin and flat template that allows for a very tight rack, every time. You simply place the balls in the allotted spaces and they will hold the balls tightly in place giving you the perfect rack.
The template is removed from the pool table after the initial break. If you are wondering if the Magic Rack will affect the way the balls roll, it won’t. This template has been redesigned to give the smoothest game play experience possible, and the reviews from the players speaks for itself.
Having the tightest gap possible will help prevent clusters of balls that can potentially end the game faster than it begins. Knowing how to use a standard triangle or diamond rack properly will improve your game tenfold.
The key to a tight rack is all in the swift movement and down pressure when aligning the rack on the foot marker. Once the rack looks tight, take caution in removing the rack as to not disturb any of the balls.
If you are still having issues with creating the perfect rack, consider trying a Magic Ball Rack. It simplifies the entire process by using a template of a rack that is specially designed to hold the balls tightly in place for the perfect break.