A two player billiard game designed for the people who are pretty skilled at making tricky shots. You need the balls 1-9. The idea being the only ball on the table is the 9 ball.

RACKING: The balls are racked in a diamond shape, with the 1 ball in front. Then, two balls at random behind it. The third row should have two random balls around the outside, then the nine in the center. Then two random balls, and then one random ball.

PLAY: One player breaks, and if any balls are hit in, he/she goes again. After that, the balls are hit in order. The one ball being first, then the two, then the three. You always want to hit the lowest ball on the table. And you must hit the lowest ball on the table first or it is a scratch. Whoever hits the 9 ball in at the end of play wins.

There is a trick though. If you hit the lowest ball on the table first, and if any balls are hit in from the resulting two balls moving, it counts as a legal shot. Now, if you hit the lowest ball and then hit the 9 ball in, you win. Whoever hits the 9 ball in at the end of play wins.

ON SCRATCHING: Scratching can result from the normal ways. If you miss the lowest ball entirely, it's a scratch. If you hit the wrong ball first, it's a scratch. And obviously, if you hit the cue ball into a pocket, you scratch. If you do scratch, your opponent can put the ball anywhere on the table and shoot at any balls.

Nine ball is a my favorite game of pool. It hones the skill of reading the table, which strengthens the all-around game. Because the lowest numbered object balls must be contacted first by the cue ball, one is encouraged to plan three or even five shots ahead, so that the cue ball will travel to an ideal position for the next shot. The game also allows practice of combination shots, particularly when following a scratch.

A note on the thorough write-up above:
A legal break is one the contacts the number one ball first, then drives at least four object balls to the rail, or pockets any object ball.

There is a variant of nine ball, called ring nine, that has enjoyed some popularity in bars and pool halls, or in other venues where playing pool for money is acceptable.

Before the games commence, three to five players determine the order in which they will shoot. The five ball is assigned a value (for the purposes of this explanation, assume the five is worth a dollar). The nine ball is valued at twice the value of the five. Consequently, whoever can legally pocket both the five and nine balls receives a total of three dollars from the other players in the game. If the five and/or nine are legally pocketed before any lower-numbered balls (via a combination shot) the money is paid and the pocketed money ball is spotted. More than one player has the chance to win money in a game of ring nine, but generally the player who pockets the nine ball wins the most. Theoretically, a talented, or lucky player could combo the money balls all night long, collecting money at each instance.

Ball in hand is not employed during a game of ring nine, rather the cue ball is played from behind the line and the object ball is spotted, if necessary. The players take turns shooting until the nine is pocketed in rotation (that is, pocketed not by means of a combination shot, but as the last ball left on the pool table). At this point, the winner(s) are paid, and the winner breaks to start the next game. Games of ring nine (which are actually marathon sessions consisting of many individual games) can continue for hours, with players jumping in and out of the game before the breaks.

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