How to Rack Pool Balls

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

You can’t start a pool game without racking your object balls first. However, different types of pool games require different styles of racking. In this article, we will teach you how to rack pool balls for each type of pool game.

How to Rack Pool Balls

Depending on the number of object balls, you rack them up differently. The most common rack setup is the triangle and diamond. Most pool games have the last object ball at the center of the rack to ensure that it’s more difficult to break. A tight rack makes the best defense against great breaks. 

Pool balls in a rack

8 Ball Pool

Most regular pool players play 8 ball pool. That’s why you have to be more familiar with how to set it up. 8 ball pool consists of 15 object balls with the 8 ball as the most important ball. The game gets its name because the goal is to ultimately pocket the 8-ball. 

How to Rack in 8 Ball Pool

For racking an 8 ball pool game, you need to use a 15-ball triangle rack. You can place the balls randomly within the triangle rack yet there are rules within it. 

  • You should place the 8 ball in the middle of the second row from the front. 
  • The rack should have one solid and one stripe in each back corner of the triangle rack. 

Afterward, slide the rack over the table felt so the ball in the first row sits on top of the foot spot (dot) in the pool table. 

Often times, if you play in a pool hall, the lighting is dim and it can be a little hard to see if the balls are properly touching after you racked. If you have the ability to play at home, be sure to get lights that will make the room bright enough so you can easily see the balls against the dark felt.

9 Ball Pool

Perhaps the next most popular game aside from 8 ball pool is the 9 ball pool. Unlike 8 ball pool, 9 ball pool exactly uses 9 object balls as the name states. The main objective of the game is to pocket the 9 ball. 

How to Rack in 9 Ball Pool

Because of the number of object balls, 9 ball pool is racked in a diamond formation. You might have difficulties setting this up since most pool bars have triangle racks. Forming a perfect diamond rack in a triangle rack can be challenging. 

If you have a diamond rack, then it should be fairly easy. Just like the 8 ball pool, the rack formation can be randomized except for a few rules. 

  • The 9 ball must be in the center of the rack.
  • The 1 ball must be at the front.
  • After that, you can randomly place the remaining 7 balls.

Extra Notes

In the diamond formation, there are 5 rows of object balls in the rack. 1 ball at the front, 2 balls in the second row, 3 in the middle, 2 in the fourth row, and in the back to complete the diamond. 

Pool table set

If you don’t have a diamond rack, make sure that the balls are racked tightly in the formation with the triangle you’re using. Use your hands to force them tightly together. A tight rack makes it harder to get a great break. 

Straight Pool

Straight pool plays out until one player reaches an agreed amount of points. Because of this nature of the game, you are required to re-rack whenever 14 or 15 balls have been pocketed. 

How to Rack in Straight Pool

  1. Racking for straight pool involves placing 15 balls at random within the triangle rack and placing the frontmost object ball at the foot spot to start the game. 
  2. Some players like to play with the 1 ball in the right corner of the rack, and the 5 ball in the left corner of the rack. It’s a preference that most players have grown accustomed to yet you can choose not to follow it. 
  3. When only the 15th object ball remains on the pool table, you will re-rack the 14 pocketed balls at random leaving the front spot empty. 
  4. Once the re-rack is done, the shooting player will attempt to pocket the 15th ball while also breaking up the rack at the same time.
  5.  If the 15th ball gets in a position where it falls within the re-rack, just include it in the rack and continue the game. 


Snooker probably has the most complicated racking process in all pool games. The racking process needs you to be precise and have knowledge of the game rules. You need to place each ball exactly where it needs to be placed and done with caution. 

How to Rack in Snooker

  1. Start by racking the 15 red balls into a racking triangle. Place them just below the foot spot. 
  2. At the front of the triangle of red balls, place the pink ball as close to the tip of the triangle without affecting its tightness. 
  3. Place the black ball at the center behind the triangle of red balls within a balls width away. 
  4. Aside from that, you’ll have to position another set of balls. 
  5. On the opposite end of the table, you’ll find the “baulk line”. The baulk line, sometimes an imaginary line, runs from end-to-end horizontally across the table about 29 inches from the end cushion. 
  6. Within the baulk line, you’ll see a semi-circle known as “D zone”. In front of it, you will line three colored balls beginning with yellow on the right, brown in the middle, and green on the left. 
  7. At the center of the snooker table, place the blue ball. 
Pool balls in a rack

This is really confusing at the first attempt but you will eventually get the hang of it. Just continue playing snooker and you will get familiar with it that you will remember racking it in your head.  

Cutthroat Pool

Cutthroat pool plays the same set up as 8 ball pool so there’s not much difference with the racking setup. The racking process is the same with some exceptions. 

Just like 8 ball pool, you use the 15-ball triangle rack to rack the object balls and you can stack them randomly with some rules. 

  • The 1 ball should be placed at the front of the triangle. 
  • The 6 ball and 11 ball should be placed in either corner of the back of the triangle.
  • The rest of the object balls, you can position randomly.

The racking plays almost the same as 8 ball pool and you also have to position the rack at the foot spot. 

How Do You Make a Pool Ball Rack?

The most important thing in making a pool ball rack is to rack the balls tightly. Tightly racked balls make the opening a lot harder for the shooting player and lessen the chances of pocketing object balls. 

Make use of a standard triangle or diamond rack to help you tightly rack the balls. People roll the rack sometimes to check if it’s tightly racked. If the balls are rolling, it means the rack isn’t tight. 

What is the Dot on the Pool Table For? 

If you see a dot at the bottom middle section of the pool table, that’s the foot spot. It’s used as an indicator of where you should place your rack. The location is where both ends of the pool table have equal distance so you have equal angles. 


Racking pool balls is different for every pool game. Some racks resemble close to other games while others have completely different and confusing setup. Focus practicing racking on the pool game you want to play the most.