Pool is a game with many different variations, but one thing that stays the same is that a game starts with someone racking the balls. As a result, learning how to rack a pool table is essential for any player. Without racking the balls, you can’t play the game at all.
Pool is a game that is loved by millions of people around the world. It’s played in bars across the globe. Additionally, although it’s a popular recreational sport, there are lots of professional players that compete to be the best every year.
Although pool is very well known, it’s possible that you don’t know what it is. So before you learn how to rack a pool table, let's cover that.
What Is Pool?
Before you learn how to rack a pool table, we’d like to make sure you know what pool is, so let’s get into it. Although you may think of pool as a specific sport, it isn’t. Instead, pool is a classification of cue sports played on a table with six pockets that you try to knock balls into.
There are several variations of pool, but the most popular game is eight-ball. Eight-ball is the game you likely play at the bar with friends. But people play several other variations of pool every day.
The History of Pool
Before we teach you how to rack a pool table, we’d like to talk about the history of pool a little bit. We think that understanding pool’s history is essential. So, we’ll share a little bit of that information with you before getting into how to rack a pool table.
There are records of some forms of pool dating back to the 15th century in Northern Europe. Pool originated as a game for royalty. Additionally, it started as an outdoor game that players played alongside croquet.
In the late 1600s, the pool cue was perfected and was more or less made into what we have today. Before then, you would hit the ball with something that resembled a mace. It was also around this time that chalk started to be used to increase friction between the cue and the ball.
Initially, the pockets were hazards that were supposed to make it more difficult for players to strike another ball. However, they were quickly changed to be the targets to hit the balls into.
Furthermore, although pool is now the name that categorizes many cue sports, it originated as a term that referenced betting. Billiard tables were another thing to bet on at horse racing events.
What Do You Need to Play Pool?
We’re almost ready to teach you how to rack a pool table, but there’s another thing we need to cover. We need to discuss what you need to play pool.
If you only plan on playing pool at the local bar, there isn’t anything you need to bring. All the equipment you’ll ever need is at the bar. However, if you want to set up a pool table at your home, there’s some equipment you’ll want to purchase.
- 5 (Five) Pool Cue Sticks Set, One of Each - Black 21-Ounce, Blue 20-Ounce, Brown 19-Ounce, Green 19-Ounce, Red 18-Ounce.
- Cue Length is 58" (standard pool cue length). Canadian Hardrock Maple 29" Shaft.
- Stainless Steel 5/16x18 Joint
Firstly, you’ll want to get a pool cue case. This isn’t essential, but having a little extra protection for your pool cue could save you money in the long run.
Additionally, getting some pool cue cleaner is necessary. Pool cues get dirty quickly, especially when you use chalk on it frequently. As a result, getting some pool cleaner will keep your cue from getting gross over time.
- Grade A deluxe quality - 2 1/4" regulation size and weight
- Made of polyester resin - 6 ounce balls Marble / swirl style makes a great addition to a table
- Price shown is for full set of balls including cue ball
You’ll also want hand towels available to you if you’re taking the game seriously. It’s easy for your hands to get sweaty when playing, and this can hurt your game. Having hand towels to wipe off your hands will undoubtedly be useful.
Lastly, if you’re playing in competitions, you’ll need some sort of pocket marker. In eight-ball, you need to call your pocket before you sink the eight ball.
Although in many situations you can get away with calling it verbally, having a pocket marker will settle any disputes you could have before they start. It’s also a rule of the American Pool Association for players to use a pocket marker.
How to Play Pool
As we mentioned earlier, there are several types of pool. As a result, before you can learn how to rack a pool table, you should know how to play the game. Here we’ll discuss five of the most popular types of pool.
In this type of pool, the players use the standard 16 balls used in most games. One player breaks the balls. Once a player gets a ball into a pocket, they are assigned either stripes or solids, depending on which type of ball they got in the pocket.
Once the ball types are assigned, the players alternate shooting until one player gets all their balls into the pockets. If you get a ball in a pocket, you get to take another shot.
The one exception is the eight ball. The eight ball does not count as one of the solid balls. Instead, players pocket it last.
Once a player gets all their balls in, they need to sink the eight ball to win. If a player sinks the eight-ball before this, they lose immediately.
Straight pool is one of the variations of pool that takes the longest. In this game, the players try to get any ball on the table into a pocket. Players need to call the ball and pocket when they take a shot.
Each ball a player sinks is worth one point, and games are played to 100 or 150 points. As a result, the balls need to be re-racked several times in a game. This makes learning how to rack a pool table essential for straight pool.
Carom is very different from many other types of pool because there are only three balls. There is a white cue ball for each player and one red ball. Additionally, you play Carom on a pocketless table.
The goal of the game is to hit your ball off the red ball and your opponent’s cue ball in one shot. How many points you need varies from game to game, but the most common number of points to win is 50.
Snooker has 22 balls in total. There is a cue ball, 15 red balls that are each worth one point, and six differently colored balls with an increasing number of points.
A snooker table is significantly larger than a standard pool table. It measures out to be 12 feet long and 6 feet wide. However, it still has six pockets like a standard table.
A game of snooker starts by the players pocketing any red ball. They then try to pocket the other numbered balls in ascending order. The player with more points at the end of the game wins.
The final game we’ll be looking at is English billiards. This is another game where there are only three balls in play. There is a white cue ball, a yellow cue ball, and a red object ball.
When playing English billiards, there are three ways to score. Firstly, you get two points when a cannon happens. A cannon is when your ball hits both other balls.
Hitting your opponent’s ball into the pocket is also worth two points. Finally, hitting the red ball into the pocket is worth three points.
The player with the most points wins the game. The points can be different from game to game, but typically players will play to 300 points.
Learn How to Rack a Pool Table like a Pro
Now that you have a good understanding of pool and many of its variations. It’s time to learn how to rack a pool table. The first thing you do in any game of pool is rack the table, so it’s an essential skill to learn.
In an eight-ball game or any game that uses the standard 16 balls, you start the game by racking all the balls except the cue ball. You begin by placing the one-ball at the front of the rack. The front is also called the apex.
Next, you need to ensure that the eight-ball is at the center of the rack. The center is the third row from the top.
Once the eight-ball is in position, you should make sure that the bottom two corners are a stripe and a solid. It doesn’t matter which corner is which, but they need to be different.
Then you can place the rest of the balls in the rack randomly. It’s a common misconception that stripes and solids can’t touch, but this isn’t true. Stripes and solids can touch each other as long as you follow the instructions above.
Once you place all the balls, you should line the apex up with the middle diamond on the side of the pool table. The diamond should be about a quarter of the length of the table away from the edge. Sometimes the table will have a dot instead of a diamond.
Then, before you remove the rack, make sure you've packed the balls together tightly. Now you can gently lift the rack off the balls. If you’ve done this successfully, you’ve learned how to rack a pool table correctly.
Nine-ball games are rare, but if you ever play one, you’ll need to know how to rack a pool table for this game. Firstly, you’ll need a diamond-shaped rack instead of the usual triangle.
Like in the eight-ball game, you should place the one-ball at the apex of the rack. However, instead of the eight-ball, the nine-ball should be at the center. You can then set the rest of the balls in the rack randomly.
If you’ve followed the instructions above, you’ve successfully learned how to rack a pool table for a nine-ball game.
Get Started Playing Pool Today
Now that you’ve learned how to rack a pool table, you can get started playing pool today. You won’t need to waste time figuring out how to rack the balls every time you go to the bar. This way, you can spend more time playing and less time trying to figure out the rules.
What’s your favorite type of pool to play? Do you understand how to rack a pool table correctly? Let us know in the comments!