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How to Rack and Break in Pool

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Hi my name is Florian Kohler also known as Venom. Joining me is Jamillette.Over the last few months, we’ve gone over all the basics of pool, and by now you have pretty good idea how to play. So today we're going to show you how to rack and break in a few different games of pool.

Alright, so to rack in pool, especially in 8-ball, it's actually pretty easy. It's not as complex as people would think. All you need to do is have three different balls in the corners. Let's say I have a stripe here, that means I cannot have three stripes at the very top of the edge of the triangle. So here you've got to a stripe and two solids, that's fine.

How to Rack 8 Ball
8-Ball Rack Rules
A legal 8-Ball rack must always have the front ball centered over the table spot, the 8-Ball in the center of the third row and a solid and a striped ball at the bottom corners.

The next thing you have to look at is to make sure there’s not a line with the same color. So let's say you know you have a stripe, stripe that's no good. We just want to have stripe and solid, so in this case, you know we're pretty good. So just make sure that the 8-ball is in the center while the ball from the summit of the triangle is on the dot so usually it's marked with this thing here (Table Spot). It varies from poolhall to poolhall. Sometimes it’s a little a cross, sometimes a dot, sometimes a big mark like that. And really the big thing is you want to make sure your rack is really solid. So Jamillette did it pretty good.

What you want to do to have a good rack is to really push the balls tight together. Try to roll up on the spot and make sure there are no gaps. Especially in between the two/three balls at the front right here.

8 Ball Break
8-Ball Break Angle
Player must break with the cue ball positioned behind the head string (behind the second diamonds) in the area commonly referred to as “the kitchen”.

This is the rack for a typical game of 8-ball. There are multiple rules for different countries, but this is the most commonly played ruleset here. For break shots, all you have to do is basically put the cue ball behind the line. I like, personally, when I play 8-ball, to put the white ball here so, it's not exactly in the center of the table it's a little bit to the right. You could do the same thing a bit to the left. And I'm going to aim full into the lead ball here. Because I'm at an angle it’s going to help me control my cue ball and also it's going to spread the balls a little better.

One thing to know about, especially when you break in 8-ball, we usually have what we call a break cue, so a break cue is about the same size as a playing cue, maybe slightly shorter just like this but the tip is of a harder material. It's often phenolic and usually it's very hard. And the shaft is the same thing, very hard too. It's going to help you hit the ball harder and with less effort.

So from there, and my goal here is to aim at the lead ball. So from my knowledge I'm going to either try to make the 1-ball in one of the side pockets, or have a couple of balls going into a corner or a few rail shots here. You can really predict the break once you work a lot on it, but at this point all we're going to do is just try to shoot this ball here and try to cue ball in the middle of the table.

PoolDawg Frank Frank Says:  "Check out the related articles from our PoolDawg Academy below for more tips from top pros and instructors on executing the break shot!"

So, I’m going to try and show you that. I'm going to play a little bit of follow hit and again just try to aim at the 1-ball. Just like that. So we made one ball, my white ball got kicked a little bit, but we're okay, we still have a shot.

This is basically what a game of 8-ball starts with. Now I'm going to try show you the break in a better way. I want to try to show exactly what we're supposed to do when you’re racking 8-ball.

Alright, so let's try that again. Let's really watch the white ball. I'm really going to try to keep it in what I call it the middle of the table, which is from here to here. It's basically the best angle for you to leave your white ball.

Cue Ball Position
8-Ball Cue Ball Position

And again, it got kicked, but it was pretty good. And look at where I ended up. I'm basically in the middle of the table. Again this is a good break. You've got all the balls spread out, so you can attack either the solids here or the stripes.

The break is very important. There’s not really many explanations for the break, it's just a very powerful shot. You're going to have to try to follow-through as much as possible. If your back leg comes up a little, it doesn't hurt and it will help the power as well.

Some people like to use a heavier break cue to get more power, but I try to rely more on the speed of my stroke so it's a lot of you know a very fast release of the backstroke and really try to hit the ball as hard as possible, but with control. Always try to control the white ball in the middle and table.

Now that we've gone over 8-ball, which is probably the most popular game in pool, we are going to try to go over a 9-ball game.

How to Rack 9 Ball
9-Ball Rack Rules
A legal 9-Ball rack must always have the 1-ball centered over the table spot and the 9-ball in the center of the rack.

9-ball is probably the second most popular game of pool right now. It's really got some momentum from TV in the last few years. It's a little bit of a different game. It's a more attacking game, a little more complex I guess. Also if you're a seasoned player it's a great game for you to play.

To rack it is pretty easy. All we have to do is put the 1-ball on the spot. Same as in an 8-ball game, but it has to be the 1-ball. And then you're going to have the same thing make a tight rack. And in this case we're going to have the 9-ball in the middle. Apart from these two requirements, usually you don't really need anything else. In some tournaments they’ll ask you to put the two-ball at the back so you can't control the rack, but that's basically it. So I'm going to go over it and I'm going to show you how to break this now.

9 Ball Break
9-Ball Break Angle
Starting behind the head string, and typically from the side, contact the 1-ball square with the goal of making the “wing ball” and positioning the cue ball center table.

So while in 8-ball you break from the center of the table or close to the center, in 9-ball you are going to break from the side. I like to break on the left side, but you could do the exact same from the right side. I really have an objective to make the corner ball, so I'm going to shoot the cueball into the 1-ball and try to force that 6-ball right here. Now if that doesn't work, I know there are several other options.

I like to use a little bit of a draw, actually quite a bit of draw, to get into the 1-ball and force it into the 6. So that's a pretty good break in 9-ball. I got my wing ball to go in, which was the 6-ball and the one I was trying to make. My cueball is not too bad, kind of in the middle. I can see the 1-ball, so basically I can start the game.

9-Ball Cue Ball Position
9-Ball Cue Ball Position

This was just a quick way to show you how to break and rack in several different games. But mainly the big thing about breaking is that you don't have to break as hard as you think. You know I always hear people that try to break 30 miles an hour, but sometimes that’s not the point. Sometimes even a soft break is good as long as it meets all the requirements. It's better because the main thing in a break shot is if you can control the cue ball and leave your cue ball in the middle of the table, then you have a lot more chances to run out.

Florian's Keys to Breaking
9-Ball Cue Ball Position

Okay, I hope you guys enjoyed this video and stay tuned for our next episode! Make sure to check out PoolDawg.com and don't forget to subscribe to my channel, click right here.

* Video transcript has been modified for the reader