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What is the proper way to set up pool balls?

Updated April 17, 2017

Everyone seems to have his own way of racking balls on a pool table. But there are correct ways to do it, depending on the game being played. A correct rack ensures fairness and doesn't give a competitive advantage to one player or another.

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A Tight Rack

Regardless of the game, having a tight rack will ensure the fairest break possible. All balls should be as close to one another as possible before a break.

The Foot Spot

The foot spot is where the head ball of a rack goes in most billiards games. It is found halfway between the second diamonds on the two long rails. On many pool tables, this spot is marked with a felt dot or diamond.


Eight-ball uses fifteen balls, with the eight ball placed in the centre of the rack. The two balls on the back corners of the triangular rack must be one solid and one stripe; all others can be solid or striped, placed in random order.


A special, diamond-shaped rack is used for this game, which uses only the balls numbered one through nine. The only requirement for professional play is that the nine ball be placed in the middle of the rack and that the one ball be placed at the top of the rack, directly over the foot spot.

Straight Pool

Balls are placed in random order in the rack for straight pool, except that the one ball goes on the racker's right corner and the five ball going on the racker's left corner.

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About the Author

Richard Manfredi has more than a decade of professional writing experience, both in the media and at a corporate level. Since 2003, he has worked in the public relations industry, creating and executing campaigns for technology and entertainment companies. Manfredi is also a journalist who has worked for the "Orange County Register," as well as several online publications.

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