How to Run a Rack - 8-Ball - Step-by-Step - the Four Kinds of Balls

How to run a rack in step-by-step photos detailing the four kinds of balls that come up in an 8-Ball or 9-Ball rack.

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How to Run a Rack - 8-Ball and 9-Ball by Type of Balls

Photo (c) Matt Sherman

There are only four types of balls that can help or hurt your next run. We've named them after ranks in a deck of cards:

  • Aces - easy to pocket shots
  • Kings - will "royally process" go in the pocket after the Aces get out of the way first
  • Jokers - trouble balls that mock you
  • Queens - balls that will assist you with Jokers, often they are "Aces with benefits"

The accompanying illustration is a sample Eight Ball table, you are solids and the cue ball is at Position A. Which two shots should you begin a run with? Hint: Identify the four types of balls on the table.

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Pocket That 8-Ball by Establishing the Correct Ball Sequence

Photo (c) Matt Sherman

To pocket that 8-ball this turn, you'll need a correct sequence. Let's begin with classifying the balls.

In the accompanying illustration, you have the solids in Eight Ball and the cue ball is now at position A. The 1-ball is a "King" that looks tough—unless you can clear Pocket A by shooting the 6-ball first. The 6-ball is your "Ace".

The balls numbered 2, 3 and 5 are clustered together like the "Jokers" they are. They are mocking us!

For the first stroke, I'd shoot the Ace 6-ball to Pocket A with center ball or perhaps a tad of draw spin to slow the cue ball, coming off the near rail to position B and just as importantly, converting the 1-ball King to an Ace for later, as we'll see on the next page.

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How to Make the 8-Ball - Finishing the Opening Moves of the Run

Billiards illustration (c) Matt Sherman

Now with the cue ball at Position B, we may cut the 4-ball to Pocket B with a stun stroke (center ball/dead spin at impact), the cue ball traveling the tangent line to break the cluster of the 2-, 3- and 5-balls.

Note that the excellent angle taken from Position B leaves a clear shot at the 1-ball just in case the cluster break is ineffective.

My alternative to a runout for the 8-ball would play safe behind the "Jokers". Having freed that 1-ball for an emergency (as in shot 1 on the previous page, turning a "King" to an "Ace") gives me powerful run options.

Remember, there are only four kinds of balls on any given pool table as shown in this step-by-step instructional example (review page 1 for more).