How to Rack in 8 Ball

There are a number of variations to the game of 8-ball pool, but all of them begin the same way: You rack the 15 numbered balls inside a triangular rack and then break them. Getting the rack right is the first step to playing this popular game.


  1. Image titled Rack in 8 Ball Step 1
    Locate the foot spot on the pool table. Most pocket billiard tables are marked with a white dot inside a black circle at either end of the table, about halfway between the corner and side pockets. The foot spot is the spot furthest from the end of the table where the players stand during the break shot.
  2. Image titled Rack in 8 Ball Step 2
    Place the triangle rack with its apex over the foot spot.
  3. Image titled Rack in 8 Ball Step 3
    Place any ball other than the 8-ball inside the triangle at its apex. You may use any of the seven solid or seven striped balls. Many players like to use the 1-ball, but the United States Professional Pool players Association (UPA) Official Rules[1] do not require it, nor do the rules of the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA).[2]
    • You do have to place the 1-ball in the apex position when playing either 9-Ball[3] or 10-Ball[4], however.
  4. Image titled Rack in 8 Ball Step 4
    Place a solid ball at one of the far corners and a striped ball at the other far corner. This is done to make it equally likely that either a solid or a striped ball will be knocked into a pocket on the break. If this happens, the breaking player usually elects to shoot at that type of ball and continue playing.
  5. Image titled Rack in 8 Ball Step 5
    Fill in the space between the rack corners with the other solid and striped balls. The balls do not have to be placed in a particular order or pattern of solids and stripes, although most players try to balance the placement of solids and stripes to make it equally likely either kind of ball can be sunk on the break. The usual choice is to place a solid and a stripe side-by-side at the base of the inner triangle of balls (as shown in the figure.)
  6. Image titled Rack in 8 Ball Step 6
    Place the 8-ball at the apex of the inner triangle of balls. This is done to reduce the likelihood of the 8-ball being pocketed on the break, which would result in an automatic win for the player shooting the break when playing under UPA rules, provided the break is otherwise legal.[5]
  7. Image titled Rack in 8 Ball Step 7
    Ensure the balls are tightly racked. This is commonly done by pushing the triangle slightly forward and pulling it back while using your fingers to push the balls forward against the apex of the triangle. Be sure to return the position of the rack so that the ball at the apex of the triangle rests directly over the foot spot.
    • If the table has flaws that prevent you from placing the apex ball directly over the foot spot, the UPA’s rules allow you to place it within a dime’s radius (half the width of a dime) of the foot spot.[6]


  • The numbered balls should be racked tightly enough to permit at least four of them to strike any of the rails after the rack is broken, or pocket one of them other than the 8-ball. If neither condition is met, the break is not legal, and the other player may either accept the table as is or force the shooter to re-break, under both UPA and WPA rules. If the 8-ball is pocketed on an illegal break, under UPA rules, the shooter automatically loses,[7] while under WPA rules, the other player may either re-spot the 8-ball and accept the table as is or call for a re-break.[8]

Things You’ll Need

  • Regulation pool table
  • 15 numbered balls
  • Triangular rack

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