Is 8-Ball or 9-Ball Better to Play?

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Have you wondered whether you should be digging into 8-Ball or 9-Ball for practice and play? Truly, 8-Ball is the superior game and will make your overall skills stronger.

In fact, most pool shooters who choose 9-ball will do so at their own peril, assuming that because the pros play Nine on television they can emulate their heroes and so grow from strength to strength.

Pros who can consistently run racks of 9-Ball likely honed their skills on other games, including Straight Pool, Carom and of course, no amateur’s favorite, billiards drills! But 8-Ball will sharpen your pool strategy at a minimum and is more of a pool purist’s game. Several hours of thoughtful Eight Ball play can do more for your skills and planning than months of Nine Ball play-and will ultimately, of course, make you a stronger competitor at Nine Ball going forward.


Which Game Is Toughest to Master?

The two games require some different skills. 9-Ball adds more frustration for beginners and intermediates when it comes to creating run-out opportunities.

Since 9-Ball is more of a shooter’s game and 8-Ball more of a thinker’s game, 8-Ball is harder to master.


Eight Ball is the better game for the novice because they can more easily cover up their mistakes with a little strategy. Nine Ball is less forgiving and demands more shot-making skills.

At the pro level, the shot-maker generally wins more at 9-Ball, while the thinker wins more at 8-Ball. Physical skills are rather finite, but the options in the shot selection are almost infinite, so imagination and experience are invaluable.

Luck does often help the novice more than the intermediate player. But at the other end of the spectrum, the intermediate player will consistently lose to the strategist who knows “when to go and when to fold”.

Rotation games like 9-Ball require complex skills. A miss of one inch could ruin an 8-Ball position. But glorious three-rail kicks and combos save the day in 9-Ball-pros run five racks of 9-Ball far more often than 8-Ball.


And intermediate players? Novices upset league players more at 8-Ball than 9-Ball. Ironically, this happens as novices are not thinking clearly and get good rolls. No?

What Pros Prefer

Pros run more racks of 9-Ball than 8-Ball. They don’t go for the run in 8-Ball as often! Hustlers choose the game after watching the mark play a few games.

They would rather play 9-Ball because the games go faster and the money comes faster. But they will jump at the chance to play a novice at 8-Ball, especially if they are playing call shot.


Don’t forget the luck factor in 9-Ball as it is usually not a called shot. Eight-Ball remains the best bet for the master strategist!

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