These rules are adapted from the Billiard Congress of America for in-house 9-Ball leagues and tournaments.
1. OBJECT OF THE GAME
Nine-Ball is played with nine object balls numbered one through nine and a cue ball. On each shot, the first ball the cue ball contacts must be the lowest numbered ball on the table, but the balls need not be pocketed in order. If a player pockets any ball on a legal shot, he remains at the table for another shot, and continues until missing, committing a foul, or winning the game by pocketing the 9-ball. After a miss, the incoming player must shoot from the position left by the previous player, but after any foul the incoming player may start with the cue ball anywhere on the table. Players are not required to call any shot. A match ends when one of the players has won the required number of games.
2. RACKING THE BALLS
The object balls are racked in a diamond shape, with the 1-ball at the top of the diamond and on the foot spot, the 9-ball in the center of the diamond, and the other balls in random order, racked as tightly as possible. The game begins with cue ball in hand behind the head string.
3. DECISION OF BREAK
Flip a coin (NOT OVER THE TABLE). Winner of the coin toss has the option to break. During competition, players will alternate breaking on each subsequent game.
4. LEGAL BREAK SHOT
The rules governing the break shot are the same as for other shots except:
A) The breaker must strike the1-ball first and either pocket a ball or drive at least four numbered balls to the rail.
B) If the cue ball is pocketed or driven off the table, or the requirements of the opening break are not met, it is a foul, and the incoming player has cue ball in hand anywhere on the table.
C) If on the break shot, the breaker causes an object ball to jump off the table, it is a foul and the incoming player has cue ball in hand anywhere on the table. The object ball is pocketed (exception: if the object ball is the 9-ball, it is re-spotted).
5. CONTINUING PLAY
On the shot immediately following a legal break, the shooter may play a “push out” (see rule 6). If the breaker pockets one or more balls on a legal break, he continues to shoot until he misses, fouls, or wins the game. If the player misses or fouls, the other player begins an inning and shoots until he misses, fouls, or wins. The game ends when the 9-ball is pocketed on a legal shot, or the game is forfeited for a serious infraction of the rules.
6. PUSH OUT
The player who shoots immediately after a legal break may play a push out in an attempt to move the cue ball into a better position for the option that follows. On a push out, the cue ball is not required to contact any object ball nor any rail, but all other foul rules still apply. The player must announce the intention of playing a push out before the shot, or the shot is considered to be a normal shot. Any ball pocketed on a push out does not count and remains pocketed except the 9-ball. Following a legal push out, the incoming player is permitted to shoot from that position or to pass the shot back to the player who pushed out. A push out is not considered to be a foul as long as no rule (except rules 8 and 9) is violated. An illegal push out is penalized according to the type of foul committed. After a player scratches on the break shot, the incoming player cannot play a push out.
When a player commits a foul, he must relinquish his run at the table and no balls pocketed on the foul shot are re-spotted (exception: if a pocketed ball is the 9-ball, it is re-spotted). The incoming player is awarded ball in hand. If a player commits several fouls on one shot, they are counted as only one foul.
8. BAD HIT
If the first object ball contacted by the cue ball is not the lowest numbered ball on the table, the shot is foul.
9. NO RAIL
If no object ball is pocketed, failure to drive the cue ball or any numbered ball to a rail after the cue ball contacts the object ball on is a foul.
10. CUE BALL IN HAND
When the cue ball is in hand, the player may place the cue ball anywhere on the bed of the table, except in contact with an object ball. The player may continue to adjust the position of the cue ball until shooting.
11. OBJECT BALLS JUMPED OFF THE TABLE
An unpocketed ball is considered to be driven off the table if it comes to rest other than on the bed of the table. It is a foul to drive an object ball off the table. The jumped object ball(s) is not re-spotted (exception: if the object ball is the 9-ball, it is re-spotted) and play continues.
12. NO JUMP SHOTS OR MASSE
13. THREE CONSECUTIVE FOULS
If a player fouls three consecutive times on three successive shots without making an intervening legal shot, the game is lost. The three fouls must occur in one game. The warning must be given between the second and third fouls. A player’s inning begins when it is legal to take a shot and ends at the end of a shot on which he misses, fouls or wins, or when he fouls between shots.
14. END OF GAME
On the opening break, the game is considered to have commenced once the cue ball has been struck by the cue tip. The 1-ball must be legally contacted on the break shot. The game ends at the end of a legal shot which pockets the 9-ball, or when a player forfeits the game as the result of a foul.
NOTE: All infractions must be called by the opponent before another shot is taken, or else it will be deemed that no infraction occurred. THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN CALL A FOUL IS THE OPPONENT.