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How Are The Pool Balls Setup?

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Have you recently gone to set up a game of pool against one of your friends and they told you that you were setting up the pool balls wrong? Maybe one of your friends always does it differently than you and you want to know if there is one specific way to set them up. No matter what question you have, we are here to answer it. 

So how are the pool balls setup?

Although there are many ways to set up pool balls, it only changes based upon the game you are playing. For a typical 8 ball, you simply place them in the rectangle solid, then stripe, then solid, all the way around with the 8 ball in the middle. 

If you want to know more about pool balls and how to set up other games, you will want to keep reading. You can also watch this video which will show you how to set up 8 ball and 9 ball

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Does everyone know how to rack the balls but me?

When enjoying a pool game in the local bar or pool hall, there is a need to set up the balls each time you start a new game. A lot of people who don’t know how to set up the balls, place the balls at random, which is considered a common mistake. The formal term for setting up the balls is called racking up the balls.

Pool games are divided into multiple categories like an 8-ball pool, a 9-ball pool, a 10-ball pool, straight pool, and bank pool. Each one of them has a different playing style and a different number of balls. That is why each of them has a separate method of ball racking.

There are many ways to set up Pool balls. However, there is only one official for each category that is implemented in international tournaments. 

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Methods of Pool Table Setup:

Every person has their own way of setting up the balls. An accurate ball setup ensures a fair game is played between the two players. Therefore, by precise measurement and way, none of the players gets an advantage over the other. 

The most common method of pool ball racking is the triangular distribution. It is a setup technique in which the balls are placed in a triangular fashion, one after another, so that all the balls move randomly together. This is the simplest racking method that can be applied to all games. It is easy to follow using a triangular racking tool. 

This is just a simple setup method; however, the position of balls and numbering also matter. That is why in official professional tournaments, there are special referees to analyze and position the balls.  

The methods differ only by small changes; however, the first step is the same for all the games. Below are the different types of games and how to rack the balls for them. 

Eight Ball Pool

Setting up an eight ball pool is pretty simple. It follows fifteen balls in the triangular rack. The tip of the frame is first placed on the light marking the spot on the table.

Not all the balls are arranged randomly on the rack. First, set up the complete set of fifteen balls on it randomly. Now, set up the last row in a way that at one end, you have a solid colored ball, and at the other end, you have a striped ball.

After completion of this step, make sure to place the eight ball, typically the black one, in the middle so that the cue ball cannot directly hit it. 

Set up the eight ball in the center row of the triangular rack while keeping the other balls in a random position. 

This is just a simple setup method. But this changes with the number of balls as nine-ball has a different official method setting. 

Nine Ball Pool

The first step for the nine-ball is the same as the previous one. Place the tip of the rack on the pinned point of the table. This pinned or marked point is called “The Foot Point.”

After the placement, set the balls in the numbered order from one to nine. Place the number one ball at the top. Make sure to make five rows so that a triangular diamond is formed. 

Position the balls in a manner that except the first and last row, all the rows have more than one ball. Place two balls in the second and fourth row. And at last, place the three balls in the middle. 

Make sure that the first ball of the triangle or diamond is placed precisely to the foot spot.

Straight Pool

Set the balls in the rack in the triangular order keeping the point of the stand on the foot spot. 

Adjust the balls in an ordered list. The position of the balls also depends upon the size of the rack. 

Fill the tray to see if it contains fourteen or fifteen balls at max. If the max capacity of the stand is fourteen, adjust it correspondingly as described above. Remove the frame afterward and place the extra ball in front of the first ball in the first row. 

Ten Ball

Ten Ball setup is the most straightforward ball setup one could use. This is because the complete rack is filled with the balls leaving no space behind. It is arranged using all the balls in an ordered list. The balls are divided into four sections dividing the balls in a complete triangle.

Bank Pool

Bank Pool has multiple techniques of ball setup. Since it contains a cue ball and optional five balls which can be placed in a random order, there is no exact and correct method to set this up. 

Ball positioning

Ball positioning is all based on the rack size. A stretchable rack can contain extra balls and is not able to form a perfect triangle. Therefore, you must have seen the frame is made of very stiff material so that the balls can be compressed entirely inside without leaving any space or creating an irregular shape.

Also, the marking of the table matters a lot in this aspect. There are many high-quality pool tables available in the market at a cheaper cost because they have incorrect dimensionless markings, or materials. This is why if you go to purchase a pool table, you will want to get one here

Experts always recommend it to make use of the correctly scaled meter rule to mark the points so that the balls can be positioned accurately each time the new game is played. 

For casual games at the Pool Halls and local bars, there is no need to follow these rules as the games are normally casual games. However, for a tournament and professional game, following these ball setup methods is a must.


Now that you know how to set up your pool balls based upon the game you are playing, you can accurately set up any game you or your friends want to play without worrying about them not being set up properly. If you just got a pool table, you may need some additional supplies. One of the most important supplies to purchase is a good set of pool balls. Here is the best set of pool balls that also will not break the bank! 

So now that you have everything you need to play the games of pool you want to play, go ahead and show off your new skill of knowing how to rack the balls properly and enjoy your game.