What Is The Correct Way To Rack 8 Ball Pool?

Racking in 8-ball pool is different depending on which rule set you’re using. So, if you’re trying to figure out what the correct way to rack in 8-ball pool is, then, you need to pick a ruleset. There are 3 major rulesets when it comes to playing 8 ball pool. The 3 major rule sets are APA, BCA, and bar or house rules. APA and BCA are both competitive tournament rules.

You will occasionally run into people like myself that play by APA or BCA rules in bars. Most of the time, they will be more than happy to explain the rules because they know it’s not the most common rules to play by in bars. Typically, if someone wants to play by APA or BCA rules, they are a little more advanced.

If you don’t plan on playing in a competitive scene, you probably won’t need to learn APA or BCA. However, if you like playing pool and plan on playing for a long time, it may be worth learning.

Common Racking Rules

No matter the ruleset you choose there are a couple of things that will always be the same.

You always want to make sure that the rack is frozen.

A frozen rack means that all the pool balls are touching. A frozen rack is not a requirement but it is good racking practice. When the balls are frozen, the balls spread around the pool table evenly.

If the balls aren’t frozen, sometimes only a couple of balls will move around the table. The rest will just stay in place, leading to a difficult game or a violation in some rule sets. This violation could call for a re-rack.

Click here to check out my review of the Magic Ball Rack that gives you a perfect frozen rack every time.

Another rule that is common rule is the 8 ball must go in the center. This is because the 8-ball is the game-winning ball. You don’t want it to go in on the break. Although in some rule sets, making the 8 ball on the break is a win. You still don’t want it to be easy to make because it instantly ends the game.

8-ball rack with 8-ball in center

When you rack the balls, the front ball should be on the white dot pictured below on the right side of the table. You will then break from behind the kitchen. Indicated by the black line on the left side of the table.

pool table showing the kitchen and rack marker

Most tables will have a marker on the table to show where the front ball should be. If there isn’t a marker, then you can find the spot by looking at the diamonds on the table. The diamonds are the 18 dots that go around the outside of the table (pictured below).

The marker lines up with the middle diamond long ways and the second diamonds from the corner pockets on the side of the table. draw an imaginary line from the diamonds on the opposite side of the table. The point where those lines intersect is the spot where the marker should be. (pictured below)

how to find rack marker

How To Rack For BCA Rules

BCA follows the common racking rules.

  • 8-ball in the middle
  • lead ball on rack marker
  • 1 stripe and 1 solid on the back corners

In BCA it is not a win if the 8-ball goes in on the break. It is a reset or the ball must be spotted.

Spotting a ball means the ball must be set at the spot where the lead ball of the rack goes. This is the white dot pictured above on the right side of the table.

The other racking requirement for BCA is that the balls in the back two corners, the 6 and 12 balls in the picture below, must be different types. By different types, I mean one must be a solid and one must be a stripe.

full 8 ball pool rack

This rule is because oftentimes the corner balls move around the table the most on the break. So, they have a high possibility of going in a pocket. It’s unfair if both of those go in and they are the same person’s ball.

How To Rack For APA Rules

APA has the most lax rules for racking. For APA, you follow the common racking rules:

  • 8-ball in the middle
  • lead ball on rack marker
  • frozen rack (recommended)

Other than that, the balls can be randomly placed in the rack.

This makes racking very easy but it also can lead to unfair games. If more solids are toward the back of the rack or vice versa it can make one player’s balls easier to shoot.

How To Rack For Bar Rules

When playing bar rules, you will follow the common racking rules:

  • 8-ball in the middle
  • lead ball on rack marker
  • frozen rack (recommended)

Since bar rules aren’t a set rule set. They aren’t the same everywhere you go.

One rule that is very common among bar rules is that the front ball is the 1-ball. This isn’t a hard rule but it is a rule that I have noticed by playing in multiple bars on the west coast.

The way I was taught to rack when I was younger is also a rack I commonly see in bars.

You start with the 1-ball in front and then alternate stripes then solids around the rack. Once you go around the whole rack, then you put the 8-ball in the middle. This leaves you with one stripe and one solid. These two balls went in the 2 remaining spots behind the 8-ball.

Many people rack this way but again this isn’t a hard rule.

In the picture below, I show the stripe then solid alternating method. In the example below, I put the same colored stripe and solid next to each other but this is not necessary.

8 ball rack alternating stripes solids

Follow The Common Rack Rules To Be Safe

Racking is slightly different for each ruleset. So finding the proper way to rack in 8 ball can be tricky but if you follow the common racking rules of 8-ball, then you will satisfy most people’s expectations. The common rules are 8-ball in the middle, lead ball on rack marker, and a stripe and solid on each corner.

Yes, there are other ways to rack such as alternating stripe solid. However, the main thing people will pay attention to unless you’re playing in a tournament is whether the 8 ball is in the middle.

If you’re in a bar, I’d say it’s more common courtesy to put the 1-ball in front rather than a hard rule.

If you know of any other common racking rules, especially for bars, please leave a comment below. I’d love to know if the bar rules I’ve learned are just on the west coast or world/nationwide.

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