Is 9-Ball Pool Arguably The Best Cue Sport Hardly Played In The UK?

9-ball pool

Why is the UK resistant to playing 9-ball pool? We take a look to find out!

If you are a fan of cue sports in the UK, then it is likely that you are going to be a fan of snooker. You may also play a little snooker or 8-ball pool in your spare time.

Yet for many British cue sports fans, are missing out on the opportunity to play arguably the most popular cue sport in the world today.

That game is 9-ball pool and it is a game that the UK should have embraced a long time ago. Yet, it still remains something of an enigma to many in the country.

Why is that? How is it possible to find plenty of snooker betting on sites like bet365 Sport, but 9-ball pool betting is much tougher to find?

Let’s look at the current situation with cue sports in the UK before we drill down into what makes 9-ball pool such a great game to play.

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What Cue Sports Are Played In The UK Aside From 9 Ball Pool?

We should point out that 9-ball is played in the UK. However, it remains a very distant third when it comes to the popularity of cue sports.

Regarding televised cue sports, snooker remains by far the most dominant, with TV coverage of many major events throughout the season.

TV coverage of 9-ball is far less evident, especially on the free-to-air channels. Satellite channel subscribers can sometimes find highlights or live coverage of major 9-ball events. But the biggest televised event in 9-ball in the UK each year is always the Mosconi Cup.

This is 9-ball’s equivalent of Golf’s Ryder Cup, with a team of US national 9-ball professionals taking on a team of European professionals. The tournament is held on a rotation, one year in the United States, the next in Europe and so on.

In terms of participation, snooker and 8-ball pool are the most widely played cue sports in the UK. 8-ball pool is especially popular because pool tables are often available to play on in pubs and clubs.

Snooker hall numbers have fallen but remain, and you can also find a small but increasing number of 9-ball tables here. Other major leisure facilities, such as bowling alleys and arcade complexes, may also have 9-ball tables available, although many UK players will still prefer to play 8-ball pool.

What Is 9-Ball Pool?

9-Ball is a game played, as the name suggests, with nine target balls and one cue ball, which is white (although on TV it is often shown with red dots on to allow viewers to see the spin placed on shots).

At the start of a game, the 9-balls are arranged in a diamond formation with the number 1 ball placed at the tip of the triangle nearest the break line (called the head string). The nine ball is placed in the middle of the diamond and the balls should resemble a 1-2-3-2-1 formation.

The aim of the game is simple, pot the nine ball first. However, you must only hit the lowest value ball on the table for it to be a legal shot. Which is why the break must always hit the 1-ball first.

However, if you do hit the legal ball first, then pot a different ball, this is allowed in the game. Which means that you can theoretically win a game of 9-ball pool from the break off. You do this by breaking the balls legally and then potting the 9-ball from the break.

Usually, the game progresses with players potting the balls in numerical order before potting the 9-ball to win. However, if the 9-ball is easy to pocket, players can try to hit the nominated ball onto the 9-ball to pot it at any time in the game to land the win.

If a player commits a foul, such as missing the lowest-value ball or potting the white on a shot, the opponent receives the ‘ball in hand’ and can place the ball anywhere on the table to continue the game.

9-ball pool sounds complex when explained, but it is actually incredibly easy to understand when played. It is certainly far easier than snooker in terms of rules.

What Are The Key Differences Between 9-Ball Pool And Snooker?

While both 9-ball pool and snooker are cue sports, they are very different in many ways. The main differences are outlined below.

  • Snooker is played professionally on a table measuring 12ft by 6ft. 9-ball pool is played usually on a table 9ft by 4.5ft.
  • The baize of a snooker table is usually green. The baize of a 9-ball pool table can be any colour, with blue, red, and purple being some of the most common colours.
  • Snooker is played with 22 balls. 15 reds, a yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black and the white cue ball. 9-ball pool is played with 10 balls. The 9 pool balls (numbered one to nine) and the cue ball. The 9-ball is usually striped, while the balls numbered one to eight are usually a solid colour.
  • On a snooker table, the pockets are cut less generously than on a 9-ball pool table. For example, shots along the cushion can be very tricky to make in snooker, but they are much easier to make in 9-ball pool.
  • Snooker is a game of collecting points. 9-ball pool is a race to pot the 9-ball first.
  • Snooker games can never be finished after just one shot. 9-ball pool games can.
  • Jumping the cue ball purposely in snooker incurs a foul. In 9-ball pool, jump shots are an integral part of the game.
  • 9-ball pool balls are slightly bigger than full-size snooker balls. Measuring 2 and a quarter inches compared to 2 and 1/16th of an inch for full-size snooker balls.

How Popular is 9-Ball Pool Around The World?

Extremely popular. In fact, you can argue that 9-ball pool is by far the more cosmopolitan of all cue sports, with a following in many more countries than snooker or 8-ball pool.

The game is hugely popular in North America, Central America, East Asia and across mainland Europe. However, it is also played in many other parts of the globe too.

Despite not having a huge following in the game, the UK has produced two World Championship winners in 9-ball pool. Daryl Peach in 2007 and Darren Appleton in 2012.

What Are The Biggest 9-Ball Pool Tournaments?

For individual players the following tournaments are the biggest on the 9-ball pool calendar each year: –

  • WPA World 9-ball Championship
  • WPA Women’s World 9-ball Championship
  • US Open 9-ball Championship
  • China Open 9-ball Championship
  • International 9-ball Open
  • World Pool Masters
  • World Cup of Pool

There are also events held throughout the season on the Diamond Pool Tour, Asian Tour and Euro Tour.

The big team event each year is the Mosconi Cup, held in early December featuring teams from the United States and Europe.

Who Are The Legends of 9-Ball Pool?

Some of the legends of 9-ball pool include some very famous names. Many of these players are enshrined in the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.

  • Willie Mosconi
  • Dorothy Wise
  • Minnesota Fats
  • Lou Butera
  • Nick Varner
  • Ruth McGinnis
  • Jim Rempe
  • Efren Reyes
  • Mike Massey
  • Earl Strickland
  • Sang Lee
  • Johnny Archer
  • Allison Fisher
  • Francisco Bustamente
  • Ralf Souquet
  • Mika Immonen
  • Oliver Ortmann
  • Rodney Morris
  • Darren Appleton
  • Kim Davenport
  • Alex Pagulayan
  • Kelly Fisher
  • Thorsten Hohmann
  • Niels Feijen
  • Shane Van Boening

Current superstars of the game not mentioned on this list include:

  • Fedor Gorst (USA)
  • Francisco Sanchez Ruiz (Spain)
  • Eklent Kaci (Albania)
  • Jayson Shaw (Great Britain)
  • Ko Ping Chung (Chinese Taipei)
  • Joshua Filler (Germany)
  • David Alcaide (Spain)

Have Any Snooker Stars Tried Their Hand at 9-Ball Pool?

Yes, a number of snooker stars have tried their hand at 9-ball pool.

In the early years of the Mosconi Cup, Jimmy White, Alex Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan all participated for the European team.

However, Steve Davis arguably became the best snooker player to play 9-ball as he was a stalwart member of the Mosconi Cup team for Europe for many years.

Other players to have tried 9-ball pool include Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham, Tony Drago, Martin Gould, Gary Wilson and Mark Williams.

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