I was at Lucky Shot Billiards in Sunnyvale last night for APA league night. In the first game of my match, my opponent broke and didn’t make anything. I looked at the table, saw three sets of clusters that would prevent a run out, but I decided to go for it anyway (too aggressive!). I was able to navigate through the layout and break up the three clusters, but I lost position on the last ball and was forced to attempt a tough bank. I missed. With a wide open table, my opponent ran out. In my second game, my opponent made a ball on the break but missed his first shot. I didn’t like the layout of my balls, so I played a shot/safe where I intended to open up a couple of my balls that were frozen together. I hit one ball out and tried to freeze the cue ball behind the other, but got a little sloppy and left my opponent a makeable ball. Two or three minutes later, I was down 0-2.
Even though I was shooting pretty good and made just two mistakes, those two mistakes had resulted in two losses. I knew my opponent was capable of running out if I gave him the chance, so I had to change my strategy. For the remainder of the match, I decided to implement my “95% Rule.” The rule is as follows: “Before every single shot, assess the layout of the table. If I’m not at least 95% confident I can run the entire rack, look for the best safe and play into it.” For the remainder of the match I easily played 30-40 safes, trying my best to prevent my opponent from being able to see any of his balls. That proved to be the differentiator, and I eventually won the match 5-2. The only downside? The match took over two hours! (uuggggghh!)