What is your favorite pool game? I’ve always preferred 8-Ball over 9-Ball because I favor games that provide a mental challenge. 9-Ball is fun, but it’s mostly a game of execution and angle management. You know exactly what the shooting order will be; it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get from one shot to the next. 8-Ball (and straight pool for that matter) not only require shot execution, but also require a much more in-depth analysis of possible run patterns since the shooting order is not preordained. 8-Ball has been my favorite game for 20 years. Now, it’s time for me to move on and try to master another game: One Pocket.
It is often said that 9-Ball is the “checkers game” and One Pocket is the “chess game” of the pool world. I started playing One Pocket in January of this year and have really started to love the game. It’s amazing how complex the game can be, given that it is defined by such simple rules. The game rules are simple: make 8 balls in your corner pocket before your opponent makes 8 balls in the opposite corner pocket. All standard pool rules apply. That’s about it. Seems simple doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. One Pocket is by far the most complex game I’ve ever played. There are as many good (and bad) ways to play One Pocket as there are players. Every player has different strengths and weaknesses, which drives their shot making decision process. Every time you step up for your turn, there are multiple shot options that you must consider. Do I have a shot at my pocket? If I miss, will my opponent have a shot at his pocket? If I leave the cue ball in a certain spot, will my opponent have a simple (1-rail) bank shot available? Can my opponent make a simple bank? What about a 2-rail or 3-rail bank? Can I attempt a low percentage bank with the correct speed, and still leave my opponent with no return shot? If I leave my opponent with no clear shot, will he still be able to move 2 or more balls toward his pocket and leave me in a worse position? Should I take an intentional foul and penalty by freezing the cue ball in the stack without hitting a rail in the hopes that my opponent will sell out on his next shot? The list of questions and options goes on and on.
One Pocket is an interesting game in that the winner is usually the player with the most knowledge, not necessarily the best shooting skills. There are several guys I play with who can’t hang with me in either 8-Ball or 9-Ball, but they consistently school me in One Pocket. Fascinating! I’m hooked. Over the next several months I will be studying and breaking down the game of One Pocket. I will be identifying the key skills that are necessary, develop and execute specific practice routines to improve those areas, and then rebuild myself and focus on improving my One Pocket game. More on this in future posts.