Tag Archives: 8 Ball Strategy

US Amateurs – How I Played Shot 2

Times up!   As a reminder, here’s the layout I was presented with in ‘shot 2’ from my last post:


My thoughts on this situation:

  1. Thinking ahead to the eight ball, the eight ball is blocked from both the left and right upper corner pockets, so it can only realistically be pocketed into the upper side pocket via a cut shot or the lower side pocket via a bank shot.  Obviously, I’d prefer to take the higher percentage cut shot, but if forced, the bank is an option.
  2. The solid ball (yellow) is easily makeable in the upper left corner, but I won’t have a shot on the eight ball from there.
  3. My opponent’s balls (blue) are everywhere, and they are not clustered, so my opponent has a pretty good chance of running the table if (or when) I miss.
  4. …UNLESS I CAN PLAY A REALLY GOOD SAFETY!  But how can I play a safe here???

I considered the safety shot diagrammed below, but decided against it given the extreme level of speed control required, not to mention the precise thin cut needed.  I thought my probability of success on this shot was next to zero; maybe 5-10% at best:


Well, when all else fails, I fall back to an old mantra….”When all rational shots have been considered and discarded, whatever shot remains, no matter how irrational, must be the right shot!”  …lol…

Since I’m pretty good at draw shots (it helps to know thyself!), I thought I might be able to pull off the shot diagrammed below and then finish off the rack with a sharp cut or bank on the eight ball.  Here’s the shot I planned:


I took a few practice strokes, focusing on body position, arm mechanics, and wrist snap, then uncorked a break shot speed stroke, hit the cue ball extremely low, applied maximum wrist snap, and as much follow through as I could manage.  The resulting shot is diagrammed below:


Without a doubt the best draw shot I’ve ever executed!  I easily pocketed the eight ball on my next shot to win the rack.




US Amateurs – How to Play Shot 2?

Here’s the second shot that really stood out in my memory.  I was competing in the US Amateur Preliminary round last weekend, and at one point I was presented with this shot in 8 Ball:


Here’s the situation:  I broke the rack, reviewed the initial table layout, and decided that I could run all the solids on the table, so I tried….and failed!  I had lost cue ball position on a previous shot which got me out of line and caused me to miss my final ball (yellow).  In response, my opponent decided to break up a cluster of his stripes so that he could go for a run out on his next turn, and left the cue ball safe for me at the far end of the table.

So here’s the question, oh wise reader…..WHAT’S THE RIGHT STRATEGY FOR ME?  BETTER YET, HOW WOULD YOU PLAY THIS?  Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what I tried.

US Amateurs – How I Played Shot 1

As a reminder, in my last post I described a shot that I encountered during the US Amateur Preliminary round where I was playing 8 Ball and was presented with the following layout:


Here are the shots I considered:

  1. My very first thought was to cut the closest solid ball to the lower right corner pocket, and in fact I moved over to take that shot…only to realize the 8-ball was directly in the path of the shot and there was no way around it.
  2. My second thought was to cut a solid ball to the upper left corner, but that’s a very thin cut and I’d likely lose control of the cue ball and possibly rearrange the positions of other balls on the table (an action I always try to avoid since it introduces a luck factor into the game).
  3. Next I considered a one-rail bank to the upper right corner pocket (a relatively high probability shot for me since I play a good bit of One Pocket); however, THAT solid ball had my opponent’s stripe ball nearly kissing it, and I was afraid that I would accidentally touch the stripe before the solid (foul) and give my opponent ball in hand (another HUGE no-no in my book).
  4. I very (emphasis on very) briefly considered cutting one of the two solids just above the cue ball to the far upper right corner, but that would be a difficult cut shot and I’d definitely lose cue ball control on that shot.
  5. When presented with a low probability shot and especially given a loss of cue ball control, I always fall back to a safety shot.  I looked for a good safety (as they say, ‘when you leave the table, leave on YOUR terms’) and saw a pretty high percentage safety.

Here’s how I planned the shot:  I wanted to make a very thin soft cut on the solid with a lot of left spin and with speed to put it close to the bottom rail next to the other solid.  I didn’t care where the first solid went; in fact, I was praying that it would NOT make it to the upper left corner pocket.  Here’s the diagram of the shot as I planned it:


Here’s a picture of the final result, which I took before my opponent could figure out how he wanted to respond:


The result was mostly due to good planning, with a little luck on the speed and position, but my opponent had absolutely nothing he could do to make a legal hit.  The cue ball was essentially frozen between the rail and my solid.  He subsequently fouled (and didn’t mess up the table layout) and with ball in hand I was able to run out from here.

Tomorrow, I’ll share another very interesting shot, a shot that I consider to be . . . . . well, you’ll just have to see it to believe it.

US Amateurs – How to Play Shot 1?

Pool is such a fascinating sport because no two racks are ever alike.  You must think and plan how you are going to attach each rack.  Constant problem solving.  There were a couple shots I encountered last weekend during the US Amateur Preliminaries that I wanted to share with you.  Why?  Because there are many ways to solve the same problem, and different people have different perspectives.  I’ve posted shots that I’ve made before, thinking that I made the best decision, only to have another player offer a better solution.  Pool is a learning environment, and I’m always looking for input.

Here’s the first shot…we are playing 8-Ball:


I’m solids (yellow) and I’m in a bit of a predicament.  I’ve got 5 solids on the table; my opponent only has 3 stripes (blue).  I don’t have an easy shot, but I initially figure I have two likely offensive shots as indicated in the diagram below:


I can take shot # 1 and make a very thin cut to the upper left corner, or shot # 2 and try a one-rail bank to the far right corner.  Alternatively, maybe I could do something else?  Is there a third shot?

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  What would you do?  When presented with this situation I stood over the cue ball and pondered my options for a minute, then a light went off and I quickly made my decision knowing exactly what I wanted to do.  I’ll share my decision in my next post, but first I want to see if anyone has any input.

How Did I Play This Shot?

This was one of the most funnest (new word?)  posts that I’ve ever written because I got some really interesting comments from folks regarding options for either making the shot or playing a safe.  This post taught me something super duper important…no matter how bad things get, keep a cool head, because there are always multiple options to consider.

How would you play this shot? (You are stripes)

How did I play it?  Well, let me first give you a little background on my opponent.  I’d never seen the guy before and had never heard of him, but I knew he was the #3 ranked shooter in his league.  (Okay, I admit it…I research my opponents before my match begins…ahhh, the power of the internet!)  Obviously, he could pocket balls.  I also watched him warm up, and noticed that he was very very comfortable pocketing balls and rolling whitey around the table.  I suspected from the start that I might be playing a lot of safes against him to slow his game down.  In my experience, when I encounter a very hot shot maker, if I slow the game down they tend to get reckless and try for low percentage shots.

For this situation, I considered four offensive shots as outlined in my previous post.  Bank shot B was the shot I felt most comfortable with (I guessed maybe 75% probability of success), but in my mind I just couldn’t justify the risk of missing the shot.  I knew my opponent was a great shot maker, and I was confident if I missed he would either cut the 6 ball in the side or cut it to the far right corner.  After assessing the risks, I thought about the “95% rule” and knew then that I was going to play a safe.  I just didn’t know which safe.   I debated for a couple minutes, then decided to play a “One Ball Safe.”  I decided to hit the 13 ball on the left side about ¼ full, and I put high right English on the cue ball.  The reason is because I wanted to do two things: (1) make the cue ball go to the rail and “hold up”, and (2) make the 13 ball counter spin and also “hold up,” come straight off the long rail and back toward the middle of the table.  This would theoretically put the 13 ball directly in between the cue ball and the 6 ball.  The photo below shows my plan:

This was my plan for playing a safety shot

In order to make the shot, I had to hit the cue ball very softly in order to maximize the “grab” between the two balls.  The edited photo below shows how the balls actually ended up after the shot.  No, I didn’t stop to take a photo of the actual layout in the match.  I was too busy celebrating…internally of course!  But that’s not the end of this story…

This is how the shot played out (retouched picture)

I knew my opponent was a very good kicker, but what happened next was totally unexpected.  In the middle of his next shot, I found myself actually cheering for my opponent to win this game!  He got to the table, held his cue above the playing surface for 10-15 seconds and moved it around like he was directing traffic on an aircraft carrier, then nodded his head and got down to shoot.  He settled and started very slowly and deliberately stroking.  When I saw where he was aiming, I thought, “Oh, yeah, right!  He’ll never do that….{Plink!}”  The cue ball rolled to the second diamond on the lower right rail, between the second and third diamonds on the second rail, the 1.5 diamond (approx) on the third rail, then came screaming of the third rail headed straight for the 6 ball.  “HOLY SH*T!”  It headed directly for the 6 as if guided by a string…a full face on solid hit!  {Bang!}  Direct hit!  The six headed straight for the lower left corner pocket…and missed by 1 inch!  The crowd (including myself) went nuts!  What an F’ing shot!  I got very lucky that the cue ball had followed the 6 for a couple feet, giving me an easy out with the 13 and 8 to opposite sides.

My opponent's response? A 3-rail kick that missed by 1 inch!

I think I’ll call this safety the Frerking Shot, in honor of Gary Frerking’s precise description of it.  Congrats Gary!  As with all of my contests, you win…well, nothing really.  Just a pat on the back!  😉

How Would You Play This Shot?

Last night I was in an 8 ball match against a pretty tough player when I suddenly found myself in a very difficult situation.  I had broken the rack open to start the game, but didn’t make a ball.  My opponent started running the solids but missed his last ball.  With most of the solids out of the way, I decided to run the table out and had nearly completed my run when I made a HUGE mistake and lost position on my last object ball.  Arrgghh!  I was very frustrated, so I stopped play, whipped out my iPhone, and took a picture of the layout before I continued shooting.  See the actual photo from our match below.

How would you play this shot? (You have Stripes)

In my next post I’ll tell you what I did, but for now here’s my question for you: How would you have played this shot?  In the edited photo below, I’ve provided the 4 options that I initially considered.  Can you think of any other options?  What would you have done in this situation?  What do you think I eventually did?

The first 4 shots I considered. Are there other options? What did I do?

Have fun!  😉