Fouling on Purpose

HookedFrom time to time you will find yourself in such a bad position that the best thing you can do is to just pick the cue ball up and hand it to your opponent.  For example when you are hooked with a very low chance of making a good hit, especially if making the good hit would still help out your opponent by breaking out their balls or clearing yours away from a pocket.  In fact, it may still be a good idea even if you aren’t hooked but even attempting a good hit would likely result in a better position for your opponent.  In order to make this decision, you should look at it from your opponent’s perspective and gauge how excited you’d be to have ball-in-hand as it sits verses what the table might look like if you indeed try for a good hit and end up breaking things out while possibly giving them ball-in-hand anyways.  This thought process is also useful when you are trying to hit or even make your ball because it may show you that you need to hit it a certain way or take a different shot in order to leave the table to your advantage.

If you find yourself in the position where you are about to hand over the cue ball you should first take a look around and see if there is a way for you to safely tie up some of your opponents balls in some way since you will be giving up ball-in-hand anyways.  You could purposely hit one of your opponent’s balls near another one, preferably one that is close to the rail.  Another option is to hit the 8ball first to block a pocket where your opponent has a ball on the rail.  Just make sure that whatever you do, don’t break up existing clusters of your opponent’s balls.  If they have one trouble spot, they can likely get out of it with the ball-in-hand, so creating a second trouble spot for them can make all the difference.  Be creative, the normal rules don’t apply since the alternative is a foul anyways.

I had an APA match about a year ago that I vividly remember.  I was down early and needed to win three games in a row.  My opponent broke and I ran the table.  I then had a break-and-run to bring us to the case game.  I was working on my second break-and-run in a row when I got out of position and totally hooked myself on the ball before the eight.  I went through the decision making process outlined above and decided that I didn’t like the crazy kick shot that was in front of me.  I felt that I had a better chance of winning if I clustered some of his balls and got another chance at the table.  I ended up hitting one of his stripes toward another stripe and giving him ball-in-hand.  He did the reverse of this and used his ball-in-hand to break up one of his clusters and leave me hooked.  I pushed another stripe to create another cluster for him.  This went back and forth for a few shots until he finally let me see a sliver of my only solid.  It wasn’t an easy shot by any means, so I considered making another cluster for him but since I had already created a few trouble spots for him, I ended up cutting my ball all the way down giving myself a great shot at the 8ball.  It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t pretty, but it made all the difference between a win and a loss.

Slow Down!

How many times do you hear someone tell their friend or teammate to “slow down” or “take your time” when they’re about to take a shot in an important situation?  It happens a lot, because it’s good advice.  I was in a bad slump a while back and I pulled myself out of it in multiple ways, not the least of which was to force myself to slow down.

After really focusing on slowing myself down, I began to notice that when a lot of players “take their time” they aren’t really applying that extra time taken in a fully functional way.  What I mean by this is that they do slow way down, they’ll look at the shot multiple times, think about a bunch of alternatives, waffle back and forth between two or more choices, then once they finally make their decision, they’ll shoot really fast.  This is no good.

When I take my time, it’s not to decide what to do.  I already know what to do.  Slowing down to me means focusing on the fundamentals.  I make sure I have a proper stance, bridge, grip, straight arm, fluid practice strokes, and finally, I make sure to stroke like a hot knife through butter.

This is not to say that you should be rushing your decision making process.  If you legitimately don’t know which ball to go for or what you’re going to do next, then by all means, take a little bit to think about it.  Just don’t think about what to do and forget to think about how to properly do it.

New Pool Table

So I finally bit the bullet and bought a new pool table.  It gets delivered and setup tomorrow and will look just like this one, same colors and all…

Windsor

I went with the olive felt because it’s not the bright green you see in the bars but it’s still a shade of green, so it shouldn’t be too weird to play on.  I stuck with 7′ since that’s what I mostly play on nowadays.  I don’t want to practice on overly easy pockets, so I requested slightly tighter than normal pocket openings.  I also didn’t want to go crazy and make them super tight because “cheating the pocket” is a *huge* part of my pool game and I would hate to lose that ability in everyday situations.

I can’t wait to host some friendly tournaments at my place.  I’ll also be setting up some cameras and doing some video posts to this blog.  Maybe I can even do a justin.tv style feed or something.  No matter how it shakes out, it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

Getting Started

Welcome to my pool blog! I’ve been wanting to blog about pool for a while now but finally got motivated to buy a domain and install wordpress thanks to the PoolSynergy syndication that I recently ran across.

PoolSynergy is a monthly collection of the best writing on pool. Each month the host site will put up a summary page, with descriptions or intros along with links to each of the articles in that month’s issue. The hosts and topics change from month to month.

Basically, how this works is that pool bloggers from around the web all write articles about the same topic on the ides of every month. I’ve read through most of the past year’s history and there have been some really good topics with equally good contributions. It’s really nice to be able to get a whole host of information from many points of view all at the same time. I love the energy and want to be able to “give back” as well.

In addition to writing about the PoolSynergy topic once a month, I also plan on posting table diagrams to talk about interesting shots. I will try to post a variety of shots ranging from beginner to advanced and give a good deal of detail on why I thought the shot was interesting, what situations it would be useful, when NOT to attempt the shot, etc.

I also play a lot of online pool on my phone via the Virtual Pool Online app for the iPhone. I’m not quite ready yet, but I have plans on capturing the video stream off of these video game sessions and going back and editing it down to the interesting runs. I’d also like to merge in a voice over explaining my shot selection and position play.

Lastly, I am the captain for multiple league teams and play in tournaments whenever I can. I will likely have a lot to say about team play, league politics, or whatever crazy thing happened on the table the night before.