PDA

View Full Version : 8 Ball Strategy


NewGuy
03-03-2005, 08:49 AM
What do you think is the best strategy to use in the early part of an 8 ball game? Lately I've been losing a lot of games because of failed run-outs and I'm getting really frustrated. Should I just try to run-out every time if possible, or should I play more defense at first?

jazzn4444
03-03-2005, 08:55 AM
What do you think is the best strategy to use in the early part of an 8 ball game? Lately I've been losing a lot of games because of failed run-outs and I'm getting really frustrated. Should I just try to run-out every time if possible, or should I play more defense at first?

I say that if you can run out, you should. The only time you should play safe, is if your balls or the 8 are tied up. Can you briefly describe how you play? IE..do you go up and down the table to make balls? do you take the easy shots and worry about the tough ones later?
I personally like to work on half the tabe at a time. If I have a ball in the pocket, I'll get it later only cause my opponent cant have that pocket if I let them shoot.

DoomCue
03-03-2005, 09:10 AM
Make an honest assessment of your ability as it pertains to the rack. If you think you can get out, go for it. If you don't, then figure out where in the rack you should play a good safety to clear up your perceived problems. Obviously, you don't want to pocket too many balls (if you decide to play safe) since that makes safety play more difficult.

Good pool is a percentage play - weigh your personal percentages of being able to run out vs. not being able to runout. Whichever way the scales tilt should dictate your move. You need to re-assess after every shot. If at first, the rack looks runnable, but then you get out of line, you may no longer be able to run the rack. Then you look for a safety. Break up clusters early in your pattern, either offensively or defensively (while pocketing a ball or playing safe). Be careful when breaking up clusters. Don't pocket a safety valve shot, then try to break up a cluster. You want to try to have multiple options to try to shoot after breaking up a cluster, because it's often difficult to tell what's going to happen with the breakup. You don't want to leave yourself only one possiblity, break up the cluster, and then end up snookered.

Eight ball, at the highest levels, is mostly a runout game (like most games), but there are plenty of times for safety battles. The hard part is recognizing whether a rack is runnable or not, and that's all going to come down to how you assess your own abilities and your execution of your chosen pattern. The most important rule for eight ball is this: if you can't run out, don't even try. In other words, more damage is done by pocketing 3 or 4 balls and then failing to run out than if you missed or played a safety on your first shot.

Jude Rosenstock
03-03-2005, 09:22 AM
What do you think is the best strategy to use in the early part of an 8 ball game? Lately I've been losing a lot of games because of failed run-outs and I'm getting really frustrated. Should I just try to run-out every time if possible, or should I play more defense at first?

You just asked, "How do you play winning 8-ball?" There are books 300-pages thick on the subject so I doubt anyone is going to be able to effectively answer that question in a post. It sounds like your biggest problem is reading a table. It's so easy to pick off the makeable balls in the beginning of a game but as you knock down shot after shot, it gets tougher and tougher because there are fewer options.

You must go through this checklist every time you're at the table:

1. Can I run out? If yes, then do so. If not, proceed with list.
2. Can my opponent run out? If yes, then create a situation that would hinder his ability to do so (safe, tie-up balls)
3. If I'm playing safe, does this safe tie-up balls for my opponent and/or open-up balls for me? All shots should be as productive as possible. Since there's no 3-foul rule in 8-ball, a safety that does not make things easier for you or tougher for your opponent is stalling (wasting time).


When you do get the chance to run out, you must understand that it's imperative that you are successful. Only in a clean-up role (after your opponent has a run-out failure) can you afford to be a little sloppy since shot-selection can allow you two-way possibilities (shots with offense and defense in mind). However, if you are the first person to attempt to run-out, only the best 8-ball strategy (and a little luck) will win you the game if you fail to pocket the 8-ball.

The key is interpreting the situation in the beginning of your inning. There will be times where going for a ridiculous run-out is called for since your opponent has a Mickey Mouse out if you don't. And there will be times when you'll play safe because one ball is tied up and 7 aren't. In the end, 8-ball can be a lot like straight pool. The possibilities are infinite but a successful concept remains the same. Don't make a move without a plan and make sure that plan is reasonable.

Teacherman
03-03-2005, 09:24 AM
Make an honest assessment of your ability as it pertains to the rack. If you think you can get out, go for it. If you don't, then figure out where in the rack you should play a good safety to clear up your perceived problems. Obviously, you don't want to pocket too many balls (if you decide to play safe) since that makes safety play more difficult.

Good pool is a percentage play - weigh your personal percentages of being able to run out vs. not being able to runout. Whichever way the scales tilt should dictate your move. You need to re-assess after every shot. If at first, the rack looks runnable, but then you get out of line, you may no longer be able to run the rack. Then you look for a safety. Break up clusters early in your pattern, either offensively or defensively (while pocketing a ball or playing safe). Be careful when breaking up clusters. Don't pocket a safety valve shot, then try to break up a cluster. You want to try to have multiple options to try to shoot after breaking up a cluster, because it's often difficult to tell what's going to happen with the breakup. You don't want to leave yourself only one possiblity, break up the cluster, and then end up snookered.

Eight ball, at the highest levels, is mostly a runout game (like most games), but there are plenty of times for safety battles. The hard part is recognizing whether a rack is runnable or not, and that's all going to come down to how you assess your own abilities and your execution of your chosen pattern. The most important rule for eight ball is this: if you can't run out, don't even try. In other words, more damage is done by pocketing 3 or 4 balls and then failing to run out than if you missed or played a safety on your first shot.

Bingo!!!!!!!!1

pete lafond
03-03-2005, 09:27 AM
What do you think is the best strategy to use in the early part of an 8 ball game? Lately I've been losing a lot of games because of failed run-outs and I'm getting really frustrated. Should I just try to run-out every time if possible, or should I play more defense at first?

I do not play that that much 8 ball because the league here is unfair as they have locked my handicap. But, in my humble opinion.

Following the break;

1. Looks like an easy run out.

Make sure you pick the easiest patern looking at the most desirable eight ball position first. A stop shot pattern in always nice but not very realistic in most cases because of the your oppenents balls on the table. Sometimes their unpocketed balls may present an opportunity for you to uses as position helpers for some of your shots, so don't overlook any opprotunities.

2. Run out looks a bit complicated.

Take an immediate 2 ball pattern. Make ball 1 because it is the most desirable group and then put yourself in position to play a safe on ball two without making it. If possible try to position your opponent so that his kick shot would lead to your advantage. Example; might cause one or more of his balls to be tied up or possibly free up one of your tied up balls.


Obviously there are many other things that have been left out, but I consider these as step one. And remember, every time your opponent produces a shot or safety, this will alter the table - so if you play a safe make sure that the kick you are attracting him to does the least damage to you (no guarantee).

NewGuy
03-03-2005, 09:32 AM
Thanks for the responses. I honestly know that I'm not able to run racks consistently. Knowing that I think my problem is that I don't take care of my problem balls early enough. I tend to shot 3 or 4 balls to get in position to bust up problem balls, then I get screwed somehow and my opponent runs the table. I think I should take care of the problem balls much earlier.

Teacherman
03-03-2005, 09:34 AM
I do not play that that much 8 ball...

Red Flag!!!

Jersey
03-03-2005, 10:00 AM
New Guy,

I agree with all of the replies so far...now my 2 cent...

Look at both sets of balls for runout possibility...
If you can runout, do so...
If you can't...
Take the set with the best probability and pocket what you can, then safety your opponent in such a way that they are forced to break up your problem balls, and/or give you ball in hand to do so yourself...

Sounds easy enough...but all billiard games are games of percentages...shoot the highest percentage shots within your ability...

Never force it...play defense and force your opponent to make low percentage shots, and/or give you ball in hand...

Never clear the table to a problem and be unable to convert, this turns the table to your opponents favor; ie less balls on the table makes more shots high percentage...

And always...keep it simple...draw patterns based on natural angles, take high percentage shots that are within your ability...learn defense...and exercise patience....

One of the players I admire most for simple play is Ralph Soquet, he makes it look so easy, never puts himself in position to have to do a lot with the cue ball, uses natural angles and speed control to knock 'em down.

Check Jimmy Reids site for pattern play and pointers:

http://freepoollessons.com/

Mike Templeton
03-03-2005, 10:36 AM
You need to re-assess after every shot.
To me this is the key. Don't be afraid to change your plan in the middle of the game. Should you miss position a little, or tie something up by mistake, don't be afraid to change from a run out to a safety game.

Mike

pete lafond
03-03-2005, 01:27 PM
New Guy,

I agree with all of the replies so far...now my 2 cent...

Look at both sets of balls for runout possibility...
If you can runout, do so...
If you can't...
Take the set with the best probability and pocket what you can, then safety your opponent in such a way that they are forced to break up your problem balls, and/or give you ball in hand to do so yourself...

Sounds easy enough...but all billiard games are games of percentages...shoot the highest percentage shots within your ability...

Never force it...play defense and force your opponent to make low percentage shots, and/or give you ball in hand...

Never clear the table to a problem and be unable to convert, this turns the table to your opponents favor; ie less balls on the table makes more shots high percentage...

And always...keep it simple...draw patterns based on natural angles, take high percentage shots that are within your ability...learn defense...and exercise patience....

One of the players I admire most for simple play is Ralph Soquet, he makes it look so easy, never puts himself in position to have to do a lot with the cue ball, uses natural angles and speed control to knock 'em down.

Check Jimmy Reids site for pattern play and pointers:

http://freepoollessons.com/
Very good points, I agree. There is much more than telling someone over a forum how to improve their win percentages. Lessons are generally the best.

frankncali
03-03-2005, 02:36 PM
There are good responses already. One thing that might help is to take a
look at the patterns you are using. You might think that you are playing the run the easiest way but in fact its not.
I see people playing bad 8 ball every night. IMO the two biggest problems
I see are
1- people try to run out racks that are very tough to run out
2- once the player decides to go for the run out he waits too late to
break out the trouble or comes from the wrong side.

Another thing I see watching lower or middle rated players in the APA
is that they almost never choose the ball before the 8 correctly. Most leave
the ball closest to the 8 for last and IMO that is wrong. With those skill
level players its ball control that hampers them. By leaving that ball
they set themselves up for failure if they do not get perfect on the ball before the 8. I see more games lost this way than any other.
The player runs down but leaves the wrong ball and then does not get shape on the 8. Now they get tight and miss the ball. The game is in the hands of the opponnet now. They have all the options and usually win.

I like to see the easiest route from the ball before the 8 to the 8 itself.
That way once the balls are cleared then the percentages of the player running out are very good. If the balls are cleared and then the opposition
gets to the table theres nothing stopping him.

mjantti
03-03-2005, 02:53 PM
Very good answers. I have to add one point. Don't try to break clusters before checking out if your ball, which seems to be tied up, is available to any pocket. Many times even the better players break up so called clusters to adjust their ball(s) for nothing. Breaking up a cluster is always a risk, and never should be taken lightly. If you break up a cluster, you might not succeed or you might succeed in freeing one ball, but succeed in making another cluster elsewhere. If your ball is available, just play position for it. There isn't usually a good reason to start moving your balls or your opponent's balls.

If you have clusters and decide to play safe, try to move one of your balls to a better position for a possible break shot. Usually putting one ball in front of the nearest pocket to the cluster is enough for a better break shot.

lewdo26
03-03-2005, 05:27 PM
Very good answers. I have to add one point. Don't try to break clusters before checking out if your ball, which seems to be tied up, is available to any pocket. Many times even the better players break up so called clusters to adjust their ball(s) for nothing. Breaking up a cluster is always a risk, and never should be taken lightly. If you break up a cluster, you might not succeed or you might succeed in freeing one ball, but succeed in making another cluster elsewhere. If your ball is available, just play position for it. There isn't usually a good reason to start moving your balls or your opponent's balls.

If you have clusters and decide to play safe, try to move one of your balls to a better position for a possible break shot. Usually putting one ball in front of the nearest pocket to the cluster is enough for a better break shot.
Mikko, I'll just venture to add a few remarks in the case a problem ball absolutely has to be broken up.

On some occasions it may be good to make one or two loose balls near the cluster to avoid forming new ones after the break shot. But that should be done only if those loose balls are not strategically important - e.g., they are keyballs or have a dominant position on the table that blocks run out opportunities, pockets, or position routes for your opponent.

Also, if you absolutely have to break out balls, that should be planned carefully. You want to know which ball within the cluster you want to bump to create a favorable position. Usually there is a ball within the cluster that is "key" and will open the system up most favorably. Sometimes you'll even want to plan what side of the ball within the cluster you want to contact.

It's also worthy of mention that, from what I see, usually people break clusters with WAY too much power. A cluster of two or three balls usually does not require more than a little speed. That should also make it easier to control the cueball and make sure you're going to have that insurance ball after the break shot.

All that should be first order of business since you can never count on the outcome of a break up. If the break up doesn't go your way, you'll still have the opportunity to play safe while remaneuvering your balls.

Great thread! 8 ball is, I think, one of the most misunderstood cue games of all!

GeraldG
03-03-2005, 05:38 PM
Mikko, I'll just venture to add a few remarks in the case a problem ball absolutely has to be broken up.

On some occasions it may be good to make one or two loose balls near the cluster to avoid forming new ones after the break shot. But that should be done only if those loose balls are not strategically important - e.g., they are keyballs or have a dominant position on the table that blocks run out opportunities, pockets, or position routes for your opponent.

Also, if you absolutely have to break out balls, that should be planned carefully. You want to know which ball within the cluster you want to bump to create a favorable position. Usually there is a ball within the cluster that is "key" and will open the system up most favorably. Sometimes you'll even want to plan what side of the ball within the cluster you want to contact.

It's also worthy of mention that, from what I see, usually people break clusters with WAY too much power. A cluster of two or three balls usually does not require more than a little speed. That should also make it easier to control the cueball and make sure you're going to have that insurance ball after the break shot.

All that should be first order of business since you can never count on the outcome of a break up. If the break up doesn't go your way, you'll still have the opportunity to play safe while remaneuvering your balls.

Great thread! 8 ball is, I think, one of the most misunderstood cue games of all!



Mikko,
Just a suggestion....go play some 14.1 for a while, then come back to 8-ball. You'll learn a lot about the finer points of position play, safety play, breaking out clusters, reading clusters for "dead balls", and stringing balls together for long runs (reading the table).

As far as 8-ball itself is concerned, some very good points have been made already. Knowing your capabilities and playing within them is probably the most important. One thing that I haven't seen anyone mention yet is leaving one of your balls near the 8-ball to use to gain position on the 8-ball. Also, don't try to run out until you can see a clear path to runout. Use your balls as blockers until you get to the point you can easily runout. Make the traffic work for you instead of against you.

lewdo26
03-03-2005, 05:54 PM
Mikko,
Just a suggestion....go play some 14.1 for a while, then come back to 8-ball. You'll learn a lot about the finer points of position play, safety play, breaking out clusters, reading clusters for "dead balls", and stringing balls together for long runs (reading the table).

As far as 8-ball itself is concerned, some very good points have been made already. Knowing your capabilities and playing within them is probably the most important. One thing that I haven't seen anyone mention yet is leaving one of your balls near the 8-ball to use to gain position on the 8-ball. Also, don't try to run out until you can see a clear path to runout. Use your balls as blockers until you get to the point you can easily runout. Make the traffic work for you instead of against you.
Gerald, just one thing. It wasn't Mikko who started this thread and asked for advice. In fact, Mikko recently went to the hill against Immonen playing 8 ball. I was just venturing to add to Mikko's comments on clusters and problem balls. Sorry if I confused anyone.

But you're right. 8 ball does acquire a "straight poolish" character depending on the layout. If the congestion is immense, it may even acquire a one-pocket-like character. But that is rare on the 9 footer.

GeraldG
03-03-2005, 05:59 PM
Gerald, just one thing. It wasn't Mikko who started this thread and asked for advice. In fact, Mikko recently went to the hill against Immonen playing 8 ball. I was just venturing to add to Mikko's comments on clusters and problem balls. Sorry if I confused anyone.

But you're right. 8 ball does acquire a "straight poolish" character depending on the layout. If the congestion is immense, it may even acquire a one-pocket-like character. But that is rare on the 9 footer.

OOPS!!!! :o Sorry about that. I should have gone back and verified who I was responding to.

Koop
03-03-2005, 06:39 PM
A lot of very knowledgeable people have touched on it so far but one thing that I think is keeping me from really elevating my game is recognizing when I shouldn't go for the run and lay up. It's amazing how when I'm coaching a 3 or 4 on my team I see the perfect safety to play, but when I'm at the table I sometimes have the blinders on and go for an ill-advised run.

My advice to the initial poster is listen to everyone who has posted to this point. There is a lot of great advice that I'm taking away from this as well.

Thanks,
Dave

Jedi V Man
03-03-2005, 07:38 PM
My thoughts on playing 8 ball are this...

1. You need to try to free up[ your tied up balls right off of the break. Do not try to run a rack out and then try to free up your locked ball/balls with a miracle "low percentage" shot.

2. Realize that if you can not easily free up your tied up balls to make a run out, that you need to leave them alone and find a ball you can leave on the table to keep using as your safety ball. Too many times I see guys run the table and try to play a safety on the ball that is tied up with thier opponits ball. Make HIM knock that cluster free.

3. Practice your break, Practice your break, Practice your break, Practice your break, Practice your break, Practice your break........

4. Use a few different breaks. Some tables do not break as well as others. Have a few breaks in your arsenal so you can move the rock around to find your sweet spot.

5. Dont leave your self a hard shot on the 8-ball. My best friend can run a rack with the best of them, but he leaves himself shit possition on the 8-ball on every game. He is so excited to clear a rack to get to the 8-ball, he leaves himself the worst possible shots. Make sure you leave your Best shapes on the money ball.

6. Don't miss.

hobokenapa
03-03-2005, 09:01 PM
Some great posts here.

As I have mentioned on previous posts, it's this strategy and thinking that, for me, make 8-ball a more interesting game than 9-ball. I agree with Jude that 8-ball can be like straight pool especially if there are some clusters or some troublesome balls.

I've captained an APA team for over two years and I have gained a lot of pleasure teaching the game to the APA3s and 4s. Last year, one of my 3s, after a horrid run of 5 straight losses was really down but he worked at his game, and we spent a lot of time on strategy. When our annual Gold Cup tournament came around he not only played as an APA5 but came out with a 4-0 record under the most intense pressure. Another guy I picked up a while back had only ever played bar rules, and had the stupid 'safeties are for girls' attitude. It's taken a long time but now he will refuse a pot, in order to put a ball in a better position and lay a snooker. It's like seeing my kids grow up! Together with the team spirit and comradary, it makes APA pool so enjoyable (at least in Hoboken). This weekend, 26 of us from Hoboken will go to the Regionals and try and get to Vegas. One big, loud (and probably drunk) team!