Are the best pool players also the most intelligent?

Ssonerai

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Re: pool vs golf-
A looong time ago i read a snippet that quoted Niels Bohr as stating (in favor of pool) that "Pool is the golf of intellectuals"
Since the internet came along, i have not been able to find or substantiate that; or even whether he played any cue sports.
Niels and his brother Harald (also famous scientist) were both top soccer players in their school days. Harald might have even been world class/national team level for a while.
 

Taxi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Golf requires greater intelligence than pool ever will. Golf is played in three dimensions on every shot. Shots can be shaped. There are uneven surfaces to land the ball. Trajectory has to be accounted for. There are also outside interferences, such as wind, rain, etc..

Not to take away from pool, but to be played at a very high level, there is much more to the game of golf than pool. There are a few players that have become great at pool in a few years time. This cannot be done at golf.
One qualification I'd put into that is that golfers can call on advisors (caddies) before attempting a difficult shot. That sort of thing is a no-no among top pool players.
 

Taxi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Seriously? Look at Phil Mickelson vs Dustin Johnson. Dustin is CLEARLY the superior athlete, yet Phil places higher on a consistent basis. Tom Watson, at age 59, placed 2nd in the British Open in 2009. Athletic ability?

Single ball, single hole. Yet, the surface of play is 10+ yards wide. Where's the right place to put the ball for a flat stance, and best approach to the pin? If I want to shape the ball, where do I want to play my second shot from? The green has slope. Where do I want to land my ball to give me a flat putt? Is it best to hit a high, soft ball into the green, or do I hit a flatter shot, and chase the ball onto the green.

Yeah, single hole, single ball. Except there's 100 alligators between the ball and the hole. Pool table - 6 pockets that never move. Flat surface with no obstacles. Uniform climate. Two dimensions of analysis only. You typically hit the ball in a straight line, except for the odd swerve shot. You usually roll the ball on the surface of the cloth, except for the odd jump shot.

As a player of both games, I am intrigued by the inner game in pool, but golf is MUCH more demanding, physically and mentally, when played at the highest level. I'm on a quest to break into the 70s, and that is taking years, and incredible mental discipline. You MUST make the right decision, from shot to shot, in golf. Pool doesn't punish you the same way for mistakes.
I wouldn't say that mastering golf on the highest level isn't more difficult than mastering pool, for some of the reasons you mention, particularly the weather factor, which doesn't usually enter into pool events on the top level.

OTOH......In golf, your opponent can't put you in jail...... :cool:
 

Taxi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I will say that JA is one of the most determined people I have ever met. He has a will to win that is beyond my brains ability to compute. He is a "genious at gemoetry". That is what he has needed to be successful and led him to the HOF.

Now he is becoming a biz man, its taking him longer than it took me, but I still cant play like he does, duh?? We all have talent for something. The great players-Alex, JA, SVB, are in a different world and they keep their focus one one thing only-being the best. They have all told me that or I wouldnt have mentioned their names. When you focus that hard on something narrow as pool you dont become a rocket scient <----i cant even spell it right LOL.

So my point is no the greaat players arnt the sharpest guys because they stay focused on one thing pool. Now when pool is done and they get older then they get educated in other areas of life.

But this is kinda over generalizing, Corey Deuel is very smart on lots of topics. so its not how sharp they are as much as it is how they choose to spend their time. I think thats the right answer.

I have talked to the best of the best and they all knew within a few months or less they could play, I mean really play. I knew I couldnt. If I knew I could have played and had a chance to be a world champion-I guarantee you I wouldnt be half an smart/experienced as I am now because I would have used my time getting the most out of my talent. Thats the right ansewer.
I had a very successful career as a secondhand bookseller, and I've always told people that the best insight I ever had about myself, which occurred at some point in my mid-20's, was to realize that I was never going to be able to make a living shooting pool.
 

Woodshaft

Cashing in on ignorance since 1984
I have never met an accomplished billiards player who wasn't of above average intelligence. Great pool players (like chess players) have a much greater ability to analyze the playing field, "see" more options, plan ahead, and make the better decisions that will, in turn, result in a better outcome. Combine this with natural ability and tons of experience and boom-- you're Josh Filler, who I consider to be the most gifted player on the planet.
I wouldn't at all be surprised if the IQ bell curve plot resembles a very similar shape to the fargorate bell curve...
 

hang-the-9

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Re: pool vs golf-
A looong time ago i read a snippet that quoted Niels Bohr as stating (in favor of pool) that "Pool is the golf of intellectuals"
Since the internet came along, i have not been able to find or substantiate that; or even whether he played any cue sports.
Niels and his brother Harald (also famous scientist) were both top soccer players in their school days. Harald might have even been world class/national team level for a while.

The reason I think is that many decent players are higher intelligence has to do with how they were raised and their focus and desire to know/examine things. Say a guy starts to play, if they show any interest you need to study and practice a lot. Who is most likely to do that? Those that study and focus well in their upbringing, education and jobs, so can be said they are more intelligent and come from a higher class background. I can see that quote being true, pool can be more of a theoretical sport, is more introverted and can be practiced in isolation indoors in a closed room where one can examine every nuance of the game.
 

Ssonerai

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
It occurred to me reading this, that at least a few top golfers seem to have been pilots, including helicopter pilots.
Kind of doubt that plays to the "intelligence" question, probably more to do with the wide divergence in income options for top golfers vs cuemen. But it did make me curious: are/were there any top cue-sports players that were licensed, regular pilots?

(I don't discount his service, and he was probably some sort of genius, as well as pool player, golfer and cue maker. But Dennis D does not count - he never actually completed a license nor flew on his own in civilian life)

smt
 

chenjy9

Well-known member
I would say that being really intelligent (how we choose to define intelligence also really matters) does help in terms of efficiency in getting to the top, but being determined enough to put in the time necessary to get to the upper echelon of pool players trumps intelligence by far. You can quickly run physics equations through your head as a genius to calculate the perfect shot and position based on ball mass, cue striking force, friction coefficient of the table cloth, and bounce dynamics of the rubber in the cushions. You can also do the exact same thing by hitting that same shot thousands upon thousands of times. Both will get you the same results, but would we consider the 2nd method intelligence? I would say it does not.
 

Chili Palmer

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Maybe or maybe not book smart, but real smart about patterns, percentages, game theory.
All the good ones I know are sharp.

I've played with plenty of people who were generally smart but if they don't know higher level math/geometry and aren't able to retain information and think quickly they have zero chance of being a high level player.
 

WillieRackam

New member
I believe one of the smartest pool players would have to be Jimmy Reid. He scored a perfect SAT in high school and was offered free rides from all the top universities. However it came about, playing pool was his passion and his life. You can see it when he explains the diamond system in his training videos and dvd's, just how simple the math is to him. He runs through his explanations and calculates the shots at the speed of light... RIP Jimmy Reid
I tried to find out [Wikipedia website and a "google" search] to see what I could find on him [I'm interested in this thread's subject area ... I pretty much struck out. Did you know him? Went to school with him?
 

woodyosborne

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Scientific American had an article in a pre-2000 issue about pool/billiards. an opinion was made that the average competent player was much more aware of applied physics than the average American. no mention made or implied regarding intelligence. i think experience goes a long way towards being proficient in making the best decisions during a game.
 

ipoppa33

Shakedown Custom Rods
Silver Member
I tried to find out [Wikipedia website and a "google" search] to see what I could find on him [I'm interested in this thread's subject area ... I pretty much struck out. Did you know him? Went to school with him?
try googling- Jimmy Reid pool
 

fjk

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I remember one time during an interview a basketball player was explaining how Dennis Rodman tried to teach him to rebound. Dennis didn't rebound solely on athleticism. Dennis processed dozens of tiny bits of information in a fraction of a second and went to where he expected a missed ball to go. The NBA player (can't recall his name) said Dennis couldn't understand why he couldn't do what Dennis did. While most people would never call Dennis Rodman smart, in the context of rebounding, his mind worked like a genius.
 

Logandgriff

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I love pool and respect all pool players especially the great ones, but I've got to say I've met plenty of terrific pool players that did not do well in school or at jobs that required reading, math and the like. But they've clearly got enough upstairs to be able to figure out many of the complex intricacies of pool. Does that mean the best pool players are also the most intelligent? I'm saying no.
 

book collector

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think an accurate description would be that great pool players..... are obsessive and wake up wanting to crush the opposition. Some of them are smarter than average, but the defining characteristic is a single minded desire for greatness bordering on personality disorder.

Wait, what was the question? Oh crap, I was talking about myself....description of a shortstop that is!
It's an intelligent man that knows his strengths ....and his weaknesses. You are "The One Armed Bandit"
 

mikepage

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Re: pool vs golf-
A looong time ago i read a snippet that quoted Niels Bohr as stating (in favor of pool) that "Pool is the golf of intellectuals"
Since the internet came along, i have not been able to find or substantiate that; or even whether he played any cue sports.
Niels and his brother Harald (also famous scientist) were both top soccer players in their school days. Harald might have even been world class/national team level for a while.
Well that's cool.... Neils is my scientific great great great grandfather or great great grandfather, depending on which path you take.
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