Handling a defensive player

The friend I typically play weekly 8-ball with is an extremely defensive minded player. When he comes to the table, he's not even looking for a shot to make, he's looking for a way to snooker me or leave me in a position of taking a very long/low % shot. I know it sounds like that's great pool and everything, but it is very frustrating to deal with. It's like I don't even get to play the game.. ever. He's never taking a shot on one of his balls unless there is nearly 100% chance of making it. Otherwise, it's a safety every time. It basically kills all the fun for me. I understand his strategy since I am the better shot maker, but I don't know how he gets any satisfaction from wins that way. Every shot is a 3-5 minute thinking period for him while he figures out how to best snooker me. Somehow, we still end up about 50/50 as far as winning games.

What is the best way to deal with players like this? What's the best counter-attack to that style? It is so frustrating to deal with. But it's part of the game, so I have to learn the best approach to deal with it. Any suggestions? (Besides not playing him... lol)
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Yeah, I actually did suggest we play 9-ball next time. Enough of this… I wanna play some actual pool!
If neither of you is at the level of running out at nine ball a couple of times per hour, it is probably not the right choice. I think straight pool will be better in that case.

I suppose a shot clock is out of the question. Is he aware that he takes too long to decide on a shot?
 
If neither of you is at the level of running out at nine ball a couple of times per hour, it is probably not the right choice. I think straight pool will be better in that case.

I suppose a shot clock is out of the question. Is he aware that he takes too long to decide on a shot?
The frustrating thing is, he is a really good player. He’s an above average shot maker, he just chooses to play this way. I don’t want to introduce a shot clock as that would make it too business-like I suppose. And to answer your question, I guess I’m not sure if he’s aware of how long he takes. But damn is he frustrating to play against. It’s irritating because he’s not even thinking about running balls.. ever. It’s almost like he’s thinking “How can I make this the most miserable and unenjoyable experience for my opponent”?
 

noMoreSchon

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Your not upset about him playing safe. You are upset that you can't beat him. You are blaming it on his superior defense,

when you should blame it on not running the rack, or your defense. The only way he can play defense is you have given him

the table. He doesn't give you the table. That is why it is frustrating. Control the table, either by running out, or playing defense.

This is the way.
 
Your not upset about him playing safe. You are upset that you can't beat him. You are blaming it on his superior defense,

when you should blame it on not running the rack, or your defense. The only way he can play defense is you have given him

the table. He doesn't give you the table. That is why it is frustrating. Control the table, either by running out, or playing defense.

This is the way.
Well, I do beat him, quite often. As I said in my original post, we split our matches almost 50/50 every time we play.

But that’s not the matter at hand. My question was, what is the optimal way to counter this type of player?

I see what you’re trying to say, but it’s akin to saying “The way to increase your free throw % is by making more free throws.”
 

Pin

Registered
The rules you play can make a big difference because they change what the 'right' strategic choice is. (Here in the UK, there have been several different widespread sets of rules - some have produced very defensive play and some very aggressive play. The requirement to hit a cushion and weak-ish rewards for successful hooks or covering pockets make the difference.)

If your rules allow you to play a deliberate foul (when you're hooked) by moving his balls into clusters, maybe that would discourage him from hooking so often?

Keeping as many of your balls on the table as possible, until you're confident of getting out at the next attempt, would make it harder for him to hook you. (Running most of your group without getting out is usually a big mistake in 8-ball.)

Maybe you could move one or two of your balls somewhere they would be easy targets to escape a hook, like a corner at the foot end of the rail.

If you practice multi-rail banks and learn to see them as an enjoyable challenge, that makes defensive play easier to accept too (although won't hurry him up).
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
Gold Member
Silver Member
The answer is to plan your turns at the table better. You should have a plan to run out through the money ball or to a lock-up safety before hitting the first ball when you get to the table. Pool is often like a dance, you either lead or follow. You are letting the other player lead. You have to reverse that.

Hu
 

garczar

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The friend I typically play weekly 8-ball with is an extremely defensive minded player. When he comes to the table, he's not even looking for a shot to make, he's looking for a way to snooker me or leave me in a position of taking a very long/low % shot. I know it sounds like that's great pool and everything, but it is very frustrating to deal with. It's like I don't even get to play the game.. ever. He's never taking a shot on one of his balls unless there is nearly 100% chance of making it. Otherwise, it's a safety every time. It basically kills all the fun for me. I understand his strategy since I am the better shot maker, but I don't know how he gets any satisfaction from wins that way. Every shot is a 3-5 minute thinking period for him while he figures out how to best snooker me. Somehow, we still end up about 50/50 as far as winning games.

What is the best way to deal with players like this? What's the best counter-attack to that style? It is so frustrating to deal with. But it's part of the game, so I have to learn the best approach to deal with it. Any suggestions? (Besides not playing him... lol)
don't play. seriously. i used to play a guy that NEVER went for anything other than a dead hanger. was ZERO fun imo. i usually won but it was not enjoyable to me. people quit playing the guy. he finally got he drift and sped up. a little.
 

noMoreSchon

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Well, I do beat him, quite often. As I said in my original post, we split our matches almost 50/50 every time we play.

But that’s not the matter at hand. My question was, what is the optimal way to counter this type of player?

I see what you’re trying to say, but it’s akin to saying “The way to increase your free throw % is by making more free throws.”
Splitting games is not winning. Control the table. That is how you defeat, not only this guy, but anymore in the future. Do not let him shoot.

That means not taking that low percentage shot, not trying to shoot the object ball two rails, and playing safe when it is a better shot. If your
opponent has to shoot from a defensive place, you will win more. Be honest, and do not try more than what you can do. To take on tough shots, and miss, means that you have given up control of the table. Look into two-way shots, do a search here, google it. I don't know how this advice, for the second time equates to just make more free throws...
 
This is all good advice, and this has been a productive thread. I would like to learn more about safety play and work more on that part of my game. I've decided to fight fire with fire and do this in our next match. I will do the same thing only better, and i'll draw out every single game as long as I can. If it takes 90 minutes to get through a rack, then damnit, that's just the way it will be. I'm never going to let him control the table again. I've become a very good shot maker, so I have that offensive mentality, but I have to get my mind right and do what I need to do to combat this type of player. I'm just going to look at this as an opportunity to improve that part of my game. It will make me a better player in the long run.
 

DDiabolico

DDiabolico
If you just play for fun, just tell him that his style of play kills all the fun for you. Just make him aware that you don't enjoy playing if it takes him minutes to choose a shot and all he does is playing safe. Chance is, if he doesn't change his style of play, nobody wants to play with him for fun anymore.

On the other hand, if you're always playing for money, a drink, in a tournament, etc. you can't and shouldn't tell him to get things going.
I regularly play a similar type of player, who plays very, very slow. He isn't a bad player but it takes him very long to commit to a shot. Normally, I run out if he makes a mistake, but sometimes it takes about 5 minutes until I even get to shoot. The funny thing is, I play my best pool against him because I really don't want him getting back to the table. It's like knowing your opponent could string numerous racks together against you if you give him a chance.

That's the essence of pool. Control the table and you will control your opponent. If your opponent is at the table, get used to waiting, maybe try some meditation. Ease your mind, but don't lose focus.
 
Last edited:

Texas Carom Club

pool is stupid and i hate all of you
Silver Member
if its competition, then i play his own game on him and make it as painful as possible
, leaving him on a rail across the table from his balls, moving his balls to the rail or tie up positions
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
Gold Member
Silver Member
This is all good advice, and this has been a productive thread. I would like to learn more about safety play and work more on that part of my game. I've decided to fight fire with fire and do this in our next match. I will do the same thing only better, and i'll draw out every single game as long as I can. If it takes 90 minutes to get through a rack, then damnit, that's just the way it will be. I'm never going to let him control the table again. I've become a very good shot maker, so I have that offensive mentality, but I have to get my mind right and do what I need to do to combat this type of player. I'm just going to look at this as an opportunity to improve that part of my game. It will make me a better player in the long run.


Thanks a lot for this post! It gets very old when people come to the forum for advice then argue against it. We start to wonder if it is worth the bother to try to help people. Someone at least thinking about the advice and trying it makes replying to these threads seem a little more worthwhile.

Not related to your main problem but I learned how to deal with slow play long ago. Gentleman Joe was in his seventies, maybe even eighties. He walked slow, he shot so slow a ball never lost contact with the bevel going in a pocket. It wasn't that he was deliberately slow playing, just the way he was very slow in general.

I was in my teens and would do a slow burn sitting in the chair watching Joe! Bad thing is that he could run out and take over ten minutes to do it. When I did get a chance at the table I would leap up from the edge of my chair or stool, rush my inning without planning and bungle things getting into the same mess of watching Joe again! I regularly beat players that beat Joe but he had my number. Obviously I needed a new battle plan. I wouldn't duck Joe and he was into me for over a hundred at three dollars a game! To put that into perspective many of us worked damned hard for forty or fifty dollars a week.

I finally hit on the plan. I would sit back deep in my chair, relax, and be a mildly interested observer when it wasn't my shot. I beat Joe every time we played after that, which wasn't often! Once Joe realized I had figured out how to play him he would quit me in a hurry. I never did get back much of the money I lost to Joe but I considered it money well spent and still consider Joe one of my mentors even if he didn't think so! Over the years playing pool learning to kick back and relax has made me thousands overall so the few hundred I gave Joe was money well spent.

If you think that the slow play is affecting you at all and want to try this advice posture and breathing are both important. Sit as relaxed and comfortable as possible like you plan to spend the next hour in the chair talking to a friend. Breath slowly and deeply. Instead of dumping adrenalin and other chemicals to your brain to help in fight or flight impulses your body will release chemicals that indicate life is good and all is right in your world. It is a loop, Relaxed body and mind feed each other.

Hu
 
Thanks a lot for this post! It gets very old when people come to the forum for advice then argue against it. We start to wonder if it is worth the bother to try to help people. Someone at least thinking about the advice and trying it makes replying to these threads seem a little more worthwhile.

Not related to your main problem but I learned how to deal with slow play long ago. Gentleman Joe was in his seventies, maybe even eighties. He walked slow, he shot so slow a ball never lost contact with the bevel going in a pocket. It wasn't that he was deliberately slow playing, just the way he was very slow in general.

I was in my teens and would do a slow burn sitting in the chair watching Joe! Bad thing is that he could run out and take over ten minutes to do it. When I did get a chance at the table I would leap up from the edge of my chair or stool, rush my inning without planning and bungle things getting into the same mess of watching Joe again! I regularly beat players that beat Joe but he had my number. Obviously I needed a new battle plan. I wouldn't duck Joe and he was into me for over a hundred at three dollars a game! To put that into perspective many of us worked damned hard for forty or fifty dollars a week.

I finally hit on the plan. I would sit back deep in my chair, relax, and be a mildly interested observer when it wasn't my shot. I beat Joe every time we played after that, which wasn't often! Once Joe realized I had figured out how to play him he would quit me in a hurry. I never did get back much of the money I lost to Joe but I considered it money well spent and still consider Joe one of my mentors even if he didn't think so! Over the years playing pool learning to kick back and relax has made me thousands overall so the few hundred I gave Joe was money well spent.

If you think that the slow play is affecting you at all and want to try this advice posture and breathing are both important. Sit as relaxed and comfortable as possible like you plan to spend the next hour in the chair talking to a friend. Breath slowly and deeply. Instead of dumping adrenalin and other chemicals to your brain to help in fight or flight impulses your body will release chemicals that indicate life is good and all is right in your world. It is a loop, Relaxed body and mind feed each other.

Hu
Man.. what a great reply and story! Thank you for this! Yeah, when I read through the thread it all made perfect sense and became pretty clear what I need to do. You guys are 100% right. I know what I need to do now and I can’t WAIT to get back to the table with him and put this in action. I really have to learn to shift gears into a defensive mindset when it becomes correct to do so. If I’m being honest with myself, I’m letting him get control of my emotions/ego and he knows that as a shot maker I’m going to try to make all the shots, and he’s just being smart by using that to his advantage. He’s going to be in for a surprise this time. I appreciate all the advice as it definitely has made the best strategy very clear to me. Cheers!
 

hang-the-9

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The friend I typically play weekly 8-ball with is an extremely defensive minded player. When he comes to the table, he's not even looking for a shot to make, he's looking for a way to snooker me or leave me in a position of taking a very long/low % shot. I know it sounds like that's great pool and everything, but it is very frustrating to deal with. It's like I don't even get to play the game.. ever. He's never taking a shot on one of his balls unless there is nearly 100% chance of making it. Otherwise, it's a safety every time. It basically kills all the fun for me. I understand his strategy since I am the better shot maker, but I don't know how he gets any satisfaction from wins that way. Every shot is a 3-5 minute thinking period for him while he figures out how to best snooker me. Somehow, we still end up about 50/50 as far as winning games.

What is the best way to deal with players like this? What's the best counter-attack to that style? It is so frustrating to deal with. But it's part of the game, so I have to learn the best approach to deal with it. Any suggestions? (Besides not playing him... lol)

I played in a tournament with a pretty good player, but he played the same way as your friend, if it was not a super high chance of making the shot, he would just bunt and try to leave me a hard shot. This was 9 ball not 8 ball. He was a one pocket player and played 9 ball the same way, try not to lose more than try to win LOL

Some players just try to win the game using whatever methods they are comfortable with, when I play, I play to actually make shots, some hard some easy, if they are too hard then I play safe. I think many players play like me, they want to play good and if they win they win, the ones that try to get to a lock up game where their chances of winning are very high before they go for shots are the ones that are more interested in winning over "playing".

A lot of times those players will give too much of an opening by not shooting the shot and try to win, it costs them as much doing that as trying to just finish the game. Especially if a weak player is playing a stronger player and is playing them like they do other weak players. I just wait calmly sipping my coffee till they are done messing around and it's my turn. My team mate lost an almost certain win with playing a safe because she had no confidence in her ability to make two balls, she had ball in hand with two balls wide open and then the 8. Instead of playing position to make the shots, she played a safe and pocketed one of her balls. The other guy made a good hit on a kick to the 8, left her a hard shot on her last ball instead of the ball in hand she had before, she missed and he made the 8 for the win. If you fail to run out and just win, moving things around to get a better chance can also backfire and make things worse for you. If she went for the shot, she had an easy shot with easy position, by not playing it then and there and hoping to get an easy shot with one less ball on the table she lost the game. However that is how they pays, very scared of leaving open shots and no confidence in her skill to make more than a few easy shots all lined up, that is just a recipe for losing more than winning.
 
Last edited:
Top