Your thoughts on 8-ball tactics

Oze147

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'm playing in a mid level league in my area and yesterday my team played our first match of the season.

I won my 8-ball match quite clear with 5:1, but as it happend the team leader of our best team was at the club too and was watching us.
After my game he came over and we talked a bit about my playing style.

My approach:
Move through a game area by area, clearing problem balls "on the way". If I lose position, or fail to break them up, as long as I have an open shot I make a new game plan and try to go for the problems later in the game.

His advice:
Go for problem balls within the first three shots of the game. If you can't do that, fail to break them up or you get out of position, stop potting balls and don't try to get in line again. Play safe as long there are more balls to hide for you. If you keep potting balls and break down on the last two shots, your opponent has pretty much an open table or at least better safety options.


Now I want to hear your thoughts on it!
How do you approach a game of 8-ball?
Does it depent on your opponent?
Do you play loose or do you try to play it tight?
 

hang-the-9

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
First plan is check over the table, not just an area. If one side is clear and other side has clusters, do not just start running out your clear balls till you reach an issue.

Plan ahead to break free balls while leaving insurance balls if you don't do something perfectly. If there are more than a few issues for a particular suit of balls, you can even start your first shot with a safe and let the other player deal with things.

How well your opponent plays does make a difference in your strategy, you can play do a lot more moving the balls around before shooting with a weaker player since they are not as likely to make good shots or have a good idea of how to play 8 ball properly to get an advantage over you. Basically anyone that loses all the time but likes to point out how few balls they had left when they lost is ripe for the taking. I would miss a shot where they think I missed by accident, and they try for some 10% chance shot that breaks open the table for me.

There are plenty of books on the topic also.

I have been enjoying playing 8 ball lately, it can bring out some strategy that rotation games just don't have. I think I like winning by forcing my opponent into a certain shot or position in 8 ball more than just simply running out. One of the things I like to do is to force them into an open shot where it will benefit me. Stripe and solid tied up, play a safe where they have an open hit on that stack. Leaving them a choice you pick for them, even if it's a ball they can hit can be as effective as a good safe.
 
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Oze147

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
First plan is check over the table, not just an area. If one side is clear and other side has clusters, do not just start running out your clear balls till you reach an issue.

Plan ahead to break free balls while leaving insurance balls if you don't do something perfectly. If there are more than a few issues for a particular suit of balls, you can even start your first shot with a safe and let the other player deal with things.

How well your opponent plays does make a difference in your strategy, you can play do a lot more moving the balls around before shooting with a weaker player since they are not as likely to make good shots or have a good idea of how to play 8 ball properly to get an advantage over you. Basically anyone that loses all the time but likes to point out how few balls they had left when they lost is ripe for the taking. I would miss a shot where they think I missed by accident, and they try for some 10% chance shot that breaks open the table for me.

There are plenty of books on the topic also.

I have been enjoying playing 8 ball lately, it can bring out some strategy that rotation games just don't have. I think I like winning by forcing my opponent into a certain shot or position in 8 ball more than just simply running out. One of the things I like to do is to force them into an open shot where it will benefit me. Stripe and solid tied up, play a safe where they have an open hit on that stack. Leaving them a choice you pick for them, even if it's a ball they can hit can be as effective as a good safe.

Thx for your opinion on that topic!

Yes, checking out the table is the first thing to do, after that I start my area game.

On a second thought, the aspects you mention maybe are the difference between a good player and a mid player as I am....also on the mental side I guess.

It is quite hard to hand over the table if you have open balls to go for and I admit in my head it is like:" ok, if I loose, I want to loose shooting and not because I played a bad safety!"

I forgot to mention, that I come from a snooker background and in snooker picking balls is quite a common tactic, espescially on an amateur level.
Well...in pool thats the best way to get your ass kicked, because as you said, nobody cares if you had "just the two balls left"
 

Scratch85

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Now I want to hear your thoughts on it!
How do you approach a game of 8-ball?
Does it depent on your opponent?
Do you play loose or do you try to play it tight?

I play as much 8ball as I do any other game. I like that the out is different for my opponent and me. I also like that there is some creativity to the patterns. Same routes but different patterns.

My approach is not to run out until I know I can run out.

It definitely depends on your opponent. Not only in how many times you may think you can get to the table but also how you may sucker them into solving your problems. I hear the similar line to "you play good but you also play lucky" way more in 8ball htan rotation games.

Loose and Tight are pretty vague terms but I guess I play tight, in that I wait until I am very certain of my out to even try for it.
 
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philly

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I always play tight like I am playing 14.1. I try to break up clusters as early in the game as possible and I look for the key ball that will get me position on the 8 ball before I take my first shot of the game.
 

buckets

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'm playing in a mid level league in my area and yesterday my team played our first match of the season.

I won my 8-ball match quite clear with 5:1, but as it happend the team leader of our best team was at the club too and was watching us.
After my game he came over and we talked a bit about my playing style.

My approach:
Move through a game area by area, clearing problem balls "on the way". If I lose position, or fail to break them up, as long as I have an open shot I make a new game plan and try to go for the problems later in the game.

His advice:
Go for problem balls within the first three shots of the game. If you can't do that, fail to break them up or you get out of position, stop potting balls and don't try to get in line again. Play safe as long there are more balls to hide for you. If you keep potting balls and break down on the last two shots, your opponent has pretty much an open table or at least better safety options.


Now I want to hear your thoughts on it!
How do you approach a game of 8-ball?
Does it depent on your opponent?
Do you play loose or do you try to play it tight?

Your approach is misguided, and his advice is sound.

Never make balls until you have a run-out plan—8ball is about moving balls around to your advantage until you can run them out. Playing safes early is much better because you have more places to hide and more "safety valve" shots.
 

Matt

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
At higher skill levels, 8-ball is a game of run-outs, either by a break and run or a dry break followed by a run-out. For top pros, that describes 80% of the games played. Even for higher level amateurs, it's still over 50%. If you aspire to improve your 8-ball game, that's what you should be aiming for.

Sure, there are going to be safety battles and situations where going for the out isn't the best idea, but letting a good player back to the table with a decent shot is usually not going to work out for you, so make sure that you're really locking them up in those cases.

In a league setting, you're going to be playing a lot of opponents that won't run out on you, so the strategy might be different if you're really intent on winning the match, but I suggest you save that strategy for crucial situations such as playoffs and tournaments. During the regular session, focus on learning to run out under pressure: break up clusters early, take the occasional tough shot instead of trying to play a weak safe, etc. Only one of two things can happen: a) you improve your game or b) your handicap is based on how well you execute when you're "going for it". Either way, you'll still have your more conservative strategy in your back pocket if you need it when it really counts.
 

strmanglr scott

All about Focus
Silver Member
I'm playing in a mid level league in my area and yesterday my team played our first match of the season.

I won my 8-ball match quite clear with 5:1, but as it happend the team leader of our best team was at the club too and was watching us.
After my game he came over and we talked a bit about my playing style.

My approach:
Move through a game area by area, clearing problem balls "on the way". If I lose position, or fail to break them up, as long as I have an open shot I make a new game plan and try to go for the problems later in the game.

His advice:
Go for problem balls within the first three shots of the game. If you can't do that, fail to break them up or you get out of position, stop potting balls and don't try to get in line again. Play safe as long there are more balls to hide for you. If you keep potting balls and break down on the last two shots, your opponent has pretty much an open table or at least better safety options.


Now I want to hear your thoughts on it!
How do you approach a game of 8-ball?
Does it depent on your opponent?
Do you play loose or do you try to play it tight?

He gave you good advice. You might be able to bust the cluster up when you start running down on balls but, so many break outs are unpredictable and the fewer balls you have for alternate shots has been dramatically reduced and so you have fewer life lines if you get pinned after the breakout.

You also have more soldiers if you screw up the break out and hand the table over.

I'm always amazed I still see ppl running down their balls w no plan to break it out:eek: then they look at the cluster like what do I do now? Exactly DF, you painted yourself rt into a corner.
 

tonythetiger583

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
If it's not high level pool, I think the best way to up your win percentage, is learning how to clean-up, and clean-up well.

Being able to run 4-8 of your ball on an open table every time is probably the most invaluable skill. I find players don't give it enough respect. They treat it like a formality.

You will win a lot if you just let them try and go first, and learn to clean-up when they screw up. But if you get to clean-up, you HAVE to clean-up, and convincingly.

You can't miss, you can't just free-wheel it, you have to actually be good at it.

Play the right lines, get on the right side of balls, use the rails properly for shape, play for multiple balls, and if you don't have a good angle, hook them because you have the advantage. I try and run the pattern in such a way that i'm moving away from their last ball. So with every shot, if I do miss, their leave will be tougher.

You need to make it so every time you're on clean-up duty, they lose.

The whole point is you have the advantage because you have more balls.

I cannot stress this enough, learn to clean-up well and with actual precision. If it's mid level, no one's gunna run you out every time, but everyone's going to try.

It's easy pickings as long as you get past the mentality that they sank more ball so they're winning.

I saw another person post it, but I'll mention it again. I'll look at a layout and if one is clearly better and I have no shot, I'll "miss" and leave em straight in on the ones I don't like. Set them up to try and run out the balls that have problems in which you have the solution. (ex: Your stripe is blocking a pocket that their solid needs to go into).

Or I'll establish which group I want, and then I'll "miss" and let them try and run it out.

Personal opinion though: I think "playing smart" in terms of always looking for safes, will keep you from getting better in the long run. I don't think someone who is constantly looking for safes and two-ways will ever be a run-out player. Keeping in mind that runnout players definitely know how to safe and two-way and have definitely done their fair share.
 
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tonythetiger583

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'm always amazed I still see ppl running down their balls w no plan to break it out:eek: then they look at the cluster like what do I do now? Exactly DF, you painted yourself rt into a corner.

Also if you go into a cluster without any kind insurance, don't go on about how unlucky you are that you didn't get a shot after.

And don't just slam into the cluster at least try to accomplish something, try and control the cluster. Otherwise don't be surprised if the ball just goes off and ties up with something else.

side note: if the cluster is pretty much frozen on the rails, you need to clip it. If you just hit it head-on, nothing's going to happen. If I had a nickel for every time I've done that, ugh...
 
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pdcue

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Your approach is misguided, and his advice is sound.

Never make balls until you have a run-out plan—8ball is about moving balls around to your advantage until you can run them out. Playing safes early is much better because you have more places to hide and more "safety valve" shots.

+1

Never run 7 if you can't run 8 is a well known quote for a reason.

Dale
 

ctyhntr

RIP Kelly
Silver Member
@OP, what is your skill rating in the league and the skill level of your opponent? I assume you're playing in a handicapped league, so there is a possibility your initial handicap may be off.

I think Pacecar posted excellent advice below.

 

sixpack

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'm playing in a mid level league in my area and yesterday my team played our first match of the season.

I won my 8-ball match quite clear with 5:1, but as it happend the team leader of our best team was at the club too and was watching us.
After my game he came over and we talked a bit about my playing style.

My approach:
Move through a game area by area, clearing problem balls "on the way". If I lose position, or fail to break them up, as long as I have an open shot I make a new game plan and try to go for the problems later in the game.

His advice:
Go for problem balls within the first three shots of the game. If you can't do that, fail to break them up or you get out of position, stop potting balls and don't try to get in line again. Play safe as long there are more balls to hide for you. If you keep potting balls and break down on the last two shots, your opponent has pretty much an open table or at least better safety options.


Now I want to hear your thoughts on it!
How do you approach a game of 8-ball?
Does it depent on your opponent?
Do you play loose or do you try to play it tight?

There has been some excellent advice posted already. I agree particularly with the advice that not running out if you can't get out is good ... to win against mid and lower level opponents. Even higher level. But it is the most conservative approach and holding to it too strictly will hurt you in the long run. Players who are runout players will size up what you are doing pretty quick and turn the tables on you. If you can't run with them you won't have a chance. So now generally I just look at matches as runout practice and run when I can and play safe when I can't. Because that's more fun and allowed as me to improve. When it counts...tournament match gets tight or money match that I'm not outrunning that way...I'll play a little more conservatively and 'clean up' after their mistakes as someone put it.
 

pdcue

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There has been some excellent advice posted already. I agree particularly with the advice that not running out if you can't get out is good ... to win against mid and lower level opponents. Even higher level. But it is the most conservative approach and holding to it too strictly will hurt you in the long run. Players who are runout players will size up what you are doing pretty quick and turn the tables on you. If you can't run with them you won't have a chance. So now generally I just look at matches as runout practice and run when I can and play safe when I can't. Because that's more fun and allowed as me to improve. When it counts...tournament match gets tight or money match that I'm not outrunning that way...I'll play a little more conservatively and 'clean up' after their mistakes as someone put it.


Uhhjhhhhh... no. It is more complicated than just never run 7...

The valid underlying principle is similar to one pocket.

You don't try to win the game every turn at the table. You try to increase
the probability you will eventually win and your opponent will lose.

So after sizing up what you do, I would be sure to leave you some hangers so you
could clear a few of your balls off the table, to make it easier for me to run out
after your turn.

Dale
 

onepocketron

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Worst thing you can do in 8 ball is clear 6 or more balls off the table, and fail to get out. If you are playing someone that can play decent, you will lose almost every time. If you can't get out, start looking for a good safety, safeties win games a lot of times, even when you are playing someone that may play better than you.
 

us820

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
One of the worst things you can do is almost run the table.If I can't appear to get out I will look to block the other players most valuable pocket with my ball.
 

Poolplaya9

Tellin' it like it is...
Silver Member
You don't try to win the game every turn at the table. You try to increase the probability you will eventually win and your opponent will lose.
Excellent way to put it. Using your turn to increase your chances can consist of any number of things including:

---playing safe so that you will get a better shot next or maybe even ball in hand (and if you can take care of one of your problems at the same time with the safety, like a cluster or blocked pocket, even better, particularly if you can do it in a way that doesn't help your opponent as well)

---intentionally leaving them only one shot where to take it will likely solve one of your problems (like a cluster, or blocked pocket) but where they are unlikely to run out and probably won't have a great return safe opportunity by the time they figure out that they aren't going to be able to run it out

---pocketing one of your balls, particularly if it is a problem ball that you lay good on right now but will be difficult to get back on later

---pocketing one of their balls (with a legal shot, not a foul, although that becomes necessary on rare occasion too), particularly if it is blocking a pocket for you, or if it makes a good ball for the opponent to use to break out one of their problems, etc

---tempting them with a very low percentage shot you think they might go for and sell out with

---leaving them a chance to go for the run out if the run out is low percentage so that they clear some of their balls out of your way, but make sure not to leave them on one of their problems to start with as you don't want to assist them in solving their problems

---going for the run out yourself if you feel that gives you the highest percentage chance of winning from there

---etc.
 
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