Your thoughts on 8-ball tactics

Cornerman

Cue Author...Sometimes
Gold 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?
if anyone has listened to my 8-ball commentary, they would know where I stand on this. Attack the problem ball immediately. This idea of playing from one end of the table down to the other, though decent advice sometimes, has lost more games than it has won.

I can't wait until the 2017 US Open 8-ball is on YoUTube from CSI. IMNSHO, it's some of the best 8-ball commentary recorded.

Freddie <~~~ neck is out
 

buckets

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
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.

I agree to an extent. I think it's important to keep safety in mind as an alternative to a difficult breakout or position play. Running out is still the end goal, but sometimes laying down a safe at the right time can be a big step in that direction.
 
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Oze147

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Thx for all your thoughts on that topic!
Espiacially the articles posted were an very interesting read!

I admit, that all the points made here are legit and describe the "right" way to do it and I see the advantages of this playing style.
...but they are quite a task for an amateur player.

So bring the discusion to the next level, does anyone want to share their experience on how they got to the point, where they started to play what I would call a tight game?

In my case, it is very tempting to go for a run out, since I see the problems, the patterns and positions needed to run out a rack.
But as you know, just go through a game in your mind and executing your plan are two pair of shoes.
Additonally I find the safety aspect of 8-ball very challenging and much more difficult compared to a game of snooker.
Add in an opponent who will give you a second chance 90% of the time and yeah...you have the "I will pot myself out of this somehow"- player.
And as I said, it is kind of hard to wrap your head around intentional misses, safeties etc. if you have open shots to go for, especially in the early stages of the game- end game tactics (3-5 balls left) is something different.
 

Jimmorrison

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Moving up a league

Glad you added to your original question. How to handle a table, against a high level player. Tactics are relatively straightforward against a weaker player. What about the other way around?
 

Scratch85

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Play Your Best Eight Ball

Play Your Best Eight Ball by Phil Capelle is an in depth look at game strategies and shots for 8ball. Good place to begin the approach to change.
 

tonythetiger583

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I agree to an extent. I think it's important to keep safety in mind as an alternative to a difficult breakout or position play. Running out is still the end goal, but sometimes laying down a safe at the right time can be a big step in that direction.

I agree, but I've seen over safe-ing, poison some players. Especially, when they aren't good safes. I also hate when someone safes me and looks smug about it, but they don't realize that just because I can't see my ball directly, doesn't mean they're not still in trouble.

I just hate safeing for the sake of safeing. If I safe, I have a distinct vision in mind about how the next few turns will probably play out.
 

Scratch85

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Lost games when I couldn't get out!

So bring the discusion to the next level, does anyone want to share their experience on how they got to the point, where they started to play what I would call a tight game?

It takes more words than I'm willing to type to describe all the ways of giving up the table in 8ball. But it usually doesn't mean you played safe, as in locking up your opponent to foul.

Blocking pockets, moving cluster breakers, breaking out clusters, making clusters, moving your opponents key ball and many other small movements change how many times you need to be at the table to win. Having ball in hand if you can't get out is still a problem.

You and your opponent will face different problems on the table. You need to recognize both. The more you play what you call a tight game, the less you will probably refer to it as a tight game.
 

pdcue

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I agree, but I've seen over safe-ing, poison some players. Especially, when they aren't good safes. I also hate when someone safes me and looks smug about it, but they don't realize that just because I can't see my ball directly, doesn't mean they're not still in trouble.

I just hate safeing for the sake of safeing. If I safe, I have a distinct vision in mind about how the next few turns will probably play out.

Try to wrap your head around this:

every turn at the table you should try to increase the probability you will win.
Sometimes that means firing a ball in and running out, sometimes
it means bunting the cue ball to a safe spot,..
and everything in between.

Dale(more a bunter than a runner)
 

Koop

AzB Silver 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.

Same here for me. If there are clusters / tied up balls, this is how I play. Open table and I am going for the run out.

When I was playing a lot I could see the run backwards from the 8. Now I am lucky to see 3 balls in advance :)
 

tonyboy59

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I used to play using the strategy you described early in my pool days. Then a real good player and former room mate gave me the same advice as the person gave to you. the result...my game play increased ten fold.

Another piece(s) of advice he gave me was..."shoot easy; good things always happen when you shoot easy" and..."it's OK to miss". Took me a while to understand the second piece of advice but when I watched him miss shots he normally would make...I understood what he was doing.
 

philly

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I used to play using the strategy you described early in my pool days. Then a real good player and former room mate gave me the same advice as the person gave to you. the result...my game play increased ten fold.

Another piece(s) of advice he gave me was..."shoot easy; good things always happen when you shoot easy" and..."it's OK to miss". Took me a while to understand the second piece of advice but when I watched him miss shots he normally would make...I understood what he was doing.

I have no idea what this means. Playing a really good player, say Fargorate around 650 to 700 or better, there are not many innings. They just get out. The idea is not to miss. You just won't get back to the table unless the miss is a played safe, which by the way is not a miss.

On another note. This is one of the best theads in the forum that I have seen in a while.
 

shasta777

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Just another opinion...

Playing 8-BALL... I will try to runout most times except the following...

If I am a Level 5 player or above...

Whenever I play a player with the same or above rating... then my object is to try to break out my problem balls as soon as possible... I will play safe if I am not positive I can get out ... (My object is to do one of the following to give me the best chance for winning...)

1. Will always try to get one of my balls either near a pocket to block theirs, block the 8-ball to make other player bank it...
2. Make my next shot easy or to breakout my problem balls...
3. Play safe so I get ball in hand...

These things all depend on the layout on the table & who your playing...

Now if playing a Level 4 or below rating player... I will always go for the runout... mostly because if I do run most of my balls out chances are they will get rattled & miss which gets me the game...

Everyone has their own way to play... & there really is NOT a 100% correct way... it all depends on WHO you are playing & what confidence level you feel when shooting... if your NOT sure then learn from others who are better players... watch what they do or how they play... most ppl when they are out playing are mostly concerned what they themselves do... then go off to talk to other people, drink, etc...
they don't watch other most of the time... so next time your out watch others & learn!!
just my 2 cents... :)
 
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fastone371

Certifiable
Silver Member
One thing I didnt see anyone mention is that even though my goal is to not hit any balls unnecessarily you may have opportunities to knock your opponents ball into a difficult spot while pocketing one of your balls. Kind of a reverse cluster break out, if you can tie up one of your opponents balls its good insurance. I dont put much effort into trying to block pockets that my opponent might need because its too easy for them to replace your ball with theirs and it could bite you in the arse. Also, if your opponent leaves his ball in the jaws of a pocket you can usually pocket your ball right behind theirs so its really not a good strategy.
 

measureman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I play league 8 ball.
I'm a gunslinger.
i go for the run out right from the start.
I shoot low percentage shots and hope to out run them.
I play safe only when there is no possible shot.
Thats how i do it,full speed ahead.
Its only league 8 ball.
Have some fun.
Now on the rare occasion that i put a buck or two on a game i play different.
 

Cory in DC

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.

Yes, you're buddy is correct. I'll add that if you clear out one end of the table and then get stuck on the other end of the table, you usually give your opponent huge safety zones at the end of the table where she has balls but you don't.
 

easy-e

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
One thing I didnt see anyone mention is that even though my goal is to not hit any balls unnecessarily you may have opportunities to knock your opponents ball into a difficult spot while pocketing one of your balls. Kind of a reverse cluster break out, if you can tie up one of your opponents balls its good insurance. I dont put much effort into trying to block pockets that my opponent might need because its too easy for them to replace your ball with theirs and it could bite you in the arse. Also, if your opponent leaves his ball in the jaws of a pocket you can usually pocket your ball right behind theirs so its really not a good strategy.

I will do this as well if the table is set up for it. I won't go out of my way to tie them up, because it may lead to boning myself.
 

Poolplaya9

Tellin' it like it is...
Silver Member
In my case, it is very tempting to go for a run out, since I see the problems, the patterns and positions needed to run out a rack.
But as you know, just go through a game in your mind and executing your plan are two pair of shoes.........And as I said, it is kind of hard to wrap your head around intentional misses, safeties etc. if you have open shots to go for, especially in the early stages of the game- end game tactics (3-5 balls left) is something different.

Being able to see the problems, patterns, and positions needed to run out the rack is not even half of the equation. The other part, and arguably even more important part (although both are absolutely essential), is being able to accurately weigh risk verses reward, and accurately assess what each of the options available will do to your chances to ultimately win the game, otherwise known as "playing the percentages". Acquiring the ability to accurate assess the percentages for success with each option will only come through lots of experience, however being able to be honest with yourself is an absolute necessity and can be very difficult for many to do, and making a concerted effort to pay attention to how things turn out depending on the choices you made will shorten the learning curve.

Your specific abilities and weaknesses will also have some impact on what you should do. The right choice for SVB will not always be the right choice for you because of your skill differences, but at the same time you also have to be trying to improve so that you become comfortable with the "right" decision to make in a circumstance and the "right" way to play the shot. If you always fall back on "well I am not good at speed control so I won't play the safe here even though I know it is the right shot and instead will just try to run out" for example then it is going to be hard to ever learn that safety if you won't ever shoot it now isn't it? You learn by doing, so while you have to keep in mind your specific skills, you also have to push yourself to do things the "right" way with the right plays so you can learn those skills too. When you are practicing is a good time to always try to play the "right" shots, even if they aren't the best choice yet for your skill level if it were a more meaningful match, because that is the only way you are going to learn them and become comfortable with them.

While there are always exceptions, here are some general rules of thumb for 8 ball to try to keep in mind and live by and plenty more could be added but these kind of fit in to some of the questions you have asked:

---As counter intuitive as it will sound to someone still learning the game, the guy who has the most balls on the table usually has a significant advantage in the game. The reasons why are because it is more interference balls in the way for your opponent, it is more balls for you to be able to play safe off of or hide behind if needed, there is a much better chance you will have a good shot if your opponent misses or plays safe, etc. Why on earth would you want to give up your advantage in the game? Keep that advantage until it is the right time to run out and win the game.

---Don't go for the run out until you have a pretty high percentage chance of being successful at the run including sinking the 8 ball too. You have to be able to be honest with yourself in your evaluation.

---Go for your problem ball (the one that will be very tough to get good shape on) as soon as possible in your run. If you fail to get good on it, try to get on it again as soon as you can. Saving problems for the end of the game usually leads to disaster because if you fail to solve it when it is one of the last balls you are now out of options and chances, whereas when you go for it early, you will likely get several chances to try to solve that problem throughout the game if needed.

---Try to solve your problem clusters as soon as possible in a run for the same reasons as above, because if you fail to break it out properly early in the rack you may get more chances, but once that is all you have left you are up a creek in a bad way.

---Whenever you get ball in hand you should almost always try to take care of your biggest problem on the table, whether that is a ball that will be extremely tough to get shape on later, or whether it is a cluster or some other problem. Even if you are going to have to play safe with ball in hand, try to do it in a way that takes care of your biggest problem if at all possible (say by moving your "tough to get shape on" ball into a better position, or breaking up your problem cluster, etc), and if that is not possible try to take care of your second biggest problem instead and so on. Sometimes the best way to address an issue while playing safe is through indirect means such as hitting one of your balls over near say a problem cluster so that ball now becomes a good key ball to break out the cluster from as you pocket it on some later turn. Sometimes with ball in hand you may want to take a shot before playing safe even when you already know you have no intention of trying to run out yet, such as pocketing your "really tough to get shape on" ball before playing safe with with the second shot as that may be the play that best increases your chances for ultimately winning.

---As has been mentioned previously, with every turn at the table you are trying to do something that is going to increase your chances for being able to win the game, so always look for those opportunities. Don't be satisfied for example with just looking for a good safe that hides the ball for your opponent, but instead look for a good safe that also solves one of your cluster problems or other problems. The examples here could be endless and you really have to analyze the table to find these opportunities. They don't always exist but a lot of times they do but aren't real obvious and you are going to miss them if you are not looking hard for them.

---While you always want to improve your situation with every turn at the table if possible, keep in mind whether or not it benefits your opponent as well. If it benefits him as much or more than it benefits you, like breaking up some clusters might do for example, then it may not be the proper shot or the proper time to take it.

Add in an opponent who will give you a second chance 90% of the time and yeah...you have the "I will pot myself out of this somehow"- player.
Just as your play will have to take into consideration your own skills, it also has to take into consideration the skills of your opponent. The right play against strong player and a weak player can vary as well.
 
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maha

from way back when
Silver Member
your strategy changes drastically depending on your ability to make balls and his.

the idea not to run any balls if you wont get out is right for a good player. for a weaker player that may mean he still has to take three turns at the table to win even when his balls get open. meaning he may have waited to long to get a few in.

in general you want to break out tied up balls of yours early if it doesnt cost you. and also tie up at least one of his balls especially if he shoots well.
 

buckets

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I play league 8 ball.
I'm a gunslinger.
i go for the run out right from the start.
I shoot low percentage shots and hope to out run them.
I play safe only when there is no possible shot.
Thats how i do it,full speed ahead.
Its only league 8 ball.
Have some fun.
Now on the rare occasion that i put a buck or two on a game i play different.

maybe try 9 ball instead :thumbup:

;)
 
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