A lot of players don’t like playing one pocket because they don’t understand it. It’s easy to explain: Make 8 balls in your pocket before you opponent does. The problem people have with the game is that it is not just an offensive game. In fact, I’d suggest the game is primarily a defensive game. It’s a strategic game, not unlike chess or perhaps any battle simulation game. You move your troops around on the field, jockying for position, and when the time is right, everyone attacks.
And like war, one pocket is a game of chance. Not all of your forces will complete their objectives; some will die a quick death, others will betray you and turn to your opponent’s aliance and some will stay in their foxholes, scared and frozen in place. I’m talking about pool here, so let’s put those terms into one pocket lingo. When your opponent makes a mistake, whether a careless mistake on their part, or a forced mistake engineered by your hand, the time to run out is at hand (if you’ve placed your troops in proper positions). The pressure to take full advantage of this opportunity is [can be] overwhelming. So as you start your attack, the advance can be stopped by simply missing a ball (the quick death), you can miss a ball poorly, sending it to your opponent’s side of the table or opening up a problem cluster for them (the traitor) and you miss a key breakout, leaving you a few balls shy of a finish and forcing you to return to defense early (the frozen scared soldier that doesn’t want to play).
This is likely the simplest and most rudimentary explanation of the game I can give while also addressing, at least on the surface, all the various facets of the game. Now, why should you play this frustrating and overly cerebral game? Because it helps all of your other games. All of them. I present to you this situation from my APA 8-Ball league match last night: I was solids and overran my position on the 8 ball in my previous inning forcing me to play a [poor] safety. My opponent began his run out but somehow missed the 12 ball and left me this table:
I studied the position of the cue and the 8-ball for a good while. The natural cross corner was blocked by the 15. The angle into the cross side was far too steep to hold, regardless of speed or spin (plus there’s a foul-potential with the balls so close together). I began to look for safety options. In thinking about grazing the 8ball and sending the CB uptable I saw the shot. Cross-side bank, the very shot I had just ruled out – but the key to this was not speed or spin, it was finesse. I had found the answer to my riddle. But, there was traffic. I was (perhaps unnecessarily) concerned with the 15 ball stopping the cue ball in the 8-ball’s path. I studied the deflection of the CB off the 8 and figured I would hit the 15 nearly full. So, I marked the side pocket and got down on the shot, double-checked my edges and pulled the trigger. I might have overdone the speed of the shot as both the cue ball and 15 ball travelled around the table, but neither of them bothered the 8-ball’s slow track towards, then finally into, the side pocket:
My team erupted into applause and even some people watching clapped and congratulated me on that shot. It was likely the shot of the night across the tables (or maybe I’m just thinking it was).
A lot of people asked me how I saw it, how did I do it? I told them all, it’s essentialy a routine one-pocket shot – just in the middle of the table. This is why you should play one pocket. These types of goofy banks are quite common in the game and even though I don’t make them as often as I think I should, I see them. And once you see them, you can’t un-see them.
I’ll look for you on the battlefield. Till then, good night, and good luck. 😉