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November 2018
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'Free lessons'

9 Ball

Nine Ball Concept

I certainly don’t profess to know it completely, even though I have ran an 8 pack and a 9 pack on a 4 1/2 x 9. But there were players I observed that I thought knew it, players like Portland Don Watson, Port Chester Mickey Carpinello, Buddy Hall, Irving Crane and Bill Lawson to name a few. The game just looked different when they played it.

The thing I noticed about Mickey, Don Watson, Buddy, etc., was that they usually only made one hard shot a game. They would go all out to make that shot and get perfect position, even though making the shot itself was hard enough. They never settled for just making the shot. Once perfect, they stayed perfect, playing close position, and wound up shooting at hanger nine balls. The mistake I see many nine ball players make, is when they have an easy shot to start with, they settle for OK position rather than concentrating and getting perfect (and close) because they know they are probably still going to pocket the next ball anyway. I’ll repeat what I said earlier, the great players, once perfect, they stayed perfect, their concentration at an absolute level until the game was won. It ain’t easy, and the mental discipline required is awesome, but who said it was supposed to be easy?

Frank “Sailor” Stellman and The Method

At a local Nine Ball tournament in Chicago that Master player Frank “Sailor” Stellman of Racine, WI. attended, Sailor noted to me that he had been observing that most of the players of today play without a “method.” That is to say, that their emphasis is largely on shot making, and they mostly play the game one shot at a time. No real rhythm or total plan. If you could read their thoughts you would see that their concentration and attention is on pocketing the ball, and position is a relatively side issue. Once they execute the stroke, and the ball is on the way to the pocket, they release their focus, oftentimes before the cue ball has traveled to the anointed place. If you watch closely you can observe this phenomena; the moment that they abandon their attention. You get the feeling that their process is linear, and is progressing one shot at a time. If you ever had the pleasure of watching some of the old masters, like aforementioned, Sailor Stellman, Mosconi, Irving Crane, Portland Don Watson, etc., you would get the feeling that they always stayed on the same “channel,” and that there is a oneness of flow. Like a radio signal, they stay on the same frequency.

Here is a brief explanation of The Method inspired by Frank “Sailor” Stellman

1. Visually plan the making of the ball and achieving perfect postion.
2. Next, release the vision along with all thoughts, however, staying on the same mental frequency.
3. Then, just get down and do it.
4. No more position or aiming adjustments after initial visualization.
5. Lock it in and then leave it alone.

Bank Pool

I am publishing on this site a series of bank pool lessons that originally appeared in my columns while I was with Inside Pool magazine. They will appear in the Free lessons page of this site under, Bank Pool. I did 16 columns in all. I will publish them all in the insuing weeks. First off though I will start with some solid bank pool strategy.

Bank Pool strategy

Shot selection in bank pool and one pocket is all about percentages and the score. Now, the tricky part is that shot percentage is also a relative thing. The score must be factored in to determine the correct percentage. With a lead you look to shoot at higher percentage shots. If you need one ball and you have an even money shot to shoot at, but if you miss you will sell out three easy shots to your opponent who needs those three to win, even money becomes a bad percentage, especially if you have the option of shooting another shot that probably won’t cost you the game. If you are forced to shoot at a low percentage shot, you try to shoot it and play safe off of it.

Low percentage shots take on an added cache’ when you are behind. You may even want to play position off of them if the game situation is dire enough

A straight back is usually the worst “sell-out,” if for no other reason but that the object ball has to travel the farthest and the pocket opening is the smallest at that angle.


To counter safety play designed to slow the game up and meant to discourage aggressive shooting, you need to place at least two balls at the head of the table.

In the beginning of the game, look to put your opponent underneath a ball or balls at the foot of the table (where you rack the balls). By that I mean you should try to freeze him behind the main body of balls at the foot of the table. You want to keep the opposition from returning the Cue Ball to the back rail (head of the table).

When an opponent leaves you at the foot of the table your main job is to ignore any marginal shots you may have and instead shoot at least one ball to the head or end rail, and snooker your opponent to keep him from seeing, and then being able to move that ball back to the foot of the table.

If opponents are snookered they will not play a safety to the head rail because that would allow you to either have a shot at the ball that you previously put there, or you could shoot it away and leave him frozen on the back rail and far away from the body of balls.

Since you are going to be left at the foot of the table again, you ignore any marginal shots — your main objective is to get two balls up table by shooting a second ball up to the head of the table — completing your mission.

If that is not possible, play again to snooker your foe from seeing the balls on the head rail and force your opponent to leave you among the balls at the foot of the table again.

Once two balls are at the back end (head) of the table, refrain from shooting a marginal straight-back with any one of them. Because once you miss your opponent will remove the remaining ball there by either playing safe or playing a shot with it. In either case you will be back where you started. Better to find another ball to shoot to the head rail (as a move) to bring the count to three. The more balls at the head of the table the merrier.

Conversely, if you are the one trying to slow the game down, then you would naturally look to remove any single ball from the head of the table to keep two balls from collecting there.


At the end of game, if you are behind and want to put balls into play your initial objective is to get two balls on the foot spot and to leave your opponent on the head rail. Your opponent will seldom choose to play safe off spotted balls, because it is usually difficult to get the Cue Ball back to the head rail due to balls at the foot of the table that may be in the way. This allows you to shoot in more balls that will also be spotted, and pretty soon all or many of the balls will be in play.

On the other hand, when you are protecting a lead and a ball lands on the foot spot it is your job to remove it at once to keep others from collecting.

When you need one ball, your strategy should be to take at least one and possibly two balls out of play — hang a ball in one of the corner pockets at the foot of the table. This is much better than hanging balls in the corners at the head of the table as they can be readily shot in, re-spotted and put back into play. The balls hanging in the front corner pockets at the foot of the table are usually difficult to make without leaving a shot after they are spotted.

Clik for bank shot clip from my DVD Straight Back clip from Banking With the Beard — the Movie


Do not take all the balls out of play — a fatal mistake that I myself made for years — my rationale was, “If one ball out of play is good, then three or four is better still.” A flawed conclusion it turns out.

If you and your opponent are both playing one ball at a time, you remove much of the pressure from your opponent. All the opposition has to do is play safe on one ball.

If there are several balls in play, even though they might present an opportunity for your opponent to make them in one inning, it also makes it many times more difficult for the opposition to play safe when you only need one ball. One ball could be made from anywhere. Your foe will be under extreme pressure trying to keep you from shooting at 2-rail or 3-rail banks that will win the game. Paranoia will have your competition seeing banks going in from everywhere.

Your opponent knows that any ball you are left close to, regardless of the angle, is a possible make. With one ball in play on the table, if the other player keeps leaving you long with the Cue Ball near the cushion, the pressure between the two of you would be about the same. Maybe less for him because he is behind and has nothing to lose. But when he looks at the table and negatively visualizes that he cannot leave you without a shot, and that he has to leave you something to shoot at, the pressure becomes greater on him than you.


    The most basic calculation you can make in banks is to be able to determine the so-called, 2 to 1 angle. AKA, divide the angle, or bisect the angle. All bank calculations begin there.

    Here are the 3 possible bank angles:

    (1.) A perfect, straight in, 2 to 1 ratio, natural angle. Refer diagram A

    When a bank is laying straight into the proper diamond as shown above, we call it a “natural” 2:1 bank.

    Diagram A

    The illustration shows the simple 2 to 1 banking system that is used to calculate most one-cushion bank shots. This method is commonly called dividing the angle, or bisecting the angle.

    Bank tracks are figured by dividing the distance to the target pocket by 2 and then visually extending the bank lane or track through the diamond.

    A bank can lie in only two other angles:

    (2.) A cut angle, where the cueball lies inside the natural angle and has to cut the object ball back to the natural angle. See Diagram B

    (3.) A pass-over angle where the cueball lies outside the natural angle and the cueball must pass over the object ball to cut it back to the natural angle. See Diagram C.

    Diagram B.

    Diagram C

    If merely calculating the correct 2 to 1 bank angle was the only problem in making banks we’d be done right now. Unfortunately, even the simple banks shown here will only score when played with the right blend of english, speed, or cut angle.

    On all cut banks the object ball picks up *collision induced throw in the form of reverse english, and those type shots will tend to run about 1/4 diamond short of the natural angle due to the reverse english effect.

    On all pass-over banks the object ball picks up *collision induced throw in the form of running english, and those type shots will add about a 1/4 diamond to the shot, allowing us to make the bank by shooting directly into the natural angle due to the helping, or running english.

    *Collision induced throw can be described as the result of the cueball colliding with the object ball and turning it slightly in the opposite direction, giving the object ball a form of english. If you can visualize the cue tip hitting the side of the cueball turning it, and imparting english on to it, think of the side of the cueball acting like the cue tip and hitting the side of the object ball and turning it, and in effect applying english. Naturally the cueball cannot put on as much english as a cue tip, but enough is applied to affect the object ball when it contacts a cushion.

    Shooting softly or hard, without side english, through the bisecting diamond makes most cut or straight in banks. Medium speed is where we develop problems. However conversely, medium speed is the optimum speed of stroke to use on pass-over banks.

    More next month.

    Romancing the “Stone”

    To kiss or not to kiss.

    Determining whether a bank shot lays in the “kiss zone” is often misunderstood, and usually winds up as an educated guess. In the following diagrams I have outlined exactly when a bank cannot normally be made using a rolling with or without english.

    In Diagram #1, I deal with the shorter angle cross-corners. If the straight-in angle of the cueball and object ball is lined up and aiming into the pocket facing, the shot is a certain kiss. Left or right english, follow, center, or draw is not going to help you beat that kiss. With a slight angle adjustment, as per diagram #2, lined up to the middle of the back of the pocket, the bank can now be easily made with rolling or center ball, no english.

    Avoiding Kisses

    When the balls line up on a straight line to the middle of the facing of the corner pocket, the bank is a dead kiss. It is extremely difficult to beat the kiss when the balls are on a line to the middle of the facing.

    When the balls line up on a straight line to the middle of the pocket, there is no kiss

    Diagram #3 is another variation that must be considered. It involves crossing, or passing-over, the object ball from a much more severe angle. Rather than calculate off of a straight-in angle as per dia.#1 & 2, the kiss/no kiss reference point is determined by lining up the actual cut angle needed to make the bank. If an imaginary line from the center of the cueball, extending thru the cut area on the object ball, continues into the middle of the back of the pocket, the kiss is “on.” If the line instead, is aiming at the short/bottom rail, you can go ahead and shoot the shot with impunity. Provided of course you are using a natural rolling ball, center ball, left english in this case, or draw. Right hand english when the bank is “on” could result in a kiss.

    As an aside to all this, about three years ago I was commentating on an accu-stats Bank pool match that involved Francisco Bustamonte. A bank came up similar to diagram #1 and Busty pondered over it and finally decided to try and make it. The outcome was predictable, he caught a kiss and it cost him the game. The next day Busty was playing a One pocket match and I was again commentating for accu-stats. At a key juncture in the match, the same shot came up, and if he could have made the bank he would have gotten behind the balls and ran out. He apparently remembered the problems he had with the shot the day before, so he hesitated and eventually played a passive safety and lost that game too.

    I loooked upon his distress sympathetically, and so I cornered Busty after the match and showed him how the shot could be made. Oh, — I didn’t bother to tell ya’ll that it was possible to beat the dia.#1 kiss? I have beaten every kiss I have ever encountered in my whole life, save for my first two wives and those ugly divorces. Sorry, but to explain the solution properly I would have to show it on a table in person. Suffice to say that it requires a masse’. What I did release should hold ya’ll for awhile.

Side Step Banks

Excerpts from the Beard’s intructional book, “Banking With The Beard.”

Learning the Side–Step Bank is a mighty addition to any banker’s repertoire, because after you learn this bank the odds are great that you will make

the shot wherever and whenever it comes up. Take a good look at the diagram above because it illustrates the secret of the Side–Step Bank in graphic terms. The first important point to note is the 14° angle between the 2 to 1 bank angle and the Cue Ball Line. This angle would require a

3/4 Full Left Hit to send the Object Ball onto the 2 to 1 path. Learn this angle well because it contains the key to one of the most reliable bank methods known to man. The secret to locking down this common cross–able bank angle is to cut the Object Ball just a hair toward the 2 to 1 line instead of hitting dead full. DO NOT cut the Object Ball back toward the 2 to 1 line. You only want to hit the Object Ball a millimeter to the side so the Cue Ball caroms a few inches toward the pocket. If you actually cut the Object Ball back toward the 2 to 1 line, it will land short. The Cue Ball only crosses one leg of the bank which is why I call these Side–Step Banks. The name also reminds me of the ball action needed to send the Object Ball dead into the pocket. A small “side–tep” by the Cue Ball tells me that the Object Ball is getting the correct ball action to score.

When you hit a Side–Step Bank properly the Cue Ball only passes over the first leg of the bank angle a few inches. If the Object Ball lands short, you cut the ball too much and need to hit fuller. The cut on the Object Ball is very small. You only want to billiard the Cue Ball 3 or 4 inches toward the target pocket.

Old–time Straight–Rail players called these caroms “deadball billiards” because the nearly full hit on the Object Ball absorbs almost all of the force of the stroke leaving the Cue Ball with just enough energy to Side–Step a couple of inches. You only want the Cue Ball to Passover a couple of ball spaces.

Once you learn to identify the Side–Step Bank angle and begin playing for the position, your average on cross table banks will soar.

The Side–Step Bank is very reliable under pressure, which is why I like it so much. Once you get the hang of the shot, you will rarely miss a Side–Step Bank.

Side–Step Bank Action works equally well on Up and Back Banks or wherever it appears on the table. Cross–Sides, Cross–Corners and long angle shots all fall under the power of the mighty Side–Step Bank. When you see the Side–Step angle, meaning that a 3/4 full hit would drive the Object Ball into the 2 to 1 path, you have one of the easiest banks to make.

Set up Side–Step Bank positions and practice them until you engrave the 14° angle

between the Cue Ball line and the Object Ball 2 to 1 line into your mind. Learn to

recognize this bank angle whenever and wherever it pops up because with a little

practice you will own this shot.

Once you begin playing the Side–Step Bank properly, your consistency on the shot

will soar, no matter where it comes up.

Z-Banging With The Beard

A Z-Bang is when the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th rail of a bank shot happens to be a non-complimentary cushion. The Z-Bang name comes from the path of the bank shot describing a “Z” pattern. A non-complimentary cushion effect occurs when the cue ball goes from a short rail to another short rail, or a long rail to another long rail. (ie., cross-side twice, or straight back up and down)

A complimentary cushion is of course, when the cue ball goes from a short rail to a long rail, or a long rail to a short rail, and so on. The “complimentary” aspect of the shot is that the cue ball will pick up “running english” off of every “complimentary” cushion that it contacts. Running english, is english that helps the cue ball spread at a wider angle off of the cushion.

Conversely, when the cue ball goes from same type rail to same type rail (short to short, long to long) it will not pick up any running english, and depending on the angle, will instead pick up reverse english and shorten up the outgoing angle.

If the incoming angle off of the 1st cushion is wide enough, or if the speed of the cue ball is such that the english that the cue ball picked up off of the first rail has worn off, then the cue ball can “break” and take a natural path and angle off the 2nd rail.

If this all seems a little deep, and it kinda is, just work off of the diagrams below and use the described systems. You don’t need to know the science to make the shot. Good luck and good shooting.

Clik on diagrams to enlarge

A pool secret from Doc Hazard

When I was hanging around at the Congress Bowl in North Miami in the 60s, there were a lot of good players frequenting the place. One of the notables was a player from New York named Doc Hazard. He played straight pool exclusively, and he played it well. Very capable to run a 100 balls. Whether he was a doctor of anything medical was never confirmed, but he was definitely a doctor of pool science. He had all sorts of little gimmicks designed to help you make a ball or get position, most were too obtuse to try to explain here, but there was one thing he showed me that I thought had real merit. I couldn’t explain why it worked then, and I still can’t today, but for some reason or other it does seem to work. Try it out and see for yourself.

It’s a solution to the pool problem of what do you do in order to get a maximum deflection off of the object ball when the shot is almost straight in? Doc’s solution was called, “knuckle down or elbow up,” depending on which side you were cutting the ball to.

This explanation is for right handers only. Reverse everything for lefties. When you are cutting the ball slightly to the right, and you need to move the cueball as much as possible off of the face of the object ball (maximum carom), the key is to make a bridge with the third finger “knuckled down” into the palm of your left hand. Hard stroke, center ball of course.

When the cut is favored to the left, to achieve the desired result, make a normal bridge but turn the left elbow over and point it “up” as much as possible. Hard stroke, center ball.

The Doc was a very eccentric guy, and the legendary Danny DiLiberto has a couple of very amusing stories he likes to tell about the old Doc. The Doc had a habit of inspecting the rack for kisses and combinations with a large magnifying glass. He was very good at it too, and could pick out dead ones from almost anywhere. Danny who was living in Florida then and had spent a lot of time around the Doc, ran into him in the Florida State Championship. Danny noticed that the Doc was using a gigantic magnifying glass in his matches, much larger than what he had been using at the Congress Bowl. When confronted by Danny and asked why he was using such a large piece, the Doc deadpanned, “Bigger match, bigger glass.”

Doc was also an extremely slow player. Aggravatingly slow, and when the Old Doc passed on to the Big Pool Room in the Sky, Danny related the Doc’s demise to one of the Doc’s old opponents, Richie Florence. When Danny told Richie that the Doc was officially gone, Richie remarked, “Yeah? How long did it take?”

Three “Hanger,” Automatic Banks for your Arsenal

I have diagrammed and will explain exactly how to score on three systematic bank “automatics.” Automatic banks are banks that lay perfectly on the “go” path.

Just line up as if you were going to shoot a dead straight-in shot, aim to hit the object ball full in the face, and then confidently pull the trigger with a firm stroke. Use no english, and make no adjustments. Do not use any draw or follow, either. Just expect consistent results. The absolute correct point to contact the cue ball is approximately 1/2 tip above or below dead center.

The dead center of the cue ball will apply too much pure “slide.” That’s an effect that for most bank shots you want to avoid. There is a category of trick banks where I take advantage of slide to make the shots, but let’s save all that for another lesson down the road.

This system is a jump off from the oft referred to 2-to-1 or mirror-bank angle. By now everyone should know that a bank following a 2-to-1 angle path will usually run about a quarter-diamond short of the intended pocket if hit with medium speed. In my first book, Banking With The Beard, I meticulously go over the many, many adjustments you can make that will pick up that missing quarter diamond.

But here we have three positions that have simple solutions that require no special adjustments. You can secure some tasty results because you can easily recognize these angles when they come up.

Once you can recognize these “perfect” angles, you can begin to look for parallel angles to shoot also. That’s for those ball positions that don’t fit exactly into the three reference angles that I have outlined in the diagrams.

The basic paths themselves are very easy to map out. The key, however, is to make sure the “go” path runs through the connecting diamonds (per the diagrams).

Diagram 1: “Go” path runs through Diamond 1 through Diamond 2 on the long rail.

Diagram 2: “Go” path runs through Diamond 2 through Diamond 1.5 on the long rail.

Diagram 3: “Go” path runs through Diamond 3 through Diamond 1 on the long rail.

Clik on diagram to enlarge

Knowledge is a good antidote for “difficulty”

Diagram #1

Seldom played, but very makeable 1 rail, One Pocket bank, featuring edge to edge aiming

This is a situation in One pocket that is seldom taken advantage of.  Most players even if they consider the shot are usually put off by the prospect of scratching in one of the corner pockets.

With a little practice anyone can get the hang of it. Use a razor thin cut with extreme reverse english (right english in this case) and extreme draw. Use a hard speed. The draw and reverse english keep the cue ball from scratching in one of the corner pockets.

Would I shoot this shot for the money? Yessir, and I have done so on many an occasion.

Diagram #2

Automatic cross-side twice

Let’s investigate two more shots that are often overlooked and seldom played.  Again, many players recognize the possibility of these shots but mistakenly think they are much more difficult than they really are.

Yes, at first glance they appear to be difficult, but if played properly they become “automatics.”

If executed correctly the actual “make” percentage of these shots is probably pretty close to even money.  That is, they should go one out of two times attempted.

Both the cue ball and the object ball are lined up dead in the middle of the sidepockets. Many players think they need english to make these types of shots, but I use a level cue, dead center-ball, no english whatsoever, with a 1/2 ball aim, and hard speed.

Diagram #3

Automatic cross-side three times

The balls are lined up exactly as in diagram #2. The biggest difference between this shot and the one from diagram#2 is the speed used to make it. The key is: Hard speed to make it twice, and Firm speed for it to go three times. Cut this shot slightly more than the previous shot.  A little more than the 1/2 ball cut we used to make it twice across.   To repeat, level cue, dead center-ball, no english whatsoever, with a little more than a 1/2 ball cut, and this time we are going to tone done a little and only use a firm speed.

In pool, unlike singles bars, it’s not who you know, it’s what you know.

A Couple of Upper Echelon Bank Shots

Diagram # 1

Here’s a five star shot from the great One Pocket champion, Cliff Joyner. Cliff rarely missed this double-tough shot. An incredible feat in and of itself, since the margin of error on this beauty is near absolute zero.
The shot begins with the Cue Ball and Object Ball exactly one ball space off of the rail.
The difficulty lies in cutting the ball away from the cushion a bit to give the Cue Ball a carom angle to escape a kiss coming back, and then overcoming the negative angle with enough Collision–Induced–Throw.
Getting enough positive action on the Object Ball to be able to send it back to the pocket is a challenge. The “gaff” on this shot, (and I use that term loosely, since even knowing exactly what to do, is still no guarantee that you will make this extreme bank) is to use 2 to 3 tips of right-hand English on the equator of the Cue Ball with the cue stick elevated about 30 degrees.
The Cue Ball leaves the table momentarily, eliminating friction from the cloth, so however much English you use is fully applied to the Object Ball. The slight bounce also helps the Cue Ball carom to the rail and out of the way of the object ball coming back down the long rail.

Use a Firm Speed.
This bank belongs at the finale of a Master Banker’s test. It is one of the most difficult banks to execute even for top players.
Diagram # 2

The original infant terrible and legendary pool gunfighter, Cole Dickinson loved to shoot out
of this One Pocket trap using this difficult trick bank.
The mechanics of this amazing shot are: First elevate the cue about 30 degrees. Next, hit slightly below center using no side english. Your intention is to want the Cue Ball to leave the table slightly. By leaving the table, cloth friction is at a minimum on the Cue Ball, and strong Collision–Induced–Throw kicks in on contact, turning the Object Ball back to the pocket when it contacts the cushion. Use a Firm Speed.

Diagram # 3

Everything is basically the same on this shortened version of the above shot. You can pick up the Object Ball off the short rail, even if it is only an inch off the rail –but not if it is frozen to it– and bank it into the opposite pocket. The trick is the same, elevate 30 degrees, and contact the Object Ball with maximum Collision–Induced–Throw. Use a Firm Speed.

Cross-side, Cross-Corner Twice, and Up and Down

As they say down South, “Twice-teh” (For those who have never experienced the inimitable Southern ‘Drawl, that is “twice” with an extra “teh”at the end.

The best person I ever seen shooting “twice’s” is a player from Louisville, KY. He is at the Derby City tournament every year. His family runs a fancy candy making company in Louisville that puts out a delicious product. He’s always handing out candy samples at Derby City. He is also a decent speed banker in his own right. His nickname is appropriately, “The Candy Man.” His real name, the one nobody uses, is Stanley Bennet. For those of you that intend to attend the Derby City Classic you have probably watched him play. Everybody down there knows him. If you ever get to see him play it will be a memorable experience. He has an unusual style. And I do mean unusual, because Candy Man’s game plan is to shoot about 30% of his bank shots two rails rather than one! It might sound like a bad percentage strategy, but if you ever played a game with him and seen how incredibly well he handles double-railers you might have to change your mind.

Following are some keys I use that will take a little of the mystery out of “Cross-side twice,” “Cross-corner twice,” and “Up and down.” (Or as Efren used to say, Uppa anna down.)

The most salient element to consider before attempting any of these two rail shots is the shot approach angle. The first question to ask yourself is, is this a “dead-straight on,” a “cut-bank,” or a “pass-over” bank. Dead-straight on, is self-explanatory. Hit the object ball dead in the face to achieve the angle needed. A cut-bank requires you to cut the object ball toward the angle you are attempting, and a pass-over bank needs you to cut the object ball back, and away from the angle by “passing over ” the face of the object ball. You need to adjust a little differently for each angle.

The key action you are looking for in any twice shot, is for the object ball to “break” slightly toward the desired pocket, and conversely, to not “reverse” and run short when it contacts the second rail.

Speed is a critical element, and it is relative. The best way to hit these shots is to use medium speed, and what I mean by that, is that you use only enough speed to get the object ball to make it to the needed pocket, and maybe advance another diamond if you manage to miss. It’s relative, because the distances vary between two-railers traveling between the long side rails, and those traversing between the short rails.

The best person I ever seen shooting “twice’s” is a player from Louisville, KY. He is at the Derby City tournament every year. His family runs a fancy candy making company in Louisville that puts out a delicious product. He’s always handing out candy samples at Derby City. He is also a decent speed banker in his own right. His nickname is appropriately, “The Candy Man.” His real name, the one nobody uses, is Stanley Bennet. For those of you that intend to attend the Derby City Classic you have probably watched him play. Everybody down there knows him. If you ever get to see him play it will be a memorable experience. He has an unusual style. And I do mean unusual, because Candy Man’s game plan is to shoot about 30% of his bank shots two rails rather than one! It might sound like a bad percentage strategy, but if you ever played a game with him and seen how incredibly well he handles double-railers you might have to change your mind.

Diagram #1 Dead straight on. Use 1 tip left-hand english, medium speed. Hit ½ tip below center.

Diagram # 2 Cut-bank, cross-side twice. Use 1 tip left-hand english, medium speed. Hit ½ tip below center.

Diagram # 3 Pass-over bank, cross-side twice. Use 1 tip follow, no english, medium speed. Hit 1 tip above center.

What did Dino do?

Lesson 11

Following are solutions for a recurring situation in bank pool: The inspiration for this strategy lesson came from my son, Dino who had replied to a bank pool question on one of the pool forums. An excellent banker himself, these solutions are representative of his ideas (all of which I agree completely with) that he set forth in the forum bank thread.

The score is tied 7 to 7 with one ball left on the table, and it is hanging in the back corner pocket at the head of the table. Your opponent pockets the ball, the ball spots up, and the cue ball is left dangling in the mouth of the corner pocket.

Whattaya do?

There are several factors involved in what shot to shoot.

Option#1. Firing at the straight back to the left, and trying to win immediately is one option. I would only recommend firing at the straight back under certain circumstances. * Because, even a player of top caliber, against an opponent with the same skill set, would lose the game about half the time on the next shot.

For even a top banker, that degree of shot difficulty would make him about a 2 to 1 favorite to miss, and missing would leave things wide open for the other guy. If you miss going all out like that you would then become at least a 2 to 1 favorite to leave a good shot for your opponent.

In my opinion, this aggressive strategy is only recommended if you have the confidence and the accuracy of a top banker — along with a weak opponent, or a small bet, or a game of little consequence.

What I am trying to say, if you haven’t picked it up already, is that shooting this shot is a low percentage option — if you are playing in a meaningful game. Whenever I recommend a shot option, I always frame it in the scenario that I would lose a part of my body if I chose wrongly. That’s just the way I look at it.

Option #2. A second safer option, percentage-wise, that might not win the game, but at the very least figures to not lose it, is to bank it with soft speed back under you, to the right. If you feel you have a decent amount of accuracy and cue ball control, banking it straight back to the right with loads of center-left english, and of course pocket speed, you can hang it or come close, while killing the cue ball on the foot rail. If you happen to make it, then all the better. If you miss but execute it carefully, your opponent will then be nine feet away from the only ball on the table; it will be hopefully hanging in the pocket, or better yet, close to the head rail at an angle that would only allow a four-railer. Your opponent will be forced to shoot at a difficult far away bank or have to play a delicate safety — of which many things could go wrong with. Don’t forget, even the best players in the world have a hard time playing safe when they are nine feet away.

This strategy is recommended for any meaningful situation if you have confidence in your ability to execute it. This is what you probably want to do for the big cheese.

Option #3. There is a third option for when you are “dogging it,” and your confidence is at a low level. ( There is no point in trying to be a hero when your executional skills are low on ammunition.) This is an even simpler variation of option #2. This shot is much easier to execute. In this variation you still cross over the left face of the object ball with plenty of left center-axis english, but you completely forego any attempt to make the bank. Your main goal instead is to insure that the cue ball goes off the object ball and into the long rail where it is “killed” from the left-hand english, and then drifts down to the middle of the foot rail, and hopefully stops at or near the cushion. The object ball travels down to the head rail, and probably bounces a diamond or so out off of the rail. Because your oppo is so close to the cushion, and with the object ball so far off the cushion, it will be very difficult for him to control the cue ball, and he should be unable to leave you close to the head rail no matter what he chooses to shoot. So your next shot, if he misses should be a big improvement over your previous when you were hanging in the back corner.

* For cheap money, or if you’re ten games winner, option # 1 is the fun way to go.


This is basically a One pocket shot, and it has confounded onepocketeers for a long time. Players usually take an educated guess at this shot, and they usually wind up with mixed results. It’s a strong shot to learn as it is oftentimes a free shot in both bank pool and One pocket.

To elevate your results with this shot you must learn the basic entrance angle, and then have some idea of where the object ball is going to contact the second, or long rail.

I have cited the three basic positions you will encounter when playing this two-railer.

A big key in this shot is to allow the object ball to take a natural roll the last 3 or 4 feet before it gets to the pocket.

The most important factor of course, is the math involved. To start with, think diamond to diamond, diamond 2.0 to diamond 2.0, diamond 3.0 to diamond 3.0, 2.5 to 2.5, etc.

That’s the first look. Next subtract ¼ diamond on the long rail but make no math change on the short rail. Example: diamond 1.75 on the long rail to diamond 2.0 on the short rail. The next adjustment is to always sight and shoot THRU the diamond point on the long rail. However, up until diamond 2.0 the aiming contact point on the short rail is opposite the diamond. Repeating: Up until diamond 2.0 (the middle diamond on the short rail) you aim opposite the diamond but sight thru the aiming point on the long rail.

The following are three diagrammed examples.

Diagram #1

Simply sight thru the indicated long rail diamonds to a point opposite the designated diamond count on the end rail up to diamond 2.0 (grey area).

Example A: Sight thru long rail 0.75 to opposite 1.0 on the short rail.

Example B: Sight thru long rail 1.75 to opposite 2.0 on the short rail.

Contact point on second rail is the grey area.

Bank the balls into the grey target areas on the second cushion for consistency.

Diagram #2

Once the shot lays past diamond 2.0, we now switch and shoot thru both the aiming point of the long rail and the aiming point of the short rail

Sight thru long rail diamond 2.75, thru diamond 3.0 on the short rail.

Contact point on second rail is the grey area.

Diagram #3 bonus diagram

Any shot that lies anywhere in the grey area can be made by hitting in the grey area on the short rail. You need to use an easy speed on this shot otherwise the object ball will not take a natural angle off of the long rail.

Two Rails in the Corner, Long Rail First
I am providing a mathematical solution to a shot that is difficult to visualize, by using the diamonds to chart a path to success. It basically involves multiplying whatever the starting position, diamondwise, of the cue ball on the short rail, by a variant of four to find the contact postion for the object ball on the long rail. It appears more complicated than it really is. Cue ball starting a diamond 1? Object ball contacts at diamond 4. Starting at a ½ diamond (.5)? Contact occurs at diamond 2, and so forth and so on.

Code number ratio = 1 : 4
The key ratio for these shots is one to four (1 : 4). This is to say, a starting point of
0.5 diamonds on the short, bottom rail calls for a hit at 2.0 on the first (long)
rail. (0.5 x 4 = diamond 2)

Diagram One:
Rule 1 – The short rail diamond count for these shots begins at a point opposite
the relevant diamond positions.

Rule 2 – In the lower half of the table, on the long rail, the first contact point is opposite the indicated diamonds (ie., diamonds 1 — 4).

For example, a bank that lies in the track at .75 diamonds on the short rail as indicated in the example of Bank A, requires a hit exactly opposite diamond 3.0 on the first cushion. (4 x 0.75 = 3.0)

(There is always a 1:4 ratio between the short rail starting point and the long rail contact point.)

To reiterate the formula step by step:
Compute Bank A: The calculation for a bank from opposite end rail diamond 0.75 is, .75 x 4 (1:4) = 3.0 with the contact point of the object ball sighted to the opposite point of diamond 3.0 on the first long cushion.

Compute Bank B: Likewise, a bank from opposite short rail diamond 0.5 is calculated to hit opposite diamond 2.0 ( 0.5 x 4 = 2.0) on the long rail.

1/4 tip of opposite/favoring english and a firm speed is used to insure the correct ball action off of the second rail.

Diagram Two:
Use the same 1 : 4 ratio

Rule 3 – In the upper half of the table on the long rail, sight through, rather than opposite the indicated diamonds.

So when the indicated diamond count takes you to the upper half of the table (i.e., diamonds 5 — 7) then the bank must now be sighted as if you were shooting through the cushion and into the appropriate diamond.

However, that is pretty much all that changes, because the same 1:4 ratio is used to figure banks that calculate to be played in the upper diamonds on the long rail.

Rule 4 – Short rail starting points are always opposite the diamonds.

Compute Bank C: Short rail diamond position, 1.75. 1.75 x 4 = 7. Shoot through
diamond 7.

Compute Bank D: Short rail diamond position, 1.5. 1.5 x 4 = 6. Shoot through
diamond 6.

Rule 5 – Whenever a shot doesn’t lie exactly in an easily computed path, (ie., 1.37 or 1.63, etc.) find the next closest path (ie., 1.5 x 4 = 6. Or 1.75 x 4 = 7) and shoot on a parallel line to it.

Again, use firm speed and 1/4 tip of opposite/favoring english (right english in this case) to get the proper action off the second cushion.

Three Rails in the Side. The System and Correct Ratio: 3 to 1.

Here we are again providing a mathematical solution to a multi-rail bank shot by using the diamonds to chart a way to find the winning path. It basically involves dividing whatever the starting position, diamond wise, of the cue ball on the long rail by a variant of three to find the contact position for the object ball on the other long rail. We are using a Ghost Ball in the diagram as the starting point.
Cue ball starting a diamond 3? Then the object ball must contact the cushion at diamond 1. (3d divided by 1 = 1d) Starting at a 1.5d? Object ball contact point is 0.5d on the opposite long rail. ( 1.5d divided by 3 = 0.5d) Starting point 2.25d, as in shot C? Contact point is 0.75. (2.25d divided by 3 = 0.75d)

Diagram one:
Rule one: Sight opposite diamonds on all shots.

Three in the side shots are calculated on a 3 : 1 ratio. To further reiterate, the Target Diamond on the first bank cushion is 1/3 of the starting diamond.

Shots are sighted between the centers of Ghost Balls that are exactly opposite the relative diamond positions. For example, Bank A runs from OPPOSITE diamond position 1.5 to OPPOSITE diamond position 0.5 on the first bank cushion, constituting our magical 3 to 1 ratio.
Rule two: As the angle into the first cushion diminishes you must make slight adjustments to keep the natural angle on the “go” path. The important thing is to keep the ball that is breaking off of the third rail to continue to work for you and head for the side pocket.

Therefore, on shot A to get the correct break off the third cushion you need to add two helping tips of outside, or in this case, right hand english.

Shot B, 3d to 1d. This is the most natural of all the angles. You need no english at all. The third rail break comes off perfectly.

Shot C, 2.25d to 0.75d.
This angle requires just a little help, so we only need to add one tip of outside english to get that natural third rail break.

And as I said before, the system is simpler than you might think. Set up and shoot these positions on your practice table and you will be amazed at the results.

The “Mysterious” 2 to 1 Bank angles.
Most every one knows that the basic bank angle to work from is the ubiquitous, 2 to 1 proportionate ratio. Everybody knows that. The problem arises when the shot angle falls into those gray areas when you run out of rail and cant do simple arithmetic, ie., divide the angle, etc. I have solved this by extending the table on graph paper and calculating precisely the 2 to 1 angles of those “mystery” areas.
The actual reference angles and the shooting options that will score the bank are described for posterity in these three diagrams.

Extended rail formulas:

Diagram #1 cross-side solutions:

From cushion point of diamond 1.6 to opposite diamond 2.5

Cue Ball Hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: 1 tip opposite, favoring english
Medium or firm: 1 tip opposite, favoring english (same as easy because of no “curl”)
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face
From cushion point of diamond 2.6 to opposite diamond 3.0

Cue Ball Hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: 2 tips opposite, favoring english
Medium or firm: 2 tips opposite, favoring english
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face

From cushion point of diamond 3.3 to opposite diamond 3.5

Cue Ball hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: 3 tips opposite, favoring english
Medium or firm: 3 tips opposite, favoring english
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face

Diagram #2 Extended rail, long cross-corner solutions:

From cushion point of diamond 1.6 to opposite diamond 5

Cue ball hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: 1 tip opposite, favoring english
Medium or firm: no adjustment, hit full in face
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face
From cushion point of diamond 2.6 to opposite diamond 6

Cue ball hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: 2 tips opposite, favoring english
Medium or firm: 1 tip opposite, favoring english
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face
From cushion point of diamond 3.3 to opposite diamond 7

Cue ball hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: 3 tips opposite, favoring english
Medium or firm: 2 tips opposite, favoring english
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face
Diagram # 3 Extended rail straight-back solutions:
(leave object balls at least ½ rail to prevent kiss)

From cushion point of diamond 3.3 to opposite diamond 2.5

Cue ball hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: no adjustment, hit full in face
Medium or firm: 1 tip opposite, favoring english
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face
From cushion point of diamond 5.4 to opposite diamond 3

Cue ball hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: no adjustment, hit full in face
Medium or firm: 1 tip opposite, favoring english
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face
From cushion point of diamond 6.8 to opposite diamond 3.5

Cue ball hit = center axis, ½ tip above or below center
Speed of stroke:
Easy or soft: no adjustment, hit full in face
Medium or firm: 1 tip opposite, favoring english
Hard: no adjustment, hit full in face


The cloth is put on a table with the nap, or threads or grain of the cloth, running
between the end or short rails. The cloth should be installed with the grain running
toward the foot of the table (where you rack the balls). This end of the table is
known (especially to Three Cushion billiard players) as the long end of the table.
Long end and short end, are billiard terms, and refer to the fact that a ball rolling
slowly toward the corner coming off the long rail rolls long to the short rail on the
long end and short toward the long rail on the short end. See diagram # 1

When a ball rolls toward the long end of the table, you are going with the grain
of the cloth. Conversely, a ball rolling toward the head of the table will be going
against the grain and toward the short end of the table. A ball traveling with the
grain moves slightly faster than when it rolls against the grain.

A ball rolling between the side rails slows up quicker than it would between the end
rails because it is running across the grain or nap. That’s why balls tend to freeze
to the long rails more so than to the short rails. Think of the ball going bump-bump
across railroad tracks and the last track then hampering the ball from coming
unfrozen and locking the ball into the rail.

These allowances are a factor to be considered even with the new so-called, “non-directional”

There are several easy ways to immediately determine the long and short end of
any table. Probably the simplest test is to shoot the cue ball out of the corner three
rails to the opposite corner. Shooting out of a corner, aim at approximately 2-1/2
diamonds on the first-rail with favoring english. Shoot the same shot out of all four
corners and note the results. Coming slowly off the third rail, you will notice that
the ball will begin to favor rolling to either the end rail or the side rail. If the ball
favors or tilts toward the long rail that is the short end of the table. If the ball
begins to seek the short or end rail, that will be the long end of the table.
All of this presumes that the table is relatively level.

Diagrams # 2 and # 3 show the approximate effects of slowing rolling cross-corner and straight-back bank shots on a relatively level table, being influenced by the short and long end of the table.

The Beard’s Speedo Bank Pool Rules


1. Fifteen balls are racked and must be broken wide open like nine ball. Safe breaks

are not allowed. If a ball is made on the break without a scratch, the ball(s) is spotted

and the shooter continues.

2. Draw lines between the points of the two side pockets. Then draw lines between

the outer points of the corners on each short rail. These are the 3 balk areas.

3. After the break, balk area spot up rules go into effect, as follows:

a. Spot all balls that lie inside the 3 balk areas.

b. Any ball touching a balk line is considered in balk.

c. Balls made on the break are spotted immediately. All other balls

are spotted after each shooter’s inning.

d. After the breaker’s inning, continue to spot up balls that lie in the

balk areas, all balls pocketed illegally and any balls that jumped

the table.

e. These rules remain in effect as long as there are 8 or more balls

on the table.

f. When there are 7 balls or less in play, the game reverts to

standard BANK POOL rules, where balls are spotted normally

and the balk rules are discontinued.

4. Nine Ball Banks: All the above rules apply except that the balls required to

nullify the balk area spot up rules is reduced to 5 instead of 8.

One Pocket

Clik for the Beard’s interview by Steve Booth of

One Pocket Concepts
Pursuing the right PHILOSOPHY of learning:
We are first going to address the philosophy of learning. It’s the pure way to go. Unfortunately, few players have the dedication and commitment to pay the necessary dues to learn. They want it all, but do not want to give up anything for it. They think it’s possible to be great players without ever booking a loser along the way. Some do make it that way, but their careers seem to fizzle out early. The great ones, like Efren, Grady, Bugs, Jersey Red, CornBread, Ronnie, Denny Searcy, etc., all played with a competitive passion and sought out the toughest competition. That’s why to beat them you had to have the nuts, and most of the time, even the nuts wasn’t enough. Their philosophy was excellence for its own sake, rather than as a vehicle to rob people. Beating people comes as a natural result of excellence, or as the sorcerer, Carlos Casteneda would say, impeccability; but it is not the ultimate goal. I stopped giving paying lessons to several good players once I realized that they just wanted to learn enough to improve and sneak up on their customers, rather than to be the best they could be. As far as I was concerned, their motives were not noble enough. Even though I was a dyed-in-the-wool, cold-blooded, merciless pool hustler during my career, and I beat plenty of suckers, the difference was, I did it to survive, pay rent, bills, and to provide me with the funds to challenge the big boys and keep testing myself. In truth, I hated sucker action.
Remember the Kung fu movies? Just wanting to be a student is not enough. You have to somehow enroll the Master into your quest. I was lucky. My mentor, Gene “The Fullerton Kid” Skinner took pity on me in Bensingers after he seen me getting broke playing weak One pocket players, and he took me under his wing.
The path and quest for knowledge is endless, even for me. As I provide access to knowledge for others, more knowledge opens up for me. The process of teaching itself, winds up revealing more and more to the teacher. In the attempt to make the explanations simple for the student, new ideas and insights pop into consciousness. Most of us have played by practice, repetition, and instinct, including me. It’s when you delve into why you have done certain things a certain way, is when the epiphany’s occur. The more I teach the more I learn. Come along for the ride.
The Elusive, Mystical, “Concepts of One Pocket”
To refer to concepts as mystical is not too far from the truth. That’s the main reason I am so careful about going into the subject. People without an open mind will secretly laugh and knock you behind your back. The fact that they never acquire the knowledge is the best punishment for them. I am only concerned with enlightening those with an open, no agenda mind.
However, the first rational element to consider is “the score,” and positional situations must be included when determining “the score.” If the ball count is 0-0 and my opponent has his pocket loaded up, and mine is clean as a hound’s tooth, I am losing at that point. 0 to 0 is not a realistic assessment of the situation. Keep this thought in mind, whoever breaks and doesn’t sell out a shot is “winning” at that point. The incoming player who is now on defense, is behind or “losing.” He should be looking to take reasonable chances to try to turn the break around. If there are none, he should attempt to passively stall off anything worse happening for at least the next inning by taking a deliberate scratch in the stack, or just rolling the cue ball up table. When the original breaker comes back to the table with a still superior position, he should be looking for solid, high percentage moves to solidify or improve his advantage.
Another example: I am winning 3 balls to 0, but my opponent has me behind a ball, and his pocket is loaded with a ball hanging. In reality, am I still ahead?
The most simple solution to shot choice in One Pocket, and a real key to the game is: “When you are behind, look to shoot or take chances. When you are ahead, play conservative and avoid taking unnecessary chances. When you are even, play good favorable percentage shots.”
Those are the only rational factors that should determine your shot selection. You should retain this adherence to percentages throughout the game.
A Secret of One Pocket

Next, is what I think of as a secret, or important concept of One pocket, and probably all the other pool games also. I call it a secret because I have observed it in many fewer players than you would think. The best way to prove it, is for you to observe it yourself. I was taught it by Gene Skinner, and I later watched Ronnie Allen, Bugs, Cornbread Red and other successful pool killers employ and rely on it. I’m not so much in tune anymore with today’s player, but I would suggest you observe, Cliff Joyner and Scott Frost for today’s examples.

They utilize it for sure, and that’s whether or not they consciously realize that they are doing it, and what it is that they are doing. Everybody with any common sense knows pretty much what to do in ordinary situations in One pocket. That can all be easily taught. You don’t need me for that. What separates the good from the exceptional, is what I am trying to relate. I will try to describe this through some examples.

When a player gets a tough shot, or is put in a terrible situation, with only a marginal chance of making the shot or getting out of the trap, the normal human reaction to that plight, is fear, anxiety, doubt, and rightly so. Plus, those feelings are directly proportional to the added pressures of the particular game situation. Albeit, just how much is riding on the game? Key game in a big money session or tournament match? The enlightened player takes on a different perspective. He realizes his situation is near hopeless and desperate, so he takes a rational, practical approach. Fear, anxiety and doubt is not going to help an already low percentage situation. Plus, those feelings are there, they are real, and they ain’t going to go away. The enlightened player acknowledges them, but doesn’t try to fight them off, he just shifts into another place. The key is to accept and consider the absolute worst thing that could happen. Next, make peace with the horror and then look for the positive elements. What are some of them? One, he is not expected to produce in these circumstances. If he is shooting at a shot where the odds are prohibitive against him, if he misses he won’t be embarrassed. That alone should remove some pressure. Next, if he somehow comes with the shot and makes it, his opponent may feel disparate, frustrated, and probably intimidated. So the player can reap the rewards of success at little cost to himself, since he was probably going to lose anyway. “I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”

Base every difficult shot situation on this premise and you will go a long way.

To reiterate, when you are ahead, play conservative and only take high percentage shots, and when you are behind, there is no such thing as a low percentage shot. Take this principle to the extremes.
Example: After your opponent breaks the balls successfully, you are now behind, so act accordingly, and go all out on whatever you have to do. If you have to shoot a sellout bank to get out of the trap, don’t wallow in considerations, but instead shoot the shot with verve and gusto. You will never get better advice than that. Wouldn’t that be more fun then agonizing over the shot that you have to shoot anyway?
The above actually is a decent definition of the concept. If a guy just followed that advice diligently he would do OK. Obviously, to get the real power out of that advice you would need to go deeper. Top One pocket players, if they like you, will usually give you that much to work with.

Singleness of purpose and total commitment.
That means to forget about everything but making and succeeding with the shot. 100% effort is required, which means that you don’t waste any percentage of your effort by compromising and wasting some of your power trying, and hoping, to maybe get safe in case you miss it. (“Gotta shoot it like you mean it.”) Remember, you have already made peace with missing the shot and losing, those thoughts and considerations are all behind you.

OK, now here is where the mysticism and the real power comes in:

The very fact that you have made peace with the consequences, and have now committed totally, opens up some, “Joss,” “Positive karma,” “Power of prayer,” “Guardian angel,” “Oneness with the Universe,” etc., or whatever — that will provide assistance, and help you to your goal!

The shot actually becomes easier! The odds against, are not valid! Odds, begone! To speak quantitatively, if the shot is normally 5 or 10 to 1 against, you can throw those odds out the window. The odds are reduced proportionately, according to the amount of your concentration and commitment. That’s the real reason Ronnie Allen, Bugs and Efren could make those incredible shots to get out of “death traps.”

Piggy Banks Cross Corner, a very strong OnePocket shot from my DVD Banks That Don’t Go -But Do!

Glen “Piggy Banks” Rogers’ specialty shot

The One Pocket Break
It you ever intend to gamble playing One Pocket, it would be a profitable, lifetime rule, to never give up the break when you are spotting someone. The only exception to this rule is when you are spotting a very weak player who cannot run over 3 balls and can’t make any long shots. I stopped giving up the break very early in my hustling career. It’s just too hard to break someone down. Every time that you win a tough game your opponent can become re-energized and re- motivated because it is again his break; plus, he might make a ball on the break, or break so good that you can’t get out of the trap. You can never get up any real momentum unless your opponent is a complete dog. Reverse the situation: Imagine that you just won a heroic game and snatched victory from defeat, and now it is your break! How would that sit psychologically with your opponent? It is much better to spot your opponent 9 to 7 or 10 to 8, or one game 9 to 7 and the next 10 to 8, and alternate breaks. Over a long session, fighting against the break will drain you like a sewer. Nine ball is even worse. Greg Stevens would give the world the 6,7,8 and 9 but he would take the break! I tried it with him. It was no good, and I could spot him a ball, 9 to 8, playing banks. Cliff Joyner gives up gigantic spots, but if you notice, it is usually break apiece.

Side note: IMO the greatest player getting out of the break was Artie Bodendorfer. Followed in no particular order by Bugs Rucker, Ronnie Allen and Efren Reyes. Unless you play like those guys you had better play break apiece.

Situational percentage critique in One Pocket

Your opponent has made a very good break, but he leaves you a bank that is about even money to make. Even if you make it you will probably not run all the way out. Should you go for it, or elect to play a more conservative safety?

This is strategy I wouldn’t have given up to my mother 10 years ago. Look it over good, because the next time you see it, it will be in a book I am going to write on One Pocket, and people will be paying for that advice. To explain it mathematically, even money is a 50/50 proposition. 50/50 means you should do it one out of two tries. So 1/2 the time you will make the bank and maybe run 1 or 2 more balls and then play a move or a safety. Once in awhile you will run all the out, but a good average for the situation is that you become a 6 to 5 favorite at the minimum after making the shot. 6 to 5 broke down over a hundred games will win you about 55 games and lose 45. If you miss, sometimes your opponent will run all the way out, and sometimes he will only get 2, 3 or 4 balls. A good average for that situation would be that your opponent becomes a 2 to 1 favorite to win. Over a hundred games he would win 67 and you would win 33. So over a 200 game run you would win about 88 games and lose 112 and come out 24 games behind for the whole deal. But let’s say you decide to not shoot and instead play passively against a strong break. A strong break unanswered would install your opponent as about at least a 7 to 5 favorite. That means over 100 games he would win about 59 and you would win 41. Take the proportion to 200 games and he would win 118 games and you would win 82. He would come 36 games ahead. So you would lose 12 more games by playing safe then by going for the bank shot. Keep in mind there was no way you could come out ahead in the proposition no matter which path you chose, you were just too far behind because of the bad position his good break put you in. However, taking the aggressive track would minimize your losses.

One more thing, the very fact of knowing that the shot is the right way to go, will give you a little extra confidence to bring the shot. You won’t be shooting it with doubtful dread.

Playing the Wedge: (especially when you are behind in the score)

When the balls are over-clustered on his side on the back rail, the simplest solution is to keep thinning and clumping them even further together. No banks go for him and he has no real advantage at this point. It can even be a disadvantage because all the banking lanes to his pocket are closed. I try to keep thinning until I can make one in that back pocket, get it spotted up and hide the cue ball or jack him up so he cant shoot the ball safe off the spot. The plan is to get two balls up on the spot where it becomes even more difficult to move them safely. Keep in mind, where ever those balls land, your banking lanes are all open. With other balls loose on the table that cluster now becomes a liability. It is, of course, a tedious process and takes much patience. But it is much easier to be patient when you have a plan in place.

Requirements, and more advice for success:
Here are some positive thoughts to keep in mind to overpower the negative ones. Memorize them all.
“Scared money can’t win.”
“Gotta shoot it like you mean it.”
“I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
“Fast and loose.”
“Here we go!”
That’s what Ronnie Allen used to tell his backers when he was about to shoot a give-up shot, betting the whole game on it.
Here’s one from Shakespeare, while not politically correct, has a rational point to be learned.
“If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” If we consider that statement in its analogous form, and in relation to what we are talking about, I am suggesting that a healthy way to deal with a difficult, pressure-packed situation in pool, is to do the opposite of what people expect you to do, and that is, to enjoy the experience! Cases in point: My revelation in pool came while I was observing Ronnie Allen and Bugs Rucker, and their behavior when confronted with make or break, game situations. Once they made a decision to shoot, they displayed no hesitation, trepidation, or fear. “Fast and loose.” It seemed as if they were actually enjoying themselves, and the wonder of their abilities. They realized the importance of their plight, and were considering just how good it was going to feel to be able to perform admirably under such duress. “I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
They looked upon things not as an ordeal, but as a challenge, and as Ronnie Allen would say, “Here we go!”

The Beard’s Speedo One Pocket Rules

These rules are Trademarked

1.__ Draw a balk line from diamond one on long rail to diamond one on short rail
on both sides of the table. This will be designated Balk Area 1.

2.__ Draw another set of diagonal balk lines between the points of the back corner
pockets. This will be designated Balk Area 2.
a. ____When there are less than 8 balls on the table the balk area recedes to the
smaller space between the points of the corner pockets, designated Balk Area 2,
and we now spot only the balls that lie in that smaller space.

3. __When there are 8 balls or more on the table and they have all traveled past
the second diamond at the foot of the table, the 3 balls closest to the head
rail are to be spotted up except in cases where balls are in balk. Balls in balk
will always have precedence in the spotting order.
a. ____If a ball is pocketed in a non–scoring pocket by the outgoing player, it is
placed on the foot spot and that in itself constitutes a ball outside the balk
area and no other balls need to be spotted.
b.____ If more than 3 balls qualify to be spotted up, the order of preference is:
(1.) _____Any ball pocketed in a neutral pocket
(2.) _____All balls within Balk Area 2
(3.) _____All balls within Balk Area 1.
(4.) _____Balls closest to the back rail.
(5.) _____If balls are equally located the low numbered ball is spotted.
c. ____No more than 3 balls can be spotted altogether.

Handling Backers

Is staking a pool player that much different from betting on a football game or a horse race? Do you actually think you are always getting a fair shake out of your team, or some jockey? Yeah sure. Staking is just like betting on a sporting event, only a little more personal, and with maybe a little more the worst of it percentage wise. Giving up 50% as a backer, as opposed to giving up 20% betting a horse or bucking a sports line laying 120 to 100.

The connection between a stake horse and his player is much more intense and exciting then that between a sports bettor and his “team.” Once I learned that, I became very comfortable with backers. I used to approach getting staked from the point of view of “protecting the backers money.” Even more so than my own. Wrong. Very wrong, and as a consequence I didn’t often get staked. When I finally got woken up by the backer master, Peter “Rabbit” Linhardt, who said that the reason backers stake you, is so that they can participate vicariously in what they can’t, or are afraid to do themselves, is when my backer experience turned into a plus.

Armed with that knowledge, I began shooting at my hole more when I was getting staked. Backers don’t want you to nit and bunt, they can do that all by themselves.

I often think of the great backer accumulator Ronnie Allen, who, when he was going to shoot at one of his patented, hum-dinger moon-shots; he would look over at the stake horse, and sadistically light him up with a hearty, “Here we go!” Needless to say, his backers loved it.

I opened up my best stakehorse, the porno producer, Mike Weldon, with a string of eleven losses in a row before I finally beat somebody. “Fortunately” for me, I wasn’t a very conservative game maker, and I fed him a steady diet of world beaters in those losses. Ronnie Allen, Richie Florence, Jimmy Marino, Jimmy Reid, Cecil Tugwell, etc. The thrill of those matches served to keep Mike’s adrenalin and interest, alive and flowing.