Clik for the Beard’s interview by Steve Booth of OnePocket.org
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.”
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
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.