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One-Pocket Strategies


In One-Pocket, there are only two ways to get a straight forward shot at your pocket with the possibility of making additional balls. The first is if your oponent makes a mistake (a failed safety or a missed shot). The second is if you pull off something really strong such as a tough bank, a carom or by finding a dead shot out of the stack. By stack here I mean the group of close balls by the head spot remaining from the opening break. In any case, if you're playing a good player it doesn't happen very often. The key is to maximize your return when these opportunities do come up.

For instance, in the diagram you just made a great long rail bank with the object ball rolling nicely past the 3 ball. The only reason you attempted this difficult shot was that you were sure that you could draw the cue ball safely to your opponent's side of the stack where there was no makeable bank.

Playing the balls in the right order could make the difference between getting 2 or 3 and winning the game. Often we are inclined to play position on an open ball near the one we're shooting at. I am not saying that what I will describe is the only way to play this table, mostly I just want to encourage you to think far enough ahead so you can maximize your returns. In the graphic, the 1 is blocked by the 8 ball making the 2 your only shot to begin with. It may be tricky, but possible to hold the cue ball for the 6 on the foot rail. A nice thing about this idea if that if you fail and roll too far for the 6, you may now have the shot on the 1. But then what? It's not possible to make the 1 without glancing into the 8. End of run.

To succeed at this game, you will need to think through your decisions to give yourself the best chance to get all available balls. Try this: medium stroke with running english on the 2 and go two rails and out for the 3. If you come up a little short you will have your choice between the 7 and the 5. If you go too long to make the 3 and hold the cue ball for either of those, you can drift back towards your opponent's hole for the 6. But if things go right you will get the 2, 3, 7, 5, bump the 10/15 to open up the 4 and even move the 14 toward your hole. Your ball count is now 7 and the 1 and 6 balls (and probably more) are still open to your pocket. Adios amigo. Obviously, this isn't the only way and even my first example of the 2 and then the 1 could work if the cue ball caroms off the 8 into the 11 and moves it enough to open a shot on the 14. The point is to take the time to think about what pattern is the most likely to succeed.

Generally, it is loosely recommended to play the open balls starting with the ones farthest from your hole and work your way in. I try to follow this principal but will make exceptions through the rack. I will often try to get the open balls by my opponent's hole (in case I don't get out I won't leave ducks) if I think I can get from there to the other open balls. I can tell you that it's sort of frustrating to finally force an error and not get all the available balls. This can lead to the common mistake of forcing a shot that you missed ideal position on to keep a run going. Better to accept the spot you're in and duck rather than missing a low percentage shot and losing the game. A piece of advice that will serve you well: never take a shot that you can lose with if you miss but can't win with even if you make it. An exception to this is to take an unmissable shot if it comes with position for a strong aggressive safety.
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