3-Rail Kicks: The Short Rail System

As I mentioned in my last entry, Saturday night I learned 2 different 3-rail kicking systems.  The first one, which I'll refer to as the "Short-Rail-System" (SRS), is depicted below.

The system is based on 3 simple paths: Along the target short rail: near diamond, middle diamond, far diamond.  To get to these three points, you aim for a relative set of three points along the starting short rail.  As the cue ball moves up and down the long rail, you adjust the contact point of the starting short rail accordingly.  It's much like a slide-rule actually.  I'm leaving out the specific details because it's not my system to teach; although I'm sure it exists by other various names, the person who taught it to me claims it's his in design, so I won't spoil the info if he wishes to publish it.

I will say that when hit properly and with a bit of table luck, it's 98% accurate, and as such while I was learning this system, I was given this challenge.  Hit the 5 going 3-rails.  I recognized that this was a 2-way shot: Aim to hit it thin, chance to make it - if not, the CB will probably go elsewhere.  I took my time, lined up, made the distance adjustments and hit the shot.  I made the 5 on my first attempt. 

(Here's a jpg of the diagram for those shockwave-challenged viewers)

I also learned the basics of the diamond system and the clock system.  The clock system is something I'm really excited about - specific to my game by way of safety-plays. :)  Now, when I play the safety dance game I'll have 2 systems to exercise, not just educated guesses. :)

I have to admit though, with my mathematical enthusiasm, I'm a little disappointed in myself for not devising on my own some of these patterns.  I knew that existed, I could see them - but I never took the time to study them to put them in order.  I will rectify this when I notice the next thing.


Filed Under: General · Training

Late Night Pool

So, last night I headed over to The Break for the first time.  I got there around 10ish and around 11:30 Gene arrived and we played until about 6 in the morning. :)  It was a good time - and very informative.  He showed me a couple of 2 and 3 rail kicking/banking system - as well as a 3-cushion system that will be extremely useful for playing safeties regular pool.

I would share them, but I don't have them down 100% just yet and I don't want to describe them incorrectly.

Now, I'm going to watch the WPBA Regional Tour live stream and relax for a while.


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It'll Get Worse Before It Gets Better

At least, that's what I'm hoping right now.  My game has been on the low-end of terrible for the last couple of weeks.  I think it's because I've finally settled in on a comfortable stance and am focusing more on position than making the ball.  This is just as wrong as focusing on making the ball and not thinking about position.  The only good part about all of this is that when I miss, it usually rattles, but I nearly always get position.  So, I'm close - very close to getting both aspects.

It's very, very frustrating though.

I've also discovered a new flaw: my line of sight isn't always where my cue is going.  I haven't been able to pinpoint the exact types of shots when this happens, but it's only a select few.  Having the cueball frozen on the rail with the object more than half a table away is one such example.

I think what is happening is that I'm focusing too much on the cueball during my final stroke.  I constantly watch my stick during a few of the warm-up strokes to make sure I'm straight (as I'm not always due to my new stance) - and then once I am, I go back to my object ball's contact point.  I think I'm losing sight of the spot while I'm straightening myself out.  I have to rebuild my muscle-memory in my stroking arm.

As such, I'm now incorporating this practice technique into my warmup routine:

I've also been working a few new drills this week:

The Long Shot Off-The-Rail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsGFc0puuBI

A 9-ball situational drill:

Liz Ford's Single Shot Drills. (which are deceptively difficult, in my opinion.)

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Filed Under: Training

[Pool Synergy] Your Favorite Pool Player

I don't have a personal entry this month, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go read all the excellent articles in this month's issue of Pool Synergy!


Filed Under: Pool Synergy

Strategic Differences

I had my second league night last night and it went much better - meaning I wasn't asked to dumb it down any.  Even so, I still only went 1-1.  Oh well, it was a good night.

I noticed something about my own strategic process last night.

I had this layout last night: (or very close to it, based on memory)

It was my shot and I had ball in hand.  As I was looking around the table, I thought I'd start with position A, sink the 3, then the 6, and either play safe with a breakout, or possibly breakout the 5/7 on the 6. But before I could even set the CB down, a senior member comes over and says to play position B - shoot the 4 off the 12, breaking out the 2, while drawing back for the 3 and starting my original plan there.

I understand that breaking out clusters is very important - I also understand that this was not a rack I was going to run-out on, so I didn't want to free up my opponent's ball - but I don't think I would've ever saw that shot.  I always try to break out clusters through caroming with the cue ball off a shot.  It's risky, I know - but I'd rather be at the table with a risky shot, than miss because I was trying to carom/break-out with the object ball.

I've spotted another big difference: playing a safety by sinking your opponent's ball.  I can't remember the exact situation, but the most suggested move was to carom off my ball to make the opponents, leaving him totally snookered with nothing to shoot at.  I would never intentionally make the opponent's ball.  "There has to be another way to get safe." is what my brain says.

Maybe it's a league thing? Maybe it's an 8-ball thing?  I don't know for sure, but it's interesting to learn the little tricks.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · Training

Aquatic Billiards

This just found it's way onto my browser, and now I must present to you all, just in case you haven't seen it:

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Straight Pool High Run

Since I have nothing good to say about pool today, I'll just post here for historical reasons that I have a new "high" run in straight pool.  Now, we weren't playing 14.1 - so it doesn't really count, but full-rack straight pool isn't a totally different animal. 

Anyway, last week after some terrible 9-ball, we decided to play straight pool just for fun.  I broke the rack and started shooting. I tried to chip away at rows of balls in such a way to continue, making sure that if I got out of line, there was an alternate ball to bring me back. Before I knew it there was only 5 balls left on the table, so then I focused on position and ran the last 5.  Racked, broke, made a ball and kept on shooting.  Unfortunately, I got a little too excited and missed a fairly easy shot to end my high run at a lowly 20.  But... it's better than before, so I'm happy with it.

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Filed Under: 14.1

New Game Experience: 3-Cushion

Today at the pool hall, there was no one there.  I watched some guys play 3-cushion (English Billiards) for a while, and then realized they had left the balls on the other 3C table.  So... I took it upon myself to give this game a try.  I've always enjoyed watching people play and it's such a "puzzle-solving" type of game. I really like it - in theory.

I shot around on the table for about an hour - but was able to make about 10 points.  That's not good, in case you were wondering because I probably shot close to 50 shots.  So, 20% completion is not good.  However, allow me to toot my own horn, I'm quite happy with it considering I've never so much as hit a ball on a 3C table before.

For those of you that don't know what 3-Cushion is, it's simple:  Using either the white or yellow ball as your "cue ball", you must make the cue ball hit at least 3 rails (cushions) before contacting both balls.  Traditionally, the shot is played by hitting one of the balls, traveling 3 (or more) rails then contacting the 3rd ball.  The table is 10 by 5 feet in size so some of the usual angles I'd be used to are different.  Also, the balls are about 15-20% bigger than a standard pool balls; which means they are heavier.  However, getting a ball to travel 5 rails after contact is a little easier.  This particular table is not heated, there is a heated 3C table which makes the balls travel quite a bit faster, so getting 6+ rails is entirely possible, although rarely necessary.

I am seriously considering taking a few lessons from the local instructor on 3-Cushion.  I can sit there and hit balls all day and try and learn some of the patterns on my own; which I do really enjoy doing - but I think it would be of great help to have someone to guide my learning.  It's very affordable too, so this is much more likely to happen than taking him up on the 9-ball tutoring he initially offered.

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Wherein the protangonist ponders the morality of league play

So, as my previous entry states, I joined a league.  Now, one of the many reasons I've avoided joining a league was the variety of stories involving sandbagging.  Well, to make a really long [and familiar to anyone who's ever played in a league] story short, this came up on my first night in a league.

Since I'm new to the league, I started at a "non-rated 4" - which means that each week my rating will go up and down based on my performance of the previous week. My team has two 7's, a 6, and three 5's - then me.  They're wanting me to stay around a 4. I should be a 5 for sure, based on watching the other 5's play and how I played against them while waiting for my own matches.

Even if I was only a 4, I wouldn't mind so much because I can still play - and play to win.  Apparently, the majority of this season, I need to try and stay around a 4.  That means losing more than winning.  Now, if I'm playing other 7's and whatnot, losing will probably come naturally; but in the case of last night - a bunch of 2's - losing is hard to do. 

I joined the league to play - and play well. Not play badly so that I/we can do well in the finals.  What does it matter if we're all high-ranked?  okay, okay, so there's a limit on the number of 'good' players you put out there for each round, but we have two 7's, so just about any combination of players works for each round.  I just fail to see how 'staying under' benefits anyone.

I made it clear, from the first time they talked to me that I wasn't comfortable with dogging things on purpose - so being asked "do everything you can to lose" doesn't sit real well with me.  The guy said this was a very, very rare situation - having such a bad team of opponents.  So... we'll see how it goes.

I said I'd come back next week, but if I'm asked to play down every match, I'm walking.

Where's a BCA league when ya need one?  C'mon St. Louis isn't that damn small, we need a real league here.  The APA is riddled with the same bullshit.

And for the record, I won both of my matches last night.  I even tried to leave easy runs, easy shots, hell I even found ways to foul - but you can't depend on a 2 to make any shot. *sigh*


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I've joined a league!

So, long story short, a guy approached me over the weekend asking if I'd be interested in joining his league team. They need a 7th and he's noticed me playing over the last few months and thought he should ask.  After a bunch of internal debating, I've decided to go ahead and do it - but not without making a list of pros/cons:

  1. Meeting new people.
  2. Playing new people.
  3. Learning how to deal with pressure.
  4. Learning different patterns.
  5. I'm playing with 3 other 5s, a 6 and 2 7's. I'll start as an "unrated 4" and be adjusted from there.
  6. Nearly all the tournaments in this town are on bar-boxes, so getting used to this should mean I could make some progress towards getting into the money zone.
  1. It's 8-ball.
  2. It's on bar-boxes
  3. It's on Tuesday nights
  4. It's a single-game per person format, no "sets" in between players. A break'n'run might be the only thing I see during my game.
  5. It might mess with my 9-ball game on the 9 footers I'm trying to get into on Monday nights.
All of the pros I mention fall under the goals I listed a few weeks ago, so... while it might not be an idea solution, it is the best currently on the table.  So... for the next 14 weeks (starting tonight) I'll be an 8-ball bar-box player on tuesdays.

I went to the hall last night to try the game. and a) twice as many balls on b) a table that's considerably smaller makes for a really cramped looking layout after the break.

They don't seem to keep score or track info like they do in the APA, but I will be tracking my own progress, for sure.  I finally printed off a nice new stat-track sheet, made a bunch of copies and put them in a binder for easy carrying. 

If anyone is interested, this is Missouri 8-Ball I'm talking about.  This is not part of the APA.

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