To the beginning player, pocketing as many balls as possible each time he/she is at the pool table is their primary objective. This basic strategy quickly fails the first time that player comes up against someone more experienced and knowledgeable than they are. Here I’m going to share 8 tips to help you win more 8 ball games.
1- Don’t shoot the ducks first! While it is tempting to pocket any hangers to start your run, they are deceptive in they are easy to pocket (you can hit almost anywhere on the object ball and it goes!) but difficult to get precise position off of. Additionally, each ball you pocket makes it progressively easier for your opponent to run out when he/she gets to the table.
2- Study the table. Watch any advanced or pro player and the first thing they do after the break shot is walk at least 1 full lap around the table. What are you looking for when you do this? Check to see if every one of your balls has a clear unobstructed path to at least one pocket. If all of them go to a pocket unobstructed, congratulations! You have a duck pond.Running these out is just a matter of pocketing the balls, and getting good position for the next. Typically, there is a problem cluster or two. Examine them closely to devise an approach for breaking them apart or for a safety play later in your inning. If the table is open, look at both solids and stripes to determine which suit has a better lay out for your plan.
3- Come up with a plan based on the current layout of the table. Surprises come up for even the best players. Too much or too little speed or spin sends the cue ball to unexpected places. The plan may change at any time and it should not always be a plan to run out.
4- Keep cue ball movement to a minimum. I’ve seen strong 9 ball players fail miserably at 8 ball simply because they play both games the same way. Moves like 3 rail position shots, jump shots, and full table draw shots should not come up that often in 8 ball as they do in 9 ball.
5- Divide the table up in to segments. Some players will quarter the table, others divide it into 3rds. Experiment to see what works best for you. Choose which area to attack first and pay close attention to your transition shots where you will move the cue ball from one area to the next. This approach helps with suggestion 4, minimizing cue ball movement.
6- Choose the key ball before you shoot your first shot. Your key ball is your last solid/stripe to pocket before shooting the 8 for the win. It is usually closest to the 8 ball but not always.
7- Attack problem balls and clusters sooner than later. Waiting on your opponent to act on them is a big mistake in most situations.
8- Insurance. Remember the duck(s) you didn’t shoot to start your run? Those easy shots are your ticket to keep running if or when a cluster busting shot doesn’t go as planned.
8 Ball played at its highest level looks ridiculously easy. A stop shot here ,a little follow shot there, a soft draw shot occasionally and the next thing you know the rack has been run. Sure, you might see a bank or kick shot every now and then, but if you find you are having to make spectacular shots with any frequency you’re doing it wrong.