Sharks and Sharking

For those of you who are not familiar with these pool terms here is what they mean.

Shark- a person (usually a better player) who lies in wait for a game they know they will win, unlike a hustler who will underplay his skill to get you to play. A shark is a predator and at no time does he/she play the victim. A hustler lets you think you are the shark.  In short the difference between the two is that you choose the hustler, but the shark chooses you.

Sharking- distracting your opponent or doing something to intentionally hurt their chances of winning that would be considered immoral, unethical or out right against the rules. There are a million different sharking techniques, some of which I will list on here later.

For the purpose of this post it is important that you know the difference, today I am mainly talking about Sharking techniques and how to deal with them, not how to deal with pool sharks. (we can discuss that later!)

It strikes me odd that it is called “sharking”.  Because when a shark does his thing he isn’t necessarily “sharking” someone, and someone who is sharking isn’t necessarily a shark!  Recently on a forum I frequent they were talking about whether or not a person was being sharked by this other players actions.  I noticed right away by the peoples response who would be easy to shark and who wouldn’t.  Not that I condone it, in fact I used to really let it bother me that people felt they had to do it against me.

 

 

 

So, what do you do if you are being sharked by someone? Get mad? Most do, and end up losing because of it. I have found that the best defense against someone’s sharking tactics is a good sense of humor. I recently played a guy in league that was making blatant sharking moves against me. He would pick up the chalk off the table after he missed and take it with him to his seat (it was not his), he would move all of my stuff on the table while I was shooting, he constantly coughed while I pulled the trigger on almost every shot, he would jingle his quarters when I was shooting the money ball and he made sure he was in my line of sight on almost every shot!

Normally this would have pissed me off, but it was so obvious that it cracked me up. And whats more is that this guy was one of  if  not the best player in the league. So it occurred to me that I must be making him sweat and he feels that he needs to get a edge to beat me. Then something happened that made me take notice. I realized that once he noticed that his sharking moves were not working on me he got worried, his focus was gone and his confidence shriveled.  In a sense, he sharked himself!

 

Right then and there I learned that the best way to deal with this type of behavior is to realize that it’s a weakness on their part. They feel they need to do it to win, and when it doesn’t work they fall apart. Look at it this way, if they feel that they need to shark you then that means that they think you are better then they are.  It’s a compliment in a weird twisted sort of way! So laugh it off, keep you’re sense of humor and watch them squirm!

 

Here are some sharking tactics I have seen over the years, what are some that you have came across?

 

–The classic unscrewing of the cue as you shoot the money ball.

–Jingling pocket change as you shoot.

–Talking to you during you’re stroke (not always a shark but some do this on purpose)

–Excessive slow play.

–Farting! Yep, I played a guy once that seemed to fart every time he missed, I learned to take my time before approaching the table!

–Moistening the chalk to cause a miscue.

–Cleavage! Several women I know have been guilty of this one!

–Intimidation or trying to bully someone. I haven’t had this one tried on me since I was a kid, I’m 6’2″ now and about 220 lbs!

Those are just a few, there is literally no limit to what some people will do to shark you. Just roll with the punches and take it all in stride and remember, it’s their weakness, don’t let it become yours.

 

9 Ball Break

How do you break the nine? All out power? Finesse and control? Hit hard and hope like hell? Personally I like the pop and squat method. Sounds weird I know, but it is effective.

First, I place the cue ball on the head string about 5 inches right of center. (this position along the head string may change depending on my success but it will stay on the head string.) Then I center my tip on the vertical and horizontal center of the cue ball and raise it about 1/4 tip. Then I raise the butt end of my cue about 5-10 degrees. Aim for the center of the one ball and fire. I use a smooth power stroke, almost throwing the cue into the cue ball. I want my mechanics fluid and not tense so I don’t try to kill the ball. Just concentrating on speed and accuracy.  The power will be there, you don’t have to force it.

If all goes well and I get a perfectly centered hit my cue ball will pop up into the air just a bit, long enough for the nine ball and a few others to clear the rack area, and the cue ball will land and stay close to the center of the table. The out come of this break if properly executed is good cue ball position, a wing ball pocketed and a shot on the one ball.

If you having trouble pocketing the wing ball try moving the cue ball away from the center of the table, staying along the head string.

A good controlled stoke is the key to this break being effective. You must stay relaxed, shoot through the ball and follow through. I think about stroking straight through the cue ball as if it wasn’t even there, contact with the cue ball is incidental, it just happened to be in the path of the stroke. If you have ever hit this shot correctly you will know what I mean. Golf is probably the closest example I could use. When you drive a golf ball down the fairway your swing is the primary focus. The hit was just the result of the ball being in the path of the club. You will feel the difference when you hit through the ball rather than at it.

It is also worth mentioning that I used a more “closed” stance than my normal shooting stance and I raise my head up higher than regular shots. Raising the head up allows your body to move into the shot naturally and generates power from your hips,back and legs rather than from just your arms and shoulders.

Here is a break down of my 9 ball break. I did this by recording with my digital camera and then used the standard windows media player and the windows snipping tool to capture the pictures from the video. It’s a good idea to do this for yourself, you may notice some flaws that you didn’t realize that you had.

Pic 1,

This is me after my final practice stroke and just before I start my back swing. On my 9 ball break I like to choke up a bit with my grip hand.

Pic 2,

This is at the end of my back swing and I have started to come forward. My head has raised slightly and started to come forward with the stroke.

Pic 3,

At the beginning of the forward part of the stroke. My head has raised a bit more and moved forward, but I am still focused on the cue ball.

Pic 4,

Here is my stroke at the bottom of the pendulum. Personally I think your tip should make contact with the cue ball at the same time your grip hand is at the bottom of the pendulum to get the most power and accuracy from your break stroke. It is at that moment that your cue is in the same position as when you started and set up your shot.

Pic 5,

This is towards the end of the stroke. My body has moved forward quite a bit adding energy into the hit.  Be careful not to let your body move so much that it effects your accuracy.

Pic 6,

The end of the stroke. Good follow through. I ended up pocketing a few balls and had a decent shot on the 1 ball with the cue ball close to the center of the table.

Banking lesson from Freddy “The Beard” Bentivegna

Today’s lesson comes to you from Freddy “The

Beard” Bentivegna’s website;

Banking With The Beard

His site is filled with great info and some great pool

stories. Freddy has been a professional pool player

for over 50 years and has been inducted into the

Bank Pool Legends Hall Of Fame. The Beard has

been a frequent stop for  road players going

through Chicago who dare to test their skill against

this bank pool and one pocket wizard. You can still

find him on most days at a pool hall in Chicago

called Red Shoes, firing in shots and taking on all

comers.

The following article and many others can be found at

Banking With The Beard

.

.

.

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 in.off 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

If you like this article be sure to check out his  book

“Banking With The Beard”

It has a great mix of some of the best stories and

amazing lesson’s than can be found in print today.

This book is considered by most to be a must have

in your library of instructional material.

8-Ball Layout Strategy- Finding the “Key Ball”

Have you got to the point in your game where your shot making skills are satisfactory, or maybe even above average, but you are still loosing more games then you think you should? Perhaps it’s time to work on your layout strategy.

Have you ever noticed how the pro’s always seem to have the easy shots….most of  the time?  Well the main reason for that is that they play the game out in their head before they take their first shot. Right after the break they look at the layout. They are looking for problem balls first, like balls that are frozen against other balls or the rail. If there are no major problems then they start deciding how to attack the layout.

In eight ball I like to run it through my head in reverse from the last ball I plan to shoot to the first ball. Deciding which ball will give me the best advantage is what I call the key ball. Keep in mind that you will not always plan  a complete run out of the balls. Sometimes a run out (making all the balls) is impractical but you can still plan in the same manner to make a few balls and then play a safety, or get that break out of a certain problem ball.

If you force yourself  to plan out your shots before you start shooting you will eventually start getting those “easy shots” because your position play will improve. I have noticed that in eight ball, you can usually plan a good run out will little cue ball movement. In fact, a good rule of thumb is try not to move the cue ball more than is absolutely necessary. The stop shot is your friend, learn to use it wisely!

Another good rule to live by is this, NEVER, EVER, try a shot in which you have no idea what the outcome is going to be. If you don’t have a clue where the cue ball is going to end up or how it will react after contact, don’t shoot it.

Here are some table layouts you can study and decide what is the best plan of attack for you. Remember, not everyone skill level is the same and there are usually more than one way of doing things. Play the odds when planning, avoid the low percentage shots. Just because you think you can make it doesn’t mean it the best decision.

Table 1;

Solution below

Here I would chose solids and my first shot would be the 5 ball. Here is how I would play it out. Stop shot the 5 ball in the lower left corner, stop shot the 4 ball in the upper side pocket, cut shot the 6 in the upper right corner pocket and let the cue ball go 2 rails landing between the 11 and 14 ball. Then stop shot the 3 ball into the upper left corner pocket, stop shot the 2 ball in the lower left corner pocket, soft cut the 7 ball into the upper left corner pocket and let the cue ball go one rail landing between where the 1 ball is and where the 3 ball was originally. The shot the 1 ball into the upper right corner with a little follow and you are left with a easy shot on the 8 in the upper left corner.

Is it the best way? You decide, but it is how I would do it.

Notice that I didn’t move any other balls in my solution. There is no need to move your opponents balls without good reason. Buddy Hall said it best, ” Don’t move the furniture if you don’t have to.”  I also limited the amount of cue ball movement as much as possible.  Whenever possible, keep it simple.

Here is another one to try.

This one is one of those that can be done several ways. Personally if I was feeling confident I might go for the early break out of the 2 ball by banking the 3 in the upper side pocket. Once this is done it opens up a few possibilities for the solids depending on what kind of roll you get from the 2,10 and 15 after the break out. Where the cue ball lands off this shot depends on how hard you hit the 3, but you should end up with a shot on the 1 ball if all goes right. I won’t go any further because we do not know where the 10,15, and 2 are at this point.

Another option is to shoot the 11 ball in the lower right corner pocket playing for position “A” in the diagram below. Then shooting the safety to get the position “B”.  (not my favorite option)

And yet another way would be to cut the 7 ball towards the lower left corner (not making it) and leave the cue ball stuck behind the 8 ball. This forces your opponent to try something risky and hopefully give you a position with the cue ball on your next shot.

There are probably several other ways to play this layout. Set it up and try a few yourself, maybe you will see something I didn’t.

Feel free to leave a comment on how you did or would do it.