A review of "The Legends Instructional Series"

Terry Ardeno

Verified Member
Nov 11, 2004
I'd like to offer this as a review of "The Legends Instructional Series", a 4 DVD set that has Nick Varner & Buddy Hall giving instruction on 8 Ball, 9 Ball, 14.1 & One Pocket.

First, a little background. I've been in love with pool since I was 11 & I've been able to accumulate a nice library of books, magazines, newspaper clippings, instructional videos & DVDs plus a plethera of Accu-Stats. I've got information gathered on nearly every noteable player since the late 1800's and hundreds of other pool VHS's & DVD's covering the World 9 Ball Championships, the World 10 Ball Championships, the World 14.1 Championships, the International Challenge of Champions tournaments, the Mosconi Cups, Grady Mathews Instructionals, Billy Incardona's instructional, Freddy "The Beard" Bentivegna's DVDs, some TAR productions, matches that were televised on ESPN going back to the 1983 Caesar-Tahoe Billiard Classic, some matches from the U.S. Open 14.1 Championships from the 1960's & 1970's, Eddie Taylor's Bank Pool & biographical VHS, un-narrated money match ups, 3 cushion billards, snooker matches, etc, etc.

And THESE DVDs from "Legends & Champions" rank right up there with the very best of what I own. That's why I'm so excited to share this review.

Part of what was so special about this DVD series is that it features Buddy Hall & Nick Varner. They happen to be two of my All-Time Top 10 Favorite players ever. So I was naturally geeked up when I heard about this instructional series that they've put together. After viewing the DVDs, I feel compelled to offer a review as well as put in a positive plug for Mark Cantrill for all that he's been able to do thru his "Legends & Champions Pool Tour". Besides having greats like Buddy & Nick, Mark he's also had Mike Sigel, Earl Strickland, John Schmidt & other great champions give exhibitions & clinics all accross the country. This instructional series is his latest project. And I mean to tell you, it's a great one. Let me share some of what's on each DVD.

The 8 Ball DVD- Buddy & Nick each share different breaks & their thoughts on each of them. Then, each runs racks of 8 Ball, "thinking out loud" thru-out the whole rack so you the viewer can see exactly how they approach each shot and why they take it in the sequence they do. They then proceed to what they call "Specialty Shots". For example, Nick says he likes to practice shots on the left & right side of the table to insure he's seeing the same shot correctly, no matter where it lays. Buddy gives a lesson in banking and also explains his unique 'clock" system. Buddy demonstrates how to "throw' balls as well as play position on the un-pocketed ball! Buddy shows how to double bank frozen balls. Nick explains "Ghost Ball" shots. They then play a match against each other where they talk out loud and explain everything they do & why.

The 14.1 DVD- Nick explains & demonstrates numerous opening and continuous break shots. He then runs 105 balls, all the while explaining his thought process, shot selections, key balls, going into clusters, speed control, etc. He then explains & demonstrates safties with special attention to the correct speed on various safties, safties that also re-position other balls favorably, back of the rack safties and 2 rail kick safties. He also shows bank and side pocket break shots. Buddy gives a lesson in banking. Nick talks at length about the stroke and bridge lengths, alignment and then Buddy explains his "repetition of execution" philosophy and his cadence while playing. Buddy also expounds on his famous pause at the end of his last back stroke. Interesting.

The One Pocket DVD- Buddy explains and demonstrates different breaks and then Nick & Buddy demonstrate and expalin "Specialty Shots' including banks with extreme english, spotted multiple balls shots, 3 rail banks, banking frozen balls, safties and banks off the point of the pockets. Nick mentions how even he and Buddy are still always thinking about learning new shots. They then play a set of One Pocket against each other where they again "think out loud" and explain why they do everything they do. As an added treat, Nick shows how to run all 15 balls into one pocket.

The 9 Ball DVD- Nick starts this off with demonstrations and explainations on the break as well as adjusting the break. Then it's Buddy's turn to expound on his break. He also tells why he thinks the side rail break is better suited for slow breaks instead of faster breaks. Nick and Buddy then each do individual racks where they break and explain every shot and why they do what they do when they do it. This portion has them doing 8 racks of 9 ball. They then give another tutorial on "Specialty Shots" that includes 3 rail position with english and with various speed controls. Then they play shots using opposite english to avoid impediments, playing position on what I'll call "impossible to play position on" shots! Nick expalins some safties, Buddy has his lesson on banks and then they play a set of 9 ball where they again explain everything they do in each rack.

I've met Nick back around 2004 & have to admit I was "star-struck". I've met most all of my favorite players in person (with the exception of Billy Incardona & Chao) and I can't ever remember being as nervous as I was when I talked with Nick. And I don't know why that was because he's just a super guy to talk with. I've had the great pleasure and honor to have played Buddy some one pocket and banks and my already high opinion of him went thru the roof! These are two of the nicest guys you'll find in pool. One great part of every DVD is how well Nick & Buddy interact with each other. They are always encouraging and complimenting each other on great shots. And believe me, there were a LOT of great shots in this series.

Lest anyone think this was just a shill, I do have one negative comment to offer. On many of the over-head camera shots, the four corner pockets were not visible. You can for the most part still see most of the shots, but there were several where you only heard a ball drop, as the intended pocket was out of view. I've been spoiled rotten with Pat Fleming's excellent camera angles for so long that I can honestly say this was the only disappointing part of this whole series.

I added a lot of my persoanl information and background so as to lend some credibility to this review. I've been playing pool for 41 years now and anything that has Buddy Hall, Nick Varner, Shannon Daulton, Earl Strickland, John Schmidt, Allen Hopkins, Grady Mathews, Billy Incardona or Fong Pang Chao is guaranteed to get me super excited. But this "Legends Instructional Series" featuring Nick & Buddy has got me giddy!

Below are some links where those interested can learn more or order these great products.

A very special "Thank you!" goes out to Mark Cantrill for his kindness and generosity that he's shown to me. I appreciate him and all that he does for our great sport and I wish him much continued success in pool and in life!





Verified Member
Mar 19, 2007
nice review terry
i also recommend the dvd and also the pool202 dvd offered on the site


New Member
Nov 20, 2011
Thanks for the review. It was a pleasure to do these DVDs, they are all great guys to work with.
I do have a question about the overhead view comment, were you watching on a widescreen? I had sized it to all fit on my standard tv, and on my widescreen was never an issue. You might try a different tv. I believe the whole view is there it may just be beyond the screen you are using.