- May 25, 2004
I repost this about once a year, so that all of the new members that are here to learn the game, can read it, and download it if they wish...I give a printed copy of it to anyone taking lessons from me...it's a condensed version of my One Pocket philosophy/teachings ----->
To start with I would like to say that I feel gratified to be part of the pool-playing brotherhood (past, present and future), who feel as passionately as I do, as to the absolute magnificence of the game of One Pocket. I think that One Pocket is one of the very greatest games/sports in the world, and all pool players who come to understand, appreciate, and seriously play One Pocket are blessed - and it’s a shame that outside of our small One Pocket subculture, no one in the outside world even knows that there is a game called One Pocket, and how significant of a challenging/complex/fascinating sporting endeavor it is.
Starting out in the late 1960's, I first watched and studied many of the great One Pocket players of that time: Ronnie Allen, Jersey Red, Bugs, Boston Shorty, Harold Worst, etc...then, just after that, when I was 19-25 yrs.old, living and growing up in (the pool halls of) Chicago, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to watch, up close and personal, Artie Bodendorfer (one of the best One Pocket players of all time, and a master of defensive One Pocket play) and top-speed One Pocket player Leonard 'Bugs' Rucker play many, many times - and this was at the time when Artie was playing his very best....and Chicago was also a bank pool mecca back in the 60's-70's, enabling me to play with, and learn from, great bank pool players like Bugs, Youngblood, Tough Tony, Freddie the Beard, etc. etc....then, in the ensuing 45-50 years since that time, I’ve both watched and played One Pocket against: Grady, Jack Cooney, Cliff Joyner (many times), Bugs (many times), Steve Cook, Alan Hopkins, Cornbread Red, Miami, Bill Incardona, Buddy Hall, Nick Varner, Efren, Jose Parica, Alex Pagulayan, Rodolfo Luat, Santos, Shannon D. Jeremy Jones, Rafael Martinez, , Billy Palmer, and many more top players both past and present.
So, with the knowledge gained from 50 years of intently studying the game of One Pocket and it's top players, along with having countless gambling sessions/tournament matches against shortstop to top speed players myself (and having won my share of them), combined with my own analysis, shot formulating, and overall visualizing of the game, I feel very strongly that I have ascertained the optimum methodology for playing the game of One Pocket at it's highest level....and I have, and currently do, teach/give One Pocket lessons according to my concept of the game, including having taught two of the top 25 One Pocket players in the world today....also, for the record, my One Pocket teaching, knowledge and visualizing of the game were highly spoken of by acclaimed Billiards Digest editor/columnist George Fels in one of his Billiards Digest 'tips and shafts' columns several years ago.
Ok, I need to say that I’ve been extremely annoyed for years by all of this clueless, idiotic debating about which is right, or better, the supposed Chicago/Philly/East coast, strong defense/low risk/trapping/squeeze style of One Pocket - or the so-called modern/left coast/aggressive/ball running style of One Pocket...Well, the two reasons this foolish debate, and incorrect positing annoys me are these...#1. This constantly parroted claim of there being a rigid geographic distinction re. the two styles of play, is untrue...and #2. Because this ongoing debate speaks as if these are the only two philosophies/styles of One Pocket play to subscribe to...when in fact, playing just one of either of these two styles, is not playing optimum One Pocket – why in the world would anyone want to limit themselves to just one of those styles, rather than employing the full spectrum of productive One Pocket play...meaning ----->
When playing/thinking at the very highest level of one pocket, the only correct way to play One Pocket is within a matrix whereby you are at all times during the game, ready and able to draw upon either of the two aforementioned styles: Relentless, aggressive, fear-inducing offense, or, lockdown, trapping, table-controlling, suffocating, precision-defense...deciding which of these style's to employ will be correctly analyzed and determined in every different inning/shot of yours when at the table...and whenever possible, like a master alchemist, you should forge both styles together on the same shot - thus creating - One Pocket Gold.
Also, take note that to play top speed one pocket, you need to: #1. Have a very high level of creativity/imagination/vision to be applied to all phases of the game...#2. You must be an excellent banker, proficient at all one rail and multi-rail banks - along with having a locked-in muscle memory for hitting banks at precisely 'pocket-speed'...#3. You need to have extensive knowledge of kick shots, combination shots, carom shots, carom angles, deflection angles, and multi-rail billiard angles...and #4. You must have the strategic capabilities and mind set of a military General or a chess Grandmaster, and #5. You must be a Wizard of Odds.
Your shot choice should always be predicated on the correct analysis of several factors - the primary ones being: Table layout, ball score, match score, pocket size, table conditions - and also the One Pocket playing style, knowledge, skill set, heart, and ego tendencies of your opponent....and of course, all shot choices must factor in your own skill set/abilities.
So, all of that said, every time that you step to the table (unless you have an obvious ball to make, you have a significant ball-count lead in the game, or you're in a trap) you should be determinedly, unrelentingly, looking to aggressively attack...but if you can’t find a viable offensive shot of any type, then you don’t force the issue – that’s where the smart part comes in…..Instead, you play a suffocating safety/put your opponent in a trap - this most often meaning: leaving your opponent frozen against/behind a ball or balls so that he has nothing but negative or low percentage shot options available to him - or he is forced to take a scratch and lose a ball...and if that’s not possible, then you at least will re-position the ball layout in some way that helps your cause - i.e. move balls as close as possible to your pocket, or move balls from near his pocket or on his side of the table over to your pocket's side of the table, or tie up balls on his side, or open up balls and banking/shooting lanes on your side of the table - and/or leave him facing balls from a snookered position, jacked up, or with an awkward angle...and while doing any of this, if possible always endeavor to leave the cueball frozen on the rail - don‘t under-value this - it severely limits your opponents options and execution when he can only address the top of the cueball...
Ok, more about moving, but on a smaller scale - often referred to as "simple shots"...but when given proper consideration, and then successfully executed - they're really not simple shots at all...
One Pocket is very often not about having the opportunity to pocket a ball, run balls, bank a ball in, or shoot appealing, gratifying power shots...you must also give total-focus attention and respect to the countless 'small shots' of One Pocket - and you must have the limitless patience, desire and work ethic required to do this...meaning that, there will be many many games, where you have nothing else available to you for 5, 10, or 15 straight innings other then to bunt balls, or to glance the cueball off of balls to have it only travel a few inches - but to a very specific place...and when you are in those types of situations ---> you should patiently and intently shoot these 'seemingly' simple little shots as perfectly as you possibly can every time, striving to gain a strategic edge on your opponent in these intense, and often crucial, miniature battles...
And let me also stress this...before playing any important safety, it's crucial to analyze precisely, the very best place to leave the cueball in order to leave your opponent in the toughest possible, return shot position - that said, before you shoot, whenever this can't be accurately determined from your shooting position, walking over to where you are thinking of leaving the cueball, and correctly envisioning your opponent's responding options is something that you should always do.
Now I’m an NFL fan, and as such, I’ve always drawn some parallels in my mind between One Pocket and pro football/One Pocket players and pro football quarterbacks.....so obviously football teams have to score (with a variety of plays, like One Pocket's variety of shots) and also they have to defend against the other teams offensive attack.....and just like in One Pocket, football teams also, all importantly, play the score = they 'play safe' by running the ball and throwing short conservative passes when being a good amount ahead in the score...and conversely, by going for lower % but high yield plays when being a fair amount behind in the score......and quarterbacks have to read the field like we read the table and then make a decision to act…a quarterbacks ‘opponent’ is the cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers - so, as a good One Pocket players should analyze his opponents skill set, mind set, and tendencies, a quarterback needs to know the tendencies/abilities of the different defensive backs and the defensive schemes being used against him…..and maturity is key - i.e. a young quarterback who throws 25-30 picks in a season, from forcing passes into double coverage, or not correctly reading the defense, is just like the overly aggressive young One Pocket player, who much too often goes for risky, low percentage shots, misses them too often and sells out…..I'll finish my football analogy by saying - if you want to play One Pocket at the highest level and as it should be played - just play it the way Joe Montana played quarterback back in the day - or like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers play/have played in recent years - skillfully, but also, very, very smart.
Back to shot choices…Your first desired shot choice of course, is to make a ball in your pocket.…but if you have the opportunity to pocket a ball, and the shot is not a ‘hanger’ - then whether you should choose to shoot this shot in a given situation will depend partially on all of the factors that I mentioned a few paragraphs earlier - but it will primarily be based on two factors: the ‘makeability’ percentage of the shot combined with the risk/reward equation - of which there are countless variations…obviously there’s no time here to go into this at great length, covering all of the countless percentages and risk/reward probabilities..but to cover this a little, here are a few interesting risk/reward comparisons interconnected with the makeability factor - and we'll use mathematical/strategic One Pocket-thought-processing in considering the following three situations...
Let's say that hypothetically, you are one of two (evenly matched) players, playing in a One Pocket tournament....you are playing even - both going to 8balls, tied up 2-2 in games and playing in the all important final game of your tournament race to three. In this first situation the ball score is 0-0 and you have a shot that you are 85% likely to make in your pocket – and after making it, there are two more available balls for you to run (easy to run) - but only two - and, you will leave three sure balls for your opponent to pocket if you miss - but no more than three…...In the second scenario, the ball score is once again 0-0, and you have a shot that you are 50% likely to make in your pocket, but you will be able to easily run four more balls if you make it, and leave just one ball for your opponent to for sure pocket if you miss…In each of these two situations I would say going for the shot is a good risk/reward choice...and also, I think the two very different ball-count situations are fairly equal choices when compared to each other, viability-wise.......For our third and final situation, the ball score is 3-3....the shot that you are considering shooting has an 80% makeability rating for you, but there are no other balls for you to make afterwards - you can only get one - and you will leave your opponent a sure two balls if you miss...should you shoot the shot in this situation?....it's a tougher choice to make this time - maybe about a 50-50 choice.
Anyway, this is an overview of some of my concepts of playing One Pocket correctly. To go further, we would need many, many hours of discussion, and we would also obviously, need to be on a table, to, among other things, analyze dozens of very specific game situations, re. early, middle, and endgame shots and strategies. Anyone who would like to contact me re. this manifesto, or to inquire about lessons - you can e-mail me at email@example.com.
- One Pocket Ghost