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Larry Schwartz: 8-Ball
1. Know the rules. Almost every league, bar or organization offers some variation of the "standard" 8-ball rules. Make sure you know the rules of the league or tournament you're playing in. Read them and learn them thoroughly.
2. Develop a good break. Always try to keep the cue ball under control: Equally as important, making a ball on the break and playing position for another shot is keeping the cue ball from going in a pocket or flying off the table. Giving your opponent ball-in-hand for his first shot is probably the worst thing you can do.
3. Stripe or solid selection. When possible, select the balls that offer you a chance at winning the game in your first inning. When you can't, make sure you pick the balls that will stop your opponent from running out. Pick the balls that will leave your opponent's balls blocked so you can play a good safe and not worry about losing the game.
4. Map out the table. Always plan ahead all the way to the 8 ball before you shoot your first shot. This will enable you to take the best route, making every shot as easy as possible.
5. Recognizing key balls. This is a ball that, once pocketed, will make it easy to break open a cluster or make it easy to get on your next shot. If there is a ball next to the 8 ball that, once pocketed, will leave you an easy shot on the 8, this would be the key ball to get position on the 8 ball.
6. Run out or play safe. The only time you should run out is when you are certain you will make it all the way. If you don't think you can, play safe before pocketing any of your balls.
7. Know the value of your balls. Every ball you pocket without running out is like killing one of your own soldiers in a war.
8. Leaving the 8 ball in jail. Whenever the 8 ball is blocked by one of your balls, you must leave it there so your opponent cannot win the game. The only time you will shoot your ball is when you know you can run out, freeing the 8 ball.
9. Become a banker. Sharpening up your bank skills will give you a chance to win games in which it looks like you have no chance.
10. Join a league. I believe competition is a big factor in improving your game. You will be able to find your weaknesses and practice them. Also, leagues are a lot of fun.
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