Learning To Play Patterns

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One of the keys to playing better pool is playing better patterns. The hard part is figuring out what is a good pattern, and then finding them in a random rack of balls. Although many people don’t believe it, pool is a difficult game. Our margin for error is tiny, and we are trying to control how far a rolling ball goes. Not very easy. And this idea of pool being difficult opens the door to help us play better patterns! The less we have to do with the cue ball, the easier it is to predict where it will be after the shot.


In other words, if we roll the cue ball softly and doesn’t move it too far, we know where it is. The problem then is, how do we decide which balls to take off and in what order so that we don’t have to move the cue ball much at all. The secret to doing this is triangles. Take a look at the diagram:

Triangle Patterns

Please notice that if we pocket the 1 ball and the cue ball replaces the 1, the 2 ball is an easy shot into the corner pocket. Likewise, if the cue ball replaces the 2 ball, the 3 ball is an easy shot. And just like that we have run three balls!

Look how easy that was, we softly rolled the cue ball and only used the vertical axis of the cue ball. Not much can go wrong here, and that is the idea. Let’s take this to the end of a rack to see how we can apply this triangle idea. Here is the table after a nice run.

Smaller Triangle Patterns

Look how this triangle works - Stop on the 12 ball, 15 in the side stop, then 9 ball stop and we are dead on the 8.

Here is how you practice this triangle idea. Break the balls and take ball in hand. What you do at the first level is pick a triangle where you can make 3 easy shots, then do it. Take ball in hand and do it again. After a while, this will get easy. Here is a sample rack.

Multiple Triangle Patterns

Here I’ve shown two triangles. First is the 13, 10 and 11 triangle. We could extend this to the 15, 7 and then the 12. You get the idea. This is hard to do at first, but stick with it and before you know it you'll be playing patterns like a pro.

Good luck with this and see you on the road.