The new year is here, so it's time to start moving on those New Year's pool resolutions. The following is some of my favorite pool paraphernalia. I have read a lot of pool books and used almost all of the tip tools but these are the ones that have been the most useful throughout my career.

The 99 Critical Shots in Pool by Ray Martin

This book was originally published in 1977, and even though many of the shots are for straight pool, a good number of them pertain to 8, 9 and 10 ball. Many of the shots in this book come up regularly in matches, and if you don't know them you're at a disadvantage. After years of owning this book one of the more obscure shots came up recently in competition. My opponent was sure that I was in trouble, but I knew that I was about to shoot shot 33 (Frozen Cushion Shot #3) and I executed it perfectly. The look on my opponent's face was one of disbelief, and moments like that make this book worth every penny.

Joe Tucker's Racking Secrets DVD

The most important shot in pool is the very first one. The break. If you don't make a ball you could lose before you even get a chance to start. This DVD explains in detail everything you need to know about the rack in all of the different games. Joe explains where you should place the cue ball, what contact to make on the one and, most importantly, how to read the rack for dead balls and bad racks. If you're a competitive player this is an absolute must-have.

Win At Pocket Billiards by Desmond Allen

I would only recommend this book only for advanced players who want to polish their kicking skills. This little book is packed full of one, two and three rail kicking systems. If you want to go from beating good players to beating great players, this is the book that will teach you how to create opportunities, even when you can't see the next ball.

Tweeten Metal Tip Trimmer

This simple tool will allow you to shape your tip any way you like. I find that most tip tools can't get you to a true dime shaped radius, but this one can. If you're a novice at working on your tip I wouldn't recommend this tool, but if you do decide to get it, make sure you follow it up with the...

Porper Tip Burnisher

After you shape your tip, the sides can be a little rough. By placing this tool over your tip and turning it while applying light pressure, you can seal the edges of the tip and help to keep it from mushrooming.

Whether you choose one of these gifts for yourself or one of your teammates, I hope they help you as much as they've helped me over the years. Happy New Year!