Strategy! Five Common 8-Ball Misconceptions

Posted by : Liz Ford

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way, especially when playing the game of 8-Ball. 8-Ball isn't just a shooting contest – it's a chess match and you don't want to get caught playing checkers! Use a few wiles while playing and you could avoid these five common conceptual game-killers.

Misconception #1: I should try to run out every time.

Not every rack is a good candidate for a run-out due to excessive traffic, clusters and other problems. Even the best players in the world won't attempt to solve the Rubic's cube of some 8-Ball racks in one turn because the balls are laying in such inaccessible positions. Their strategy lies in thinking long term – playing defense to try to get ball in hand while setting up all their balls in order to be able to run out two or three turns in the future.

Misconception #2: Having fewer balls on the table means that I'm winning.

The fewer balls you have on the table, the fewer options you have for playing both offense and defense. Be very careful removing your easy shots before you're sure that every ball on the table is pocketable. Opt for defense if there are a lot of problems instead of mindlessly shooting off your ammunition.

Misconception #3: I'll figure out something to do with that ball after I get everything else in.

Many, many players pocket all of their balls save for the one that's locked up and unplayable – the erroneous mindset is that you should get all the balls in that you can, while you can. It's much better to bide your time until you figure out a way to make that ball playable. Think about it this way, if you can't currently solve the problem with ball in hand, there's no chance that you're going to solve it by playing position on it as your last shot.

Misconception #4: Cutting balls in is hard, banking is easier.

In a cut shot you only hit a slice of the object ball instead of creating full contact. Many players opt for much lower percentage bank shots that allow them to hit the object ball squarely, creating a stop shot, because aiming cut shots is foreign to them. Cutting the ball also necessitates learning to control the path of the cue-ball, because it will travel farther after the collision. Avoidance won't help you get any better. Start experimenting with small cut angles and you'll see that they're easier to pocket than most banks and provide you with the flexibility to send the cue-ball to multiple locations on the table.

Misconception #5: I should always go for the easiest shot on the table.

Most players only judge how easy a ball is to pocket, ignoring where the cue-ball will be left after the shot. For each ball you shoot, ask yourself “how easy will my next shot be?” If a very easy shot leaves you with a very tough shot – that's not a very good plan! The second shot will most likely put an end to your turn. Opt for something slightly more challenging if the pay-off is that you'll get a more reasonable chance to pocket the next shot. If you repeat this process every time, your thinking will improve and you'll start to see the bigger picture – two aspects of developing better strategy.