Is It Luck Or…..?
By Ernie Reynolds
In pool, sometimes you make a tough shot, and your opponent will say “oh, that was just luck!” And, sometimes it is. But other times it is definitely not luck at all, but rather skill. If you call your shot and it goes in HOW and WHERE you called it, how can it be called strictly “luck”?
I like to play call-your-shot, no-slop eight ball. For those of you unfamiliar with these terms, it means that when you take a pool shot, you call exactly how the ball will go in the pocket – which pocket it will go into, every ball that it touches, every bank that it bounces off of, whether it will be a combination, and anything else that will occur during that shot.
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No-slop means that, if the ball goes into a pocket that you did not call ahead of time, if the ball
double-kisses the cue ball on the way in, or if it touches another ball that you did not call, the shot doesn’t count. To me, this makes for a cleaner, more skillful game.
I have nothing against playing by APA and other organizations’ rules that allow balls that fall into any old pocket to count – I just don’t personally enjoy playing by those rules. To me, that is indeed “luck” when you miss the pocket you are aiming at, and pocket a ball in a different hole, and are allowed to keep shooting.
Of course, “being lucky” also depends on the game you are playing. In 9-ball, as long as you hit your object ball first, any ball that goes in afterwards allows you to keep shooting. Thus, “slop” is allowed, and actually encouraged, in this game.
However, in call-your-shot, no-slop 8-ball, you chances or getting lucky are greatly diminished.
In the last couple weeks I have made a two bank shots that have skirted the line between “luck” and “skill”.
My opponents were left shaking their heads and wondering if I really called that shot or if I was trying to pull a fast one.
Both of the shots in question were two-bank eight ball shots. Actually, they were a combination of kick shot and bank shot. Both won the game for me and certainly made my night.
In the diagram shown, imagine a table full of balls, instead of just the two striped balls shown. I have left out the other balls for clarity. Normally I would have shot much easier shots, but these shots were all I had at the time.
In shot “A”, I hit a kick shot into the purple-striped ball and banked it into the corner. In shot “B”, I kicked the cue ball into the red-striped ball and banked it into the side.
Bank shots, as a rule, are more difficult than cut shots, and I avoid them if at all possible. Two-bank shots are VERY tough, and are always the shot of last resort. I would consider myself pretty fortunate to make these shots 1 out of 50 tries.
However, I made a conscious effort to make these two-bankers. I took my time and lined up my angles, both on the kick shot and the bank portion of each attempt. I called the shots exactly as they went in.
Was it luck that they went in? Was it skill? I consider it a little of both. I had the skill to see the shot in the first place and to put the cue ball where I thought it should go, and I had the luck to hit the object ball at exactly the right spot to make the object ball head straight for the pocket that I called.
Let me tell you, I have been playing pool for over 40 years, and I still get a thrill making shots like that. It’s especially sweet when they are eight ball shots that win you the game.
So, is it luck or skill? It doesn’t matter as long as you make the shot. Would I try another two-banker? Certainly, if that’s all I had to shoot at.
I think it was hockey-great Wayne Gretsky who said, “You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.” Next time you get in a jam on the pool table, try something that stretches your ability – you just might make it!
If you have had a pool-shooting experience similar to this leave a comment. I would like to read about it and I’m sure the other readers would too.