Archive for October, 2010

D@#n, Scratched Again!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

D@#n, Scratched Again!

By Ernie Reynolds

After a lifetime of playing pool I pretty much have the game down. I know how to make most shots and I can make them fairly consistently.

There is one other thing that I do fairly consistently as well – scratch! To paraphrase a saying from my great-grandmother – nothing “gets my goat” more that making a nice shot and scratching. 8^)

I play most of my pool in the evenings for two or three hours at a time. Some nights I may only scratch 4 or 5 times in those three hours, but other nights, I may scratch 20 or more times!

I’m not lying when I say that I have had 25 scratch nights!

For more info, visit my websites…
Pool For Beginners
Pool and Pocket Billiards Resource

Most of my scratches come when shooting a table-length cut shot in a corner pocket. You know the one – you cut the object ball 45 degrees in the corner pocket and the cue ball goes 45 degrees in the opposite corner pocket.

The path the cue ball takes after it hits the object ball is called the tangent line. I have a discussion of it on my Pool For Beginners site here.

The trick to making these kind of shots and not scratching is to make sure the cue ball is rolling and not sliding across the felt, so it will have a 30 degree angle off the cue ball instead of a 90 degree angle, thus missing the opposite corner pocket.

Easier said than done sometimes.

Another common scratch for me is when I hit the cue ball fairly firmly so I can move it to a different part of the table for a leave on my next ball. It seems that cue ball has eyes and insists on dropping into a pocket just to spite me. Sometimes the angle that the cue ball travels when scratching into the side pocket is so sharp that I am amazed that it can even do it.

This type of scratch is common for me if I am really concentrating on making a difficult shot. Checking the angles, making sure of a good hit on the cue ball, getting the hit speed correct – my mind is busy making sure of everything except checking for the possibility of a scratch.

One further way I often scratch is when shooting bank shots. It’s more difficult to keep track of the cue rebound when shooting bank shots. When a hard hit is required for a bank, the cue can have a tendency to really travel – at times into a pocket.

I have, of course, tried to work on my game and avoid scratching so much. I try to hit the cue just hard enough to make my shot so it doesn’t go rebounding all over the table wildly and scratch.

Playing position definitely helps prevent scratching because you try to finesse the cue ball to a certain point on the table, thereby controlling the path of the cue ball rebound. Position play is also a great way to make your runs longer and your winning percentage higher.

English is very helpful in controlling the cue ball rebound angles, but you have to be careful not to throw your aim off. English can cause your cue ball to vary off course before it hits your object ball. Mastery of English takes a lot of practice.

Unless you are a very soft shooter, most of your cue ball hits will be “skid” shots, where the cue ball skids instead of rolls across the table cloth. The angle of rebound for most skidded cut shots is 90 degrees.

Knowing this, you can visualize beforehand where the cue ball will have a tendency to travel after hitting the object ball. A hard hit shot will of course cause the cue ball to be hitting banks, and the more banks it hits the harder it will be to accurately determine where it will end up.

So, knowing all this, what’s the answer to cutting down the frequency of scratching? In my case I think it is simply being more aware of the possibility of scratching and taking preventative measures ahead of time. I need to keep the tangent line more in mind.

I have to visualize not only where I want the cue ball to end up, but also the path it will take to get there, and whether or not this will bring it close to a pocket to scratch. Hitting my shots a little easier will cause less of a run on the cue ball after it hits the object ball and offer fewer opportunities to get near a pocket and scratch.

Finally, I have to keep practicing my English. I have to fight the tendency to hit the cue ball too far from center with the tip. It doesn’t take much of an off-center hit to get the cue ball spinning. Aiming a little off to one side or the other to compensate for the English will work. Perfecting the technique is where the skill comes in.

Even though I sometimes scratch a lot I still love the game. It’s always a challenge to play your best. I guess, in the end, it still comes down to those magic words – awareness, concentration and consistency.

Yep, It’s About The Most Fun I Have With My Pants On

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Yep, It’s About The Most Fun I Have With My Pants On

By Ernie Reynolds

“You’re killin’ me here!”

“Don’t mind me, I’m just here to rack for you.”

“*&%^%#^%%$*&*&%#!!!” (Cursing and banging pool cue on table)

LOL. I love hearing that stuff. It’s music to my ears. It tells me I’m doing something right.

The above are some of my brother’s comments when I’m having a good night on the pool table at our weekly 8-ball sessions. I just smile and nod my head so he’ll keep playing with me. It’s not as much fun playing pool alone. 8^)

For more info, visit my websites…
Pool For Beginners
Pool and Pocket Billiards Resource

Playing pool really is one of my favorite things to do. I go down to the pool hall and meet my brother, have a few pops and bang the balls around, laughing all the while. I have several hobbies, but this one is probably the most fun.

One of my favorite games the other night had my opponent ahead four balls to none. He shot the eight ball, but left it hanging at the corner pocket. Here I am, four balls to put in, and if I miss, game over.

I sank three of my balls and came up with a terrible leave for my fourth. All I can do is play a long bank and hope for the best. Bang, I hit the shot and the ball goes in the far corner pocket like it had eyes. The cue stops about eighteen inches from the eight ball.

I hear “AARRRGGGGHHH!!! DAMN!” My brother’s at it again. All I can do is laugh.

A quick tap and the eight ball goes in. I’m loving it. Why this is so much fun I don’t know, but it sure is.

Maybe it’s the look on my brother’s face. He doesn’t like to lose, especially when he thought he had me.

We don’t play for anything, so it’s not a question of money or a free drink or anything like that. The pool is free, so the loser doesn’t have to put quarters in.

I guess it’s just fun to win, period. Playing pool is always enjoyable, but when you win, that’s just the icing on the cake.

My brother and I play because we both like pool and enjoy each other’s company. But, when I can zing him with a good finish and steal the game he thought he had sewn up, that just makes my night.

I am not overly competitive. I don’t usually play in tournaments or in the weekly pool league, but I do like to win. I won’t cheat or play dirty. I rarely play a safe, and as long as there is some possibility of a shot, I will go for it.

I think deep down you sort of play yourself in this game. When I make an exceptional shot that I didn’t think would go, even when I am practicing by myself, I still get a child-like thrill at making it. An automatic smile comes to my face.

I got in the habit of going out after work on Friday nights to play pool when I was very young. Unless I’m away on vacation somewhere or a very special occasion comes up, I rarely miss those Friday night sessions. You can always find a pool game somewhere.

It’s such a simple thing to shoot a pool ball into a hole in the table with a cue stick. It’s not necessarily a simple thing to put them in one after the other consistently, but it is always an enjoyable thing to me when it happens.

I am always amazed at how much joy this simple game gives me. As the headline says, it really is some of the most fun I have with my pants on.