Ever since its very conception pool has successfully straddled the line between being a tactical game and a sport decided by physical and mental capabilities.
However, at the very top level – where cue actions purr and manipulation of the cue ball in all directions is a given – what really separates the elite players from the also-rans is the tactical side of the game.
Despite this, many players of all abilities still neglect this crucial aspect, often losing some games as a direct result, focusing instead on making tweaks to their cue, or the tips they use.
In this article we look at what pool players can learn from their chess, poker, and board game counterparts, many of whom are constantly revising how they approach the respective games they love.
Carefully Consider Your Options Before You Take That First Shot
Everyone has been in that position where your opponent makes a break, spreading the balls far and wide, only for nothing to drop into a pocket.
All of a sudden you are left with a dizzying array of options, with easy pots available right around the table. You should just get straight down to potting them, shouldn’t you?
Well, no, because as is often the case, a promising early break can easily come off the rails if not enough prior planning is done first.
This is just one of the many reasons why taking your time before getting down to business is necessary, but what is equally important is to know which boxes should be checked before you start cueing.
Players of games like chess and poker have the exact same dilemma, having to mull over a whole host of factors before making a decisive move. In poker, there are generally seven questions to ask oneself before deciding to act. The most important of these are: that a player must consider the type of opponent they are up against, and whether a small mistake will be enough for them to capitalize on. Also knowing what position a player is in in the wider context of the match or tournament is important, with perhaps a more cautious approach playing dividends over a more ballsy one. All of the above applies to chess too, with a player’s opening move largely defining how they will play the rest of the match, meaning it is always a sound idea to mull long and hard over which pawn or knight to shift forward first.
Sometimes Inexperienced Players Can Be Dangerous
Unpredictability has been the downfall of many a great pool player, especially if they allow complacency to seep into their mindset.
In games such as Monopoly or Scrabble this is also true, with a wordy rookie sometimes coming up with a technical term that others may never have heard of, or a Monopoly beginner going on a spate of visits to Free Parking.
Play enough of such board games and pool players will quickly realize that in any game where an element of variance is at play, an upset is never too far away.
Playing the Same Way Is Not Always Advantageous
Make the same opening move every time in chess and a wily opponent will soon cotton on and crush you. Run the same bluff over and over in a card game, and before you know it the whole table will be calling you out on every move you make.
Although this does not always apply to pool, what is important is that players learn how to adapt to different game situations. After all, being an expert potter, but rubbish when it comes to escaping a snooker, will leave you vulnerable to exploitation by top players.
Think Ahead as Much as Possible
Of course, the one thing that all the above-mentioned classic games demand of their players, is that they think ahead rather than just in the moment.
Adopt a similar mindset, and a pool player can improve their game no end.