WWPD? (What Would the Pros Do?) Vol. 2

by: Samm Diep – August 2011

Samm Diep

Volume 2 of “What Would the Pros Do?” takes us to the 2010 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships in Chesapeake, Virginia where the score is tied 5-5 between Efren Reyes and Marc Vidal. After making a remarkable shot on the 7 ball in the side, Efren leaves himself dead, straight in on the 8 ball with the 9 at the other end of the table.

Commentators quickly identified his dilemma and suggested he might attempt a jump or masse shot. Efren scratched his head and contemplated all the possibilities. In the end, the choice was clear. Let’s review his options:

Option A: Cheat the pocket.

Option B: Jump the cue ball.

Option C: Masse the cue ball.

Option D: Draw the cue ball.

Option E: Pocket the 8 ball rail-first.

Efren chose Option E.

Diagram 1

The risk of attempting to cheat the pocket in Option A is too high. So many things could go wrong with this choice. It’s far too easy to miss the shot when you place priority on playing position. Aside from missing the shot, there’s also the extreme danger of jumping either or both balls off the table.

Jumping the cue ball in Option B requires a perfect hit and is also incredibly risky. The possibility of the cue ball and/or the object ball jumping off the table is quite high. This shot also requires an elevated cue and a very firm stroke. Once again, there is a huge chance of missing the shot.

The masse shot in Option C is not a bad choice but it’s an extremely difficult shot that requires a lot of practice. This is not a practical shot and even with practice it’s not guaranteed that it can be executed properly under pressure in competition. If you are able to pocket the ball with the masse, the cue ball is sent loose and there is very little guarantee for position.

Diagram 2

Drawing the cue ball straight back with low left-hand spin will get you close, but not close enough. You will have a hard time getting the cue ball anywhere near the center of the table. Once again, using such extreme spin and speed reduces the chances of pocketing the ball and in this case, with very little reward even if you do.

The best decision in this scenario is Option E. The only thing Efren has to do was decide what part of the rail to contact and adjust his speed accordingly. This shot is played with inside draw. The inside (right-hand) spin facilitates pocketing the ball and as an added bonus, it also causes the cue ball to bounce away from the 9 ball after it contacts the second rail.

This rail-first shot guarantees position on the 9 ball. In the event that you miss the 8 ball, it also carries the possibility of a safety because the cue ball is sent down table while the 8 ball usually remains up table. Efren also knew that with the newer cloth on the TV table, the balls slide more and shots are more forgiving.

Like any new shot, do not attempt to execute this without practice. If you miss the shot, pay close attention to what side of the ball you’re missing it. Don’t be afraid to cut this ball. It’s much better to overcut this shot than to undercut it. Remember that along with pocketing the ball, the other objective is to create distance between the cue ball and the 8 ball. Undercutting the 8 ball could easily result in selling out the shot.

Choosing the correct option won the game for Efren and allowed him to take the lead for the first time in the match. He went on to win 11-7. Both players d e m o n s t r a t e d t r e m e n d o u s shot-making and defensive play in this feature Accu-stats match. Efren shot a .871 and Marc shot a .793.

To purchase this dvd or others like it, go to accu-stats.com and mention this article to receive $5 off.


Samm Diep, “Cherry Bomb” (DenverCherryBomb.com) 

House Pro at Rack ‘Em Billiards (Aurora, CO) 

Author of “You Might Be A D Player If… (101 Classic Moves That All Pool Players Can Appreciate)” 

Player Representative for Chris Byrne Custom Cues, PoolDawg, Predator, Jim Murnak Custom Cases, & Delta-13 Rack 

SammsPocket.com | fun & unique products for pool players 

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Watch Out It’s Contagious!

By Samm Diep © October 2010

Samm Diep

In my recent interview with Hall of Famer Nick Varner, he said:
“You’re always liable to miss those hard shots; you got to brush them off and just try to learn from ’em what you can as far as getting used to the table and stuff so you don’t miss the next shot you come up against. You try to not let it become contagious. It becomes like cancer where you go from bad to worse. That happens to a lot of players.”
Unfortunately, there is no antibiotic you can take to keep this condition from progressing when you start to catch a miss. It could be that the balls are just getting a little sticky or maybe the air is humid and everything is reacting a little differently than you’re expecting. The spin exaggerates and combinations become much tougher.
When you start missing a shot here and there due to the table conditions, it’s very common to start losing confidence. That’s when, as Nick says, “it becomes like a cancer where you go from bad to worse.” Once your confidence is shaken, it’s very difficult to regain your composure and that’s when we often make bad decisions too. It’s really easy to start questioning your mechanics or abilities when you miss a couple back to back shots. The key is to be aware of why you’re missing so that you can make the appropriate adjustments.
It could be something mechanical or a variance in the equipment. Whatever it is, this is where all those long hours of practice come in handy. It’s so critical to be in tune with your game so that when the conditions and the equipment are slightly off, you can adjust quickly before it’s too late. Pay close attention to what’s happening. If you know your game, then you should know what the cue ball should be doing on certain shots.
Home Remedy: Practice on as many different tables and in as many different playing conditions as possible. The only way to recognize when things go from bad to worse is by experiencing it. Learning to adjust to various circumstances will keep the cancer from spreading. When it starts happening in a match, reduce your speed and use less english until you can make the adjustment.
Remember, each time you approach the table, it’s a new shot, a new opportunity to do your best, and anything that happened before is now in the past. Learn from it, and then let it go.
The above excerpt is from the article, “Nick Varner: The Original Comeback Kid.” Go to AzBilliards.com to read the complete interview and other Pro Vision interviews.
Samm Diep, “Cherry Bomb” (DenverCherryBomb.com)
House Pro at Rack ‘Em Billiards (Aurora, CO)
Author of “You Might Be A D Player If… (101 Classic Moves That All Pool Players Can Appreciate)”
Player Representative for Chris Byrne Custom Cues, PoolDawg, Predator, Jim Murnak Custom Cases, & Delta-13 Rack

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