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Samm Diep, “Cherry Bomb”
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 CB Custom Cues, Tiger Products, PoolDawg, IB Cue Cases, Predator
SammsPocket.com (fun & unique products for pool players)
Corner vs. Side
By Samm Diep © November 2009
[The following article was a submission to the first edition of PoolSynergy (a collection of the best writing in pool). The theme was “STRATEGY.” The host and theme changes from month to month. Visit PoolTipJar.com for a complete list of each month’s host and their theme.]
One of the biggest breakthroughs that I personally made, particularly in big table 9-ball, was to understand when to play position for a ball in the side pocket versus in the corner pocket. Having more of a bar table 8-ball background, it’s very natural and often times preferred to play position for balls in the corner pocket. On the bar table, the corner pocket is much more forgiving and does not require as pinpoint position to get to the next shot. However, once you step up to the big table, your patterns must also.
In Diagram 1, take a look at where the 1, 2, 3, and 4 balls are sitting. Beginner players will often play position for these balls in their nearest corner pockets. If they’re not careful, they can turn a connect-the-dots run out into a hairy one. Whenever possible, consider playing position for balls in the yellow shaded area in the side pocket.
For instance, take a look Diagram 2. A careless player may opt to just shoot a stop shot on the 6 ball for position A. If they’re lackadaisical, they may just eyeball the shot on the 7 ball. Without being deliberate on their position, they now flirt with the side pocket. The path to get from the 7 to the 8 now becomes much more limited and the shot on the 7 ball also becomes a little more difficult. They’re forced to shoot above center and just come one rail against the line of the shot for the 8.
The player could also roll forward (not shown in diagram) to get on the inside of the 7 ball. This leaves a longer shot on the 7 ball and also adds an extra level of difficulty to the shot. There is also a risk of scratching in the opposite side pocket for position.
Instead, when they draw back to play position for the 7 ball in the side pocket, the window to play position for the 8 ball now becomes much greater. The 7 in the side is a much easier shot and it’s natural to move the cue ball three rails for position on the 8. If they draw back too far, they can go forward one rail to come straight across for position. Choosing to play the 7 in side reduces the chances for error.
Once I began playing position for these shots in the side pocket, it increased my run out percentages and made them much more effortless. Look for balls that can go in the side pockets and play position for them three balls ahead.
Keep in mind, there are times when the corner pocket trumps the side pocket. See Diagram 1. A good rule of thumb is to play position for balls in the blue shaded area into the corner pocket. When balls fall in that region, the opening to the side pocket becomes much narrower. Side pocket shots are less welcoming and often times impossible. If you’re ever in doubt, draw an imaginary line from the center diamond to the side pocket. If your shot falls in that area, take it up to the corner.
Remember to look for patterns that require natural movement of the cue ball. Whenever we have to force/create an angle with the cue ball it makes the shot much more difficult. Look for the nearest pockets to the balls and see if there’s a natural track for position from that pocket. We always want the path of least resistance.
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