Gambling . . . Will You Manage?

October 2002

In professional football there is a catch known as the immaculate reception. In basketball we're all familiar with the 3/4 court buzzer beater. In golf there's the hole in one. Baseballs bounce off of the pole foul ball or homerun. And of course in boxing we have the lucky punch, all written about in high regard. In our game many of us are bored to hidden tears as we listen to the anger and rage of someone telling us the story of how some player got lucky on them and how they should've won. We all know the stories and we can even lip sync the end of the sentences! Blah,blah,blah ... and then the ball ... blah,blah,blah. Stop! D'ya understand? Stop it! It's like bragging that you're on the wrong end of an autopsy.

There are three aspects for us to attend to when we play pool for money: listing the most powerful one first-they are luck, strategy and skill. That's right, the most powerful of the three is luck! Neither you nor I are gonna beat luck. You are going to outshoot someone and lose. Play enough and you are going to out move someone and lose. You are going to out shoot and out move someone one night and you will lose. So what does this have to do with management? The player with the best knowledge has the best luck. Another way for you to remember it is that the harder you work the luckier you get; so we do have the opportunity to affect what kind of luck we have! The rest is information. The knowledge/information part is what Cheese insightfully advised you on last month -- get an instructor.

Now tell me if you can imagine this happening: "Well Mr. Ali, the 15 rounds are up it looks like I've won the fight. Y'know it's winner take all and I'd like to go 2 or 3 more rounds and give you a chance to win your money back." NO, and it shouldn't happen.

Phil Mickelson isn't playing extra holes to let Tiger get back in it. The ridiculous question VERBATUM is, "you're quittin' winners!?" and again VERBATUM "you're not gonna give me a chance to win my money back? And even worse "you're not gonna give me a chance to get even? Like we played so that nothing would happen. We play to win the other player's money. Why aren't we saying, "Yeah, I did beat you pretty easily, let me win some more." At that level it becomes business and business requires sound management to succeed. [and some luck.] I'll tell you what professional gamblers do, not professional pool players, professional gamblers. They live by laws. Even when they deviate they have a law in place that REQUIRES that they deviate. And then even the deviation is controlled by laws. Laws that they don't break. This is the law they have that I used.

QUIT ON THE DOWNTURN OF AN UPSWING. Can you see what that means? When things have been going your way for a while and begin to change QUIT! ....... QUIT! I like writing that because I know the controversy it's gonna cause especially in Oregon. QUIT EM! Go home. Use the rule of 1 lopsided loss or 2 consecutive losses. Either way QUIT. You're not gonna do it are you? I think that some of you will. And in regards to leaving - have a time set that you will be gone. And in order to do this successfully you'll need some information, information that you probably never looked to. Gamblers will tell you that the roulette wheel will make about 100 decisions in an hour; and that the dice will be thrown about 200 times in an hour yielding 50-60 decisions within that hour. They need that information to even begin management. You should know how many racks of one pocket you could play within your time frame. How many races to 7 in 9 ball fit into the time frame that you have set?

Next topic of management is to require players to freeze up the money. Clearly this would eliminate so many of the problems we see. So if it is such a surefire solution, why is it not standard? Well I'm gonna tell you why. It allows two things to go on that are to your disadvantage. First it allows them to play you a race when they have no money in their pocket. That means that if they win that race and continue on, you let them use your own money to win your money from you.

The other thing not freezing up the cash allows is this: let's say you and mark agree to play for $50.00 a set; he may only have $50.00; he may have $100.00. You may have $2000.00. It is lousy management for you to allow them a shot at thousands when you can only win $50.00. And in the case of them playing you with no money at all they have a chance to win $2000.00 and the most you can win is the fight. Mot good sound management. Freeze up the cash. Poolroom owners need to get back into being involved in the gambling that goes on in their rooms. Today a lot of them think they are protecting themselves by not allowing gambling -- well that's like asking the monkeys to stay out of the banana puddin'. Hold the cash, referee the calls and establish the rules for that set. No, I'm not saying that it's your job- what I am saying is that it would help us all and as you know they are going to gamble. Players in return PLEASE throw the room owner a bone when you win. Especially when you win big.

Here's my talk about alcohol etc. and it's brief. In Las Vegas as you gamble they will GIVE you all of the alcohol you can consume. Imagine that. The smartest and most successful gamblers on the planet want you to drink when you gamble with them. And it is fact that the free drinks in the pit have more alcohol in them than the drinks in the bar that are paid for. Look it up. If you get high and it improves your play - you weren't playing very well to begin with.

Then we have the mistake that rules the pool world's losers. It's what I call, "Everybody's Got One" -EGO

Do you know how road players make their living? Some make a stable living off of the weak. This is sound management and I see nothing wrong with it as a conscious choice, and to succeed at it takes a fine mixture of skill and management. And there is the road player, that some of you think you are, the kind that comes to town and gets all of the money in the room. Money that the aforementioned player can't get. The roadie I'm talking about makes his living off of other player's egos. And do you know who Mark and Vic are? They are local champions. And some of you say but those local champions went on the road. They are not road players. They are local champions who haven't lost their car yet. True road players make their living off of the fact that players often play to make a statement rather than to make money. When you see calm on a road player you may be able to stick with her/him. It's not likely. When you see that stroke, and you will know it when you see it, you may be able to hang with that player although it is still not likely. When you see calm and "that" stroke on the same body- I am being kind enough to tell you that you cannot beat that player. That is a certain way to identify and eliminate one of your losses. And all that noise you're making in response to this is the reason why we get paid. Ego will get you broke. The biggest mistake ego makes is in raising the bet after a loss.

You are putting more weight on the downswing. Large downswings have small beginnings. Gambling has turns and surges. To succeed you will have to master the rhythm of that particular encounter. That is the advanced form of money management when gambling. Most of the gamblers in pool say that they love pool and what they really love is the action. Then they wind up going to horses, cards, dice and so on. Fortunes can be made from gambling. For that to be true, fortunes have to be lost. Remember that. What makes a gambler successful is not the winning. It's what they do between winnings! I'm givin' you gold here and I gotta go. Again please email me for more -- every email gets answered.

I just got back from a trip to the east coast. While I was there I realized that they were loving and using my language. From that I decided to include one or two mcgillisms in each article: when I was ready to play a young man in Easton and he said he could only play for $20.00 I said to him "We can't play, your papers aren't in order". He was laughing to tears and ran around telling everyone "did you hear what he told me!!?" Later his friend asked if he could get a class before I left for Oregon. I asked if he had his learners permit with him. He asked sincerely "what is that?" I described for him a hundred dollar bill. The last one was when I asked the musician if he wanted to play some jackson five. [$100.00 in twenties]

Thank you. See you next month and do the work.

September Issue 2002


by: Paul Marquez

I felt like Fast Eddie looking over my shoulder at this tremendous sound only to see this punk kid Vincent blasting the rack and taking off his horse. Except the sound was coming from one of my friends Todd Ruhlen. Todd at this time was an up and coming player in the area receiving lessons at Lance McGill's Billiard Academy. Kraack!! What an unfamiliar sound in such a familiar environment. Strange that this caught my attention so, I mean after all, arrogance and self accompany a player like myself and I could always beat Todd. Don't get me wrong Todd was good, but a seasoned veteran like myself he was not, so I thought. Kraack!!! I would look over and watch two to three balls go in, the cue on the one ball and if were drawn on paper, he was out. Hmmm? Lance would make some adjustments as if it was not yet there. What could be better than that I thought? Kraack!!! WOW! It was pretty awesome to witness, Todd and I then took a little hike down to Idaho to one my favorite tournaments at Backstreet Billiards. This was a pretty sweet deal for me. Todd would be able to get all the action that I couldn't. I watched him beat player after player even steering away from certain people I didn't think I could beat. Well it's a funny moment when you make a jump in your game, you hardly see it coming and your only proof is in the results. Todd won all his nine-ball action and went undefeated in the tournament, roasting me in the process. Players all over kept asking me if he was just playing over his head, and arrogantly I thought sure, Todd was never this good before. Hmmm? Wait a minute playing over his head for two days? Just face it jack ass this guy passed you up. Damn! That break! Damn that Lance! Does the break really mean that much? Controlling the game from the beginning, getting more shots puts you in stroke doesn't it? Now I need the eight because of that stupid break, except guess who signed up for breaking lessons? Now I'm looking for you Mister Todd! Thanks Lance.


Before getting into the specifics of the power break I'll offer you a few guidelines; for those of you that use them you will find them to be invaluable in the decisions that we find ourselves left to make in close games.

First know that in 9-ball the strongest break wins. This seems to be the case even when 'all else isn't equal." It can be the deciding factor in the weaker player winning against a world-beater. This fact alone makes it worth working on. Who will do that work? As in life, [s]he who does the work gets paid. Paul Marquez did the work and won at Chinook Winds; Todd Rhulen did the work and won in Idaho.

Now, those guidelines;
In 9-ball: outbreak 'em; if you can't out break 'em then out skill 'em.
In 1-pocket: out wait 'em.
In 14.1: out think 'em.

YES, all of these will work with each kind of game mentioned; they are also best suited for you to rely on as they are listed above. The newer you are at gambling the more useful you'll find them to be. For those of you with years of experience, [seasoning] I suggest using them when you are looking at what appears to be a 50-50 proposition. [My students will all tell you that a 50-50 proposition is where you get fifty dollars for this rack and fifty dollars for the next one.]


I'll approach this by listing, first the kind of things you may be experiencing in the break and follow with potential solutions. NO, OR LITTLE POWER; the break is not as is usually imagined based on how "hard" you can hit the rack. It is based on rhythm. And if it is based on rhythm, you learning your individual rhythm becomes the answer. This common misconception of 'HARD" is borne of the larger and more common misconception that the cue just needs to be moving "fast." at the END of the break stroke, that's true. SOLUTIONS: begin by changing your view from 'how hard" to "how fast can I have this cue stick moving?" Add to that what I think is the largest and most important part. Have the cue stick ACCELERATE to its final speed. In this accelerating you'll find your rhythm and an immediate source of more power. Another source of more power is to find a longer stroke, longer backstroke and DEFINITELY a longer stroke toward the 1 ball. You cannot make this stroke too long. Let the cue do what it wants to do naturally. In looking at my break stroke I see that my cue tip ends about 1 inch beyond the horizontal line that divides the side pockets [on a 9' gold crown and starting from the standard rail and head string starting point.] For those of you that are just beginning in pool you can find this spot on nearly any used table. Look along the head string and find two worn spots near each rail.


This is an exciting one because you can change this one immediately! For most it's a simple matter of "being present" IN THE MOMENT THAT THE CUEBALL IS CONTACTED. It's the one stroke where I suggest you are looking at the cue ball during contact. See and feel what is going on. I think you'll be surprised to find that you see within minutes the individual adjustments you can make to gain more accuracy. Accuracy relies on stance. Adjust your stance to suit the wide opened full swing we are using when we break. Experiment with your gripping hand being farther back than when you normally stroke. Some of this is to compensate for the fact that we stand "higher' when we break. [Our chin is not as close to the cue stick.] If you have very little power this usually goes hand and hand with the cue ball ending up near or beyond where the balls were racked. Go lower on the cue ball and you'll gain more power and control of the cue ball. Don't make wholesale adjustments, the adjustment that works may be slight or nearly imperceptible to you right now. Spend the time looking accurately and remember to adjust your stance however slightly.


This is another thing that is improved by being present at and during cue ball contact. The balance can be in striking the cue ball higher or being more accurate as to where we are hitting the 1 ball. In deciding to go higher on the cue ball [if you are getting power it is unlikely that you have to hit the cue ball lower] understand that it may require new looking on your part. Let's say that the cue ball jumps the table to the side that you break from. Hit more to the opposite side of the 1 ball. Hit more of the 1 ball AWAY from the side that the cue ball jumps the table. Look to have more wrist action on your break stroke; this will have to be done with extreme care and accuracy or you may never gain control of the cue ball. A little more wrist will add speed to your stick movement and be an even greater help in finding a smoooth flowing powerful rhythm.

Most of the problems that I see with powerless breaking are that players aren't putting in the work. Here are some hints; rack the balls in numbered order whenever you are working on the break. This will allow you to become more familiar with how the balls are reacting. [The 5 ball will be where the nine usually sits.] For you players, hire someone to rack for you or exchange lessons for their help with racking. You will be breaking instead of walking, retrieving balls and racking; the benefit is exponential.

There is a new learning tool on the market designed to assist in improving on your break in the most effective and efficient way possible. It is called 'BREAKRAK.' We will be using one at MCGILL'S BILLIARD ACADEMY and I suggest you get one or have the room owner where you play get one. This is a most effective way to work on your break stroke.

Thank you and..."Do the work"
Lance E McGill

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