9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Jay » Tue, 15 Jun 1999 04:00:00


There seem to be different philosophies regarding the break in 9-ball.
Most of the stuff I have heard and read recommend keeping control of the
cue ball. You want to break the balls and keep the cue ball in the
center of the table. There are many reasons for wanting to do this
(having a decent opportunity to hit the ball you need to hit, minimizing
scratches, etc.). I've worked hard to control my break for this reason.
One book goes as far as to say that you don't really want to sink the
1-ball, you want it to end up near the cue ball too. (Makes sense in
theory but I've not had much success with this). Anyway, I go to the
Miami leg of the Florida Pro Open and among others are Mizerak and
Charlie Williams. I watch Mizerak break and he hammers the balls, but
it's obvious he's not putting everything he has into the break. He seems
to try to keep the cue ball center table. I'm thinking, yep, that's just
how I would do it. I pat myself on the back for playing it like a pro. A
little later on, I start watching this skinny little Korean kid (I'm
Korean too, btw) break. He seems to do everything that the books tell
you not to do. He has a herky jerky motion in which he actually seems to
release the ***and change his grip. He pumps ***ly. He gets his
whole body into the break. When he uncoils, his cue ends up high in the
air. He really pulverizes the balls. I think I saw him make five balls
on the break once. It was either four or five. He seems to consistently
make about two or three balls on his breaks. The strange thing is, he
doesn't seem to care where the cue ball ends up. Granted, he is an
ungodly shotmaker and could prabably hit any shot on the table, but
wouldn't it make more sense to take a little pace off the break and kill
whitey center table?

Is my philosophy flawed? Should I worry about sinking more balls on the
break or controlling the cue ball?

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Patrick Johnso » Tue, 15 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Quote:

> Should I worry about sinking more balls on the
> break or controlling the cue ball?

Control the cue ball.  You'll more often be hurt bad by a bad lie than
helped a little by dropping an extra ball.  You only need one.

Pat Johnson
Chicago

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Robert Finne » Tue, 15 Jun 1999 04:00:00

  Let the other guy break.
  Finney
Quote:

> > Should I worry about sinking more balls on the
> > break or controlling the cue ball?


 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by BOBJN » Wed, 16 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Charlies has broken like that ever since have known him.Personally i try to
smash them but with some control to it.. Who won that final anyway?
 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by NM Woof » Wed, 16 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Is it foolish to break differently depending upon your opponent?

In nine ball, if I am breaking against a significantly weaker opponent, I hate
to see the 9-ball rolling toward a pocket on the break.  Sure it may fall for
the easy win but it's just as likely to park itself in front of the pocket
increasing my opponent's chances of winning.  If I feel confident that I can
beat the guy in a full game, why shorten it?  

Similar reasoning is behind a BCA senior masters player I know.  He breaks
moderately softly in Vegas with the theory that "anybody here" can run out an
open rack but by extending the game to a strategy game he feels he can increase
his odds.

Lastly, I've been told that the idea of leaving the cueball in the center of
the table is fine for 9-ball but irrelevant for 8-ball since you have 14 balls
to shoot at.  It makes sense to me... however, there is still the scratch risk
of turning it loose as some do with the 2nd ball break for example.

NMWoofer

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Jay » Wed, 16 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Steve Mizerak from the winner's side and Charlie Williams from the loser's side
in the final. Williams won the whole thing. Last match was 13-11.
Quote:

> Charlies has broken like that ever since have known him.Personally i try to
> smash them but with some control to it.. Who won that final anyway?

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Steve Heg » Wed, 16 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Quote:

>Is my philosophy flawed? Should I worry about sinking more balls on the
>break or controlling the cue ball?

Should be a simple answer. One guy you watched is a hall of famer with 30+
years of championship-level playing experience and a classic playing style.
The other two guys are not.
 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Jay » Wed, 16 Jun 1999 04:00:00

You are absolutely correct in that it seems like it should be a simple answer.
It's funny though, because Williams beat Mizerak in the finals to win the
tourney. I know a couple of the pros at the tournament and all of them were
raving about William's break. (You mention "the other tow guys". I think I may
have confused you. Charlie Williams is "the skinny little Korean kid". I'll be
my last dollar you never meet another Korean Charlie Williams....BTW, Williams
is a world class player. Everyone at the tournament said he was the favorite.
No one bet against him, that's for sure.) Anyway, what I am thinking is, he
hits them that hard to get the balls moving to:
a) increase the chances of making the 9-ball on the break
b) sink as many balls as possible to make it as easy as possible to run out

Point a is easily understood. Point b I'm not so sure about. I think I read
somewhere that the top men's players can run out from the break about 40% of
the time. (I believe this was mentioned in "Playing off the rail"). Now my
numbers are not going to be accurate here as I am speculating, but hopefully
the gist of it will be. Assuming that this 40% number is correct, let's assume
that out of any 100 games, the balls are broken and the player gets perfect cue
ball position in the center of the table every time and the 9-ball goes on the
break 5 times, and the player runs out 35 times. If by breaking as hard as
Williams does, the cue ball goes all over, the 9-ball goes on the break 7
times, and he can run out 45 times (because there are on average 1-2 less balls
left on the table) would it be worth it to sacrifice position on the cue ball?

The simple answer for players of my ability would seem to be "leave the cue
ball in the center of the table". This would seem logical because I would then
have a much easier shot, on average, assuming that I sank a ball. The problem
is, let's assume that I regularly make one ball on the break and I leave the
cue ball in the center of the table. I may be able to run out 1 out of 15 or 20
games (assuming eight balls left). If I made eight balls on the break and only
had to shoot the 9-ball in (again, assuming center table cue ball position) my
run out percentage might be 99%. Of course with a different number of balls
made on the break, the percentage would be between these two. Watching Williams
break got me to thinking, maybe I should break harder, sacrificing cue ball
control in exchange for sinking more balls on the break, to make a run out much
easier for myself.

Think about your own game. On average, if there were six balls left on the
table, how much easier would it be to run out than if there were seven balls?
eight balls? five balls? etc.

I'm still not convinced one way or other, but I am leaning towards releasing
whitey a little bit.

Would love everyone's input...

Quote:


> >Is my philosophy flawed? Should I worry about sinking more balls on the
> >break or controlling the cue ball?

> Should be a simple answer. One guy you watched is a hall of famer with 30+
> years of championship-level playing experience and a classic playing style.
> The other two guys are not.

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Steve Heg » Wed, 16 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Quote:

>You are absolutely correct in that it seems like it should be a simple
answer.
>It's funny though, because Williams beat Mizerak in the finals to win the
>tourney. I know a couple of the pros at the tournament and all of them were
>raving about William's break. (You mention "the other tow guys". I think I
may
>have confused you. Charlie Williams is "the skinny little Korean kid". I'll
be
>my last dollar you never meet another Korean Charlie Williams....BTW,
Williams
>is a world class player.

I'll definitely agree that CW is a very strong 9-ball player, capable of
beating just about anyone if he is on his game.

However, he still has a long way to proving himself equally as capable in
the other games, and is a far cry from the hall of fame.

Even though "The Miz" is not the player he once was, his talent, technique
and knowledge are the things that one learns from.

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Jay » Wed, 16 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Again, you are absolutely right. I learned more from watching Mizerak over those
two days than I might have learned by myself in a couple of months. I mean his
safety play is unbelievable. But back to the point, you mention that Williams
has yet to prove himself capable in the other games. I've only seen him play
9-ball this one time. And I'm really only concerned about the philosophy of the
break in 9-ball (and again, this might be applicable to 8-ball too). I mean, you
take a devastating break and add that to a great shooter and that sounds like an
easy runout. Of course, maybe I'm just deluding myself as I'm not half the
shooter that Williams is. :)

Anyway, I take it that you favor the "center table break" approach. (Which I did
also.) Are you saying that there is no merit to a Williams type of break? Would
you ever consider it? Just curious.

Quote:


> >You are absolutely correct in that it seems like it should be a simple
> answer.
> >It's funny though, because Williams beat Mizerak in the finals to win the
> >tourney. I know a couple of the pros at the tournament and all of them were
> >raving about William's break. (You mention "the other tow guys". I think I
> may
> >have confused you. Charlie Williams is "the skinny little Korean kid". I'll
> be
> >my last dollar you never meet another Korean Charlie Williams....BTW,
> Williams
> >is a world class player.

> I'll definitely agree that CW is a very strong 9-ball player, capable of
> beating just about anyone if he is on his game.

> However, he still has a long way to proving himself equally as capable in
> the other games, and is a far cry from the hall of fame.

> Even though "The Miz" is not the player he once was, his talent, technique
> and knowledge are the things that one learns from.

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Tokyo Sli » Thu, 17 Jun 1999 04:00:00



Should I worry about sinking more balls on the
Quote:
> break or controlling the cue ball?

    Chance is a ***. It's a big part of the game for me when I win
the lag. I break from the 90 degree junction of the 1st diamond up the
left hand rail, 1st diamond to the right.  It's a good spot for me,
where I can keep my cue steady on the cloth of the cushion, and my
bridge hand isn't too far back from the tip.  I break pretty hard and
occasionally get 3 balls, occasionally get no balls, and usually get
1 or 2.  With my speed and a little top english, the cue ball ends up
in the center of the table, but that doesn't mean there's never a ball
blocking a shot at the one (or lowest) ball.  Chance is a ***.

     IMO, you've got an opponent.  You miss, he might finish the rack,
he might not.  Chance is a ***.  I would rather make more balls on
the break, but what kind of control on the cue ball are you talking
about?  Maybe I'm a shittier player than I thought, but when my break
is done and the balls fall, the cue ball's in center table, I'm happy
when I can see the one ball.  There's nothing I can change about my
break that will prevent that bastard 7 ball from getting in front of the
cue ball. Chance is a *** and she's bringin' her 7 with her!
    About 3 weeks ago I had an unusual thing happen two breaks in a
row.  Three balls in both times, the 9-ball both times, cue ball off
the table both times.  I never launch the cue ball off the table.
Chance is a ***, and she's bringin' her helium filled cue ball.  >

--
Tokyo Slim

Sent via Deja.com http://SportToday.org/
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by BOBJN » Thu, 17 Jun 1999 04:00:00

I believe theres great merit to Charlies Break.Miz being a hall of famer has
nothing to with it.I think what you have to do is find the right mixture of
power and control.Hit the balls has hard as you can with the most control you
can.I reffed an Us open and watched Pat Fleming break soft yet he ran racks.and
i saw guys breaking hard and doing the same.Its what works for you.I agree less
balls usually means easier runout.But that run out is harder if youve got to
come with a world class shot on the first ball.So control does have a place in
the equation of the break.Anyway we could debate the break for years and years.
 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Ron Shepa » Thu, 17 Jun 1999 04:00:00

[...]

Quote:
> Anyway, I take it that you favor the "center table break" approach.
(Which I did
> also.) Are you saying that there is no merit to a Williams type of
break? Would
> you ever consider it? Just curious. [...]

I don't really have an answer to your question, but here are some ideas to
help keep things in perspective.

* I don't think good players break hard in order to make a lot of balls on
the break.  One is good enough.  If three or four drop, that's alright,
but that's not the goal.  They break hard in order to increase their
chances of making at least one ball on the break.

* If you break, pocket some balls, and leave the cue ball in a bad place
on the table, then you can always push out.  An ideal push out gives the
shooter no more than a 50% chance at winning the game; a bad push will
leave him less than 50%, but he can never do any better than 50%.

* If you break, and don't pocket a ball, then the opponent is never (well,
very seldom) stuck with less than a 50% chance of winning.  If you leave a
tough shot, he can always push out to a 50% chance.

* After these two possibilities are accounted for, that leaves the good
case (pocket some balls and leave yourself a reasonable layout, either to
run out or to play a safety) and the bad cases (don't pocket a ball and
leave your opponent a good layout; scratch or jump the table and leave
your opponent a good layout).

With these things in mind, it would seem that you are better off pocketing
balls on the break and not having position, than you are getting good cue
ball position and not pocketing balls.

What do you do if you can't pocket balls on the break?  I sometimes switch
over to Lassiter's break shot: break from the side, carom off the 1-ball,
off the cushion, and back into the 9-ball.  You get a free roll at the
9-ball this way (it drops maybe 1/20), but the cue ball is often left in a
bad position afterwards.  This means that, if the 9-ball doesn't drop,
either you or your opponent are going to push to a 50% position most of
the time.  I don't know if this is the optimal strategy, but it seems like
a reasonable one.

$.02 -Ron Shepard

 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Jay » Thu, 17 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Quote:

> * I don't think good players break hard in order to make a lot of balls on
> the break.  One is good enough.  If three or four drop, that's alright,
> but that's not the goal.  They break hard in order to increase their
> chances of making at least one ball on the break.

OK. I see your point. (But the chances of more balls going in does increase too,
doesn't it?)

Quote:

> * If you break, pocket some balls, and leave the cue ball in a bad place
> on the table, then you can always push out.  An ideal push out gives the
> shooter no more than a 50% chance at winning the game; a bad push will
> leave him less than 50%, but he can never do any better than 50%.

Are you saying this because between two evenly matched players, over the long run
they will each have about the same expected winning percentage from this position?
or is there something else I haven't considered?

Quote:

> * If you break, and don't pocket a ball, then the opponent is never (well,
> very seldom) stuck with less than a 50% chance of winning.  If you leave a
> tough shot, he can always push out to a 50% chance.

Same as above?

Quote:

> * After these two possibilities are accounted for, that leaves the good
> case (pocket some balls and leave yourself a reasonable layout, either to
> run out or to play a safety) and the bad cases (don't pocket a ball and
> leave your opponent a good layout; scratch or jump the table and leave
> your opponent a good layout).

> With these things in mind, it would seem that you are better off pocketing
> balls on the break and not having position, than you are getting good cue
> ball position and not pocketing balls.

This is what I felt after watching Williams. Although I will say this:
1. Williams hits the cue ball EXTREMELY low on the break shot.
2. Williams hits the break shot EXTREMELY hard.
3. He seems to have this uncanny knack of bringing the cue ball back to the head
rail with the 1-ball nearby.
It seemed to happen quite a bit too often to attribute this to randomness, yet, with
the *** nature of his break I can't help but feel that this was just some good
fortune. (Or maybe the pros ARE that much better than me....)

Quote:

> What do you do if you can't pocket balls on the break?  I sometimes switch
> over to Lassiter's break shot: break from the side, carom off the 1-ball,
> off the cushion, and back into the 9-ball.  You get a free roll at the
> 9-ball this way (it drops maybe 1/20), but the cue ball is often left in a
> bad position afterwards.  This means that, if the 9-ball doesn't drop,
> either you or your opponent are going to push to a 50% position most of
> the time.  I don't know if this is the optimal strategy, but it seems like
> a reasonable one.

> $.02 -Ron Shepard

Excellent post Ron. Thank you. I was hoping to get a response such as this one. You
never mentioned how you break though. I'm pretty sure I'm going to switch over to
hammering the cue ball, position be damned.
 
 
 

9-Ball Break (Maybe 8-Ball too)

Post by Ron Shepa » Thu, 17 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Quote:

> Are you saying this because between two evenly matched players, over the
long run
> they will each have about the same expected winning percentage from this
position?
> or is there something else I haven't considered?

A push out is simpler than this.  The incoming player has the option to
take it or to make the opponent shoot.  If the layout is near 50%, then it
doesn't matter what he does.  If it is much different, say 10/90, then he
will always take the best option (the 90 rather than the 10).  The best
the shooter can hope for when he pushes out is to leave a 50/50
situation.  This is true for evenly matched players.  If they aren't
evenly matched, then there are usually pushout positions that reflect that
missmatch.

[...]

Quote:
> 1. Williams hits the cue ball EXTREMELY low on the break shot.

Don't be deceived by how someone lines up.  Watch the cue ball afterwards,
that is the real test of where he hit it.  For example, you go on to say:

Quote:
> 3. He seems to have this uncanny knack of bringing the cue ball back to
the head
> rail with the 1-ball nearby.

It doesn't take an "EXTREMELY low" hit on the cue ball to bring it back to
the head rail.  Considering the way the cue ball bounces off the rack, a
centerball hit might well achieve this result.

Quote:
>[...] You
> never mentioned how you break though.

I should have.  I break like crap.

Quote:
>I'm pretty sure I'm going to switch over to
> hammering the cue ball, position be damned.

Of course what you really want is to be able to hammer the cue ball *AND*
get good position with it.  Anything less, either backing off on the speed
or letting the cue ball run wild, is a less than optimal compromise.  You
will not be satisfied with such a compromise.  Keep practicing on both
speed and control.  Do the best you can in the meantime, but keep
practicing on both.

BTW, I mentioned what I do when I can't pocket a ball consistently.  I
should have mentioned the other one too.  Some tables are like this, you
can pocket balls consistently without hammering the cue ball.  If I am
pocketing a ball consistently on the break without hammering the cue ball,
then I concentrate on placing and hitting the cue ball and the 1-ball
consistently, with the same speed every time.  This seems obvious, but
I've seen players find the sweet spot on the break, and then, for some
reason, move away from it.  I guess they're trying to find a place to
pocket the 9-ball, or to sink even more balls, or something.  You just
can't please some people. :-)

$.02 -Ron Shepard