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You have been going to your home pub and as you take your cold drink, you enjoy watching your pals play pool. Now you want to join them at the table and enjoy the game too. Or, you recently bought a pool table, and you would like to learn how to play. All the same, it is a good start because with pool games, you will never get bored at home or at your local bar.
So, how long will it take you to learn to play pool? To be reasonably good, you may take at least one year doing 2 or 3 hours a day. To hit the highest level of professionalism, you may take up to five years practice of at least 8 hours 5-6 times a week. The time it takes to play pool really depends on an individual’s determination.
This article looks at how to play pool, the different pool games, and other related questions. Read on for a deeper insight.
What Does It Take In Learning to Play Pool?
As already said, the period it takes to learn how to play pool really depends on an individual. What is your target? How much time do you have to spare every day? How badly do you want this? Once you answer this questions, then you can set your time.
If you can spare 3 hours each day, you may learn faster than one who practices for one hour 3 times a week. Similarly, somebody who has been practicing for two years will be better than one who has been in it for 6 months only.
Above all, practice holding the cue stick and aiming right, ball control and direction management and you are good to go.
Learning How To Play Pool
You want to walk to that table and surprise everyone with how well you can play. Better still, you want to improve your gameplay to the level of professionals. Well, all that is possible with the guide below.
First, you need to be familiar with the equipment that you are going to use. Ideally, all there is a pool table, the cue stick and the balls.
For the cue stick, you are going to choose a size you are comfortable with. The standard length for cue sticks 58 inches, but longer or shorter ones are available too. Choose one that corresponds with your height for better playability.
As for the balls, we have numbered balls, the stripes and solids, the cue ball as well as the eight ball. Worth noting is that when playing, you must hit the cue ball, which in turn hits the ball on target. The cue ball is the only ball that you are supposed to hit directly using the cue stick.
While there are different variations of pool games as it shall be discussed later, leaning to play takes the same process; only game rules change later as you switch from one pool table game to another. Below are the basic things to learn to play pool.
- Learning The Posture And Holding The Cue
This has to do with the grip and stance. Your posture is very important here. Do not stand in an awkward where you can even fall with a slight push. Ensure that your posture is firm, and that you have balance. Once you feel comfortable and relaxed, gently hold the cue stick straight. Bottom line here is to stand firm and balanced before shooting the ball.
- Hitting the Cue Ball And Rolling It Straight
A good stroke is the second important element to learn once after making a balanced posture. When you make a bad stroke, there is so much unpredictability in your game. You want to make even the most difficult shots, thus you must master your strokes.
To make a good stroke, you need to hold the cue stick in a gentle manner, keep your head firm while shooting and no body movement apart from the forearm. Remain in position until the ball stops moving. When practicing hitting the cue ball straight, do it several times, hitting the ball from one end of the table to the other; this is the longest route, which is the diagonal route.
- Aiming and Hitting the Cue Ball in the Right Place
In the step above, you learnt how to hit the cue ball to roll straight. In this step, we learn where you need to hit the cue ball, so that it can hit the ball on target.
When learning, start with a straight shot, then proceed to an easy cut shot, progressively move to harder ones until you are comfortable making most cut shots. When you want a ghost ball to hit a target ball, then you must aim right at the middle of the cue ball.
- Controlling the Cue Ball in Readiness for the Next Shot
If you have ever watched professionals playing, you may have noticed that they don’t just make a shot. In addition to making a shot, they also ensure the cue ball rolls up strategically right in place for them to make the next shot. Interesting, right? You can also learn to do this so that you can pot as many balls as possible. To do this, you must be able to control the cue first. Then position the ball accordingly. With regular practice, you will perfect this soon enough.
The above are the basic pool table tips. However, learning to play pool does not stop here. The above was just a beginner’s guide to help with holding the cue stick and making a shot.
Once you are able to do it, learning continues. You need to get better at everything. You need a better position play, kick shots, breakout shots, bank shots, safety play, and so on.
It even gets to point where it not all about shooting balls, but also playing the mental game. You can go as far deep into learning and getting better every day.
Thus, even after five years, you will still be learning and practicing new things regardless of whether you consider yourself a professional.
Types of Pool Games
Also known as Billiards, pool falls under the classification of cue sports. It is played on a rectangular table, with six pockets, into which balls are deposited in a certain order. Below are four most popular pool games that you can play.
1. 8-Ball Pool
This is among the most popular pool able games. It is played with 16 balls. Number 1 to 7 are solid colors, while 9 to 15 are stripped. Number 8 is the black ball.
After breaking the balls, the player will take either the solid or stripped balls. The aim is to pocket all your balls, then pot the black one in the mentioned pocket.
Fouls include potting the cue ball, pocketing the black ball before you pocket all your balls, failing to hit the on ball first, balls falling off the table, and many others.
For more detailed rules: 8-Ball Rules
2. 9-Ball Pool
This one is played with 10 numbered balls. While number nine is not the shot ball, you are allowed to pocket any number on the table, as long as the cue ball first hits the ball with the lowest number on the table.
A win is declared upon the player who pockets the 9 ball at any time. Also, if you commit three consecutive fouls, your opponent is declared the winner.
Fouls include potting the white ball, knocking any ball off the table, and committing three fouls in a row.
For more detailed rules: 9-Ball Rules
3. Cutthroat Pool
This one is played by three or more people with the same set of balls as in the 8-ball, that is 16 billiards. The balls are divided into 3 categories, where number 1-5 are low balls, 6-10 mid balls, and 11-15 high balls. Each player will use one of the sets. The aim is to pocket other players’ balls, and the winner is the one with at least a single ball from their set remaining on the table.
If you pocket the cue ball, the opponent can put back one of his/her pocketed balls.
If you hit the cue ball more than once in one shot, or hit the object ball before hitting the cue ball, that is considered foul play.
For more detailed rules: Cutthroat poll rules
4. One Pocket Pool
One pocket pool is simply as the name suggests; each player chooses one pocket to pot balls throughout the game. This means that only two pockets will be in use throughout the game.
You can pocket only in your designated pocket, where each pocketed ball will earn you one point. You can shoot any object ball regardless of the color or number.
Although the goal is scoring many points, the winner is the first player to reach the agreed points, normally 8.
Fouls including balls falling off the table and potting in the opponent’s pocket or any other pocket other than yours. Committing three consecutive fouls makes your opponent the winner.
The above are just a few of the common pool games. There are others such as snooker pool, bank pool, bumper pool, English billiards, carom pool, straight pool and many others.
Once you master the art of playing pool, you can play any of them as long as you understand and adhere to the rules for each game.
Where should your eyes be when shooting pool?
Universally, pool coaches recommend that your eyes should shift back and forth between the object ball and the cue ball. This way you will not miss a detail.
Can you play pool alone?
Yes, you can play pool all by yourself. While it may feel awkward, it is a great idea, especially if you want to polish your skills at the game. Some of the games you can play alone include solo 8 ball, solo 9 ball, 3ball, speed pool, and many others.