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Sid_Vicious
10-11-2004, 10:07 AM
...win your game or do you play to beat your opponent? I've had intense players suggest that I should be playing with a focused idea of "I'm going to beat my opponent, with a fever pitched toward getting the enemy ." I have myself almost always played to win my game, impress myself if you will, and yet I sort of sense a short-changed performance more times than I like to admit, and wondered about this question of what is better to drive my game under competition.

So what is your focus when competing, even in friendly fun pool? Beat the other player, or play for yourself against the table? Or is there a middle answer and if there is, do you feel that you can achieve as much success by "straddling the focus fence?" Tia...sid

daviddjmp
10-11-2004, 10:25 AM
Sid-

I have been trying to get into the mental side of straight pool, and have better success when I forget about any mistakes I made, just watch my opponent (hoping he gets out of line and I get another shot) and then if I get to the table again, just concentrating on the layout and playing the table, forgetting completely about the score. Although I am not that skilled of a player, focusing on the table and the balls helps me win games-

Deeman2
10-11-2004, 10:43 AM
Sid,

I know this is not the right answer but I play many different skill levels in a busy week of tournaments. Some that are like an APA 4 and some that can run racks. I play the player when against someone who is not a big threat to run out. The reason, I think you don't need to be quite as focused in the early stage of a game. How many times do we run to the eight or nine and can't get out in a difficult layout and leave the weakest of players an easy out. I try to give them a good run if the table is open but often will play loose early and let theem solve the rack problems for me. Against good players, I play the table and am very conservative. Some say you should play every shot as if your life depended on it. I just can't keep that much focus through an entire tournament, much less more than a match or so. Of course, if I could I might shoot like Earl abd yell at everyone all the time. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

Deeman

Stretch
10-11-2004, 10:59 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Sid_Vicious:</font><hr> ...win your game or do you play to beat your opponent? I've had intense players suggest that I should be playing with a focused idea of "I'm going to beat my opponent, with a fever pitched toward getting the enemy ." I have myself almost always played to win my game, impress myself if you will, and yet I sort of sense a short-changed performance more times than I like to admit, and wondered about this question of what is better to drive my game under competition.

So what is your focus when competing, even in friendly fun pool? Beat the other player, or play for yourself against the table? Or is there a middle answer and if there is, do you feel that you can achieve as much success by "straddling the focus fence?" Tia...sid <hr /></blockquote>

Hi Sid. Straddling the focus fence? Ohhh that sounds painful. /ccboard/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

I believe there are "situations" where you'll want to take into concideration your opponents skill level. But for my own overall mindset, i let the table be my guide. St

Chopstick
10-11-2004, 11:06 AM
This has always been a big problem for me. I come out of the gate blasting and when my opponent folds I let up and start coasting. That lets them back into the game and I wind up losing the match. I lost a match hill-zip once. I dogged a straight in eight ball, walking up and one stroking it. My opponent thanked me for not skunking him and then went on to win the match.

I picked up a new practice method from a Bert Kinister tape. Seting up nine ball practice patterns and playing a ghost player who never fails to get out a race to five. When I play matches I am going to imagine that I am always playing the ghost. This might help keep me focused.

bomber
10-11-2004, 11:14 AM
in my opinion, you do both. I have no mercy for anyone at the table, but i stay focused on MY game and WIN my game. If I have the oppurtunity to blank an opponent, i will. i will never let up on anyone. i refuse to show mercy to anyone. I want to beat my opponent to the fullest. i dont try to "hustle" anyone either. I play balls to the wall and if they can hang, then bring it. i dont have time to fiddle faddle around and let people win a few games to keep them interested. i want to play high caliber players and beat them. its not just about the money.

woody_968
10-11-2004, 11:30 AM
Thats a good question Sid, most of the time people (including me) say that you should play the table. But looking back at past performances I would probably say I may play better when I am trying to beat my opponent.

A good example is playing better when playing a stronger opponent. I tend to play better when I am shooting against someone that I know I cant let get to the table. When playing a weaker player I tend to get a little sloppy and make mistakes. I suppose if I were playing the table then the opponent shouldnt matter, but it does.

Another aspect of playing to beat your opponent can come out in safty play. Knowing if they are good at banking, kicking, or long shots can help determine what type of safty is best to play.

If you know that they dont normally run a rack, and there are some balls tied up, the best play may be to miss the shot and open up the other balls even if it leaves them a shot. That way you have an open table when they miss. That may not be what the table says to do, but might be the best play depending on the opponent.

SpiderMan
10-11-2004, 02:15 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Sid_Vicious:</font><hr> So what is your focus when competing, even in friendly fun pool? Beat the other player, or play for yourself against the table? Or is there a middle answer and if there is, do you feel that you can achieve as much success by "straddling the focus fence?" Tia...sid<hr /></blockquote>

I guess it's the "middle answer" for me, ie it depends on the nature of the game.

In "friendly fun pool", I generally try to run out in my first inning. If this nets me an unfair portion of racking time, then I'll add defensive moves. It's more fun to break, and I don't want to be seen at the "wrong end of the table" too often /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

In competition (with something at stake), I still play the table but I'll choose my tactics for the best chance of victory:

If I get first crack at an open table, I'll pick the better group and decide whether I'll attempt a runout. If a runout looks unlikely, I'll decide when and how I'll duck, before shooting the first ball. If I want a particular group and can't make one, I'll sometimes find a freeze-up safe on the open table so that my opponent will have to pass the choice back to me.

If my opponent gets to lead off, I watch the balls rearrange each time he shoots, revising my idea of what I'm going to do to him when he misses. When I get to the table I won't need a lot of additional time for planning, just a little fine-tuning of the details. If I miss, I sit back down, watch the table, and re-plan what I'm going to do to him next time I get up.

SpiderMan

Rod
10-11-2004, 02:43 PM
Never give it very much thought, I just play to win. Thats's done game by game and the player that makes the fewest mistakes is generally the winner.

I won't say I have never wanted to beat the other player, because I have. Whatever my reasons were at the time. I try to not make it personal and just win. When you play in an open format most everyone is good. If you know everyone is, then it's you and the table. Rivalry exists but I don't think you can really dewell on the fact you want to beat them. It might take away from your game, just play like you have trained for knowing the consequence if you make mistakes.

They will hurt you just like you will them. I'd imagine thought if there is one part where I'm out to get them is really sticking to them on a safety. I just get a kick watching them squirm. Emotions play a big part in this game. When they show signs of weakness, drill em. ha ha ha

Rod

dg-in-centralpa
10-11-2004, 06:07 PM
I play to annihilate my opponent. Not just beat him but to have as many of his balls on the table. Having said this, I don't focus as well as I should when playing people less skilled than I.I will try shots I normally wouldn't do against better shooters 'cause I know I'll get another shot. But I play better against equal or better opponents. I know I can't screw up or there will be no second shot.

DG - wish I could look at all opponents the same

cueball1950
10-11-2004, 10:16 PM
We3ll Sid,, i gave your post my Gold ribon Great question.
Let me start off by saying that before, i used to gamble. not big. Maybe 100 on a set of 9 ball or maybe 200 on a game of 14.1 Like i said. not a big gambler. But i always played to beat my opponent as badly as i could.
Now i haverealized that tou are not really playing your opponent, but you are always playing the table. What i mean is that you always play where the ball lands. Yes you can play safe and try to get inside your opponents head, but you still have to play the table. is the table slow/fast... damp or really dry..rolling funny. balls breaking lousy. balls racking lousy.. lousy cloth or new simonis. there are so many variables involved that the answer has to be playing the table.....jmho.....................mike

Poolplayerz
10-11-2004, 11:00 PM
So far there's a ton of different playing style out there, which is what makes the game so great!

Personally (in competition anyways), when I am not at the table, I am running the rack in my head. After every ball my opponent shoots I run the rack again with the newly presented layout. This keeps my mind runnin and it always gives me the confidence that I have a plan when I get back to the table. Once I know where I'm going with the table all focus can go onto making the balls and my target zone.

When playing with friends I'll play just as hard, but I don't think the table through all the time.

My two cents /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

rah
10-12-2004, 09:42 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Sid_Vicious:</font><hr> ...win your game or do you play to beat your opponent? I've had intense players suggest that I should be playing with a focused idea of "I'm going to beat my opponent, with a fever pitched toward getting the enemy ." I have myself almost always played to win my game, impress myself if you will, and yet I sort of sense a short-changed performance more times than I like to admit, and wondered about this question of what is better to drive my game under competition.

So what is your focus when competing, even in friendly fun pool? Beat the other player, or play for yourself against the table? Or is there a middle answer and if there is, do you feel that you can achieve as much success by "straddling the focus fence?" Tia...sid <hr /></blockquote>

If I don't like my opponent, his/her teammates, etc. I play to crush them, and I will more times that not. This kind of thing sets me off into the zone sometimes. It's just me, the pool table, and the balls. The opponent even disappears as does the crowd. Otherwise, I am too much of an easy going guy who just loves pool and who doesn't get into the show no mercy attitude quite enough. Lately though I have been able to play 'meaner' - I have talked myself into 'crushing all opponents'. This becomes fun and I think that I drop a level in spirituality LOL. Oops, maybe I will bring this up in my next pscho session. It's tough not being perfect, heh?!

For all of those people below and above who say that they just play (and to win) becaue they love the game are full of bull, IMHO. It's all ego related. Get in touch with your inner self if you dare, and then tell me your ego has nothing to do with it. Fun'z players never win, and if you just play for the fun of it, you never win - don't lie to me by saying that you do. Maybe your spirituaism wins, but this is all.

Heh, I say all of this tongue-in-cheek, but these considerations are all real, and are just some of the things the human mind has to deal with.

Cheers.

JimS
10-12-2004, 10:20 AM
I'd like to think I play the game, the table, but the truth is that my opponent makes a big difference in my game.

If he's a "lightweight" I just don't take it as seriously as I should. If he's a heavyweight I take it very seriously!! If I don't like him I play to KILL and my attitude could not in any way be mistaken for friendly...I don't speak and I tend to glare a lot (I can only think of one person that elicits that kind of response from me and I ALWAYS beat him!).

I suppose that I should always play the game, the table...except maybe when I'm playing the beginner and then a case could be made for letting up on them. But...that's not the way it is.

Sid_Vicious
10-12-2004, 01:25 PM
"If I don't like him I play to......and I ALWAYS beat him!)."

This is the suggested scope of being focal of "beating" the other guy and the reason I asked the question. I also differ from player to player in how much real focus I put in how I play, but it seems like I hear many in responses to this question here on the CCB that they also shift around with their intensity, and some admit that they goof into losing against lesser players. Thanks, this seems to be the reality of our particular talent level, which BTW is where I have taken us, in quest of the next and eventually our individual top level. IMO we won't acquire this level with the varying levels of focus, until we have the drive of say, spotting Grandma 3 games going to 5 and keeping her in her chair for 5 games, "You're goin' down Grandma!" attitude. Play to win(beat), not play to win in different levels. It'll cost the price of some of the fun, but it's becoming clear to me that it simply won't happen to the peak performance we all have inside ourselves, by waffling against some players, and then wanting to turn it up to full throttle against others. We may as well take up yard darts if we aren't going to take this game serious, otherwise we accept we'll be just so-so of a player...sid

RichardCranium
10-12-2004, 01:59 PM
Other than finding out what your oppoents weakness is and exploiting it during the match....I think you play the table....If you are at the table shooting, your opponent no matter how good or bad....has any controle over the outcome of the rack.....If you are forced to play safe...Ask yourself..."Ok...where would I NOT want to be if I were the next shooter"....Most of the time your opponent would not want to be there either...But knowing your opponents weakness is always a good thing when forced to play safe.... Other than that....When they are shooting...there is NOTHING you can controle...And when your at the table...There is NOTHING your opponent can controle...So why play your opponent....

This next one is for us mid level players....I was given a tip that has helped alot when playing players that are better than me....Don't make eye contact with your opponent....It's OK to watch him/her shoot, but don't make Eye contact...I was told there is something about the eye contact that reminds you who you are playing and can cause you to "choke" during the match....I've tried this and it actually works...when your not thinking about how good this person is...they become just another player and you have a better chance of playing you own game....

So ultimatly my answer is that if you play to beat the table..or layout that is given to you...you will beat your opponent in the process (most of the time) If your are playing to beat your opponent....you STILL have to beat the table layout....and now you talking about beating TWO things at one time....seems like double the work to me....RC

NineBall98
10-12-2004, 09:00 PM
Most of the time it seems like I've played to beat my opponent as opposed to playing the table. I think it would really bring my game up a level if I could stop doing this as much as possible even though it is much easier said than done. Thinking to much about my opponent really seems to bring down the consistency of my play.
At least in my case it would probably be best just to leave the ego at home. It gets frustrating when you know you have the tools to play as well as players who consistently beat you but can't do it because you get caught up in how they play, and just generally bothered by little distractions.