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View Full Version : The 3 cuts, revisited (to 8, LOL!!!)

phil in sofla
07-17-2002, 04:32 PM
Some weeks have passed since I originally posted the 'learn all three cuts!' message, and I've learned many things in the interim that I think are important to pass on. The main thing is to correct some basic errors that I made that interfere with using the system, and in believing it could work.

Billie Billing's book notes a fact (in a different context involving caroms) that ties this whole thing together, once my key presentation error is corrected. Discussing an inch area of the object ball, she says there are only 6 spots in that inch where the object ball can be hit. Just as one might think there are a theoretically infinite number of cut angles, equally one might think there are an infinite number of places to hit an object ball at, even restricting it to considering about an inch worth of the object ball (a little less than half the ball's width). Billings says, contrary to this perception, because of the geometry of the ball contact zone and its size, there are only six unique spots at which it can be hit. And she has a nice diagram showing this. She doesn't state her sources for this claim, but I guess it is word of mouth lore that pool mavens pass on to their proteges.

How does that relate to having only 3 cut lines (to cut it to the left, say)? Not well, and that's the first correction to my prior posting.

In fact, the method I described yields 8 contact points for an inch and a quarter half-ball's width, because there are 8 aims used per side.

From the limiting case of the full-on "0 degree cut," the first line, a slight cut, is aimed from the line (line 1) closest to the center of the cue ball, to the center of the object ball. This is actually a 7/8ths full cut. The second line is aimed from the second cue ball division, half way to the edge from the center, the 1/4 ball line on the cue ball, to the center of the object ball. This is a 3/4 ball cut line. The next, third aim line, is from the 3rd division line of the cue ball out from the center, an 1/8th ball line, to the center of the object ball, which is a 5/8ths full hit line. The next line, instead of aiming the edge of the cue ball (the '4th cue ball line') to the center of the object ball, you aim the center of the cue ball to the edge of the object ball, which is the same thing (but easier to see), the half-ball hit line we all know.

Then, you use the same cue ball lines as above, but aimed at the edge, to get you 4 more increasingly thinner cut angles. This is a total of 8 unique lines (a side), counting the thin cut but not the 0 degree 'cut.'

I apologize for the mistake, and also apologize for not knowing I had just about exactly described Hal Houle's system, which I had never seen explained before I ran across one of Hal's own postings on the question, from a link provided here to an RSB discussion or somewhere, which I only saw after the fact.. Ironically, Hal himself calls the aiming system a secret that insiders know and use, and that is from his very long perspective going back to the '30s and his personal knowledge of what many of the old timer Hall of Fame types used.

Clearly, the theoretical objections to there only being 3 cut angles is lessened greatly by admitting that isn't true, but a mistaken claim, and that in fact, there are 8. That is beginning to make a whole lot better sense, and helping explain how this bumblebee flies contrary to expectations.

Having backed off that prior ridiculous claim to bring your guards down, I'll now make a still more ridiculous claim I deduced from Hal's writing on the subject. Even if you choose the wrong cue ball line to aim through to the object ball, the ball should generally still go if struck with the right speed... somewhere. How so?

Well, Hal says ANY shot on that object ball (a bank, a double bank, a two-, three-, four- or five-railer, etc.) can be made by using one of these reference sighting lines. There are only 6 pockets, and we know (theoretically) that one of the 8 lines goes to the one specific pocket we were trying to use, leaving 7 lines for 5 pockets.

In other words, fram away at the ball on any of these remaining lines, and if the resulting path is open, and you get the ball far enough with speed, it should reach one of these other pockets! That is, if Hal is correct, and you get the wrong line to pocket it where you want, it should still go somewhere else. No benefit from that in call-shot games, of course, but in 9-ball, or in APA rules 8-ball, you'd still be at the table to continue your shooting if it goes anywhere.

Just as we've all probably seen a slightly undercut bank come off the rail short and go cross side or cross corner to pocket there, and certain lines of misses to the corner pocket come around 3 rails to the side pocket (the deadly scrtatch line when it is the cue ball following that line), this theory implies that ANY well hit cut along one of these lines (pick one at random!) goes somewhere.

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, now, this alleged claim! (I hasten to say this isn't something Hal claimed, from what I read, but something I deduce).

As to my results with it, aside from not framming balls around (I play with a soft stroke whenever possible), I continue to be astounded by its accuracy. Last night, playing about 8 games of 8-ball on a side table after league, my opponent was remarking that I didn't miss anything, that when he left me hard shots I just made them and got shape, and he was just barely exaggerating. Believe me, this wasn't my game two or three weeks ago, not for multiple games in a row, anyway. I'd come with that level of play only rarely, and for shorter periods of time.

Now that I'm getting more familiar with these lines, and making fewer judgment errors, my confidence continues to go up. And as a side effect, I'm breaking far better (using one of these lines), both in 8-ball and 9-ball, and able to pull off 9 to 12 foot power draws that leave me grinning ear to ear, which simply were beyond my ability until I gained the confidence to fully stroke down the line. This has definitely been that proverbial next step to the next level for me.

07-17-2002, 05:51 PM
"able to pull off 9 to 12 foot power draws that leave me grinning ear to ear, which simply were beyond my ability until I gained the confidence to fully stroke down the line."

Sounds like your placebo is working so I can't knock it.

07-18-2002, 03:09 PM
Same basic principle as the clock system of aiming; only difference is you are aiming at points on the horizontal axis of a surface rather than points along a curved edge.
Don't be surprised or disappointed when certain circumstances arise that cause any of these systems to break down. It helps to learn them all, switch betwen them, and then combine them when necessary. Good luck.