View Full Version : How did you learn to play?

04-25-2003, 11:25 AM
I'm interested to hear how people got into the game and what methods they used to learn to play.

I started out playing just for fun with friends in high school. We'd bang the balls around and laugh if one of us got lucky enough to make one. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I thought the guys with their own cues looked really cool, so I bought one for myself, a Viking Q33. Then I realized that since I'd just dropped $150 on a cue, I should probably learn how to play /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif, so I bought Byrne's Standard Book and read it religiously. That was good enough for me to beat most of the people in my small college, but I never really took it seriously and stopped playing for a while.

Now that I'm back into it, I'm reading all the recommended books, doing drills (which I'd never done before) and playing Target Pool, in addition to playing in weekly tournaments and against friends. My game's really improving and I hope to take it to the next level with lots of practice. I also get Accu-Stat tapes so I can see how the pros do it. I'd like to get to the point where I can run tables consistently -- that's my goal. /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif

What's YOUR story? /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

04-25-2003, 11:46 AM
I grew up with a pool table in the basement. My Father and older brother made me learn the hard way. Neither ever let me win. Over the years I played a lot and learned from other players, but my game never took off until I decided to find one instructor and work with him, rather than taking advise from hundreds of players everywhere. Books, Tapes, Magazines will give a lot of insite, but nothing compares to having a qualified instructor work with you. Last year, I got to work with Randy G, and that was the biggest boost my game got in 40 years. I can't wait to work with him and Doc again.

04-25-2003, 11:47 AM
Lets see I got into the game when i was around 13, the car service around the corner from me had a 7ft coin op table(25 cents) in the back. I use to watch the old people play on it at night and in the day after school i would play.
No one tought me how to play it I would just pocket ball and set up for the next shot, never looked 3 balls ahead back then.
I stopped playing for about 17 years and started playing again 2-3 year now
Man i miss playing back then especialy when I started beating the better players who were about 10-20 years older then me. / /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif \

Naz~~ feels like I shot better at 13 then i do now /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Fred Agnir
04-25-2003, 11:54 AM
Sorry for posting links, but it's the best I can do:

In the Beginning (http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=7pl0j1%24n7j%241%40birch.prod.itd.eart hlink.net&oe=UTF-8&output=gplain)

How it Continued (http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=7EPU5.11557%24II2.1152582%40newsread2. prod.itd.earthlink.net&oe=UTF-8&output=gplain)

Hope this helps,


9 Ball Girl
04-25-2003, 11:59 AM
My Dad used to play in a softball league out of Central Park in NY. Afterwards, the families would go to a family oriented social club. That's when I first saw a pool table. I was 7 back then and all the other kids liked Foosball but I liked the green table with the colorful balls and my Dad took notice to that. Ok, so he had his own cue but I could only play with the shaft because the whole cue was too long for me! LOL (Getting flashbacks!) So that's how pool was introduced to me. My fondest memory was of my Dad making me stay down til the cueball stopped which I thought was some sort of punishment! LOL

Anyway, to make a long story short, I played in segments. I stopped when I turned 8. Then I picked it up at 17, stopped at 22, then picked it up again at 26 and I've been going at it for 3 years now.

9 Ball Girl~~~finally learned to stay down til the CB stops!

04-25-2003, 12:08 PM
I had played maybe 10 total games before I came to college. In the dorm there were two 9 footers with good people playing on them. I had to beat them and started playing 12 hours a day. What did I learn my freshman year? Pool, Pool, Pool. Then I graduated to the Union where better players were...then I HAD to beat them. After watching and reading, losing in tourneys, I started to win more and more. Haven't lost the love for the game, only now I can't put in 12 hours a day....stupid bills make me work.


04-25-2003, 12:14 PM
I was 17 and waiting for bowling lanes to open up after league nite. My buddies and I passed time waiting by playing our first games of pool.. we never did bowl that nite and have been playing pool ever since.

No books, no videos, no instructors,, and Byrnes probably had BLACK hair back then... learned by trial and error and watching better players play.

04-25-2003, 12:55 PM
I have read and own a few books. I just want to buy the books for a pool library as a collectors sake. Everytime I go into a used bookstore I look for older pool books. Lots of them haven't done me a whole helluva lot, one shot I like though is the 5 railer



04-25-2003, 01:12 PM
I have a short story, with my little red mosconi book and thousands of hours of play.


John G
04-25-2003, 01:23 PM
I was 16 years old and went to a bowling alley where they had pool tables. I'd never played a game of pool before. Some guys in the room hustled me out of some money. I don't remember anymore but I doubt if it was more then $3.00. It made me so angry that I told them when I came back I'm going to beat all of you. 6 months later I was giving half the guys in the room the 8 ball and they didn't like it. There was one guy though that it took me almost 15 years to catch up to. Sadly he has passed away. I always liked the way he played.

John G

04-25-2003, 02:00 PM
I started on our POS table downstairs just knocking balls around, once I started making runs of 4 or 5 balls in a row I became hooked, once I had run my first table I became hooked for good. I've never had a teacher/instructor teach me I've taught myself just about everything, I did learn watching better players and I've also learned from my mistakes (more then I'd like to admit /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif), the funny thing is that to this day I still practice on the same POS table downstairs.

04-25-2003, 02:48 PM
In high-school, I was the assistant manager of a pizza place that was sharing shop space with an arcade. We had a deal with the arcade managers, don't interfere with their customers, and we got a key to the games /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif Which included the pool table. I got truly hooked on pool their in that little arcade, shooting against friends and co-workers till all hours of the morning.

I finally broke and ran my very first 8-ball table a week ago Thursday. Against the rank 7 player on our team while warming up before my match. It was the best feeling I've had in... probably since my son was born.

If Heaven doesn't have a bar box, I'm coming back. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

04-25-2003, 03:54 PM
First memory of playing was at about maybe 10, on a basement table at house of cousins who lived 1,000 miles away. Remember seeing and -- sometimes sinking -- cuts nobody else seemed to think possible, and also taking an interest in where the cb went. Was always slipping down to play solo during that visit ... practically had to be dragged away from the table.

Didn't get to playing hardly at all again till college ... started picking up whatever fundamentals I could from better players. But after a few years of somewhat careless practice, I couldn't seem to progress from being a good bar shooter to becoming a first-rate poolhall player and drifted away from it.

Now back in it for a few months about 20 years later ... more methodical, adding some book-larning, finally bought a cue ... reading the posts here. Week by week, I've been adding a ball or so to my 9-ball practice ... getting some consistency from the 4 now. Hopes of respectability, at last!

04-25-2003, 08:01 PM
well, when i first started to play, i was 8yrs old and i was on punishment, so i went in the basement, and started playing with the pool table, with my grandfathers cue, he came home and was in complete shock. i was actually making balls, so he started explaining what pool was. Teaching me different shots, drills, pool just came naturally for me, by the time i was 15, i was beating other kids in high school out of their money so bad, i was racking up lunch money for next month. i started shooting straight pool, because my grandfather did'nt play anything else, so i would come home from school and shoot pool untill he came home, then we played, and he beat me so bad it just mad me mad'er, and i have a habit of getting more focus the mad'er i get. so @ 16, i finally beat him, " May God Rest His Soul" but he was the first to teach me to that whatever you want to do, do it as best you can....

Now i have a guy name "Warner" who tightens me up where am weak, and plays alot of straight pool. if you really want to learn to shoot, get one of the older shooters at the poolhall to teach you.

some basics:
Stay Down on the table untill the cb STOPS!!!

learn to stroke from the elbow down,

Perfect your straight shoot, practice on the biggest table you can find, it makes you 100x sharper when your on smaller tables.

dont choke your cue, with your hand, hold you cue, like you would hold your woman, nice and gentle.



enjoy pocket billiards.

04-25-2003, 08:19 PM
Please don't take this the wrong way, but you say you have been playing a long time, since you were 8 years old. Your specialty is straight pool yet your high run is only 63, there are a lot of good straight pool players in your area. Do you ever play with Bobby Maidof or any of the good local players there? They have some straight pool tournaments there, have you played in any? Just curious as to your level of play.

04-25-2003, 08:26 PM
unfortunately your wrong, their are'nt any straight pool tournaments here in philly, and yes their are alot of straight pool shooters, but that does'nt mean that i dont make mistake's i still do, and i said was highest run was 65 or so, i may have run more. sorry, i wish we had straight pool tournaments here or for that matter one pocket tournaments. all we have are 8 & 9 ball tournaments.

04-25-2003, 09:23 PM
I first played the game around age eight at a Boys Club in Norfolk Virginia.

In fact the first fist fight I can recall being in also occured at the club. Eight ball was played with three stripes and three solids, winner stayed and loser went to the end of the bench to wait their turn for the next game. I was up next and the boy who just lost would not relinquish the cue but wanted me to grab another out of the barrell in the corner while he held the cue while waiting in line. For some reason this was not an acceptable alternative to me and a fight soon erupted. Next thing I knew I was on my back getting the worst of it.

Perhaps that is why today I enjoy martial arts and have collected way to many pool cues.

I continued to play through college which proved to be quite an academic distraction.

I did not really learn to play the game until 1990 when Mark Wilson opened "Matchroom Billiards" a players room five minutes from my office. I took lessons continuously from Mark while the Matchroom was open and have been a student of the game ever since.

Some great stories and memories came out of the 'ol Matchroom.

Scott Lee
04-26-2003, 12:32 AM
www.talismanbilliards.com/scottlee.asp (http://www.talismanbilliards.com/scottlee.asp)

04-26-2003, 06:28 AM
I started when I was nine. My father bought a pool table, and I fell in love with the game. I would practice by myself in the basement, just shooting balls in. When I was 13, we moved across town, and had no room for the table, so we sold it.
Then when I was about 16 or so I started playing again at the local arcade.
When I turned 21, I started to really compete in tournaments and leagues. I've been playing for the last 11 years, at least 3 times a week.
Basically, other than what I've learned from videos and books, I'm self taught. However, it would be nice to get some professional instruction. Just no one around here who is a certified instructor.

04-26-2003, 06:42 AM
My story in clipped form is: got in the backdoor of the local p/h at 14, discovered I hated losing to my idiot buddys, discovered I could beat the same idiot buddys out there allowance just by being slightly better and smarter than them, soon fell in love with the beauty of the game itself and have been hooked ever since. Pool the game for life...... /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

04-26-2003, 07:34 PM
I learned to play when I was about 12. My parents bought us kids a bar box with a plywood bed. The bed was bowed in the middle and gave funny rolls. My father also bought me a 4 piece stick. The kind with the metal discs for adding weight. He thought this was a neat stick.( I still have it somewhere) I didn't have anybody teach me although an uncle and second cousin were better than average shooters. I learned by trial and error and playing as much as I could. When I turned 21, my uncle got me on his pool team in leagues. After watching how others played and getting my ass kicked, I practiced harder. It also didn't take long for me to get rid of that 4 piece stick. I bought a used Palmer that I had for several years. I learn now by still practicing and watching shooters better than myself, to see how they play and get out of trouble.

04-27-2003, 12:42 AM
Self taught: when I started playing know one would help you , you learned by watching good players and playing better players. your lessons cost you!!But I am 65yr, no tapes no tv, kid today have it a lot easier, but I am glad to see it I help any kid that shows intrest. OLD MAN STICK

04-27-2003, 08:02 AM
I started playing pool at age 12 in Plattsburgh, NY, where I would crawl though the window of the NCO club on the Air Force base where we lived to play on there 8' tables. After being ran out of there so much the Master Sgt, finally gave up and just let me come though the front door and even started playing with me. I'am sure I never beat him once but the love of the game has stayed with me all these years. In 1961 my Dad retired and we moved back to Ft. Worth, Tx., stopped playing then for two years until I started taking the bus to downtown Ft. Worth and playing in a pool hall somewhere on the southside of the city. Many times that meant having to walk home or hitching a ride in the early morning hours. This is where I found out I could play, even though the bets were 50 cents, I usually never lost my lunch money.

04-27-2003, 09:36 AM
I have learned to play by watching others. I can sit and watch a match for hours and think "what's he going to do next", or "how would I have played that". I get a lot of instruction from my husband and have watched a few instructional videos by Jimmy Reid. I have used the Target Pool materials and the Black Belt Billiards book as well. I've read a few books by The Monk and Robert Byrne.

All of these have contributed to the knowledge that I have about the game. And they all still have a great deal to teach me.


04-28-2003, 06:43 AM
I think years ago, most people learned by watching some players at the local pool halls.Fortunately NJ had some great straight pool players for me to watch and learn.When I was younger I watched Pete Margo at his parents club in union city nj and he would give us kids some pointers and show us how to play.Years later,when I really got the bug to learn how to play I would go over to a local club and watch Jack Colavita play.I got to know Jack and he was kind enough to play me for small amounts and spot me some balls.
Over the years I've been able to watch and learn from some great local pro's.

04-28-2003, 08:26 AM
I'm not really sure where I "learned" to play. I'm still learning every day from two of the best players I have seen in person. They just don't know it. I love to watch them play and model my stroke after them. I get mental and strategical pointers from them as well.

I started playing in a small pool hall about 1/2 mile from my house when I was 16. I was always afraid to go in there before then. Once I found out that a lot of people I know went in there, it was OK. They had 5 bar tables and some cool games.

I've always been attracted to pool tables for some reason. I remember, as a kid, going to a relative's house and playing on his. I had to have a chair to reach the table and I didn't like playing with the cue. I liked rolling the ball with my hands.

Now that I found out this pool hall close to my house was cool, I have a chance to play this game I've been drawn to as much as I want (I thought). Turns out, that as a 16 year old, I didn't have a lot of money. I got a job at a grocery store close to my house. I now had money, but less time to practice (bah!). A few months later, difference with my boss caused my departure from the grocery store. Once again I was broke. I mowed lawns and did odd jobs like that to get some money to play. Once I became a "regular" at the pool hall, the owner would pay me to go to run errands. I would go to the grocery store and get cases of soda and water and any food supplies they needed. This would give me a few bucks. Once I was established as someone that they could trust, they let me work at the pool hall during the day sometimes if the owner had something that kept him and/or his wife from coming in. I would get a little spending cash and since they actually owned the tables and didn't get them from a vending company, they gave me a couple rolls of quarters to shoot pool with if business was slow and I had time.

I had to scrap for cash back then, but I did well enough to do what I loved. I really liked to watch the good shots play. I tried to mimick everything they did. Soon, I was good enough to hang with the older guys in the ring games. I earned some good spending money with these games.

I remember when I won my first tournament. I was so nervous when I got in the finals, I didn't even realize my opponent accidently knocked in the 8-ball on one of the games. My opponent asked me if I was alright. It was pretty embarassing, but I won.

That little pool hall was good to me. Over the years there, I won a few cues, a shotgun, pistol, cash, fishing rods, jackets, and a lot of trophies.

The only place I played was in that pool hall though. Eventually business got slow, and they took the pool tables out and turned the business into a bluegrass music type place. Bands play and people come out to eat and watch the bands. I was shocked. I couldn't play pool and people actually paid to sit down and watch local bands play bluegrass music. I put my pool cue up for a while.

When I turned 21, I joined the Moose club for the sole reason of joining the pool club. For $30 Moose Dues and $5 pool club dues per year, I could shoot as much pool as a human being could possibly stand on 8' Brunswicks with Simonis 860 cloth.

Not many of my friends at the pool hall kept shooting once it changed business plans. There were a couple though. There are both really good at pool. They are those "natural talent" guys that make you sick. One has taken lessons, the other hasn't. I travel with them and another guy that started shooting about 2 or 3 years ago (and amazes me how good he has become). We are not road hustlers. We just like to hit tournaments in different areas and find good competition. Two of the crew got to go to Valley Forge this year. They came back about $800 ahead (not too bad). Next year I'm definitely taking vacation and going to Derby City.

So, for the last 10 years (I'll be 26 in August), I've had a blast playing pool. I've studied the game. I've worked in a pool hall. I've won and lost a lot of money. I've hustled drunks as bars. I've fought my way out of those bars. The whole damn time has been fun though.

I now have a good job that really cuts into my pool shooting time. But I do get to travel a bit and if I find a pool hall in the place I am travelling, I will get a table for an hour or two and practice. I don't do any gambling when I'm out on the road by myself.