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View Full Version : 8-ball & Safeties... to use, or not to use?



Aboo
05-16-2003, 09:41 AM
Ok, first off, I am a huge safety player. I play APA 8-ball the majority of the time, but even when I play straight pool and 9-ball I play safe if it's the higher percentage shot.

Now, having said that, I am realizing that a lot of folks don't like to play me because of it. It slows the game down for one. The major thing though is this. I hear, and see that in larger tourny's with high-skilled players, safety play is almost non-existant.

Why is it then, that EVERY older, higher skilled, more experienced player will ALWAYS recommend to myself and other's less skilled to play safe whenever possible? This is a frustrating double standard.

I realized this last night. I was at the PH watching our league play-offs 2nd vs. 3rd. match. Most of my team was there and we were playing. Our 7 is an older gentleman, who I respect very much and during practice he attempts to help everyone with their shot selection, choice of english, etc... when they ask for it.

Anyway, I just realized last night, due to a comment from another team member, that he doesn't really like to play against me. Because I don't "go for it" and because my style of play slows the game down. In realizing this, I have realized that a LOT of the better players in my pool hall feel the same way.

Although they will coach me to play that way, they don't really want to play that way, and don't enjoy seeing me play that way...

Why the HELL is this, and at what point can I "elevate" my level of play to just "go for it" and forget the safeties?

My angst stems from the fact that I WIN, against better players, because of my safety play. I KNOW I can't run like them, so to try would be foolish! /ccboard/images/graemlins/mad.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif

Fred Agnir
05-16-2003, 10:09 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Aboo:</font><hr> Although they will coach me to play that way, they don't really want to play that way, and don't enjoy seeing me play that way...

Why the HELL is this, and at what point can I "elevate" my level of play to just "go for it" and forget the safeties?
<hr /></blockquote>I don't have a good answer for you. But it is very common for people to coach and advise for the safety play, yet if you watch them, they really don't follow their own advise. That's one reason I'm so vocal about playing more aggressively. I preach what I practice and what I see other players practice, players much better than I will ever be. It's not that I condone "runout at all cost" mentality. But, I think the romantic safety game needs a wake up call or a reality check.

I can only make a guess that if you beat players with safety play, then you'll beat them more when your offensive game is more of the focus.

Fred

Bassn7
05-16-2003, 10:14 AM
I am the EXACT same player (safety player)except I'm an APA 7. Here's the problem: At the local level you will win a ton of matches with this strategy, I do. Now at the regional qualifiers and national level . . . all the safeties in the world are useless when your opponent runs three and four racks at a time. I'm having to RELEARN 8-ball to find the break-outs and win from the break. Safeties have their purpose, but I've been destroyed by offensive players because you can't win using safeties if your not shooting. The greatest 8-ball players run multiple racks at a time, and I'm going to become one of them.

bluewolf
05-16-2003, 10:19 AM
I was coached safe from early on. I think that a person has to use the arsenal they have. If I am not a run-out player because I am not good enough, then I am going to play safe or if I do not have a good shot I will play safe.

Lots of players like to run and gun and get out. I know I have sometimes played safe too much, and have tried to develop my shot making so that I would not have to do safe so much. OTOH, when playing these run and gun types, I have seen good players fold and start to play badly because the safety play got them off of their pace and they became very frustrated. That has enabled me a few times to beat pllayers who were actually better shooters than I. I essentially mangled their brains, then went in for the kill. to quote Mika- "Mercy is a sickness" I dont think this happens as much with seasoned players but have frequently seen 4-6sl fold this way.

I am learning now to be a better shooter so my game wont be lopsided. It just seems to me, even in good players, that after the break, you get a runout layout sometimes and sometimes you get a layout with cllusters and problem balls. I have seen even the best seven play safe when they could not run out.

OTOH, I have seen some good players like 5s and 6s run 5 balls and not being able to complete the run, this gave their opponent the advantage. It is hard to play safe when you only have one or two balls to hide behind and the opponent has an open run because you have cleaned off most of your trash.

Laura

05-16-2003, 10:22 AM

bluewolf
05-16-2003, 10:28 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Bassn7:</font><hr> I am the EXACT same player (safety player)except I'm an APA 7. Here's the problem: At the local level you will win a ton of matches with this strategy, I do. Now at the regional qualifiers and national level . . . all the safeties in the world are useless when your opponent runs three and four racks at a time. I'm having to RELEARN 8-ball to find the break-outs and win from the break. Safeties have their purpose, but I've been destroyed by offensive players because you can't win using safeties if your not shooting. The greatest 8-ball players run multiple racks at a time, and I'm going to become one of them. <hr /></blockquote>

This seems right at the higher levels. I look forward to the day that my shooting, but mostly my position play is good enough to run out.

OTOH, knowing how to play safe is a good weapon to have in one's back pocket in case you need it. I watch the pros on TV. Even though they can run out, if the rack is not a good runout rack, I have seen them play safe too. Some of them have awsome safeties too so that that aspect is there for them when they cannot run out.

Laura

bluewolf
05-16-2003, 10:34 AM
I have seen a couple of unnamed ccbers get 'into it' over this topic before. There is an old Moody Blues tape called "question of balance", which for me kind of sums it up.

Laura

Sid_Vicious
05-16-2003, 10:36 AM
I haven't read the other answers yet, but here's mine. If safety play doesn't become the basis for your game, i.e. "I'll stick him instead of make 4 balls that even Ray Charles could make", just to get the advantage of even more pristene BIH shape, then your safety playing style is fine. BUT there are players, especially in 8-ball who have built their game foundation of making safeties first in their thinking priorities, EVEN THOUGH the run out is no problem. Yea, it does slow down the game when used like this and I too find myself wanting another player to play. I mean "C'mon already, it's a fun game we're playing. Quit ducking and just get out."

Some players live for safeties to the extent that it is simply no fun playing them. Do I expect them to make hail mary shots??? Heck no, but please take a 4 ball run when 2 balls are hanging and the only tied up ball is a simple bump using one hanger...sid

Aboo
05-16-2003, 10:47 AM
If Ray Charles could make them, and one of them is the 8 to win, then yes, I'll make them. But if Ray could make the safe too... I'll admit it, I'm torn.
Ball in hand is ALWAYS better position, even if you MIGHT be able to get out from where it sits now. Emphasis on might.

I still don't know. I would rather force my opponent to let the cue ball go and hail mary, then take two ducks and then force myself to let it go and hail mary.

Fred Agnir
05-16-2003, 11:05 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Aboo:</font><hr> I still don't know. I would rather force my opponent to let the cue ball go and hail mary, then take two ducks and then force myself to let it go and hail mary. <hr /></blockquote>Let your observations be your guide. Learn by watching. People say things, and as you've come to find out, that's not what they do. It's common in books, articles, and posts. Unless they've watched themselves play, they have no idea what they really do.

Let your observations be your guide.

Fred &lt;~~~ already said what he observes

Aboo
05-16-2003, 11:18 AM
That is sound advice sir and I will attempt to follow it.

heater451
05-16-2003, 11:22 AM
The safety game can be a strong tool, but even if you have won with it so far, a knowlegable player may be able to use it against you as well.

Also, as many of us have posted in similar threads, offense is what eventually wins the game. Defense is the position you work from, in order to regain the offense. This is true in nearly all competitive situations, with few exceptions--one of which would be using defense to run out a time limit.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Aboo:</font><hr>. . .Although they will coach me to play that way, they don't really want to play that way, and don't enjoy seeing me play that way...

Why the HELL is this, and at what point can I "elevate" my level of play to just "go for it" and forget the safeties?<hr /></blockquote>What is your SL? You may be coached to play safer, due to your handicap.

If you are a low level player playing a higher one, then the odds favor the player who requires fewer rounds to clear the table, and the safety play helps give you more chances. However, as you clear your side of the rack (8-ball), you have to become more precise at playing safety shots--at some point, it should become easier to run out, than hide the cue ball.

As for your coaches not enjoying seeing you play that way--that's their problem. 1) It's your game, and 2) If they coach you to play defense, then they can't complain (see, "have your cake, and eat it too").

You can "elevate" your level of play, if by this you mean your run-out game, by practicing. Not only practice making shots, but work on your confidence in yourself. It may help, if you can step to the table, look at the shot before you, and ask yourself the following:

Is *the shot* makeable?

Do I know how to make *the shot*? (NOT, "Can I make it?)


Answer "yes" to both questions, then act out what it takes to make the shot: Double-check your aim<ul type="square"> Decide upon the intended Contact Point (CP) on the Object Ball (OB) Determine your Strike Point (SP) on the Cue Ball (CB) in order to hit the CP When you settle into your stance, make sure that everything is aligned and feels 'right'.

Perform your pre-shot routine<ul type="square"> Take some 'loosening' warmup strokes, check your alignment and "scan"(looking back-and-forth between the CB and the OB) take some 'ready-state' strokes (directly addressing desired SP) If desired, pause in the stroke (forward or back position)[/list]

Make sure that you end your scanning either on the CB or the OB, but not in-between.

**If something feels funny during the pre-shot, restart**

Deliver your hit to the SP, and follow through.[/list]
Note: The solution for position on the next shot should have been included in the concept of *the shot*. However, speed of the hit to obtain position takes experience.

At the beginning, when you determined that the shot was makeable, and that you knew what it took to make the shot, you should have gained (or already had) the confidence to complete the shot. Once you have the confidence in your knowledge, then it's just a matter of mechanics (and confidence in your mechanics), which takes more practice--but then again, it's ALL practice. (Funny, I just realized how we "practice" pool, like a person "practices" law or medicine. . . .)

Anyway, the your abilities and your confidence should grow together, feeding off each other, yet making each other stronger. At some point, your game will have obtained "another level", and you may find that have less need (and desire) of a safety game, but retain the ability to recognize the times when you DO need it.

BTW--I didn't intend for this to be some full-on "how to", I just wanted to break shooting down into steps that, hopefully, showed how simple it is to practice, and how confidence could be bostered through that practice (experience).
====================

Wally_in_Cincy
05-16-2003, 11:38 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Aboo:</font><hr> Ok, first off, I am a huge safety player. I play APA 8-ball the majority of the time, but even when I play straight pool and 9-ball I play safe if it's the higher percentage shot.

<font color="blue">If your skill level is not good enough to make a high percentage of hard cuts, banks etc. or if you have trouble breaking out clusters, then the safety may be, as you say, a higher percentage shot. As you improve your pocketing and cluster-busting you will find yourself going for the run more often.</font color>

Now, having said that, I am realizing that a lot of folks don't like to play me because of it. It slows the game down for one.

<font color="blue">Yes it does but as long as it's legal it's just something your opponent has to deal with. I know a couple of good female players who use the safe as their first option. I don't have a lot of respect for someone who is afraid to shoot a ball. Against a good player this strategy will frequently backfire. You have to sink balls eventually to win a game of 8-ball (usually /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif ).

One of these female safety players played against us Tuesday night. She's used to playing on slow barbox cloth and dead cushions. The tables in this tourney had clean Simonis 860 and lively cushions. She tried hiding behind her balls many times and did not succeed once. Her CB would bounce off those cushions like a superball. She was pissed /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif.</font color>


My angst stems from the fact that I WIN, against better players, because of my safety play. I KNOW I can't run like them, so to try would be foolish!

<font color="blue">Sometimes you might be able to run depending on the layout but when you can't you simply have to play safe sometimes. As you say, it would be foolish to try. If I realize I can't run a table (90% of the time /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif ) I try to leave about 3 balls on the table so my opponent can't snooker me.

<font color="red">Wally~~can't run, plays safe. </font color> </font color>

<hr /></blockquote>

05-16-2003, 11:39 AM
All good advice. Primarily that of play how you're comfortable, everybody else's opinion be damned. If two buddies are playing a friendly game, then by all means try to keep each other happy by bending your own rules, if that's what you want. But in serious competition, you play to win, and if you win by safety play, then so be it.

My take: if you have a clear shot, take it, but if you're the least bit tied up and aren't comfortable with the kick/jump/masse/whatever, then pull out the safety. Don't take wild shots.

One thing I noticed that you said:

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Aboo:</font><hr> ...I hear, and see that in larger tourny's with high-skilled players, safety play is almost non-existant.<hr /></blockquote>Well, I don't know what high-skilled players you've been watching, but most I've seen, and certainly the pros I've watched, won't hesitate to take the safety if they're out of line on their next shot. It's part of the game, and you have to be able to play safe when the time is right, else you won't excel in this game. At some point, even the best miss a shot, get out of line, or get hooked by their opponent's safety -- in which case your best (or only) play is to turn it around and hook your opponent. Remember the Mosconi Cup match with Corey Duel and the European kid (can't remember his name) who won the rack by locking up Corey 3 times in a row and causing Duel to lose by the 3-foul-rule?

Kato
05-16-2003, 11:41 AM
What is considered trash? Is trash a cluster? Two balls tied up? On the rail? What if they happen to clean up their trash and make the 8 ball? Counter punching only works if your opponent misses.

The reality is that you play the game based on your strengths and the percentages. If you believe you can't get out and you can't win from here then you can't. Run and duck. In league play I shoot to kill, in tournaments I get a little more conservative (don't go 3 rails when you can go 2, don't go 2 when you can go 1, don't go 1 when you can go 0, don't bank if you can shoot it in, if you can't shoot it in then don't bank unless it's "your" shot)

Kato~~~flat out prefers to run and gun but will play a 2 way shot from time to time.

Fred Agnir
05-16-2003, 11:53 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote dmorris68:</font><hr>Well, I don't know what high-skilled players you've been watching, but most I've seen, and certainly the pros I've watched, won't hesitate to take the safety if they're out of line on their next shot. <hr /></blockquote>The discussion is about 8-ball, not 9-ball. There is no question about it, the high level players simply play less safeties in 8-ball. I have 8-ball professional matches on tape, I was at the Men's professional Valley Forge 8-ball Championship last year (right on the floor), and I've just been to the BCA national 8-ball Championship again. Safety play is almost non-existent. At the Valley Forge event, there wasn't one single safety played in the final match. Not one. There's just no place to hide when a professional breaks the balls.

At the Masters field in Las Vegas, as usual, hardly any safeties. Our own Steve Lipsky well into the tournament told me hadn't played a single safety yet. I was fortunate to watch the last two games of one of his matches. His opponent broke the balls, and Steve ran them out. He then had the break, broke the balls, and ran out what looked like a completely unrunnable rack for the set. It never looked like he contemplated a safety.

I watched a match with Candadian great Stan Tourangeau play a match. He played two safeties in it. His opponent, Boston's Tony Ruberto won both those games.

So, more reports over and over that although safety play is important, at the higher levels, runouts win.

Fred

05-16-2003, 12:06 PM
Oh, my bad, I see the subject now is 8-ball. Wasn't paying attention... /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Safeties are definitely more popular in rotation games and one pocket, where the opponent's choice of shots are limited. I'm not a fan of 8-ball, never have been, and I rarely see an 8-ball match between "high-skilled" players. The only time I play 8-ball anymore is with players who don't know how to play anything else, and since I never play with strangers in bars anymore, that isn't very common. And when I'm playing with lesser-skilled players, no matter the game, I rarely if ever look for the safety. In fact, I never even think of safeties, until my offense has been stumped. I never play defense out of the gate, because you're right -- you'll never beat the good players if you don't stay on the table.

However, I still think one should play according to their skill and comfort level, be it 8-ball or any other game. Sure, one should alway strive to run out, because that's how you win the game. But it also just happens to be how your opponent wins the game as well, so if you have obstacles or doubts that prevent you from running a rack from start to finish, wouldn't you agree that the next best thing is to prevent your opponent from doing so?

Aboo
05-16-2003, 12:07 PM
I'm not saying that high-skill players DON'T play safeties, just that they rarely do. Where-as I might play one per game, these guys and gals play maybe one or two per race to 9.

Also, I have no problems with my safety play and will continue to beat folks with it. However, they have to play me before that can happen. They know I play safe, there-fore, won't play me... I'd rather lose than not play at all is what I'm saying I guess.

Wally_in_Cincy
05-16-2003, 12:21 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fred Agnir:</font><hr>
The discussion is about 8-ball, not 9-ball. There is no question about it, the high level players simply play less safeties in 8-ball. I have 8-ball professional matches on tape, I was at the Men's professional Valley Forge 8-ball Championship last year (right on the floor), and I've just been to the BCA national 8-ball Championship again. Safety play is almost non-existent. At the Valley Forge event, there wasn't one single safety played in the final match. Not one. There's just no place to hide when a professional breaks the balls.

<font color="blue">I have almost every tape from the Accu-stats LA 8-ball Invitational 2001 and out of twelve races to 9 I've seen 2 safeties. One of the games the safety player lost and one he won. And you're right there's no place to hide. </font color>

At the Masters field in Las Vegas, as usual, hardly any safeties. Our own Steve Lipsky well into the tournament told me hadn't played a single safety yet. I was fortunate to watch the last two games of one of his matches. His opponent broke the balls, and Steve ran them out. He then had the break, broke the balls, and ran out what looked like a completely unrunnable rack for the set. It never looked like he contemplated a safety.

<font color="blue">If you're good at position and cluster busting you won't need to play safe </font color>

I watched a match with Candadian great Stan Tourangeau

<font color="blue">d0wnt0wn's buddy /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif </font color>

play a match. He played two safeties in it. His opponent, Boston's Tony Ruberto won both those games.

So, more reports over and over that although safety play is important, at the higher levels, runouts win.

Fred

<font color="blue">I think that's what should be emphasized- at the higher levels and I think that higher level starts right about at APA 7 (or strong 6)

JMO</font color>
<hr /></blockquote>

Wally~~been watchin' 5's and 6's play safes since Saturday.

snipershot
05-16-2003, 12:24 PM
Safety play is part of the strategic play of 8 ball I love so much, but there is nothing I hate doing more than ducking. Nick Varner always said "you can't duck your way into a championship."

Personally, I have a very aggressive way of shooting but if I don't have a run out then I play safe. I'm not gonna try three rail bank or a shot I don't think I'm capable of making so I stay within my limitations. As for you, as long as your winning who cares. If your safety play is too good for other players than it's just too bad for them, your not breaking any of the rules your just playing like you said "the higher percentage shot".

You have the right idea by not trying to get into a shootout with better shooting players, to do that would be playing into their game and that's what they want you to do, that would indeed be foolish.

Chris

Popcorn
05-16-2003, 12:25 PM
Quote
"Why is it then, that EVERY older, higher skilled, more experienced player will ALWAYS recommend to myself and other's less skilled to play safe whenever possible? This is a frustrating double standard."

If you are a weaker player, you don't benefit from an offensive shot as much as a better player. To a good player risk has reward. If a good player playing say, straight pool shoots a somewhat risky break shot, he knows he may put another 80 on top of it. If you are playing a good player and you are the weaker player. They don't give you many chances and you may need to take a risky shot simply to keep them away from the table. Having said that, safety play will not let you beat a better player, and being that they are a better player, they have a safe game themselves, and will probably out move you at your own game anyway. There is no real right of wrong, just reasons for what players do themselves. The only thing I will say, if you find yourself playing safe out of fear, and passing up shots that could help win the game, you could be hurting yourself in the long run. Just as an interesting note, when you are playing a much better player, your only chance may be what someone else may think is reckless play. Tit for tat won't win. If you can jump on them right out of the box, and play over your head a little, in a short set you may beat anybody. This is not meant to be advice, but I have beat some of the best players on the planet in tournament play and believe me, you can't do it playing a laid back cautious game. You need to take advantage of any opportunity, because there are so few against those guys. Here is one more little note of interest. If you are playing a weaker player, it is better to play conservative. You would think you should not worry about taking risks since you are the better player. But in this case you can just sit back, because they will mess up and give you the games. Taking risks may let them win games they could not have won without a mistake by you. So, In my opinion anyway, the rule of thumb is, the better the player you are playing, the more aggressive you may need to play to have a chance of winning, The weaker the player the more conservative you should play, they will make it easy for you if you just wait. Except in tournament play and league play, the better player will win no matter what anyway, that is just the way it is. In my opinion anyway.

Rod
05-16-2003, 12:31 PM
Aboo,
Play your game, as you get better you'll be able to run more balls. I how ever happen to agree with Sid's post. Do you play just to play safties? It appears you do by your opening line.(Ok, first off, I am a huge safety player.)

In time wouldn't you rather be known as a run out player? Being known as a safety player isn't going to raise any eyebrows. Don't get me wrong, run out players play safe to, and very well -- lock up safties.

Pool is an offensive game. Yes games are won by a good safety, if you can run the balls afterwards! As an in general statement, safety players don't run balls as well as an offensive player. They have an open run and might get out of line. When that happens and faced with a tougher shot they look for a place to hide. Problem is there isn't any place to hide. If their shot making ability is weak they miss the shot. I've seen it happen countless times. Their not use to running balls like an offensive player.

About safety, what is a safety? I'd say that depends on the incoming player. What looks safe to you might end up giving the game away. In league you do have the advantage of knowing your opponent which is to your favor.

About league, man a lot of league players treat the game like it's life or death. Many times they are afraid to take a shot if there is any chance thet might miss. LOL If they miss I guess they think they won't live to see tommorrow, Or their team mates will stone them, I don't know. You win some and you lose some, take it on the light side. I've seen more hassles in league than any other form of pool.

I wouldn't take what the older gent said to heart. It's not uncommon at all for an experienced player not wanting to play someone that is slow or plays a lot of safes. You said so yourself from the other players in the room. I think that is meant if you guys practice? If the situation existed during a league game then that's their problem. An experienced play knows how to get past that or their not very experienced. LOL

Learning to play pool and shotmaking, position, strategy, etc comes in small steps. As you get better you'll know when it's time to take the shot and run. That is if your first thought is not looking for a safety. Sometimes you need to take a chance and trust your ability. You may never see that chance again, and no I'm not talking about a hail mary. I'm sure you must have had times you wished you would have shot but elected to play a safe and lose. I'm sure there were times you decided to shoot and a miss cost you the game. People miss shots, it happens but don't let that discourage you from trying again. It's only a game.

Practice the weak parts of your game and spend less time on safties. You play safe because of not having the confidence to run balls. That plus table layout. Did you know there are offensive safties? Some dink balls around playing safe without improving their chance to win.

Rod

05-16-2003, 12:37 PM
If the run is there or you can see how to develop it, clearly the thing to do is go for it. It's always important to have a plan... unfortunately it's amazing how often it becomes necessary to switch to plan "B"..."C"..."etc." Tables have a way of becoming real cluttered at times. Sometimes you just run out of rope and safety is the only option... so try to make it a good one, an offensive one. I don't owe it to anyone to play stupid just to give them an opportunity to beat me. If beating me should be worth anything they should want my best game. Sometimes it's not just the best player that wins but also the smartest player. ...Bob

Fred Agnir
05-16-2003, 12:46 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Wally_in_Cincy:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote meI watched a match with Candadian great Stan Tourangeau [/quote:</font><hr>

<font color="blue">d0wnt0wn's buddy /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif </font color> <hr /></blockquote>Did I mention I met up with d0wnt0wn? Fun guy. I'm sure he and I would be great poolplaying friends if we lived near each other. His message to the group was that he's not the a$$hole he seems to be on the forum. I told him I was.

Fred

Fred Agnir
05-16-2003, 01:05 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> Having said that, safety play will not let you beat a better player, and being that they are a better player, they have a safe game themselves, and will probably out move you at your own game anyway. <hr /></blockquote> Man, there's a lot of good stuff in this post, so I separated this one point that I think is mucho importante.

Fred

Wally_in_Cincy
05-16-2003, 01:08 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fred Agnir:</font><hr>

Did I mention I met up with d0wnt0wn? Fun guy. I'm sure he and I would be great poolplaying friends if we lived near each other. His message to the group was that he's not the a$$hole he seems to be on the forum.

<font color="blue">I sorta figured that. He still deserved to get kicked off the board though LOL. </font color>

I told him I was.

Fred
<hr /></blockquote>

bluewolf
05-16-2003, 01:12 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fred Agnir:</font><hr> <hr /></blockquote>Let your observations be your guide. Learn by watching. People say things, and as you've come to find out, that's not what they do. It's common in books, articles, and posts. Unless they've watched themselves play, they have no idea what they really do.

Let your observations be your guide.

Fred &lt;~~~ already said what he observes <hr /></blockquote>

When I forst started playing 8 ball in APA, 2 sessions ago, I was playing great safes and losing. Sure, I was taking my opponents to the wire, but I was losing and the more I lost, the harder it was to have a winner's attitude.

Fred told me I should play more aggressively. I started doing that. Even though i was still a safety player, I added offense to my game and even though it wasnt overnight I did start winning.

I think that the better I get at shooting (which is going extremely well) and position, the more aggressive I will be. But I will always have that weapon of safety in my back pocket, in case I need it.

Laura

Wally_in_Cincy
05-16-2003, 01:15 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fred Agnir:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> Having said that, safety play will not let you beat a better player, and being that they are a better player, they have a safe game themselves, and will probably out move you at your own game anyway. <hr /></blockquote> Man, there's a lot of good stuff in this post, so I separated this one point that I think is mucho importante.

Fred <hr /></blockquote>

One of the advantages of being a captain (probably the only one actually /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif ) is being able to play people I would not otherwise get to play. I played a guy (sl6-should be 7) who has been a friend for a while. At first I tried to outshoot him. Didn't work. Then I thought I'd get smart and start playing safe. He showed me how to really play safe LOL. So I tried to outshoot him again. Lost 5-0 /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

Wally~~sounding like bluewolf again, just trying to emphasize the point.

Bassn7
05-16-2003, 01:19 PM
Outstanding response Fred. This is exactly what I'm talking about. At the higher levels of play you need to play the game EXACTLY like that! Thanks a bunch.

mickey2
05-16-2003, 01:23 PM
Imo the problem is that playing too conservative can slow down the learning progress.

It took me quite some time to realize that playing to defensive is not also a bad choice against better players but also won’t improve my game. If you don’t go for the run out during competition you will never learn to do it.

‘LET THE OTHER PLAYER GET HIS TRASH OFF OF THE TABLE EARLY’ and ‘WHEN YOU GAIN CONTROL OF THE TABLE’ might win you a bear in the bar, but won't be enough for a medium tournament (no personal attack). The truth is that you are only in control of the table if you stay there. Playing safe always means giving your opponent another chance.

My personal 8-ball development was like this:
1. bang balls around
2. go for every shoot
3. play very conservative, only go for the run out if there is 'no risk'
4. go most of the times for the run out

I am still somewhat in the transition from 3 to 4. To make run outs more likely I improved my break and played much more offensive in my non competition games and somewhat more offensive in my competition game.
Imo it's normal that playing defensive at certain game level might increase the winning chance and it's probably good to do so. But it's important to not miss the right time to go to the next level.

Just my personal opinion,
Mickey2

Rod
05-16-2003, 01:30 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fred Agnir:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> Having said that, safety play will not let you beat a better player, and being that they are a better player, they have a safe game themselves, and will probably out move you at your own game anyway. <hr /></blockquote> Man, there's a lot of good stuff in this post, so I separated this one point that I think is mucho importante.

Fred <hr /></blockquote>


That statement holds very true. Run out players have excellent c/b control. Playing safe is just another way of showing how much control they have.

Rod

Rod
05-16-2003, 01:39 PM
[ QUOTE ]
What is considered trash? Is trash a cluster? Two balls tied up? On the rail? What if they happen to clean up their trash and make the 8 ball? Counter punching only works if your opponent misses.

<hr /></blockquote>

One mans trash is another mans fortune. Holds true on a pool table. You just have to move the trash a little to clean up.

~~~ rod, needs to empty the trash

stickman
05-16-2003, 07:09 PM
Aboo, Safety play is another tool in my arsenal. I admit to being a very offensive or agressive player. I seldom shoot safeties, but when I do, it's normally when I have no shot. I can normally find a way to get to my next shot, if there is some sort of shot present. However, when I do shoot safe, I think of it as another offensive opportunity rather than a defensive shot. The reason for my thinking this way is because I plan to get ball in hand and begin running balls again. Safety play is another tool and not a stategy in itself. To win, you have to make balls, unless you're planning on your opponent scratching on the eight. As you progress, in your shot making, and position play ability, I feel you will see safety play in much the same way. The better players should see playing you as an opportunity for them to work on there safety escape techniques, rather than complain. It's something that many players don't spend a great deal of time working on. /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

Tom_In_Cincy
05-16-2003, 09:09 PM
Everyone that plays pool, ought to learn the subtle art of safety play. It can get you out of trouble and also change the complection of the game.

Amatures like to pocket balls. We all would rather run out than give up the table. Its the point during the game that there is a decision to go for it or play safe. This is one of the toughest lessons to learn for any player. Only a good coach or lots of experience will help make this decision. At the amature level, with experienced coaching involved, you can learn quicker.

I still see players making balls and missing opportunities for breaking out clusters by not taking the time to study the table.

But, when you get to the level of the pros, almost anything is possible (getting out) because of all the experience these players have. Control of the cue, position and table management are all key elements for the runout.

Sid_Vicious
05-16-2003, 09:43 PM
Ray Charles makes the safety with BIH to begin with, an no skill needed for this lock up, a sittin' duck bump, all the while with the easy Ray Charles run-out in front of him. Naw, it isn't the difficulty of any shot ahead of him,,,it's the itch to be totally ruthless in a friendly game, no $$$ and no trophies on the line. Safety play just turns some people on, more than their run out proficiencies seem to. Isn't the what started this thread in the first place,,,the intent of people's reasons to do safeties? There are players who simply have no balls in friendly games...sid

Aboo
05-16-2003, 10:02 PM
No sir, what started this post in the first place was my frustration. I play to win, all talk of "balls" aside.

A lot of good info in this thread and I'm going to take as much of it as I can make good use of. I wanted to know wether further deveolpment of my safety game in practice sessions should be put before determining how and when to break clusters. It seems I'm going to start reading and breaking a lot more clusters in practice and in play.

By god I WILL play this sport at a professional level.

cycopath
05-16-2003, 10:42 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Aboo:</font><hr>By god I WILL play this sport at a professional level. <hr /></blockquote>Keep the dream alive my brother.

bluewolf
05-17-2003, 05:02 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Tom_In_Cincy:</font><hr> Everyone that plays pool, ought to learn the subtle art of safety play. It can get you out of trouble and also change the complection of the game.

Amatures like to pocket balls. We all would rather run out than give up the table. Its the point during the game that there is a decision to go for it or play safe. This is one of the toughest lessons to learn for any player. Only a good coach or lots of experience will help make this decision.

I still see players making balls a
and missing opportunities for breaking out clusters by not taking the time to study the table.

<hr /></blockquote>

I started playing safe when I could barely pick up a cue. Scott and Randy taught me cb finess and I took it further, to the extent that even when I was not making balls, I could stop that cb within 2 inches of where I wanted it. I became very lopsided, which is why Fred said to play more aggressively. You have to pot balls to win and I was just controlling the speed of the cb (hope this wasnt wasted effort and will eventually be able to use that for cb control).

I am probably, not counting the sevens, one of the top 5 safety players in our league, even though my skill is lower than many of them. Even though I could not make the balls, I had learned how to pick highs or lows after the break based on the lay of the table, to read the entire rack and develop a play of action for a run (if I had that capability), pick out problem balls that I and my opponent have and in general strategy skills not usually learned until a player is much more highly skilled.

I am a much better shooter now, but am still more inclined to hide until the other players gets his trash (ie 4-5 balls) off the table so I can have the run,3-4 balls at a time. Sometimes this can backfire.

I have literally beaten much higher skilled players because my strategy game was so well developed that it mangled their brains and caused them to shoot badly. I do not think a seven would fall for this, but have seen 5s and some 6s fold under this kind of play. There is another guy who is a 5 that has done this to players this way. Of, course, being a 5 he is a better shooter, but he wins by mangling.

When I talk about mangling someone's head, I am not talking about regular safety play. I am talking about going way beyond that almost like 'hannibel lecter'.

I am a psychologist, am very intuitive and can read my opponents very quickly as to whether they have psychological weaknesses. I think that this was why I was able to do this. Although ww disaggrees with me, I think, in a way, using a skill like this, that most others do not have is kind of dirty and I am not particular proud of stooping to this, just to win. Some opponents do not fold this way, but many do.

Now that I am shooting much better, I am still lopsided. I am two wins from going up to the next sl, which I could easily do with safety and shooting.

I am thinking of just abandoning safety play all together and just knocking in balls, unless I just do not have any shot, even if it keeps me at my sl a bit longer. I think getting a good balanced game is more important than my designated number per APA.

I just think, aboo, even though the discussion may have gone past what you intended, it has been good , and caused me to take a reality check.

I think that the only way I will be balanced is to abandone safety for awhile, win or lose, so eventually I can come back to the middle. I know that I am going to become a good pool player one day,but when that happens, I do not want to be a lopsided one.

Laura

Popcorn
05-17-2003, 08:56 AM
What you describe does not sound like what I would call safety play, as much as just ducking and praying for your opponent to some how sell out the game to you. Good safety play presses the issue and should, if you can, make your opponent have to do something he may not want to do. Bad safety is just a delay tactic and doesn't really pressure your opponent, it may just force him to play a form of game he would prefer not to play. But if he is any kind of player, although kind of unpleasant, he will be able to deal with this type of play. Techanly there is not really any safety play in pool. Every shot whether pocketing a ball or not, should be advancing your efforts toward winning the game. This is not a criticism, but just an observation, you seem to have a false belief that you are somehow in charge of the game when you are playing like you describe. That is not true, it just requires your opponent to adjust his play in a way he may not enjoy. I like to tell stories as you can tell from past posts so here is one on safety play.
Years ago a guy was coming into my room that played banks. The first night he was around looking to play I played him some banks and we broke out even.. This guy never shot at anything other then a simple bank, other wise he played safe. Games were taking an hour and a half. I quit after just a few games and we never played again. He would sit around the pool room and often ask someone to play some banks. If they had any experience playing him, they always said no. I am sure in his mind he thought he had designed an unbeatable style of bank pool, when in fact, no one would play him because it was just no fun to play like that. Not only was he fooling himself about his game, but never got any action, what fun was that.
I know this has nothing to do with you, I just happen to think about him. Don't get me wrong, playing safe rather then shooting a sucker shot is the right move, but it should, if possible, be more then a survival tactic. You see this in one pocket all the time. Players that are good at not leaving you a shot, but don't actually advance their chances of winning, they just add innings to the game. When you are playing a player like that, you can sense their weakness. They don't really put any pressure on you, they just make the game take forever. A good one pocket player keeps you under constant pressure, often making you do things you don't want to do, and many times the games are over quick as the result of a forced error. Although I am talking about different games then 8-ball, the game you play, the same principles apply. Just to be curious, what would your definition of a safety be? It is something you need to know. Knowing how to do something is not enough, you need to know, What to do, How to do it, and most important, Why you are doing it. You need to know the answers to those questions every time you approach the table. Not everybody will play the same or think the same, but they do need to understand their own game.

bluewolf
05-17-2003, 09:27 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> What you describe does not sound like what I would call safety play, as much as just ducking and praying for your opponent to some how sell out the game to you. Good safety play presses the issue and should, if you can, make your opponent have to do something he may not want to do. Bad safety is just a delay tactic and doesn't really pressure your opponent, it may just force him to play a form of game he would prefer not to play. But if he is any kind of player, although kind of unpleasant, he will be able to deal with this type of play.Don't get me wrong, playing safe rather then shooting a sucker shot is the right move, but it should, if possible, be more then a survival tactic. A good one pocket player keeps you under constant pressure, often making you do things you don't want to do, and many times the games are over quick as the result of a forced error. Although I am talking about different games then 8-ball, the game you play, the same principles apply. Just to be curious, what would your definition of a safety be? It is something you need to know. Knowing how to do something is not enough, you need to know, How to do it, When to do it, and Why you are doing it. You need to know the answers to those questions every time you approach the table. Not everybody will play the same or think the same, but they do need to understand their own game. <hr /></blockquote>

I think that the operative word here is 'player'. Albeit my opponents were ranked higher than me, they are in the large sceme of things beginners, just beginners that were slightly 'less cruddy' at potting balls.

Some of the things that I did were not real 'safeties' but shots which did not leave them good, but the purpose of the shot was to confuse them. This is the part I am not proud of, because I was using dirty pool to beat people who were better shooters.

Of course, this would not work with an experienced player because they have seen all kinds of weird stuff.

To me, real safety play is the situation where you do not have a good shot, or if you have one but it will leave you bad and them good on the next shot (thinking several shots ahead), playing to leave them bad,but not hooking yourself. An example of hiding your balls where they cannot see their balls and would have to do a double kick for a legal hit. Then I get bih. Sometimes, when playing with a less skilled player, it is possible to leave them a shot (in the case where you dont have a shot and a 100% no see anything cannot be done), which is beyond their ability level to make. This is a slight gamble but considering you do not have a shot, I have always just played the best safe I could.

Sometimes I have looked at the table and decided where I want my balls to be for the runout at the end.I see this as a offense/defense shot. If one of my balls is at the opposite end and none of theirs is, I can knock my ball back to where I want it for the endgame, leaving the cb long and hard for them. Now for an experienced player who can just pot that long difficult shot, break up cllusters, double kick, masse, my limited safety play would not work, but we are talking about apa players no higher than an sl4 or sl5 at the most.

Another ploy often used is going for the long shot to tie up the pocket and leave them bad at the same time.

When I do not have a shot, sometimes if I cannot play safe to my advantage, i will take an illegal hit on one of their balls, such that they have to use their bih to untie the mess i make for them.Again, this stuff does not work with experts. Safes in that case would need to be preferably that they cannot jump, kick or masse to gain the advantage.

OTOH, I think being a safety player can be a trap. You get into it so much you can forget the object of the game. I am working and getting better at those long cuts and a couple of rail cuts that were 50% and practicing simple position right now. I decided that my game was too lopsided, so for now am abandoning safety, other than in a minor way. While I am still a low number in apa is the time there is no pressure, and maybe losing a couple of games I might of won is better, considereing the long-term goal of being good at pool with a well rounded game.