(FAQ) Do you play the opponent or play the table?

(About the Author)

This question has been asked to players of many levels. Several pro-level players, when asked, recommend concentrating on playing the table. Their rationale is based on the fact that since you are on the table, and your opponent isn’t, so just run out the balls and win the game. Their competence makes this a viable approach to competition. There are several thousands of professional players. There are millions of regular players. Their approach works for them because, when given an opportunity to shoot, the table gets run out to the win.

Let's leave the rarefied atmosphere of professional playing philosophy and put some reality into the question. Most games finish after four, five or more innings. An opportunity to shoot doesn't necessary mean a successful run-out.

Most innings end when the shooter finds himself in a layout that is impossible to advance. That means the opponent is going to have a turn at the table.So, let's consider things with a broader set of considerations.

Now you have a problem. If you don't know how good your opponent is, you can make a mistake and give him a chance to win. HOWEVER, if you know your opponent's weaknesses (long shots, banks, sharp angles, shooting off the rail, etc.) you would be a very smart player to make sure the table you leave him is tough. Knowing this helps you make cue ball placement decisions.  It's even better with he has balls tied up. You KNOW that another opportunity to shoot will come your way.

Therefore, spend some time watching your opponent. Pay close attention to situations that he obviously dislikes. Observe what types of shots kill his turn at the table.

His capabilities become a major consideration on your shooting decisions. Average shooters have lots of weaknesses. Advanced shooters, not so many. The higher the skill of your opponent, the more care and attention is needed when selecting and executing shots that let him come to the table. You WANT to set up your opponent to hand back the table to you.

In summary, when the table layout favors you, take the best advantage you can. When there is no generosity from the billiard gods (you screwed up somewhere), play the shot that leaves your opponent with little or no opportunities.

Get the Book!

The FAQs of Pool & Pocket Billiards


Get the Book!! $7.00

book-PDF PDF book (good for smart devices)
(Includes my Money-back Guarantee)

book-red Printed book
Recent Useful Posts
Drills & Exercises - Around the Table (double balls), Set 5 of 5

(D&E) Drills & Exercises - Around the World Game - Doubles, Set 5 of 5

(About the Author) This progressive exercise to improve your playing skills is in the book Drills & Exercises for Pool & ...

Read More

(S&D) Safety & Defense - The Confusion Safety Type

(About the author) This is today's bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox. The confusion safety type can be a lot ...

Read More

S&D - Blocked Pocket - Clear the Way

(S&D) Safety & Defense - the Blocked Pocket Tactic

(About the author) (This is today's bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox.) A pocket is blocked when another object ball ...

Read More

(H&S) Hustles & Sharks - “Friendly” Insults

(About the Author) There are some hustlers who specialize in seemingly friendly insults – usually observed between two good friends. A ...

Read More

(TML) Table Map Library - Q5 to M9

For information on the Table Map Library, how it works and how the information was researched - read "Table Map ...

Read More

(TML) Table Map Library - M3 to C1

For information on the Table Map Library, how it works and how the information was researched - read "Table Map ...

Read More

Group 11, Set 6, Layout 1

(CBC) Cue Ball Control (full table patterns) - Group 11, Set 6

This is today's set of Cue Ball Cheats. These practice setups (and others in the book and blog) help you ...

Read More

Group 10, Set 7, Layout 1

(CBC) Cue Ball Control (full table patterns) - Group 10, Set 7

This is today's set of Cue Ball Cheats. These practice setups (and others in the book and blog) help you ...

Read More

Drills & Exercises - Pocket Skills (progressive) - long table sets - 1D to pocket

(D&E) Drills & Exercises - Pocket Skills (progressive): Long table sets - 1D Rail

(About the Author) This progressive exercise to improve your shooting skills is in the book Drills & Exercises for Pool & ...

Read More

(D&E) Drills & Exercises - Down the Line (mid-table diagonal) Runout Exercise (1)

(About the Author) This progressive exercise to improve your playing skills is in the book Drills & Exercises for Pool & ...

Read More