gemgemTop 100 Pool and Billiards Tips, Tricks, "Secrets," and "Gems"
The things all great players know and wish they had known when they were younger.

supporting the book: The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards and the instructional video series:
Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots (VEPS), Video Encyclopedia of Pool Practice (VEPP),
How to Aim Pool Shots (HAPS), and the Billiard University (BU)

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Most of the secrets of pool are revealed in the Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots (VEPS). Specifically, all of the "gems" presented are useful and important to know to be a good player. Here's the complete list of shots and gems presented on VEPS. Below is a categorized summary of some of the most important "secrets" and "gems" of pool, with links to additional resources, including video demonstrations and well-illustrated instructional articles.

The biggest tip and "secret" of them all is: Practice, Practice, Practice!!!


Fundamentals

  1. A session with an experienced and qualified instructor can be very helpful to players at all levels.
  2. Make sure your stance is stable and comfortable.
  3. Keep your grip relaxed during the entire stroke (see grip technique advice).
  4. Make sure you bridge is stable and still during your stroke (see bridge technique advice).
  5. Use a bridge length appropriate for you and a particular shot (see bridge length advice).
  6. Keep your cue still and eyes quiet when checking your cue alignment and aim (see reasons for pauses).
  7. Don't rush the transition between the final back stroke and forward stroke (see stroke technique advice).
  8. Don't drop your elbow during the stroke into the ball (see elbow drop).
  9. Stay down on the shot ... don't move your head or body during the stroke (see stroke technique advice).
  10. Don't use more speed than is appropriate for a given shot.

Aiming

  1. Use a consistent and purposeful pre-shot routine.
  2. Make sure your vision center is always aligned properly.
  3. Ghost-ball aiming can be a useful visualization tool.
  4. The contact-point-to-contact-point or parallel-lines system can be a useful visualization tool.
  5. The double-the-distance or double-the-overlap aiming system can be a useful visualization tool.
  6. Your cue can be used to help you aim (see NV 3.2 and NV D.9).
  7. Make sure you are sighting shots consistently and purposefully.
  8. Be leery and suspicious of exaggerated claims concerning some cut-shot aiming systems. Having said this, these systems do offer benefits to some people.
  9. With good technique, HAMB ("Hit a Million Balls") is the best "system" for aiming success.

Cue Ball Control

  1. The 90 degree rule predicts the CB heads down the tangent line for stun shots.
  2. The 30 degree rule predicts a rolling CB heads in the natural-angle direction.
  3. The Dr. Dave peace sign can be very useful in applying and making adjustments to the 30-degree rule.
  4. The trisect system predicts the angle the CB direction changes for a good-action draw shot is 3-times the cut angle.
  5. For a fairly full hit, with a ball-hit-fraction greater than 3/4, the CB will deflect about 3-times the cut angle (see where the CB goes for different cases).
  6. For a fairly thin hit, with a ball-hit-fraction less than 1/4, the CB will deflect about 70-75% (about 3/4) of the angle between the aiming line and the tangent line (see where the CB goes for different cases).
  7. With all shots, more speed shifts the cue-ball farther down the tangent line before curving to the final direction (see CB path speed effects).

Speed Control

  1. The optimal tip height for speed control is 20% of the radius above center (see optimal tip height for speed control).
  2. With a full-hit rolling CB shot, the CB travels about 1/7 the distance of the OB after impact (see ball travel distances).
  3. With a rolling-CB half-ball hit, the CB and OB separate at close to same speed and same angle (see speed control article).
  4. With a 45-degree-anlge stun shot, the CB and OB separate at the same angle and distance (see speed control article).

Draw Shot

  1. Keep your grip relaxed, keep your cue as level as possible, accelerate smoothly into the ball (see draw shot technique advice).
  2. In general, for best draw distance control, use more spin with less speed (see physics-based draw shot advice).
  3. For a stun-back shot, with a small and controlled amount of draw, a firmer hit closer to center offers better CB distance control (see physics-based draw shot advice).
  4. Elevate the cue only when you need quick draw.
  5. Don't push the miscue limit so much with long power draw shots.
  6. The trisect system can be used to predict final CB direction with a good-action draw shot.
  7. Draw is a lot easier on slicker cloth (or with a CB treated with Silicon spray) and with a lighter CB.

English (sidespin)

  1. The miscue limit is half of the cue ball's radius from the center, which is the width of the stripe on a striped ball (see "tips" of english articles).
  2. A solid understanding and feel for squirt, swerve, and throw effects is critical to being able to use sidespin effectively.
  3. FHE and BHE can be used to compensate aim for squirt and swerve when using sidespin.
  4. Outside english can be used to eliminate throw, and this can be useful in clingy conditions (see gearing outside english).
  5. Running english can greatly reduce the difficulty of rail cut shots.
  6. Going ball-first or cushion-first with sidespin on rail cut shots makes a big difference in CB control (see NV B.72).
  7. A drag shot can be used to increase the effect of sidespin off a cushion (see maximum sidespin effect).

Position Control

  1. It is important to know various useful CB-control reference lines when planning position.
  2. It is much easier to control CB travel distance with natural-rolling follow shots (see follow shot accuracy).
  3. Always try to leave an angle and come into the line of a shot.
  4. When you leave yourself straight in, there are still options for position control (see NV B.30).
  5. Pocket cheating can help create an angle.
  6. Rail cut shots offer many position control options.
  7. Coming off a cushion can increase your margin for error when targeting a position close to a rail.
  8. The 45 degree rule, that predicts a ball rolling into an end cushion at close to a 45 degree angle heads close to the center of the table, if very useful for position play.
  9. Practice positioning the CB to the center of the table. This comes in handy in many game situations.

Safety Play

  1. Always play safe when it increases your chances of winning a game.
  2. Use two-way shots where possible when faced with a difficult shot (e.g., a bank).
  3. The 30-degree rule is very useful in safety play (see 30-degree rule examples).
  4. When playing a safety in 9-ball, try to leave the OB away from a cushion (see "big ball" effect).
  5. Come into the line of blockers when hooking your opponent.
  6. With ball-in-hand, try to be strategic with combos, clusters, and problem balls (see 30-degree rule examples).

Strategy

  1. Follow "best practices" concerning how and when to play safeties (see general safety advice).
  2. Don't bump into or disturb other balls on the table if it isn't necessary.
  3. Keep the CB away from the cushions to enable a wide range of tip positions without cue elevation.
  4. Pocket or move balls that clear the way for other balls as early as possible.
  5. Break out clusters and deal with problem balls as early as possible.
  6. In 8-ball, choose stripes or solids wisely and identify key balls for the game (see 8-ball strategy).
  7. In 8-ball, if you can't run-out, play a safety early in the game.
  8. In 8-ball, break out clusters when an insurance ball is available.
  9. In 9-ball, break out clusters and problem balls at the right time (see 9-ball strategy).

Bank and Kick Shots

  1. To bank and kick effectively, it is important to understand and have a feel for all of the bank and kick effects.
  2. For rolling-ball kicks or banks, the through-diamond aiming system is very reliable.
  3. Faster speed can help bank shot accuracy and consistency (see advantages of fast speed).
  4. With shallow-angle kicks, the contact-point mirror system can be very effective.
  5. For cross-corner bank shots, it is very important to know how to detect and avoid double kisses.
  6. Sidespin can be used to alter bank shots (see spin transfer bank shots).
  7. For aiming two- and three-rail kicks off a short rail, the Plus System is very useful.
  8. For aiming two-, three-, and four-rail kicks off a long rail, the Corner 5 System is very useful.

Carom and Kiss Shots

  1. The 90 and 30 degree rules are very useful for aiming carom and kiss shots (see carom and kiss shot aiming).
  2. When two OBs are frozen, the combination direction can be changed quite a bit with throw (see frozen-ball throw).
  3. Bob Jewett's two-times-fuller and ten-times fuller systems are useful to aim frozen carom and kiss shots.

Throw

  1. A solid understanding and feel for throw effects is important.
  2. Maximum CIT, with no sidespin, occurs with slow speed at about a 1/2-ball hit (see maximum throw).
  3. Maximum SIT occurs occurs with slow speed and about 50% sidespin (see maximum throw).
  4. Maximum throw, under typical conditions, is about 1 inch per foot of CB travel, which is about 5 degrees.
  5. When the CB is fairly close to the OB, SIT can be used for a "hold" or "kill" shot to limit cue ball drift.
  6. When balls are frozen, it is very easy to achieve maximum CIT of the 2nd ball (see frozen-ball throw).
  7. Gearing outside english can be used to eliminate throw, but this might not be the best approach for all people and situations (see using outside english to prevent throw and cling).
  8. Transferring spin from the CB to the OB is an important effects with some shots (see spin transfer for examples).

Break Shot

  1. The optimal tip height for a lag shot is 20% of the ball radius above center (see lag shot).
  2. Follow the "best practices" for an accurate, consistent, and effective break (see break technique advice).
  3. Knowing where different balls tend to go in a 9-ball rack can be useful to know (see pattern racking strategy).
  4. In 8-ball, a 2nd-ball break from side can be used to make the 8-ball on the break.
  5. If you use a break cue with a natural pivot length well matched to your bridge length, stroking errors will not affect your accuracy (see pivot-length article).

Jump Shot

  1. For best results, follow all of the recommended "best practices" (see jump shot technique advice).
  2. For best jump results, aim between the center of the CB and resting point on the cloth (see jump shot article).
  3. To jump higher and shorter, elevate the cue; to jump longer, use more speed and less cue elevation (see jump shot article).
  4. With more cue elevation, the dark stroke will be more comfortable and effective for most people (see jump shot technique advice).
  5. Jump shots are often over cut due to the CB hopping in the OB (see jump shot over cut effect).

Masse Shot

  1. For best results, follow all of the recommended "best practices" (see masse shot technique advice).
  2. The Coriolis aiming system for masse shots can be very effective.
  3. After-collision masse shots can be very useful when you need to curve the CB path after contact with the OB.