By Erik Hjorleifson
One of the most frustrating things about playing pool, particularly 9 ball and 10 ball, is dealing with the luck factor that goes along with playing the game. It must be said that games like straight pool, 8 ball, one pocket and banks have considerably less luck than rotation based games. The main things that contribute to this factor are that both players are only attempting to pocket one ball, and the chances of inadvertently landing safe are much higher than in other games. 8 ball is the only other game that involves an open break, which also lends to the luck factor but in 8 ball you will almost always be guaranteed a shot off the break.
The following are some realities that can seem negative but are not always as uncontrollable as they seem, and if understood can contribute to an overall better positive mental attitude.
Dealing with coming to a table after your opponent has fluked a hook:
This is most often seen after your opponent has missed a ball and not left it in the open, or when returning to the table after your opponent kicks at a ball and leaves it back in a detrimental position. The fact about these instances, and something that I think about regularly is that at the time you are preparing to kick at the ball, your opponent only has a temporaryadvantage in the game. They do not yet have the offensive advantage. There is still an option for you to play a kick safe at the ball and there is still an option for you to get fortunate in return, thus shifting the temporary advantage back to you. In other words the mindset you have to have is that your opponent did not get lucky until the outcome of your shot has been determined.
The general concept of your opponents luck:
I challenge all of our readers to properly rationalize the cause of the times when your opponent explicitly gets a roll. Consider this, if you scratch on the break and your opponent misses a ball 5 shots later and flukes it, in fact your error allowed that luck to happen. If your opponent flukes a hook and you entirely miss the kick, then you have contributed to your opponents luck.
Luck on the break:
Remember that in 9 ball and 10 ball your percentages of receiving a shot will increase dramatically relative to how close the cue ball ends up to the middle of the table. Making a ball on the break is very related to how good the rack is and how the break is executed, so make sure you consider these things when breaking. At the highest level try to develop breaks where you are controlling the 1 ball to give yourself the best percentage of landing on it.
The easiest way to avoid luck in pool is to break and run a rack. If you are at the level where you can break and run racks, maintain a focus on this because this is the only way you can really guarantee a win in 8 ball, 9 ball and 10 ball. If you're not a the level where you can consistently break and run racks, accept the fact that there will be an element of luck in your games and think about some of the strategies I have outlined to help you stay in an overall even state of mind.
Try your best to focus on your own game and creating your own luck instead of focusing on what your opponent is doing. This of course is all easier said than done as with most things in life, but I can tell you that when I am playing my best I don't even consider the luck factor because I take responsibility for my errors and always give myself every chance of turning fortunate rolls back on to opponent . Thanks everybody, I hope this helps.