Monday, May 23, 2011

The odds of three

I had some time on the commuter train this past week, and got around to reading through the 9-Ball section of Phil Capelle's Play Your Best Pool. Right in keeping with my nostalgic look back on the thrill of running 3-balls in my last post, Phil offers this analysis of the odds of running the last 3 balls on the table.

"You'd be surprised at how often the majority of pool players fail to negotiate the all important last three balls. One reason is simply the numerical odds of pocketing three balls in a row....Once you can regularly get out from the 7-ball, you'll be beating a lot of players that you thought were pretty good up until now."

So here's how he breaks down the math:

  • If you make 70% of your shots, you have a 1 in 3 chance (34%)
  • If you make 80% of your shots, you have a 1 in 2 chance (51.8%)
  • If you make 90% of your shots, you get out most of the time, but still dog it in about 1 in four tries (73%)
These figures are a little depressing. Its pretty startling to think if I'm looking at an easy out with shots that I miss one out of ten tries (and that's including getting the right position in many cases), the stats say, I blow it a quarter of the time. That doesn't seem right, but if I was honest about it, it's probably true.

I'm not sure I really want this going through my head as I walk up to the table after my opponent has missed the seven. But, I guess its good inspiration to remember to never take any shot for granted, and bear down on the last three. It would be nice to be the kind of player who beats their average if its the three that can win you the game.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The good ol' days

I spent a little time tonight reading through some of my older blog posts (can't believe I started 4 years ago. Where does the time go?) One thing that really struck me was how proud I was when ever I had a three-ball out. (It was kind of my measure for success at the time).

It made me a little nostalgic for those early beginning days. I had to work hard for those three ball outs, and sometimes I still do. The difference is, now, if I fail, I'm much harder on myself. And even if I succeed, there's just not the same pay-off, because I'm supposed to get out. Successful execution is probably more of a relief than anything.

Can you think back and remember how satisfying it was to get any ball in the pocket the first time you picked up a cue stick? nothing like it..

I'm not exactly sure what my point is here....whether its to appreciate the little things (i.e. successful shots no matter how basic), and approach the world with the proverbial beginner's mind, or if its just to observe that the further up the hill you get, sometimes the steeper the climb. I do miss those little 3-ball victories.