Bar Pool Lessons

Playing pool in a bar can be quite an adventure. I've never been much of a pool player until the past few months, when it began to develop into a bit of an addiction, after getting into it more and more with my friends. We finally got to the level, or at least finally developed the guts, to put our names down on the board at the local bar and begin to play the regulars. In typical fashion, I've got a list of (what I find to be) interesting lessons I've learned in my experiences playing pool:

* The better you get at pool, the more rules there are. Plain and simple. Playing casual games with friends doesn't quite give you the preparation needed. Perhaps a better way to phrase it would be to say: The better the people you play pool against, the more rules you need to follow.
* As an immediate follow-up to the above point: Call *everything*, unless its flat-out obvious what you're trying for. But even then, better safe than sorry. Especially if you wind up playing a real stickler for the rules. Its really just one simple rule, but it involves quite a lot. Call your banks, combos, double touches, any rails you're going to hit, and even call where you're going to scratch, just for the heck of it.
* With all the extra indimidation from having to call every shot, an important thing to remember is that there is always a shot. Even when everything looks blocked, there's always some way to get the bank shot or combo just right, to make a shot.
* Not really a lesson of bar-pool in particular, but just a general pool lesson that pretty much every player will agree on, is that the hardest shots are the straight ones. And even harder still are the looong, straight shots.
* Never over-estimate your opponent. Even the smoothest, shark-looking, or the roughest, burliest opponents can make some crappy shots and lose a game.
* Never under-estimate your opponent. The inverse of above. Even the most awkward, uneasy-looking opponents can make some amazing shots and kick your ass.
* Don't ever erase anybody's name from the board, except your own, unless they approve. I've seen a number of people make this mistake in the bar. They no longer have right arms.

But really, this is all just common sense. And the pool-playing itself, just comes with practice, like anything else.

9 thoughts on “Bar Pool Lessons

  1. josh sutton

    i am a very good pool player but i just cant seem to get over that hump from a good player to being a great player

  2. Matt

    Its a nice website you put together for the beginers who are just getting into the (bar) pool scene. Although I must say that I dont agree with two of the points listed. 1. I dont believe that it was worth putting on your site that the hardest shots are the straight shots. 2. I dont believe that you always have a shot just by banking or a combo. Just a thought. Other than that… A nice bit of info for the beginner.

  3. Mike

    Here’s a question for you about bank pool. Official rules for bank pool state that when a player scratches, he/she must spot one of thier previously sank balls back on the table. Let’s say you’re playing on a “Bar” table with no way to retrieve the balls, and your opponent scratches while shooting at the eight. I’m sure that there are many house rules pertaining to this subject, and the creator of bank pool probably didn’t even think about not being able to retrieve the balls because the pay pool tables weren’t around back then. But in my eyes he/she just lost the game when they scratched on the eight. Is this a correct statement, or is it just that bank pool cannot be played properly on a “Bar” table?



  4. lopolis

    Well it seems that if bank pool rules don’t work on a bar pay table, then you can’t play bank pool on it. “Bar pool” rules, as with most types of games in my experience, whether you’re on a pay table or not, say that if you scratch while shooting at the eight ball, you lose.

  5. Doug Robertson

    If you’re playing serious pool, by the real rules, there’s no need to call banks, caroms, etc. Just “which ball, which pocket” suffices. The main reason I prefer not to play random people in bars is that they insist that I need to call something “clean” or off another ball – why should you lose the game just because another ball near your intended pocket may or may not be nicked by your 8-ball shot? If anyone plays by the standardized rules for a while, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the fairness of them. Another pet peeve: having to shoot from behind the head-string when your opponent scratches, as opposed to having ball-in-hand anywhere on the table. This always seems to happen when I’m on the 8-ball and it’s also behind the head-string!

  6. fred

    What are the rules for scratching on the eight ball when playing bank the eight? Do you lose or not?
    Is this the same in a last pocket eight ball game?

  7. Lindsey

    I was wondering how other people played in the bars they go to. Do you all play straight 8, bank the 8 or last pocket?

  8. mike

    The call “shot” bar rules seemed (to me ) idiotic at first but they they sure make you consider the precision aspects of pool

  9. frazier

    I live in a very small town in Kern County, California. Most of the locals are accustomed to a form of gentlemens callshot but have never checked out the world outside of their little pond. We have been looking for a set of rules similar to that which we play but have been unsucessfull. I have drafted up one version but invariably runinto objections. In the absence of a canned set of slot rule , I invite critisism of the rule I have assembled! Please send your critiques of to thanks for your input!


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