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(In addition to the contact info provided with each item, many of these books and DVDs can be purchased through www.pooldawg.com, www.ozonebilliards.com, www.seyberts.com, and www.accu-stats.com.)
The “Pool Billiard Workout” series is actually three volumes, representing three levels of play. The authors are three of the best-known pool coaches in Europe, and these three books contain nothing but drills. The latter are well matched to their intended audience (Level 1, beginners to intermediate; Level 2, intermediates; Level 3, “For second league to world class players”, according to the cover blurb). There is little question that your game will benefit from these drills, especially the advanced ones, many of which are new. But be advised that the diagrams are quite small and the translation is frequently clumsy. Neither negative, however, should keep you from benefiting from the drills themselves. Integral to benefiting from the instruction is the PAT, or “Playing Ability Test” — a system to assess one’s skills in 10 aspects of billiards. Each level comes with a version of the test (recommendation: get your coach to help you), and once you know how you rate in these categories, the books provide exercises for your weaknesses. It’s methodical and helpful.
“Pool Billiard Workout, Levels 1, 2 and 3” can be purchased as e-books or regular books at www.lithoshop.eu (click on “Billiard Books — English, PAT Workout System).
A gentleman named Carter Adams has undertaken the ambitious project of bringing the past to the present. “A Practical Treatise …” is not the game’s very first instructional, but it is 201 years old. In it, Mr. White lists 16 different cue games of the day, which intriguingly include something called “One-Hole.” However, White was anticipating that all of these games would be played on what would clearly be called a snooker table today, with six pockets and the familiar “D” area from which play begins after fouls. While the game he designates as “One-Hole” does bear modest relation to today’s one-pocket, all the games he describes have been obsolete for centuries. White does take in the basics of play in his work, and if you are a fan of the English language, then you’ll probably enjoy sentences such as, “I have for many years repeatedly had occasion to observe that a player whose posture is elegant, who strikes with ease and grace, and who is calm and collected in his game, will uniformly attain a degree of skill superior to him who stands inelegantly, delivers his ball ungracefully, and in his play is bustling and impatient.” The whole book is written that way. The principal emphasis in “Treatise” is on English billiards, which is still played today (if at all) on a 6-by-12-foot snooker table with the familiar two white balls plus a red. Thus, “Treatise” is a must-have for billiard-book collectors, but has virtually no instructional value today. But Mr. Adams is entitled to considerable props for his considerable efforts in making classic works like this available.
“A Practical Treatise on the Game of Billiards” is available at www.cartersbilliardslibrary.com.
A few years back, in reviewing Robert Byrne’s new book and DVD on advanced shots, I questioned why the Hall of Fame writer had chosen to spend so much time and effort in showing us illegal shots and fouls. Ostensibly it was to protect us from the scoundrels who would perpetrate such shots, claiming they were perfectly legal — but, I wondered aloud, do creatures like that even exist any more? Especially since the hustler/sucker scenario is all but dead, except in bars? They must, because here is a double-disc set on all the ways the balls can be illegally racked for all the blast-break games: 8-, 9-, and 10-ball, plus rotation. Joe Tucker probably knows more about the predicted flight of multiple balls than anybody else on Earth. Not only does he show you where the bastards are most likely to leave those gaps, but also the probable results of doing so. What I found even more fascinating about this body of work was Joe’s examination of the two games where the balls are broken under control, namely 14.1 and one-pocket. He has not only included break shots that contact each of the balls in the outside row, but he also distinguishes between points of contact on each of those individual balls and the probable results. This aspect of his work alone is sufficient to make you a wiser and more efficient player on your next trip to the table.
“Racking Secrets With Joe Tucker” is available at www.joetucker.net.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the late and immortal Irving Crane is that his practice sessions used to include his playing himself safe for a full 30 minutes a day. Skim the rack, inspect for dead shots, play safe again. It must have paid dividends; of all his peers, and they included Greenleaf and Mosconi, he was universally acknowledged to be the premier defensive player. Allan Sand, the creator of the CD-ROM series, “Handbook of the Billiard Gods,” enthusiastically reviewed here a few years ago, is back to analyze the defensive aspects of pool. And what a thorough analysis it is, too: banking into safeties, blocking pockets, clusters, dead zones, those valuable “two-way” shots, and many, many other areas of defensive play. He begins with the theory that the purpose of safety play is to allow you to maintain control of the table, and commences from there. Once you glean Mr. Sand’s techniques, you’ll be forcing your opponents to work much, much harder, and you may win several matches out of their frustration alone. Because of Mr. Sand’s thoroughness, this instruction does seem to proceed slowly. But stay with it; none of us was meant to pocket balls accurately 100 percent of the time, nor to attain desirable position even if we do. This DVD will make you smarter all the rest of the time.
“Safety Toolbox” is available at www.billiardgods.com.
“Banks that Don’t Go But Do,” the new DVD from Freddy “The Beard” Bentivegna, is a welcome addition to the relatively small canon of in-depth banking instruction. Freddy has spent many decades rounding up the banking secrets of such playing giants as the late Gene Skinner, “Bugs” Rucker and “Jersey Red” Breit, and unlike many money players, he is quite prepared to share. Many of the shots explained here are not apparent to the untrained eye, and are created by spin, cue-ball direction, or a combination of the two. He teaches not only different strokes for different shots, but differing bridges and grips to complement those strokes. You’re going to be making a whole bunch more shots than you ever dreamed.
“Banks That Don’t Go But Do” is available at www.bankingwiththebeard.com.
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Since 1978, Billiards Digest magazine has been the pool world’s best source for news, tournament coverage, player profiles, bold editorials, and advice on how to play pool. Our instructors include superstars Nick Varner and Jeanette Lee. Every issue features the pool accessories and equipment you love — pool cues, pool tables, instruction aids and more. Columnists Mike Shamos and R.A. Dyer examine legends like Willie Mosconi and Minnesota Fats, and dig deep into the histories of pool games like 8-ball, 9-ball and straight pool.
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