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BD House Pro
Tony Robles
A longtime teaching pro at Amsterdam Billiard Club in New York City, Tony has dozens of regional and national titles to his name, including the 2004 BCA Open Championships.

Instruction Articles:
• September 2017
The One-Armed Man

• August 2017
Making a Check List

• July 2017
Trust Issues

• June 2017
Rails Away!

• May 2017
Weight Watchers

• April 2017
Opposites Attract

• March 2017
Reach For It!

• February 2017
Adapting to New Rules

• January 2017
Systems vs Feel

• December 2016
It Happens to the Best

• November 2016
Maintaining Focus

• October 2016
Riding the L

• September 2016
Tips on Tips

• August 2016
The Art of Deflection

• July 2016
Note To Self

• June 2016
Object of Safety Play

• May 2016
Speed Zone

• April 2016
Frozen Ball Shots

• March 2016
Hide and Go Seek

• February 2016
Two-Rail Kicks

• January 2016
Staying Down

• December 2015
One-Rail Kicks

• October 2015
Call Shot, Call Safety

• September 2015
Own the Shot

• August 2015
Patterns - Part II

• July 2015
I Notice A Pattern

• June 2015
Two-Way Prt. 2

• May 2015
Two-Way Shots

• April 2015
The Fine Line

• March 2015
Straight Break

• February 2015
The 'Walkaway'

• January 2015
Pushing Your Luck

• October 2014
Walk This Way

• August 2014
Attitude Adjustments

• May 2014
Adapt to the Equipment

• Mar 2014
Turn The Beat Around

• Feb 2014
Straight Is Great

• Sept 2013
Cover the Basics

• June 2013
Getting It Right

• May 2013
Strength Training

• April 2013
Rust Proof?

• March 2013
Not So Fast

• February 2013
Two-Step Jump

• January 2013
Open Your Eyes

• December 2012
Feeling Good?

• November 2012
Hang In There

• October 2012
Back on Track

• September 2012
Straighten Up

• August 2012
On the Rail

• July 2012
Mental Checklists

• June 2012
Respect & Fear

• May 2012
Chin Music

• April 2012
On the Line

• March 2012
Balancing Act

• February 2012
Creative Drilling

• January 2012
Power Outage

• December 2011
Jumping In Line

• November 2011
Soft on Soft Breaking

• October 2011
Find Your Stroke

• September 2011
The Path Off the Rail

• August 2011
Short Position

• July 2011
Inch Along

• June 2011
Into the Unknown

• May 2011
Sharpened Focus

• April 2011
Never Flatline

• March 2011
Stop For A Review

• February 2011
One To Watch

• January 2011
The Straight Answer

• December 2010
Shoot The Lights Out

• November 2010
Never Overmatched

• October 2010
Drawing Conclusions

• September 2010
Through & Through

• August 2010
Along the Rail

• July 2010
The Small Stuff

• June 2010
Three in One

• May 2010
One Ball At a Time

• April 2010
Going Thin to Win

• March 2010
Know Your Game

• February 2010
14.1 For 8-Ballers

• January 2010
Setting It Straight

• December 2009
Hanging Out, Part II

• November 2009
Hanging Out

• October 2009
Control Your Speed

• September 2009
Busting Out of a Slump

• August 2009
Easy Errors, Part III

• July 2009
Easy Errors, Part II

• June 2009
Easy Errors, Part I

• May 2009
Body Language & Breaking

• April 2009
The Break: Body Language

• March 2009
Must-Reads from Robles

• February 2009
Position: Four Square

• January 2009
Romancing the Stance

• October 2008
Look Out for Boingy Rails

• September 2008
Build a Better Break

• August 2008
Q&A: Ask the Pro

• July 2008
'Buzz' Kill: Stay Down

• June 2008
Stop Shots Safeties III

• May 2008
Stop Shots Part II

• April 2008
STOP-SHOT Safeties

• March 2008
How to Keep Winning

• February 2008
The Dreaded Straight-In Shot

• January 2008
Trying the Soft Break

• December 2007
The Hard Way Makes It Easier

• November 2007
How to Sight the Cue

• October 2007
Win from Your Chair

Breaking Bad
November 2015

One thing that surprised me watching the recent Gotham City event was how stubborn some players can get regarding the break. And these are terrific players who went far in the tournament. The one that struck me most was the young Spanish player, Francisco Ruiz-Sanchez. He's going to be a force to be reckoned with, but in the quarterfinal against Warren Kiamco, he insisted on breaking head on, even though he was not making a ball. Meanwhile, he could see that Kiamco was consistently making a corner ball or the 1 in the side using a cut break.

That really surprised me, because if I'm playing and I see my opponent have success with one break, I'm going to that break. And I've seen this happen many times. Players watch their opponent succeed, but they are too stubborn to change what they're doing. They continue to try to impose their will, even though the table just isn't breaking that way.

When I'm at a tournament and I'm scheduled to play on a certain table, I will try to go to that table while the previous round's match is still going on. That way, I can watch the players and I study where they are breaking from, and whether or not they are having any success.

When their match is over, I go to the table and immediately practice the break that was most successful. But I only do this if my opponent is not at the table yet. If he is already therewhen I start to practice, I don't use the break I'm going to use in the match. I don't show my hand. I'm looking for any little edge that might make a difference in the match. I'm not going to share the knowledge that I spent time studying. If I plan on using the cut break, I will practice with a head-on break and vice versa. I've won so many close matches where little edges like this made a difference.

When I don't get a chance to observe someone else before a match, I usually start by breaking from one side of the table and then the other. I start with the cue ball a ball or two's width from the spot and keep working out. I try to rack and break as quickly as possible, because I want to get a read on the table before my opponent gets there. Again, if that edge wins you one game, it could be the difference between winning and losing the match.

As for the cut break, Jose Parica was the first player I recall using it. This was back when the Pro Billiards Tour enacted the rule where players had to break from the "box". He aimed for the point on the 1 ball that he would normally aim from if he were breaking from the side. I teach my students to break aiming at three-quarters of the 1 ball, then two-thirds of the 1, half of the 1 and so on. If you keep racking the balls, one of those cuts is going to force that corner ball to go in. Once you figure it out, particularly if it's a thicker hit, it becomes automatic.