playing God

For those of you who've never played God before let me tell you He's a pretty tough opponent. You're not going to beat Him without some type of spot. In this section I'll list some of the spots I use to make winning at least possible. The basic gist in all these scenarios is that if you miss, you lose the game. Practicing against God is mainly an offensive struggle, but I have added a couple of ways to practice a more well-rounded game against Him.

First of all, you always want to get the break. Without the break you'll never get to the table again.

The simplest, and most common, spot is to get ball in hand after the break. Start out by not counting scratches on the break. In this format it also doesn't matter if you make a ball on the break or not. Just bust the balls apart, take ball in hand, and try your darndest to run the rack. I usually play at least one race to 5 with this spot at the beginning of any session I play against God. I'm about a 60% favorite in nine ball with this much of a spot. In eight ball I'm about 85%,

The next tougher spot is to count the break. If you make a ball on the break, and don't scratch, you get ball in hand. Failure to make a ball on the break, or scratching on the break, is a loss of game. A race to 5 in this format is tougher than the first format, but if my break is working well God and I and are almost even. I guess I'm about a 55% favorite here in nine ball, and 80% or so in eight ball.

Moving to a more difficult spot, take away the ball in hand. You play the cue ball from where it stops. Making balls on the break doesn't matter, but scratching on the break is a loss. This is where my game is at right now. I'm about a 30% nine ball underdog here game-by-game, but I've only won about 3 out of 50 races to five. In eight ball God and I are about 50/50. Failure at this level usually indicates poor cue ball control on the break. In my case the problem that comes up more often (in nine ball) is unfortunate placement of the two ball. I can usually see and make the one, but trying to get to the two ball is often what forces a miss for me. Perhaps it would be helpful to start studying where the two ball normally travels from different rack positions, but I'm afraid it will turn out to be mostly luck. In eight ball it's almost always luck.

If I ever get this good, the next spot I'll get from God will be just the break. I figure that if I could beat God consistently with only the break as a spot I'd be ready for the Big Time. I'm not exactly holding my breath for nine ball, but I've won a couple of sets in eight ball.

One variation I've used to practice a more well-rounded game requires an assumption that God cannot make kick or jump shots. Now I know that God could kick and jump balls in for all of eternity, but bear with me. Assuming that God cannot make kick or jump shots allows me to practice my safeties - something that I neglected for more than a decade. The safety variation can be integrated into any of the four formats listed above. Just assume that God can not only make any kick or jump shots, but that His attempts shot are so bad He cannot even hit the object ball. This give me ball in hand after every successful safety - a successful safety being defined as one which leaves the cue ball blocked from going directly to the object ball. As of this writing my safeties are not enough of a factor to affect my winning percentages - in fact I'm winning slightly fewer games with the safety option. This may be partly because I lose my cadence, and not strictly because my safeties are horrible.

You can also play God in straight pool and bank pool. For these two games the safety option is counter-productive so I don't use it. Also, for straight pool, I get to set up the break ball and the cue ball for the first break by hand. After that it's run or lose. I usually play to 50, though some nights that seems way too lofty a goal.