defining moment

recently on OMG’s blog there’s a discussion on tight pockets.  OMG asked if a 4″ pocket is too tight for rotation-type games, and the commenters (me included) gave various responses about their thoughts on tight pockets.  then i asked myself, “what is a tight pocket?”

before you laugh, this is a legitimate question.  i don’t think anyone has given a definition of what a tight pocket means.  tight pockets to me are very much line-in-the-sand things; the logical question is where this line should be drawn.  i think the way to define a tight pocket is by experience and players’ consensus.  IMO, there’s no other way to determine where to draw this line.

i had a terrific discussion about pockets with a good shooter, a gentleman with a heavy straight-pool background.  he brought up an interesting point on excessively small pockets: they are non-compliant.  although people may disagree, this is a valid point.  when i checked BCA’s website about table specs, BCA had a link that gave the specs on professional equipments.  according to the specs, the width of the corner pocket should be between 4.5 and 4.625 inches at the mouth.  the width of the side pocket should be between 5 and 5.125 inches at the mouth.  (basically you add 0.5″ to the width of the corner pocket to get the width of the side pocket.)  technically, any pocket that’s smaller/bigger is not compliant with the official specs.

in my previous post i mentioned that 4.25″ corner pockets should be about as small as we go; any corner pocket smaller than that is excessively punitive and not conducive to good pool.  i arrived at that conclusion solely from my experience in pool.  i’ve played with pockets much smaller than 4.25″, but for me it kinda takes the fun out of pool.  a table with super-small pockets is basically one giant aim trainer.  i think there’s a better aim-trainer than 9-ball on super-small pockets; it’s called snooker.  the thing is, i’m playing pool, not snooker.  if i want snooker, i’ll play on a snooker table.

you may think i’m against super-small pockets.  i’m not.  i just think there should be a balance somewhere.  on AZB’s forum, one of the posts that commented on TAR 16’s equipment said, “At what point is enough? Why not 3 1/2″ or 3″ pockets?”  (read the whole thing here.)  for me, i think 4.25″ corner pockets are tight enough, but still leaves a little wiggle room to cheat the pockets and do things with the cueball.  some may think 3.5″ pockets are just right.  i’m standing by my 4.25″ pocket decision.  (hehe, my blog.  :P)  by this definition, any corner pocket smaller than 4.25″ is called a tight pocket.

i wrote this post b/c i don’t think us players ever sat down and agreed on what a tight pocket means.  that’s why i decided to give my two cents and actually give the term “tight pocket” a definition.

other players of course will have different definitions on what a tight pocket means.  if you feel the need to post an alternate criterion, comment away.

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2 comments on “defining moment

  1. Why isn’t there a standard to what the pockets are in the industry? BCA has one set of requirements, does the WPBA have another set of requirements or the APA?

    It’s like saying the net for a tennis game can be as high as a volley ball net, and it can be as low as a ping pong net.

    Ok, ok, I am exaggerating just a bit, but you see the point?

    Being a beginner player, I probably wouldn’t know know if a table is a tight pocket or not, until somebody points it out. And then it gives me an excuse to why I am missing a lot.

    • according to wpba’s website, “All games described in these rules are designed for tables, balls and equipment meeting the standards prescribed in the BCA Equipment Specifications.” this is wpba’s spec link. so i guess wpba uses bca’s specs, like a lot of tournaments out there.

      apa doesn’t seem to have equipment specs in their rulebook. u can download their rulebook here, but i didn’t see anything on equipments. i think many apa matches are played on bar tables, so i’d imagine the pocket widths can vary greatly from venue to venue.

      as far as an uniformed world standard on pool, i think you’re right that there isn’t one. however, a lot of tournaments seem to adopt the bca/world pool-billiard association (wpa) specs, so i suppose the bca spec is the unofficial global standard for pool. i found an article written by mike shamos that talks about the different pool rules by different associations, but he didn’t seem to talk about equipment specs (at least from my quick scan of the article). you can read it yourself if you like.

      i think it’d be hard to establish a global standard for pool, since this means all the players from americas/asia/europe/africa/middle east will all have to agree. gonna be a while.

      btw, i wouldn’t be putting yourself down as a beginner. your body, especially your arm, eyes, and visual-spatial part of your brain, know a lot more than you think. but the corner pocket is easy to measure; just try squeezing two balls side-by-side into the pocket. if it won’t fit then it’s pretty tight. but you know this, i’m sure. i’m kinda weird with tight pockets; if it’s tight then i fire my shots harder. crazy, i know. also, i think it’s very hard to learn to trust your body to make the shot for you. when you make up your mind on which shot to take you can try to let your body take over. max eberle has an interesting technique to hone this trust: after you get down & line up your shot, close your eyes and fire away. you’ll be surprised on what your arm can do when it’s free of your eyes. keep in mind though that this technique is what i’d call the “feel” technique, basically things you do to increase your feel of the shot. if you’re a more mechanical type of player (emphasis on routine & repeatable techniques, like a machine) this may not work well for you.

      as a side note, the wpba tournaments seem to have tightened the pockets over the years. in the earlier years (mid 80’s to around ’08, or at least the matches i’ve seen on tv during this time period), the pockets were gaping maws. (at least 5″ pockets, maybe bigger.) recently (late 2008 and on) the pockets seem tighter, probably around the 4.5″ range. i guess the powers that be are finally starting to trust the lady pros’ abilities to play good on tv. 😛

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