Making Your Quarters Last Longer
The main strategic goal of Kentucky Pool is to make your quarters last longer. As such, this is not a game to play at a busy bar with lots of people wanting to get a turn. But, if you find yourself at a bar with a buddy or three and an empty table, Kentucky Pool is a great game for just drinking and hanging out with friends.
Having a Sociable Good Time
There is a rule about no smack talking unless it’s 7 to 2. The reason for that rule is because Kentucky Pool is intended to be a gentleman’s game (no offense, ladies). The truth is, there’s a whole ‘nother way to look at this game. Because it’s so hard, and because crazy shots sometimes go in (slop counts), Kentucky Pool becomes a fun game to cheer or applaud each other’s great, or just plain lucky, shots—opponent or not. Kentucky Pool is not so much about winning as it is about having a fun game to play with others.
It needs to be mentioned at this point that Kentucky Pool is also a great way to meet people at the bar. Start playing it with a friend and you’ll very often notice others at the bar wondering what in the hell you’re playing. Very often someone will come over and introduct themselves and ask about the game. Pretty soon you’re playing doubles with a couple of other folks.
Selecting Which Balls to Shoot with an Open Table
Unlike 8-ball, in Kentucky Pool it is disadvantageous to have your balls near a hole. At the beginning of a game when the table is open, it is best to select the suite of balls (stripes or solids) based on which has the most balls near the center of the table. Your shot possibilities are also limited when your balls are bunched closely together. So selecting the balls that are nicely distributed around the table (but hopefully not to close to any pockets) is best.
General Game Strategy
Like most cue sports, the general strategy for Kentucky Pool is to make your shot and leave yourself well set up for the next shot. This is quite a bit harder in Kentucky Pool than 8-Ball because you don’t have direct control of the cue ball and can put any English on it. Also, it’s a little more difficult to visualize where to leave the cue ball advantageously. It’s pretty common to think too much about your leave and miss the shot. As a result, one game strategy, especially when first learning the game, is to focus on the shot at hand and not worry too much about the leave.
Sometimes, especially near the beginning of the game, you may find that a lot of your balls are clumped together in one area. In this case, if you find yourself without a clear shot, one alternative is to make a legal shot on the cue ball with the intent of hitting as many of your balls as possible to get a lot of movement of your balls in hopes one goes down. Slop counts in Kentucky Pool, so this is a legitimate way forward if you get a bit lucky.
The Dark Side
Paul and I like to think of Kentucky Pool as a gentleman’s game so it was years before we stumbled onto the Dark Side. Because it’s not a scratch to miss the cue ball, at times it’s a good idea just to move a ball away from a bad position. As long as you don’t get one of your balls in illegally, it’s okay just to poke your ball into a better position.
The darkest dark side shot is to simply shoot one of your balls into a pocket and let the other person have the table scratch and ball-in-hand. This is usually done when you only have one or two balls on the table and your opponent has many and will likely not run the table after the ball-in-hand.