My Favorite Pool Book(s)
This article is part of Volume 14 of PoolSynergy, a monthly collection of the best writing on pool. After you read it, be sure to check out the rest of the November 2010 edition of PoolSynergy over at Melinda’s wonderful blog Pool is a Journey.
As a student of the game, I try to make it a point to consume as much material about getting better as I can. I’ve tapered off quite a bit over time, of course, since I’ve already read the most popular and highest rated books on the subject, many of them twice. I’ve found books to be the best source of information. They are content rich, inexpensive, and searchable. I had high hopes for instructional videos, but found most to be a disappointment. They tended to be short on content relative to their cost.
|Play Your Best Pool|
Though there are many very good books available, our PoolSynergy Host has asked us to identify our one favorite. I had no trouble choosing “Play Your Best Pool” by Phil Capelle as my favorite. Written in 1995, it set a new standard for a general pool instruction book, eclipsing the previously high standards set by “99 Critical Shots in Pool” by Ray Martin in 1977, and “Byrne’s Standard Book of Pool and Billiards” by Robert Byrne in 1978. I don’t believe it’s been bumped off the throne since.
To me, Phil comes across as an extraordinary teacher, talking to you in plain but clear language. He tells you what you should do, explains why, and demonstrates with photos (when talking about fundamentals) or diagrams (when describing shots). I think his book offers the best combination of material for a beginner or intermediate player. Phil’s coverage of the fundamentals, aiming and shotmaking are as clear, easy to understand and thorough as anyone’s. He adds in-depth coverage of how to play position that is immensely valuable and throws in chapters on 8 Ball strategy and 9 Ball strategy that will win you many more games, even if they are the only chapters you read. That would be a sin though, since there is so much else of value, but it gives you an idea of just how much knowledge Phil has crammed into this book.
With extensive coverage of the mental game and competitive play, all major aspects of the game have been covered in detail, and there’s quite a bit of discussion on getting better and how to practice.
|Play Your Best 8 Ball|
|Play Your Best 9 Ball|
Nearly every page has a diagram on it, many of which show multiple variations. These diagrams are very well done with great attention to detail, and there are so many of them because of the thoroughness of the coverage. Something that annoys me about some books is when the diagram isn’t on the same page as the discussion, but that just doesn’t happen here. This book is easy to read, overflowing with information, and as complete as is possible in one volume. You’ll need to read this one multiple times to get everything out of it.
|Play Your Best Straight Pool|
The books dedicated to a single game each are so complete that they are valuable to advanced players as well as intermediates. Obviously, the more you know the fewer new things you’re likely to glean, but the more valuable they’ll be, because they are so very hard to find.
Any (0r all) of these books will put a smile on the face of any pool players on your Christmas list, and their thanks will only deepen as they come to realize just how good these books are.