This is a gambling game my Dad learned in the early ’80s and taught to me as a kid. It’s a more casual and more shotmaking focused version of one pocket that still develops some of the same skills. It’s a fun game to play with your friends, even just for a quarter a point. It focuses on an important aspect of safety play that is often neglected, keeping the object ball safe. You also learn to dial in your 2 and 3 rail banks and kicking. I haven’t been able to find many references to it online so here are the rules as I know them and some tips on how to play.

Objective

Each player has one of the bottom corner pockets that they must make the ball in, just like one pocket, but there is only 1 object ball on the table. Sinking the ball is one point and then re-rack and play again. Race to x number of points or play for a set amount per point. Any foul is an automatic loss of that rack. Potting the object ball in any pocket other than your own can be counted as a loss or re-spotted ball.

one ball one pocket
The table setup.

The Break

Set the balls up as shown, the breaker nominates 1 of the end pockets as their own. A legal break involves kicking at the cue ball, usually following the path shown. Winner breaks. Break by hitting just above the corner pocket with inside spin, this gives you the best chance of cutting the object ball in. When you get the hang of it you should be able to knock in multiple kicks in a row. Missing the object ball is an automatic loss, opponent breaks.

one ball one pocket break.png
The break. You need right spin to get to the object ball, and a slight rail first hit to have a chance of cutting it in.

Common Shots

Unless your opponent completely sells out, you are usually going to have to win with a bank. Standard 1 rail bank and cross banks off the long and short rails are common. Be careful to hit them at pocket speed and try not to leave a bank on yourself. When the object ball is up table try these shots.

one ball one pocket 3 rail
3 Rail bank towards your own pocket. Pretty safe if you hold the cue ball where the 14 was.
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2 Rails towards your pocket. Be careful, if you bank it long you can sell out the cross-bank.

Below is the ideal position to leave your opponent in. In this scenario, the pocket closest to the cue ball is your opponents.

one ball one pocket safety.png
There’s little your opponent can do here besides a containing safety. If you’re leaving the object ball up table, leave it like this.

 

Tips

Speed control is essential here. Hanging the ball over your pocket on a bank can win the game, over or under hitting can easily sell out.

You need to control the cue ball and the object ball, take the lessons you’ve learned here to your next game of 9 ball and you will give your opponent fewer chances.

Shoot your safeties and banks with focus and proper technique, or when it comes time to actually shoot a straightforward shot for the win, your form will be off and you’ll dog it.

Get creative. There are many more shots than the few covered here. As your kicking and banking improves you’ll find new ways to put your opponent in trouble and make big shots.

 

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