The pool is a millimeters game, in which the smallest twitch can cause the difference between winning or losing.
It’s also a game that relies on foundation shots. Picking up a trick in billiard is like trying to understand a card trick. The beauty lies in the casualness, in the implementation of a perceived impossibility with natural grace.
And this sleight of hand is most apparent and prominent in the film, where an ordinary human can accomplish superhuman feats, and all this is caught on camera to show that it actually happened.
Here are 3 trick shots taken from the best pool movies of all time. The beautiful thing about these shots is that they aren’t necessarily manipulated like most trick shots.
These are shots that you can find in any game. Picking up the skills to do these trick shots, and better yet discerning them on the table, will be more helpful for your game than the typical circus-like manipulated shots.
The use of creativity on the billiard table when you’re in a difficult situation is the most important lesson from these three shots.
Top 3 Pool Movies
Number 1: The Hustler
This film from 1961 is widely considered the best pool movie ever made.
It’s a real masterpiece, which popular movie critic and author, Roger Ebert, described as “part of the rare American movies where the protagonist wins by giving up, thereby accepting reality rather than his dreams.”
The film is heavy stuff, and the shooting of Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason is outstanding.
In the Hustler, Straight, or 14.1 Continuous pool is the game of preference. And though it’s now old, it was that movie that triggered a revival of the game of pool in 1961, still echoing today.
Straight Pool Setup in The Hustler
In Straight Pool, you must execute every shot, even during the break.
Since this is practically impossible with 15 balls in the game, the best players play it safe when kicking off and trying to leave the balls as untouched as possible and conceal the cue so that you won’t leave a shot to the opponent.
Paul Newman’s Eddie Felson did just that brilliantly, and Jackie Gleason’s Fats didn’t have much to work with at the beginning of their match.
While it’s uncommon to find a straight pool game these days, it isn’t common to find such setup.
Given the acceptance of doubles pool and the different skill levels at most home and bar-rooms games, there’s sometimes not much going on when the balls break apart on kick-off and leave a game that‘s still partially bundled.
You always have the option to repeat the game if you’re playing for fun, and no balls have been pocketed.
But this isn’t always the case.
The shot made by Gleason here isn’t a trick shot. He evaluates the situation and finds a shot in a seemingly random jumble of balls.
He calls the six into a corner and hits with a firm hand, possibly a four or five-ball combination, which ultimately leads to the six moving into the corner and nicely scattering the balls.
Fats recognizes that the Six is “dead” in the corner. This means that any ball it touches will push the six into the corner, irrespective of where the ball is hit, so all he needs is reach that ball.
Knowing when a ball is dead means that at first glance, seemingly unassailable shots are more accessible than you think.
Locating a dead-ball is a bonus for a player, and the inventiveness lies in finding it.
Number 2: Poolhall Junkies
Mars Cunningham wrote, featured in, and oversaw this 2002 film, and he’s the force on the table too, doing some challenging shots all through the movie.
However, Christopher Walken steals the show, and it’s his fantastic speech and style that set this film off.
He is also very good at the pool table, at least on-screen, and much can be learned with this shot.
As an aside, Walken was said to have taken this shot on his first attempt, which was supposed to be a practice where the cameras were meant to roll in case he did make it.
8-Ball Setup in Poolhall Junkies
The cue is attached to the object ball, that being the Eight, and both are affixed to the rail.
It’s one of the most demanding arrangements in pool to sink a ball. This shot is a good illustration of how to make a shot when there isn’t an easily recognizable shot, and you usually want to play “safe”.
If the eight were balanced ahead of the side hole, you would play a “kick” in the direction of the opposite side of the board, with the cue returning the same way Walken played it.
Kicks are good executable shots as soon as you have them in your collection, a beneficial skill to learn.
The intelligence of this shot, however, is that Walken must move the object ball into position so that it can be kicked to the side after the cue comes back to the side pocket.
This is one additional factor that’s overlooked by most players.
It’s not difficult to push the Eight just enough to get it in front of that side, and it’s not a masterpiece to use the right speed, and angle on the cue ball and have it coming back to hit the eight into the side.
The master part is even to see this shot.
It’s impressive how Cunningham executes the shot with one hand so that the big-gamble can continue because shots with the cue on the rail often require the best control of the cue stick with your pivoting arm.
In other words, Cunningham knows his way around a billiard table, making PoolHall Junkies the second on the list of best pool movies.
Number 3: The Color of Money
Martin Scorsese took up the story of Fast Eddie Felson 25 years after the Hustler in this 1986 film, which ranks a stable third place in the list of best pool movies and centers on the new recognition of nine-ball.
Don’t be fooled by Cruise’s toothy grin, good lucks, and samurai sword movements he does shot after shot as an aspiring hustler.
He became a student of the game similar to Newman did in 1961, and most of the shots in the movie are genuine.
Every time the nine-ball is dangerously in front of a pocket, it can ensure quick action in that game in which only the yellow striped ball counts. Vincent is tied behind the ball without a shot.
Creativity in the Game
Understanding how to change the direction of the cue-ball is one of the best shots a beginner can learn.
However, as a whole, shots in this way are challenging to control and should be rarely used.
The imagination in this shot is twofold, and similarly, as regards the other examples given in this article, it all comes down to the choice of shot.
First, while Vincent didn’t need to bend the cue, in nine-ball, the key to success is to notice that you take a look at the nine and finish the game early.
In conjunction with the ability to use the masse to twist the cue, new shots that were formerly blocked opens up.
They’re also one of the most beautiful shots when done correctly. And when you’ve been able to knock down a masse shot for a win, you’re sure to be called a Hustler.
Three Basic Shots to Play Pool Better
The Jab Stroke — This variation of the conventional draw shot compels the cue ball to move backward after hitting the target ball.
Instead of a long, flat strike through the cue ball, shift your bridge hand nearer to the cue ball and with a fast punching motion strike it, hitting your tip down on the cloth as fast as possible.
It’s vital to ease your shooting hand. Also keep the stick as horizontal as possible with the table; otherwise, you’ll make the cue ball jump.
The Rail Shot — If your target ball is next to the rail, use the rail as an escort and send the target down the whole table into a corner pocket.
This is an audience favorite and is easier to perform than it sounds.
Just align your cue ball (a little above the center) so that it collides with the target ball and the rail precisely at once.
The Force Follow Stroke — Almost all new players can monitor their target ball with topspin, but often the behavior of the cue after a collision is unforeseeable.
To do this, pull the tip of the cue back almost within the palm of your hand (move the plant hand nearer than average to the cue ball) and then hit out with topspin.
The cue ball is pressed hard into the object ball but slowly follows directly after impact.
Finally, the 3 best pool movies are The Hustler, Poolhall Junkies, and The Color of Money. Watching these movies can help you take your pool game to the next level.
Also, we’ve explained the three basic shots to develop your skills further.