The Two-Ball Key

9-Ball today is a breaker’s game. If you can make a ball on the break and have a shot to start the game, you should win. Not that you will run out all the time, no one does. But getting the first good shot means you have the opportunity to control the table. When and how you turn the table over to your opponent is up to you and you do not have to leave him with a good shot.

The key to getting that initial good shot can be the position of the two ball. The one ball is often pocketed in the side pocket on the snap and so the two will be your first shot. If not, the one ball will be down at the head of the table and a good breaker will leave the cueball in that vicinity to make sure he gets an opening nod. In either case, the breaker wants the two ball down at the breaking end of the table to be sure he has a shot at it and the chance to continue shooting or pull a good duck.

So where the two ball is racked is critical. Don’t just throw that baby in there and hope for the best. Position the two to your advantage! If you are racking for yourself that means you want the two ball either at the tail of the rack where it will slam into the foot rail and rebound uptable, or in one of the two slots directly behind the one ball where it will follow the one across the center string.

Conversely, if you are racking for the other guy, hide that two ball in one of the two positions directly ahead of the last ball in the rack, preferably on the side away from where he is breaking. Balls in this position usually die somewhere down on the rack end of the table, well away from both the one ball and the cueball and often caught up in a cluster.

Use the two ball to your best advantage. If it just gives you one game in a short race it may mean the difference between a win and a hard day’s night.