Playing the percentages

wincardona

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I have based my life on playing percentages..meaning just about everything I do in gambling... By applying percentages to the decisions I have been faced with gives me a clearer picture on when and when not to do something. Of course not all our decisions are based off of percentages only, but you can't deny that percentages is an invaluable tool. So why not use it whenever possible?

When the term "PLAYING THE SCORE" is used we are actually playing the percentages. The score...or the percentages... actually gives us a reason to play a certain way. Sometimes the score is so lopsided we are better served to play ultra conservative, and then there are times when the score is close and we are sorta confused on how to play:confused: Should I shoot to pocket this ball, or should I duck?

This brings me to a term that is used by many on this site "ON BIG POCKETS" What does that actually mean? To some that means they have a better chance to pocket the ball. To others it means that they are confident they will pocket the ball. So my point is how will that help someone decide when to shoot for their pocket when the value is different for different people? I think that players that are learning the game would like a better and clearer picture on making a decision... when and when not to shoot... other than the reason "ON BIG POCKETS"

I try to put things in a clearer perspective by describing things in percentages. After all making a shot for one may not be the same percentage as making it for someone else. So let us decide what the percentage is for us to make the shot, then based off of that percentage we will have a clearer picture on when to shoot and when not to shoot. For instance when we are faced with a shot that confuses us when to shoot wouldn't it be more comforting if we could put a percentage to it that would give us a clearer picture? As opposed to someone saying "ON BIG POCKETS" I would shoot. Maybe, just maybe, I need more than BIG POCKETS to make the shot.:eek:

A good example of the message i'm trying to convey is evidenced in the Early game decision thread. The term "ON BIG POCKETS" is used as a guideline as why they would shoot. That's great for the person using the term, but what about someone else? Wouldn't it be better if we put things in terms of percentages? Like saying that I think I can make this bank 60% of the time so i'm shooting it. Or for those who feel comfortable that they can make this shot more than 50% of the time should shoot the shot. If not they should play another shot.

Just sayin.

Billy I.
 

fred bentivegna

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Good info

Good info

wincardona said:
I have based my life on playing percentages..meaning just about everything I do in gambling... By applying percentages to the decisions I have been faced with gives me a clearer picture on when and when not to do something. Of course not all our decisions are based off of percentages only, but you can't deny that percentages is an invaluable tool. So why not use it whenever possible?

When the term "PLAYING THE SCORE" is used we are actually playing the percentages. The score...or the percentages... actually gives us a reason to play a certain way. Sometimes the score is so lopsided we are better served to play ultra conservative, and then there are times when the score is close and we are sorta confused on how to play:confused: Should I shoot to pocket this ball, or should I duck?

This brings me to a term that is used by many on this site "ON BIG POCKETS" What does that actually mean? To some that means they have a better chance to pocket the ball. To others it means that they are confident they will pocket the ball. So my point is how will that help someone decide when to shoot for their pocket when the value is different for different people? I think that players that are learning the game would like a better and clearer picture on making a decision... when and when not to shoot... other than the reason "ON BIG POCKETS"

I try to put things in a clearer perspective by describing things in percentages. After all making a shot for one may not be the same percentage as making it for someone else. So let us decide what the percentage is for us to make the shot, then based off of that percentage we will have a clearer picture on when to shoot and when not to shoot. For instance when we are faced with a shot that confuses us when to shoot wouldn't it be more comforting if we could put a percentage to it that would give us a clearer picture? As opposed to someone saying "ON BIG POCKETS" I would shoot. Maybe, just maybe, I need more than BIG POCKETS to make the shot.:eek:

A good example of the message i'm trying to convey is evidenced in the Early game decision thread. The term "ON BIG POCKETS" is used as a guideline as why they would shoot. That's great for the person using the term, but what about someone else? Wouldn't it be better if we put things in terms of percentages? Like saying that I think I can make this bank 60% of the time so i'm shooting it. Or for those who feel comfortable that they can make this shot more than 50% of the time should shoot the shot. If not they should play another shot.

Just sayin.

Billy I.
Good advice. I promise to steal it and put it in my next book. I will give you the byline of course.

Beard
 

ChrisBanks

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I think you can make a good quantitative analysis of your chances for pocketing a ball on different size pockets.

Actually I think you should be fairly certain of your odds for pocketing tough shots before you shoot them.

On a given shot, your odds of pocketing a ball on a diamond table with 4.25 inch pockets might be 50%. On a brunswick with 5 inch pockets your odds might be 90%.

Of course it's not just the pocket size, but how the pockets are cut and if balls tend to hang up.

And then you need to factor in how good you are shooting on that particular day.

One day I might make a shot 90% of the time, another day I might make the shot 25% of the time. If you're not a pro, your percentages will probably vary greatly depending on the day.
 

ChrisBanks

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But I also think that it will be difficult to come up with usable data that will help you make a decision to shoot or not.

Your desired outcome is to win the game. Your ability to assign percentages to future shots diminishes the further you go into the future.

For example, let's say we both need the last ball in one pocket.

It's my shot. And I think my odds of pocketing the ball is 75%. The only way that information helps me is if I know the odds of winning the game if I play safe.

I can't compute those odds because I have no way of knowing my opponents next shot. He may return a safety. We may both have 10 more shots each in the game. So we can't quantitatively compute odds of winning if we play safe.

The best we can do is judge our own game, and our opponents game, and estimate who has the best chance to win the game if I play safe.

If I say that by playing safe we each have a 50% chance of winning, then I'll shoot the ball.
 
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John Brumback

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ChrisBanks said:
I think you can make a good quantitative analysis of your chances for pocketing a ball on different size pockets.

Actually I think you should be fairly certain of your odds for pocketing tough shots before you shoot them.

On a given shot, your odds of pocketing a ball on a diamond table with 4.25 inch pockets might be 50%. On a brunswick with 5 inch pockets your odds might be 90%.

Of course it's not just the pocket size, but how the pockets are cut and if balls tend to hang up.

And then you need to factor in how good you are shooting on that particular day.

One day I might make a shot 90% of the time, another day I might make the shot 25% of the time. If you're not a pro, your percentages will probably vary greatly depending on the day.
Yes,but I think what Billy I. Is getting at Is this, he Is trying to help some of us help readers on this forum understand the reasoning and%s behind some of the choices we make.And I think he has a very good Idea too.I'm pretty sure that's what he's getting at.You have alot of good points though.John B.
 

androd

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ChrisBanks said:
It's my shot. And I think my odds of pocketing the ball is 75%. The only way that information helps me is if I know the odds of winning the game if I play safe.
Those odds would be zero, on that shot. :)

I pretty much shoot every shot to win, IF I'm in position to control pocket speed. I believe if I do that his next turn will be a much lower percentage shot.
Rod.
 

wincardona

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ChrisBanks said:
But I also think that it will be difficult to come up with usable data that will help you make a decision to shoot or not.

Your desired outcome is to win the game. Your ability to assign percentages to future shots diminishes the further you go into the future.

For example, let's say we both need the last ball in one pocket.

It's my shot. And I think my odds of pocketing the ball is 75%. The only way that information helps me is if I know the odds of winning the game if I play safe.

I can't compute those odds because I have no way of knowing my opponents next shot. He may return a safety. We may both have 10 more shots each in the game. So we can't quantitatively compute odds of winning if we play safe.

The best we can do is judge our own game, and our opponents game, and estimate who has the best chance to win the game if I play safe.

If I say that by playing safe we each have a 50% chance of winning, then I'll shoot the ball.
I could be wrong but if I have a shot that my odds are 75% success 3/1 to win the game, A SAFE BET IS TO BET THAT I'M GOING TO SHOOT IT.
Billy I.
 

bstroud

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I agree with Billy I. that it would be useful for someone learning the game to be able to evaluate the success of a shot beforehand.

I just think there are too many factors that affect a shot that even an approximate evaluation of success or failure is impossible.

Intangible things like confidence at any particular moment in time. Your bankroll. What you had for lunch all figure into the calculation.

There are certain factors you can control however. What equipment you play on. The time of day you play. The humidity. Your mental condition.

As an example, when I am giving up a big spot where I know I need to run a lot of balls, I never play in the evening near the dew point or the hours after it that it takes the air conditioner to recover.

If I am playing on another players home court I try not to play on their favorite table. If I have to I make sure I play on it alone and bump it as hard as I can to change the way it rolls. I change the balls. Even getting the house to change the lights makes a big difference. Anything that makes your opponent uncomfortable helps. Change the music. Turn up or down the air conditioner.

The majority of the times I have lost at one pocket was because I ignored there rules.

Control the things you can control and you have a much better chance of winning.

Bill Stroud
 

ChrisBanks

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wincardona said:
I could be wrong but if I have a shot that my odds are 75% success 3/1 to win the game, A SAFE BET IS TO BET THAT I'M GOING TO SHOOT IT.
Billy I.

I guess you're right.
 

fred bentivegna

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More plagerism

More plagerism

bstroud said:
I agree with Billy I. that it would be useful for someone learning the game to be able to evaluate the success of a shot beforehand.

I just think there are too many factors that affect a shot that even an approximate evaluation of success or failure is impossible.

Intangible things like confidence at any particular moment in time. Your bankroll. What you had for lunch all figure into the calculation.

There are certain factors you can control however. What equipment you play on. The time of day you play. The humidity. Your mental condition.

As an example, when I am giving up a big spot where I know I need to run a lot of balls, I never play in the evening near the dew point or the hours after it that it takes the air conditioner to recover.


If I am playing on another players home court I try not to play on their favorite table. If I have to I make sure I play on it alone and bump it as hard as I can to change the way it rolls. I change the balls. Even getting the house to change the lights makes a big difference. Anything that makes your opponent uncomfortable helps. Change the music. Turn up or down the air conditioner.

The majority of the times I have lost at one pocket was because I ignored there rules.

Control the things you can control and you have a much better chance of winning.

Bill Stroud
I will probably steal this advice also and couple it with Cardone's percentages rant for my next book.

Good advice about pool --regarding how one should think -- is a soft spot
for me, and a relatively untouched as yet, subject.

Beard

Yes, I'll give him the byline also.
 

beatle

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every shot you shoot you factor in the %. for instance you must guess the chances of making the shot and then weigh that against the chances you will come out better if you play a different shot or a safety.

those that do not use or understand percentages well, still do that but must do it intuitively. this is much less accurate and the accuracy loss adds up over time.

a good way to begin is to think of your chances of making the shot every time you shoot. after awhile you will get very close to actual chances. then you can weigh that against alternatives.

a simple example of guessing % chances of winning is this:

say you have a long shot that you believe will make 40% of the time and it will win the game. most will not shot it. but if you add in that 60% of those times you miss you get to win 20% of them. which is 12% of the total time. so you will win 52% of the time by taking the shot you may have chosen to not shoot.

the alternative would have been say a safe which might win the game for you 48% of the time and if you didnt understand or thought about this you may have taken that path as it seems from the outside a better percentage than shooting.
 

bstroud

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I guess I look at shots and moves differently.

When I shoot at my pocket and play position I expect to make the shot 100% of the time. I just block out my opponents pocket and fire away no matter how much I am betting.

If I am not 100% confident with the shot I don't shoot it and will look for a way to move balls toward my pocket and leave the cue ball in a bad place.

You can't have it both ways.

Bill Stroud
 

vapros

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Gentlemen, this is all very profound and abstract and random, but isn't this the way we all play one-pocket? Most of us don't express our assessments in terms of percentages, but when considering a shot we rate it somewhere between 'not even on my best day' and 'if I ever miss this shot I will jump in the river', and make our decisions accordingly. Not only that, but in order to play the percentages, one must first know the percentages, and therein lies the rub. Dirty Harry once said that a man has to know his own limitations, and especially if he wants to play one-pocket. I made that last part up myself. :rolleyes:

Trust me.
My brother-in-law's grandfather went to prep school with Albert Einstein.
 

Skin

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OK, so I have been thinking about figuring percentages on a shot as a way to decide whether to shoot it. Now, before I get started I will say that I know guys in my professional life whose minds run in numbers and they seem to have a sixth sense with them. They can tell you the number first and with confidence afterwards go back and prove to you it is correct. I am sort of one of those guys, but not fully. I do know they exist, though. Guys like Billy and Artie may be ones of them - can put a percentage on anything without a single number to work with.

Me? When I decide on whether to shoot a shot, I rely on intuition, which is what intuition is for. It gives you a lickety-split answer without the distraction of analysis.

However...lets look at the idea of playing percentages when deciding on a shot. I think that is too simple of a way to decide in a game. Maybe if you are betting on your shot percentage in ten tries, then it is meaningful. But in a game of 1p you also have to figure in the cost of missing and the reward of success. That is risk:reward, but risk I think is comprised of both shot percentage and cost of failure. If you get math minded about that (risk) you can make a graph like this which shows the shot percentage v. the cost of failure. Only half the time are you favored (green area).



Now, if you if factor in reward with risk, this would extend the graph out towards you into 3 dimensional space, making a cube. Within that cube, only 1/4 of the volume (where percentage and reward each are > 50 and cost is < 50 ) is your favored zone.

This means that on average, you are favored only 25% of the time, 50% of the time it is even money, and 25% of the time you are the dog. On average.

Now, try to get down on the shot to make it after having your brain scrambled by trying to figure out where the point in that cube is for your shot. :eek:

Trust your gut and use the Force, Luke. :D

Jedi Skin
 
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lll

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Skin said:
OK, so I have been thinking about figuring percentages on a shot as a way to decide whether to shoot it. Now, before I get started I will say that I know guys in my professional life whose minds run in numbers and they seem to have a sixth sense with them. They can tell you the number first and with confidence afterwards go back and prove to you it is correct. I am sort of one of those guys, but not fully. I do know they exist, though. Guys like Billy and Artie may be ones of them - can put a percentage on anything without a single number to work with.

Me? When I decide on whether to shoot a shot, I rely on intuition, which is what intuition is for. It gives you a lickety-split answer without the distraction of analysis.

However...lets look at the idea of playing percentages when deciding on a shot. I think that is too simple of a way to decide in a game. Maybe if you are betting on your shot percentage in ten tries, then it is meaningful. But in a game of 1p you also have to figure in the cost of missing and the reward of success. That is risk:reward, but risk I think is comprised of both shot percentage and cost of failure. If you get math minded about that (risk) you can make a graph like this which shows the shot percentage v. the cost of failure. Only half the time are you favored (green area).



Now, if you if factor in reward with risk, this would extend the graph out towards you into 3 dimensional space, making a cube. Within that cube, only 1/4 of the volume (where percentage and reward each are > 50 and cost is < 50 ) is your favored zone.

This means that on average, you are favored only 25% of the time, 50% of the time it is even money, and 25% of the time you are the dog. On average.

Now, try to get down on the shot to make it after having your brain scrambled by trying to figure out where the point in that cube is for your shot. :eek:

Trust your gut and use the Force, Luke. :D

Jedi Skin
dear jedi skin,
the only question i have about your graph is this scenario
there are some open balls on the table that go in your or his pocket
he left you a very easy shot
your percentage of making it is high
your risk of missing is higher because he doesnt need many balls and will probably run out if you miss
even with that higher risk
your ability to make the ball trump the risk of missing
better example he has a ball hanging in his pocket you have a very makable shot
we all have been in that position and ignored his ball for the time being and took the shot


maybe thats where the 3rd dimension comes in

in closing i think ill use the percentages and go with the force:D
(use both )
jedi in training larry

i think vapros put it well for the non mathematical
never in a million years do i make it vs no way i miss this shot (paraphrased)

and billy did a nice job explaining it mathematically/analytically
and i need to study more to get the 3rd dimension:D
 
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Skin

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Larry, that post was mostly a gag. :D Nobody in their right mind except the the crazy "science guys" would try to think that way about pool. Putting a percentage on it as Billy says is a good aproach, though, IF you can do it. Artie thinks a lot that way, too. They both played great in their primes, so what's to argue with? :)

Skin
 

wincardona

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bstroud said:
I guess I look at shots and moves differently.

When I shoot at my pocket and play position I expect to make the shot 100% of the time. I just block out my opponents pocket and fire away no matter how much I am betting.

If I am not 100% confident with the shot I don't shoot it and will look for a way to move balls toward my pocket and leave the cue ball in a bad place.

You can't have it both ways.

Bill Stroud
Billy I like your mindset but i'm talking about shots that vary in degree of difficulty. When to shoot as opposed to when not to shoot is the problem we all face, including yourself. Many times I have been down significantly in the score playing one pocket and a shot came up that I wouldn't consider shooting if the score was even, but if I make it I would get back in the game or possibly win the game. You must factor in the approx. odds of winning the game if you don't shoot the shot, then take a look at the degree of difficulty of the shot. If the shot carries a high degree of difficulty like a 25% success rate which would equate to 3/1 against making the shot and the degree of difficulty winning the game if you don't take the shot is 10% which equates to 10/1 then you should shoot the shot. That's an easy choice, but you will be confronted with tougher choices on when to and when not to shoot in the future, and it's up to us to figure when the right time is to shoot.:)

Billy I.
 

3RAILKICK

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bstroud said:
I agree with Billy I. that it would be useful for someone learning the game to be able to evaluate the success of a shot beforehand.

I just think there are too many factors that affect a shot that even an approximate evaluation of success or failure is impossible.

Intangible things like confidence at any particular moment in time. Your bankroll. What you had for lunch all figure into the calculation.

There are certain factors you can control however. What equipment you play on. The time of day you play. The humidity. Your mental condition.

As an example, when I am giving up a big spot where I know I need to run a lot of balls, I never play in the evening near the dew point or the hours after it that it takes the air conditioner to recover.

If I am playing on another players home court I try not to play on their favorite table. If I have to I make sure I play on it alone and bump it as hard as I can to change the way it rolls. I change the balls. Even getting the house to change the lights makes a big difference. Anything that makes your opponent uncomfortable helps. Change the music. Turn up or down the air conditioner.

The majority of the times I have lost at one pocket was because I ignored there rules.

Control the things you can control and you have a much better chance of winning.

Bill Stroud

Bill-

I am pretty sure the 'bolded phrase' above is probably well understood by most that post here.

I am not familiar with what you will accomplish by 'bumping it hard' to improve how the table rolls. Are you shooting hard into the rails to return them to a natural springy-ness? Sorry-but I'm just kind of clueless about this stuff.

I know there is another 'bumping it hard' concept, but I don't think that's what you're talking about.

Thanks
 

androd

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3RAILKICK said:
I am not familiar with what you will accomplish by 'bumping it hard' to improve how the table rolls. Are you shooting hard into the rails to return them to a natural springy-ness? Sorry-but I'm just kind of clueless about this stuff.

I know there is another 'bumping it hard' concept, but I don't think that's what you're talking about.

Thanks
I think he may be talking about Bumping the table with some hefty part of his body and trying to unlevel or change the way the table rolls. I have in my younger days picked the table up and moved it a little, if it was a big advantage for my opponent. Rarely though. :)
Rod.
 
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