The surest skill-building method you’ll ever try:
Abandon for an entire year all playing of full-rack 8-ball (7 stripes, 7 solids, plus the 8-ball). In spite of being nationally the most widely played form of pool for amateur players, on home tables and in all billiard parlors, nothing will forever keep you at a very weak beginner level more than this version of practice play.
The playing rules for Express 8-ball are identical to full-rack 8-ball. However use the racking method shown here:
During more than 45 years as a paid (and occasionally voluntary) billiards instructor for commercial pool rooms, military bases, fraternal organizations (Elks, V.F.W., American Legion) and a number of adult community activity programs, I’ve brought more than two thousand students rapidly to an intermediate/advanced level in less than a year’s time via a demonstrably efficient game substitution to EXPRESS 8-ball.
After an initial lesson in pool playing fundamentals, and in addition to outlining *solo* practice sessions that stress their newly acquired techniques for aiming, stroking, shot making, spin usage, etc., I always request and recommend that for one full year all casual play with other beginners (spouses, friends, neighbors, visitors) be games of EXPRESS 8-ball (4 stripes, 4 solids, plus the 8-ball).
For the first time in their playing experience their 8-ball table layouts after the opening break are suddenly uncluttered, full of open, higher make-probability shot options. Shot cutting rapidly improves and position playing now advances ten times faster because the patterns (relationship of a shot to the next likely shots) are so much easier to see and achieve with far fewer blocking balls.
So, if you’re teaching a beginner or are fairly new to billiards yourself, remember that beginners have the rest of their life to play full-rack 8-ball (and to play it well, hopefully along with 9-ball and Straight Pool) but first use Express 8-ball to give yourself or them a solid year of rapidly building playing skills to an intermediate, nearly advanced level faster than any other method I’ve ever seen or used on my own students.
— Dick Sussman ~ QC Billiards Club 2006 founder ~ 393-8600