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Pool Instruction: CueTips #36 – Hall of Fame Thinking

Posted on by Mark Finkelstein

"Captain Hook" Mike Sigel

"Captain Hook" Mike Sigel

By NYC Grind Contributor, Mark Finkelstein

What a great week end for pool.  Raxx Pool Room, Bar & Girll and Holden Chin put on a great show at the Seminole Tribe of Florida Empire State Championship as part of the Seminole Pro Tour & Tony Robles’ Predator Tour.  A big shout out and thank you to Ray “Big Truck” Hansen, Holden Chin, The Seminole Tribe, Jerry Tarantola and everyone else who brought this great event to us.  Please show your appreciation to these great folks through your support.   Congratulations also to the winner Mike Dechaine, and all the other players who got in the box and showed us how pool is supposed to be played.

Congratulations also to Mike Sigel, who won 30 straight games, and gave us a clinic on advanced pool thinking.  What I want to do in this article is highlight some of the moves that Mike saw and executed on his winning streak.  Every one of us can learn from his play.

First I want you to look at this layout… read on to view the CueTable diagram.

CueTable Diagram #1

CueTable Diagram #1

Mike was ahead 2-0 and had ball in hand.  He could have played the 5 in the side and try to break up the cluster, or he could have played safe.  Instead, Mike played the 5 ball into the side pocket “off the 9″, and got shape on the 6 in the side.  He pushed the 9 toward the bottom rail a little further than he wanted, but he was in good shape and got out.

Next up with this theme of clearing pockets with ball in hand is the following lay out.

CueTable Diagram #2

CueTable Diagram #2

With ball in hand, Mike could have done a number of things, but what he did was one of the best moves I’ve seen in a while.  He played a combination on the ball blocking the pocket and cleared the pocket for the 5 and 7 balls.  Wow.  The way he positioned the ball in hand combination also pushed the one toward the pocket and the bottom rail, giving him position to continue on his streak.

We have talked here before about making a billiard to clear the pocket or to push balls into better position for us (or a bad spot for our opponents).  Bu here, Mike used a carom shot and a combination to clear the pocket so he could continue his run.  Wow, what cool headed thinking under pressure.

The last bit of genius I want to share is probably why they call Mike “Captain Hook”.  Look at this layout here:

CueTable Diagram #3

CueTable Diagram #3

In this situation, most of us might have gone off the right side of the 5 with right spin and tried to get the cue ball up the table.  A few of us might have gone off the right side of the 5 with left spin and tried to hook behind the 8.  But how many of us would have gone rail first to keep the 5 ball near the rail, get the cue ball behind the 8 and push the 7 over to help create a wall to block seeing the 5.  If the safety worked and Mike got ball in hand, he was poised for another run out.

Wow!  What a great exhibition of top-level pool thinking under pressure.

Good luck and see you on the road.

Mark Finkelstein is the House Pro at Slate Billiards on 21st Street in Manhattan.

If you have questions, or would like to see a particular topic addressed, you can email Mark at

This entry was posted in Pool Instruction, The Latest and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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