One-pocket (sometimes spelled one pocket or 1-pocket) is a pocket billiards game. Unlike other games played on a pocket billiard table where any pocket can be used to send in object balls, only two pockets (one for each player) are used in this one. The object of the game is to score points. A point is made when a player pockets any object ball into his/her designated pocket. The winner is the first to score an agreed-upon number of points (usually 8). The player making the break shot (typically after winning the lag) chooses a foot corner pocket for the rest of the game; all of that shooter's balls must be shot into that pocket. All of the opponent's balls must be made in the other foot corner pocket.
If a player pockets an object ball in a pocket other than those at the foot of the table, he/she loses his/her turn, and that object ball is respotted. And if the player pockets an object ball in the opponent's pocket, his/her turn also ends but the opponent earns a point.
One-pocket is similar to straight pool being that a player can shoot at any object ball regardless of its color or number. Also, penalties for a foul are the loss of 1 point, re-spotting a previously pocketed ball if possible, and in the case of a "scratch" the incoming player gets ball in hand behind the head string. Unlike in straight pool, but as in most other forms of pool, three consecutive fouls is a loss of game.
American pool player and entertainer Rudolph "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone allegedly said the game of one-pocket was like chess (later admitting that he had actually never played a game of chess).[this quote needs a citation] On the other hand, Wanderone's public rival Willie Mosconi, called one-pocket a gimmick game for gamblers.[this quote needs a citation]
The game is said[by whom?] to be similar to chess, with a beginning, middle, and end game like chess. A player must be careful not to leave the opponent with a good shot, or the opponent may be able to capitalize on a successful shot for successive shots and never let the original player shoot again. A player may even intentionally pocket the opponent's ball,[clarification needed] conceding a point in the process, in order to prevent the opponent from being able to pocket that ball and use it to get shape (ideal cue ball position) on a subsequent next shot.
The first one pocket tournament was held in 1961, promoted by the Jansco brothers. The winner of the event was Johnny Vives.
The game is very popular with gamblers, and frequently attracts high stakes. However, it is a skill game involving little luck when played correctly. One-pocket plays a major role in the yearly Derby City Classic which is played in Louisville, Kentucky each January.
One of the most famous players of the game is Grady "the Professor" Mathews, who has written articles and published a number of instructional videos on the game. The two main reference works on one-pocket are Winning One-Pocket and One-Pocket Shots, Moves and Strategies, both written by player and gambler Eddie Robins. The books, now out of print, often sell on the used market for over US$200 each. Another well-known one-pocket player is Efren Reyes. His victories in the game include the US Open One-pocket Championship (2000) and the Derby City One-pocket event (1999, 2004-2007 and 2014).
One-pocket was the main game featured in the 2007 film Turn the River, the story of a female pool hustler who plays high-stakes pool. The film ends with a nine-ball match, with the main character saying that nine-ball "seems like a chumpy game for us."
One-pocket is a very flexible game for players of different skill levels, and many variations are used to handicap a game. The stronger player, for instance, might need 10 points to win versus 6 points for the weaker player (called a "10-6 spot"). Also, as the break shot is so critical in the game, spotting someone the breaks can be a very strong equalizer.
Handicapping one player by allowing points to be scored on bank and kick shots only is a particularly challenging spot, as the free-scoring opponent has a much greater variety of options for both balls to pocket and safeties (defensive positioning of the cueball after a shot) to play against the opponent.
- Last-pocket, a one-pocket-inspired rule in informal eight-ball
- Bank pool, a similarly stringent game
- Robin, Eddie; Jack "Jersey Red" Breit, Ed "Champagne" Kelly (1993). Winning One-Pocket: As Taught by the Game's Greatest Players. Billiard World Pub. ISBN 0-936362-03-0.
- Robin, Eddie (1996). One-Pocket Shots, Moves and Strategies: As Taught by the Game's Greatest Players. Billiard World Pub. ISBN 0-936362-04-9.
- Koehler, Jack H. (1005). Upscale One-Pocket. Sportology Pubns. ISBN 0-9622890-3-5.
- Accu-Stats Videos (lots of different matches on tape or DVD)
- Turn the River (film) 2007
- Official One Pocket Rules