One-pocket (sometimes spelled one pocket, 1-pocket, etc.) is a two-player (or two-team) pool (pocket billiards) game. The object of the game is to score points by pocketing (potting) pool balls into specific pockets. A point is made when a player makes any object ball into that player's designated pocket. The winner is the first to score an agreed-upon number of points (most commonly 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.
One-pocket is similar to the game of straight pool in that both games allow players to score points for pocketing balls, each legally pocketed ball earns the shooter another shot, and any object ball is a legal ball to shoot at (a ball-on). The 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 the game of nine-ball, three consecutive fouls is a loss of game.
One-pocket is one of the most stringent tests of excellence in all of pool, as it requires great shot-making skills, bank shot excellence, planning, and patience.
The famous American pool player 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 – perhaps the greatest pool player ever (with a high run of 526 at straight pool) – called one-pocket a gimmick game for gamblers.[this quote needs a citation]
The game is said 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, 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 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. There are also large-scale one-pocket events such as the World One-Pocket Championship and the Legends of One Pocket tournament that also take place annually.
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 world pool champion Efren Reyes. His victories in the game include the US Open One-pocket Championship in 2000 and the Derby City Classic 2004-2007. His mastery of the games of rotation and three-cushion billiards helped to make him a formidable one-pocket player. One of the most comprehensive listings of one-pocket shots was put together by Willie Jopling in his guidebook.[clarification needed]
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
- "National Museum of American History: Willie Mosconi Papers, 1924-2000". Retrieved 2006-09-08.
- 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