One of my opponents in Reno had a very controlled break. I'm not sure if she only hits the rack this way on a bar table, and/or when using the magic rack, and/or because it was 9ball, but her break was semi-soft and very controlled. Kind of like Chip Compton in this video I captured of him last year at the Texas Open. Those were 9 foot tables, but the object is the same: control the cue ball, get a decent spread and most importantly, make a ball.
My female opponent broke this way our entire match, just like Chip. I, on the other hand, continued with my strong break, even though it was unnecessary on a bar table, I admit, now that I look back. But I just don't know that semi-soft break yet.
As much as I admired her break, it truly is most effective for a player who can run out. Otherwise, if you don't run out, or don't play a good safe on a wide open table, I will be at the table with an opportunity to finish off the rack for you.
And, because I was breaking hard, I moved the balls more, including the 9ball. So, in our match, I made the 9ball three (3) times, which was good for me. I only made the 9ball a couple more times the rest of that 9ball division in Reno, so it must have been that table we were on.
I fully admit if I knew the semi-soft break, I might have used it. It is a very successful break! But to reiterate, it seems to be MOST successful when you can run out. And, if you do make a few balls on the break, that's even less balls to run out with a nice spread. :-)
But my point is, which is better?
A controlled break to ensure you make a balk and get a spread, or break hard, make balls, and get the 9ball moving sometimes?
I say go with what you are comfortable with; what you are accustomed to.
Then I read in Billiards Digest, Corey Deuel said,
"My theory on the break shot? It's just like any other shot: You want to make a ball and get position. I wouldn't shoot a shot in the middle of the game where I slam all the balls and hope to get lucky, so why would I do that on the break? Makes no sense."
Well, when you put it like that, Corey, it makes sense to me!