Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Less Knowledge Can Lead to Improving

When I played in the BCAPL Nationals Master's Scotch Doubles event in 2010 in Las Vegas, my partner was a mere 25 years old and one of the top one pocket players in the state of Texas.  I was 15 years older than him, but he was much more experienced at pool than I was.  His name is Sylver Ochoa and he had been playing one pocket for over 10 years or so and so he was very knowledgeable and talented about all the games of pool way younger than I ever was, lol.

What I learned playing scotch doubles with him (read my blog report of that tourney here) was just how unknowledgeable I was about 8 ball/patterns, lol.  You'd think that is a negative thing, but eye-openers are not usually a negative thing, right?

You see, after the break, he would walk up to the table, look at the layout of the balls, and then almost immediately know the best pattern for a run.  He saw the whole table so much more differently than I did.  I walk up there, and then stand up there wondering what should I shoot next for him, or how to get on the next ball.  He instead saw the patterns for the entire rack.

Don't get me wrong, I knew strategy of 8ball well, and so we played really well together and actually beat a lot of tough teams.  I had enough experience under my belt to know when to run out and when not to.  But it was the obvious patterns I still lacked quick knowledge of.

I realize that his top skills, fast improvement, and becoming a top pro player quickly at such a young age allowed him the luxury to see the layout of an entire 8 ball layout much easier than I did.

But it was still so impressive to witness him almost automatically see/recognize the proper pattern to  connect each ball naturally to run out.  At one point, I wasn't sure if I should have shot the 7 ball or the 6 ball, and his response was so obvious lol.  "You make the 7 first because that naturally connects to the 6 ball which then sets you up for the 2 ball and that will lead you easily to the 8ball.

pffft.  "easily."  Whatever, dude.  lol

As you know, there are a ton of different ways to run out 8 ball; there are so many choices!  But he saw the "correct" paths and connected the proper pattern to each ball so well and quickly, that it really proved to me I needed to work on my patterns lol.  It was a great experience to find out I had so much more to learn about pool!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Perceptions During a Match

I'm sure you have heard this before where two people see or hear different things even though they both saw/heard the same thing?

Similarity, when people witness one situation (like a car accident), they all kinda reflect differently about what they saw.

Another example is if you go to a doctor's visit with a family member.  You each hear something different from the conversation with the doctor.  It's really very normal.

And of course this also carries over into pool, too.

Case in point.  I remember distinctly playing against a friend a mine from Arkansas during the Champion Stop of the Texas Ladies Tour about 8 years ago or so.  I barely got to shoot!  I only had a few chances and the biaatch kept running out!  I was pretty agitated, lol.

Afterwards, I told her, "Man, you played so good - you barely missed!"  And she lamented, "Thank you.  I didn't think I played all that great, but appreciate the kind words."

I was kinda stunned - how did she think that when I hardly got to shoot the entire match and she kept running out?

Back then, one of the guys would attend the tournaments and video tape some of our matches (we affectionately called him "Video Mike").  And we happened to have that match recorded.  I bought a copy of the video and watched the match when I got home and I was STUNNED.

She didn't run out one game!  I had plenty of chances!  I just didn't play well and she played better, but she missed a lot too.  How in the heck did I think she ran out most of the match?

But, this happens all the time to players, lol!

As a Tournament Director, I not just run a tournament, but I get to watch a lot of the matches because of where the Tournament table is normally located.

And almost once a tournament, some player will come up after they lost and lament in a loud voice to me, "That guy never missed!"  And I stand there thinking to myself, "Hmmm, I just watched the match and you both missed quite a lot."

The player will go on, nipping at me about his opponents' handicap, "That guy shouldn't be a 5 - he was ran out every time I missed!  That's not a 5.  Fives don't play that good!"

But, I simply realize that they witnessed something different than what actually happened.  Part of the reason is emotions, as we don't see clearly or think clearly if we are upset.  But, the other factor is we all simply don't always see the same things, even if we are involved in the same situation.

So, I didn't usually rush to change someone's handicap based on one player who just got beat, because it's usually not what they really experienced, lol.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Special 10-Ball Helmet

This is my little friend Ezekiel! (Zeke for short):

Ezekiel is the beautiful boy of Nicole and Joseph, who was born Jan 10, 2018. 

I asked Joseph about Zeke's cool 10-ball helmet.  No, no, he's not getting ready to ride his bike into the sunset with a new girlfriend, haha!

Joseph shared that basically nowadays they recommend babies sleep on their back.  At 3 months, they noticed the back of Zeke's head was really flat.  They moved him from rocker to basinet and from 3 to 6 months, no matter what they did, he would always sleep on his left side.  Joseph shared, "Move him, he would move back. lol"

The result was a flat head on the back and left side, and they also noticed his ears were uneven "by a lot."  Zeke was diagnosed with Plagiocephaly.  It's actually a very common problem, and some fix on their own, some do not.  Nicole and Joseph decided (rather than hoping it would correct itself), and "knowing how mean kids are, we didn't want him getting teased about his head shape," to look into options.

So, they got 3D images and a custom DOC band made.

For those like me who don't have kids nor around kids:
"The DOC Band is the only custom cranial helmet with nearly 35 years of documented outcomes. It’s been used to safely and successfully treat more than 175,000 babies with moderate to severe plagiocephaly.  Each DOC Band is custom made using our state-of-the-art technology and one-of-a-kind manufacturing process to ensure it delivers the best possible outcome for your baby."

He will wear his helmet 4 to 6 months, 23 hours a day.  And Zeke will have head band adjustments done every 2 weeks to evaluate his progress.

Then one day they were eating out for Nicole's birthday dinner and having an awesome conversation about billiards with their server.  Turned out their server (Brandon) also loves pool and Joseph shared information about the tournament scene in and around Houston during their dinner.  Joseph used to play on the Omega Tour here in Dallas / Fort Worth and he's still on the pool scene down in Houston and many other places when he travels.

Joseph and Brandon would soon become friends on Facebook and that's when Brandon also started to ask questions about the DOC band.  Then he asked if he could decorate it, as he is an artist.  Because it has to be worn 23 hours a day, doing awesome detailed art work was not an option, but Nicole and Joseph had already agreed what they wanted.  Because he is a pooloholic and Zeke was born on Jan 10th, "Logically a 10-ball was the design we wanted."

Well, logically to us pool players, right?!  :)

Turns out Brandon's family runs a sign and wrap company, so he hooked them up!  They got two decals created based off dimensions, and when the decals were ready, Brandon went over to do the install.

"With a blow dryer, a lot of patience, and business cards, we installed it together which was a really cool experience."

And they still have the other decal if this one gets too messed up.

"Brandon offered to do it for us, no charge, just looking forward to having a friend he can shoot pool with.  I believe everything happens for a reason, and divine meetings like this take place all the time."

Rather than spend hundreds of dollars to get it done at a place elsewhere, they had a chance meeting, talked about billiards, became friends, which set in motion for how Ezekiel got his 10 ball design.  "And Nicole and I gained a friend that likes billiards."

You can see in the photo above Zeke already likes billiards!  And, he watches tournaments streamed all the time with Dad, too.

Here is Zeke and his parents:

Thank you for sharing your story, Zeke, Nicole, Joseph, and Brandon!