Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gambling Details

I mentioned I had gambled earlier in January and wanted to provide more details, just in case you wondered how it went, since I didn't say how the night ended up in my previous blog entry.  I mostly talked about one aspect - dealing with negativity.

Per our contract, my opponent and I (a guy) were suppose to play $300 sets, 6 ahead, 9-ball on a 9-foot table. 

However, I didn't come to the pool room this particular night to gamble.  Since I was so unprepared and hadn't even thought I would be gambling, I knew my chances would be better on the Diamond bar table.

He finally agreed to play on the Diamond bar table and he came up with the wager:  $25 a game.  I said yes.

Long story short, we broke even after about 2 1/2 hours.

If you don't want the details, go ahead and stop reading now, lol.

I had just finished eating with friends before I walked in the poolroom, so my tummy was full.  I could tell I was also a little dehydrated, so I drank a lot of water, as we played.

I could feel my heart racing from the blood focusing on digesting my food, and me drinking a lot of water.

But, I played well.

Well, I played good.

HOWEVER - I'm the first to admit I got a lot of rolls.

We went back and forth for many many games and I never even got above 2 ahead in an hour.  Nor did he, though.

He played real good safes, but I also kick well.

It was actually a joy to play!  I LOVE me some Diamond bar tables and I play good on them because I know their speed (fast).

I noticed I was taking my time and REALLY focusing on 3-ball shape.  He prolly thought I took too long walking around the table, actually, but honestly, it's helps me to look ahead where I need to be on that bright blue, lovely canvas.  :)

I made a few really great outs (the one I wrote about before), and with some rolls, I found myself ahead by 4 after about an hour and a half.  I honestly thought he was going to quit when he got down $100, but he kept on.

I also though he should quit because I was getting so many rolls in this match up.  It would have been different another day and I thought he should stop playing.  I asked when we got to even again did he want to quit and he said no.  So, we kept playing.

I was too hot to play anymore and recognized that I needed to quit.

It was also VERY smokey in the room.

There were a lot of factors that led me to wanting to quit, even though I was playing well and enjoying playing on the Diamond bar table.

At one point, he played a good safe on the 9-ball (trying to freeze the cueball to it and the rail) and my safe back was not good and I sold out.  Afterwards, he told me how I should have played safe back.  I was thinking, "Are you kidding me?  Giving me advice?"  lol.

At one point later in the night, he got up two games, and I got nervous about it, but I got it back to even.  You see, I could tell I was losing focus, tired, and too hot to play.  I needed to quit soon at even, or else I would find MYSELF down $100 because I was getting tired and may not be able to get back to even.

I finally told him when we got back to even again I had to quit.

I hadn't really gambled that long in many months (well, I hardly ever gamble anyway), and so it was a tester for sure.

I am glad I got good play in, though!  It felt great! 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Gambling Around Negativity

A couple of weekends ago I gambled against a guy who I was suppose to play a while ago, but we never met up.  I happened to be at the pool room for another reason this particular Friday night,  and he was there, too, so we decided to play.

While we didn't play on the 9 foot table for $300 sets like our contract stated, we did finally agree to play 9-ball on the Diamond bar table for $25 a game.

During our play, this one particular guy came over to watch.

The first time he came over, he sat in my chair.  When I was done at the table, I walked up to my chair and asked for it back (I have to have a chair to return to when I play or else I get distracted with the interruptions of trying to get my chair back). 

This guy seems to judge people a lot when they play.

I'm not saying he does, I'm just saying it SEEMS like he does, and I do not play well with those type of people around me watching my mistakes (see how it even makes me word things negatively!  Argh).

He left the area after I asked him to leave my chair, but he was still watching from afar.... but I tried not to look around.

About an hour later, he comes by AGAIN and sits in my chair.  

 Again, really?

I had just got ball in hand, but it was a really tough out with two breakouts needed.  I tried to just ignore that he was so close watching and judging (and in my chair again), and I had enough to deal with ON the table.  I broke out the first cluster, made a few balls,  and saw I would have to use the 4 to break out the 5/8 and hope for a shot after.  I studied each shot really long and took prolly too much time, but I had to be real careful and plan my 3-balls-ahead-shape more than usual because it was such a tough run.

I think I even got bad from the 7 to the 8 for shape on the 9.  I studied it well, though, on what best to do, and never rushed my shots.

Anyway, I get out that tough rack and then he calls me over.  I'm extremely hesitant to even hear what he has to say.

He says, "Hey Melinda, hey Melinda.  I gotta tell you something. "

"What's that?"

Even tho I don't want to know and walk past him to grab my break cue, then start to walk away to get ready to break.

"Hey, hey, that was a really, really nice out.  I mean really nice out.  It was perfect, actually.  You shot it so good."

Wow.  Did he really just compliment me?

While I was surprised he said that, I didn't act arrogant or happy, even though I already knew in my heart it really was a great out on not such an easy layout.  I simply replied, "thank you" and then broke the next rack.

I didn't want to focus on his words because that game was over now, and I still needed to be in the present moment of THIS game, not be over-excited about my last game because over confidence can hurt.

But I admit it was really cool someone saw the tough out and acknowledged it.  Or, was I happier I got out?  Or, was I really happier I overcame his presence in the area while I was shooting?  Okay, all three!  lol

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Preparing For a Tourney

How do you prepare for a tourney?

Wait, do you prepare? Or do you just show up?

Honestly, it's okay if you do.  But even a few little mental preparations are better than nothing. 

Some people hit ball, hit balls, hit balls.  

Me, personally, I prepare by envisioning myself taking my time on my shots, and staying down well.  I have to keep that in mind or else I will rush my shots and that is NOT good for me.  It hurts my success, so I need to ensure to remember to not be in a rush.  Yes, I say "remember" because I do still forget sometimes.  So, that is my personal preparation.   

Visualization is very important and a big part of my preparation:

The advantages of sport visualization are extremely numerous. Athletes can use it to motivate themselves to train at their best. It helps you put things into perspective about what things are important and it also helps you block out any impending negative thoughts. Few activities can get an athlete psyched up like sport visualization.
(read more about sports visualizations HERE.)

Some people practice their break.  One of my friends' husband just borrowed a magic rack from me because he is playing in a big 10-ball event that will use magic racks and so he wants to practice his break with it.   Pretty impressive really to realize to work on that - and it's over a month away!  But, he doesn't play 10 ball nor has he ever broke with a magic rack before.

One thing I learned from one of Phil Capelle books is to also be prepared for the unknowns.

Wait, what?  How do you do that?

I wrote about this before, but it's been awhile so I wanted to remind people as this is a new year with new goals and new tournaments that you want to play in.

Basically. ...
I think it's very important to prepare for the UNKNOWN conditions of your tournament BEFORE you get to the tournament.

Specifically, these unknowns:

1. Equipment
2. Temperature
3. Surroundings

What?  How can I prepare for the conditions before I'm even at the pool room, or have practiced on the table to see how it rolls?... you might be asking yourself.

Let me 'esplain:

You should be aware and be prepared that the equipment may not be the best.  To help combat your frustrations with non-perfect tables, consider that everyone is playing under the same conditions.  Yes, we would like pristine conditions, but let's be realistic - there may be holes in the cloth, dead rails, plastic/clumsy racks/pockets, bad lightning.  I have played in a pool tournament with all of these conditions on one table before!  If you let yourself get upset over these things (things which you can't control), then you are not focusing on pool.  You are letting things interfere with your pool game that has nothing to do with being mentally able to focus completely on the task at hand.

Same for the temperature in the pool room.  Be prepared that some pool rooms get exceptionally cold or hot!  Bring an extra sweater or over shirt with sleeves as a backup in case the room is cold.  Better to have this as a backup than you not being able to play because your arms are frozen.  In the Summer in Texas, sometimes the A/C breaks or freezes and it gets hotter inside than out (no joke).  We play in these conditions a lot, believe it or not.  If you are consumed with negative thoughts about how damn hot it is, then you aren't focusing on pool again.  Don't let the negative energy of being upset about something YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER affect your pool game.

Now for the atmosphere - you never really know what you might be getting into.  Even if you've played in this particular tourney 1,000 times, maybe this time there is a heckler, or they get a new waitress who is the worst server ever, or the guys on the next table are clueless and keep getting in your way when you shoot.  Be prepared for everything; for anything.  Know that things may not be perfect; accept that!  Accept that you have no control over your surroundings.  When you do, then you can instead focus on playing your best pool, so the distractions do not become a negative and interfere with your matches.

Nothing is worse than distractions affecting your mental game.  Distractions are negative emotions that cause negative thoughts which leads to not thinking clearly which causes tenses muscles and your fundamentals become affected.  Negative thoughts and emotions CAN be tamed.  These tips above can help if you practice them.

This is a good reminder - to not let things bother us that we cannot control.  If you accept that things may go wrong and NOT let them bother you, you can then focus on playing pool; your best ability to play pool.  Don't let any of the above become YOUR excuse for losing.  Or for not playing your best.  Before you set foot into the pool room to play in the tourney, already be prepared for the unknown distractions so you can PLAY POOL with a clear, positive, strong mind.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tools in Our Tool Box

What is in your toolbox?

Do you use ALL your tools when you play pool?

There are so many.  Do you use them all?

Maybe it's taking breaks.

Remembering to act/be confident.

Breathe to slow down your adrenaline.

Drink lots of water.

Have no mercy.

There are SO many things to remember when you play in tournaments.  Let's face it.  Stay down.  Sit still.  Breathe.  Try to beat your opponent 7-0.  Wear comfy clothes.  Hit balls before hand.  Eat something effective.  Keep mental notes handy to review.  Oh, and pause then follow through.

While obviously you shouldn't be thinking about all of this during a tournament, you must still be aware of SO many things in your tool box.

For instance.

I was talking to a player back in December during a break she had after a tough win. 

She shared something with me, that I'm still shocked about.

The tables are kind of close to each other in a certain part of the room.  She was playing a tall opponent.

She would deliberately leave a safety down a certain end of the pool table, so her opponent would have a difficult time making the shot b/c she would be crouched against another table to shoot, and have an awkward stance. 

WOW.  I had never thought of that. 

Talk about using ALL the tools in your toolbox!

Makes me wonder what other tools are out there, as I hadn't thought about this one before!