Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ultimate Experience

I entered the Women's Division of the Ultimate Ten Ball Championships that was held in Frisco, Texas the weekend of April 23rd.  I signed up to play in the tourney for three main, important reasons:
  • it was a pro event that I could enter (some events are limited to just the top WPBA players), 
  • it was close to where I live (no travel expenses were needed except gas) and 
  • it would be a great experience for me.
I admit it was pretty convenient to play in a pro event close to home.  If the tourney had been just 4 hours away, I wouldn't have gone.  But to be able to not pay hotel expenses and the venue to be only about an hour from my house was pure bliss!

Plus, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to play in a pro event like this.  Most pro events are WPBA events and I am not ranked high enough to even get an invite.  So, I was anxious about craving this rare experience.

This tournament would be even more enjoyable because the male pros were playing alongside the female pros.  So I as walk into the arena to practice on the Diamond 9-foot tables before the 9pm Thursday night Player's Meeting, I'm among the top echelon of the pool world.  I admit this blog entry would have more child-like, star-struck, "guess who I just met!" comments if I didn't know all the pros already.  Alas, I already know all the male and female pros, so for me it was more like a cool family reunion than being in awe of my idols like some of my friends were (which was very cute to witness!).

But to name drop, I got to hug and say hi to:  Johnny Archer, Darren Appleton, Rodney Morris, Donny Mills, Lee Brett, Krisit Carter, Monica Webb, Gail Glazebrook, Cristina Dela Garza, Angel Paglia, Alex Pagulayan, SVB, Kelly Fisher, etc. etc. 

I felt special to be able to watch all the pros mingle and catch up Thursday night before they got to work beating each other up on the table.  :)  Even though they are out for blood, they are all friends off the table.

I got my badge, practiced, listened to the rules by TD Ken Shulman and then hung out with friends at my favorite jaunt - Vinos.  I yearned for a relaxing evening before I played at noon the next day.

It's not official til you get your badge.  ;)

Even though I knew my lack of competing over the last 6 months would do me no favors, I was surprised how calm I was.  But, grateful that I was calm!  And not overly nervous or full with anxiety.  As Cristina Dela Garza has stated in her blog, you gotta get out there and play and put yourself in pressure situations.  I truly believe deciding to play in the Women's US Open back in July helped me not be so nervous about this event.

I was excited when I found out my first match was against only Vivian Villarreal. ("only," lol).  Seriously tho - she is a fun player and a friend of mine, and so there would be no embarrassing moments for me when I played her.  I would be in a fun atmosphere with her and not be intimidated if I missed shots (which leads to stress and embarrassment).  Instead, I was looking forward to the match.

Alas, I only won one game in a race to 7, but I still had fun and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her play so smart and well.  She's always a treat to watch (I wish she would have won the tourney!).  I joked with her afterwards:  thanks for hooking yourself on that 8ball so I could win a game.  lol.  :)

That match was at noon on Friday and to utilize my next 6 hours well to still be prepared for my evening match), I watched matches and rested.  Yea, I mingled with friends, too. 

Me and my pal, Juan - his first Pro event!

My 10pm match was rescheduled to 8pm.  Then about 7:45pm Tourney Director Ken points to me and then the stream table and states, "Hey Trigger, you and Sunny on the stream table at 8pm."

Oooohhhh!  I was so excited!  I immediately tell my boyfriend in front of a crowd, "I'm on the stream table.  Woo-Hoo!"  He's like, "really?"  And I was all smiles as I walked briskly to grab my stuff from my practice table.

At this point.  Nerves set it.  I can feel my adrenaline rise exponentially.  I walk by the tourney director's table and I overhear Sunny - she is stunned we will be on the stream table.  She expressed to me she has been playing bad and the people on the chat will complain to see someone "banging balls into the rail and wasting their time."

I was surprised she told me ahead of time that she was not playing well.  I wanted to take advantage of that inside knowledge because I knew that meant she would be more nervous on the stream. She is a dear friend of mine and she genuinely cares for me, and I for her.  But I knew she was already apprehensive about how she was playing.

Me on the stream table

As the match started, I could see how nervous she was.  Yet I was extremely comfortable - I knew I would have support from the chat room and I also felt comfortable on the Diamond tables.  I had no fears or anxiety as the match started.  I tried not to think of the stream and who might be watching.  I knew those thoughts would only interfere with my game.

But as everyone knows - crazy things can happen in any match.  I didn't let this get to me, but I got hooked - A LOT.  At first it was from her misses, but then it was from her good safes.  Every accidental miss that hooked me I tried smile off and not let it get to me.  But if I didn't have to kick so much from missed shots early in the match, the outcome would have been different.  The first two games I lost because I had to kick at a ball and left her a two-ball out.  But, from experience I knew not to let it get to me.

However, I did falter at the speed of my draw shots.  Two shots cost me a game - I drew the ball too much.  I don't draw well, but Diamond tables do.  So, I would over-draw at crucial times which caused me to have to play safe instead of running out.

I tied the score at 3-3 and was pleased I made a comeback from being down 0-2 (I think).  At 3-3 I was scared of a tough 9ball sitting frozen on the long rail and hoped she would have to face it, not I, lol.  But, I was allowed back at the table to face my fear.  But I nailed it!  I had just learned to use center, not top, on the long rail shots that I normally missed, so I was so pleased to see it fall nicely into the pocket!  But, then .... I missed the 10ball!  :(

In the next game I make another tough but strong shot on the 9ball.  I had to cut the 10ball in and while stretching, I put some English on the cueball on my last stroke and threw the 10ball away from the pocket enough to miss it. :(

I was now down 5-3 in a race to 7 because of those two crucial misses.

My boyfriend was giving me the "you got this" look and "it's okay" as I sat tall, still filled with pride that I wasn't going anywhere yet!  

 Me and Brian - we clean up nice, huh?  Brian played in his first pro event!

Sunny then got some extra confidence (I assume because of the score?) and she started to shoot much better.  She then grabbed the next game to get on the hill first.  I still wasn't worried.  I was waiting for my opportunities and still felt I could win. Score 6-4 her.

While she was running out for the win, she got jacked up over the 10ball and missed the 9ball.  I approached the tough shot left for me but hit the 9ball solidly to roll the cueball nicely around the table to the 10ball to grab another score.  On the next game, I run out well and get within one.  Score 6-5 her.

I use the bridge while on the 3ball in the next game because I lost cueball control after I hit the 2ball.  I scraped the 8ball with the bridge just a tad and the all-ball foul rule led to her having ball in hand.

And I tell you what - she ran out GREAT!  I was very impressed as she kept me in my seat the rest of the last game.  She was even jacked up again on a tough shot but nailed it!  She ran out beautifully.  She won 7-5.

I was not sad or upset or mad.  I should be disappointed with the two missed 10balls (obviously, that could have changed the whole outcome), but I really did give it my all and I played many, many great shots.

So, out in two.

But I am so thankful for another great experience and a good, personal tourney.  I am very pleased and I had a fun time.  Life is about living it to the fullest.  Just being able to play in this tourney is a blessing.

I would link you to the stream of my match, but the link isn't up yet from InsidePool.  Once it's up, I will post it in a new blog entry for ya.

I should also have some photos soon.  Although *I* might know a lot of important people, the main photographers don't know me from Adam so they didn't capture photos of me.  Being non-famous has it's downside - my second pro event and no photos to prove it, lol.  Luckily tho - one of my friends photographed the whole event and he got some shots of me.  I will post them when I receive them so you can all see I really did play in the event, lmao!

This is what I was going to wear on Saturday, but I didn't get to make it to day two (frown).  Black halter top with rhinestones.  In this event we were allowed to wear non collared shirts and so I took full advantage of my clothing plans!  lmao.  :)

IN dress code.  lol
Oh, and in case you missed it, here is my video tour of the event/arena: http://youtu.be/q3VPaOeOgWY

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Watch Your Towels

Last night I went to a big weekly tourney at Rusty's Billiards.  I showed up fashionably late just so I could mingle with my girlfriends Laura and Amanda and my boyfriend.  I was too tired to play in the tourney itself, but I grabbed a nine foot table to play a few games of one pocket.

My b/f grabbed his case off the table where everyone puts their cases and notices my new blue Hustlin' towel is missing.

He expresses concern over it (I lent it to him during the pro tournament last weekend) and he stated, "someone stole it".  My optimism kicked in and I replied, "I'm sure it just fell off."

He explained, "It was hooked on - it can't fall off."

"Oh, okay" I say in my normal "go ahead and think negative" attitude voice.  lol.

He searched around the area where his case was and didn't find it.  When he came over to the table we were about to practice on he expressed, "I hope it's just in the car somehow."

He is called for his second match of the night and he has to play one of the Pro Players who is still in the area after this weekend's Ultimate Ten Ball Tourney.

He loses hill-hill but as he walks back to our practice table, he points to his case and the missing blue towel!

I said, "where was it?"

He replies, "the girlfriend of that guy I just played had it with her stuff."

What?  Really?  omg....

I asked him how he got it back and he said, "I just took it and neither of them said anything."

The non-action tells me maybe it really was taken from his case.  Why else wouldn't they stop him?

We were all kinda perturbed about it the rest of the night.

We will never know what truly transpired, but here is a pic I took of the towel and the clasp (pretty tough to fall off, huh?)


I hate to think that way about people...

Ending Tourney Fiasco

Okay, "fiasco" might be too strong of a word.  But emotions were high, voices were raised, and not everyone was satisfied with the final decision.

Long story short (yea, good luck to that loyal readers, lol)... a weekly tourney had run its course and was to end after a 6-9 month stint.

Why an issue?  Well, it had a break-and-run pot of about $1,000 and that money needed to be paid out some how.  There was to be one final tournament.  The hoopla was how should all that extra money get paid out to the players?

Everyone gave their two cents worth.  Here were some of the ideas:
  • Payout like they normally do - top 3 spots
  • Only allow players in the final tournament who have played 50% of the events
  • Have a break contest the last night until all the money is paid out
  • Pay half the field, even if only 20 players show up
  • Allow players to play in the final tourney with all the break money added, even if they only played once
The opinions were solely based on the type of player:

Frequent players:  the players who put in all that break and run money for the past 6-9 months felt they had the rights to that pot of money.  They didn't want to share it with the folks who only played in one or two of the tourneys.

Top players:  didn't want to pay deep - they wanted all the money to go to top three spots so they would get more money!

Infrequent players:  wanted a chance at the money so felt they should be included.  After all, they did play at least once.

Non players (like me):  pay deep to satisfy everyone a little bit.  The top players would get money still and the weaker players who put in a lot of the money would have a chance to win a little something.


The players, room owner, and tournament directors argued over this for so long last Monday, they didn't even have a tourney that night!  They were too busy "discussing" what they should or shouldn't do for the final tourney that was to be held a week later.

I showed up Monday night for this final tourney and was told the decision was to pay half the field.  When some of the top players rolled in and heard that.... and they were livid!  Then two other top players entered the tourney who had only played once or twice before and of course people complained about them!  And one guy was upset he had to pay an entry fee.  lol.

I decided to share my thoughts (I wasn't affected because I didn't play, lol, so I spoke up).  I suggested they might as well pay at least the other half their $10 entry back.  Everyone walks home with something.  I mean, there was about $1150 to pay out in ONE night of a weekly tourney!  Give everyone a little jelly, lol.

In the end, only 17 whole players showed up.  OMG.  Really? $1150 in one tourney and only 17 players show up?  I was shocked.

Anyway.  Eventually the final decision was to pay the entire field.  Whew.  Common sense prevailed!

I then helped the TD decide how to divvy out the money.  Someone told them I was a TD for 9 years and voila, there I was at the TD table with my calculator app, lol, to help with the payouts.

It went something like this (rough memory check):

1 $300
2 $180
3 $120
4 $80
5/6 $50
7/8 $40
9-12 $30
13-17 $20

You can see why the top players would be upset.  But at least they got more money than usual.  And, everyone got a little something something.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ultimate Ten Ball Video Tour


Hopefully you can get the feel of the Ultimate Ten Ball Championships tourney setting with this video!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Clutch

Last year at the Texas BCAPL State 8 Ball tourney, I had a chance to play a tie breaker match and immediately turned down the invitation because I had just lost a brutal game.  Teammate Ashley played it instead and ran out!

This year, 2011, Ashley was not able to join us because she moved out of state from us all (cry, cry, tears, frownie faces) and I joked with my teammates, "Who's gonna play the tie breaker game if we need it since Ashley isn't here?"

We all laughed, but it was a serious question.  Eeeek!

Last year, I played a match that would result in either us squeaking by 9-7 or head us to a tie breaker game.  I played that decision game and lost, so a tie breaker was needed (the one Ashley ran out for us).  I wouldn't play the tie breaker game because I had just come off a severely high-pressure, embarrassing match.  It was a lot of invisible pressure I put on myself and I was literally shaking from nerves because so many people were watching and it was a very important game.  Instead of being confident, I was scared and stressed.  It didn't help that I missed the 8ball so badly, I went into serious embarrassment mode.  I felt humiliation I missed the case shot, discouraged because I let my teammates down, and the anxiety was full force in my mind and veins.

So, when I was asked right after I lost that match if I wanted to play, I immediately stated, "No Way.  I'm too embarrassed now!"  I was so disappointed I let the team down.  :(

Move forward a year.  Ashley isn't there.  We might reach our first tie breaker moment during the women's team event on the second day, while we are on the one-loss side.

My boyfriend says to me, "You know if this goes hill-hill, they may ask you to play."

I reply, "yea, they might."

It was a huge confidence booster that he said that to me.  :)

I very vividly recall the match I lost so badly due to stress and anxiety the year before.  I can feel even the emotions as I type this just how painfully embarrassed I felt to lose that match like that.

So how would I feel if the tie breaker game was needed and they asked me to play?  Would I crater like last year or would I play confident?

The other issue was, we all knew which girl the other team would put in for their tie breaker match.  She's the best player on their team.  And, she's intimidating as hell.

I wrote about her last year.  Tough opponent.  Dominating. Intimidating.  Talks back.  Talks crap.  She's actually the type of player that I swear, if women had balls, she would grab them while we played to inflict more pain.  She has pure drive and her intimidation is full force in her style, stature, words, and she acts aggressive.

How does she play?  She plays good.  She makes a few mistakes that I wish she would work on, but otherwise in order to beat her, it's normally because you have to outplay her or let her make a mistake first.

No matter how much I don't like to play her because she can get on my nerves with her careless words and her mean demeanor, when my teammates asked if I wanted to play against her in the tie breaker match, I didn't turn this opportunity down and was proud to represent the team in the clutch game.

I was ready.

I honestly felt *I* was the player on our team who would intimidate HER the most. 

I felt confident.  In my game, in this position.  I wasn't nervous.  I was ready and confident.


Long story short, after her failed runout, I safety played her in numerous innings til I saw a run out.  She tried to safety me back, but I am better at it.  I finally saw an out, with my first shot being a short rail bank and nailed it.  I then pocketed my last three solids and looked forward to the long rail bank on the eight ball (because her stripe blocked my pocket).  But I dogged it!  Ugh.  But - I still was very happy with my run and smart play!  I played my best and was still confident and not upset.

She went for the run to win but scratched!  I got ball in hand as she said to me WHILE I was down on the shot, "Do you think you can handle that?"

Beotch.

So, even though we won because she scratched, I honestly feel where I left the cueball after I banked my 8ball helped her scratch.  I feel my shot selection led to it.  I really do.

I am glad I played that nervous game last year full of anxiety and stress.  Because it allowed me to NOT let that happen in this clutch game.  :)

BTW, our team finished in third place!!

Connie, Monica, Jennifer and I.  Team "No Holes Barred"!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ulimate 10 Ball Championships, Streaming, and Scoring

I'll be donating my money, lol, this weekend starting Friday in Frisco, Texas at the Ultimate 10 Ball Championships!

While that may seem like a negative statement, it's a fact I will play in the tourney because it's a close-to-home pro event which I can play in.  I have no expectations, except to win one game (not a match, but a game, lol).  I practiced 10 ball on Sunday night and am reviewing my notes from Brad Gilbert's great book, Winning Ugly, so I don't think I'll fall completely on my face with anxiety.

I'm excited to play, but admittedly I'm afraid I might be real nervous in my matches since I haven't  competed in the last six months.  Plus, they are seeding the pros, which means I will run into someone who has been playing consistently on 9 foot tables.

But I'm still very excited to be a part of this BIG pro tournament hosted in my area!

You can check out the brackets Thursday night at this link:  http://www.ultimate10ball.com/2011/

Further - FREE Streaming with no commercials will be available!  Check out the set up for the TWO live streaming tables and REAL LIVE scoring on one webpage:  (click photos to enlarge)





Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gambling As Income

I had a couple of interesting talks the other day that shed some light on gambling that wasn't very obvious to me.  Now that I have heard the words, it's so obvious it's almost silly how apparent it should have been to me.

When people gamble and that's their sole source of income, they not only play better, but they play "smarter."  When they need to pay their next bill, support their family, or pay that car note, they know how important it is to get in the right game, be more aware if their choices, don't take bad risks, and do what needs to be done to win (even if it's not right).  Sadly, even though they may play smart, they also sometimes don't have a conscious (I'll explain more in a minute).  

A friend of mine mentioned the other day that he used to gamble better in the past - when he didn't have a job.  I was like, "uh, what?"  He went on to explain that he had more of a killer instinct when he didn't have a real job, because gambling was his source of income.  Now that he has a day job, he doesn't have to win that money like he used to.  He still loves to gamble and is good at it, but it was an enlightening moment for me to hear that about gambling.  I hadn't thought of that before - probably because I've always had a day job.

Within two days of that convo, another friend of mine commented that he never drinks when he plays poker because that's how he makes his living and he doesn't want alcohol to get in the way of smart moves or reading his opponents.  Now, when he isn't playing poker, he drinks like a fish.  But on that poker table, he's only sipping water and he's one of the refreshed players at the table to watch out for.

Makes so much sense, right?  I don't drink at my work.  I would never do that.  So, why would someone who gambles to pay bills risk that as well?

And of course now it all makes sense why I see some people take advantage of other pool players.  They could care less if they take advantage of their "friends" by side betting when morally they really shouldn't because their "friend" is in a bad game.  They could care less if they take advantage of a player who obviously isn't up to their speed, and the weight is completely out of line.  They only care about bringing home the money.  At this point, friendship is out the window.  What is right versus wrong doesn't matter.  What "should" or "shouldn't" be done is not a factor in any decision they might make to get in a game.


I play poker.  I play to have fun.  I would like to bring home some extra money, sure.  Who wouldn't?  But that's not why I play.  I bet if that was my sole income, tho, I wouldn't have those few drinks when I played.  And, I would be more mindful of my money.  Well, I hope I would be that way, lol.

Same with pool.  If pool was my sole income, I'd hit the practice tables more, play in more weekly tournaments, be more serious at the tourneys, and probably be as ruthless as these other guys who play pool for a living who don't care whose money they take.

As you can tell, I'm a little disgusted with this obvious revelation/realization.  Should have been so obvious to me before.  I'm ashamed it's taken me this long.  Maybe it's because I've been around it more than usual lately, so I've finally seen the light, lol.  Dunno.

Not faulting them for it.  But I'm gonna watch my back more.  Friend or no friend.  Money is no object when it comes to morals.  Where did the true friendship lines go?  Where did honesty and allegiance go?  Have I always been this blind?

Monday, April 18, 2011

National Enquirer

I don't get it.

Why do people state in forums private information about their fellow pool players?  It's no one's business.

To be fair, the private lives of celebrities and politicians are exposed all the time, so it's not like it's taboo or anything to share uncomfortable info.  But IMO, I feel it's tasteless and no one's business to air dirty laundry about your/my friends.

I have always been of the opinion it's inappropriate to bad mouth someone in front of a group of people.  I have a very strong opinion about that for some reason.  So, obviously the forums is smack dab in the middle of everyone!

What am I referring to you might ask?  Well, without naming names, someone on the forums is publicly stating he wont back a certain person anymore because he is drinking too much and wont bet on him because of that and because he stays up all night now.

I understand not wanting to back someone for those reasons.   I really do.  I'm not stupid.  But to state the reason on a public forum, "he started to drink after the tourney so I didn't want to bet or back him" I feel is uncalled for.  I'm obviously paraphrasing his words, but this isn't the first time he said this about this individual.  He has said it several times in the last couple of months.

Granted, I believe he's disappointed his friend is no longer dependable.  I think that's why he doesn't mind stating all this publicly (I guess).  I am a friend of the "drinker" so maybe that is why it bothers me more?  I dunno.  I just don't like it. 


I know it isn't the first nor will it be the last time someone airs this kind of info, but it still disappoints me to read about my friend like that.  It's no one's business.

And while having too much to drink isn't a crime or negligent, I still feel bad for the drinker that his friend is kinda bad mouthing him in an open forum.  If it was drugs or cheating on his g/f I would feel the same way.  So the issue isn't what the "infraction" is, my issue is why talk about it at all?

But, he's a guy.  He could probably care less what people say about him anyway.

Friday, April 15, 2011

PoolSynergy - Our Favorite Games

Johnny (aka stljohnny) over at http://www.johnny101.com/ is this month's host of Pool Synergy.  Johnny wants to know what every one's favorite game is and why they like it more than the other games?  I think we will see a smattering of different opinions from the Pool Synergy Authors this month - or will we? 

My favorite game is a tough call, but 8ball inches out, barely, over one pocket.  I don't mind what size table I play 8ball on, but it makes more sense that it's a bar table or an 8-foot table.

The reason why I love 8ball is for one main reason:  it incorporates the diverse aspects of so many things I have learned from every other game I play:  One pocket, straight pool, and 9 ball.

8Ball was also the first game I ever studied.  I never read about 9ball, even though I had been playing it for over ten years!  But when it came time to improve my 8ball game, I read every word of Play Your Best Pool and Play Your Best Eight Ball by Phil Capelle to become a smart 8all player.

8all is the most fascinating game to me.  It's not just about picking balls off the table in any order, although on the face of it, it may seem like that.  Instead....
  • It's a game like chess, just like one pocket.  
  • It takes several moves to be able to set up a run out.  
  • It requires smart break outs, like straight pool.  
  • It demands patience, like in one pocket.  
  • It involves knowing when to run out or not, like in 9ball.
  • At times, it implores you to create shape by bumping balls softly, like in one pocket.
  • It challenges one to see the different shot selections that can win or lose you the game.
  • It compels you to think out of the box, like in one pocket.
  • It entails all the knowledge you have gained from all your other pool games.
The process of running an 8ball rack is the most beautiful thing.  Key-ball shape, three balls ahead, caroms, combos, banks, and the smart safety play can be seen in every single eight ball match. (If played properly from smart 8ball players.  Not like the random shooting you might see from the weekend warrior-types.)


From the opening shot (which balls should I take?), to the key-ball before the 8ball, your mind has visualized the many options which can win you the game.

Clever safeties are exciting to witness in 8ball!  And sometimes shape is required by inches for the run out.  It's so beautiful to witness a smart, well-crafted, clever 8ball run.

I crave smart safeties shots in 8ball.  Such as:
  • Freezing the cueball on their own ball; 
  • Lagging balls down table to create a future break shot; 
  • Deliberately running into their balls to create problems so they can't run out; 
  • Improving your balls after each safety (i.e., not just play safe, but setting up the table in your favor at the same time you play safe);
  • And of course hooking them or blocking a pocket.
Hopefully after reading this blog, if you didn't appreciate 8ball, you can at least see why others like it so much!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dress Code Violations

I'm a rebel.  Call the fashion police! 

The dress code for the BCAPL Texas State 8Ball Tourney is simply:  Collared shirts and no shorts.

I admit I stepped out of the guidelines of the dress code and wore a dress that didn't have a collar.  See outfit below:



After my first match on Friday, the ref comes up, gives me a hug for my win and says, "Good news is, you won.  Bad news is, we got a complaint and you need to change into something with a collar."

I told her I figured someone would complain, even though I looked cute, lol.  I then asked who complained and she told me.  Whatever; I didn't really care who.  I was a rule breaker.  I tested the limits.  And lost.

Funny thing was, I was playing my match right in front of the Tournaments Directors!  I was on the very first table, and they didn't even notice my fashion faux pas.  Instead, some girls from "another city" complained. 

So I changed into my team shirt that was in the car and played my next match in "proper" dress code!

As soon as I was out of the tournament, I changed right back into my dress, lol.

And check out this little guy!  3-year-old Cute Pie!

 
 Cutie Pie (in dress code, lol) and I - photo op for this blog piece!

Someone overheard me talking about my dress code violation and this lovely woman shared with me her son was hitting balls the night before on a back table and was told he couldn't hit balls in his t-shirt.

Wait.

What?

He's THREE YEARS OLD!

He wasn't playing in any event, he was just trying to hit a few balls around (tough for a 3-year-old anyway) and they asked him to stop until he changed.  Now, I admit that to even practice on the tables the rule is you must have a collared shirt and pants (no shorts).  But come on!  Really?!?  Enforcing it on a 3-year-old?  Wowser...

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Susan Lucci Tourney

Not sure how it happened, but with one of the toughest draws at the BCAPL State 8-Ball Tourney, I didn't falter to pressure, fear, or expectations.  Yippee!

I went down to the event, fully aware of the invisible pressure I put on myself to win the event.  I talked it over some with my b/f on the way down there.  His response was typical-male, "You will be fine.  Stop worrying."  Also on the drive down, I review my notes from Brad Gilbert's book, Winning Ugly.

As we walk in to the Convention Center one hour before my first match, I see a tough 8ball player ahead of us.  I say to my b/f, "that girl right there plays some jams up 8ball."  I check out the charts and see I have to her first! And then I notice if I win, I play another top player right up next!

(btw, the third toughest player in the event is on the other end of the bracket, so I feel relieved about that part, lol.  She's my "BCAPL State nemesis" so I was glad she wasn't near my name on the brackets, lol).

 BCAPL Texas State 8Ball Tourney Room

Surprisingly, I wasn't nervous at all as I waited that hour for my first match to start.  I did worry I wouldn't get to warm up on the tables because my tip was being replaced, but I was able to play about 3 full games on the Diamond Bar Box Tables before I started my first match.

In true form, my first opponent (one of the top players) was running from her break.  I sat there, quietly.  Patiently.  I figured if she ran out, what could I do anyway?  She had one beautiful position shot and a break shot.  I was impressed, as I usually am with her game.  But on her last ball, her position failed her and she hooked herself.  With ball-in-hand, I run out.  It wasn't text-book, but I held it together to run out.  And didn't care if it didn't look pretty, because the end result was a win.

I broke dry and she's running out again nicely, but misses the last ball.  I run out again after a safe.  In the next game she doesn't run out but I play a couple of two-way shots to leave her distance if I miss in yet another non-text book run, lol.  But then I'm up 3-0.  Wow!

All the while I am breathing very slow, deep breaths to try and tame my fast-paced adrenaline.  I remember my discussion about pressure and I breathe deep while staying in the present with my thoughts.

I make a few mistakes, but her mistakes get on her mind too much and she's too upset to capitalize. I eventually win 5-1!

I play right away against tough opponent #2.  She gets out nicely the first two games because of my mistakes and I then tell myself to bear down because I do not want to lose this match that way.  I start to play more confident and get out nicely, even though she is a very intimidating player (btw, the previous player is a very knowledgeable 8-ball player, but this one is intimidating with her stature and demeanor).

But my confidence shines and my safeties prevail as she starts to feel the pressure (I'm guessing) and I win 5-2!

I then play at 7pm - my 3rd round match - and I play super sporty (only after the first tough, careless first game where I give it away way too easily).  I win 5-1!

I have to wait only a little bit to play my 4th round match,  If I win this, I'm on the winner's side on Friday.  I don't even realize I would be playing for the hotseat if I won this match.

Long story short, I put her on the clock and when she is finally walking down the aisle toward the assigned table, the ref is about to forfeit her and I tell him not to, "here she comes."  When she gets there, he loudly, almost in-your-face type of confrontation/accusation, tells her she should have been there and she's only not forfeited because I stopped him, and it's her responsibility to be there, etc., etc..  She decides not to argue with him and handled it very graciously and I never knew she was upset at all.

I saw her play in the previous rounds and she missed a lot and could not get out.  Yep; I felt no pressure when I faced her.  I admit I did feel bad for putting her on the clock though.  Instead of feeling good about not allowing the forfeit, it crossed my mind some she must feel agitated about it.  Maybe that's why I faulted?  dunno.  All I do know is I played safe the first game but left her a wide open shot on the 8ball.

Then for the rest of the match she would run out, while I couldn't.  :(  She was NOT the same girl I had seen earlier in the day and the lack of pressure I had, and no nerves (some adrenaline is always good), I lost 5-1.  5-1!  I was super upset.  I didn't play well, and she didn't make enough mistakes for me to capitalize.  It also went by very fast.  Before I knew it, it was over.  I just had no focus or drive, while she would get out from tight spots.  It was super weird how "nonchalant" the whole match felt.

So even though I didn't get scared and give up a match like I had in the past, this new feeling was sickening also.  :(

I would find out later from her she plays well when she's upset and the ref had indeed upset her right before the match.  Great!   lol.

I get to sleep in, tho and don't play til 2pm.  I eat a nice lunch and head to the Convention Center with plenty of time; no rushing.

I play a good friend of mine at 2pm for my first one-loss side match.  She has improved SO much!  She is now a very smart player and would not make balls til she could get out, along with good safes.  But I was very confident and played smart safes right back as I also ran some tough outs several racks to win the match 5-1!

Now I'm playing for 4th place!

Instead of playing right away tho, I have to sit for 2 hours.  I don't really do much but sit there at the Convention Center because I can't leave to rest in the hotel because the matches were now shot-gunned style.  Instead of playing at 4pm, I didn't start til 630 pm!  Dang slow players, lol. 

And then I had a repeat nightmare.   I, again, just like the previous night, felt no pressure against this opponent.  I wasn't focused, I had no drive.  I couldn't see the outs and I missed more than usual.  Was I tired?  Why couldn't I see the outs?  What was going on?  I know not to underestimate my opponent, but I didn't have any nerves or adrenaline again.  She wasn't a tough opponent in my book.  And, I didn't show up for some reason so the combination was a bad mixture.  Was it because I was too relax?  Was it because I had to wait too long?  I promise you if I started my match right after the one I just dominated, I think the outcome would have been so different.

This one was the same as the previous night, tho - went by fast, she got out, didn't make many mistakes, and I didn't play well to give her a fight.  It sucked.  It FELT terrible to play badly and not be the same confident person I was just 2 hours before.  I had no nerves at all, even though I was playing in a title tournament.  It was weird.  And surely wasn't in the zone.  :(

I lost, I got 4th. 

I am just going to state a fact what others would tell you also: I was the best player left in the tourney at this point.  I really was.  The other top players were out and yet I still didn't win.  Again.  :(  Being the top player is no guarantee - that's another well-known fact.  So, it doesn't even matter that I just stated that. 

Am I happy for 4th?  No.  I am ONLY happy that I didn't let my nerves get the best of me during the tough matches.  I am so thankful I played my game during the tough opponents (that I used to falter to in 8ball).  It felt good to have control of my nerves and the pressure and not play like a wet noodle and give the games away like in the past when I would play scared.

But ironically, that lack of adrenaline in my two losses mighta hurt me.

UGH!  This dang game!  lol. 

I love it to pieces, but I am so #@$#%^$&! tired of being the Susan Lucci of the BCAPL State 8Ball Tourney.  :(

So disappointed with my finish, but ecstatic with my successful great play in many matches. 

Btw, I AM happy about one other thing - my teammate Connie won the tourney!  So happy for her!  admittedly, a little jealous all weekend everyone got to call her Champ, but she deserved it because she showed up and won!  Congrat's, Connie!

One of these days.... 

How long did it take Susan Lucci?  lmao!

Pool Overhead While Playing Poker

I went to Winstar Casino a Friday or so ago.  I played poker (I now play $1/$2 no limit) from about 7pm until about 3am.  Finally got too frustrated with my table and decided to quit and go watch my boyfriend play.  I like to learn from him, and I sit behind him and watch his moves.  He's taught me to be more aggressive and also to bluff a little if it's a good table to do so at.  Before I was so passive, I would never bet on the turn and every bet on the river would then scare me off, lol.


Anyway, it's about 730am and the refreshed players start waltzing in to take advantage of the tired players.  Luckily we eat breakfast and are now on our second wind, so we are not one of those dragging players.

All of a sudden, I hear a guy talking to one of the poker players on the $2/$5 table next to us that catches my attention.  He says these words:

Bill Incardona.
Dippy/Viffer.
Four shafts.
Scott Frost.

I tap my b/f on the shoulder, "hey, those guys must play pool."

I ease drop some more, listening to their conversation.  They are obviously catching up, all the while talking in front of everyone at the other table.

"Yeah, he and the corporation are doing well." 

I didn't know the word "corporation" was that widely known in regards to certain players.

Then I hear more names as the guy keeps giving updates to his friend:

John Hager.
Earl Strickland.
SVB.
Gabe Owen.

I'm like, "who are these guys talking?"  They are obviously from the DFW-area, as they spoke about a poker game there that had a pool table that some of the road players come through to play on.

My curiosity gets the best of me and as the guy walks by me I ask, "What cue do you shoot with?"  That's my way of saying, "Yea, I play pool, too."

He tells me what cue it is and I share what we play with, all the while my b/f is trying to play poker.  He told me his name and the other guys name, and I have heard of the nickname "Backer Bob" but had never met him.  Nor this guy who was the main talker (I'll keep his name to myself for now) but he was an older gentlemen like Backer Bob.

It was so wild to hear these guys talk about pool for about 30 minutes.  I knew every name, already heard of every big game they mentioned, and was curious about the things I hadn't known about the poker room in the DFW-area with a Diamond pool table.

The casino opened up a new $1/$2 poker table and I sat next to the guy I just met and shared how much I was integrated into the pool scene:  Partner of AZB, previous TD of the OB Cues Ladies Tour, John Drew Hager's Mom was my best friend in the mid 90s, webmaster for some pro players, I custom design my own cues, etc.  With all the commonalities between the two of us in the pool realm, I'm surprised we hadn't met til this day. 

I should have stayed quiet, tho - maybe I could have set up a good pool match with him, lol.  Just Kidding! 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Title Tournament Jitters

I am heading down to the BCAPL State 8Ball Tournament today, and the jitters started almost a full two weeks before! 

As I've mentioned just about every time before this annual tourney, title tourneys mean more to me than monthly tourneys or tour stops.  So, the invisible pressure is already pressing against my heart.  I can feel it strong, too.

It's one of those tourneys I know I am capable of wining, but can I finally let my skills overcome my mental anxiety for THIS event?


I have gone over my eight ball reminders, had a good and intensive practice session with my boyfriend, played in several eight ball weekly tourneys the last few weeks, and read parts of Phil Capelle's Play Your Best Eight Ball.

My skills are there.  I know that.

It's overcoming my desire to win and taming those nerves of the yearn to win this important-title-to-me that will be they key.

Looking over a blog entry I wrote about a year ago, I have now reviewed my list of overcoming nerves.  And yesterday I shared tips for handling pressure.

The thing is, I know I have enough knowledge about the physical and mental aspects of the game, but I ashamedly admit I cannot always put into action my own advice during an event if my mind and heart are blurred over the desire to win.  Obviously, I am not staying in the present, which is crucial for competition. 

But why is this tournament so important to me and causing all this angst?
  • Well, I know I can win it but haven't yet done it.  
  • It's a title tournament and it would mean so much to me to finally have a little title that I can associate to my pool career.
  • If I become a Master player in Vegas in May, I wont be able to play in this event again because Master's aren't aloud.  So, I would have missed my chance to win it...
One of the best tips I give to my friends before they play big matches is to recall vividly their best played match!  This actually can put you in the zone.  Reading the above upsets me a little.  I have played well under pressure before!  I can recall those great matches where I played well and overcame mental obstacles.  Well, to be fair - I trusted my skills and simply PLAYED pool and didn't have unconfident thoughts.  THAT's the person I want to be this weekend.  Dammit.

I don't want to be the timid player thinking I might miss out on another opportunity to win this tournament.  I want to be the player who loves competing, be the player who is suppose to do well, DO WELL, and be the player who trusts their skills and enjoys the game - not be paralyzed by nerves or future desires of the win.  In order to do well, I must stay in the present.  Thinking of my tough opponents or the chance to win is not allowing my true skills to shine through.

I want to be that person who was in the zone when I triple dipped my opponent in the finals in 2008.  The one who won her first pro match back in July 2010 because I had no expectations or pressure to do well. 

I want to love to play the game I love.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Video Comparisons

What's that saying by Jacqui Rivait? "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." ?

Well, I guess I should listen to Jacqui, but not today.

I got an email that was asking me to vote for this video:  http://www.youtube.com/creators?x=nextup_lN7_jaB6HvU on Youtube. Specifically, "(name withheld) was chosen as a semifinalist in the Youtube Nextup program. Basically, if we can get enough votes for our video that we submitted, Youtube will be promoting billiards in the future."

I was pretty excited.  I looked up the video and was expecting something fabulous.  Instead, I see a compilation of old videos I'd seen before, and I didn't think they were that good.  So, I didn't vote.  I mean, yea, I'd like billiards to be showcased on Youtube, but I'm not going to do it by voting for something I think could be better.


Let's compare Nathan's video production:  http://www.youtube.com/user/RunoutMedia#p/u/4/uqQ2lmdfh8U  Have you seen this high quality video production, along with great music and graphics and a plethora of the different aspects of the game?  Granted Nathan didn't use Youtube Nextup program to edit his videos, but still, the quality is not even up for comparison.  I would bet if Nathan was to use the program it would be still be awesome. He's that talented!

Anyway, my gloomy post for the day.  Don't mean to knock, but it's not the first time I'm not impressed with something people are promoting.  Eeeek!  I need to go back to sleep and get up on the right side of the bed!

Awesome Email Exchange: Handling Pressure

I got the sweetest email the other day!  One of my blog readers (can't believe I actually have readers!) wrote me for advice.

He wrote:
"Love your blog.  I have been reading it for quite some time now, and in this time I have gained great respect for you, your game and your opinions on it.  As such when faced with this dilemma I thought of no one else to ask.

I’ve been playing blackball (English pool) for a while now but this year I started playing in our countries opens. This is my first foray into national level games and the pressure is getting to me. 

I have been shooting really good. Last night for example I ran the rack to black twice on my first visit and even after being awarded 2 fouls on black I was still not able to pot it.

Granted we have to play from the kitchen but still. Heart racing palms burning, when the shot mattered I folded like a bad poker player.

I’ve been training with a coach which has made my technical game good. In the US it would be ranked a 6 I think.  My problem is playing under pressure can’t be taught like running drills.

I hope you could grant me some pearls of wisdom.  If this mail is too random for your liking please ignore it."

I was so honored he emailed little 'ole me! 

I put together a little list off the top of my head and sent it to him.  Less than a week later, he sent me this note:

"It Worked!

Very well I might add.

I tried to soak up everything in your email... and last night it showed when playing league.

On my pressure shots, I took a walk around the table, took deep breaths, reminded myself that my body knows what to do already.

My coach was there too and he was very impressed. Even in the 2 games I lost, my opponents conceded that they got lucky and didn’t deserve a win.

It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :P

I thank you sincerely for the help.

I hope I can share this advice with everyone that may need it.

You're an absolute star!"


I told him how pleased I was that he was doing well!  I then asked him to keep me posted, and also asked if I could share our email exchange on my blog and he said yes, and also added:  

"I played an FHM blackball event this weekend and made it to the quarter finals.

I was cool as a cucumber."

I am so glad he was able to use some of the tips I have gathered over the years.  I hope I listen to my own advice in tough situations!

Here is what I sent him:

I can give lots of advice, but sometimes learning to deal with pressure is best taught through more and more tournaments and experiences.  Every pressure situation makes you stronger for the next one.  It takes time playing in tournaments to get better and better at it.

In the meantime, here are some quick tips:

- Be aware of your body.  If you can FEEL your heart pounding, then take in very deep breathes and hold.  Then release slowly.  When your heart is racing, it means your adrenaline is flowing.  You can slow it down by deep breathes, holding, then letting it out slowly.  I repeat this til my heart finally calms down.


- Trust your fundamentals.  It sounds like you and your coach have created a good technical game and your fundamentals are good, so trust them. 

- What I do to stop me from *thinking* when I am down on a shot is to focus completely on my pre shot routine.  The only way for ME (personally) to stop thinking negative thoughts is to focus, literally, my thoughts on my stroke, staying down, etc. This way you aren't thinking about pressure or anything else that can affect your game. 

- Accept pressure as part of the game.  Look at pressure in a GOOD way.  If you are in a pressure situation, it means you are playing in a good game!  It doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Also, what exactly is on the line?  Your house?  Your life?  In reality, it is just a game.  Pressure is what you make it, so try to make it work for you.  Embrace what pressure is - it means you are blessed to be playing in a good match.

- If you are thinking negative, try to reverse it.  Here's a tip:  Try to think of negative/positive as 100% of fluid in tall flask (like from a chemistry class).  Your goal is make the positive thoughts have more percentage than negative thoughts.  If you feel nervous, you might be 10% positive and 90% negative.  Try to make the percentage of positive thoughts higher.  I don't have tips HOW to do it, but that is the goal.  I sometimes use little successes as positive thoughts.  "Oooh, I drew that well." or "Ohooh, I stayed down well on that shot" allows some of the embarrassing or nervous energy to focus on my shots and not be negatives.

 - And finally, the last thing I can recommend is to try and find out why you missed right away.  Once you figure it out, you can change what you might be doing wrong.  Don't let a match finish and then after you say, "oh, I was nervous" or "oh, I wasn't staying down."  ACCEPT you missed, then figure out why, then work on it right then and there.  If I realize I'm nervous, I try to work on that by focusing on my shot routine, or realizing it's okay to be nervous or telling myself, "stop it!" 

I'm sure there are more tips, but these are off the top of my head.

Oh, and I just remembered this blog post from Mika about Pressure:  http://icemanmika.blogspot.
com/2010/03/how-to-deal-with-pressure.html

Let me know how it goes!  This game is wonderful, isn't it?  :)

Sincerely,
Melinda

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Straight Lesson Learned

I guess I took all those negative emotions that I experienced the 4 days before and used the crappy match as a learning experience for the next.

That Monday straight pool match was full of unnecessary pressure, frustration, negative thoughts, and no fun - just an unpleasant match full of tough emotions that I thought I had tamed from all my years of experience.

I guess I "listened" to the match, though.  By Friday, I was involved in another straight pool match.  Would I keep going downhill and falter, or would I rebound nicely?

To my surprise, the pressure was full force, but I never FELT the pressure.  Does that make sense?  I enjoyed the match, even though it was close and I was suppose to win.  I am not sure why this night was different - it could have easily turned into the same crappy time at the table because we were neck and neck, when in reality I'm suppose to win, just like Monday's match.

I started off with a 13 ball run.  He returned with an 11 ball run.  Wait a minute?  Is this the same guy I usually beat pretty easily 100-50 or so?  I guess he's improved!

After a few innings, I'm at 25 and he makes a 14 ball run.  Score 29-25. 

This keeps happening.  I go on a little run, so does he.  But, I never let my emotions get out of control, like I let happen just the Monday before.  I didn't let the pressure get to me, I simply tried to focus on the balls in front of me and accept the fact he has improved and I might lose.  I also tried to enjoy the match - that sure didn't happen Monday.  I was way too frustrated.

It's 37-40
51-54
61-64

I finally get a comfortable lead at 80-64 then it's 89-72, 91-80, and I win 100-81.  I admit I started to lose focus when I get on 80, but I finally won.  Whew.

What a difference 4 days can make!

Really wish I knew why this night was different.... but glad it wasn't a repeat of spiraling out of control!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Texas State Women's Champsionship!

Music to my ears, and some of the greatest words in one sentence:  "Texas State Women's Championship!"

The OB Cues Ladies Tour will be hosting a Texas State Women's Championship!  Either for first time ever, or for first time in a long time!  Woo-Hoo

It will be held at Casper's Billiards in San Leon, Texas the weekend of April 16th!

A State Championship, sanctioned by the WPBA, requires a few, crucial pieces to fall in place for one to come to fruition:
  • Tournament must be played on 9 foot tables.
  • All levels of pros are allowed to play in State Championships.
  • The pool room is supposed to pay a $500 membership (vs the $100 membership they were required to pay in order to have a regular qualifier before).
  • Minimum added money for a State Championship is $1,000.
The OB Cues Ladies Tour guarantees $2,000-added, so the $1,000 added was not a problem. 

Why the excitement, then?  Well, it's been tough to meet all the qualifications.  Nine-foot table pool rooms are few and far between in Texas, and the pool room is already adding $2,000 so the extra $500 was not an easy sell.  Magoo's in Tulsa, Oklahoma held an Oklahoma State Championship through the OB Cues Ladies Tour for years, but it was always very tough to get one in Texas, that's why we hadn't had one in a very long time.

Further, all State Championships are qualifiers for the Women's US Open!  And technically, the only means to have a qualifier for the US Open.  And as you can imagine, there are a limited number of qualifier spots available for the US Open.  This event will be a qualifier for the 2011 US Open! 

This is a huge score for Texas, the ladies, the fans, the WPBA, and especially the OB Cues Ladies Tour!

Don't be confused about the Texas Open - yes, it's a state tourney, but the women's division was never WPBA-sanctioned by the pool room owners (we tried!), so it was never an official Texas State Championship like this one will be.

Pros are not eligible to play on the OB Cues Ladies Tour, but one of the rules of the WPBA-sanctioned State Championship is pros are allowed to play in them.  So, get your game on pros - get your butts to Texas and compete on one of the strongest tours in the country!  We aint scared of ya!