Thursday, October 12, 2017

Learning Styles

Everyone has their best style of learning for themselves.  What helps you best with remembering things and or learning?

Some people are "show me" others are "let me do it" type of people.

I thought it'd be interesting to share the different levels of learning and how passive and active learning is different:

Whatever category is best for you, apply that to your pool improving plan to get your best results.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Different Kind of Shark (vacuuming )

I heard once that Tiger Woods' Dad used to make him play golf in the rain.  Why you ask?  Because at times in his professional golf life, he would be having to play golf in the rain.  He was preparing his son for adverse conditions.

It's a pretty cool little thing actually.  And I have written about this before that I would rather practice at the pool room than in the comfort of my home every.single.time.

I want to hear the music from the jukebox that I didn't play, I want to deal with distractions, I want to hear and feel the little bits of atmosphere of a pool room that I might have to deal with during a tournament.  I think one of the worst things players can do is practice solely at home in their slippers and comfy clothes - i.e., clothes they wouldn't wear to a tournament.

You must put yourself in the same environment as those you will be competing in.  This will give you great practice at dealing with distractions.

When I sparred with my friend Tina again the other day, our distraction was front and center!  The cleaning lady comes in around 9-10am and cleans around the pool room, which is the same time we show up ironically.

Here are the cords to her vacuum cleaner, yep right next to our table:

Tina and I have to watch our step and carefully shoot our shots around the cords. 

I even captured this photo, to show you how she vacuums right next to us, which is loud noise we deal with, also:

Now, granted these are extreme examples, but it shows that practicing in a pool room is actually a great experience. 

You might be thinking, "How is this great?"  It's great because we dealt with the cords and the vacuuming and we kept playing pool.  We focused on our game and our shot selections on the table, not on what was going on around us.

GREAT experience.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Hair and Pool (video clip)

This is EXACTLY how I react, too, after a guy makes a great shot playing pool:

All joking aside, I love seeing pool in mainstream commercials!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sweet Accolades

If you hadn't read yet in my blog, I announced I can no longer run the Omega Tour starting next year (read that HERE).

The loud begging for me to change my mind about running the Tour is sweet, but the outpouring of support about how I ran the Omega Billiards Tour has been really awesome and heart warming most. 

Here is one example I received via email that I thought I would share, because it really means a lot to me and really captures the type of feedback I am receiving:
"I was sad to hear that you were ending the Omega Tour. You did an amazing job and provided a incredibly organized venue for a huge community of pool players of all skill levels. What a success story! You should be very proud of what you've done all these years. To offer a tournament that constantly fills up months in advance is evidence of how everyone loved the tour. Now is your chance to take some well deserved time off.  I personally have enjoyed all the events I played in."
Such kind words.

No, still not changing my mind, lol.

But, truly, TRULY means a lot.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Love Affair

I wish I would have thought of this on my own, but I did not.  Dang it.  lol.  I read this in a book over the weekend and of course as most things I read, I relate it to our journey with pool.

What I read was about a runner who after he successfully finished running an ultramarathon (51 miles in this case), he compared it afterward to the lost desire to run his next regular 26 mile marathon, “just like when you lose the initial crazy feeling you have when you fall in love.” 

If you think about it, our pool journey is really a love affair!

In the beginning, just like in most relationships, we can't stop thinking about pool and every aspect that it brings into our lives. Just like in a new relationship, we savor every word, keep every text or email, and fall asleep thinking about our new relationship.

In a new relationship, you go on dates to certain restaurants or do things together, the same goes for pool.  So when you see a certain restaurant, you reminisce about that first date, or when you drive by Temple, Texas you think about the state tournament you competed there for several years.  And this goes for sad times, too, like when you go to Vegas and you see that the Riviera has closed its doors, it's a similar feeling of missing someone you used to love. 

Just like in all relationships and just like in pool, there are highs and lows.

Similarities between a love affair and our pool journey is actually pretty astonishing to me. Even now, as I step away from pool, it makes me a little sad, just like if a relationship is not doing well. If pool has been integral in our lives, then stepping away from pool can be a similar pain as when we leave a close relationship we had with someone we adored.

And remember when you gave a relationship another shot?  You get back together and it felt like old times and you smiled a lot realizing how much you missed the person, right?  Well, when I practiced this past weekend (I sparred with a friend of mine), glimpses of that love affair I had with pool came right back and reminded me why I loved it so much.  I would run racks, break well, see the outs, play good safes, etc.. 

But then of course there are arguments in pool and also in relationships - even in the deepest love affairs there are arguments - and then we get sad/bad/upset feelings.  That’s how I felt two weekends ago when I tried to play pool and it didn’t go well. I didn't put effort into my pool game, just like it takes putting effort into relationships.

A love affair with a human is something that is tough to even put into words.  Just as the love affair we have with our pool game is tough to describe, as well.

I simply call it our journey with pool, tho.  :)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Status Thoughts - The Danielson Series, Sept 2017

One of the toughest things to do when we go into a tournament is to not look around to see who else is playing.

If you think you are the best person there, it can create an invisible sense of pressure.  If you think you are the worst person there, then you are already setting yourself up for failure.  It's a no-win situation.

However, it's normal.

It wouldn't be normal to walk in a room and not size up our opponents, right?  However, it's how you handle the information that's key.

Grasshopper, I mean Danielson, and I talk about this a lot.  He asks me all the time how does he handle these thoughts going through his mind.  I try to exclaim (sometimes with a raised voice) "you aren't playing pool!"

He isn't thinking about playing his best pool, he's too worried about "status" or as he calls it, "penis measuring contest."

Don't get me wrong, I am the first hypocrite who does this.  I even wrote in my blog when I finally won a big tournament, "My brain shut off" or "I finally played pool."  That means I finally played my best on the table and didn't let my thoughts consume me and derail me (like it had so many times before).

Danielson played in the September Omega tournament and played fairly well, but he seemed to force tough shots instead of play safe when he should.  When you force tough shots, you either make them and have no shape left over, or you miss and sell out.

His next tournament was the same tournament I played in that I wrote about earlier this week - a tournament where if you were rated a 6 or under on the Omega Billiards Tour, you could play.

Danielson didn't fair well, just as I didn't.  We were both too worried about that penis measuring thing I referenced earlier.

During the calcutta, I was announced as "the best player there."  Hmm, pressure much?  And all eyes were on the "chick who was a National Champion" (boy were they disappointed in my play lol).

And Danielson saw this tournament as a great opportunity: finally playing in a field of his own level, without the higher-ranked players to run into; a chance to really show his speed and talent.

And then we both fell on our faces with our tails (or whatever) between our legs.  I felt so much pressure, like a bloated can filled with botulism.  And Danielson (during the tournament) was telling me, "I know people are going to wonder why I didn't place well in this tournament."

I was wondering, "why would they care?"  lol.  Further, "why are you thinking about that instead of playing good pool?"

You see, we add so much to our plate before we even walk in the door.  That's why I say I play my best when I'm "numb," which is when I don't think of anyone else in the room, what people think, or what a win or loss would mean.  Those are the true glory days of playing in the zone.

But alas, Danielson and also myself (the hypocrite, remember) were thinking too much about what people MIGHT think if we lost, INSTEAD OF PLAYING OUR BEST POOL.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Taking In the Words of Quotes

I find it intriguing it takes me years to truly comprehend what a quote or sentence is really conveying.

For instance....

The first time I heard "second place is the real winner," I had just placed 2nd in a big Florida tournament in 1998.  Someone told me that advice right after the finals, trying to console me, as I stood there trying to accept my loss.  I had no concept at all what the statement really, truly meant, though, until years and years later when I was finally delving into the mental side of playing pool and getting better at competing.  I actually reference this advice/quote several times in the past 10 years on my blog.  It had become (eventually) that impactful and powerful for me.

There are simple examples as well:

Red Lobster.

Yep, it's a restaurant.  But, it's a clever, simple, unforgettable name.  Red Lobster.  Lobsters are red, they sell lobsters, it's a seafood restaurant.  Red Lobster.  Get it?  But when I say "Let's go eat at Red Lobster" I don't think about red lobsters.

Best Buy.

Yep, it's a store.  They sell electronics and such.  But, it's almost subliminal, huh?  Best Buy.  They want you to think you get the best buys there (even though we know otherwise).

You get the picture. 

We say or hear words or phrases and yet we don't really think about what the words mean until they affect our life. 

Kinda like we don't understand or hear the lyrics of a sad song until we go through a sad time in our life.  Then the lyrics finally touch our hearts and we relate and understand.  Otherwise, we just sing along in our cars loudly without understanding the words, lol.

So, let's go back to "second place is the real winner."  Do you see the underlying words of advice in that statement? 

Here, let me help out: 

  • It means I learned more from NOT placing first. 
  • Had I won that tournament, I wouldn't have reflected on how I won; I would have just basked in the glory. 
  • When you don't win, you reflect more about what could have helped you win, which in turn helps you in every single future competition you will play in. 
  • Had I won, I would have missed out on a lot of learning experiences and self reflection. 
  • Losses make us better. 
  • It really is true:  second place is the real winner. 

Listen.  Hear.  Learn.

Like this one, from Michael Jordan:

This is one of my favorites, but I didn't truly grasp the true depth of the words and advice until I started to fail.... and then succeed.  

We go through our pool journey at first just playing pool.  When we start to truly compete, though, we then start to comprehend all the aspects that comes along with competing.  And our level of learning about the mental side of competing exponentially expands. 

And that's when the quotes make sense to us finally.

Listen.  Hear.  Learn. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Paul Potier Quote

Paul Potier is one of my favorite instructors.  He has no idea about this at all, but he is.   I wrote about him once here, when he gave me advice while we were playing poker one time together at the Riviera.  Ever since then, I've been a huge fan.

He played in the very full and talented field at The Spoken Open in early September and I really appreciated this post from him during the event (where he ended up finishing 3rd!). 

I think we can relate and also learn from the subtleties of this extremely valuable wisdom in this confession.  I bolded my favorite parts:

"I connected really well with the table and my inner self in the last match and played very well.  Yesterday I was full of stress because of car trouble, etc, etc. But I managed to find 3 wins in spite of it.  No stress today!  I prepared myself mentally and emotionally today.  It has paid off so far.  I have lots of patience, a huge desire for perfection, and confidence that whatever picture I draw in my mind will be realized on the table.  If I get beat today it will not be because I beat myself, someone will have to play really well! 😀😏"

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thomas Edison Didn't Fail Quote

You all know how I love quotes.  Check this one out from a presentation at work a couple of weeks ago and reflect how closely it relates to pool shots we take:

Pretty awesome, huh?!  Relates to why we practice shots over and over until we get them down pat.

SPOT ON, Edison!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Ouch. Practice IS Important

This is one of those unusual post topics where I'm going to just straightforwardly admit to you all that I was wrong.


And what a harsh reality it was for me, lol.

I played in a tournament this past Saturday.  It was basically a tournament where if you were rated a 6 or under on the Omega Billiards Tour, you could play.  I wanted to play because it was a nice change of pace instead of playing a lot of players better than I was, and it was cool to be thrown into the mix of playing players my own level.

The night before, I located my cue stick out from the back of my closet and put it together for the first time in about 6 months.  I wanted to see if I could even make a bridge comfortably with my mower-strickened hand.  And of course I found out it was extremely painful to play pool.  The two fingers of my bridge hand that I need to put on the felt are the two fingers that my lawn mower blade cut right into.

But that didn't stop me from going, as I envisioned my heyday of pool playing springing out of my body and I was going to play spot on like I did without practicing all these past years.  Plus, I was going to show up Saturday morning as planned because I wouldn't want to cancel on that Tournament Director (I know from first-hand experience how cancellations cause so much extra work).

Also on that Friday night, I prepared myself mentally.  Since I didn’t have time to physically practice, I still imagined the many, many instances of staying down, following through, looking at the cue ball last, and trying not to think of my surroundings.  You see, in this particular pool room, it's very close quarters and it feels like all eyes are on you, so it’s a tough environment to play in.

But alas, Saturday was a harsh reminder of why I simply don't want to play pool anymore.  I guess you could say I’m finally growing up.  Awww!  You see, I'd rather walk through a new lush park on a beautiful day with a great friend or my dog than be in a smoky pool room dealing with pressure, emotions, conflict, mental toughness, etc.

I went through years of that very successfully!  And I'm very proud of those successful years and titles.  But now I just want to take it easy, lol.

I'll be honest - I wasn't laughing, I wasn't smiling, I wasn't having fun on Saturday.  And yet there I was, trying to play pool from my golden years, lol, in an environment that I'm trying to stay away from, even with hurt fingers.  lol.

And I also found out Saturday I turned into the person that has learned the hard way that playing pool is definitely not like riding a bike. The few times that I competed last year I competed very well with still not practicing.  Even when someone asked me, “it's not like riding a bike, is it?”  I countered with, “what are you talking about?  I don't even notice a difference - I'm still playing gooooood.”

But what I want to say right here and now is that I'm a hundred percent wrong.  One does need to practice. One does need to hit balls to stay competitive.  No matter how many times I tried to pontificate that I have such solid fundamentals that I didn't need to practice, I was completely wrong. I lied to myself.  I lied to anyone who would listen.  And it turns out I'm just like everyone else after you take a break - you're just not the same competitive pool player that you were before.

You may think - then go practice! 

Uh, sorry.  My pool playing days are over with.  And I’m extremely content with that!  It's time to find out what is beyond the smoke-filled pool room walls out there.  I can’t wait!

I was very frustrated and disappointed about Saturday, but it was also a great reminder that my new focus on life really is away from the pool room and away from competing (read more about this here).  And I want to be around things that give my heart and soul peace.  Competing in pool gave me that happiness before, but my goals have shifted away from that.  And again - that's okay!

So I'm glad Saturday happened.  Sure, I'd rather of been getting a massage or walking in a park, but having a great reminder of your goals for your heart in life is not a bad thing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Longer Races and Mental Exhaustion

As I was watching the finals of one of the Omega tournaments recently, I noticed that one of the higher ranked players was showing signs of exhaustion at the end of the tournament. 

It could have been due to dehydration (which I have written about before that water can substantially help - it’s a great read; you won’t be disappointed).

But it also could have been due to mental exhaustion because his races are longer.  You see, he is a top player and his races were to 9, while most of his opponents were racing to 6 or 7.  And he had played 8 matches in a row nonstop just that day to get to the finals and he was still fighting hard all the way up to the first set of the finals (which he won hill-hill).  But in the second set, I noticed he was just a little off and that fatigue had set in and he wasn’t playing the exact same.  

I wanted to share my amazing insights with a friend, but that top player was talking to him and a couple of other people in the crowd while his opponent was taking a bathroom break. 

When the players started to shoot again, I took the opportunity to then walk up to my friend to share my thoughts.  You know how it is: a lot of us like to talk about pool and learn from things.

I shared with him that because this is a top player, he actually has to focus more than most because he had to race to 9 in all his matches.  It may not seem like that means he has to focus harder, but he does.  He has 2-3 more games to earn EVERY single match he played and it takes A LOT of energy to keep mentally strong and focused every single shot, all day long.  And eventually, it’s natural for a player to get tired. 

Sure, the lower-ranked players also have to focus, but the top players actually have to focus longer and harder. 

I was very proud of my knowledge I had just shared with my friend and then he looked at me funny and then kind of laughed at me. 

Uh, WTF?

Then he exclaimed, “that's exactly what he just told us!” 

As he laughed a little more with surprise, he then continued, “that player just told us that he is tired because he's had to focus so hard on all of his matches all day long because his races are longer... and so now he is feeling tired.”

So, yep, proves I can read minds and knew exactly what the top player was feeling and thinking. #Fist pump#

No, no, no.


I can’t take credit for this knowledge.  I’ve just witnessed it for several years and also heard it from other top players who have played all day Sunday of the Omega tournaments. 

BTW, the second set of the finals went hill-hill AGAIN!  Alas, a scratch on the break from the top player allowed his opponent to the table and win the final game of that very long day.

But it was a great day for BOTH players who fought hard with heart all weekend.

If you watch closely, though, you can see exhaustion and fatigue set in sometimes at the end of a day.  Usually it’s due to one of two things:  (1) dehydration and/or (2) getting tired from being mentally strong all day, match after match.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Second Place Needs a Hug, Too

Being the one who normally cheers for the underdog, I am the type of person that when someone loses (I wrote something similar before), I go to them first to show condolences, understanding and emphasize with their pain.

As a Tournament Director, I find myself doing this a lot.

Here's what happens:  It's the finals in the Omega Billiards Tour Stop and both players are playing their hearts out.  The crowd has their favorite player and are intently following their every shot and win.

When the dust finally settles, the eventually winner gets all the claps and congratulations!  While the second place player who also fought their way, doesn't get the same type of congrat's.

Sure, a few friends will tell them they did great, all the while that player sees the winner getting the high-five's and smiles from the crowd.

As the TD, I recognize this a lot and so I make it a point to go to the second place finisher first to give them the congrats that they deserve as well.  They are normally very disheartened and upset but a quick hug from a friend is never turned down - a normal hug is not returned, but I understand.

I also ALWAYS pay the second place finisher first.  It's my other way of still ensuring they know they did great, even if it wasn't the top prize.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Had An Accident

I guess it's finally time to share I had an accident.  Why would I share this on a pool blog?  Yep, because it could affect my pool game.

Basically, I had a fight with my lawnmower and I didn’t win.  Dang it.

I’ve been doing my own yard work since I was a child helping my parents on weekends, so the embarrassment factor is high for this.  But, on a nice Thursday morning, I was rushed to mow my yard and the wet grass from days of rain was not helping move things along.  I tried to lift the side opening to let the stuck, wet grass out, which I have done a 1,000 times, but this time it didn’t lift and I reached under too far with my fingers to try and get it to raise.  Yes, while the mower was still on.

It was just a freakish kinda of accident, really.

The blades clipped two of my fingers on my right hand and after grabbing a towel and ice, I then carefully (not really) rushed myself bleeding to death (not really) to the ER.  The same ER I used to take my Mom to.  So, yea, I lost it as I walked in.  And then kept losing it at weird moments sitting alone in a hospital room watching my life flash before my eyes (not really).  But, the emotions of being in the same ER of the last moments of my loving Mother made for a much tougher, very lonely, scary, alarming, dire situation.

When the finger doctor (really a “hand surgeon,” but I think my description is funnier) asked me if I brought my skin in, I knew it was bad.  I looked at him confused, then pictured my lawnmower and my yard and realized some blade of wet grass was holding the top skin of my middle finger ransom.   

The finger doctor gave me shots into the top of those two fingers (yea, it hurt like $%@!^& hell) and then gave me 11 total stitches.  The longest finger (yes, the famous middle finger) was the finger that was damaged and slit open the most between the two.

Fast forward 5 weeks and I still have an open wound on the top of my middle finger.  My 4th finger is extremely sensitive and hurts, also, but the skin has closed up at least on that finger.

I can’t stress enough all the things I canNOT do quickly or easily on a daily basis because I am right-handed and the wounds are on the fingers of my right hand:  Brush my teeth, put on makeup, wiping (no matter what type of wiping - face, going to the bathroom, counter, etc), zipping up a zipper on my pants, cleaning around the house, typing, using scissors, opening any type of can (dog food or diet soda), etc.  Try doing dishes one handed!  I dare you.  I can’t even wash my hair - I have to go to a salon to get it washed and straightened (kinda like a diva).  I can’t write, can’t…..well…..can’t do anything that puts pressure on the top of my middle finger because it’s an open wound.

I have a couple of months of healing left.  Healing well, but still extremely sensitive and hurts to the touch on those two fingers.

However, if anyone needs a partner in crime, my fingerprints are gone and altered, so there’s that to help throw off any forensics and CSI.

A few fellow players were like, “good thing you are right handed and it didn’t affect your bridge hand.”  But alas, I’m one of those unique players who is right handed and yet plays pool left handed so it DOES affect my bridge hand.  But, I haven’t competed in a long time and haven’t even tried yet to see if I can play pool (that will be tested next weekend, tho; scary).

Makes one wonder, though, if I was still in the throws of competing, the type and amount of delay it would have in my pool playing plans.

While this is a horrible, scary experience that put me into a very deep depression for reasons related to aloneness and invisibleness, I am completely aware how very blessed I am.


Yep, blessed.

The blades didn’t go to the bone and the blades didn’t take off any fingers.  So, extremely blessed I still have all my appendages.  Could have been a TON worse.

I have to keep my hand elevated because any blood flow going down to my fingers causes a lot of pain (I even sleep with my hand in the air resting on a pillow above me).  And, I had to wear a sling for the first couple weeks to help keep it elevated.  I went to Paris, France right after this freak accident (and don't worry, I wasn't about to let my almost-gone-fingers stop me from traveling across the world to see the beautiful city for the first time) and so all my photos have this monstrosity in them:

But then in some other photos I took off my sling and hid my bandages behind me:

Bottom line is:  I can’t wait to mow again, do the dishes, brush my teeth normally, etc.  I still might have that chick wash my hair tho - that’s a pretty sweet deal!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Help Phil Capelle and his next Book

My friend and book author, Phil Capelle, has a Go-Fund-Me campaign set up to help print his next book.  It will be a book that contains each of his 250 columns that were printed in Pool and Billiards!

That's articles from May 1996 to July 2017. 

WOW!  That's dedication!

The only thing I've done​ consistently since 1996 is gain weight.  hahaha

Read all about the project and what your contribution will directly help.  He also has donations levels - that means you get something in return for every donation.  That's pretty new huh?  Usually people want something for nothin.

Here is a link with ALL the details, including a video where we get to hear in his own words about his vision:

Thank you for any help to make this come to fruition for Phil - one of the best billiard authors of our time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tough Decisions

The hardest decisions in life are the ones that affect other people.  When I stopped playing competitively, that tough decision only affected me.  Maybe a few others indirectly (like a team that wanted me or a scotch doubles partner), but only me directly.  However when you stop doing something that you are good at and that others appreciate, it makes it all that much tougher to feel comfortable with any tough decision.

Last weekend at the Omega Billiards Tour stop, after five and a half years, I announced through tears (how embarrassing!) that the Omega Tour will end its run at the end of the year.

The sponsor and I came to an agreement and we decided it was best for each of us.

Here is the official announcement:

After much consideration and sleepless nights, myself and the sponsor of the Omega Billiards Tour made this announcement today:  
"Due to increased responsibilities at my job and any potential future career opportunities and because Omega Billiards Supply (the sponsor of the Omega Billiards Tour) needs to make sound business and financial decisions, we are sad to announce we have unfortunately mutually agreed we can no longer move forward with the Omega Billiards Tour after this year. This was not an easy decision - actually one of the hardest decisions! - but we must each do what is best for our livelihood and future pensions. We are very thankful for you all helping put the DFW pool scene back on the map for the past five and a half years! We know in our hearts this is just a start for more amazing things to come to the area. We love the players, pool rooms and the fans and we wish you all nothing but the best in your pool journeys!" 
I want to sincerely thank you for always being so supportive, responsive, and a great friend to myself and the Tour.   Please know this is one of the most difficult of decisions.  

I've been keeping this inside for many months and have been having literally months of sleepless nights about this heart-wrenching decision; it’s tough to sleep with that much weight on you.

You see, when you know you're good at something that people love, and a decision directly affects people and businesses, a decision like this is not taken lightly, accepted lightly, or even able to put into words lightly.

I'm at a loss right now of what to say or how to say it except the fact is I've been in the pool room for 25 years and I need to get out of the pool room... for so many more reasons than I can even put down on paper.

Mostly for my heart, my health, and my soul.  Being in the pool room does not bring me peace and further, my job is suffering.  Running a Tour is really a part time job, and it’s not fair to my career (that pays my bills) to keep interfering with that.  I can’t possibly even apply for any promotions because I couldn't give proper attention to both the players of a Tour or my day job. 

It was a tough weekend and week hearing all the accolades that my hard work has paid off, the players loved how I ran the Tour, and the offers to keep it going.  But the decision is made.

The good news is, many have told me the Omega Tour has a solid foundation and great momentum, so a few players have already approached me about ideas to continue some type of Tour for the Dallas-Fort Worth area and so there will still be great tournaments in the area for the players - which was my dream all along and why I started the Omega Tour. 

So, the dream will continue, but it’s just time for a new leader.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Maria Sharapova Quote

I stumbled upon this great quote which turns out to be fantastic advice, too, by tennis great Maria Sharapova.

Let this soak in a bit:

Best Way to Tame Butterflies:

"If I'm nervous, it means I had to work hard to get there, whether it's playing in a tournament or speaking at an event.  So, I try to stop and be proud of getting to live in that moment."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Just A Hop Skip

I'm not on social media that much lately, but I did just check Facebook this morning and one of their features is "on this day" and it showed up for me.

And on this day a mere four years ago, my women's team, Born Ready, received our official photos after we won the BCAPL National Championship Women's Team Title!

I'm absolutely astonished this was only four years ago. It seems like so much longer than that.  I'm not sure why it seems so much farther in the past, but it sure doesn't seem so recent:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tournament Directors Put on an Act

I think one of the things that players may not realize is, is that a Tournament Director of a Tour has to always be their best, no matter what.

I'm not talking about doing things right or good during a stop, I'm talking about "acting" our best, no matter what is going on in our personal lives.

You see - we really have to act like things are great and be a good leader for the players so they have a great experience, even if in our personal lives something might be going on.

They say good leaders are the pulse of their employees.  If the boss comes in upset, usually their employees aren't jumping around for joy - instead they are not smiling, staying out of the way, being quiet, worried about upsetting the boss more, etc.  So, good leaders are aware that their actions and demeanor can directly affect the productiveness of their employees and also their mood.

During the last Omega stop, I had to put my work issues aside and show up with a big smile on my face and simply get my ass to work for the 123 players.  I had no time to sulk or be upset about my job situation, because the players needed me; because running the Tour is important; because the players' experience is important.

Can you imagine if I was to show up upset and in a bad mood?  That would be terrible for the players!

The same goes for our love life.  If a TD is going through a bad break up, divorce, whatever, we still have to show up and run the tournament smoothly - not cry in the corner and do a haphazard job because our hearts are broken.  Sure, when we leave the event we may cry all the way home (or celebrate, lol) but during the tournament, TDs put their personal lives and emotions on hold to run a smooth event for the players.

It's what all good TD's do.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Poker and Pool Annoyances 

Poker and pool have the same player personality annoyances.

Let me prove my point, lol.

You have the players - whether at the poker table or the pool table - who:
  • eat at the table and make a mess
  • talk WAY too much 
  • provide unsolicited opinions
  • smell badly
  • get drunk and then become rude
  • act like children when they lose
  • leave the cards/chips or pool equipment in disarray
  • don't respect their surroundings
  • talk during your time at table
  • cheat
  • bully
  • don't pay up 
  • complain about everything

You get the picture, lol. 

We certainly do put up with a lot to try and enjoy playing these two sports, huh?  Glutton for punishment!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Rude Guy From the Past

I have written a few times how I am trying to be more mature in how I act around people I may not really like.  Especially running a business (the Omega Tour), it's imperative I treat everyone with respect no matter the past or my personal opinion of someone.

During a stop a few months ago, there was a guy there I hadn't seen in about 20 years I think.  As SOON as I saw him, my anxiety increased and my mind, thoughts, and even body language went back to my mid 20s when he would berate me in the pool room.  He wasn't a very nice man, but mostly he simply didn't really know how to give positive or constructive criticism.  He was very abrasive to all the players he tried to help with his crappy ego lol.

Even though I felt uncomfortable, I decided that I should say hello instead of ignoring him like I would have in the past. He seemed genuinely happy to see me and asked me about a couple friends from back from San Antonio when I used to live there.  Then I went back to the tournament desk and continued my work.

About 30 minutes later he comes over to the tournament table to check out the brackets. And then for some reason he starts talking to one of the players who had just lost his match.  He tells the player (who was still seething from his loss) in front of everyone, “You have no one to blame but yourself for that loss.”

I don't know why people think they need to say such negative things.  Even if that was obvious or true, give a player some time to get over the emotions of the loss, damn!  I don't even know why he thought it was proper or helpful to give his crappy opinion.

Of course, I'm also of the strong opinion that one shouldn't say anything to a player right after a tough loss match until they are ready to hear it. And for this guy to do it right after he lost, in front of his peers, and from someone he probably didn't really know…..just showed me this guy hasn't changed one bit in the last 20 years.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Many Factors - The Danielson Series, Aug 2017

Danielson and I didn't really get to talk that much right after he finished playing in his August tournament. With 123 players, I was extremely busy and really didn't get a chance to delve into why he didn't have a better tournament this time (he went two and out). I actually joked with him and asked, “Did the Danielson Series project add some extra pressure to you?” LOL. Luckily he said no.

The only other thing I caught was he said the tournament tables were different from the table he was gambling on.  Uh, what?  Hmmm….. So I immediately came to the pre-conclusion that that was probably the main reason he might have had a difficult time finishing well this time.

I already mentioned how Danielson is in a pretty cool situation where he will be reflecting more about his matches than most players because of this project.  

So, I asked him, after that weekend, “Why didn’t you play your best?”

He had been thinking about the question for a couple weeks and then he gave me four possible reasons lol.

  1. He was gambling during his wait time and he never really got in the tournament mindset. “When it was time for my match, maybe I was preoccupied with my gambling match upstairs.”
  2. He wasn’t comfortable.  Not in his shirt (he was hot) and not with his table assignments (he felt the table locations were kinda tight).  “I just didn’t feel right.”
  3. He might have been overly confident in his two matches.  “Maybe I just didn't give my opponents the proper respect.. and I lost.”
  4. He thinks maybe he plays better when he brings in extra money at work - so, he feels he plays with less pressure those times. "The 3 months that I cashed in a row were my best months so far this year I'm thinking the connection for me is when things are good outside of pool, then I play well. I'm just going by the numbers."

So, let’s break each of these down from personal experiences and my pool journey:

  1. This to me is a big factor why Danielson didn’t play his best in the tournament.  It's actually perfectly okay to gamble during a tournament, but what we have to realize is: if the table you are gambling on is much different than the table you are going to be competing on in the tournament, are we seasoned enough to be able to switch tables effectively?  Further, Danielson said himself he was preoccupied with his gambling match, therefore how could he be playing his best in his tournament match if he's not focused completely on the game in front of him?
  2. This is a crucial one:  If you are not comfortable, it's very difficult to play well.  One of the best ways to overcome this is to be prepared for the unprepared. In other words, if you think it might be hot or cold bring a lighter shirt or maybe a sweater.  However, I've talked a million times about how we play our best when we're comfortable.  If we think it's too hot, we need to do something about it - go into the bathroom and splash your face, drink cold water, things like that.  However, I think because Danielson was preoccupied with the gambling match, whether he was comfortable or not he wasn't reflecting early like we talked about in July to be able to provide solutions to his uncomfortableness. As for the location of the table - not letting things we can't control get to us is HUGE. Acceptance is the solution.
  3. When one is overly confident in a match, it's actually very tough to overcome. Again, this is one of those situations where you have to figure out right away what is going on early. And if you're overly confident that means you're not playing your best and maybe you’re not giving the match the attention it deserves because you think you're automatically supposed to beat your opponent.  Always give 110% to defeat your opponent, instead of presuming you're suppose to win.
  4. Danielson's last possible reason I actually don't agree with lol. He thinks this is the main reason why he didn't finish well in his August tournament. But he's a statitistics guy, "I find it odd that my really good money months I placed well and average months I didn't." However in my opinion, because he isn't playing pool to pay bills and does not live paycheck-to-paycheck, he shouldn't have pressure in regards to making money in a tourney. I think it's just a coincidence that the months that he got “in the money” in tournaments he also happened to earn extra money at work.  To be fair, we all do tend to feel better and play with less pressure in general when things are going well at home and on the job.  However, because he's not trying to make a living playing in tournaments, I feel this one is just timing/coincidence.

The bottom line to all of these possible factors is this:  Did you play your best each shot?  I think Danielson was distracted by a lot of factors and wasn't able to truly play his best this time.  And that's okay!  We are all going to have tournament experiences where we don't play our best every shot and are distracted by many things. It's a great learning experience, actually. Just means an opportunity of great reflectioning to think about for his next tourney.  All part of the journey!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Secret to Victory - Video Clip of Commercial

No words needed - short commercial speaks for itself.  This is so spot on, and I love that it's coming from sports super stars!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Reflecting - the Danielson Series

While Danielson and I owe you a “report” about his August tournament, I wanted to step back and share something that completely surprised me the other day and caught me off guard.

I think one of the coolest things about doing this Danielson project is something that I think a lot of players who compete in tournaments should really take into consideration and learn from.

You see, because Danielson (the pool player who we are following in this series) kind of needs to report after every tournament what happened in his matches, it's providing a sense of honest self reflection that not a lot of people often do after their tournaments.

I can think of probably 1,000 tournaments that after I left the venue and on the way home or the days after I may have reflected about how I wish I would have done better or maybe I thought about what I wanted to work on.  But I didn't really and truly and deeply reflect about what happened and why I won or lost, and what I could/should do about it.  Instead it was just a general reflection mostly about my disappointment of how badly I finished (lol), and unfortunately not the details of what I can do to improve things for the next time I play.

I think what even hit me, that I didn't expect, was actually a sense of excitement for Danielson!  This project is in a way forcing him the unique opportunity to reflect on every match or reflect deeply about his tournament play of the weekend.  

He gets a chance to be honest with himself.  Further, he has told me, "talking it out can really help me more."

How cool is that?!

So my suggestion/offer is this:   Think about your match/tournament play so you can learn from it. Think about why you didn’t play your best.  Or what you could have done different.  Instead of just going to a tournament and then leaving a tournament with no after-thought or sincere reflection, do yourself a huge favor and reflect on what could have been improved in each match!  Why you didn't win and what you could have done different.

Even if you don't learn one thing from Danielson's particular progression in his pool journey, I think that honestly reflecting on your matches and tournament play is one the biggest lessons you can gather from this project.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

When we Play Badly No One Complains

I have written before about how the Omega Tour is handicapped.  Because of that, that's where a lot of the complaints mostly are directed about.

I just recently wrote about how players who normally play well that are lower-ranked aren't getting cheered for and congratulated for high finishes, instead their ranking is questioned.

This happened again at the last tournament but the player it happened to gave me a really great perspective that I wanted to share.

He would end up placing in the top 3 in the tournament! And as he was moving through the winners side late on Saturday night, one his opponents questioned him.  “How can you be a 6?  You’re playing too good to be a 6.”  

(For reference the handicap ranges from 4 to 10 on the Omega Tour.)

Anyway, so the guy quickly defended himself and said, “Really?  Well, where were you the last three tournaments when I was playing like a 4 and you didn't say I should be lowered? Instead you're only pointing out when I happen to be playing good?”

I thought it was a really great comeback, great defense and a great reasoning.  Just because someone is having a good tournament seems to be the only time people complain. But yet when a player plays badly and under their speed, no one is quick to say, “Hey you should be moved down.”


No one comes to our defense when we play bad, only complain when we finally have a good run. Ohhhh, the irony.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Toll of Verbally Angry Opponents

I unfortunately witnessed a very disheartening situation at one of the Omega tournaments this past summer.  As the Tournament Director of the tour, I am ashamed honestly to talk about this, but as you all know, I'm very open in my blogs and I feel that it's important to talk about all aspects of things. Even uncomfortable ones.

Plus, as a player myself I know these situations happen on other tours and at weekly tournaments, so this is not an isolated event.

Long story short, a player who has played on the Omega Tour for the last couple of 2 years has maybe lasted until Sunday in one event. That shows his dedication and the love of the game and that he isn't playing on the tour to try to make a living; he just adores the sport that much and keeps competing.

However, on this particular night, he found out that that love can be disrupted.

His opponent on this late Saturday night match had gotten upset at him and instead of keeping his anger internal, his opponent was pretty much throwing a temper tantrum, being vocal, upset and disruptive to him.  And as loud as he was, he of course was disruptive to players around him as well.

As the Tournament Director, I was summoned over to handle the situation. I basically told the two players to stop yelling and talking to each other and that they were not allowed to speak to each other again during their match.  I stood there and refed the rest of the match.  Honestly, I didn't really ref any shot -  I stood there looming over their table to ensure that they both stopped being verbally abusive to each other (they both had started to raise their voices at each other, each one defending themselves).

So what part of the situation disheartened me?  It was when the player who plays every tournament for the fun of the game because he loves the game, told me he's no longer having fun.  

It was like a punch to my stomach.

Although he was upset when he told me this, it is actually very unfortunate and very true that when you run across players who are verbally abusive or throwing temper tantrums or can’t handle their emotions, it makes it difficult to love playing the game; to even want to play anymore.

His exact words to me were, “I don't need these frustrations to play the game I love. If he wants the money that bad, I'll just give him the match so I don't have to deal with his bullshit.”

I don’t blame him - we all want a great, calm atmosphere to compete.  It’s already tough enough to handle our own emotions and thoughts, and then to throw in an outside force (rude player), makes it that much tougher to even want to play anymore.

However, we don’t live in shatterproof houses and we don’t live in daily life without discomfort.  My wish is that people would learn to handle their emotions more professionally.  They don’t realize how much of a positive impact it would be for everyone around them, including themselves.

Even though the opponent who got upset feels that he was “wronged,” he has absolutely that right to feel that way.  The problem is, he hasn’t learned yet a better way to control his emotions than raising his voice and being vocal and rude.

It just really made me sad to know that because some people do not handle their emotions well yet, that it almost convinces players to not want to play anymore at all.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stardust Open – 1965 by Guest Writer Michael Vaught

One of my friends, Michael Vaught, who is 74 years young and plays on the Omega Billiards Tour, recently share with me a couple of things he wrote about from his trips in 1965 to some big pool events back then.

I asked his permission to post them via my blog, and he graciously said yes.

What is TRULY amazing about these two stories (today's will be about Vegas and the previous was about Johnson City), Michael wrote these only TEN years ago - yet he made the trips in 1965!!  He was around 21 years old and even 50 years later, he was able to recall all of these amazing details!


THE STARDUST OPEN – Las Vegas, 1965

This time, Jay and I drove to Las Vegas in his Caddy, and along for the trip also was our mutual friend Kurt Fankhouser, a good nine-ball and snooker player who was very good at “golf” played on a snooker table.  He was also a drummer in rock and jazz bands.

We got a room for something like thirty dollars a week that we took turns sleeping in when we couldn’t stay awake to watch pool anymore.  We could go to Sambo’s and have an economical pancake breakfast.  Yes, there was Sambo’s.  Vegas  was different then.  We hung out together and also went in different directions sometimes to watch different games, so we all had somewhat different memories of the trip.

Inside the Stardust there were tables located in a big ballroom and more tables in a couple of smaller rooms close by.  We were able to move around and watch all the action, which was incredible.  There were people playing five hundred dollar one pocket just to see if they liked the game.  I saw two guys playing one pocket with a blackboard pointer.  One guy got to use the rubber tip, and the other guy had to use the bare wooden end.  That was the spot.  I saw two other guys playing using just the shaft of their cue. 

I saw Irving Crane, Eddie Taylor, Eddie Kelly, Ronnie Allen, Boston Shorty, Cowboy Jimmy Moore, U.J. Puckett, Harry Pietros, Greg Stevens, Ritchie Florence, Johnny Ervolino, Handsome Danny Jones, Jack Perkins, Lou Butera, Cornbread Red, Harold Worst, Hubert Cokes, Cicero Murphy, Detroit Whitey and so on.  What a list.

We got to see 9-ball, one-pocket, and straight pool tournament matches, as well as the incredible, non-stop action everywhere.  Ronnie Allen made a one-pocket game where he played one-handed, and won so easily that the guy he beat broke his expensive cue over his knee, threw it down, and left.  Some kid in the audience ran out and picked it up, but didn’t get to keep it.  Hubert Cokes came over and asked for the cue – he wanted to return it to the losing player, who he figured would want it back when he cooled off.  The kid wisely didn’t give Hubert any problem.  That would have been a mistake. 

Eddie Taylor was beautiful to watch.  I saw him curve around one ball to hit a cross-table bank in 9-ball one game.  Danny Jones, playing Eddie in tournament one-pocket, made a shot where he banked into the side rail, came off and hit a ball, that ball hit another ball,  that ball hit the rack and made a ball into his pocket, and he proceeded to run out from there.  Taylor was pounding his cue on the floor in tribute to Danny’s shooting.  It was just some of the best pool I have ever seen.

Cowboy Jimmy Moore was showing off a little one time and executed the circular draw shot – the first time I had ever seen it done.  I was halfway across the room when I saw him shoot and the cue ball did this amazing thing.  I literally ran up to the table to see what was going on.  He did it three or four more times as I watched, absolutely astounded.  This was the shot that nobody back at OU would believe was possible when I told them about it.  I turned to a guy who was standing there watching and asked him what Jimmy was putting on the cue ball.  He said, “A ittle bit of left.  A lot of low. It’s just that stroke”.  Jimmy had a heck of a slip stroke. As a matter of fact, I started watching closely and a surprising, to me, number of players used the same type of stroke – some more than others.

I saw Jack Perkins get down to break 9-ball, straighten up, move the cue ball about an inch, get down again, fire, 9-ball on the break.  What did he know?  Just luck?

I watched Greg Stevens running out some 9-ball.  He hit everything with authority and straight into the heart of the pocket.  He had a shot down the rail where the object ball was in the middle of the side rail – it looked almost frozen - with the cue ball out toward the center of the table.  He smoked it in, down the rail, past the side pocket.  I don’t remember seeing him miss.  Later on he was shooting one-pocket, and I heard someone say, “Greg Stevens’ way to play one pocket is to run 8 and out”.  It looked like it to me.  After all these years, he is still one of the two or three straightest shooters I ever saw.   It’s easy to believe the stories I have heard about him.

Evidently, this was also the dawn of the new one-shot-ball-in-hand rule in 9-ball.  I listened to the players talking about the rules,  and U.J. Puckett was complaining about it some and played around with it a bit.  This was in a tournament match in the back room.  He was playing a local player whose name I don’t remember.  What he did was break 9-ball safe.  I have never seen it since.  He just scraped the side of the one and hardly disturbed the pack.  This was before the rule about 4 balls hitting the rail. His cue ball hit the side rail, then stopped right behind the pack.  Only about half of the one was sticking out to be hit.  His opponent missed, and U.J. had ball in hand.  He froze the cue ball to the one, shot through it – maybe or maybe not a foul – smashed the rack, and made the 9.   An interesting sidelight of that afternoon was that Sonny Liston came walking in with a couple of people.  He evidently liked pool.  I saw U.J. go over to meet him and shake his hand.  Sonny was very well dressed in a suit and looked good.

I have always been a fan of players who could draw the ball well and here was Harry Pietros, supposed to be the best  in the country.  I heard more than one player comment about his draw shot as he played in tournament matches.  He was showing off in one of the back rooms and this is what he did:  He put a ball right in the far corner pocket, and the cue ball one inch off the far back rail.  He said, “How far back do you think I can get the cue ball from there?”  He wasn’t allowed to hit the rail by the object ball – the cue ball had to come straight back from that position.  He started shooting it and said, “I’m bettin’ that I can reach the end rail! ”.  Unbelievable.  He was shooting basically a table-length jump/masse shot.  Once the cue ball flew off the table and hit the big drapes over the window.  That would have done some damage.  That’s how hard he was hitting the ball.  Finally he jacked up and caught it just right and the cue ball rocketed back to the center of the table.  It didn’t get all the way back to the end rail, but I could see then that he could actually do what he was willing to bet on.  Wow.

There was another guy who liked to kick 3 rails around the table.  He would spot one, two, three balls on the spot, keep the cue ball in the “kitchen area” on the same end of the table, then kick three rails around and try to make all the balls in a corner pocket in a given time frame, number of shots or something.  The balls would spread a little on the first shot then he would keep kicking 3 rails around, nudging them here and there until he made them all.  He really knew what he was doing – I saw one of the balls get pretty far up the rail away from the corner pocket and he was able to bank 3 rails around and cut it back down towards the corner.  I didn’t see him get very much action, though.  I saw him trying to get Eddie Taylor to bet.  HE said, “Come on, Eddie, kick the balls with me.”  Taylor, with a drink in his hand and a grin on his face, kicked his leg up a little ways and said, “Kick the balls?” But he didn’t want to play.  Guys like the 3-rail man don’t set up games where they lose, and Eddie knew that.  He probably knew the guy already.

We got to see one of the biggest money games ever while we were there.  I didn’t know at the time that it was practically historic – I just knew it was by far the biggest game I had ever seen.  One guy was called Sutton and was from St. Louis.  He was playing Larry Perkins, who I just knew as Larry while we were watching.  They were going at it, playing one-pocket for five and 6 thousand a game.  After one game Sutton said, “OK, we’re covering everything up to seven thousand this game.”  They played all night and as I understood it, Sutton won about twenty thousand that night.  Later on I heard that Sutton actually got cleaned out after days and days of playing, but I thought he won the night that I watched.  I noticed that he was good at making a ball right in the pocket and leaving you corner-hooked.  He was partners with a dark-haired young player he kept calling Vernon.  I heard Vernon was a very good player also, which was no surprise.  Sutton kept calling himself, “Sutt the Sucker”.

 Once, when Larry was taking a break, one of the spectators, a tall, lanky man, stepped up and offered to play a quick one for a thousand.  They played, Sutton won, and the guy paid his thousand and went back to his seat.  That was Amarillo Slim Preston.  He played pretty good, too.

I watched Irving Crane, who was classic in every way, play beautiful straight pool, running 84 before a scratch.  He made some great shots out of the pack.  He played super 9-ball, too.  Funny thing, the tables being used had pockets that would sometimes reject a ball that was hit perfectly in the center of the pocket with some pace.  It would just come right back out on the table.  Crane had to hit one shot pretty hard to get position, hit it perfectly, and the ball came out on him, costing him the game and match.  He didn’t talk like a Deacon in the restroom after the match.

I saw Lou Butera run sixty balls in about a minute or two, it seemed.  He was something to watch – very entertaining.  Eddie Kelly, with his great left-handed stroke, was, like the rest of them, great to watch and admire.  I saw Eddie hit a break shot in straight pool where the cue ball was very close to the rack.  He jacked up, hit it, and the cue ball powered its way through the rack, all the way to the end rail.  There was a gasp from the audience as he did this.

I was watching Cowboy Jimmy Moore practice straight pool and of course he was great to watch.  When he finished a rack, he just gathered the 14 balls together on the end rail, frozen together, and then with a quick, deft movement pushed them all together up towards the spot, where he would stop them in exactly the right place.  He was racking perfectly without a rack.  I never saw anybody else do it.   Once when he drew the cue ball back and kicked a ball over into perfect position for a break shot, he glanced over at me and gave me a little sly smile.   Jimmy was cool.

We returned to Norman and told everybody who would listen about what we had seen.  Within a year or so, Jay was in the Army and I was in the Air Force.  Kurt was still in school and also working as a drummer.  Jay went on to become well-known and have a career in the pool world, and I managed to have a career as a computer programmer/analyst and part-time amateur player.  Tragically, Kurt died in the summer of 1968 in a motorcycle accident, and we both lost a friend.  The music world lost a fine drummer.

 But we will always have our memories of those good times and great players.  Thanks again, Jay.