Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Introducing: Capelle's Columns - 21 Years of Pool Instruction

Phil Capelle's new book is out!

Phil has been a columnist in Pool and Billiard magazine for 21 years, and EVERY SINGLE column is in this book!

And, oh, hey, look:  My name is on the first page!  (click photo to enlarge or buy your own copy via his website)

Okay, okay, enough about me.

This book is huge!  512 pages to be exact!  Photo doesn't do it justice, at all:

It contains:
  • 430 Diagrams​
  • Discoveries from Capelle’s research
  • Cross referenced
  • Position play
  • Shotmaking
  • Fundamentals
  • Safeties
  • 9&10 Ball
  • Eight Ball
  • Straight pool
  • Pro’s analyzed
  • Mental game
  • Much more …
Order yours today to get it by Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Guest Contributor - Author Stan Popovich on Anxieity

Stan reached out to me a while ago and said I could share some advice he had written.

Here is the first piece:


By: Stanley Popovich

At times, our worries and anxieties can overwhelm us. In addition, our worries can distort our perception of what is reality and what is not. As a result, this may interfere with how you play billiards. Here is a brief list of techniques that a billiards player can use to help gain a better perspective on things during their anxious moments.

Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the problem. A person could read the newspaper, listen to some music or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. This is a great technique to use right before your next event.

Remember that our fearful thoughts are exaggerated and can make the problem worse. A good way to manage your worry is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.

Remember that all the worrying in the world will not change anything. Most of what we worry about never comes true. Instead of worrying about something that probably won’t happen, concentrate on what you are able to do.

Another technique that is very helpful is to have a small notebook of positive statements that you can carry around with you. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you. Whenever you feel stressed before your event, open up your small notebook and read those statements. This will help to manage your negative thinking.

In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety before your event and you decide to take a walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.

Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Remember that it never hurts to ask for help.

It is not easy to deal with all of our fears and worries. When your fears and anxieties have the best of you, try to calm down and then get the facts of the situation. The key is to take it slow. All you can do is to do your best each day, hope for the best, and when something does happen, take it in stride. Take it one step at a time and things will work out.

Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods” – an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pool Players and Snow

What do you get when pool players get around snow?

A hustling snowman, of course!

The south U.S. had some unprecedented snow last week (click to enlarge and view the snow accumulations):

And one of my fellow pool players (Yvonne Ramirez) from Victoria, Texas created this great snowman, who btw, is looking for action!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Checklist Report - Danielson Series

If you have been following The Danielson Series I bet you are chomping at the bit wondering if he used a checklist during his last tournament, right??

I was wondering too!

Quick background, checklists can be an amazing resource to a player as reminders before and during tournaments and Danielson and I talked about this before his last big event, as he didn't have a checklist.

So, did his checklist help him? 

Wait, did he even write a checklist?

I figured he didn't write a checklist, I admit it.  So I surprise him Saturday morning of the Omega tournament and gave him one.

Here is the list:

The only thing I added that I felt would be helpful was "walk around."  Otherwise,  the three other  items he had told me he wanted to remember.

As I handed him MY list for HIM (lol) he told me, "I already wrote a list."  Oh?  Embarrassed that I didn't have faith in him, but so elated he listened to my advice, I then asked him, "Oh cool, well let me see yours.  What is on your list?!"

He responded, "It's in the car."


You have to have it on you at all times during an event!  He countered that he went over the list several times in the car, though. 

But, he then carried my list around so he had something on him that weekend to go over reminders.

He told me before the tourney started that he never plays good at this certain pool hall, so I think that helped any of his expectations - ie reverse psychology - because he felt no pressure.  So, he ended up lasting until Sunday!

I asked him if he looked at the list at all and he said, "I did look at it during some matches... and I think it really is a good reminder."

So, while the checklist isn't the all-knowing-quick-fix-solve-everything-tool, it is a GREAT tool in our toolbox to have.  And certainly doesn't hurt to re-read important reminders before or during a tournament!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Must Do Well to Move Up

As a tournament director of a handicapped tour I hear a ton of complaints when a player finally has their first real good finish. 


Not because I can't handle the whining, but because do people not really realize that in order to move up you have to have a few good tournaments first??

Seriously - we don't know to move some up until they have a good tournament or two.  And the data (like Fargo Ratings) wont have the stats to prove to move someone up if the player hasn't a few good tournaments.

People don't seem to truly grasp that in order to move up, you need to place well a few times or place real high one time to finally be moved up.

Instead, everyone complains and bitches about their handicap when they finally have a good finish, "They aren't a 6" I hear over and over when a player is finally having a good finish.  Further, people don't see that the player themselves are trying hard to move up, too.  They practice, read articles, watch videos, all they can to move up.  And then instead of getting compliments of their great finish, they get complaints instead of kudos.

It's such a crazy thing that people don't really recognize or comprehend you can't move up without first doing well, lol.

Monday, December 4, 2017

What Would Your Hobby Had Been?

My fellow online billiard activist and friend, Tam Trinh, had a really cool question the other day on her Instagram account:

Tam asked, "If pool was never invented, what do you think your replacement hobby would be?"

I have pondered this question a few times and the answer is still the same for me:  I have no idea!

Seriously, I have no idea.  I started to play pool in arcades that had pool tables.  Eventually, I started to test my skills at playing pool since I had over-exceeded on the video games and they were no longer a challenge for me (I was top gamer on all the popular video games in the place).

So, not sure what I would be doing. 

Some people commented: darts, sewing, poker, skateboarding, school/studying, archery, shooting range, etc.

I mean, I can see a natural progression for me might be playing darts, since I did that sometimes at the bar, but otherwise, though I wasn't very interested in darts.  So, what would I be doing?  Sure, I love poker, so maybe I would be doing that, but I wonder if one is out of the pool room, how do you get into a poker room?  It seems they are all related and intertwined.

I did dabbled in arts and crafts out of college, but eventually stopped doing that and can't see that leading anywhere.

I guess I'd be only working?  Nooooo, can't see that.  I'd have to be doing something in addition to working, right?

I can't believe I have no answer, lol!

However, what I can say is, I'm SO glad pool was around and was my hobby!

BTW, you can follow her on Instagram by searching for "mztamcom" and you can follow me on Instagram by searching for "mellbers."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Complaints Can Be Validation

One thing I love is when players talk to me after their tournaments.  They share things I either hadn't thought of, can relate, or can't wait to blog about!  lol.

Here is one that came up recently in a convo that I thought was intriguing and interesting, and am very excited the player said I could share.

A player who was ranked a 4 was having his best finish yet in one of the Omega tournaments recently.  I knew he would move up to a 5 pretty easily after the event, as he was finally having a good tournament.

He joked with me that very next week, "I am going to miss being a 4!"  Then confided, "No, not really, it was kinda embarrassing."

A 4 is the lowest level of the handicap scale on the Omega Tour.  It's fascinating to me that some players who are 5s WANT to be a 4 while others who are 4s see it at embarrassing.  But that's a whole 'nother blog post lol.

As we continued our convo, he shared he knew making it into Sunday of this two day tournament was going to put him in 5 territory.  He added, "Just making it to Sunday was a huge personal accomplishment for me."

Then he confessed, "It probably sounds bad - but it felt really good that one of the players I beat complained about me after I beat him... I guess it just felt kind of validating (if that makes sense)."

It didn't make sense.  Ooooooh, what did he mean by that?

So I asked, "Validating what?"

He said, "Hmmm, I don't know, I guess that I belong."

I prodded him some more, excited where this was going, "Belong where?"

He shared, "That the work I've been putting in really is improving my game.  And that I belong in the tournament - I've been playing on the tour for so long and never made it into Sunday, and that's made me question myself a bunch of times.  I've felt like I've been on the cusp for a long time, but could never put it all together."

"Bingo!  There you go!" I exclaimed.

I loved our convo.  And I am SO happy for him to have moved beyond the cusp to valid in himself he should be ranked higher, just as he thought.

While a lot of people complain about handicapped tournaments, there is a sense of pride it can bring to oneself to move from different levels.  

I am so happy for him!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Good Will Hunting

We have all heard of players who stop at every pawn shop they drive by looking for the elusive pool cue in the corner of the building, being sold for only $100 that is really a $2,000 cue unbeknownst to the owner?  Right?

Heck, I even found an old Huebler in a remote pawn shop a few years ago when a took a vacation driving south along the Appalachian Trail.  I bought it for $150 and sold it for $275 just a few weeks ago.  (every bit helps, right?)

Well, I hadn't thought of Goodwill stores!

I went in the other day looking for a certain colored vase (found two!) and then ran across this:

Do you see them?

Sure, they don't have tips, but pool cues nonetheless!

Monday, November 27, 2017

You Don't Choose THE Song

What I have learned along the way in my pool journey is that certain songs that come to mean meaning for us in our pool journey are not chosen by us.

We might imagine that our first big win will be to the Rocky theme song, right?  Or as our team is playing in the finals, we all hear "We are the Champions" by Queen blaring from the speakers.

Or, if we are in a bar out of state, "Turn the Page" comes on by Bob Segar or "Bad Company" by the band of the same name.

Well, those things don't even come close to reality.



Sure, we all have certain songs or type of songs that give us a little skip in our step as we play pool, but the songs that exude winning or champion do not come on magically as we drop the last 9-ball or lift the trophy up over our head for the crowd.

No, no, no.

What happens is, though, is something even cooler!

When I won my very first ladies event, a tournament on the Fast Eddies Tour way back when, I was completely in the zone and the song that was playing as I was playing with no distractions and light on my feet was Chris Brown's, "I Can Transform Ya."  Sure, I loved hip hop anyway, but I barely new the song.  But after I won, I LOVED the song.  And what happens now is pretty damn sweet:  every single time I hear that song, it takes me back to that win, that first win, that amazing win!  It's like I'm right there in the zone in San Antonio at Fast Eddies snapping off my first tournament.

It turned out to be my personal Rocky theme song.

So, while we think of certain champion songs, the ones that come to mean the most to use are chosen for us while we are succeeding.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

APA on The Price is Right

I love seeing things like this - pool showing up even in the most unusual of mainstream places!

Like this guy wearing an APA shirt on the Price is Right!

(click image to enlarge)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Acceptance of Your Level of Competing

I have wondered off and on throughout the years, what makes a person stop competing in pool?

I can recall numerous ladies I used to play with in Texas that don't play on the ladies tour anymore.  Was it because they got older?  Because they never got better and got frustrated?  Did life things get in the way (money, divorce, marriage, kids)?

I suppose for each person the reason is personally different.

And at one point, a successful player eventually isn't in the winners circle as much. What do they do then?  And how do they handle it?

Do they accept they are not as talented for some reason anymore, but yet still play?  Or do they stop competing due to frustrations?

Some people can't handle the disappointment and decide to move on from playing pool.  Some people accept they will never play at the level they used to play and are fine with playing for fun.  Some players frequent the pool rooms during the week on afternoons and enjoy sparing with friends, in lieu of competing in leagues and tournaments.

As I type all these words out, I am liking my reasons for retiring (after having a successful pool journey the last few years) more and more!  I can just imagine if I was to keep competing and eventually not be relevant or a formidable opponent how frustrating that could be.  I am liking my decision to choose to stop competing rather than having to stop not on my own terms.

Whatever their flavor is behind the reason, acceptance can go a long way in feeling good about their decision.

Btw, in case you are curious why these thoughts came up this week, it was after I read this excerpt from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" by Haruki Murakami:
"I don’t care about the time I run. I can try all I want, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to run the way I used to. I’m ready to accept that. It’s not one of your happier realities, but that’s what happens when you get older. Just as I have my own role to play, so does time. And time does its job much more faithfully, much more accurately, than I ever do. Ever since time began (when was that, I wonder?), it’s been moving ever forward without a moment’s rest. And one of the privileges given to those who’ve avoided dying young is the blessed right to grow old. The honor of physical decline is waiting, and you have to get used to that reality. Competing against time isn’t important. What’s going to be much more meaningful to me now is how much I can enjoy myself, whether I can finish twenty-six miles with a feeling of contentment. I’ll enjoy and value things that can’t be expressed in numbers, and I’ll grope for a feeling of pride that comes from a slightly different place. I’m not a young person who’s focused totally on breaking records, nor an inorganic machine that goes through the motions. I’m nothing more or less than a (most likely honest) professional writer who knows his limits, who wants to hold on to his abilities and vitality for as long as possible."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Second Day Tourney Thoughts - The Danielson Series

Danielson, like most of us, has a more difficult time playing well on Sundays of a two-day tournament.  Why?  Because there is so much more pressure on day two!

What helped me get over that hump was to stay as ever-present as I could and not think ahead.  Experience also helped - the more times I lasted until Sunday, the less pressure I felt because each time I lasted until Sunday was another success and I started to feel more comfortable.  Experience helps immensely.  (that's why I preach to play in as many tournaments as you can)

Danielson had another great finish in the November Omega tournament and I asked him how he felt going into Sunday.  I was so impressed by this thought process, I wanted to share it.

On the Omega Billiards Tour, we whittle it down from around 100 players and bring back 24 players on Sunday.

Danielson told me, "I just look at Sundays as a new 24-man tournament.  That helps any pressure I might be feeling going into day two, as I just look at it in a different way, not the continuation of a big tournament.

"24-man tournament" - that's perfect!  GREAT philosophy.  Wish I had heard this when I was competing!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fargo Ratings Rule!

Although handicap tournaments are more difficult to run than Open tournaments, Fargo Ratings help me out so much!  And not just to me personally as the Tournament Director, but also for the players competing in handicapped events. 

Fargo Ratings allow for more accurate handicapping which helps all the players overall.  Further, as a Tournament Director, it saves us a ton of time trying to nail down someone's true handicap.  Accurate handicaps also lead to less complaints.  And a big thank you to Fargo Rate for that!

Btw, in case you are new to the term "Fargo Ratings," Fargo Ratings are world-wide pocket-billiard ratings designed to rate every player on the planet on the same scale based on wins and losses against opponents of known rating." Check this link for further details.
Below are two excellent examples from the Omega Billiards Tour stop just a couple of weeks ago that prove how effective and helpful Fargo Ratings are. 

We had two players enter the tournament who no one knew well.

One guy was from California.  He moved to the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) area only a few months ago and it was his first time to play on the Tour.  In the past, I'd have to ask around, "how does this guy play, who does he play like?" in order to try and establish his handicap for the tour (we use rankings from 4 to 10).  But that weekend, I just type his little name into and there he was!  He was an established player and he had a pretty high Fargo ranking - so high he was automatically an 8 handicap.

Fargo Rating  -    Omega Tour Handicap:
Above 750     -    10 handicap
700-749         -     9 handicap
645-699         -     8 handicap
570-644         -     7 handicap
515-569         -     6 handicap
460-514         -     5 handicap
below 460      -     4 handicap

THEN - another player signed up.  He was from the country Jordan, and it was really cool - he also had an established Fargo Rating!  Took the guess out for me, reduced stress, saved time, and made my job easier for sure.  :) 

This player had an even higher Fargo Rating and he was a 9 handicap on the tour (one spot away from top pro level).

The point is, it is really helpful to have Fargo Ratings for players all across not just the U.S., but the world, as well.  Even a guy from California and a guy from Jordan had an established rating and we were able to set their handicaps accurately right from the get go!   So awesome. 

What a great data system!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Noticing Players' Games

I find myself wanting to help players improve more and more.  Because I give lessons now, it kinda comes even more naturally for me to see things more than usual and wanting to help.

I've actually been a very perceptive person anyway, but it's compounded more because I want to share the things I've learned from my own journey with pool.

I don't actively seek out players who might need help, I just happen to notice players, who if they had a just a few extra tips, they would be succeeding more.  I wrote about helping a friend back in 2012 just from observing her.  So, it's not like I'm seeking people out, I just happen to notice their game could improve remarkably by just a little tip or two (tips I wished I learn A LOT earlier in my journey).

I was watching a player over the weekend at the Omega Billiards Tour and he has improved a lot in just the last few months, but he's missing out on wins because of not knowing 3-ball shape.  I wanted to grab him, take him to a side table, and go over 3 ball shape with him for an hour!  LOL.

I also found myself thinking this in the middle of a tournament last month, while playing in a match, about my opponent, lol!  The guy kept missing late in the rack and it was because he didn't know about 3-ball shape.  It was quite comical to myself I thought about how I could help him improve..... while I'm trying to beat him, lol.  But, I knew if I could work with him a little bit, that his game would skyrocket.

I'm more of a strategic and mental coach, not one who teaches fundamentals or how to hold a cue.  So, the key to all these players is:  they already have a great game and set of skills.  They just haven't been taught or are not aware of 3-ball shape or strategy yet.   Once we get that down, it's amazing how much we improve and win more matches!

P.S.  The reason I didn't approach these two players to help was (1) I didn't know the one player and wasn't sure if he would be amenable to the idea and (2) the other player already has a coach I found out, and "strategy" is part of the plan in his future lessons.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cleaning During Tournaments

We all appreciate really great, assertive waiters/waitresses, right?  Well, one over the weekend was too assertive while at the same time very unfamiliar with pool.  Even tho she was working in a pool room!

Deep into the tournament on Sunday last weekend of the 11th stop of the Omega Tour this year, one of the players was sitting quietly at her table as her opponent was shooting.  The air was a tad humid and so she put some chalk on the table where she was sitting, so she could lay her fingers on the powder and stroke the powder on her shaft before she shot so it would slide easier for her.  Several people were doing this throughout the weekend.

As this waitress gets on shift later on Sunday, she starts moving very fast to start to clean up the area.  She moved all the stools in their proper place (which created extra noise as they hit the metal tables), she sprayed the tops of the tables and then wiped them down, even if pool cues were leaned against them, and as she walked by the table with the chalk of this player, she sprayed the table and wiped away the chalk!

I cared more about the cues that she accidentally sprayed at first, but then it was crazy she also wiped away the chalk.

I think one of the issues was tempo.  We were used to the waitress who was there all day, and then this new one comes in and changes the dynamics around us.  If this was Saturday with 100 players in the area, it wouldn't be an issue and we wouldn't have even noticed her, but when you are down to only a few tables and a handful of people in the area, we see more distractions easier.  Plus, we had been used to a waitress who stayed out of the way all day.

I heard it wasn't her first day there, but I think she just hasn't been around big tournaments or something because she wasn't very cognizant that high-stake money matches were going on and instead cared more about clean tables, straightened chairs, and getting things done by walking by the matches. 

I'm not really complaining, as some tournaments I have been to you can never find a waitress or the tables aren't cleaned up all day long.

While we all appreciate her great service, there are times it's okay to leave things be until matches are completed.  It can be more of a distraction.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Way You Say Things

I think we all could be more careful with our choice of words.

Sometimes they come off harsh and rude and uneffective.  Obviously, this is true in all aspects of life, not just our pool game.

A friend of mine received some "advice" that wasn't very positive nor helpful.  It could have been said in a much softer, gentler, more effective way.  Instead, he told her, "You make things so much harder on yourself."

You may be thinking to yourself that wasn't that bad.  And you are right, it's not that bad.  But, it still could have been stated with less negativity and with more effectiveness.

Further, as soon as she told me his words of unwisdom, I told her, "Wow, now you will be thinking about that every time you have to play pool in front of him.  Darn it."

And she agreed in disappointment.

I've written several times about how the way people say things become a hindrance, not helpful.  Negative words, repeatedly from the same people, have affected me so much, that when they happen to watch me play pool, it distracts me because I get nervous about what they might say after my match.  Which, is never positive lol.  NEVER.

Luckily for my friend, her thought process is to improve so those words he said to her don't bother her.  As a matter of fact, she played in front of him at a weekly tournament full of great players and she placed 3rd!  Take those words and shove them up your a$$!  lol

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Better is a Never Ending Quest (video clip)

I love, LOVE this commercial!

Listen to it.  You'll love it, too.  It's very clever and can be helpful to our pool journey.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Not My Baby

No, no, don't worry - this has nothing to do with real babies, lol.  

Someone keeps telling me that the Omega Billiards Tour is "my baby."

Every single time they tell me that, I counter with, "No, it's not.  It's the players Tour, not mine."

I appreciate the kind words that the Tour has a great foundation and has momentum because of me, but it's not my baby at all.  I never once thought that.  I always and only considered it the players' tour.

I wish I didn't have to keep convincing people otherwise.  I don't brag about the Tour or even talk about it that much.  But people seem to think I need accolades or a remembrance some how for when a new tour starts.  No, I don't.  I'm just happy there will still be options for players to play in Dallas Fort Worth.  That was my whole goal and the mission of the Tour:  "To provide an avenue that allows all levels of players to play the game they love to improve their skills and where they can make some money at it, too."

See?  Not my baby.  Players' baby!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Checklists - The Danielson Series, Nov 2017

Danielson and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago and we both mentioned that all of these learning lessons are really awesome, but too bad we can't go over things right before a tournament, instead of learning after each tournament. 

Tournaments have 3 main parts:  Pregame, the game, and post game.  And yet he and I really only focuse on the post game.  How did you do?  What happened?  Why?  And what can be learned?

He said, "Yeah, before the tournament starts, it'd be cool to go over things to remember...what to guard yourself to your strengths...a little pep talk...kinda like what a football team would do."

As soon as he said that, I announced, "Blog topic!"

Poor guy - instead of telling him what he can do to pump himself up before a tournament, I make him wait to read it in this blog post, lol.

And here it is:

First of all, I can't be like a mouse in his pocket and give him a pep talk before every tournament.  We'd have to start to discuss payment options for that specialized service!  lol.

But, he does bring up a very good point of something I still do to this day that is just as helpful:     Checklists!

I am a huge fan of writing down reminders.  There is SO much we need to try and remember before our tournaments, that it can make our head spin.  And sometimes in the throws of the moment, we forget things.  It's normal.  You've been in high stressful situation and all of a sudden you can't remember your email password or pin to check your bank account, right?  It's a very surreal, sometimes scary moment.  But, if we can review many of the key things we have learned (and need to remember), we are prepared for things that may be thrown at us during matches.

In a post from 2012, I wrote about a match preparation checklist.  I wrote about this again in 2014, and shared that I reread my notes before I won BCAPL Texas State singles event.  :)

I am a huge proponent of match preparation checklists, reminders, pool prayer, whatever you want to personally call it.  It will go a long way.

Here are some examples of lists I wrote throughout the years:

Shown here are 8 checklists!  And you can see some were written on hotel paper - which means I was out of town for a tournament and going over my reminders and wrote them down to take with me to review before each match.

So, everyone, get your pin out and write your own personal reminder checklist!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Male or Female Tournament Director?

I know I talk a lot about leadership in my blog, and today is no exception!

I wanted to share a discussion I had with someone about the Omega Tour ending, and a new Tour  starting up that will be run by guys.

A player (male) shared his opinion with me that he thought that a male running the Tour would have less issues to deal with.  I guess he was saying that it's tough to run a men's Tour as a female.  And he thought as a guy, he would be able to handle the male players "better" because, as he said it, "If they start bitching, I won't put up with anyone."

I listened to his words and my first thought was running a tournament well is not about being male or female, but about leadership and how one handles players and issues.  Respect, empathy, fairness, and integrity go a long way.

In my humble opinion, it really honestly doesn't matter if you are male or female.  An abrasive female will have a difficult time handling difficult situations with guys or girls.  And a male Tournament Director (TD) with no leadership skills will not handle confrontations well.  So, it really is mostly about personality - not male versus female.

I shared with him, from my perspective, I think a female TD has a slight advantage dealing with male players than a male TD would, tho. 

Hear me out. 

If a male player is pissed and gets upset, he is going to vent his frustration to me and be vocal.  How I react and respond is key to handling these situations well.  However, if a male player is pissed and gets upset, he is going to vent his frustration more confrontational against a male TD than a female.

Most of the time, most guys are more asshole-ish with other guys, than with girls in public.  They will be more in fight mode with a guy.  With a female, when they are upset it will be a verbal argument, yes, but less confrontational.

Don't get me wrong, I have been chewed out royally by players after they lose (you know, it's always the tournament directors fault).  But I have a feeling the players would be even more vocal with a male TD.  And depending on the male TD, how will they handle it?  Will they simply argue back, or will they handle it well with leadership skills?

See?  PERSON dependent, not sex dependent.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Boo!  Happy Halloween from me to you! 

May your pool journey be filled with cat like reflexes and calm when needed.

Rawr or meow?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pics from Daytona Shoot-Out from 1999

In 1999 while living in Florida, I drove to Daytona Beach to take photos for of some players battling it out in the open air for everyone to watch/see/cheer, during bikefest in Daytona Beach.  I ran across these pics the other day and I thought I'd share:

Steve Mizerak, Jeanette Lee, Ming Ng and Mike Sigel!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Excitement from Interviews!

I am finding that my after thought that I had long ago to do interviews, has become more of walking dream!

I had no idea how much conducting interviews and bringing you all (the pool fans) the answers to little  but meaningful questions, has ignited my spirit and helped my soul.

Every time someone says yes to being interviewed, I get happy.

Then, after I read their responses, I get ecstatic!

In the past when I would think about how I wanted to do interviews, I didn't really, truly realize how much I would enjoy them and how happy they would make me.  Instead, it's been bringing me pure joy to be able to be the conduit between them and you.

If you haven't read the recent ones in the online magazine Billiard Buzz from pro Dennis Hatch or Mike Page of FaroRate, find them at this link:

Next up is Melanie Archer!  (Johnny Archer's wife)  I am so excited!  I already love her answers and can't wait for the September issue to come out.

We are all learning so much from others.  I am excited for us all!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Carrying Upsetness to Next Match - The Danielson Series, Oct 2017

Danielson placed well in his last tournament (Omega stop at The Hideaway) and had another very consistent finish, placing 17th-24th. 

Last year he never placed 17th or higher (not even once), and this year he's placed 17th three times and twice higher than that!

When I asked him if he had any thoughts about the tournament for this blog post, the tournament still stung two weeks later, "No thoughts.  It was just pure self destruction."

Wait.  What?

In Danielson's 3rd match, he was on the wrong side of rolls and it was enough rolls to "put me on tilt," he described.  Unfortunately for him, he didn't have enough time to recover from being upset. His next match was called right away and the anger and frustration from the previous match carried over into his next match.

Seeing things from the outside though, he won two tough matches to finish 17th, but it's difficult for us to focus on any good when we feel we could have finished even higher and played better.  

But, let's face it, in competition we don't want to be "consistent" we want to do better each time.

He shared (finally, after some prodding), "I didn't even want to play my next match... and it showed... the aggravation lead to embarrassment... that's why I stormed out after."

"I just robbed myself of another opportunity.  I didn't play well... I wasn't focused... and I got what I deserved," he confided.

You can feel his pain, too, right?  Ugh. 

It's very tough to not let a previous match affect our next match.  I only know of two types of advice:  (1) go ahead and feel the emotions so you get them out of your system and (2) remain in the present - if you do, then the past match has no consequence.  Easier said than done though for both, as you sit in your chair and think about the missed opportunities and that you shouldn't be in this current position on the bracket, blah blah blah.  But, the key is to remain in the present and remind yourself you are STILL in it!

But, it's very, very difficult.

Kinda like getting into an argument with someone.  The feelings and emotions don't just go away right away, it takes time to calm down.  And in Danielson's' case, he didn't have enough time to calm down in between his matches.

This is actually a HUGE learning experience. 


I know, it seems weird I'm excited, lol, but we all need to have these painful experiences... so we can LEARN from them.

This is why playing in more and more events to experience these tough situations is crucial - for the next time.  Next time Danielson will remember this transitional match and remember how badly he felt.  And he wont want to feel that way again.  He will have a talk with himself and demand he focus on the match at hand, not the previous match he has no control of anymore.  He will prevail.  And he will remember to "remain in the present and focus on the shots in front of you."

I feel very hurt along with Danielson.  I know how it feels to be playing well, and yet not finish higher than we could have because of emotions getting in the way.  This mental toughness shit is HARD!

I have much faith in him and I know from personal experience that he has already learned so much from the two losses that day and it will propel him in his future tournaments because he will have had this tough experience already under his belt.

I want to state again it was a GREAT finish!  17th place is tough on the Omega Tour.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Distractions During Practice - In Stereo

I  sparred with my friend Tina a couple of times in early October.  Here we are before the bloodbath:

Both times we met up, we were distracted by another player.  He came in all cocky, and he had his own personal stereo.  He was listening to music, but not via headphones.  Instead, it was clipped on his shirt or something and everyone could hear it.

It was very annoying.  If he turned toward us to shoot, the music was louder.  As he turned away to shoot, we could still hear his song of choice, just muffled a little bit.  He mostly listened to 80s music, but not hip hop like I'd of preferred, lol.

It may seem like this shouldn't be a bother, but it really was annoying for some reason.  Sure, people play music on the jukebox all the time I may not recognize or like, but for some reason that never bothers me.  This guy - bothersome with his personal stereo system we could all hear.  If he was just walking by it prolly wouldn't have been an issue, but it was lingering around us for over 2 hours.  Even when the guy found an opponent (not sure how), he didn't turn it down or turn it off, just kept on his little own world.

I didn't say anything to Tina the first Saturday about my thoughts about him, but when he walked in again the second Saturday, I noticed we both kinda grimaced at the same time lol, and then we talked about how he was a distraction.

Here's the thing about this guy and his personal karaoke system:  I'm glad he showed up!  The whole reason to practice in a pool room is to experience the same non-controlled atmosphere we might encounter at league or in a tournament.  It was almost the perfect set up!  Except, I would have chosen a different annoyance, lol.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

If I Was a High School Athlete

I have wondered at times throughout my pool journey if I had been more active in sports in high school, would I be a better pool player sooner in my pool journey?

My Dad wanted me to focus on my grades in high school, so the one sport I was in for maybe 2 months (basketball) I had to quit.

I don't regret his advice (i.e. demand) at all, as I was able to get into college first stab because I was in the top 10 of my high school class (out of 650!).  #bragger

I do wonder, though, would I have excelled sooner in my pool journey had I taken up sports and been competitive in high school?  I would imagine it would have to be more advantageous for people who were in competitive sports in high school (heck even middle school).  They would have more mental toughness, right?  That's what I think (wonder).

While I guess high school athletes may not have necessarily have more mental toughness, they definitely would be introduced to it sooner.  Heck, I didn't really even understand mental toughness til my late 20s.  And didn't grasp it until my low to mid 30s.  Had I been in a sport in high school and was active in it, I would think it would have helped me understand and harness my mental toughness much, MUCH sooner than 10 years into playing pool.  Right?

Sure, the mechanics of playing pool would have still taken me as long to solidify, but mentally, I could have been so much farther ahead?

I do also wonder had I taken up golf, would my mechanics been more solid sooner?  Following through and staying down are also key to golf, just as in pool.  I do know people who have played golf well in high school or golf now, and they are not running away with pool titles, but I think my mechanics would have been more solid sooner.

Now, don't get me wrong - I LOVE my pool journey and all the amazing different steps and adventures that brought me to a state and national champion in my 40s.  I wouldn't change my path for anything.  I just wonder if there is a benefit for other players who were athletes in high school.

Just for kicks, here's me in high school!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dedicated Pool Playing Friend

A friend of mine picked me up last week for a hike and as I got in her car, I saw this in her car door:

Magic Rack!

Now that's a dedicated pool player!

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! 😀😏"