Sunday, August 31, 2008

End of Day One, Texas Open

Well, the end of Day One came and went. There were a LOT of matches all day long! Whew. I also was able to put some of the photos online finally. Here are two sets:

Photos most of Day One:

End of Day One and this afternoon:

I played my 11pm match (yes, that's not a typo, Eleven PM). Before hand, I went back to the room and rested in front of the tube. I had a bad headache from the smoke (I think) or because I was online all day updating things (LOL) but I took some Aleve, rested my little head, changed into cooler clothes and headed back to the tournament to face my competitor.

Me working on the laptop.

I played Jennifer Kraber that night. She's a really good friend of mine, but she put on her ipod and I put on my mental toughness hat, and we got to business.

I played okay at first, but got out of line a lot, but then had chances to get back to the table and capitalized. I finally beared down and started playing well the last two or three games. In the middle, I had some chances from her scratches and such, and also made two 9-ball combos. So, I guess you could say I got the rolls.

I then updated the brackets, took a few more photos, got me some yummy Burger King, and then climbed into the cool sheets of the bad hotel. I drank some Alka Seltzer Plus and boy did I go to sleep!

I am here now again at the tournament, taking photos and updating the brackets and meeting new friends. I want to go rest again before I play at 9pm, but many good matches are coming up that I want to take photos of for the pool fans. We'll see what happens.

I do have a tough match ahead of me. I hope I play well - not too much to ask for but will it happen? My opponent (Amanda Lampert) is also my great friend and road partner, but she is playing well and just won her last match to zero. IF I get chances from her, I hope to play the shots well. I need to remember to have fun! I just remembered that - how funny. LOL

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Texas Open, Middle of Day One

We made it safely. 35th Annual Texas Open. Whew! History is being made! Got checked in and then headed to the pool hall. I called in all 128 players of the Open event to my partner, Mike Howeton, on Friday night. Check them out! OMG that's a lot of names to spell!

Paul Blank and Lewis Jones are running a good tournament for the owner's of G Cue Billiards, Gary and Kevin Welling. Of course, I'm also trying to give them all a hard time and make their jobs tougher! :)

There's a thread going on the forums of by Ray Hanson - kind of like a blog of his trip to and during the event. Check it out here.

The Player's Meeting ended about midnight or so and then I played two races, one to 7 and the other to 3, to get used to the fast 9foot tables. I lost 5-7 and then won 3-1. I feel good about the tables, but I still need to SHOW UP to my matches and maybe even have a little lady luck on my side for the draw. Can someone pull BYE for me?! LOL

The Player's Meeting for the Ladies will be within an hour. Eek, scared! I get a little nervous in tournaments with "titles" attached to them. lol!

Here are some photos to enjoy:

Amanda ("the Natural") and Tara ("Fire Cracker")

Viet My and Chen!

Me ("akatrigger"), taken by Amanda

Players at the tournament chart.

Friday, August 29, 2008

On my way to the Texas Open

G Cue Billiards, host of the Texas Open, Labor Day Weekend 2008, in Round Rock, Texas

Amanda Lampert and I will be heading down to the Texas Open later this afternoon. She's driving; I'm scared!

I am finishing things up at work, my hands and arms match (LOL!), I watched a little of the AWESOME Player Review Match between Buddy Hall and Grady Matthews last night, and although apprehensive about how I might play the game I love this weekend, am excited to get out of town for a few days and hang out with friends I haven't seen in a while.

Me and Amanda

I believe I will be putting the brackets online (at, so when they are up, I will post again... which may not be until Saturday morning. I also plan to take photos. When will I have time to play in the women's division? lol.

Friday, August 22, 2008

OB Stop in College Station

Going with my unorthodox idea of using one word to begin my blog entry about my regional tournaments (which is getting tougher each time, I would like to use two word descriptions starting next year *smile*), here is how I feel about this most recent ladies tourney: finicky

I started off playing a good friend (Manager of Rusty's Billiards, Tracie Voelkering) of mine who ran the entire rack after my dry break. "Eeek," I thought to myself as I watched her run the second rack... but she didn't get out that time and I luckily was playing okay enough to win that game and several others to win the match 7-4. At 4-1 me, time seemed to stand completely still and boy did it take a while to get over the hump and win my fifth game. But, eventually, I recognized I wasn't bearing down and finally put my mental toughness hat back on and played well to win.

I then played fellow board member Julie Stephenson who stung me bad the last time we played and so I was on edge wanting to play well this match with her. I also wanted to make it to the next round (badly!) and that didn't help matters. I got some disturbing news right before I played and tried with all my might to not let it affect my game, but I also knew from past experience that the extra adrenaline racing through my veins wasn't necessarily a bad thing (as long as I kept it tempered). I capitalized on her mistakes (she normally doesn't make them) and I won 7-3. Whew!

I then played Belinda Lee and we both struggled so much it was down right embarrassing at times (hope no one videotaped us secretly, LOL!). What should have been a hill-hill match was instead me winning 7-5. I was pretty displeased with this match and the one before because I wasn't playing well and wasn't getting out "when I am suppose to." It was disheartening after all the practice time and weekly tournaments, but it just makes me more determined.

However, this meant I was still on the "winner's side" until Sunday. I wanted to do well in this event to help me in the points race, so this was great news.

I ate Chilli's for dinner but didn't sleep well at all, but knew I would still be okay the next day b/c lack of sleep doesn't affect me until the following next day. I ate my two strawberry yogurts again for breakfast and helped set up the tournament table and at 10am I proceeded to have a chance every game and yet fell on my little face and lost 0-7! WOW. I played bad, bad, bad. But, Lisa Marr played really good and she even ended up winning the tournament!

I then watch my friend Amanda lose a tricky match to Ricki Lee Casper, whom I get to play next. I was pretty numb going into the match (which is a good thing for me), remembering also that Amanda told me to get out of my head that I was playing bad and to my surprise, I played very well. :) I missed one key easy 8ball (and will work on that shot later) but other than that, I played pretty sporty. I lost hill-hill... she ran out the last game, but I also had a break and run in that match and that felt great. It felt really good to rebound from that previous skunking to play well in this match. :)

So, I placed 5th.

I moved up in the points from 7th to 6th. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but it means a lot to little 'ole me.

Amanda and I took photos at the tournament and they are here. Here is one of me, right before I broke, my chalk fell on the floor:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Played Rusty's Better

I played in two more Rusty's Billiards weekly tournaments. The matches and nights are starting to blur into each other because I played so many matches, but the second tourney I describe below has more details (of course, that makes for a longer read, which you may want to simply move on to something else right now. LOL).

Chicks still play free all day and night on Mondays(!), so I practiced on the 9 foot table and was playing badly, still reeling from my bad performance from the previous day and last Tuesday, but with a big women's tournament coming up this weekend, there was no time for breaks - only work! I wasn't going to play in the Monday night tourney but as I talked to Curt (who helps me with my game) about my disappointment and frustration in recent play, I for some reason say "yes" when Joey asks me if I want to sign up to play that night in the tourney. He almost fell down because it's the first time in 5 or 6 years I have played in the Monday night tourney!

I play a new guy first who bitches the whole time about being tired. I beat him 4-0. It's a race to 4, non-handicapped 9ball on 8foots. My next match is against Curt and I lose 0-4. I think I had two whole chances that match - that I promptly dogged. I win another match or two (can't remember the details or who I played for some reason) but I played good but then I lose to Tony Ewart who also walks all over me, running out like he is suppose to. I did play much better than the previous two tournaments though and felt pretty good about my performance. I was even there until midnight and was able to sign up for Tuesday's big tournament. :) In between my matches, I played on the 9foot table with MC and Curt and then some onepocket with Curt and Steve. It was fun to let loose a little and take off my serious practice face.

On Tuesday, the place is packed as I fly through the doors at 7:58pm - cutting it way too close! I play right away and win 4-0 against Richard. This is a handicap tournament and I go to 4. I then play Curt again and I am realizing our discussion from Monday has put me in a good frame of mind. I win the first two games by playing well and capitalizing on his mistakes. He has to reach 7 games to claim victory. I try a carom on the 9 and miss and he gets to 3 games from that mistake (eek!). 2-3 (ugh). He misses early a game later and I run out nicely. When I make my mistakes or miss my safes, I explain my reasoning's to him (like he cares in the middle of a match that I am leading in, LOL). He starts playing really well and has some nice runs and safes and gets on the hill with me 3-6. He is running out a beautiful rack hill-hill and a fluke scratch in the side pocket on the 8 leaves me stunned with the win.

I then play Tony Ewart next - another good player - who I told earlier in the night, "at some point I will beat you in my life." We are on the front table and he makes too many mistakes and I win 4-0. I did play good and had some really nice runs though that match. Wow! I bared down and focused on making the ball, seeing the runs, not taking things for granted. As my friend Heather Lloyd would say, "getting out like I'm suppose to."

Then the break contest happened - I wasn't called *frown*- but TJ Davis was called but scratched in the corner on the break! Ugh! I taped it with my phone, but there's nothing to show now. :(

I then played Chen - one of the top players in North Texas. I had three chances and dogged them all! I lost 7-0. He runs the table with ease and if you've ever heard of the phrase that the table is a pool players canvas, well, he plays the table like he is a painter and the felt is his canvas of beautiful brush strokes. It was awesome to watch, really.

Then I played my other helper next, Steve Game. He has helped me a lot with my game, though we haven't practiced lately because he has been in action a lot. He told me early in the night he read my blog that day (hi Steve!) and I didn't know he even knew I had one. Anyhow, we play and I have to go to 4 and he has to go to 7. I make some mistakes the first two games and he wins those but after that, he simply ran out from everywhere the next 5 games! It was amazing. Running racks that seemed tough, he would make with ease. He was free stroking and making everything. I made a 9 on the break though and got out two more times nicely to join him on the hill 3-6. I was running out the last rack and didn't get back up table far enough for the 6. I banked it nicely but missed it just by a hair trying to hold the cueball for shape and he got out easily. But, I felt good I didn't get down when I was down and I started to make my move when I had chances toward the end of the match.

I placed 5th out of 32! Not "in the money," but last lady again like last night and so I got my entry fee back ($10).

It felt good to play well and run some racks that I was suppose to get out. I don't want to be overly cocky going into the weekend, though, just because I played well in two weekly, mostly-men tournaments. I do truly hope I play well, though. Having fun is key, staying down, also, but I would like to focus on three ball shape this weekend. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just More Losses and a Cool Dog

Weekly Tourney:

I played at the Tuesday weekly tournament at Rusty's in Fort Worth on August 5th. The one that has that HUGE break contest (that STILL wasn't busted that night!).

I hit balls by myself on the 9 foot table - something I so enjoy doing - for only about an hour. I was lucky one of the 9foots was open for me to be able to do this. On the other 9foots, Dave Faver is playing Mike Hoang of Omega Billiards some one pocket, Daniel is playing Damian the same game (but a different spot, obviously) and the other 9foot had some bangers on it. The place is packed with players reeling at the idea that their name may be called in a few hours to break for that big ole pot of hot cash for the break contest.

My first match is called on the second 8 foot table. I can't say I feel as comfortable playing nineball against guys as I do playing eightball, but there I was, and, well, it showed. I missed an 8 and a 7 and with the two combo's made by my opponent (who I think I'm suppose to beat) I lose. I played bad; I jumped up; blah blah blah. I felt like the whole world was watching, and a few people mentioned to me they noticed I was breaking a lot (which meant I was losing, because it was loser breaks, LOL). There are people sitting everywhere and people milling around watching match ups or matches.

I then play my friend Norm, whom is a really nice guy, and he made mistakes and I capitalized on them. He was on the unfortunate end of a dog bite to his bridge thumb and so he doesn't play as well as he used to. :( I then played Maria, one of the women's tour regulars and friend, and because we are both rated a 4, we raced to 3. I think I won 3-0, but maybe 3-1.

I then play one of the best players there, Corey Anderson, who I have been talking to about how well he stays down on his shots. He has to go to 7, I still have to go to 4. Well, let's just say I was proud of my two whole games. Know how I made them? Luckily, I break well and made the nineball twice on the break. Yes my friends, that was how I won those two little, itty, bitty, games. All I needed was two more games, but my opponent is too good and when you miss one shot, that's what happens. Yes - I missed one shot. Count 'em, uno. He breaks the second game, I roll out, he runs out. 1-1. I break dry the next game, he runs out. 1-2. I make the 9 ball, so he gets to break again and runs out. 2-3. I finally try and run out the next game, but miss my safe and he gets out. 2-4. One more roll out and two more dry breaks and he runs each of those tables. 2-7. It really was a joy to witness the runs, but still tough sitting on the bench the whole time. It just proves to me I need to work more. LOL.

Next Tournament:

Rusty's in Arlington has their anniversary party and an 8ball tournament on 8foots the very next Sunday (August 10th) and I wake up early enough to decide to play in it. 34 players or so and I draw a guy who I hadn't seen in probably 6 years. I missed two shots - one in each of the first two games. Missed opportunities! Ugh!! I don't let it affect my game, but I am very disappointed in myself. I then bare down and broke and ran! He breaks dry the next game, and I run again! Ah ha! Tied 2-2. Race to 3. This break, however, he makes a ball on his break and runs out to the 8 ball. He gets jacked up over a ball, I think to myself, "he could miss this," and he rattles it. I see all my balls on the table, staring back at me. I see a tough cut on one of the stripes or a long straight shot on a different stripe down the table. My instinct tells me to cut the stripe, but I get down on the straight in shot - knowing full well that's not my best shot in the world, and I yes....miss it. ;) He makes that stupid black solid sitting in the hole and then explains to me, "I told myself if you cut that ball in, you'd win." I guess he felt my instinct, too. lol.

I then play a new girl next and win 2-0, but she is really gonna be something one day if she sticks with it. I then play Jason (nicknamed "Juice" for some reason); he had just run the players auction very impressively and so I gave him kudos about it while someone says to him in passing, "how'd you get on the loser's side?" Which makes me realize, 'oh, he can play, too.' I really screwed up my pattern to get out the first game and he runs out after my miss. Ugh! The next game was embarrassing for both of us as we both missed a lot but I eventually ran out after a miscue and foul by him (whew). 1-1, one game left in the race to 2 of this one-loss side bracket. The next game he breaks and runs a really tough out. There I was, there I went.

So, the loses were pretty tough. Miss opportunities. Missed shots. Missed outs. Disappointing and frustrating. I can't WAIT to get to the practice table!!

Another Meaning for Ice Bucket:

It's Texas, it's the Summer. It's down right f'ing hot! But, because it was hot, I saw the coolest thing at this tournament! As I mentioned, this was the Anniversary Party for Rusty's Billiards. One of the owners, Jeff, has this really cool and VERY smart dog. Jeff was cooking outside all the free food (hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken I think, chili, etc.) and his awesome dog was outside with him. Jeff put out a small kiddy pool and put a fan in front of it. Cleverly, Jeff puts ice in the kiddy pool. This smart dog, gets into the kiddy pool when Jeff refills it with the ice! He doesn't even need to coerce the dog into the plastic blue tub, the dog is smart enough to know when the ice gets poured into the pool, he steps right in, and lays down. It was the coolest thing! And, here's the proof:

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rusty's August 8Ball Tourney

Well, for the last two quarterly tournaments at Rusty's Billiards, I helped co-run a smooth ship at the tournament while the employees and managers could focus on the patrons. Well, this particular Sunday, I decided to play myself this time.
So, after taking up sign ups, helping with the player auction, doing the draw, and then calling out some matches, I took photos during my lucky ducky bye. All the photos are here:

I never know if the photos are even gonna be liked or checked out, but I read a few comments on the AZB forums about them and players seem to like them so that is awesome. Sometimes I get a few complaints ("that's not my best side," or "there's not enough of me," or "how come you didn't take my photo") and I deal with those as they come. It's a tough juggling act sometimes, but my intent is always to provide an opportunity for players and fans to check out an event and the players in it.

Mike Voelkering, co-tournament director with me, and husband to Rusty's manager Tracie Voelkering

I sneak a peek at the chart and notice after my bye I will probably play Jose Zaragosa next. He just won the monthly tournament at Clicks in Waco (good win!) and he is a previous Seniors champion at the BCA Nationals. So, I knew it would be tough, but I wanted to SO BADLY play well and smart and show him I can play. I joke with him all the time about matching up with him or playing scotch with him, so this would be the first time I could really show my skills. Luckily, I LOVE 8 ball. :)

The first game I ran out after his miss. Second game, he ran out after my miss. Third game, I ran out after one of his mistakes. 2-1. Fourth game, I break out a ball and am so excited that my ball barely goes by, that I dog it thinking about shape and "is it really gonna go by." OMG! Instead of being up 3-2, it's tied again 2-2. He hooks himself running out and I get out. 3-2. In the next game, we play safe back and forth and I finally get a shot, but it's a tough one for me, and I miss! Another failed opportunity. Ugh. Tied 3-3. He gets on the hill first but I tie it up 4-4. On the last game, he hooks himself on his last ball and I get ball in hand. I play a touch shot and I accidentally don't make a ball or hit a rail. Oops! Sheat! He makes his two balls for the win and tells me I played good, though and he was impressed. Yay! Success!

Me, trying to run out.

Next up is my first one-loss side match and I play pretty good and capitalize on his mistakes and win 4-0 or 4-1.

I then play a newbie (I was told later) and a friend of the guy I just beat. I made many mistakes but eventually won hill hill because he wasn't a closer yet and was too concerned about playing a girl in front of his friends (I am guessing).

I then played Tony Ewart next. He only missed one ball in his loss to the real-good-player Ralph Cortez. They went hill hill. I have also seen him place really high in regional events, so I knew I would have my hands full, but I didn't play up to par. :( I missed a too-close-to-the-object-ball-for-me shot to win one of my games, and also missed a carom to mess up his ball and that cost me, too. So, I lost 4-2 or 4-1. But, I enjoyed watching from my seat his patterns.

Eventual winner, TJ Davis and my formidable opponent, Jose Zaragosa, in the background.

It was a great tournament and I can't wait for the next one! I have wanted to start playing in more men's tournaments and I am happy I took the plunge with this tournament in my back yard. Of course, it helps the entry fee was a decent price. :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bustamante and Fong-Pang Video

Belinda Campos Calhoun covered the Challenge of Champions tournament at the ESPN Zone in 2001. I saw her about a month after this tournament and she was telling me about the matches, as she pulled out this piece of paper that had all these notes about kicks, shots, jumps, safes, etc., on it. She was very excited about what she witnessed - little did I realize until the end of the conversation that all those notes and shots she was talking about were all in one game! She said it was one of the most amazing games she's ever seen. It turns out it was also a sudden death tie breaker in the finals (for $50,000). WOW! And here is the video. Hope you enjoy it.

Chao Fong-Pang vs. Francisco Bustamante, 2001 International Challenge of Champions, final, sudden death tiebreaker:

Friday, August 1, 2008

What a Break Contest!

At the pool room where I practice, Rusty's Billiards in Fort Worth, Texas, they have this break contest with their Monday and Tuesday night tournaments. I never, honestly, gave it much thought, until I was practicing on an abnormal-for-Melinda-playing-on-a-Tuesday-night on July 22nd. I'm hitting balls on the 9-foot table by myself with my ipod on, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I realize the place is packed and all these people I hadn't seen in a while, much less seen play in the weekly tournament, are milling around.

Someone comes up to me to say hi (he's not intimidated by my ipod) ;) and I ask him, "what are you doing here? I didn't know you played in this tournament?" He then explains that the break contest is high enough to bring him out to play because he has a chance to win a lot of money. (Ironically, he's the one called that night to break, but doesn't make a ball on the break! Wow - so close!).

I was so intrigued (people keep talking about, players from Dallas are showing up, and the tournament filled by 6pm this past Tuesday [ it doesn't start until 8pm! ]), so I decided to look into all the nitty gritty details and get the scoop on every angle of this contest everyone keeps talking about. Here it goes:

The Tournament:
  • The Tuesday night tournament at Rusty's is a handicapped nineball tournament on 8foot tables.
  • The entry is $10, they limit it to the first 32 players paid.
  • Rusty's Billiards adds $50 if more than 16 enter the tournament.
  • They will add $25 if 16 or less play.

Raffle Tickets:

  • Every entrant into this Tuesday night tournament gets one raffle ticket.
  • That one raffle ticket is really for a dollar - they put the dollar in the pot and the raffle ticket in a bucket. Therefore, $9 of every entrant goes to the tournament payouts.
  • Raffle tickets are $1 per ticket, and players in the tournament can buy as many raffle tickets as they want to.
  • The break and run contest on Monday is a separate pot and raffle than the one on Tuesday. The Monday break and run contest is currently kind of low (it was busted a few weeks ago).

The Break:
  • Only one name is picked per Tuesday.
  • If your name happens to be picked, you break a rack of nine on the 8foot table.
  • If you make any ball on the break and don't scratch, you get to try and run out.
  • For every ball made AFTER the break, you get the amount of money per ball that equals the pot size divided by nine.
  • If you make the nineball on the break, you get paid for that ball automatically, but any other ball on the break, you don't get paid for, BUT, you get to continue shooting and have a chance to run out!
  • So, to be clear, to get paid for all nine balls, you'd have to make the nine on the break and then run out the rest of the rack.
  • If you make two balls on the break and run out the other 7 on the table, you get paid for those 7 balls made.

The Carry Over:
  • Rusty's does not take any money out of the nineball break pots or from the tournament entry fees.
  • Whatever is left in the break contest pot, is carried over to the next Tuesday.
  • The tickets raffled off that night are not carried over to next Tuesday, only the money.

The break and run pot for August 5th is a record-breaking $3,122!!! That's BEFORE ticket sells on Tuesday! I heard one crazy rumor that almost $500 was bought in raffle tickets just recently by the tournament players on a Tuesday night! Yep, many, many players want extra chances to get their little red raffle ticket picked!

The tournament is filling up so fast, there are now new rules to enter - sign up begins at 5pm on Tuesday and you have to be there with money in-hand, no call-ins are accepted any longer. This past Tuesday, 32 players entered, 16 were on the waiting list!

Also, Tracie Voelkering, the manager at Rusty's, says that they always add $50 to the break and run pot when/if it gets busted.

So, let's do the math! 3,122/9 = $346.88 a ball! For every ball you make (after making a ball on the break), you would get that amount per ball. WOW!

That one night, as I said above, my friend didn't make a ball on the break. This week, another friend made a ball on the break, but couldn't see the 1ball (tho try as he might, he sure made a valiant attempt at kicking it in!). So, the pot carried over again. I am gonna try and play this coming up Tuesday. I think I might be too nervous and would miscue on the break, if they happen to pull my name, LOL!