Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yoko Joe and Mashi Maro

My friend Yoko Joe, who I luckily run into at many tournaments across Texas (and National tournaments) is a great, fun guy. He's always smiling and he has been playing better and better pool, too!

Here are pics of Yoko and I after we ran into each other in Vegas at the bar:

Yoko and I, at the beginning of the party.

This photo makes me laugh out loud!!!

I noticed that Yoko has this cute little guy hanging from his cue case and I just had to take pics of it to share!! Here is a close up:

The little guy's name is Mashi Maro. Yoko didn't name him that - that's the name on the little guy's butt tag. Turns out, MashiMaro is a kinda famous!

Here are two photos of Yoko, his case, and Mashi:

Yoko joked that sometimes people mistake his case for a female's pool cue case. But he laughs about it and says he claims it proudly. Yoko is so cool!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Biggest Pool-Related Decision (so far) of My Life

The mission of the OB Cues Ladies Tour (and Hunter Classics Tour) has always been

"to provide
a competitive regional tour
for all levels of
amateur lady pool players."

But my own personal mission that drove me as a board member and tournament director was always:

"to provide
an atmosphere
where women
could achieve
their pool dreams."

That became my passion: providing a good tour so the players could reach their dreams. Whether the dream was...
  • winning a tournament,
  • one match,
  • an award,
  • playing with the pros,
  • becoming a pro, or
  • attending as many stops as they could,
I wanted to provide an atmosphere for the players to do that. As the media contact, webmaster and photographer of the tour along with being one of the Tournament Directors, I wanted to provide an enjoyable experience before, after and during the tournaments for the players to be able to strive for their pool dreams.

That's why in mid June it was a shock even to myself that I had decided in my heart I needed to step down from the board. I have been a board member for 9 years and this was not an easy decision for me at all. But, I want to dedicate more quality time right now with my Mom and in order to do that, I need to step away from duties behind the scenes of the tour.

I deeply struggled with the realization of my decision for weeks and weeks; spent many hours talking to friends and colleagues about the decision. For anyone that has stopped one of their passions, you understand the inner struggle.

As the next event approached, I had mixed emotions about the announcement that would be made about my stepping down. However, the week before the tournament, my Mom became very ill and I had to admit her to the hospital. She would stay in the hospital for over a week due to heart and lung problems and my decision (and the announcement) was no longer a worry - my mind and heart were where it needed to be - with my Mom. I was not able to attend that tournament, but follow my friends on the online brackets!

The best part so far of my OWN pool career has been seeing the players reach their pool dreams, and helping the fans of the tour watch that happen. I have gained many valuable learning experiences being a board member but what I will cherish most is being able to provide an atmosphere where the players could reach their own pool goals.

I will miss being a part of the board, but I will still be a part of the BEST Tour Family!

Fourth Ladies Tour Stop of 2009

The 4th stop of the OB Cues Ladies Tour was held in mid June at Bogies Billiards in Houston, Texas.

Monica running the tourney.

After an opening round bye, I had to play my roommate for the trip and fellow board member, Lucille Donahue. Lucille has not been feeling well for almost two years so it was really good to finally see her. I was playing okay when I played her, but we also chatted a lot during the match. :)

Here is Lucille and I right before dinner.

I then found out I was playing Orietta Strickland - a very good player from Dallas. And on top of that, I found out I would be playing on the live streaming table. I prepared myself mentally and told myself I would need to focus and play well to beat her. Well, I did! I had a few racks where I ran out from the 1 or 2 and was playing quite well. I didn't get ahead of myself and if I faltered with my thinking, I told myself to get back in the moment. She did miss one 8 ball and a safe, but overall I did play better. I think I won 7-3. Even her fiance', Bert Kinister, told me after the match that I played well. Wow!

Camera-happy, Amanda and I.

After the match, several fellow players and friends complimented me on the good win and because I was myself a little "wowed" I think it didn't allow me to focus on my next match.

I played Lisa Marr next and it was like night and day. I wasn't mentally into the game and funny things kept happening - I scratched about 4 times and pretty much gave the match away. Matches with her go very fast and I wasn't able to regroup in time and start playing my game. Plus, she is one of the top players of the tour and so she didn't make many mistakes. I think I expected to do better, instead of mentally ensuring I would (if that makes sense), because of the good win earlier. I ended up losing 2-7 or 3-7. :( I definitely was not mentally strong in this match.

I was then set to play for 9th place on Sunday morning, so at least I was still in the main tourney on Sunday!

Saturday night, a group of us went to eat at the delish Texas Roadhouse where we also celebrated Carter and Monica's B Day with a little fake bull riding!

Monica and Carter on the Birthday Bull!

Waiting for our table of ten to be ready.

Sunday morning I played my friend Elissa Jordan first. I won 7-4. I played some good safes that helped me win the match.

I then played Kim Pierce next - this would mean either finishing in 7th place or moving on to play for 5th.

Here I am playing on Sunday.

I ran out nice on the first game but scratched on a tough 9 ball (but it was two-rail scratch shot I realized afterwards, lol). Next game I left a 2-9 combo. Next game I missed an 8 ball. I was down 0-4 and told myself DO NOT give up. DO NOT think about how I gave those games away. Focus on staying down. I ended up crawling back to 4-3 when a scratch on the 1-ball gave her ball in hand and she ran out! Ugh. I tried not to get deflated and tied it 5-5. She got on the hill first and then I joined her by staying down and taking my time and feeling pureness of my proper shot routine. At 6-6, I hooked myself on the 2ball but kicked it... however left her a shot. She shot in the 2-4balls and by the 5ball she was sitting pretty and getting great shape to run out the rack to win and she did. I was very proud of her but also proud of myself for not giving up when I was down 0-4!

So, 7th outta 44 players.

To return to describing my overall feelings of the tournament in one word (that I seem to keep forgetting to do), I will say with this tournament I was delighted but surprised!

Check out all the photos here.

As I drove home alone for the 4 hour drive in the early evening, I realized my mind, attitude, and spirit were extremely tired. And, I didn't know... but because of that the next week I would make a big change.

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Playing Really Well, Instead of Playing Pool

My friend Monica asked me what I meant by this statement from a previous blog article :

“playing really well, instead of playing pool”

We talked about it via email and she said I could share what we discussed because she recapped it well. Below is part of our discussion.

Here is the excerpt from the blog:

" thing you know I am up 5-3! I was playing SO well -
but I recognized in my head I was playing really well, instead of playing pool."
(I ended up losing that match 6-7)

"Playing really well, instead of playing pool" in this context in the middle of a match means to me:

Being too confident and thinking during a match that you can do no wrong. When you think this way and are ahead in the match – be careful! You think the match is in the bag and that’s not good. You get so in tune with playing well and thinking you are going to win that you can completely forgot about the fundamentals. You focus on "it's in the bag" and "man, I'm playing good!" instead of playing pool to finish out the match.

Sometimes when you recognize you are playing really well, it turns your attention from your fundamentals and you forget to continue to focus on playing pool. You get a high from recognizing you are playing well, but that interferes with your game because you are thinking about how well you are playing.

It's similar to: when you are playing well and don't recognize it, but someone says to you "wow, you are playing good!" then all of a sudden you start to think about it and then mistakes happen. It gets your eye off the ball so to speak. As a matter of fact, some people are so aware of this, they try and use it as a sharking technique - b/c they know it will throw someone's game off (especially if their opponent is in the zone). They know their opponent starts to think about that and not their fundamentals and then they start playing not as good.

I have many times lost matches because I thought about how well I was playing instead of focusing on my pre shot routine and fundamentals. If you can train your mind to recognize when you start to do this, then you can refocus your mind back to shooting pool, not to how well you are playing pool.

Good luck!

Monday, July 13, 2009

First Season of Straight Pool League

My first straight pool league season in the "Volcanoes Straight Pool League" ended in May (2009) and while I am happy with my results, I know I can do better with a little more knowledge and more experience. I played 8 matches.


First: Lost 95 to 100. High run was 12 in 52 innings.
Second: Lost 77 to 100. High run was 8 in 48 innings.
Third: Won 100 to 77. High run was 10 in 69 innings.
Fourth: Won 100 to 70. High run was 12 in 39 innings.
Fifth: Lost 96 to 100. Ouch. High run was 7 in 63
Sixth: Lost 73 to 100. This guy should be in another division. lol. High run was 14 in 32 innings
Seventh: Won 100 to 79. High run was 11 in 53 innings
Eighth: Won 100 to 93. High run was 10 in 40 innings
(Practice with my good friend, Robert: Won 100 to 123. High run was 15 in 56 innings)

In my Division (called The Crane Division after Irving Crane), we have statistics for three Top 5's. Top 5 in wins/losses, high runs, and balls made per inning (BPI). I made it in the Top 5 in two of them! Of course, we only had 10 players, and one of them had to quit in the middle of the season. But, I was 4th in BPI and 5th in wins/losses.


Before this, I only played a handful of times by alone two years ago and a handful of times sparring with my ex. Neither of us knew the rules, lol.

Volcanoes Straight Pool League Info:

I like this league for several reasons:
  • You contact the players in your division and set up a time to play. It's not set on a certain day of every week - this provides much flexibility and usually you play about 4 people each month for three to four months.
  • We get to play for free when we play our match (the host pool room is Volcanoes in Hurst, Texas).
  • We get a small laminated pocket-sized sheet of the rules.
  • We take score with a really cool score sheet that easily shows high runs, fouls, and innings.

I just mailed in my sign-up for the next season that is to start this month (July). I obviously feel I can beat my high run of 15. Can I double it this season? I do not know, but I'd like to make a goal to try and to triple it by a year from now.

Bad Call

I was running a quarterly tournament at Rusty's Billiards (see all the pics here) and I was also the ref at times. I was there over 12 hours and it was a treat to see the guys and gals play so well and I saw some really great matches and I had front row seats to the action. My friend Barbara helped me run the tournament and it was fun to hang around her and chat all day.

Chen (always on of the top picks), Barbara (co-helper) and Tara Williams (friend and great player).

Me, writing down match results.

Father and son! Thomas Gomez, Jr. and Thomas Gomez, Sr. They both played in the tournament.

Father and Son! Ralf Cortez and his son. Ralf played in the tournament.

Late in the day, one of the players called me over to call a shot. The 8ball was close to the 6ball. Player A was shooting the 8ball and was down 0-2 in a race to three. Player B is the one who called me over to watch the shot. Player A hit the 8ball/6ball cluster and made the 8ball. I called a good hit.

The tournament chart was only one table over so I could hear the two players talking before they racked for the next game. Player B said, "I know I called a ref and I will go by what the ref said, but do you think that was a good hit?" Player A stammered and said finally, "no." I felt terrible! I thought it was a good hit, but as I thought about the reaction of the 6ball and after discussing it with Player B, I did indeed call the shot incorrectly. :(

I realize now I should have been standing behind the player to see it better. I felt bad I called a wrong hit and apologized several times to Player B. Player A put his cue up and left - he was already down and probably knew it would be tough to beat this guy anyway but I still felt bad for the whole situation; Player B said again, "well, I called you over and would have stuck by your ruling but still asked him what he thought - we both knew it was a bad hit based on the reaction of the 6ball."

I wonder how many times this happens? Refs have to make quick decisions about quick shots. I learned I should take my time, maybe think about how the balls should react and also get in a better position for those type of shots. I should have probably also taken a ref class by now, too.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why Trigger?

My "handle" on the AZB Forums is "akaTrigger." When you sign up, you get to pick a name! I know, it's exciting, right?! I picked "Melinda" (well, that IS my name) back in March of 2003 and went on my merry way until Nov 2007 when I changed it to akaTrigger.

Many have asked me why I'm called "Trigger." So, here is the background:

I had been looking for a nickname for many years. In the late 90s, Tracie Hines' husband called me "The Quiet Storm" and it was PERFECT. I loved it! I am a meteorologist and was looking for a weather-related nickname, but eventually Jeannie Seaver was also being called that b/c she was from Florida. Her and I are friends and she was turning pro (I was no where close), so I went back to the drawing board.

Little did I know it would take almost 8 years to find a new one I liked.

Like everyone said, the good nicknames usually came someone else, usually spur of the moment type of thing in a pool hall. My experience was no different.

I went to a new tournament in Oct 2007 and the Tournament Director (Dennis) yells across the room during my first match, "Way to go, Trigger!" He had bought me in the calcutta and was happy for my win. I was like, "oh my - I love that!" He didn't know I was looking for a nickname, but I liked it!  I also had no idea at the time it had anything to do with Roy Rogers and his horse, lol.

I thought about it for a few weeks and decided I really did want that as my nickname. Now some may ask, "why do you need a nickname, who the hell are you?" And while I didn't need one, nor had I won any major titles, the idea of a nickname was cool to me.

I then went to the fine folks on the forums to ask them what I should change my handle to because there was already a "Trigger" signed up. Well, one of my AZB forum friends, Pinocchio, replies simply, "akaTrigger!!"

There were many other replies/suggestions:

The Trigger,
Melinda the Trigger,
Trigger Happy,
The Texas Trigger,

and of course many suggestions for weather-related nicknames were offered, but none hit home with me like Trigger (even though many remind me that Trigger was actually a stuffed horse!).

So, there you have it - the story behind the story of akaTrigger. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009


With the 3-day holiday weekend this past weekend (Independence Day), I took advantage of finding time to practice!

As I mentioned in my previous blog write-up, I had wanted to play some one pocket. After two hours of practicing ten ball by myself while listening to my ipod, I was able to play one pocket with Carlos on Friday afternoon. Carlos is about 77 years old (looks like he is in his 50s, though) and evidently was one hellova player in the 60s and 70s.

Then on Sunday, after an hour of ten ball by myself, I was able to play one pocket with my good friend Steve.

Friday I didn't fair so well at one pocket but on Sunday I played much tighter and was able to see the cueball placement much better.

I played ten ball okay in Friday but struggled on Sunday for some reason. BUT, practicing and playing felt so good!!