Monday, September 28, 2009

Non-Tourney Pool Weekend

Wow! What a wonderful pool weekend I had! And yet, I wasn't out of town for a big tournament. What did I do all weekend with no big out-of-town tourney? Well here is a time line:

Thursday night:
It started out Thursday night. I was honored to meet up with a friend of mine, Zaid, at a weekly tourney (at Pockets in Euless, Texas) to catch up with him and also to watch him play. It felt great to get out of the house for a weekly tourney - hadn't done that in a long time (yes, I tend to be a homebody a lot, lol). I saw some fantastic matches and also noticed some new key patterns while I watched the top players of the Fort Worth-area duke it out for the guaranteed first place prize of $200. Chen and Coy Lee would split it. Chase got 3rd and Zaid placed 4th.

Friday night:
I started to watch some of the The Action Report 16 - Oscar Dominguez versus John Morra - on PPV on my laptop at the house. My Internet connection was sucking big time tho and I was getting super frustrated. Argh! Luckily I received a timely call from my friend Ashley (who I refer to as 'Ash' in print) and I asked her, "what time does your tourney start" and she replied, "8pm." It was only 730pm and I had time to get there so I threw a better shirt on and off I went to the Volcanoes Friday night 9-ball tourney.

I played Chase first in the tourney - I missed two shots (one was a push out) and two safes and he won 6-1. Man - that's pretty tough to watch your opponent run and run like that. I saw the same thing the previous night - one miss and the other guy would run out. Chase would end up splitting this tourney with Coy Lee.

I then played Ash next and I was down 3-1 in a race to 4 and realized I wasn't focusing and was thinking of the outcome and so I started to focus on staying down and somehow won. Then I played Todd next. He ran two racks, but a miscue allowed me to the table and I got out. It eventually went hill-hill (3-3) but the fast table gobbled up my cueball before the 9ball, but I felt very good for how well I played and for how well I stayed down. Woo-hoo!

I found out Friday night there was a top straight pool match to be played on Sunday, so I switched my practice day from Sunday to Saturday. I drove up at noon to Rusty's Billiards in Fort Worth and luckily there was one good 9foot left open. Whew! I hit balls by myself for about 2 hours and I was playing well and staying down well. I felt good!

I then missed a straight-in draw shot, so I started to practice my draw shots. I was failing. :( One of the guys at the pool room, Mike, was watching me struggle for a little bit and eventually came over and told me my backhand was gripping super tight when I drew. I told him I could feel that, too. He said he recognized also in his game he did that and the key is to grip loose. We talked about it for a while and then he set up shots for me and I would practice the shots as he watched my stroke, my arm, and my grip. I also sometimes lifted my arm up toward the end of the shot. In my mind, I feel like I need SUPER POWER STRENGTH to draw, lol. I know I don't need that, but couldn't get my body to realize that, lol. I didn't realize how effective a loose grip was for drawing until this day. I know you would think I would already know how to draw - after all these years of playing.. but I couldn't really draw consistently. But I have no problem admitting I have struggled and struggled with my draw shots for years. While I have learned different tips for many years on how to draw effectively, I think this is the key tip for it to all come together. I was able to draw so much better after we spent some time on the loose grip. Obviously this is something I still need to practice, but I was very thankful for his advice. I had just recently been thinking of my desire to learn how to draw well and so the timing was perfect!

Then my good friend Steve and I played ten games of 1 pocket. Oh, how I love 1 pocket! I was able to ask questions and he shared some tips, all the while I'm getting 11-5, lol! It was great learning more about this wonderful game. Then we had an hour left of the "daily weekend pool special" that lasted until 6pm and so we played 10 ball for an hour. We talked about shots during 10 ball, also, and that was awesome.

I felt great! Six hours of fantastic pool! I hadn't done that in ages because of either hospital visits, I had the flu, or was out of town.

Saturday Night:
Got home in time to watch some more of the Oscar John match online. This time my Internet was being cooperative and I was able to watch a lot more.

Met up with my straight pool buddy, Robert, and we watched Paul Guernsey and Mike Grosso duke it out in a race to 150. These top two players in their division were awesome to watch. Robert and I talked about the key balls and break out balls and options while they fought for the 150 balls. Paul was ahead in the beginning about 28 to 17 or so then Mike got a great lead and was up 81 to 51. Then the tides turned and Paul had a 47 run and won 150 to 87 in the end.

What I noticed was these two top players did not get perfect on their break shots every time. It was refreshing to see because I get down on myself for that a lot in my straight pool matches. We also saw some really great safes! These are the best players in town so it was a joy to get to watch them play.

It was a fun-filled pool weekend! And tonight (Monday) I have a straight pool match of my own and so the pool weekend just keeps going and going.

Until next time....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Compartively Speaking...

I received the stats from my straight pool league at the end of August. While it may be too soon to share this, it's still very enlightening! We have been playing for two months. Most people in the league have from 5 to 8 matches under their belt already.

There are three divisions.
  • The Mizerak division peeps play to 75
  • The Crane Division peeps play to 100 (my division)
  • And the Mosconi Division play to 150
Each division plays only the members in their respective division.

Check out these stats!! I love this:

High Run Stats:
  • Mizerak's high runs so far this year range from 9 to 13
  • Crane's high runs range from 12 to 24
  • Mosconi's high runs range from 23 to 58 so far this year!
Wins versus Loses are about the same for all three divisions. However, the Balls per Inning (BPI) are also very telling, like the high runs.

Balls per Inning Stats:
  • The Mizerak's BPI's range from 1.04 to 1.95
  • The Crane's BPI's range from 1.44 to 2.50
  • And the Mosconi's BPI's range from 2.27 to 6.43
Ahh... Straight Pool. :)

Straight Pool Season Opener

I started my second Straight Pool League Season off with a BANG in early August! I had taken two great straight pool lessons from my new straight pool coach (who is AWESOME) and so I felt very confident going into my first match of the season against a guy who was new to the league. Since he was new and I didn't recognize his name, he obviously wouldn't know how to play, would not play well, and I would prolly win.

In my division (the middle division of the league), we race to 100 points.

I show up at the pool room and find the guy who I'm suppose to play. We chit-chat for a few minutes, he asks if I want to hit balls before we play, I answer with my usual response to that question, "nah, we can go ahead and lag now" and off we went.

On my way to the halfway mark (50 points) against this new guy who couldn't play, I am playing SO smart! I was so excited, too! Proud of myself... all that jazz.

I was at 50 and he was at 39. Then he had a run of 15. Going back and forth, I then have a run at 14 and we are sitting me: 78, him: 71.

He then gets one more nice run of 12 in and after a few innings he creeps further than me and wins the match 83-100.

I am SICK! I played so well up until 50, played so smart, and then he just started making more balls. He didn't know straight pool, but it didn't matter to him. So much for me thinking he wasn't going to win or didn't play well (lol).

Admittedly, a couple came in and they prolly affected our game a little. My opponent told the guy, "she's winning now, but it's close." I didn't think it was that close; wth? Then he added, "but I'm gonna win." I knew he was pontificating to save face to the guy that he was losing to a "girl," but he started to play better than I did once that couple came in and started to watch and talk about our match. :(

I was quite upset about losing. On the drive home, I called my straight pool buddy, Robert, and bitched onto his voicemail, all the while waving my hands in the air in disgust as I left a voicemail about my stupid match. Then the next day I wrote a sad email to my straight pool coach about how I lost. He was very happy, though, that I played smart:
"The important thing is, you played the game correctly."
But he knew I was still disappointed I had lost. He said it would be good motivation for me, but at the time I didn't hear the words, I was too sick about the match. :(

He also stated:
"There are guys on tour that have played where they are up 148 to nothing – and LOST! Straight pool is a game that it is NEVER over until that last ball is sunk.When you get out to a lead – protect it. In a lot of ways it's like one pocket – you play the score."

So, I started the season off 0-1. Ugh!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I got spoiled! The World Galveston Classic had matches streamed online for about ten days. I watched it during the afternoons and then when I would come home in the evenings after work or running errands.

Tonight is the first night in ten days it hasn't been on and I miss it! :( It's Monday evening - I'm back from my straight pool league match and there is not a Galveston World Classic match online for me to sweat.... :(

Speaking of the tourney, many people may bad mouth it and I know I complained of the lack of information in the beginning (which I still stand by), but I am very grateful for the free streaming!! Some people complained about no schedule of the stream and focus the camera and blah blah blah. Me? I am grateful I was able to see all the matches I got to see! I saw amazing one pocket, smart 8 ball and exceptional ten ball played by the pros and it was awesome!

I hope learning experiences of the behind-the-scenes of this tourney can be applied so there are future events - that I will try to attend!! I hope it wasn't the only one - it has AMAZING potential, especially now that the first one is under their belt.

Kudos to the World Galveston Classic!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Staying Down Thoughts

Not sure what is going on. Hmmm....

I was thinking I played badly at the Texas Open in the beginning of the tournament because my fundamentals were not solid. Because I didn't stay down well. The Wednesday before the tourney I spent two full hours on the practice table staying down but still felt that was the reason I played badly my first two matches.

Ray, aka BigTruck, recorded many matches from the Texas Open on ustream and I watched two of the matches this morning where my first match was in the background table and guess what? I stayed down! Hmm...

Makes me think I am over thinking this too much.

Doesn't mean I do NOT want to still work on staying down, though - I still think it will help a lot and want to get better at that. I also know that was only one match and in the other matches where I struggled more I might have jumped up more because those matches were mentally tougher.

After my second badly-played match, a friend told me I didn't look "comfortable" at the table in my second match - he couldn't really describe it other than that, but it sure made sense to me for some reason. I took that knowledge and it seemed to really help me in my next matches. I stayed down more instead of rushing my shots and I did indeed feel more comfortable. I think that helped a lot.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Open Distractions

At the Texas Open 9-Ball Championships held at G Cue Billiards in Round Rock, Texas over Labor Day weekend, the weather was not as hot as last year and also the owners of G Cue installed some temporary A/C-type units that also really helped the indoor temps. Compared to last years indoor heat wave, this was like night and day! Even the smoke was less, which was nice.

Here is a pic of the funny-looking A/C vent that helped!

I had a fabulous weekend and it was much needed. I had a lot of fun and learned some good pool tips and enjoyed being around friends. After visiting my Mom in the hospital for 6 weeks, it was nice to mingle among friends, meet new peeps, and get out of the house with my lipstick on. For those that don't get the humor, visiting hospitals is not a place where you dress up a lot.

Mom was well enough for me to spend the weekend at the Texas Open and away I went Friday afternoon. Traffic was terrible, but I still got there in time to hit balls by myself on an open table for an hour before the tables got full. My roomie for the trip, Amanda Lampert (defending champion), wouldn't get there until Saturday but I ate dinner at Texas Roadhouse with friends, Joe, Ashley, Ray and Viet My.

Then back at the pool room I sat with Anita while we watched her hubby Gordy practice with all sorts of great players - Cristina, Zaid, Sylver, HillBilly, etc.

After the Player's Meeting, I found out I received the ever-elusive bye player. I then had to play Hope at about 9pm. We were able to play a little earlier than posted and we got on our way. She made a lot of tough cuts and the match ended up hill hill. I played okay at first but then faltered in the middle but luckily ran out with ball-in-hand the last rack by staying down well to win.

I then played at 1:30pm on Sunday against Julia Rapp. I had many opportunities at the beginning of the match that I did not take advantage of. She eventually out played me the longer we played and her safes hooked me so well, she would get ball in hand and run out. It was a joy to see how much she has improved and loves the game. I think I lost 3-7?

I was very bummed after the match and talked with many people who would listen about how bad I was playing. I got some advice and moved on to my next match.

In my next two matches, I played SO much better and it felt great! But, I admit I also got a lot of rolls. I don't normally feel bad about rolls but in the first match it was pure brutalness for my opponent how many rolls I got. In the match after that, my opponent wasn't into her match and I won that one as well. While I was playing pool better and felt better, it was still kind of weird to win like that.

I then played my dear friend Ashley and I would have to refocus a lot to get back into the match every once in a while and even though I was ahead most of the time, it wasn't by more than a couple of games. She tied it hill-hill and after she missed an 8 ball, I put a lot of left on it to make sure I had good shape on the 9ball, but the lefthand English did not take and I almost scratched! Eeeek! I beared down and stayed down and felt good about the long cut on the 9ball but I missed it and left it sitting in the hole. I wasn't upset tho - I was playing better than when I started the tourney and I placed 5th! I was pretty happy. I was unhappy about the guy who clapped at the rudest times, tho. :( Very unhappy about that.

Ash went on to place 4th and Amanda defended her title and won the tournament! Woo-hoo! Thanks to James Barnett who donated $300 to the women's event! Very nice of him (and helped me earn $150 for 5th along with Julia Rapp). :)

BTW, I was able to ask Joe Salazar and Gary Abood about techniques for me to stay down on my shots and can't wait to get over the flu to try them out! I am excited.

The "backless" waitress everyone was talking about.

The tournament atmosphere difference between this tourney and the Ladies Tour I am on is HUGE. OMG, HUGE! This event is jam packed with people and the spectators are not told they should not be in the playing area. People actually stand on the sidelines or sit in your area if there are chairs. Also, we can text our friends in the middle of matches and people can talk to you and/or your opponent. This is not allowed on the Ladies Tour and I can say how much I TRULY appreciate those nondistractions! Now I see why the rule is in effect - it sure can be a form of sharking and get under your skin.

On the tv table, anyone could sit in the chairs right next to players. Wow! Right next to them in the playing area! In my first match, a friend was trying to talk to me during my match. I finally asked, "can we talk later?" In another one of my friend's match, I texted her a message and she was able to answer me back. Later on, I walked right up to a good friend during her match and interrupted her (I felt so badly). The next day when I played, a guy was leaning against the rail in the playing area! And in my fourth match, people kept talking to my opponent. I vented to a friend and he told me not to worry about it. I didn't let it bother me when I was AT the table, but still. In the last match, Ash and I had a friend who kept talking to us as well. I played okay with the distractions but it sure makes me appreciate the Ladies Tour's spectator rules.

Ray and Juice, on the live Streaming BigTruck Show.

Commentating every now and then on the BigTruck live stream was fun and I wish I would have commentated more but was either playing, resting, or busy watching matches. I really enjoyed commentating with Juice - he's a blast! (he's in the green above).

I am very happy I pulled out of my bad play and was able to "play pool" after all by the end of the tournament. I was also happy to have placed 5th again this year, too. Whew. Makes me think I might know what I am doing. Hmmm.

Tournament Description: Well, if I didn't play well toward the end, my description would not be this, but now I can describe the tourney as: Fun.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Practice Sessions

Several people have asked me either in person or via this blog how I practice, so, I thought I would finally explain (sorry it took so long).

I ALWAYS practice on a 9-foot table. If one isn't open, I wont practice. The exception is: If I am about to play in a big bar table tourney, I instead will practice 8ball on an 8foot table. I do that maybe 4 times a year.

I practice ten ball by myself on a 9foot table.

I TRY very hard to do this at least once a week from 1-3 hours at a time. To be honest, the most I prolly have ever practiced in one week was three and that was rare. Usually it's once a week or if I am lucky, twice a week. I usually go on Sundays or Wed evenings.

I play 10ball to get ready for my 9ball tournaments, but I also conduct this practice routine to help me condition my stroke and pre shot routine.

I randomly place the 2 and 4 balls some-what centered near one end of the table, and the 1, 3 and 5 balls on the other end. This allows me to go back and forth down the table for the first 5 balls. The 6-10 balls I put near the rails and I always randomly freeze 2 of those 5 balls. Sometimes I set it up where one of the frozen balls leads to the next ball that is placed on the other end of the table to where I would have to put extreme English on it to go 3 rails for shape (this is a good shot to practice).

I take ball in hand on the 1 ball and try to run out. I sometimes try and exaggerate my follow-thru and staying down to condition my stroke. I wear an ipod to try and keep peeps from interrupting (but that doesn't always stop the random wanna -be from saying something stupid to me. It also doesn't stop the few "regulars" who have to share some pool story that in reality they are sharing with someone else).

Here are photos I took one day for this blog entry, to show a few racks right before I take ball-in-hand.