Thursday, April 29, 2010

April One Pocket

Well, I'm slacking. :( One of my goals for 2010 to play one pocket at least once a month is about to be a big fat FAIL. Eeek. However, I decided to mix TWO goals into one and I think I might have saved the day! Yay. :)

One of my other goals is to watch a DVD once a month, and even though I already accomplished it this month (April) when I watched the phenomenal John Schmidt DVD How I Run 100's (read my review here), I decided earlier this week since I had yet to play one pocket this month, I will at least watch a DVD of a one pocket match.

So, last night I grabbed my personal copy of the Pool Hall Master Movie and proceeded to watch for the first time the One Pocket match that is added as a second DVD when you buy the movie.

Two talented and professional one pocket players race to 8 for a few thousand and the match is commentated BY them. It was awesome to get inside their head and hear WHY they shot what. Many times, the reason for shooting a certain shot is 3-fold! That's why I love one pocket so much - challenging and creative!

The players also talked some about pressure - which was interesting to hear that they are very aware of their opponents scratches, ball count, who broke, etc. They recognize when to add more pressure in the game and/or match. I always wondered if pro players were aware of situations like this and they do indeed sometimes turn up the heat during certain times or played a certain way because of ball counts and emotions of the other player.

Even though I technically didn't PLAY one pocket, at least it got absorbed into my brain last night with this awesome match. :)

BTW, I strongly feel that player reviews are the BEST matches to watch on dvd!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'll Take a Shot of Scotch

I think quite differently than most peeps when it comes to preparing for scotch doubles 8-ball tournaments. Most people practice with their scotch doubles partner, right? Well, I don't.

8Ball is a beautiful game - break outs, nudges, safety play, run outs, carom shots, etc. In my crazy-a$$ mind, I truly believe if you both already know 8ball well, why do you need to practice together?

This doesn't mean I do NOT prepare for 8ball, though! On the contrary, I meet up with one the top 8ball players in my city for 8ball learning sessions before big 8ball events. We go over every shot in detail, every decision, and why. I love it!

Many players in the Open Scotch Doubles blame their poor showing on: "my partner and I didn't get to practice enough." I proudly reply (which may be rude, but it isn't my intention), "we didn't practice at all" as we cash in our check.

I realize there are many reason TO practice together - know each others patterns, figure out if there are shots they prefer or dislike, get a little team spirit built up, etc. So, I'm not discounting it for others - this is just a little quirk I have about Scotch Doubles I thought I would share today with you.

In 2007, I played Scotch doubles with Royce Bunnell (one of the owners of OB Cues). My only stipulation to him was, "Royce, I don't practice with my scotch doubles partner." He looked at me funny (well, he does that a lot) and he replied, "well, okay, then."

So, before we go to the 2007 and 2008 BCAPL Nationals, we never hit balls together - not even against each other at any point during the entire year. When we arrive in Vegas, we play literally only four (4) games in 2007 and two (2) games in 2008 the night before the tourney starts to get used to the table, but we didn't discuss shots at all - we were mostly warming up. In 2007 we placed 5th out of like 400 teams!! Wow! In 2008 we placed 4th out of almost 415 teams!

Royce and I played well together for two main reasons - he made me laugh which kept me comfortable, and he knew 8ball well. :)

I will not be able to play with Royce this year in the Open Scotch Doubles because I played in a different league last season. :( One of the top players in my new league could not play in the Open Scotch Doubles with me this year b/c of his job so I looked into a couple of already-master players who could possibly play with me in the Masters Scotch division. The BCAPL has the COOL new rule that you can play in Master Scotch Doubles with anyone from your STATE as long as one of you has played 8 weeks of league play.

This year will be no different when it comes to practice, though. My new scotch doubles partner (Sylver Ochoa) also lives in a different city like Royce did, and Sylver knows 8ball very well already, but I will not practice with him and instead practice with the top player in my own city.

Tougher competition in the Masters Scotch division - but I'm up for the challenge and welcome the opportunity! But, my fingers will still be crossed, lol.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Evidently, It's Not Silly

I had been wondering if I should post about this or not, but after dinner with some girlfriends this week, I found out my thoughts and feelings about this topic aren't silly after all. I admit I do not know if guys feel these things, but for chicks, some of us do.

I won my first Fast Eddie's stop last December. A VERY proud moment in my life! I am still elated to this day about that win - very special to me.

I was disappointed, however, that it was barely mentioned on the front page of The Fast Eddie's Tour used to write two separate articles on each tournament - one for the men's division and one for the women's division - but now a reporter calls the tour and writes only ONE article (the women sometimes never get mentioned at all or barely get mentioned).

In two sentences in the last paragraph the article about the Fast Eddie's Tour Season Finale does indeed state I won the women's division, so, I should be thankful it's even mentioned at all, but it wasn't made a big deal of. But to be fair, it probably wasn't a big deal to the person who wrote the article or who gave the info to the writer. Four (4) long paragraphs about the men's tourney and yet only 4 sentences about the women's tourney, though. Wow. :(

(An interesting side note - I am a partner of and also help with the Fast Eddies' Tour, but I would never tell either one of them I should get bigger billing. That's not who I am.)

You all know I don't normally complain so that is why I hadn't said anything before, but the dinner conversation from the other night brought up other similar, silly thoughts chicks think of.

For instance, the last stop of the year for the Fast Eddie's Tour was not mentioned in any of the print magazines. It would have been cool to have a mention in print! I ain't mad or upset - my blog entry sincerely described my emotions anyway - but a little disappointed, I admit. I don't care about getting attention for myself (I know you don't believe that) but it would have been neat to read about my important win in print. But it's okay - I am still super happy!

At the same dinner, one of my friends shared that an article about her recent big win didn't have her name in the title. I could completely relate - and we talked about how it was really a silly little feeling, but it still would have meant a lot to her.

I remember a couple of years ago a friend won a ladies event in the NE and she was super upset about the article - they didn't have the scores correct and the wording made it seem like she got lucky to win.

I wonder, do guys think the same about this topic?

Does everyone look for write-ups about a win and/or care if there isn't a write up OR if there are mistakes?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

ACS Decided

Well, I called John Lewis at ACS and we talked about my recent accomplishments and also my previous stats in National events to see if I could be moved off the ACS Master list (as I discussed with you all back in early March). After 20 minutes or so, but with a little apprehension, he decided I could be moved down.

Woo-Hoo! Therefore, I have decided to go to ACS Nationals! :)

I just put on hold an airline ticket (using my miles) and am ready to send in my entry forms by the late-fee deadline on Monday! I also found a scotch doubles partner - luckily one guy is going to ACS Nationals from my league. I will play in 9ball singles, 8ball singles, and scotch doubles 8ball and then fly back in time to play in the OB Cues Ladies Tour stop in Dallas June 12-13. Therefore, no team event for me, which is okay by me - I'd rather play in the OB Stop. I will miss the Fast Eddie's Tour Stop in Waco (just an hour from me, boo-hiss!) the weekend I'll be in Vegas for ACS (June 5-9), but I really don't want to miss this opportunity!

ACS Nationals is ONLY two weeks after BCAPL Nationals - wow! Will I be recouped enough from ten days at BCAPL Nationals to do well in ACS and spend another 5 days at the Riv? I hope so!

I am excited to be playing in a completely new tournament for me! I don't think I will know as many people there, but I love the Riv's food (I realize that doesn't sound right, but I really, really do!) and maybe I will get some things done I just know I wont get done while there for BCAPL Nationals. lol.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boo! - Casper's Recap

(yes, I'm still trying to catch up on my tourney recaps!) :(

The second stop of the OB Cues Ladies Tour was held in early March at Casper's Billiards, a week after I came back from Reno. Tina Pawloski flew in from San Diego and spent the weekend with me to attend the tournament with me - it was cool a friend flew in from so far away to compete on our Tour!

Tina and I practiced Thursday night, which I never, ever do- I don't like to over think about my play right before a tournament. Tina told me that night, "you are playing as good as any of the girls I play. You have a very good game." I would ask her Monday about the additional comment she made about my confidence - and she shared with me her opinion: "You do play well, so it must be something mental keeping you back from winning a tournament." I appreciated her candor and thoughts.

We drove down to Casper's Friday night with Tara Williams. Casper's is located south of Houston so it's roughly a 5 hour drive. I enjoy riding with Tara - she drives fast and the car rides are fun with her. :)

Road Partner, Tina

Casper's is well known because they were featured in Billiards Digest as one of the top ten pool rooms in the country! It is not only a cool pool room (it has an upstairs and downstairs) it also was built to withstand hurricane force winds and was used as a shelter for the local community during last season's hurricane. It sits literally less than half a mile from the Gulf of Mexico - pretty cool to be able to view such a large body of water from a pool room!

Casper's also has GREAT food! Check out these onion rings!

I made sure to get a good breakfast and got plenty of sleep for the first day of the tourney. I honestly wasn't sure how I would play, though. After not giving full effort in Reno, would I play okay? Do okay? I wasn't sure.

I played my first round against a player who hasn't been playing much lately and I won 7-3 I think. Let me back up a second - the upstairs of Casper's is smoking, downstairs is nonsmoking. My first match was upstairs, right next to the bar - where everyone was smoking! :( We are a non smoking tour, so it really defeated the purpose (imo) to have a table so close to the "smoking section." I was pretty upset about it, but was able to overcome that and win my match. I played "okay."

My next match proved how well I was playing! Casper's has 14 9-foot tables (Gold Crowns), and I feel most comfy on 9foot tables because that is what I practice on. In the first rack, I ran out from the 1 ball, but my opponent came back and ran out from the 3 ball in the next rack. After playing SO well the first game, I started to feel a little too confident, but her return fire kept me on my toes and for that I am grateful! Don't want to start relaxing until the match is over!

I continued to play well though. I was making GREAT shots, moving the cueball around that 9foot table like I owned it - it was an awesome feeling. She kept up a fight though and played well against me but I finally won 7-4 I think. I figured out what I was doing in this match - I was taking my time and staying down. That was my goal this weekend - to take my time while down on the shot, like I watched over and over again in Reno by certain players. Taking my time allowed me to really see the object ball and shot in front of me - it felt great! I think I was in the zone for several matches!

Me on Saturday

I then played my good friend Jennifer Kraber next. I felt good going into the match but a few critical mistakes caused me to lose the match. But, I give her credit because she played beautifully. I noticed she has a different presence at the table this year - hard to describe but she looks like she is there to win. Not that she didn't look that way before, but for some reason, her attitude and presence is focused with extreme determination. No emotions at the table - just hard play. She would go on to place 2nd! Her highest finish yet!

I won another match against the lovely Tracie who's game has really improved and it was tough for me to get by.

I then had to play Orietta Strickland. Tough player to play and to win against. She started off to a 2-0 lead and I tie it 2-2 due to her mistakes. I was making mistakes, but she made more. The more she made as the match went on, the "taller" I became. I was swimming in confidence. I felt good, played well, and took advantage of her (surprisingly) mistakes. I honestly thought she would easily outplay me because of her experience, but I ended up winning the match and that meant I would be in the tourney til Sunday! :) Looking over the stream recorded match (only the first four games were recorded) I see that I didn't take my time like I had earlier in the day, though... hmm...

Sunday morning was the same routine - got sleep and ate a small breakfast to start the day off well. My first match was against a good player who is tough to play. She plays good safes and plays well, and we go back and forth with wins against each other. She said to me before we started: "you usually beat me on this tour in the first match on Sunday." I think to myself, "hmm.... you beat me at each Texas Open events we played in and every Fast Eddie's Tour (except the one I won in December) and I don't remember playing you on Sunday on the OB Cues Ladies Tour."

Oh well, off we went. :) We were both playing well at the beginning but just as the previous days match on this exact table, I started to really play confidently, stay down well, take my time while down on the shot and moved the cueball around the table beautifully. I think I put pressure on her (I guess) because she missed a few shots and I won the match. It felt so good to be in the zone again and play so well. I was now about to play for 7th/8th place!

For the next match we were put on the stream table, Courtney Peters and I, and I had no issues in my mind at all when we started. I paid for some cool tunes on the jukebox and then we started. In the first game, we each missed the 9ball three times and I finally made it, lol. Then I go up 2-0 with a 3-ball out with ball-in-hand. She ties it up by playing well, and then playing a good safe. Score, 2-2. At this point in the match, the stream shows that I am staying down fairly well. I don't know how - I know this is the point I start to get nervous for some reason and miss a thin cut on the 9ball she missed to go up 3-2 instead it's 2-3 her.

I had to use a bridge on the next game but got hooked, so instead of laying the bridge down, I dropped it under the table and it made a loud noise - I then became embarrassed I showed that "upset" emotion. The embarrassment got worse and worse for me the next couple of games, as I got more out of line and missed more shots. I worked on deep breathing, positive thoughts, tried to gather strength from that guy, everything... to try and get over the wobbly feeling in my arms. But it just didn't work.

Looking at the stream to write this entry, I do notice I am staying down well - even at this point in the match. That gives me a huge sense of relief! Wow - I didn't realize I was doing that while nervous. Yay!

After another missed cut on a 9ball she missed - I definitely did not stay down that time, that's when I took a break and did jumping jacks (seriously) in the bathroom to wake my mind up and get some blood flowing. Another trick of the trade I learned many years back.

Any spaces?

I can't explain why I got nervous or what happened. I don't know what triggered it, but looking back, it's obvious had a lot of opportunities at this point to be ahead 4-2 instead of down 2-4. I came back from the break ready to play but a miss on the 1ball by me led to her running out! Ugh, lol. Score now 5-2 her.

My music then comes on and I get out super nice on a really tough rack! I was staying down again and feeling good. Whew! The song really pepped me up and even the commentator said I was dancing a little; I was! :)

Courtney then gets out really well to get on the hill after a missed safe on the 1ball by me. She's making it tough for a come back!! Good for her! :) I think she is going to run out in the next game for the win, but misses the 3ball. I over hit the 5ball tho and the cueball lands on top of the 6ball! I can't believe it. :( I try to play safe, but the speed got me and Courtney ran out for the win. Courtney really played well and I was happy to see her overcome some 9ball misses and win this match.

Courtney during our match

For the last couple of months I have thought about this match. As you may recall, I wrote in a recent entry about my first OB Cues Ladies Tourney: "This match would prove to be a recurring nightmare for me for the next few months." Then I had that other bad match at the State tourney. I felt the match with Courtney was the same as the other ones - I faltered to a T. Instead, as I re-live the match via ustream, I see that even though I got nervous, I didn't let it overcome the entire match, I even got over it and started to play better, and I stayed down throughout most of the match (even with nerves). But a few position errors and Courtney's better play won her the match - but I didn't give it to her like I thought I did through my nerves and embarrassment. I am pleasantly surprised!

I apologize to anyone who might be reading this because I wrote a novel about this one match, but it has been a tough match for me to swallow. I am glad I took the plunge to review the video because it opened my eyes that it really wasn't as bad as I thought. Yes, I felt all those nerves and wobbly arms, and "felt" paralyzed, but guess what - it really only lasted a few games in that match. I did overcome it. Yay!

I place 7th in the tourney and felt pretty good about my finish. This tourney showed me how well I really can play if I take my time while down on my shots. It was a much-needed experience for me.

Tourney Description: Elated!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Temple LoneStar Tourney

I decided to attend Kim White's LoneStar Tour because a stop was finally only a couple hours away at The Green Room in Temple, Texas. I drove up Saturday afternoon after I got Mom situated (she recently broke her foot) and met up with friends at the pool room for a nice, quiet, friendly evening. I went to bed at a decent hour (first time not having reserved a room ahead of time but found a good place near the Scott/White hospital). But, I woke up too early. Would prove to hurt me later on Sunday. I went to The Green Room when they opened at 10am so I could take pics of the inside because I am going to build them a website. I then went back to the hotel to rest and eat until checkout.

I hit some balls with the gloves I tested out when I arrived back at the pool room around noon or so as I waited for the Player's Meeting to start.

Kim runs a great players meeting and tourney and even gave us the option to race to 7 on the winner's side - and of course we all said yes! Bar table 9 ball deserves a race to 7. BTW, The Green Room has ten beautiful Diamond 7 Foot Tables!

Yvette, Cristina, Me, and Rebecca

I defeated the good player Kim Sanders 7-2 first and was surprised of the score - she plays really good, but I was playing well and staying down well. Kim would go on to place 4th! (that tells you how good she plays). I then won 7-3 against Kim Nguyen and then played Kim Pierce. I was already nervous before I played her - knowing she had a big win under her belt just two weekends back on the Fast Eddie's Tour and she also just played in her first Pro event, which she attributed to helping her win the FE Tour. She outplayed me well and I lost 7-3 or 7-2.

I then won a couple of matches on the one-loss side but then had a really long wait to play Michelle Ram - which was not good for my tired mind. Michelle played good safes, I was missing shots, missing kicks, and getting frustrated along with being super tired. I lost 5-3 or 5-3. I placed 5th and earned $40, but... eh.

Racing to 7 on the winner's side was nice, but with 10 tables to share with the men and in addition to 25 girls in the women's event, it made for a long one-day tournament.

I needed the break super badly though, but the exhaustion is really getting to me. Affecting my mental toughness and my fundamentals. It's becoming very frustrating.

But, this tournament was good for me to play in because I would be playing on the same type of tables in a week or so at the BCAPL Texas State 8Ball tourney - so it was a nice warm-up!

Tourney description: Eh.

Reno Recap

I talked about that one crazy match during my Reno tournament and also gave a recap of all the fun, but what about the TOURNAMENT you ask? Well, here it goes - a couple of months late (Sorry!).

This was the 2010 Bar Table Championships at the Sands Regency in Reno, Nevada February 22 2010 to February 28 2010. First tourney for the ladies was 9ball, then 8ball. The men had a 10all tourney the first part of the week (next year I hear they will have all 3 events for the ladies, too!)

I thought I would have plenty of time to get to my first match - thinking the matches would start about 2pm instead of 1pm, but I was wrong. I started to get ready about 12:45pm and luckily both Amanda and Tina (my roommates for the trip) let me know as soon as the brackets were up (at about 12:50pm) that I played at 1pm. I literally ran through the casino and then up the stairs to the convention area. Tina then calls to tell me the forfeit time limit is FIVE minutes. Eeeeek! Tina also tells me that any cell phone usage is considered a foul so I turned off my cell phone as I asked her frantically what table I was on. 13, she tells me.

I walk briskly to table 13 and my worst fear came true - I was to play a pro. Ironically, it was the only pro in the tournament. Lucky me! I got some good advice from my friend Rebecca (winning or losing doesn't define you as a person/player) and also Sylver (take advantage of their mistakes), as I was concerned about my talents against pros. The advice worked, but my body didn't. I honestly admit I was hung over big time! I kept walking over to the water cooler to fill up the little plastic cup to drink more and more water because I was so dehydrated. In addition, my hands were literally shaking a little bit because I was so hung over. Yes, I fully admit I went to Reno mostly to have fun, so I did this to myself, but in hindsight, I'd still have fun and put the tourney second!! I may not do that next year, but this Feb was a continuation of my first-ever Birthday month and I really had a blast continuing the celebration. :)

Melissa Little missed quite a few balls, surprisingly, and I was able to capitalize. I was ahead 3-1 but missed a 6 ball to get shape so was only up 3-2. Then she tied it 3-3. I had a GREAT shot on another 7 ball and got perfect between the 8 and 9 on the other end of the table (woo-hoo! super proud of that shot!), but the cue rolled a half inch too much and I had to play safe and then she got out. She started to play much better - faster and tougher - and she eventually won 7-4. I think of those two missed opportunities to this day - would have put more pressure on her.

I then play at 530pm and that's the match I wrote about earlier. I lost hill hill and didn't even fight or try hard. I was not into the game at all unfortunately. I missed a 9bal hill hill I normally can make. But, I had ball in hand TWO times with 5 and then 4 balls left on the table and didn't get out, so that tells you how much I wasn't into the match.

Two days later, after roomie Amanda Lampert gets 3rd (Yay!!) and roomie Tina Pawloski gets 2nd (Yay!!), the 8-ball tourney starts (Melissa Little would win both events). This time I made sure to attend the player's meeting like I failed to do for the 9ball tourney. I had plenty of sleep and was ready to go! So, of course that meant I would get a bye, lol, and would not play right away. I played at 4pm against the formidable Sara Miller who plays great 8ball. I ended up losing 4-1. I really only had two missed opportunities, and she played really well.

The tournament room!

I then played the next day at 10am. I won that match against a girl that told me "I'm here with my boyfriend and I'm only donating." Niiice. I won 4-0. I then played at 230pm. I started off confident and super strong and took a 2-0 lead. Amanda was watching and whispers to me "you got this, you are playing well, I'm gonna go downstairs." She is always so supportive of me! I appreciate her! I continued to played okay, but missed a really crucial, almost straight-in shot. I told Stevie Moore after the match that I was thinking while down on the shot and he replies, "what were you doing that for?" reminding me I should do all my thinking BEFORE I get down on the shot (I really do know that, too!). But I was worried about hitting the 8 ball, so I missed the ball. I had a few more opportunities in the match, but lost 2-4. She ended up outplaying me.

Tourney Description: Dismal

Reno Description: fun fun fun!

Tina ended up placing 2nd in the 8ball event, too!

As a reminder, I did have a blast the whole week in Reno!

Bonnie, Tina, Sunny, Me and Heather

Justin, Amanda, Me, Sunny and Sylver

Best things about the Reno tourney:
  • 99cent domestic beers (eeek!)
  • Pizza from the Cabana Cafe (dam their pizzas are good!)
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Meeting new friends
  • Diamond Tables! My love!
  • Bad Boy Productions - they run a smooth-a$$ tourney!
  • CSI for sponsoring the event - loved the added $ for the ladies events, too (even though I didn't get any of that money, lol).
  • Streaming - LOVE commentating on the matches. :) Justin at TAR does a bang up job for the fans!
  • Online brackets are the nutz!
  • Cheap roomrates (oops, almost typed cheap roommates, lmao!). $18 for the first 5 nights was awesome! Then $40 a night for the weekend. WOW!
  • Watching GREAT talent! Awesome matches all week long. holy cow.... it was so cool!
Shane Van Boening and Earl Strickland, photo courtesy of Justin

First Ladies Tour Stop

3rd place winner, Amanda Lampert!

I was super excited that the first stop of the year of the OB Cues Ladies Tour was hosted by Rusty's Billiards - just 10-15 minutes from my house. Ah... it's so awesome to be THAT close to a weekend tourney. :)

I got a bye and then played Michelle Ram on the stream table. In the very first game, I shot the 7 and 8 well to get good on the 9 ball. Even though the cue landed on the rail, I remembered to be level. But, I missed it anyway. This match would prove to be a recurring nightmare for me for the next few months.

I then missed so many shots throughout the match and I therefore got embarrassed, so my arms became wobbly and I couldn't play well. I made comments out loud to Michelle how bad I was playing, even though I shouldn't have, I know, but I was so sick for missing so many shots; missing so many opportunities; not putting up a better fight. I didn't mentally fight what was going on in my head and therefore just faltered- she got me down 0-5. I somehow clawed my way back to 4-6 but Michelle is a closer, though, and finished me off well. Watching the video just now to share the correct score for this blog entry, it's painfully obvious to me not staying down continues to be my biggest flaw; my biggest obstacle. But, as most know, while having negative emotions does not bode well for mechanics if they aren't sound. :(

Great photo by Shayla!

Rebecca stayed with me for the weekend and we talked about my play as she was struggling with her own demons in her matches. We reminded each other to simply try and "stay down."

I overcame that match somehow and I went on to win against Deanna, Corina, and Connie. They were all fun matches with great opponents/friends. I then played against my good friend Shayla and it's always tough to play her because we are such good friends. We don't chat at all during our matches and that night was no exception.

The difference in this match was - we finally BOTH played good! Usually only one of us shows up but this night we both showed up! If one of us missed, the other would get out well - we enjoyed the match! Even though I lost 7-6 or 7-5 it was a great match for both of us.

So, I placed 13th out of 48. Not too too bad for losing my first match AND having such a rough start.

Tourney description: Tough

Rebecca and I stayed at Rusty's and had a few drinks and hung out with friends before finally going home.

Rebecca and I

Helen, me and Angela (2nd place finisher!)

I debated on whether to play in the Second Chance tournament but forced myself to go. I am glad I did. I played pretty good all day and placed 2nd! Yay! The short races are tough to fade and I had to come through the one-loss side after losing my 2nd or 3rd match but it felt good to play well. Monica won the Second Chance event - you go girl!

I then had a great dinner at the Japanese Steak House with Shane, Viet My, Amanda and Jennifer. It was a great way to end the weekend!

Jenn, Shane, me, Viet My, and Amanda

Friday, April 16, 2010


I go through my stages of confidence and nervousness. Lately I have had one match per tournament where nerves and/or negative thoughts paralyze me. It sucks. Big time. Two of those matches are recorded for your viewing pleasure on the OB Cues Ladies Streaming page. Yea, I wont even link you there. LMAO! I have other Ustream matches where I played well and didn't falter, so it's not all bad, lol, but I wont even watch those two matches right now.


"The sequence of events typically goes like this: when people get nervous about performing, they become self-conscious. They start to fixate on themselves, trying to make sure that they don't make any mistakes. This can be lethal for a performer. The bowler concentrates too much on his action and loses control of the ball. The footballer misses the penalty by a mile. In each instance, the natural fluidity of performance is lost; the grace of talent disappears."
-Jonah Lehrer,
How science can save you from choking

My fellow partner in crime, I mean, fellow blogger, Johnny, has a recent article up about choking. He links to several other articles he came across and basically he was taught like I was - focus on your fundamentals when you are under pressure. He has enlightened his readers (like me) to what he read in the other articles - to focus on a key word (holistic word) word instead of specific details about our fundamentals.

You can check his article out for yourself here:

It's just another way to focus on your fundamentals without a lot of W O R D S. Johnny captures the articles points:

"The bottom line that is most important is that pressure will naturally force us to focus on the small details during our performance, which in turn will degrade our performance. It's contradictory actually. One would think that focusing on the small details that make a perfect stroke (pool or golf) would enhance our performance. And in beginners, it does, but in advanced players, such detail-oriented thinking interrupts our own muscle memory and derails our body's now-natural performance; thereby causing a slice or miscue upon stroke delivery.

The answer: don't focus on mechanics, instead use a key word."

Johnny reminds us:

"Remember the movie Tin Cup? Kevin Costner's character actually did this. Just before his swing he said "Dolla Bills". That was his brain's keyword to start the muscle sequence he had ingrained into his body for all the years of his training. "

I love Johnny's blog entry that he shared and I'm going to take his advice that he is passing on to us. Sylver Ochoa stated once when he was commentating on a stream for the LoneStar Tour that a smooth stroke is one of the major keys to success on shots. I started to incorporate that in my thinking and it has really helped! I know for me, having a smooth stroke takes care of A LOT of the important aspects of my fundamentals:
  • stay down,
  • follow through,
  • don't whack at the ball,
  • take my time
Can you imagine doing any of these withOUT a smooth stoke? I can't believe it's taken me all these years to understand the importance of a smooth stroke!

I was thinking about what my key word should be. Since Sylver suggested it, I could use "Sylver" or "Ochoa," but I don't want his scruffy face in my head while I'm playing, lmao! My key word will be "Smoooooth."

I'm gonna try it this weekend - wish me luck! And, thank you, Johnny!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

So Many Thoughts

So many thoughts are running through my head right now. So many things I want to share. So many things on my mind for this weekend's tourney...

I don't really know where to begin. I wish I had more time to "talk" to you all more.

I had some really pitiful moments at my last tournament (BCAPL Texas State 8 Ball tourney), some light bulb moments, some pleasant moments, and some really ticked off moments.

Frequent readers will know that I like to delve into the details so it's tough for me not to just say a few things, but hey, let's try it and maybe later I will expound when I can find that all allusive time that I keep looking for.

I wasn't too nervous going into the tournament like I thought I would, but I didn't get a lot of sleep the WHOLE weekend (even though I specifically stated that is necessary for me to do well). I was exhausted all four days. Two days of single events and two days of team events.

Me and the awesome Stacey!

Singles started Thursday afternoon. I got a bye, then played two close friends back to back who have really improved their games. I won those and then had to play a fierce competitor (in my eyes) next. We played about 9pm and I was tired! My two friends who I had just played watched me and supported me, but I fell apart. I missed late in the rack, missed shots I should have made, etc. I got more and more down on myself, even though I talked to my dear friend Joe Salazar for tips on what to do against a good player while I am exhausted. He basically said desire and heart is what was needed to overcome it (i.e. the yearn to win). So, as I sat there missing more shots, I felt more down about my lack of heart. My opponent had/has a lot of heart.

It took me all night and all morning to get over that match. Friends sent me messages and tried to be there for me, but I was super upset.

Me and Manders

I then played at 2pm on Friday and I played lights out. I WAS back! I did have some tense moments, but let my play do the talkin'. I noticed I was not tired during my second match at 5pm either and I played really well, then too. I will fully admit (since I am being a lot more honest in this post than usual - not sugar coating my words) that when I was playing my second match of the day, on the front tables, with a lot of people watching, I literally said to myself while feeling comfortable, confident, an knowing I was deep in the tournament: "this is where I am suppose to be." It felt GOOD to be in front of everyone; it felt right.

I then played another fierce competitor with a lot of heart and desire and although I was nervous during the match, I still played decent. The difference in this match was I never got embarrassed like I had the previous night. I felt like that was a HUGE accomplishment! I felt SO good that I didn't let the embarrassment (which is a negative feeling) get in the way of my play. After the match, I almost felt like I had won the tournament - that's how good I felt about not having the "I dogged it" feeling! I did miss some balls and was nervous and prolly gave the match away, but I never felt embarrassed about it for some reason, even with all those people watching. It was a mini breakthrough for me! BTW, Joe was very proud of me. :)

I had a lot of support during the match which was super awesome - a lot of my friends sat behind me or across from the tables and watched me play. Ironically, during one of the breaks, I noticed my opponent crying - I found out she was crying because she didn't have a lot of friends sitting near her. :(

Also, I did try a Crown and Seven during both tough matches (the last one and the one the previous night) - I don't know if it helped or not, though.

Ms Monica!

Teams started Saturday morning. We mesh really well together and have great chemistry. We lose our first match only hill-hill. I played super sporty, too. :) After 9 games, I had won all three of my games and no one on my team had won one yet. I turned to them and said, "you all know there are 4 players on this team, right?" LMAO! Luckily they are good sports and didn't kill me, lmao! It kinda was a running joke after that and that helped us laugh more throughout the weekend. They then came back after my comment and won about 4 games in a row! Then we tied it and barely lost the tiebreaker - it was a good match!

Me :)

We get on the one-loss side and either side is back-to-back play every two hours. So, 10am was a bye then we lost at noon. Played right away at 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm and we all win all of them! We then have to play our 8 pm match but the matches are behind. I kid you not when I tell you our 8pm match was at MIDNIGHT!

During that match, I get upset at one of the other players, but we win and I fall into bed about 2am not really looking forward to our 10am match on Sunday b/c I'm so tired, lol! Sunday comes and I play bad all day. :( Saturday I pulled for the team and got us to Sunday (as Amanda reminded me). Sunday I did not play well, but luckily there are FOUR players on the team! Yay! :)

Audra and Nina, discussin' a shot

Our first match on Sunday we are ahead 6-8 in a race to 9. My teammate loses her game on the next table as I realize if I don't win my own game that I am currently playing, we will have to go to a tie breaker. No pressure, really. I mean, only all the players of both teams are watching and all their friends. LMAO. We play a safety game and I know I am the player who will come out ahead due to experience. Well, I get ball in hand and play a few more safes and finally start my run. I stay down well as my adrenaline is pumping, and hit the 7 ball correctly to get shape on the 8ball. I have to cut the 8 in the side and at the last minute, I put spin on the cueball and dog the 8! I jump up and down and say out loud "I was so nervous I spun the ball!" Peeps are laughing at me a little as my opponent makes the last two balls. Ashley (one of my teammates) graciously asks if I want to play the tiebreaker and I'm like, "hell no! I can't play right now, I'm too nervous!" I apologize a lot to my teammates and am super embarrassed. :(

The other team doesn't make a ball on the break on the tie-break game and Ashley runs out! OMG! I was SO happy! Now no one will remember my missed 8 ball AND we get to move on. Yay!!


Of course I reflect on this and realize, wow - she was so calm and cool and not shaking and just ran out! She's like 17 years younger than me and I am still nervous after playing all these years. Wow!

Then we go on to our next match. Tough girls; known for being rude and mean. At some point during the match, I notice people are smoking on the stage of this "nonsmoking" tournament. The stage is only a few tables away from our match and I can smell the smoke and see it rising in the air. I make a few comments about it to my teammates and then finally say "screw this" and walk up there to ask them to please not smoke there. They seemed miffed at me, but put their cigarettes out. I felt bad for saying something but it's suppose to be a nonsmoking event. They normally smoke at the back of the stage, but this was right up front and very obvious to me - a nonsmoker.

Captain Connie!

Back to pool - we are playing really well and are up 7-3 or so. I ask one of our friends to get me some tacos from Dairy Queen as I know I will need fuel for our next match. I guess that jinxes us - instead of assuming we would win because we were ahead so much, we go hill-hill! Dang it! Ashley again plays the hill-hill match - I'm still playing bad - and there is some drama during the match but she gets a chance at the table after a missed break out by her opponent. Ashley runs out again! Yay! We are all so pumped!

My food gets there and as I open the box two guys walk directly at me and tell me "you can't bring food in here." What? First of all, don't send TWO guys. Second, we tried to explain the snack bar was closed and so everyone else was bringing in food already! They didn't care. One of my friends started snapping back at them but we finally went outside to eat. I was pretty hacked off, though, to be honest. Arguments are so fun, aren't they? It would have been nice if they EXPLAINED why we couldn't eat in there instead of arguing with me and my friends when I am about to play a match. I was HOT!!

We all try to forget all the drama (smoking, drama during the hill-hill game, food rudeness, etc) and move on to our next match against a good team.

We almost go hill-hill, and lost only 9-7. We got 3rd place!! Lost our first match and came back for 3rd. WTH!!!

(that's our team name, WTH... LMAO!)

So, you can visualize all the emotions from the weekend. I just barely "tapped" on to some of the things I could write about in detail. I could write 4 to 6 blog entries about this one weekend!

Thanks for listening.

My Tournament Description: Rollercoaster

PoolSynergy - That One Thing

This month's topic for PoolSynergy is hosted by Fast Mikie and his topic is: “The Most Important Thing about Pool.” If there was only one thing to share, what would it be?

Well... this is actually a tough question, not because I can't think of anything, but because I want to share more than one!! Fast Mikie is making me struggle this month. So, I'm going to kick his butt on the pool table to punish him for my stress!

Okay, here goes:

Take lessons.

What? That's it?.... Yes, if I had one thing to share, it would be to take lessons to save yourself time and stress.

Let's put this in perspective. If you wanted to learn how to play the violin, would you be in the band without lessons? If you wanted to drive a car, you can "practice" with your Dad but in reality, he was giving you lessons. Even Rihanna is taking lessons from the Blink 182 drummer. If you wanted to sing, you would take lessons. Yes, a few naturally talented people can be the Susan Boyle's of our generation or that one guy that can play guitar and beat out his classmates without training, but if you want to excel, be competitive, and/or be one of the top players, lessons are key.

Here is a funny aspect about lessons: When players finally take lessons, they don't want others to know! They feel (myself included many years ago) that taking lessons is a fault/flaw; something they couldn’t do on their own. They care more about what others think about us taking lessons than taking lessons. Yet all those people that took lessons are now laughing all the way to the bank and ceremony platforms.

Sometimes people feel that if they need lessons, it shows a weakness. Now I view it as strength! When my friends take lessons, I am proud of them. I know they will gain from the added knowledge and their pool game and successes will be greater.

Even pros take lessons later in their career; Tiger Woods goes back to his coach to tweak his swing.

Can you imagine learning how to read on your own? Or how about playing tennis for an upcoming event? You won’t be successful in that tennis tournament without lessons - and to be honest, who would even TRY that?!

Taking lessons means you want to improve your game to be more successful. Lessons will help you get there - and help you get there faster. I define "lessons" as learning from someone/something else about the mental, physical, strategic, and fundamentals of playing pool.

I have been playing pool for over 20 years and all the struggles I have been through would have been lessened if I would have taken some lessons. I would have been more successful in so many aspects of my pool game.

Think back to middle and high school. There are so many parts of our childhood that required lessons. Yet, many of us don't see lessons as a thing we should do for our pool game. We get stubborn and don't want people to know. Yet, share the news! When I am playing an opponent who has been taking lessons, I get a little intimidated knowing they now know more than I.

Taking lessons is truly the one piece of advice I want to stress today (even though I really, really want to share more!).

Read from the other bloggers of PoolSynergy to see what they are sharing about that one important thing.

(and get ready for that match, Fast Mikie!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I mentioned in a previous post that evaluation during a match is one of the keys to success in getting through it successfully during rough patches.

This happened to me during a team event last weekend. This time I was able to overcome some major emotions and I wanted to share WHY.

I have been reading a book called, SOS - Managing Your Emotions. Although I am only a smidgen of the way into the book, so far it has talked about the ABC's of emotions:

A: Action/activity
B: Belief or Self Talk
C: Consequences (emotional and behavioral)
D: Dispute

What normally happen is: an activity or action takes place, we have self talk, and then we go into emotional and/or behavioral consequences. The B - self talk - can definitely lead to an irrational emotional response, but if you can either dispute the self talk and/or evaluate WHY you are feeling a certain negative emotion, then you can sometimes control your emotions a little bit more b/c you understand them. Understanding why can lead to a reevaluation; a positive reevaluation. This happened to me last weekend.

Click to enlarge

To summarize, A activating events plus our B beliefs and self-talk largely cause our C consequences, emotions such as anxiety, anger, and depression and our behavior. This mainly explains the cause of our emotions and behavior.

I played a girl in the singles who can come with her game and be a fierce competitor so you never know how the match will go. I had forgot, though, that she also likes to talk. No talk with me, but AT me. Well, not just ME but to everyone she plays (lol).

In the singles match she said things like:

Nice out.
Oh, you finally missed a ball.
Good run.
You can't leave me a shot?
You are mean!
How can you get a roll like that when are about to beat me?

She went on and on. I never once got upset or let her get to me.... during the singles event.

I had her down 4-0 in a race to 5 and then she started to play REALLY good safes and got 3 games. When she was about to make it hill-hill, that's when she said "How can you get a roll like that when are about to beat me?" Which I thought was crappy considering she might tie it up hill-hill with this game. She came with additional great safes and but I was able to barely see the last ball and won 5-3. Whew. Admittedly, after the match, we both were complimentary of each other's game.

We played her team last on Saturday night (like at midnight (seriously)) and while we were all super tired, it was a good match. When I had to play her during that team match, she made a comment about me beating her in singles. She then broke and was running out but got bad on the 8 ball. She missed it and of course made another comment about it - kinda of expressing her disgust, explaining her miss, and barking at me about what I was gonna do when I approached the table. I wish now I could remember her exact comment, but I don't.

Anyway, I played a safe on her, but instead of hiding the cueball, lol, I left a very clear shot on the 8 ball. She walked up to the table, saw she had a clear shot, makes it, shakes my hand, and then loudly says, "WTF!?" I promise you, she was kinda yelling at me for some reason. I could go into the many reasons why I think she yelled "WTF" at me, but that's not what this blog entry is about today.

Anyway, I walked away HOT! I was so f'in mad I can feel it in my veins as I type this. WhyTH did she have to say that? Why did she have to yell it at me?

I made a few rude comments about it to my teammates - told them I was fine with her comments til she said that at the very end and I mouthed off a lot about her under my breathe because I was so mad. Blah Blah. I was really upset. I even thought to myself I didn't want to play on the table in front of the other team because I was SO mad I didn't know if I could play.

As I stood there waiting to play next... I thought about what I was feeling.

Why was I so upset? What exactly was I feeling? I figured out, as I had my arms crossed and my forehead crinkled, that what I was feeling was embarrassment. I was embarrassed that after she beats me, she said something crappy to me. When I already lose, why put salt on the wound? That's what I felt she did. Intentional or not, that's what it FELT like. Once I figured out I was only embarrassed because I lost and she barked at me, I got over it - quickly! I no longer felt the knot in my chest of embarrassment, my blood pressure went down, and I was able to play pool when they called me back up to the table to play.

ABCs, Baby. :)

This summarizes the ABCs well:

"If you are pained by an external thing, it is not the thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it." -Marcus Aurelius

BTW, we won that match and went on to place 3rd in the event! (after losing our first match, too) :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Real Birthday in Vegas Post

Okay, okay, now that I had a little fun about this, let me tell ya some of what I can tell ya (lol) about my Birthday. :) I decided in Sept of last year: "Hey, why not go to Vegas for my Birthday in Feb? Vegas is my favorite city, life is short, what the heck!" So, I made arrangements to go to Lost Wages for my February 9th Birthday of this year. :)

I had many plans for my Birthday vacation, but I didn't do get to check off many of the items on my list - like, I wanted to ride one of the rides on top of the Stratosphere, and get a cool massage with those rocks on your back, and get that new tattoo for my Mom, etc. But, even though I didn't do half of the things I thought I would, I truly had the best birthday yet! I had SO MUCH fun!
Me, the first morning in Vegas!

The main part of the trip for me happened to be pool related, so that is why I am sharing my Birthday with you via my pool blog. :)

First things first - I flew First Class on the way out there (yay for AA miles!), hired a driver in a town car to pick me up from the airport, and then stayed at the Mirage for free. :) Yea, I get comps; I'm a high roller. (just kidding!! I get offers in the mail all the time because they know I'm a sucker for gambling).

My First Class meal! WOW! Did they know it was my Birthday? lol
Besides seeing "America's Got Talent" Winner/Entertainer on the last night (the awesome Terry Fator), I mostly gambled with friends, drank a lot, stayed up too late, and barely slept! lol. While that sounds like a "typical" Vegas trip, it was all during my Birthday week with great friends! Having great friends around me doing my favorite things is what made the trip so special for me!

The Terry Fator Show at the Mirage. I had 4th row seats, right up front!!

Ah, the Terry Fator beer cup that I carried down the Las Vegas strip from casino to casino for hours! LMAO

Now, here's the best part - the festivities ON my Birthday (that pool-related part I mentioned at first).

Besides my favorite city, Vegas just happens to be the home of some good friends of mine in the pool industry. So, I was VERY excited to be able to have dinner with them on my Birthday! I sent them all a 'Save the Date' email to forewarn them I was coming to town, lol, and not to make plans for Feb 9th.

My dear friend Sunny Griffin set up the dinner plans and after-party and I am still so very thankful for her taking the lead and getting it all planned out! It was above and beyond what I had expected (I thought it was gonna be just a great dinner!).

The wonderful couple Sunny and Mark Griffin (of BCAPL and CSI) who are good friends of mine, live in Vegas, as does my lovely friend Holly Ryan. Ravi who travels to the tourneys and knows many pool players also lives in Vegas. Justin from The Action Report also lives in Vegas and so does Eric (aka Fatboy). All of these peeps are known in the pool world/industry and I happen to also consider them all good friends. So, picking Vegas to spend my Birthday with my friends was going to be a special treat for me. To top it off, Sylver Ochoa and his roommate Raul were in Vegas for some poker tournaments and Sunny said there was enough room to invite them to dinner as well. Sylver and Raul are fellow pool players and friends from Texas, so it was an added bonus for my B'Day.

We all went to my fav restaurant: Ruth's Chris Steak House. Yummy! What a treat that was! Great friends, favorite restaurant, great atmosphere, and superb food. :)

At the bar, waiting on our table.

Posing before our meal arrives for our tummy's!

Justin and the awesome dessert that everyone loved.

Sylver and Raul - always cracking up and enjoying life.

Me, with my dessert and cosmo. Happy Birthday to me!

Ravi and I - he wore my favorite color!

And here's Holly and I. :)

Yummy salad!

Me and another cosmo. Love me some Pomegranate Cosmos!

Yay! Me and Sunny!

Sunny caught another group photo of us having a good time. I love that she takes as many photos as I. :)

Eric (who many refer to as 'Fatboy') and his awesome girlfriend, Kelly, could not make it out to dinner, but they invited us over to their house afterwards. I had "heard" about his house, but let me just say it's not a house - it's a mansion. Seriously. I mean, he lives next door to Wayne Newton, if that helps describe the scene for you. So, we all go over to his house and Kelly gives us a tour of the biggest home I've ever been in in my life! We are all just kinda walk around with our mouths open. Holy Cow!!

Getting to hang out at Kelly and Fatboy's place was icing on the cake for my Birthday - we all had such a memorable evening hanging out, having fun, and playing pool in an amazing house!

This is their shower - has a tub in the middle, 4 showerheads and a statue in it.

This is their bed - two California King matresses. That's a long headboard!

Their staircase.

After the amazing tour of the amazing mansion, then the guys play pool as the chicks talk among ourselves. Mark and Justin play on the snooker table, Sunny and Ravi on one of the 9foot tables, and Sylver and Fatboy are playing friendly games of one pocket on the other 9foot (these are each in separate rooms, of course).

Justin and Mark.


Here is Fatboy and I, posing!

Ravi and I

Ravi and Sunny playing pool.

Sylver and Fatboy playing One Pocket.

Sylver talking about a shot to Fatboy.

Sylver, Mark, Fatboy and Justin.

It was such a GREAT, memorable, absolutely fun Birthday for me! Favorite city in the world, spending time with great friends, playing pool in an awesome house, excellent Birthday dinner, gambling a lot, sightseeing, not sleeping, buffets, nice drinks, etc. - very memorable, very special. I will never forget my best birthday yet!

Bellagio Dancing Water Show

Bellagio Dancing Water Show

Me and Holly Madison, lol.

Me and one of my favorite things! Mirage Brunch Buffet! I added the cosmo because this day was my Birthday!

I guess the Mirage heard it was my Birthday, lol.