Saturday, October 30, 2010

PoolDawg Fall Catalog Surprise

I'm sure many of you are familiar with Frank the PoolDawg.  Well, Frank LOVES his pic taken.  He was all over Vegas during the BCAPL having his pic taken! 

Frank watching the Pros

Frank sunning with Samm Diep at the Riviera Casino pool

Turns out one of the many pics Ashley and I took with Frank in Vegas in May made it prime time.  Ashley and I found ourselves on the inside cover of the Fall PoolDawg Catalog! 

Mike from PoolDawg shared with me, "We like to sprinkle the “be seen with Frank” pictures throughout the book and we were doing a bit of a “rock ‘n roll” theme this year so the pictures fit in perfectly.  The picture of you two from the BCAPL event is on the inside front cover."

(Click image to Enlarge) 

Now, go ahead and view the full catalog here and purchase one of the many items you will want to buy for yourself to show your support for the love of the game.  :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cheaters That I Don't Know

I told a friend of mine the other day that I was going to write a piece for my blog about a very interesting cheating event that occurred and was exposed online, that I don't think many people know about.  If you don't peruse the 14.1 section of AZB forums, you would never know about this guy who actually MOVED his break ball during his game of straight pool.  How do we know this?  Because he was videotaping his runs and people could SEE on video that the breakout balls were in different locations after he racked in front of the camera.  Yes, really.

The 14.1 guys are a very close knit group of folks.  They called each other and shared their suspicions.  Finally, one guy was able to document via video editing and graphics the true nature of the "cheating."

(Read and view the graphics of the entire "outing" here:

I started to receive emails and messages and phone calls, "Have you seen the thread about the guy cheating in straight pool caught on video?"  Yes, it was that rampant among the knit folks.

Why would the guy do this?
Why did he cheat to get high runs? 
What forces someone to cheat on camera?
What was the purpose of increasing his run stats? 
Why cheat at all?  It defeats the pure joy (and frustration) of straight pool.
As Jay Leno asked Hugh Grant, "What were you thinking?"

When I mentioned to my friend that I was going to write this blog, I added, "of course if I knew the guy, I wouldn't write it."

He replied, "well, that's what you should really write about."

Hmmm... interesting.

Why would I NOT blog about a friend if they had done this?  Why am I okay with doing this to this guy I don't know?  He has feelings.  He's already embarrassed.  I'm going to embarrass him more (I can feel the guilt creeping in me as I type this, almost wanting to delete this post to help save face for him).

I think I wouldn't do this to a friend because I have a close connection to my friends and although I wouldn't understand why they moved their break ball on camera, I would still kinda protect them by NOT blogging about it.  I tend to be very careful choosing my words when I have to tell someone something that could hurt them.  I think my friends like me for that. And blogging about this about a friend would strain my relationship with them.

Even the people that "outed" this guy were friends with him.  They genuinely didn't understand why he did all the moving of balls on video for higher run stats.  I don't understand it either.  But, his friends kinda wanted to expose him because they sincerely wanted explanations.

In my job, I happen to be a trained mediator (among other things).  This gives me training in how to show empathy and also communicate in tough situations.  I would be able to express to a friend my disappointment in their cheating ways, but I wouldn't put it in my blog.

A blog is an interesting thing.  I have learned that if what you say about a person you can't say to their face, you wont write about it.  I fully admit because I don't know this person, I can share with you all what I think was an unfortunate thing he did.  If it was a friend, I would only slyly refer to it and write about it so vaguely, you wouldn't even know what I was talking about, lol.

Opponent Applause Help

As many of us well know, when people cheer loudly for our opponents, it can get under our skin.  It can get under our skin to the point where we get angry, disturbed, and can't play pool anymore because our emotions are so upheavaled by the rooting and cheers for our opponent. 

If FEELs like their friends are rooting against us because our opponent gets all the cheers.  It FEELs like the the crowd doesn't want us to do well; they are against us!  Eventually we may even notice that they clap for their friend for mediocre shots but when we make a miraculous shot with perfect shape, no one claps for us.  WTH!?  Our opponent wins a game and the applause is loud for them; we win a game and we only hear crickets.

Our emotions can easily start to roll downhill and every.. little.. thing then bothers us which then begins to affect our game.  And then we aren't playing pool anymore!

And we get more upset.  Our mind gets fuzzy.  We have negative thoughts and emotions.  We stop focusing on our pre-shot routine and fundamentals.  We are so focused on the cheers our opponent is receiving and the obvious lack of support to our own game, that we get negative, angry, tense, and aggravated.  This leads to bad play and missed shots.  We sit down with our shoulders humped, eyes on the floor, and thoughts tormented.  OR we turn around to shoot the audience a bad look (yea, that does a lot).  Sometimes, we may get so upset, uptight, and embarrassed, we actually spew words of anger out of our mouths at the cheerers (our defense mechanism).

A few friends of mine recently went through this type of unfortunate, resentful situation.  I hadn't been subjected to the torture in a while and somehow wanted to experience it again.

I wanted to test what I knew.  Test how I overcome the raw emotion of FEELING like everyone is against you.

I have learned to view the clapping and cheers as the obvious:  their fans/friends are cheering FOR my opponent/ their friend; NOT against me.  Rooting against me is a completely different action.  Cheering and rooting for my opponent is NO reflection of me at all.  IF I can see this, then I can play my game.  Then I redirect my focus to my fundamentals, so I can shoot better - which leads to less claps and cheers for my opponent because I am winning.  :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WPBA Amateur Nationals Decision

The WPBA Amateur Nationals has been resurrected, thanks mostly to Melissa Little. 

Melissa and Wynkoop Brewing Company are hosting the WPBA Women's Amateur National 9-Ball Championships November 19-21. $1500 added and the winner gets a paid entry into the 2011 WPBA US Open.

The entry is $75 Entry - which includes the WPBA Membership - $1,500 added; Pro are not allowed.

This is a pretty prestigious event.

I have been playing well.

Do I think I could win it?  No.  But I still might place well.

And I have friends who live in Denver I haven't seen in a while.

But, I have also not been playing pool lately because of home things (Mom is back in the hospital).  :(

And! The flight prices have gone up $100 in the last month.  Now they are over $300.  :(

What to do, what to do....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scratch Break Rule Change For EightBall

The BCAPL always has a few rule changes every year.  Some are clarifications, some are down right changes

Starting June 1, 2010, the BCAPL announced this rule change:

"8-Ball: The penalty for any foul on the break has changed from ball in hand in the kitchen to ball in hand. Rules 2.3.3(b), 2.3.4, 2.3.5, 2.4.2(a), and 2.4.3 have been changed and consolidated to reflect the change."

I am VERY excited about this rule change!  You mean I can now get BIH if my opponent scratches on the break in 8ball?  Really?  Wow - that's a huge advantage for the incoming player.  I am excited! 

I should practice my Break-ball-in-hand-runouts!  :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Top Secret Project Revealed!

As I alluded to in the blooper blog entry, I was working on a Top Secret, If-I-tell-you-I'd-have-to-kill-you, project. 

Well, I can finally reveal it!

It's still a little under construction and has some kinks to be worked out, but please check out!

The website is FOR pool players.  FOR players who crave learning.  This isn't a boring website - be prepared to be entertained; have fun!

You can read more about the project ON the website, but I was basically trapped and corralled into this project (half joking of course) with my new partner, Mike (yes, that said guest speaker of mine from Pool Synergy who captured so many comments with his up-beat-comical-positive post about the media and pool (I'm saying this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek)).  :)

Mike does have a very funny side to him - you can see it in all his comments on the website, especially the About Us page.

The website is chalk-full of videos!  Mike's vision to provide you videos is not left to the imagination. 

Please check out the website if you get a chance!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Last Straight Pool Match of the Season

My previous straight pool match, I lost and shouldn't have so as I stated before, I was seriously going to forfeit the final match I had to play.  Can't move up into first or second place with my now three losses...

Then the crazy league director gave everyone an extra month to finish out the season - so, I had to break down and play my final match.  Ugh!  :) 

I believe I'm suppose to defeat this opponent, as I have won every match against him in the past with no pressure.  But check this out:

I lose the lag, leave him a long shot that he misses, I miss the next shot.. and then he runs 15!  I inch my way and grab some points but he has me down 15-32.  Then 31-50.  Yikes!

I don't get upset, emotional, or anything.  I just sit back patiently (while I'm eating my grilled chicken and carrots) and wait to see if I get to catch up, make runs, make points.  Eventually I get within one point, 54-55.  I still don't think ahead though and maintain composure.  I lock my eye on the object ball, stay down, smooth stroke.  I then have a run of 12 to get ahead.  I finally win 100-83.  Whew.

We should be getting the stats at the beginning of Nov and I will share my final numbers with you then.

I'm still sad that we wont start the next season until January.  :(  What am I gonna do for two months without a straight pool match?? 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Plethora Update

Well, I hadn't practiced since July. Eeeek! SO not like me at all. I normally practice once a week.  Even though I haven't had one solo practice session since July, my fundamentals were solid July through Sept.  My head doesn't lift up, I'm stroking the ball smooth, I FEEL good. However, lack of practice didn't mean I wasn't surrounded by pool. I had been reading about pool, watched my FAV Player Review DVD, sparred one night, been playing a few straight pool matches, and played in several tournaments in a row.

But... on Saturday I realized I haven't played pool at all since Sept 20th due to trips and home-stuff.  Since my mom was out of the hospital and I had a weekend home, I decided to actually go practice, like was my normal routine the last few years. I got to the pool room promptly at noon and threw the ten balls on the 9 foot table, grabbed my ipod, and pulled out my lonely cue. I practiced for about an hour and I was so happy my fundamentals were still strong. Yay!  I can see such a difference when I really lock my eye onto the object ball - my head stays down so well when I do that.

I then played a few games of the awesome game of one pocket before heading back home and running errands.  

My previous straight pool match, I lost and shouldn't have so I got a bad taste in my mouth for the stats.  I was just going to forfeit the final match I had to play.  Seriously.  Can't move up into first or second place with my now three losses, so I didn't really care about my last match that was needed to finish the season.

Turns out the league director gave everyone an extra month to finish out the season - evidently I wasn't the only one who needed to play more matches.  So, I broke down and planned a straight pool date night tonight for my last match.

I'm sad that we wont start the next season until January.  :(  What am I gonna do for two months without straight pool?? 

The U.S. Open has begun!  I am following the brackets and live scoring.  And of course checking out how the chicas in the tourney are doing. 

But this year, the daily videos by Samm Diep are more professionally done than I have ever seen in the past!  I am SO impressed!  Videographer/Video Editor Dustin McCollum from Florida is helping do the camera work and graphics.  He does video work for a living and his talent works SO well with Samm's talent. They make a GREAT team for and the fans of the U.S. Open!  Check Samm out!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Media Impact on the Future - PoolSynergy Volume 12

This month's topic is to get your taste buds flowing!  PoolSnark is this months host of PoolSynergy and he wants us to consider the future of pool from a fan/spectator perspective.

In my last PoolSynergy piece about the media/ pool/ future, I was one of the few who didn't think there was anything wrong with pool.  Johnny graciously pointed out (via comments to that article) that since I am surrounded by pool leagues, tours, and players in the great state of Texas, it's no wonder I think this way.

Therefore, I decided to ask one of my good buddies who, I think, has great suggestions for the pool industry to be my first guest columnist for PoolSynergy.  Get your popcorn ready.  May I introduce you to Michael LaLumiere:

The discussion about the WPBA losing its ESPN gig is part of the overall angst in the pool world about its bottom feeder status in the U.S. sports hierarchy. Melinda didn’t want to write about it because her position on the matter is that of pool player who has a career outside of pool.

It doesn’t matter to her that her co-workers don’t know who Mika Immonen is or can’t watch her favorite sport on TV or know anything about the Mosconi Cup or even the big national tournament she plays in at a casino in Las Vegas.

That’s a healthy attitude to take really because nothing is going to change for the pool industry anytime soon. Just enjoy playing pool.

What’s the impact from WPBA not being on TV? Zero. I can assure you ESPN knows exactly how many people watch any event. If they let the WPBA go it’s because it’s not worth it to them and from their perspective nobody’s watching.

The U.S. consumer/customer just isn’t that into pool – especially watching it.

The basis for any sports popularity is if customers will buy a ticket to watch or buy some sort of pay-per-view to see or even just take the time to view it on cable TV. It requires a customer base large enough to pay for hosting the events, paying the players, making it worth it to an owner to invest a team or player rather than making interest on a bond or in the bank. If there’s customer support then advertisers and sponsors will take note and determine whether it’s to their best business interest to create a relationship.

Make no mistake. This relationship is based on nothing else than it makes money or it doesn’t. And all money isn’t equal. Once an advertiser pays they demand return on their investment or why do it. And as an advertiser or sponsor anything that happens with that sport is now a reflection on them.

Crime. Bad behavior. Player controversy. Whatever. No sponsor wants any part of that because it could hurt its bottom line. The biggest moneymaker ever this side of Michael Jordan – Tiger Woods – got his public image destroyed. Some of the biggest corporate advertisers in the world said see you later Tiger and took a couple hundred million off the table immediately. Pool players just don’t get what the rest of the world thinks is boorish behavior and how much the world doesn’t want to be a part of it.

As someone mentioned to me the other day, men’s pool formally ended its relationship in the foreseeable future with ESPN when Earl Strickland walked out on a final match it was taping.

I had someone else say to me Earl was the reason men’s professional pool has failed in the U.S. His theory was that Earl was in perfect position to carry pool on his back when he hit the sports in 80s. He was something new and shiny. Unfortunately he was also acting up too much. End of opportunity.

As much as I’d like to blame Earl pool was already doomed long before he came along and has been even more tarnished since he’s left the spotlight.

Look, there’s been two times in the last century when pool had a surge of popularity with the masses. Both of them came after movies. Tom Cruise actually got people back in the pool halls and even more importantly got business folks to build beautiful pool palaces. I mean there was some awesome spaces built in the early 90s. I lived near San Francisco at the time and I real enjoyed the places that were built there. It was exciting.

But. People came. They saw. They left.

Pool streaming. I started watching it a year ago. At that I time I thought, hmmm, wonder if this will work. The one good thing it has done it’s kept the hard-core pool junkies in touch with whatever it is they like about pool halls and gambling. Although for the good of the game I’m not sure that’s really that big a help but….

I’ve watched the streaming numbers closely. Overall, maybe a 10 percent growth over the year mostly due to the hard core becoming more aware of all the streams. Most of the streamers are pure hobby people. Roughly 15 percent of the total watching join the chat room. And those folks are mostly the same folks every time.

The commentary is amateurish but liked by the hard core because it’s just like they’re sitting in the poolroom being rude with their buddies. The picture quality is fine by me. I don’t really care how clear it looks I care who I’m seeing play and what I’m hearing. Real sponsors and advertisers will never ever support the streams for any amount of time in their current form (Look above about what advertisers and sponsors don’t want).

Their answer is well what do you want for free? I don’t want anything. I’ll watch the occasional stream. But it’s not me the pool industry should care about. It’s the people who aren’t watching and why they’re not watching in droves.

I’ve said this before and it’s very irritating to the pool world. Look at the damn numbers. CSI put on a top-notch video production (for pool streaming) at the U.S. Open 10 Ball event. They got professional players to do most of the commentary. They had multiple cameras. They had the best players in the world in their stadium. They had it for four or five days.

They offered this production via computer to everyone in the world. FREE of charge. For the finals they had 1,000 plus viewers. FROM THE WORLD THEY GOT 1,000 PLUS VIEWERS. To any businessperson in the world (other than pool apparently) that is a sign to blow up your product and start over because obviously nobody wants it for free not to mention actually paying for it.

(By the way, 6500 league pool players were in the same building playing in the BCA National Tournament. Only a handful bothered to walk the 100 yards to watch the best players in the world play.)

TAR is the celebrated stream team that brings the big name pool gambling matches. TAR is revered in the pool world. Thousands of people a day can see what’s coming with TAR on AZBilliards, the top pool website in the world. Remember I said thousands a day. When the day finally comes to hold the ballyhooed match TAR can only get 200-250 of the hard-core pool people to pay the $25 or so. Again from the entire world pool market they get 200-250 buys for delivering big-name players.

Blow it up, it isn’t working. Nothing is working on the pro side of pool.

The only glimmer of hope in the pool world today is that tens of thousands of people still play in pool leagues. To me, if I’m leading the pool industry today, I say bye-bye to any investments I’m making in pro pool. I’m going to put every ounce of my energy into the league pool player and regional amateur tournaments they like to play in. This is the strength of pool.

Let’s say 100,000 people play in pool leagues in the U.S. As an industry I want to know who these people are. The demographics. I want to be in touch with them to learn about what they like and don’t like. I want to invest in them in the hopes they’ll be pool’s biggest recruiters. I want to know who doesn’t play in leagues and why. I want to find out what the most likely demographic is to recruit.

I want to be in touch with the room owners who host the leagues. I want to know what they need to survive. I want to invest in them. I’d want to work with them to build big regional amateur tournaments. In return I want them to do things for pool leagues and the players.

This and much more like it is how you build on your customer base. It’s basic business operations. I much rather invest in a league and a room owner than spend money rolling out Earl Strickland to be rude to 12 or 15 people.

If pool were a sport that was full of great personalities and excitement at the top of the pyramid then sure you’d want that to be part of rebuilding pool. But there is currently no such thing. If streaming were going to change the pool world for the better well, yeah, I’d invest in it. But it isn’t changing anything. It’s more of the same.

I’m personally sponsoring a one-pocket tournament. I’m putting in the majority of the money. I was approached about having a stream. I said absolutely not. If you stream I’m pulling out. I have not seen a stream that I would want my product attached to. Way too risky.

The room owner didn’t really want it either. Which is smart. It’s like giving money away. Some room owners do it because they’re told they’re suppose to. It’s good for pool. Nonsense. It will not help their bottom line. I promise.

The pool industry needs to start at the bottom. Celebrate the people who really like a pool as a game and stop celebrating gambling. Invest in the league player. Invest in the pool halls. Find out what they want not what you think pool should be.

That's my industry analysis for what it’s worth.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Video Compilation $1,000-a-ball Break Contest

I created this video compilation of the $1,000-a-ball break contest held at Rusty's Billiards in Fort Worth, Texas on Sept 28, 2010. Ashley Nandrasy and I are "commentating." P.S. Not work safe - cussing throughout, lol.

The side pot for the break contest has been going on for several years. As the manager stated, "but it just hit a LLLOOONNNGGG point where NO ONE was making ...anything.... it grew from there."

The break contest is normally $500 a ball but this was an anniversary night for the pool room. Usually only one person is called, but this night the balls were worth $1,000 AND a name was drawn until someone made money.

If you make a legal break, whatever balls you make AFTER that, are worth $1,000 a ball.  For specs, see my blog article I wrote in August 2008 about this popular break contest.

Check out what happened:

Austin OB Stop

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I wasn't sure if I could catch up on sleep because of so much going on at home. Turns out, lack of sleep was the least of my worries as Thursday night I had to call 911 because my Mom's advanced emphysema was causing her to gasp. We stayed in the ER from 9pm until 3am, where we finally got a room in the Heart Ward.

Mom is breathing better, but her heart rate is out of whack. The hospital has wi-fi and so as I sat with Mom over weekend, I was able to get updates of all my friend's progress online who played in the OB Cues Ladies Tour stop in Austin.

Congrats to Amanda Lampert for winning the tournament! She offered to stay back with my Mom and I in lieu of going to the tournament (she knows it's just me with Mom), but I told her, "that's very sweet, but go to Austin and win the tournament for us." And she did!! Congrat's, Sweetie!  SO happy and proud of you!
Here is Amanda and I at the previous OB Stop (she won that tourney, too!)

Mom should be able to come home this week sometime. I hope she feels better soon. :(

Burn Out Remedies

I am reading this month's Prevention magazine and on page 16 it talks about The Scariest Type of Stress: Burn Out ("the wicked step sister to stress").

"Feeling underappreciated is one trigger of burnout."

While I didn't know that, as soon as I read that sentence I completely resonated with it. I think one of many reasons I retired from the OB Cues Ladies Tour board was because of that. No one may want to hear that, but just as in most relationships, eventually I was taken for granted and I started to feel unappreciated. So, to read that part of my burn out from helping the tour for 9 years could be related to unappreciation was an eye opener and honestly, sad to me.

Then I started to think about pool. You know how sometimes you feel burned out from playing pool? Or, if you haven't, you for sure have heard someone say, "I'm burned out on pool."

Well, this article offers some advice - can we relate the suggestions to pool?
  • Give yourself some downtime
  • Exercise when you feel stressed
  • Help/coach others
  • Challenge yourself - go outside your comfort zone or expand your skills.
In relation to pool:
  • Give yourself some downtime away from pool. It's ok to take a break from league or practicing.
  • Take a walk outside if you can if you've just had a stressful match or endured a stressful situation.
  • Your friends may need mental advice or shot selection help - help them/ coach them and feel the endorphins of the act of helping.
  • Challenge yourself - try a new game or read a new pool instruction book.
And remember, when someone has a good match, wins a tourney, plays well, or volunteers their time for the love of the game, give them kudos!! This little act of kindness may help them from burn out.

Until Next Time...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bloopers Are the Best!

As I mentioned deliberately in passing a few times in recent blog articles, Ashley and I are making pool videos for a website project.

While the official, full details of the project are Top Secret, I CAN share this blooper with you right now!

Ashley's phone started to go off and she slyly tried to reach for it during the recording.  LMAO - it was SO obvious, Ashley!  Love this!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gettin' Ready for the Weekend

I don't normally post too much personal details on this blog, this blog is suppose to focus on pool, mostly.  But as we all know, being able to play pool effectively requires good mental toughness and strength.  When things go on around us in our personal life, sometimes it makes it tough for us to concentrate, or to even attend a tournament.  Life may be pool to many of us, but life sometimes gets in the way of pool.  

The first two weekends of September were pool tourneys for me - Texas Open, then OB stop in Arlington.  Then I had a weekend "off" of traveling and I therefore took advantage of being in town and got in some straight pool matches and also ran a lot of errands.  Then came the final weekend in September and little 'ole me goes to Las Vegas!  I go with two cool girlfriends and we get to meet up with Ravee (pool fan) and Justin (of the famous TAR).  But, we mostly have a girls-only-weekend full of too much fun!  Poolside, dancing, gambling, eating well.

Yvette and Justin being funny b/c of their heights!

Ravee, Kristen, Yvette, and I on the dance floor.

So much fun made me super dehydrated on the last night and let's just say I am now drinking MUCH more water than I ever thought I possibly could.  Eeeek!

The following weekend I then went to Shreveport to gamble, shop, and have yet another girls-only weekend with two other friends of mine. They made sure I drank lots of water so I wouldn't faint like I did in Vegas.

My coworkers and I, before going to Shreveport.

So, THIS weekend coming up, I am going to Austin for the next OB Cues Ladies Tourney.  What does this mean?  Besides I travel a lot, lol....

This means my ONLY goal this week is to try and get sleep.  It's only Monday, though, and already last night I didn't sleep well.  Not a good way to start off a week of needing sleep, huh?  Tomorrow morning I will be getting up around 4am to take Mom to the hospital.  They are shocking her heart (cardioversion procedure) on Thursday and she has to go in for prepping two days before.  I don't see sleep in the future for me this week.  I'm already behind and trying to catch up.  And I will be worried about Mom.  I hate she is scared!  :(

....Yes, I WILL continue to drink lots of water.....