Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are You a Good Pool Player's Girlfriend?

I can't tell you how many times I see a significant other get upset at a guy during a match he is in. At this point in my life, it actually really irritates me to see girls get upset at their men when they are gambling or playing in a tournament.

Do they not get it?   Really?  You can't wait til they are done to show your anger and chew them out?   Do they really think getting on their nerves will help them play better and win the set?

Why do guys even take these girls to gambling matches or tournaments?   Oh, I know, because they will text and call every ten minutes til they hear back from you, and then still chew you out on the phone and hang up on you.

Listen ladies. Men gamble. Men compete.  They aren't not thinking of you deliberately, they are just busy being a guy - trying to see who has the bigger stick and win that money.

Gambling and competition makes a person not think or see clearly, especially about your emotions and how you should be treated.  It's not personal, tho.  Always remember that.  They don't mean to not call you. It's just they are busy with something that preoccupies their entire mindframe.  But you help them LOSE by giving them a hard time.   Don't send them crappy texts, don't hang up on them, don't chew them out during a match. Try as hard as you can to leave them alone and NOT upset them while they are playing (you already know all this will upset them more).  And how can someone play pool well if they are upset?

Trust me, I can sympathize to the frustrations that women have with their guys who stay out all night gambling. I have been around that my whole life and I, too, took it personal and have experienced the hurtfulness many, many times.

So, yes, I have been guilty of getting mad / upset at the wrong times, I fully admit. But, I am now 150% better than ten years ago.  I now keep any upsetness within me until they are finished gambling. I want them to WIN! I know if I upset them, they will (1) lose (2) take it out on me (3) get more mad at me (3) blame me (4) and the fight will be worse.

You can still chew them out afterwards. But during gambling matches, I beg of you to just hold that anger til the appropriate time. Don't even show it on your face. Keep it hidden. Be there for your man, so he can win!

The few times I have upset someone during a recent gambling match was deliberate.  But otherwise, I know to keep quiet, express any disappointment later, and instead be their biggest supporter.

I admit it's not easy at all to hold back when you get upset.  But try to.  So he can focus.

Your relationships will be better if you support and understand, instead of nagging at them you want to leave, or get upset because he's not showing you attention.   Hello?  He's in a game!

Now, if a guy is out every night gambling, then I can understand why you may feel hurt and angry and upset. If you can't handle their hobby and their gambling, tho, you may need to either reconsider the relationship or reconsider how you handle their gambling. Because as you know - they wont stop.

Either support them, leave them alone when they are, or you might have to seriously have a sit down and explain to them you don't like being second to gambling (although they wont understand).

So, are you a good pool player's girlfriend/wife?  Or do you get in the way?  Or, do you wish they would stop staying out late and gambling so much?

The very few men I know who stopped gambling usually did so because they started a new job or started a family.  But admittedly, some men still stay out late even with a newborn at home.  I can't say I understand that or would put up with that, but I haven't been in their shoes before.

All I know is - I was the bad girlfriend who always got mad, upset, and acted like a sensitive, selfish little girl (who overreacted all the time) when my guy was gambling.  I regret it now and am trying to pass on some good advice.  Now that I'm older, I see how insensitive I was.  I realize the females reading this will be like, "But he's being insensitive!"  And that is true - but we still can't change the fact he's gambling, can we?

So, let's start supporting him and try to understand what gambling does to the mind:   Gambling is like an addiction.  In a nutshell the way our brain processes our feelings of reward and success at a job well done is: trigger > reward > reinforcement.  The thing is, research also shows that a near-miss or an almost-win is enough to trigger the reward > reinforcement cascade, and is effectively encourages them/us to continue gambling.

What does all this mumbo-jumbo mean?  The brains of people anticipating a win at the roulette table appear to react much like those taking euphoria-inducing drugs. A team of investigators reports that the parts of the brain that respond to the prospects of winning and losing money while gambling are the same as those that appear to respond to cocaine and morphine.

I.E.  Gambling is an addiction. And if you've ever been around an addict, you know that their only thought is "more drugs" (whatever the drug may be - alcohol, gambling, meth, whatever).  And they become selfish.

So, don't take it personal when you are ignored or are feeling ignored.  Gambling is a real problem.  But try not to get mad at them all the time when they are gambling, or interfere with their matches by getting onto them.  At least, try not to.  Realize that even though you don't like them gambling and instead wish they were spending time with you, that if they are going to be out, let them have a good frame of mind and not be upset so they can play the best they can.

Note: After I wrote this and then looked up how gambling is affected by the brain (for the links at the end of this blog entry), I'm now kinda at a crossroads with my "advice."  Why support gambling if it is an addiction?  While I still whole-heartedly believe to not upset your guy while he's in a (any) match, the fact that gambling is an addiction and addictions are hard to break, perplexes me.  I still think understanding and support while they are playing in a match is much better than getting mad at him, tho.

But to read how it's an addiction confuses my own mind with my advice.

I'm not saying I would not be upset either if my b/f was out all the time (btw, he is, but I'm normally sitting right by his side supporting him), but I do admit that it's tough now for me to say to support him gambling, because now I realize through the research that it's an addiction.  But let's face it - there are many forms of addiction that many of us have:  food, alcohol, gambling in casinos, etc.  Gambling is just another form.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It Does't Matter How I Feel

I'm learning the hard way no matter how good I feel about my game, it simply doesn't matter.

I feel so good about my game right now, it's not even funny.  I love the feeling!  I know I'm playing well, I'm staying down well, enjoying playing, etc.. I have no confidence issues right now about my game and am only feeling pure happiness how well my fundamentals are right now.  I feel I can win a tournament soon, that's how confident I am about my game right now.  But... it's not showing up on the table for some reason.

I played in a tourney Friday night and I was the top player of the only 6 women who were in it.  Was I a little cocky knowing I was the best player?  Sure.  Was my ego inflated?  Sure. 

I was "new in town" again and so eyes were watching me, but I didn't mind.  However, I did think about that a few times when I was down on some shots (obviously not a good thing). 

The last time I played this tourney I won it.  I was stoked to finally win a tourney I was "suppose" to win.  This night?  I didn't come through.  This night?  It didn't matter how good I felt; I didn't play as good as I felt about my game.


Guess what?

It's very frustrating!

The three matches I won I played so good, it was sick.  It FELT so good to play so well!

The two I lost, I lost because I gave the matches away.  I let things bother me on the sidelines (expectations from other people) and that interfered with my playing ability.  I also underestimated my opponents.  I also got a little nervous.  But the bottom line - I didn't deliver.  I missed too many shots and scratched too many times.

Sure, it's only a race to two, but still!

Ugh.  :(

Where the heck is my mental game?

Where the heck is "play your best every shot" ?

Why aren't my positive feelings about my game reflective in my matches?

What the heck is going on with me?

Then on Sunday I played in a new league that I was recruited for.  My opponent was really good and I was intimidated.  I played the person; not the table.  Yea, I know I'm not suppose to do that.  And I played bad against him.  Yea, I had many things on my mind (a recent argument with someone, pressure to do well since I was recruited, people telling me how good I was, etc.).  But, I didn't play my game at all. 

My mental game is tanning on a beach somewhere on vacation.  Get back here biotch!  I miss you.  :(

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Differing Perspectives

I love different perspectives; I like to hear other people's thoughts.  As one of my leadership quotes posted on my office wall states: "It's good to hear others differing opinions because it makes you consider things you hadn't thought of."

And this very thing happened the other night.

I met with a dear friend of mine for dinner.  I will call her Kat.  Kat just lost her mother and I wanted to get her out of the house and also wanted to catch up and try to be there for her if I could somehow.  She was her Mother's caretaker for several years, and even stopped playing pool since May 2008 to take care of her. 

After we talked about her Mom and caught up on things, I asked Kat if she had heard of the recent passing of one of our fellow female pool players.  Kat said yes.  Kat then shared a very cute and fun story about the woman and we both smiled in her honor!

I then confessed I was having some major guilt.  I shared with Kat that a few months ago I wrote about this woman in my blog, who sadly was a very bad captain (in my eyes).  I went on to tell the story how about 15 years ago she was my captain and her actions of being two-faced with her words of encouragement and openly second guessing her teammates' decisions was very traumatic for me. 

After I shared my discomfort and sorrow for now writing about a women who had recently passed away of cancer, she reminded me I did not reveal her name and that indeed otherwise I did think she was a genuinely nice woman that touched a lot of people.  And she was right; I did feel that way about her.

Kat made me feel better and I'm glad I opened up to her.

Kat then expressed that I shouldn't have let that bother me to begin with, tho.  She told me on many, many occasions that she (Kat) questioned a lot of shot selections from the sidelines.  It meant nothing other than pure curiosity and wonderment.  She asked me, "haven't you ever done that?" 

I replied yes, but I didn't do it as captain and surely not in front of teammates who need to be uplifted, not questioned.

I also recalled how a friend of mine who had read my other blog entry shared with me she could completely relate to how I felt. She had a similar team experience years ago that still bothers her to this day: a teammate questioned her shots while she was playing in her matches and also afterwards.  She would even tell her teammates they were "wrong" in their selections.  She added, "I for one don't go all the way to Vegas to be miserable on the team I am playing on."  Even though this friend has A LOT more self esteem than I ever had back in 1997, she still was affected.

Yet, although others could relate and understood, I also saw Kat's viewpoint clearly.

We went on to talk about many other things in our lives and we were telling stories all night long.  At one point, I shared with her something that happened to me as child.  She looked me dead in the eye and sincerely stated, "now that should have been something that was traumatic to you," pointing out in a sly way that a captain questioning shots should not bother me so much as the story I just told her.

Differing perspectives.  I love them!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Gambled!

I almost gambled one time back around 1997 but I was warned me if I played the guy, I would have to play him the next day when he wasn't drunk. Oooh, I hadn't thought of that at all! Good point.  That night the guy was super drunk and that's why I knew I could beat him and why I wanted to play him (lol).  It hadn't dawned on me he would want to try and get his money back when he was sober (and there's no way I would play the guy sober, lol).

The next time I gambled was about ten years later. I played a guy for several hours and we broke even. I had just got divorced and decided to do something frisky and out of the norm for me. Flash forward 4 years, and after watching my current boyfriend gamble for the last 8 months, I finally found myself in a gambling match!

He had been telling me he thought I should gamble to help my pool game and mental toughness, but the opportunity never really came up. But this one night we had the chance to play scotch doubles.  :)

We played $10 a man/ a game/ 9ball and won $50. Then we raced to 5 for $50.  We were about to win 5-3 but I got out of position :(.  Our opponents then tied it up 4-4.  Then all of a sudden they flipped the coin. I was sitting down and couldn't hear what was discussed. What's going on?  No one told me.

I asked one of the opponents and he told me we were now racing to 7.

How come I wasn't asked?  I'm part of this gambling match. I guess they thought I would be okay with it?  Come to find out, we also doubled the bet. Huh?  I'm now playing for $100 a man!  Does anyone at this point realize I've NEVER played for this amount of money before?   Hello??!

I promise you I don't really think I let the "amount" get to me, but I fully admit that I didn't play the same as when we first started playing per game, instead of the set. I am not sure where the turning point was, but at some point (maybe when I got outta line when we should have won?) we just didn't play as well anymore as when we won the first $50.  We lost the next two sets.   We each owed $75, but since my b/f was already owed $400 from another night, we didn't exchange cash and I wasn't out any money.

The next weekend, my b/f is gambling again and I decide I want to play someone, too. I already had my feet wet a little, and felt bold I guess, lol.  We knew we could support each other because we would be playing only a table apart, so we were okay gambling at the same time.

I asked one of the guys who was killing time if he wanted to race to 7 for $50. He finally agreed.  And I found myself under huge pressure!

My adrenaline was racing, my heart rate was fast, I could feel some eyes on our match, and I was making mistakes.

My b/f tried to calm me down with encouraging words, but instead I was freaking out! I would joke with nervousness to my opponent when I would make a stupid mistake, but my opponent (who is normally laughing and joking) was barely talking to me.

I recognized right away that because he gambled more than I, he was focused; while I was nervous inside.

I won the first set hill hill.  Even tho I was up 5-2 and he got on the hill first, I somehow managed the win.

We played again and I told my b/f my opponent was upset and that I was affected by it because I'm a girl (don't laugh!). I don't yet have the killer instinct, still, and so instead of using his frustrations to my advantage, I actually felt bad that I hurt his ego and that he was upset.  My b/f tried to convince me to STOP letting it bother me. But I am the type of person who feels bad for people when they are upset.  I am the type of person who will pick up a hurt bird and bring them inside, or try to help strangers when they need a jump start.  My empathy radar is off the charts!  So, these situations are tough for me.

But I admit it helped when my b/f told me not to take it personal. 

I then just tried very hard to only focus on three balls ahead. " Don't think of anything else but that," I tried to tell myself.  I didn't want any superfluous thoughts to enter my mind and for me that's the best way - focus on my pre-shot routine and 3 balls ahead only.

I won 7-4. I won $100. Wow!  I gave my b/f half, and he borrowed $20 later that night, but I had still won $30 when it was all said and done!! I felt like putting it in a frame - like when first-time business owners frame their first dollar earned.  lol.

I hope to gamble again, but I am FULLY aware that I wont win every time, I may have to play longer than I want to (because you aren't suppose to quit winner) and I know that it's not going to be easy.

You may be thinking since it's so difficult for me to handle "hurting" other people that I shouldn't gamble, but I need to learn to separate those emotions during competition.. and I (obviously) need further practice.

Still, I'm excited that the experiences of sharpening my mental toughness and focusing under different types of pressure will help me for when I play in my big tournaments!  :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm Too Nice

I know who some of my blog readers are, so sometimes I have to watch how I say things when I talk about them or their friends. But, I am of the blog opinion that if I can't say something to your face, then I just wont blog about it, lol. I feel pretty confident I would say these things to my opponent if he asked me about this entry, so here it goes.

I played my very last straight pool match, finally, on the last day of May - the very last day possible for the league season.

I tried to play my opponent on Monday (May 30), but he had visitors in town and couldn't. I sent a text later Monday and asked if he couldn't play Tuesday (May 31), was he going to take the forfeit?

He calls me right away and jokes around. "you say you are going to take the forfeit?"

I reply caught off guard, "Um, no."

He jokes some more, "I've been at the pool hall all day."

"Um, no you haven't" I counter.

Because we both work during the week during the day, we decide to play Tuesday night (the very last chance anyway) but I know there is a league that uses all the 8 pool tables of the pool room we play our Straight Pool League.

He tells me the league starts at 8pm and he can get there at 6pm. I tell him we need more time. He suggests we play AFTER league and I say "no, I can't."  He then asks me what time I have to be in at work.  To me, that doesn't matter.  If I can't play until league GETS OVER, then it doesn't matter what time I go into work in the morning.

He then says. "Okay, I can try and go straight from work and be at the pool room at 530 and we can play. If we don't finish we can play after."

Again I reiterate, "Um, no I can't."  

I get stuck in traffic leaving work on Tuesday and rush and rush to make it on time at 530.

He isn't there.

After 15 minutes, a friend calls me over to his table, "hey, you gonna play a straight pool match tonight?  You know league starts at 7."

I tell him, "But my opponent said it starts at 8."

He shares with me that "yea league starts at 8, but the tables are given to the players for practice at 7. "

I immediately get upset!  Really!?  Now we have even less time to play and it's the very last night we can play! Here I thought we had 2 1/2 hours to play our match, now we really only have 1 1/2 hours.  BUT - I don't know what to do, because the guy isn't even here yet and it's almost 6pm!  That leaves us only 1 hour to play our match! 

At 5:55 I ask my friend to text my opponent, as I don't have his number on me. He texts back, "be there in a few minutes."

As I sat there getting even more upset, I thought, "how can i play a race to 100 in an hour??"

I then realize I should have already forfeited him. If after 15 mins you haven't heard from your opponent and hes not there, it's a forfeit.  I gave him 25 minutes before I contacted HIM.

I debated what to do. Ugh. We wouldn't get to finish, he should have been there already, but I wanted to see how I faired, yet this win (via forfeit) would be good for my stats. 

I just kept getting more and more upset. He finally walked in the door at 6:10.

I discuss with him we wont have time but he says, "lets play til they kick us off the table."


Then he adds, "we can move to my teams table at 7pm. "

Which means we still have less than two hours to race to 100.

He then mentions we can finish after league and I stress AGAIN, "I can't. My Mom just got out of the hospital."

"Oh yea," he says.

We start to play and it's safety galore! I am ahead the whole time til about 7:15pm, all the while I'm freaking out in my mind! "How are we going to finish? What are we going to do? WTH??!"  With so many safeties, we are no where near even the half way mark (50).  How are we going to finish by 8pm?

He makes a lot of mistake in that first hour and I am playing okay.

I am ahead 8 to 20
22 - 30
25 - 37
29 - 39
then it gets closer
37 - 39
then 38 - 44
then he ties it 46-46

I have been upset in my mind the whole time. Fretting, worried, upset, freaking out, unsure what would happen.  But for whatever reason, the score didn't reflect that (thank goodness).

The team waiting on the table let's us continue our play (much to their disappointment) til about 7:30 when when they finally tell us to get off. My opponent asks if I can go home, check on my Mom and then come back.


"No," I say briskly.  "I live 25 minutes away!" I say with a high-pitched voice.

"I'll buy you a drink" he then tells me.

"NO," I say back with disgust.

He then suggests we move to his team's table.  I get verbally upset, saying, "why move?? We can't finish by 8pm anyway!

Adding, "And we were suppose to start at 530 anyway!"

It's only 46-46 and we have only 30 minutes left and we race to 100.  Really??

Finally, his wife suggests we can move to their team table and just play it out completely til we are done. The other team agreed (their captain wanted me to beat this guy) and so we moved to his team table.

The table was much darker, but I had no choice.

And as the league members showed up, many came to say hi to me and my opponent says to me, "I was afraid moving over here would interfere with your game because you have to say hi to everyone." I reminded him that would be good for him, tho.

Then I'm not sure what happened, but he got focused. I am guessing because he knew he had to (1) still play his 9ball league matches (2) give them back the table asap (3) now he knew I couldn't play later, so he simply got on fire.

Here's how it went:  I had two tough shots I missed, he had a 15 and 17 ball run, and I had 3 banks that I didn't make. That left me losing 56-100. To say I was livid is an understatement.

What started off so good, even with me being so freaked out inside, ended up with him running out and playing good safes for several innings in a row.

Once I check the rules the next day, yep I should have for sure forfeited his ass. I am tired of being the nice person. I WILL NOT next season not be so nice. I'm tired of this. Sick of people not following the rules.  Further, I rushed to get there on time and had to leave work early to try and fit my last match in. I lost paying hours to get there at our scheduled time.

As I sat there waiting for him at 5:30 for 30 minutes, the guys in the pool room told me to forfeit him.  He was more 15 minutes late.  But I felt bad.  Ugh.

Guess I can't do anything but get a damn backbone and stand up for myself when the rules are the rules.  I need to stop being so damn nice.

Do I sound bitter?  Yea.  I sound bitter not because he won (he played very good in the end) but I am perturbed at MYSELF.  I should have handled the whole situation different and next season I will if it comes up.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Text Messages About Matches From CSI

I hope you have heard of this by now, but if not, let me share with you a really cool new techie thing CSI has put in place for the players!

Text messaging!

Yea, sounds simple and easy.  But it's more than that - it's clever and became an important and useful tool for the players.  It saved time because you didn't have to walk across the convention center to check the charts all the time and it was extremely convenient.

You signed up at the Tourney Desk and gave them your name and cell phone number.  At that point, you will then receive text messages about your matches - for every event you entered!  (yes, even teams)

Here are some exact examples I will cut and paste for you.  These examples show every possibility:  a win, a loss, a table change, etc.  The cool part was you also received a text 20 minutes before every scheduled match - nice little alarm clock.  :)

Examples of Text Messages for Scotch Doubles:
  • Congratulations on the win Ewart/Bailey! You defeated Phillipe/Makus 3 to 1. Your next match is Mon Noon on Table: 231.
  • Match change: Ewart/Bailey vs. White/Asleson is now scheduled for Mon 4:30P on Table: 231.
Examples of Text Messages for Singles:
  • Congratulations on the win Melinda Bailey! You defeated Sharon Bledsoe 4 to 1. Your next match is Sat 4:30P on Table: 45.
  • Melinda Bailey vs. Amanda Pulley is on schedule for Sat 4:30P on Table: 45.
  • Good effort Melinda Bailey.  Your next match is Sun 1:30P on Table: 44.
 Examples of Text Messages for Team Event:
  • No Holes Barred vs. Secret Sauce is on schedule for Sat 9:00A on Tables: 22, 23, 24.
  • Congratulations on the win No Holes Barred! You defeated Junior Mints 9 to 3. Your next match is Sat 1:00P on Tables: 19, 20, 21.
  • No Holes Barred your Sat 1:00P match may be delayed. You must be prepared to play as scheduled, but your opponent is currently playing a match.
 Final Text:
  • CSI and Bad Boys thanks you for attending the 2011 BCAPL 8-ball nationals!  Hope to see you in 2012!
I thought the extra wording was thoughtful.  "Nice Try" or the "Congrat's" was an extra added nice bonus. 
I will sign up for these EVERY year now!  You are only able to sign up one number at a time, so I would forward the texts to my b/f and friends so they knew I won and what time/table I was up next.  Because CSI has to pay for every text sent out, they can only sign up one number at a time per name.  Pretty impressive they are paying for this service!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Great Tournament Experience - PoolSynergy of the Month

Mike Fieldhammer is this month's PoolSynergy host and he choose this topic for us to write about:  A Great Tournament Experience.

Obviously, the best tournament experienced is one that you win!  Ah, just kidding!  Although.. that is an extra added bonus!  :)  haha

Ironically, Mike wants us to "write about any aspect of an event that you enjoyed and appreciated."   Well, for me, the best tournament experience is one where I feel appreciated and respected.  That goes a long way to make the perfect tournament experience for me!

It might sound selfish, but let me put it into perspective. 

I have been to tournaments where the Tournament Directors (TDs) don't listen to the players, the waitresses could care less if I need a drink in the middle of the match, the one bad table isn't taken out of the line up even after complaints, the Player's Meeting is not started on time, etc.

These may seem minor, but appreciation helps one's mental game.  As a competitor, I am there to focus on playing my best.  If I have distractions, I wont be top form for my matches.  And if I have distractions that are preventable or not taken care of, it makes for an even POORer tournament experience.  It goes a LONG way when Tournament Directors show appreciation to their players and provides them the best atmosphere to play in.  That is the great tournament experience for me.

Further, as the caretaker of my Mom, little things go a long way to feel appreciated. I take care of everything in my life; But a good TD makes me feel taken care of, and to me that leads to being able to play pool distraction-free!

Appreciation is the biggest compliment to me.  Not just in pool, but in my life.

Sure, go ahead and use me for my entry fee and green fee and registration fee.  As long as I'm felt appreciated, I will gladly come back and donate!

On the other hand, take advantage of the players by being rude, taking out money not advertised, change the format after the tourney starts, etc. and you will lose players.

I have been to tourneys where the A/C was not working properly in the middle of the Summer in Texas.  The Pool room owner gave us all free bottled water.  Talk about appreciation!

I appreciate when the Player's Meeting is started on time.  Just the other weekend I raced to an event because I was told the meeting started promptly at 10:15 but it really didn't start til 11am.  :(

I have been to tourneys where the TDs got in verbal arguments with their players.  Talk about distracting and rude!

When TD's enforce the rules, it's also much appreciated.  I like it when everyone has to follow the same rules.  Don't bend them for favorites.  Guess what?  We all see when you let that one player slide more than the 15 minutes and you don't forfeit them, or you allow that other player out of dress code, or you wont step up and tell one of our opponents to stop sharking, or you let the audience interfere with matches, etc.  I understand that TDs have a thankless job, but the rules are in place for a smooth tourney experience for all involved.

I appreciate when a pool room shows their appreciation to the players that are there in their pool room.  It reminds me of watching bands live in concert.  When they stand onstage and genuinely thank their fans for paying to watch them perform, it gives us a sense they sincerely appreciate us.  Same for pool room owners that leave the bar tables open for free or provide extra food (as examples).

Some tournaments have surprised the players and added extra money to the event.  We will always remember those pool room owners!

The TD's that start the matches on time and keep the tourney moving along are top notch in my book.

I went to one tournament held in a convention center and the event was non-smoking, but the TD's were smoking at the TD desk in the room!  Really??

I love a tournament that advertises exactly what the green fees, payouts, etc. are.  Trust is key.

So, while I could mention a specific thing that makes for  a great tournament experience, it's the tournaments where I feel appreciated that I cherish the most.  Distraction-free is the perfect atmosphere to get my mind in gear for playing good pool!  And the best way to achieve that is for tournaments, tournament directors, and pool room owners to show appreciation to the players through respect, appreciation, and gratitude.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Team Support

For whatever reason, Vegas brings out awesome and unexpected team support more than any other tournament.

The Teams:

The Tiger Sharks are a team from Dallas that I only see in Vegas. Since I don't play out of Dallas (I play an hour away in Fort Worth), I really only see these guys in Vegas. Two of the teammates are good friends of mine, but we only get to catch up in Las Vegas. But for whatever reason, every year their entire team seems to support my team more than any other.

 Texas Sharks!  I joked with them this photo in the convention center tourney room looks like a police line up!

In addition to the Tiger Sharks, the day before the team events started I met two players from a team out of Houston called Double Down.  Jeff and Juan (who knew my Vegas roomie, Rebecca, well) became fast friends with Amanda and Ashley and I and they became our cheerleaders, also.

Juan getting his first tattoo!

Further, Darnell and her sister and teammates supported us again this year.  Darnell is out of San Fransisco and even though we beat her team a couple of years ago and again this year, they still would send us texts for updates, watch our matches, and wish us good luck!  They are super cool to hang out with and they always have a great time!

Ashley, Darnell and I

Friendships Bond:

This year it was so much fun to hang out with these other teams away from the pool tables, too. We watched them play black jack or 3-card poker, they would watch me play Let It Ride, we all watched the pole dancers together, we ate out at the likes of the Mirage Buffet (see video blog), Kristophers, and the Peppermill.  We even ventured away from the Riviera and my teammates and I went to the HardRock Casino one night with the Tiger Sharks (I had never been there - the music is loud and FANTASTIC! Loved the atmosphere).

This year, for whatever reason, the support was even more than in previous years. But more importantly, I got to know the players on a personal level this year. I love eating out and the 3-4 times we all went out as a team was a blessing because it was so rewarding to get to know them better.  Eating over good food with great company allows connections to form and we were able to talk and share in the great atmospheres.  I found out about their kids, hobbies, family life, work life, etc.. I found out which one is the sports better , which one had a secret birthday he was trying to keep from us, which one had a great new girlfriend, etc.

An added bonus, all of the guys became like our body guards, too, and they kept watch over us, all the while supporting our matches.

I thoroughly enjoyed not only spending time with them, but also getting to know them.

The Support:

I can't begin to describe how much team support means.  Yes, when playing in a big tournament or in a singles division (such as in BCAPL tournaments), support is amazing and extremely helpful.  But team support is a different type of camaraderie.  It's simply on an other level.

It's not just your close friends watching all your single's events, it's a whole entire team supporting your whole entire team.

These three teams would follow our progress, check the charts, watch our matches, and cheer us on.  We would look for them in return across the large room.  "Is that them?  I wonder how they are doing?" 

The other teams would text us often, "What table are you on?  What time do you start?  We'll be right there."

Even after the three other teams had to leave on Saturday late morning, they would continue to text us from the airport and during their layovers,

"How's it going?"
"Keep it up!"
"You gals are doing great!"
"Keep us posted."

Even from afar, on AZB forums we had supporters and followers.  It was awesome to get messages of encouragement and congrat's when we placed 7th!

 My team, No Holes Barred!

The team support was awesome and I will never forget how team spirit overflows to other teams.

The immediate connection and support is so much fun and makes me almost speechless to express that type of camaraderie.

Thanks, guys and gals!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Assets In Vegas

Anyone that knows me personally will not be offended by this blog entry.  But if you don't know me, you may not believe I'm going to write this entry, as I am a female and this would be a "male" blog article.  But let's face it, women are beautiful creatures and I don't mind showing off their assets, especially if they are willing to take pics with me.  :)

Seriously, all these women are beautiful and my friends!  Even the blackjack dealer became a friend and as I would walk by every night in the casino I would shout out my hellos to "Barbie."

Me and the beautiful Melissa Morris!  I love this girl so much - she's the sweetest!  And now, newly married!  Sorry guys!

BlackJack Dealer Barbie.  Her table was always full!

Wendy and I with the awesome Jessica!  She was so cool - guys who didn't even know her would stop her to get a pic with her!

Me and two of the Pole Dancers in the middle of the Riv.

 My Vegas Roommie's butt!  (Rebecca!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Poker in Vegas

I had been playing 1/2 no limit Texas Hold 'Em poker since Jan and decided to try my hand at the poker tables at the Riv.  The problem was, I was nervous!  Super nervous.

I already am very aware many pool players play poker almost daily now instead of pool, so I was nervous that their skills were better than mine.

When I play at home (at the closest casino (Winstar) over an hour away), there are 20 tables of 1/2 and so the talent is a crap shoot.  Here, with only 3-4 tables open, every player is good.  And the sharks were out.

I got sent to my hotel room all 3 outta 4 times with my tail between my legs because of embarrassment.

Further, I was only aggressive one time and it backfired.  The rest of the time the guys took advantage of me.  And it sucked; and hurt my little pride. :(

At the first time to the poker room, I had asked a good friend of mine (Mike) to watch me so I could learn from him.  He is considered one of the best "readers" in the DFW area, and we had talked many months ago about him helping me.  He couldn't show up for an hour and ironically, that's only how long I lasted.  :(

However, the guy who was next to me gave me advice in that hour and ironically, he turned out to be a good friend of Mike's.  His friend told me and Mike (later) that I played too shy, not aggressive enough, and to be aware that guys will try and bluff girls more.  I told him I was embarrassed and he reminded me not to be, that everyone loses money all the time at poker.

I only lasted one hour the first two times I sat down.  The third time, I was there about 4 hours and was at a friendly table.  The 4th time I wasted my time, but played for a couple of hours at least.  It became fun and not intimidating after the first time.  I guess I needed to get my feet wet or something.  Take me to Winstar and I am comfortable in that casino.  I am in "my element" and happy.  Vegas poker against seaoned pool players?  Eeek!  Scary!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sweating Matches

Sweating matches actually takes a lot of effort. We want to support our dear friends, so we try and watch as many matches as we can. Problem is, we ourselves need to be sure to get enough rest for our OWN matches.

While I want to watch my friends and be there for them, I have been in this rodeo for many, many years and if I have a match coming up, I will rest if I need it. Don't mean to sound selfish, but if I'm still in the singles event at the BCAPL Nationals, I NEED to be selfish and get rest and focus on me because I went all the way there and prepared all year for this event.

Once I am out of the tourney (which this year was super early, lol), I am able to support and watch many of my friends.  And this year I watched as they clawed through the tough brackets in their events!

I watched Rebecca, Amanda, Monica and Ashley's matches. I tried to support them as much as I could on the sidelines. And if they couldn't come to one of my matches, I understood completely, and didn't take it personal at all. I had a few friends that felt obligated to watch their friends, and I while I understood that, I wanted them to rest and be selfish, too, tho.

Once I was out of the tournament, I become a better supporter. I watched Amanda Lampert play her 4 matches on Monday and 4 more on Tuesday to make it to the finals in the Master singles!  Congrat's, Girlie! I saw Rebecca, Monica and Ashley last all the way til Monday in the Women's Open Singles! I was so proud of them all!

But I admit, it's tough to sweat matches, lol. Takes time, energy, and patience. You pass up dinner with other friends, gambling (but that helps save money, lol), and trips to other casinos.  But we want to be there for each other, esp when it gets down closer to the end of a tourney!

I find it ironic (and confusing) that some people ask me to watch their matches and yet they don't think to watch mine. But I try to recognize I am playing for ME. 

I found myself in an interesting and a great thought-provoking conversation on Tuesday afternoon. A dear friend of mine with more experience in pool than I (and I have been playing for 20 years) shared with me she laughs when her friends and b/f ask her to watch their matches. She laughed some more and shared that it's too tiring to watch matches, and since she can't be there for all of them anyway, people need to realize they need to play without support of their friends right there ALL the time. She added, "now if they get toward the end, I will watch every match! But to watch several rounds in the beginning? No."

It made me wonder about myself. I admit I long for my b/f to watch me in my matches in my events, but he isn't always around or doesn't always watch me. I get disappointed, but I try not to get upset and instead force myself to realize I'm playing for ME. Pool really is a single-person sport.  We are on our own.  Who are we really playing for anyway?  But let's also be a realist and admit support on the sidelines from the ones we care about mean so much to us!

However, I'm hoping this conversation I had with my fiend will help me from wishing he was there all the time. If I can see it from her eyes, I can understand now why he doesn't necessarily have to be there for every single match. I feel that way about girlfriends - they don't need to watch every one of my matches. But when it comes to a significant other (like my current boyfriend), I just know how much better I feel if he's there supporting me. He has been the absolute biggest supporter of any guy I have ever dated - he wants me to win more than anyone ever before.  :)

So, if I sweat your match, it means I care about you!  However, if I'm not there I have a good reason.  And don't be upset at me if it's a selfish reason for me needing rest or to get ready for my own match. 

While sweating is a tough job, I SO enjoy being there for my friends and boyfriend.  I enjoy trying to be their cheerleader, supporter, mental toughness, and gopher.  I am their biggest fan!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Return Flight(s) Fiasco

Because I used miles and booked my flight to/from Vegas via award travel, I was limited on the flight options.  The only flight back Sunday was at 6pm at night.  I prefer to leave earlier for several reasons:  (1) to get home at a decent hour, (2) I have things to do at the house before I go to work on Monday, and (3) because afternoon thunderstorms can delay flights.

I prefer to leave early Sunday morning from BCAPL Nationals, but this was not an option for my "free" flight.

Sunday morning I visit the host at the Riv to try and get some food comped.  Much to my utter surprise, I was told not only will they not comp my food, but the last 6 days of the two rooms I booked would not be given the players rate.  I kicked, screamed, cried, gave a sob story, showed my boob (just kidding) but nothing work.  The lady had no sympathy for me, even tho I spent gobs of money in that place.  I had to pay the full rate and I was pissed!

After that debacle, I took a shower and packed and decided to venture to the Mirage Champagne Brunch, which I absolutely love, love.  Even eating it solo was still a thrill for me because I love the food and atmosphere there.  Or was it because of the champagne?  lol  Then I gambled a little bit before I needed to depart to the airport.

As I sat at the airport, I get a text my flight is canceled, then comes the announcement, "Flight 1532 has been canceled."

Here is the a timeline how things went from there:

Sunday evening:

5:15 Flight cancelled due to weather in and around Dallas.
5:20 On phone with AA.
5:50 Disconnected from AA after 30 minutes. !@#$%^^$%#$ PISSED!
6:00 Lug ALL my luggage that I had to pick up from the carousel to the AA counter and I'm now last in line!
6:30 Finally get to counter 30 minutes later.  I got a flight for Tuesday afternoon and a voucher for $50 a night at South Point Casino through AA.
6:40 Called Mom. Told her I wouldn't be home til Tuesday. She tells me she has been running a fever but didn't want me to worry.  My neighbor was feeding my cat and checking in on her for me, but she kept her fever from both of us.
6:45 In taxi line with luggage  (see both videos - I am UPSET! - video blog taxi line 1 and video blog taxi line 2)
7:15 In taxi after 30 minutes long line with luggage.
7:25 At South Point Casino (which is located nowhere near the strip). Taxi cab fee $25 plus tip!  omg...
7:35 Check in
7:40 Lug luggage across casino floor and the long, long hallway to get to my room (video blog of the long hallway).  Tired, upset, miserable.
7:45 Call Mom and cry to her.
7:50 Call b/f and cry to him.
9:00 Gamble in casino and have too many mai tai's.  Check out video blog of smart shaped table game.


7:45am Neighbor calls. My Mom called 911 and is now headed to the ER!
7:50 Call other neighbor who saw her in the ambulance; she was having trouble with her emphysema and was breathing bad.
8:10 Called Mom in ER to try and calm her.  She can't talk well because she can't breathe well.
8:15 Call AA. They found me a flight at 7am Tuesday instead 2pm Tuesday.
8:30 Call ER nurse, they say Mom is stable but has a few infections.
8:45 Call neighbor. They visited Mom and she was sleeping.
9:30 Called Mom; she's very tired and not talkative.
9:35 Call Mom's nurse who visits her once a week. She will head to the ER asap.
10:15 She called me back and says Mom is doing ok but they are going to admit her when a room is available.
10:30 ER nurse calls to confirm meds.
11:00 AA calls ME. They have a seat open on a flight in two hours!
11:05 I rush to airport (leave behind my video camera in hotel room by accident)
11:30 Check bags, walk to gate.
11:40 Call Mom; still in ER.
11:45 Call hotel to try and find my video camera.
11:55 Flight delayed an hour.  omg, really?

12:15 Flight delayed another hour.
12:30 Hear from hotel - they found video camera, will mail it to me.
12:35 Flight cancelled due to weather.  Seriously??
12:37 Call AA to try and change flight.
12:50 AA is calling me on the other line. The lady I spoke to this morning saw my flight was cancelled and booked me on the 4:45 flight because of my Mom.  (omg, how awesome!)
1:00 Go get luggage.
1:15 Recheck bags at AA counter.
1:25 Check in through security again.
1:30 Call Mom - she has been moved to her hospital room now and talking better.
2:00 Eat Burger King.
2:30 Flight delayed an hour.  ugh...
2:45 Flight delayed another 30 mins.  Really??  I can feel for what is coming next...
3:00 Flight cancelled.  Yep.
3:05 Call AA to get on another flight.
3:25 On hold for 25 minutes, but got me on a flight at 5pm on Tuesday.
3:40 Get luggage; stand in taxi line. Use roller-ed luggage caddy this time.
4:15 Go back to South Point. Taxi still $25 plus tip.
4:20 Check in, use bell guys to carry my luggage.
4:35 Visit business center to pick up my video camera that hadn't been mailed yet.
4:45 Call Mom. She is upset I'm not there; I am more upset.
5:00 Get ice cream.
5:15 Take a nap.
6:10 Go see Pirates of the Caribbean Movie to get my mind off everything.  Movie theatre in the casino - check out this video:

8:55 Movie done, Mavs won, going to sleep after calling Mom.

7:15am Call Mom. Her meds are all messed up and she's very very upset. I talk to nurse; they are working on it.
8:00 Take shower.
8:30 Try and rest some more.
10:30 Eat chinese food in this little cafe in the Casino that had a separate chinese menu (best orange chicken I've ever had)
11:30 Decide to try Pai Gow.
11:55 Flight delayed an hour (via email notification).  Continue to play Pai Gow Poker.
1:30 Flight delayed another hour.  Play more Pai Gow.
3:00 Head to airport.
3:30 Try to check in, but machine tells me I need to speak to an agent. WTH?
3:32 Get in LONG line. Trying to remain calm.
3:15 Try to check in again (while in line, someone holding my spot), still can't check in via the kiosk for some reason.
3:45 Long Line at AA counter barely moving. :(
3:55 Try to check in again. It works! I move my bags from the line and get them and myself checked in.
4:00 Walk to security gate.
4:05 See a cute stuffed elephant for Mom!
4:25 Eat Burger King. Throw money into a Wheel of Fortune slot machine.
4:40 Stand in line to talk to AA Manager about my fiasco.
4:55 Still in line after 15 minutes. Drunk guy talking to AA manager is causing a scene.
5:05 AA manager tells me since it's weather related, it's an Act of God, and I can't gt reimbursed for the $110 for hotel nor the $120 in cab fees.
6:15 Flight about to take off.
6:16 B/F tells me tornado warnings in Dallas.  Crap!
6:20 Take off (see video blog of take off). Pilot says weather should be out of the area by the time we land.
10:40 (Texas time) pilot says we are 30 minutes away and weather is worse so we are being diverted to San Antonio!
10:50 Land. No gates available. 1000 other people diverted to SA, also.
10:55 Call b/f - he was driving back from the airport that I never arrived at.
11:00 Called Mom - told her the bad news - I still wasn't in town yet! ;(
Sit on tarmac for 2 1/2 hours!
1:25 Shuttle buses arrive at our plane and we are shuttled to the airport.
1:30 Stand in line for free hotel voucher. With 1000 people to put in hotels, it's a long process.
2:00 Get voucher.  Luggage is still on the plane!
2:30 Arrive at hotel. Line is super long to check in.

3:30 FINALLY get checked into my hotel room.
3:50 Fall asleep.

8am Wake up.
8:15 Wait for shuttle from hotel to airport.
8:30 Arrive at San Antonio airport. Lines are long EVERYWHERE!
8:45 Go through security using yesterdays boarding pass (somehow).
8:55 Stand in long line to find out from agent what time my flight is suppose to leave.
8:55 Call AA at the same time in case I can get through to them sooner.
9:20 A few people from my flight walk by. They heard our 10am flight will now depart at 3pm, but we keep hearing announcements that other flights are being cancelled and we get nervous.
9:30 Group of 4 of us decided to drive the 4 1/2 hours to DFW.
10:00 In car with strangers, but on my way to see Mom.
3:00 B/F picks me up from DFW airport (that's where we dropped the rental car off and every one's cars were).
3:20 Dropped him off at his house.
4:00 Walk in Mom's hospital room with stuffed elephant!
4:10 Still hugging and crying!

Visit mom.
Go to airport to try and find my luggage.
Get a parking ticket trying to find them in two separate terminals.  !@#$%^&%$#@
Go to work for 6 hours (in two weeks! ugh :( ).
Visit mom.

Visit mom.
Go to work.
Mom calls - I need to come right back, they are doing the angiogram today after all.
Go back to hospital.
Sit with Mom before and after her procedure, and into the evening.
Waiting on Heart surgeon.
Finally find out she wont need open heart surgery after all!  Whew!  SO relieved!

Mom out of hospital!

Visit back doctor (a new one).
Make appt for previous back doctor (get to see him one more time before he leaves for his promotion in another state).
Back still hurts from carrying luggage during the flight fiasco's.  :(

June 22 - will visit back doc again

To say it was a nightmare trying to get back is an understatement. Luckily I had a lot of great friends who followed my crappy fiasco posts on FB who shared comforting, loving comments and texts throughout the entire ordeal!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Teams Can Be Tough

I wrote before about my worst team experience.  I wont rehash it all, but a quick recap is the team captain made the experience of playing on her team horrendous because she second guessed our actions and was two-faced with her words of encouragement.

I realized this year more than ever, tho, that playing on a team is TOUGH.  Well, we can make it tough on ourselves

During the first Women's Open Team match this year at BCAPL Nationals, I wasn't playing well and got upset with myself.  In the second match, I had a breakdown. After the first match, tho, I played good.  Real good.  I felt good about my play and I was lucky to feel good for the rest of the team event because of that.

However, I can't forget the first match how *I* thought my terrible play and my actions affected my teammates. When I threw my chalk down in disgust in our first team match, I mentioned afterwards to my boyfriend how embarrassed I was. He said I need to stop feeling embarrassed and not care what others think.

He's right.

Very right.

I have a problem with that, I admit.

I listened to his words for the rest of the team event, and it helped!  If I missed a stupid shot or lost a match I should have won, instead of being embarrassed how my teammates thought of my play, I just tried to not let it bother me and move on.

Because let's face, if we let embarrassment fester, then we can't play our game for our next match because there is too much negativity in our minds to focus on pool.  Once I get embarrassed, it can be difficult for me to recover, that's why I tried to not let embarrassment take control of my emotions after my discussion with him.

I also looked at this way:  If one of my teammates lost or played bad, I never got upset at them. Not once.  Not once was I on the sidelines thinking negative thoughts about them or wished they would have won or got mad at them because they missed a shot. So, If I lost (or lost it) I bet they didn't think twice about me either.

Just like in our final match, one of my teammates felt bad because she played bad.  She took it hard because she thinks she let the team down.  I feel for what she is going through, I really do.  My heart actually aches for the pain she is causing herself.  But I hope she realizes like the rest of us that we don't judge each other when we play bad nor do we blame each other when we lose.  As a matter of fact, we all still loved that we came in 7th place!

Yes, we all are our own worse critics and want to play best all the time and please everyone.

But a Team event does not rest on the shoulders of one person.  

It's a TEAM event!

And I am beginning to think if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.  A team event is not for people who can't handle that they may have a bad day. I say this because that first team captain so many years ago that made a very bad experience for me should never be a team captain.  I say this because if you are going to be depressed for weeks on end because you feel too bad about the way you played, then you shouldn't be on a team until you understand and accept that it's okay not to play good every single time.

A team event can be tough on our psyche.

I admit I do not get depressed anymore after I play super badly (like I did in my 20s) because I learned from Mental Toughness Training for Sports (by James Loeher) to play my best.  It's actually not possible for one to get upset at themselves if you played your best! 

As one of our co-teams captain said:

"We win as a team and lose as a team. I know easier said than done, right? But we all put too much pressure on ourselves and that is just the nature of the beast in a team environment. We don’t want to let anyone down. If we lose, we just pick ourselves off the floor and get back and try it again. We all give best effort and that is the best we can do. "

Words to live by!

No one is upset if I dog it, and I am not upset if a teammate dogs it.  We really do all want to win and we try our best.  Sometimes we get there and sometimes we don't.  If we do or don't, it's what was meant to be.  I still have fun and enjoy the friendship of the team members.  I am lucky to be on such great teams that have fun, play with so much heart, and enjoy playing the game we all love! 

Can't wait til next year!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gilfriend Pics in Vegas!

Vegas isn't complete without lots of pics with my girlies!  Below is a sampling for ya.  Without my camera, I only had my camera phone, but I think it took some pretty cool pics still!

Ashley (now lives in TN), Me and Amanda (from Texas)

Kristen (2011 First Place Women's Master Team!), Me, Joanne (from Canada), Yvette (from Texas) at the Circle Bar in the Riviera

Ashley and I at the Mirage Casino

Amanda and Rebecca (Vegas Roomie from Texas) on our way to breakfast

Vicki (very successful league operator from CA), Me, and Kristen in the Riv Casino

Ashley, Darnell (fellow competitor and now good friend from San Fransisco!) and I

Manders and I at Kady's Restaurant

Gail (2010 BCAPL Women's Open Champ!), Ashley and I (using Ashley's phone with no flash) in the Pool Tourney Area

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tats in Vegas

Vegas is one of those cool places where one might think, "Hey, I should get a tattoo while I''m in Vegas!"  It's the city of adult fun after all, right?!

Well, while I've never personally got tattooed while in Vegas, just this year two of my friends did.  And I have proof!

Conveniently, the Riviera Casino, which hosts the BCAPL Tourney, has a tattoo parlor in it!  It's literally a few steps from the convention center.  It's called the "World Famous 3 Lions Tattoo Studio." 

One of my AZB Forum friends got this tattoo the first few days into the singles event (click to enlarge to see the fine details):

His team is from Odessa, Texas and they are called Bad Boys.  I love the original design and how it incorporates pool and cards.

Then when the team event started, about 5 days later, my Vegas roommie's friend from Houston, Texas (Juan) decided to get his FIRST tattoo!  He inked this awesome Phoenix!

And here he is with his tattoo artist (ain't she a cutey?!).

Juan and I both agreed what was cool about this design is he can add more future tats around it pretty easily because of the shape.

And finally, I took video footage of Juan getting this tattoo  (I also took some footage of the pool area before heading into the tattoo parlor).  Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Check Out This Sponsored Team!

While I watched and cheered on some team matches on Thursday morning, I couldn't help but notice this one particular team with lots of logos on their shirts.  Being the shy person that I am, lol, I walked to their tables and introduced myself.  I just HAD to know how they were sponsored by the likes of Dunkin Donuts, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Jagermeister!!!  Yes, all named-brand companies! 

The Drifters

Once I heard their story, I asked the team (The Drifters) if I could do a Video of their story and they said yes, much to my delight! :)

I was even further impressed with the spitfire attitude of the sole female of the team!  Marcia was a big factor for the team, and her personal life amazed me.

BTW, the team is also sponsored by Tavern Players Magazine, in New Hampshire.  Their magazine is sponsored by Dunkin Donuts, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Jagermeister.  So, they had their logos put on their shirts.

It was awesome to see such high-profile companies on a billiards team shirt, I must admit!  That's why I had to share with you all the team.  :)

Here is the video.  THANK YOU Richie and company!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

14.1 Challenge in Vegas

This year, CSI had a new event in Vegas, and it was a huge hit imo!

They had two tables set up to run a 14.1 High Run Challenge that was held throughout the BCAPL Nationals.  Played on two 9’ Diamond tables, each player who wanted to try out in the Challenge paid only $20 and had 4 chances with ball in hand and choice of break ball location. Each player shot until they missed or fouled and their final score was cumulative of their 4 runs (not their highest run).

So for example, if I ran 16 balls in my first inning and then missed, I still had 3 more chances and the total score was cumulative.  It was pretty dang cool!

Monies were given in multiple divisions: single high run (of course) and the top four of each of these categories got paid:  female amateur, pro (male and female), amateur male, and senior.  I hear thanks are to be given to Charlie Eames and Steve Kurtz for this terrific idea and support!

Here is the first Video Tour I did of the 14,1 Challenge Area:

I checked out the area several times every day and would quickly say hi to Andy who ran the event and kept score, and also to John Schmidt and Bill Marop who hung around the 14.1 pit a lot.  John had the first high, high run of like 121 or so and it held for many, many days til Danny Harriman took a turn at the table and ruined it.

Several people asked me when I would try it, as the high run for the women was around 32 in the first few days.  I finally decided to play it almost a week after it started.  I asked John Schmidt to show me the best break out shot and he practiced it with me for a few tries. 

The day I choose to play, was the same day/time Mika decided to play.  Not a smart move, but I didn't know he was to play that same day.

I felt pretty comfortable after my first try and had 19 or something points in 4 tries, lol.  But I was in the top 4 for a few days against the other chickies who had tried it.

I didn't fair well the second time I took on the challenge (I tried it again right after the first time).  I was more nervous than I realized.  Even though everyone was watching Mika, there were a lot of eyes watching and it made my heart race.  Talk about pressure - I felt it full force playing in front of everyone.  Even though I enjoyed it, thoughts run through your mind a lot in front of a crowd.  lol.

The first try I hit many tough shots and was proud of myself how well I was shooting on a 9foot table (since I had been playing on a bar table solidly for the past week).  By the second try, even though it was right after the first, I was too nervous for some reason and didn't accumulate more than 15 total points, lol.   

I should have tried it again, but ran out of time playing teams and trying to rest between the team matches.  By the end of the challenge, I was no longer in the top 4, and shouldn't be with only 19 total cumulative points anyway, lol. 

In the end, the top 8 pros were invited back to play a single elimination tourney the final day to see who would get the top cash.  Each of the top 8 were already guaranteed $100, but who would get the larger prizes for first through fourth finishes?

Here is video of the final day:

I really enjoyed this event for several reasons:

(1) it introduced the game to a larger audience
(2) it was cool to see the pros playing right in front of us without having to pay some fee
(3) it was cool to watch the top straight pool players in person play this beautiful game
(4) it was cool it was open to anyone for only $20 a stab
(5) it was fun to see newbies assume it was easy only to find out just how tough the game is when they gave the challenge a shot, lol.

I was Really, Really hoping they would have this again next year, and Mark Griffin says YES!

BTW, here are the final stats:

313 - Harriman (including a 199 run) ($200 Hi- Run prize)
281 - Schmidt (run of 121)
261 - Immonen (run of 113)
233 - Deuel
194 - Appleton
160 - Silva
159 - Robles
151 - Eberle

Harriman defeated Eberle 100-56
Immonen defeated Silva 100-14
Robles defeated Schmidt 100-56
Appleton won by forfeit (Deuel was still in 10 Ball finals).

Immonen defeated Harriman 100 to 4 (with a 91 and out)
Robles defeated Appleton 100-36
Immonen defeated Robles 150 to 26 (with a 109 run)

Immonen = $800
Robles = $500
Harriman & Appleton $250 each
Eberle, Silva, Schmidt, Deuel = $100 each

Men's Amateur:
Mark Dimick - 120 ($720)
Craig Powers - 112 ($540)
Mike MIller - 105 ($360)
Lee Brett - 91 ($180)

Men's Senior:
Peter Lhotka - 56 ($200)
Mike Zygmunt - 54 ($150)
Lyn Weschler - 46 ($100)
Robert Hovick - 42 ( $50)

Samm Vidal - 48 ($200)
Li Jia - 41 ($125)
Melinda Huang - 41 ($125)
Tamiko Heidrich - 35 ( $50)

All in all - a VERY BIG HIT!! $5,200 in payouts.  :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Scotch Turns

Playing Scotch doubles can be confusing - which partner's turn is it at the table to shoot?  You'd think it'd be easy to remember, but after you watch your opponents shoot for a while and then it's "our" turn, whose shot is it?

I don't recall this as an issue in previous years.  Maybe it's only on my mind because two distinct instances about this came up this year in Vegas BCAPL Nationals Open Scotch Doubles.

In our very first match at 9am on Friday morning, my partner and I find ourselves down 0-3 in a race to 4.  We easily crawl back 3-3 because we were the better team.  At one point in the final game, which was a messy chess match, the male player of the other team contemplated a shot for a long time.  We never heard him say what he intended to shoot, but he made a ball, yet that's not what he meant.  My partner and I were confused at what just happened, and we were thrown off our game a little bit because we didn't realize it was our turn at the table. 

My partner walked to the table and while he got down on his shot, the female of the opposing duo says, "It's not your turn.  I don't want to have to call a foul on you, but it's not your turn."

We looked at each other and started to go visualize who shot what last and whose turn it was.

She was right, it was my turn.

I thanked her several times, as did my partner (she didn't have to do that), while her male partner shook his head.

We didn't get out and neither did they in one inning - there were many more trips to the table by each team until we finally won 4-3.  The male was so ticked, he wouldn't shake our hands.  :(  I am not sure if he was upset because they were ahead 0-3 and lost, or because she had said something.  Either way, with the way the balls were tied up in that final game, they couldn't have run out with ball-in-hand anyway, even if they had called a foul on us.

It's a weird feeling when someone on an opposing team helps you out like that.  I felt in awe of her honesty and help.

Fast forward in time about 12 hours and we are playing our 8th match at 10pm the same day.  We are playing a team that plays pretty good, but we are still ahead in this match.  Even though my partner and I tried all day to remember whose turn it was at the table (esp after that first match), we messed up again.

After my partner shoots a great shot, the male partner of the opposing team says, "I need to get a ref.  That's a foul."

We look at each other in disbelief and then look at the table thinking, "WTH, that was a legal hit!

Then he adds, "You played outta turn - it's her shot, not yours."

We again stood there, running through our tired minds who shot what last while we looked at the table to try and remember and sure enough it was my shot, not his.  We told the opposing team they didn't need a ref, lol, it was a foul.  The guy told us, "I didn't notice, she did" (referring to his partner).

At this point, I get a tad upset and disappointed.  Really?  Come on now.  But in reality, those are the rules and we played out of turn.  We won 4-1 so it was no issue, but it's amazing how differently WHEN the opposing team chose to tell us we played out of turn. 

I wonder what I would do if I ever noticed my opponents playing out of turn?  I honestly think if I noticed it before they shot, I would say something.  If I'm still trying to figure it out after one of them shoots, I would prolly call them on it.

The difference I see is in the second instance, the female deliberately waited til we shot, which again, is legal.  But I think it's funny how her partner threw her under the bus and confided, "she noticed it."  lol.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Changes at the Riv

The Riviera Casino has been the home to the BCAPL Championships for many, many years.  I love the place - I'm a huge fan of familiarity!  Many people complain about the Riviera because it's old, but I like it because I am a creature of habit.

Much to my surprise, the Riviera has changed a little!  The Riv has a new owner who is putting in $120 million into the casino/hotel.  The better news is, this isn't his first rodeo, so he knows what he is doing.

The one shock I ran across was the sports book was shut down the day before the pool players showed up.  Miscalculation!  Does the new guy not know pool players are gamblers?  lol.  I'm crossing my fingers it's only for renovations, and not shut down forever.

He also moved the poker room (I assume for renovations) to near the food court, and they have a deal now that if you stay for an hour, you get a ticket.  If they call your name, you get to spin a wheel and win from $25 to $200.  Well, the third time I sat down to play poker during my trip, they not only pulled my ticket, I landed on the only $200 spot on the wheel!  WOO-HOO!

$200 Winner!

The other thing the new owner did was to create a kinda Crazy Girls section and added it to the middle of the casino!  So, there are two dancers on pink poles dancing to great music, and the new pink table games have young, hip, dressed-hot dealers.  They still have other previous table games, with the previous dealers, but the new section does create a crowd!  (I snuck a quick video.  Shh - don't tell the Riv!) 

 Crazy Girls Stage in the Middle of the Riv and New Dealers

 Crazy Girls Stage in the Middle of the Riv and New Dealers

They have also added more tables games (like black jack and 3card poker) toward the circle bar and the cashiers cage - so there are many more tables games to choose from than just the original set of tables.

I talked to one of the new pit bosses and he said he was hired just to run the new high-limit baccarat section to the casino that will be added soon.  Pretty smart new owner, huh?

And I was further impressed because one of the dancers was crowned the Best Pole Dancer in Vegas in a contest last year and she is working at the Riv of all places.  The owner was smart to invest in her because she was def the crowd favorite!

 Best Pole Dancer in Vegas!

Flava Flav is going to put one of his new chicken restaurants in the Riv, but not sure that is the new owner's doing or not.  And I sadly share that Kristopher's new owner has changed the menu and the food was not as good this year as last.  :(

There is also a new Pub, kinda where the old Italian restaurant was.  It's a copy of a real Pub from England, so I didn't understand most of what was on the food menu, lol.  Here is a video tour of it:

Other than Kristopher's and the now-non-existent sports book, I liked the changes he has already made and the changes being proposed.

Next year will be interesting when half the pool world population shows up to the Riv!  Can't wait!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

There is no I in Team

The second of three unfortunate things happened during teams. This is a very difficult blog entry for me to write. It's going to come across as vain and also will hurt some feelings. But as I mentioned, the journey of pool is not all positive and learning experiences abound for us to be better for the "next times."

This year we had a two new players on our team from last year. One of the players was semi-captain of her previous winning team and so she became semi-captain this year in Vegas, even though it wasn't completely decided. It was kinda morphed and just happened because we joked about it. Technically, we all had certain responsibilities and joked she was our co-captain.

In the first match, our Women's Open team, No Holes Barred, won hill-hill! I was playing so badly.  :(  The one game I almost won, I scratched on an 8ball, as the cueball barely hung up in the pocket. As I turned to shake my opponents hand, the cueball fell behind my back and each team member from both teams yelled in disbelief out loud. I got super embarrassed, shook her hand quickly, and as I stormed out I threw my chalk on the table that my teammates where sitting at. I went to the bathroom to calm down but very quickly returned to the area where we were playing. It was a team event, and I needed to NOT be upset so my teammates can focus.

I ended up losing all 4 of my matches. One of my teammates, who was having a worse time playing her matches, got one win because the girl gave her ball in hand on the 8ball.

One of my teammates called me after that first match to tell me I really did play well and not to let it bother me. It was really sweet of her to do that.

I could tell that for our next match I was ready to play!  Whatever mo-jo was going on with me in the first match was over (I think I ate too close to the match, to be honest).

As I stood there at the 7pm match, ready to play, I look at the line up. And I'm not on it! We have five players and I'm not one of the 4 playing this round. Um, what?

Here comes the vain part. I was offended.  I was hurt! How can I not be playing? Because I lost my four matches? I feel I am one of the top two players on the team and I wasn't playing? The co-captain tells me that her team last year sat out the person with the most losses from the previous round. She discussed it with the other co-caption before the start of the match, and she said that was okay. The other top player knew nothing of this, either, as when it was discussed we both weren't there yet.

The newly-appointed co-captain had to make a decision about the line up and simply went with what her previous team did.

But, I didn't have rationale thoughts going on.  Instead, I tried to calm down. I sat back down and told myself I deserved to sit out. I clapped loudly for my teammates and cheered them on, but inside I was crying and deeply hurt and confused.

When the other top player finished her first game, I pulled her aside and asked her if my thinking was wrong. She said absolutely not. And added that it should have been discussed with everyone. I told her I would feel the same if they pulled her - I would not want that even if she lost her four matches the previous round.

Hearing the confirmation I wasn't totally out of my mind and that someone understood and empathized with me, I sat back down and cheered my teammates on again.

I had to put the team first and try as hard as I could to ignore my the pain because there is no I in Team.

Then I noticed my name was back in the lineup... and I became livid! I got super upset.  You'd think I'd be happy, but I wasn't; at all! I felt so ashamed that because I got upset they put me back in. I didn't know it happened - the two co-captains decided to change it while I was trying to regroup with the other teammate.

I warned them there was no way I could play - I was too upset now! Actually, more upset than before when I first saw I wasn't on the lineup! I was mortified. Ashamed. Upset. I had disrupted the team and was so upset with myself for being selfish.

When the co captain finished her match, I told her I didn't want to be put back in just because I was upset.  She shocked me and said, "I didn't even know you were upset." She said they decided it was not a good decision after all and was only going by what her previous team did, so they put me back in.

She also explained that she was put in a bad spot to make the decision in the first place when she didn't even know she was to be co-captain. Then I felt super bad for that - it was a very good point. She was all of a sudden forced to deal with an issue that she didn't sign up for.

We won that match and went on to place 7th, but I can't help but still feel bad for disrupting the team dynamics. :(

There is no I in Team, Dammit!