Monday, October 31, 2011


I played one of my final 3 straight pool matches of the season on Friday night.  I wasn't sure how I would fair, but to ruin the suspense, I won 100-79 against a good player whom I consider very talented.

We were neck and neck for most of the match and then at 68-65 him, I caught a gear and ran 9, 2, 6, 6, and 12 to win 100 to 79.  My high run for the match was 18 (which is pretty good for me!).

I wrote about my opponent before.  I nicknamed him Turtle #1.  Yes, he is a slow player but more so because he is deliberate and plays smart - so sometimes that means playing safes instead of risking shots.

As I mentioned in the two blog articles I wrote before, I don't mind him playing slow.  It's just how he plays.  I plan for a long match and I don't let it get to me.  However, this is also the same person who another league member asked to play faster and take more chances.  As I wrote before, a guy I nicknamed "The Talker" told me a few months ago that he was so annoyed with how slow Turtle #1 played, he told him to take more chances and speed up his game.  I was pretty appalled when he told me this (still am, actually).

Anyway, on Friday night, Turtle #1 and I talked about our match after it was over.

He said said I played good and that I won because I didn't miss as many shots as he did.  What I noticed was I missed earlier in the match and he missed later in the match.  I told him I tried to figure out why I was missing in the beginning and once I figured that out, I guess I played better.

I also told him, "You know, I have to say that it was a real treat to watch you play tonight.  I have been watching a lot of straight pool videos and at the beginning of our match, it was just like the videos!  You used the key balls perfectly and also used correct paths to get on your breakout shots.  It was a joy to witness."

He told me thank you and seemed surprised I would say that. 

Then he shared, "I was told my slow play bothers you so I tried to speed up my decision process."

Wait, what?

I was stunned.  I never meant for that to come out that way.

I told him the info was not at all accurate.  "Actually, I don't mind that you play slow.  And don't change your game for anyone!  I know you are deliberate and that's okay with me.  I have no problem with how you play and actually very much enjoy our matches."

He further explained that while he may play slow, he has figured out he doesn't need to spend so much time on certain decisions when only one choice is available.

I then expressed to him how appalled I was that The Talker asked him to speed up.

And Turtle #1 said, "What?  He never told me anything like that."

And I was so confused!

Trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell. ~Shana Alexander

So, someone tells him his slow play bothers me (which is untrue) and then I hear that what The Talker told me was untrue, also.

Turtle #1 said The Talker never said any such thing.  "He did act upset at the beginning of our match and was mumbling about excuses, but not one time did he asked me to change my game or speed up.  If he said that, he's full of $hit." he said.

Rumors are an amazing thing!  And in one ten minute period, two were proven wrong.

I appreciate Turtle #1 sharing with me he heard I thought he played too slow.  Because then I was able to share with him that instead, I really appreciate our matches.  I wouldn't have been able to compliment him on his game otherwise.

So, thank you to whoever told him that wrong info. lol.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not All Videos Are the Same

The other night I went to get my hair highlighted with my fav stylist and as expected, because I don't like to sit around and do nothing (otherwise, I feel like I'm wasting time) I brought something to do for the next two hours from the salon chair.

Normally I take a pool-related book or read one of their magazines, but this time since I have three straight pool matches scheduled for this upcoming weekend, I decided to watch some straight pool!

I grabbed my light blue laptop my, my headphones, and three DVDs from my stash and ran out the door (as usual, I was running late).

 Getting my hair highlighted with my laptop and pool!

I put in a DVD I don't think I had watched before and because both Schmidt and Hohmann were in it, I was a little bit excited on what I was about to learn!

About 20-30 mins later, I couldn't stand it anymore.  I wasn't learning a thing!  I can't even give the excuse that the commentators were BSing.  They just weren't talking about options, choices, the best shots, etc.  They were more giving play by plays, instead of helpful advice.

So, I grabbed another DVD and hoped this one would be better.  It was Allen Hopkins versus Jim Rempe and I hadn't seen this one either.  And I was so excited when the commentator started talking - one of my favs!  Grady Matthews.  I just knew I'd learn from this video!

And sure enough, Grady and his cohort didn't let me down!  I think his side kick was named Jack (sorry, I forget his last name).

I learned much much more from this DVD than the other bland one that had no advice or instruction at all. 

It's amazing to me the difference between these two DVDs.  And the key is obviously the commentators.  Not just if they are knowledgeable, but what they say as the match goes on.  Why certain balls are made instead of another one; what English is used for the break shot; which is the key ball; why to leave certain shots; how to manufacture a breakout ball.

Obviously, because I want to learn more about straight pool, the match with the "instructional" commentating was what I aimed for.  If I wasn't trying to improve, I suppose the other match would have been fine to watch to see who would win. 

But I am of the opinion that watching pool videos is about learning.  I don't watch pool DVDs to just see the final score.  It's not a movie to me - it's a learning experience!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chalk Incident

I am enjoying going to league on Mondays and sometimes Tuesdays with my boyfriend as all I do is be the cheerleader along with being the score keeper. 

While I'm already a very observant person, I get to watch and notice even more than usual because I focus entirely on the matches, instead of also playing pool.

On Tuesday night, we went to a new bar.  Two little bar tables were in one area and that's where the two teams fought it out.

My boyfriend is playing his 4th match of the night and safety after safety occurs.  His opponent was able to kick in a ball and started to run out his last three balls. 

And then he did something very weird.  Almost disturbing, lol.

He was about to shoot the two ball into the side pocket and before he shot, he walked around the table slowly, and deliberately walked to where a piece of chalk was sitting on the table.  He picked up the chalk and I thought he was going to move it out of his line of sight (which I have seen a million times from other players). 

INSTEAD, he picked up the chalk and turned it UPSIDE DOWN on the table.



Now, you might be thinking to yourself maybe he is doing this b/c upside down chalk might annoy his opponent (which I ironically mentioned in another post that some people do deliberately as sharking techniques to distract their opponents). 

But this guy had a connect-the-dots out.  Three stop shots and he's out.  My b/f was not going to be back at the table, so this "action" to turn the chalk upside down was done deliberately - for himself.

For some odd reason, he would rather ensure the chalk was upside down before he shot! 

I then looked at the other two pieces of chalk on the table and sure enough they were both also upside down.

Wow.  Lol.

Image courtesy Samm (Diep) Vidal

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Using Pool for Marketing

I saw this at work and just had to take a pic.  LOVE that this company is using pool balls for their advertising.  This is the cover of copy paper - "Bright White Premium Card Stock" paper to be exact.

Coolio.  :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Direction Needed, and Found!

I am not a very visionary person. I have learned in my leadership classes at work that you either have that type of personality or you don't. I'm the don't.

I do like goals. Well, love goals actually, and they have been very helpful in my life.  But I am not one to think of the future, wonder what if, or even contemplate the tough questions about life in general. Your purpose in life, sort of questions. Why am I here, sort of questions.

Then something changed all that.

Although I never thought that way for all my life, the last two months I have questioned my life. I have questioned my purpose.

I am an only child, am not married, do not have kids, and I just lost my Mom, the love of my life. Before my Mom got sick, many considered me the Ambassador of Pool in Texas. But I stopped being the photographer at independent events, stopped calling in brackets to, stopped promoting tournaments, and I retired after 9 years on the Board and as TD from the OB Cues Ladies Tour 3 years ago to take care of my Mom and that has been my life. I have no regrets as I love her very much.

But now that she is gone, what is important now in my life? And what do I have to keep me happy and interested and going?

I could now try to move up in my job, but I admit I love my current position and don't have aspirations to move up.  And I'm okay with that - because I am SO happy and challenged.  And not many people are truly happy in their jobs, so I savor every day on my way to work.

So, back to the question I never ask: what is my purpose?

I know I'm not the only person who has asked this question, but for me it's a very new and unexpected question.

I love to live life to the fullest. Ask anyone and they will tell you.

But what is my purpose now that my Mom has passed? I no longer have her to take care of - that was my purpose for the last 5 years.

Then an amazing thing happened.

I read on AZB a thread where people were asked to list their pool heroes and why. As I read the replies, I saw that two people mentioned me.



I replied to them and told them thank you and added that I was speechless, because I was.

Then one of the guys sent me a message and shared further why I was his hero.

Here is what he said:

Hey Trigger,

Just wanted to say that I'm glad I made your day by including you in my "Pool Heroes" post.

It's the truth. You set the example for a lot of us players. You have a full time job, you play and practice constantly and you blog about it, so we can all learn from your journey. Heck, I never would have picked up a Capelle book, if it weren't for your blog. Now, I own three.

Whenever I'm down on my game and I don't feel like playing or practicing, I think, "Melinda would play, no matter what". So, I go play.

It's easy to pick a celebrity or pro as a hero (you kinda are a celebrity BTW ), but players like yourself are the true heroes of our game.

Thanks for all you do for us.

Take care,
-Jeremy from Florida
After reading his message, I know now I have a purpose. I know now that my life in pool was no accident. I now feel that although pool has made me into the confident woman you see today, I have affected others in their life because of all the things I have done in pool over the years.

Thank you, Jeremy, akaStandby Kid. It doesn't seem like it from this long post, but I really am speechless for your thoughtful, open words that allowed me to see myself in different, meaningful, purposeful way.

Thank you!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Embarassing Reaction This Past Weekend

As I wrote about just last week, sometimes we react badly after a match.  It's not common for most of us, but sometimes there are rare times when something triggers us to react badly.  Even for seasoned players, every once in a while something makes us act stupid, lol. 

Which make us embarrassed.

And just this past weekend, this happened in the NFL! 

Did you hear or see the footage of the two coaches' post game hand-shake that went awry? The Detroit Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz took offense at the over exuberance of Jim Harbaugh, whose San Francisco 49ers had handed the Lions their first loss of the season. 

A fired-up Harbaugh shook Schwartz's hand, then gave him a hard back-slap, after which Schwartz sprinted after Harbaugh and jawed the coach.

Even a former NFL coach used the word "embarrassing:"  Dan Reeves stated, "It's certainly something if you asked those guys now, they both I would hope be embarrassed by what happened." 

Even Texas Tech coach said, "It's really embarrassing to see something like that happen in our sport."

This is the PERFECT example of what I was trying to say before.  Sometimes after a match we do; something we regret; we react because of the moment; we do something "stupid" that we normally wouldn't do.

It's a reaction to the moment type-of-thing.  A rare occurrence (that as I said in my previous blog post) that we should cut people (pro or amateur) some slack.

Ahhh.... real-life examples.  Thank you, Coaches!

Here's the vid, in case you didn't see the "altercation."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pressure Advice From Y.E. Yang

I recently read an old article about professional golfer, Y.E.Yang, who took over Tiger Woods' lead at the 2009 PGA Championship to win it! He stopped Tiger's "14 for 14" record for when Tiger had the lead after 54 holes.

Yang was interviewed after he won the tournament and besides all the questions regarding Tiger (which I was miffed at - Yang won his first major but the interview was a lot about Tiger, which I thought was unfair to Yang), he was also asked about his mental game and how he handles pressure.

While I wrote a blog article a few months ago listing the tips I have learned over the years on how to handle pressure, I enjoyed Yang's comments so much about pressure, I wanted to share with you these Q and A's as excellent reminders:

"Your caddie said that you're the mentally toughest player he's ever seen. Where does that toughness come from?"

I don't think it's toughness, but I do try to block out everything peripheral and just concentrate on my strategy. Thus I become oblivious to any and all pressure, or least try to.

" Did you employ any special techniques to help offset Tiger's aura?"

I just forgot that I was dealing with Tiger altogether, probably until the 18th green, when I acknowledged that Tiger could make a miraculous comeback. I just played my game.

"You said that great names play with Tiger and "their competitive juices flow and they go head-to-head with him and try to win." Why is that the wrong approach?"

I can't say that is a wrong approach, but through experience, i understand aggressiveness can go a long way, but too much pressure and added expectations can become negative variables. I think sometimes the players add unnecessary pressure upon themselves.

These answers are common against successful professional athletes.

It reminds me of that famous quarterback who said, basically: "I think the reason I'm so successful is because I'm forgetful. As soon as the play is over, I've already forgot what happened, so I don't have any negative thoughts or over-confidence from what just happened to affect my next football pass."

I wrote this blog entry about two weeks ago on a layover at JFK.  But it was just a first draft and I am just now posting it after editing it some more. :-)

These two main themes above crossed my mind when I won the tourney last weekend:  I tried to remind myself not to play the player and I also tried to forget mistakes as soon as they happened.  I'm a firm believer in figuring out right away why I made a mistake, but then it's key to let the mistake go so you don't dwell on things such as "it should be 3-0, ME, not 1-2, THEM" or "I still can't believe I missed that 8 ball two games ago."). Focusing on past events prevents you from focusing on the present (i.e. on that shot in front of you).

While I tried to think about the above, I wasn't successful 100% of the time during the tourney, but I definitely thought about the two main themes a few times when I felt nervous.  And then later when I was in the zone, all the above kinda happen on it's own, lol.  But you can give yourself a better chance with nerves and pressure if you can incorporate the above at times in your arsenal during or before a tourney.

Monday, October 17, 2011

ACS State Singles Recap

I went to the ACS (American CueSports) Texas State tourney the weekend of Oct 16th. I was surprised there were 43 ladies in the singles event!

Pleasantly surprised by the nice turn-out.

I drove down the night before with my b/f and we didn't try to get there early, instead we took our time and arrived about 10pm. We checked out the charts and then went to sleep at a decent hour, instead of staying at the convention center and being stupid like drinking and staying up too late for no real reason, lol. He had to play at 9am, I had a bye in my first round.

He won his first match and then I started my trek through the ladies bracket at 1030am. I won 4-0, even tho I started off slow. My opponent is from my area and an extremely knowledgeable player, but I prevailed. I then won my next match 4-1 against a newbie, but she was so kind and nice.

Next round was a 4pm and so my b/f and I went to see a movie because we had 4 hours til we played. Real Steel was a good flick. At 4pm I played another friend and I was ahead 1-0 but then lost focus and got too comfortable and was down 2-1 in a race to 4. I bared down and started to concentrate and won 4-2.

I had to wait a little bit to play my next match and my opponent is a very tough player, both physically and mentally to play, so I started to get a little nervous.

The first game we go back and forth and I work on a great out but miss a side pocket shot that I had to cheat for the 8 ball. She wins that game with a great shot to get out, but I admit the wind was a little out of my sails, and it was only the first game.  :( I was so disappointed because I had the opportunity to go up 1-0 right off the bat and I had run out so well and smart, to only falter.

I had another chance the next game but made a mistake and couldn't get out. I played safe on her 8ball, but she jumped it SO beautifully and made it.  ugh. I rallied to win 1 (maybe 2) more games but I just didn't play my best and she won 2-4.

I was very disappointed, but more so, I hate to admit:  I was...well.... used to it. I have yearned for a Texas state title tournament for so so many years, that I almost have come to expect I will give away my matches. It was just typical of me. I let the mental game get to me and I played my opponent, not pool. I do it every state tournament. I freak myself out because I want the title too badly.

As I walked around to kill time, I actually wondered why I played this game. How many years am I going to play and still let the mental game win? How many years am I going to enter these state tournaments, look around and believe in my heart I can win, but still NOT capture that first place prize because I give away games, and/or get nervous of the invisible pressure of the title and/or my opponent?

I sat around, I swear, for like 3-4 hours til I had to play my 5th place match. I was tired, irritated, annoyed, you name it. The matches took so dang long! ugh. And it was like 11pm and I was exhausted sitting around doing nothing for so long. :(

As I recall the chart in my head, and looking down the line at my opponents, I know I can win my next two matches to get to the 3rd place match for a rematch with the girl who put me in the one-loss side. Her best friend was in the rocking chair, and she was just as tough to play. So, at that point, my mind knew I could at least play for 3rd place.

I was pretty satisfied with that, as last year I got 4th in the BCA state tourney, and the one before that I placed 5th. So, I figured I was making progress, lol.

Of course, this meant I was thinking ahead, lol, and hadn't even played the two matches to GET to 3rd, lol. Yea, we aren't suppose to do that at all!

But, I was still pretty confident I could win my next two matches.

Of course the match I'm waiting on goes hill hill, ugh. I grab my cue and hit a couple of racks to warm up.  I hadn't hit a ball in like 4 hours.

I FINALLY get to play! And I win 4-0.

Then my next opponent just finishes her match, also, and she was excited we could play right away, too, lol (it really was a very long day).

We played and I won 4-0 again.

I then get to have my rematch and as I said, I had no expectations for this 3rd place match. I was happy to be there. I wasn't thinking ahead, nothing was in my brain about the title or anything. I was so complacent and happy with 3rd, nerves and pressure were no where to be found. Plus, I don't know if I can get past these last two girls anyway, so I was okay with 3rd.

But, a funny thing happened. I was in the zone. Majorly. So in the zone, that after she missed the first 8 ball, I won 4-0! I couldn't believe it, really, and then not quite aware what was really going on because it all happened so fast:  I was all of a sudden in the finals.

I played really, really good in that 3rd place match.

Right before the finals I realized I had just earned myself a plaque! (love trophies and plaques because I hardly have any.) I got a 2nd place plaque! yay  :)

I was content with that and SO happy. It hadn't really sunk in that I was playing in the finals of a title tournament that I had yearned for and wanted for SO many years. I was just happy I was where I was.

But then.... I was still in the zone. OMG. I won the first 3 games of the first set so beautifully. Wow....

There were only a handful of people there (as it was 2am) but I think even they were impressed. My b/f would tell me later he's never even seen me play that well before!

I finally started to make a few mistakes and she won 2 games but I wasn't upset or let it get to me that I let her back on the scoreboard because I had been playing well and didn't completely dog it like I can do so easily, and have done a million times before.

But then I got out nicely to win the first set 4-2!

She tried to flip right away, but I had to pee. lol. I was drinking Diet Coke to stay awake (from the caffeine) and couldn't hold it any longer.

I shouldn't have done that, tho, as it slowed me down in the next set. As I washed my hands, I tried to force my mind from realizing I *could* win this. I tried to just be happy I won the first set. No thinking ahead. No thinking I finally might get a title. I tried to keep that all from my brain, because otherwise I would just get nervous. :(

She won the flip and broke and ran out! I shot once in the next set and she ran out again.

She's all of a sudden up 0-2.

She was running out the 3rd game and as I sat there, I was still content. I was pretty happy she was winning on her own accord, and finally not because I was missing shots and giving it away like I have in the past.

She was playing good now and not giving me chances, which to be honest, she would have to do this day because I was SO in the zone and playing so good, it was the only way I truly believe I could have been beat.

I hate to sound so confident, but this it not an ego thing or me being cocky, it's just a fact I was THAT much in the zone and seeing every shot, break out, run, shape, perfectly.

Anyway, at 0-2 her in a race to 4, in the final set, she hooks herself on the 8 ball. She misses and I run out. I then break and run so beautiful, I actually impress myself! I was SO freaking amazed how well I could not only see the layouts and runs, but also how well I was executing my shots and shape! Score 2-2.

I think she scratches, and I run out so nicely again. I'm truly impressed, lol, with how well I am getting shape and seeing the outs (and not hooking myself with all her balls left on the table).

I look down at the score and I'm all of a sudden I'm up 3-2.... in a race to 4.

I don't think ahead and I just break the balls, make one on the break, and quickly and confidently grab my playing cue ready to check out the layout.

I like solids, but it still wont be a cake walk. I start pecking at my run and have to make a soft break out with 3 balls left. As I walk over to see if I left myself a decent shot, I see it: I'm about to win. It takes all I can not to cry.

It's not ever yet, I tell myself. Don't cry!

I play a stop shot on the 5 ball. Cut the one ball, and slide over for the 8ball which is intermixed with all her stripes on the table. It looks like the 8ball wont now go in the side but what everyone doesn't know is, *I* know it can be cut down the corner, as that's what I was planning all along anyway. I just came up short, but I can still see the 8 ball enough even though it was tucked behind her stripe. I call the corner, get down, remind myself not to jump up, take a few strokes and I nail it!!

I immediately fall to my knees, and start sobbing with my hands covering my face! OMG! I can't freaking believe it!!!

My b/f was cheering and he comes right up to me and I hug him, sobbing! The 3 other people left were clapping and I was a mess! I then walked over and apologized to my opponent for not shaking her hand right away and she said she understood as I mumbled I was crying because of my Mom.

Her and her best friend congratulated me and truly expressed how well I played. I was very moved they were so nice and cordial.

My team captain was one of the ones left at 230am and she came over and hugged me as I cried and cried! Then the TD came over, Janet, and I cried. And then I hugged our friend Ross, and I sobbed in his arms too.

When I was shown the plaque, I LOST it! OMG it was so pretty and huge and I won a freaking state title tourney!!!!!

I joked with my b/f a he took this pic, "make sure you get the crowd in the background."  lol. 

Can you see my red nose from crying?

I cried and cried. Even as I type this out, I am tearing up how moving it all was to me. To finally win something you been craving for years and years is so very emotional. And to add to that emotion that fact I can't call my Mom to tell her, just breaks my heart at the same time.

I wanted to text my besties, but they were all sleeping! :( But a few night owls were awake on FB and I was posting up a storm! LOL.

I know many people think I should have won this years go, or they had no doubts. The fact is, I dogged it every year, every time. To put pressure on yourself is a horrible feeling. To be nervous sucks. To give away games because you miss because you are thinking ahead, is brutal.  I would get jitters literally weeks before Texas state tourneys, ugh, yearning for the win.

I can't explain to you why I wasn't nervous before this tourney.  Maybe it's because this time I had no time to get the jitters?  I have been so busy lately, I didn't have time to realize I had a state title tournament ahead of me.  I had hardly any time to pack, much less consider the desired outcome of this tourney.

Today was just a day I wasn't thinking ahead. I wasn't nervous. I had no pressure for some reason.

That's why I won.

But I can't tell you WHY I didn't feel pressure or wasn't nervous toward the end of the tourney.  I admit I did read all my underlined sentences from the book Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert, but I have done that several times right before other tourneys.

Can I capture that again? Possibly.  I have been in the zone a few times in the last ten years, so I know it's possible. But I also know how tough it is to not think ahead when you want something very badly.

Of course that night after he win, I could barely sleep. And then woke up early and was finally able to text my besties!

When I go to the convention center the next day to watch my b/f play in teams, a lot of people congratulated me. I shed so many tears from hugs and sharing how I collapsed on the ground after my win just the night before.

The next day, they gave me the chart!!

Then after my "official" pic with the plaque and ACS State President, I walked around with my plaque and more congratulations from friends and acquaintances. It meant so much!

At one point, I sat with some girlfriends during their team event, and as I sat there with the plaque in my lap, I stared down at it and started to cry. I was so dang happy and yet tore up inside because I couldn't share the amazing news with my Mom. Two months to the day of her passing, I won this tourney for her.

All weekend I would hug my b/f and look up into his eyes and say "Can you believe it??"

He'd reply, "Yes, I can."

I'd ask right away, "No, really, can you believe it??"

He'd stammer and say, "Uh, no."

I'd ask again and we went around like this all weekend. lmao!

And no, I still can't believe it!

Tourney description: OMG!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When Sharks Attack

Gary Frerking is this month's Poolsynergy host and he wants us to talk about sharking.

Ahh... sharking.

I've learned more and more about sharking lately, mostly because a good player friend of mine has confided in some of the things he does to shark people.  The reason the topic was brought up was because I told him I knew he was sharking in his matches, lol.  I felt comfortable telling him that I wrote about him in a blog post.  This is when I stated he took many bathroom breaks during the finals of a tournament and could get away with it because this tourney didn't have a rule about the # of bathrooms breaks per match (like a tour would have, for instance).  So, he was able to get away with that sharking technique and sure enough rattled his opponent enough to win the tourney.

He recently told me if he notices his opponent is bothered by upside-down chalk, he will deliberately keep putting the chalk upside-down.  This forces his opponent to get his mind off of the game.

Quite insightful yet disturbing to me.  

I hate to hear when the pros are accused of doing things deliberately when in fact, we really don't know.  Because they interrupt a shot to ask a question - how does one sit in their chair and say to themselves, "okay, run, get up and interrupt him "NOW."  No, I feel that we sometimes just react to things and don't deliberately try to shark people.

But, that is my optimistic side coming out in me.

However, I have seen true sharking before.  And it's not pretty. 

Standing by the table while you shoot, talking loudly while you are shooting, etc.

What I also don't like is that some people think that certain players deliberately complain and/or get mad at themselves to shark their opponents.


The people I know that show emotion do not do it deliberately.  They are simply wearing their emotions on their sleeves.  Now granted, their actions DO shark their opponents.  But, from where I'm sitting, I know in my heart they aren't getting mad at themselves deliberately to throw off their opponents.  They just don't handle tough emotions calmly all the time.

The funny thing about the pros:  they all know who the sharkers are.  They know when they see certain opponents' names on the charts they will have to deal with antics.  Luckily, the pros are pretty good at focusing on their game against sharkers because they have years of experience dealing with them, lol.

What about me?  Have I been sharked.  Sure.

I have also sharked myself by letting people get to me.  Ugh.  Hate that.

No, really, what about me?

Have I ever sharked anyone?

Yep, I have.

I am ashamed to admit it, but luckily this was years and years ago.  I immediately felt bad and prolly have yet to recover, quite honestly. 

But here is my story:

I know from reading about mental toughness that when you are in the zone, the worst thing you can do is to start thinking about how well you are shooting.  That throws your game off.  Instead of free stroking, you are now thinking about outcomes and how well you are shooting and it affects your game tremendously.  You think-yourself out of the zone!

Think about it - how can you be thinking about how well you are shooting, if your mind is suppose to be focusing on the shot at hand?

I was playing a friend of mine (about 8-9 years ago) who told me during our match, "please quit talking to me while we play."  I was hurt, but at the same time felt bad for bothering her.  I was just being friendly to her while we played, ugh.  But, I completely understood she wanted to focus on the game and that I was distracting her.

But I also realized I had ammunition.  (gosh I hate thinking this way!)

But I did:  Future reference material.

Sure enough, I was playing her a couple of months later for 7th or 9th place on Sunday on the Ladies Tour in Texas.  She was free stroking and playing great!  She was running out from everywhere.  And then I did the wrong thing; the inappropriate thing:  I spoke to her.  :(

I told her, "I wish your music was playing on the jukebox, I like your music best.  And btw, you are shooting really good."

What did that do?  It got her out of her rhythm.  It got her thinking about (probably) several things:
  • Why is she talking to me?  
  • I DO love my music and wish it was on.
  • Why did she bring that up?
  • Wait, I AM playing good.
And yes, it sharked her.  She started to miss, I started to capitalize, and she even had to take a bathroom break because she was so upset that I distracted her (I'm guessing).

I ended up winning that match and went on to place 4th I believe.

Still to this day, I am ashamed at myself for doing that.  For me to even type these words out is difficult for me, but the topic is about sharking and I must confess I have done it before.  And I honestly don't know how the people who do it continually and deliberately can live with themselves.

(BTW, I also recognize when other players do this to me.  I have noted people trying to throw me off my game deliberately by the same "complimenting" comments.  I *try* to force the nice comments from my brain.)

Sure, pool is mental like golf.  Sure, no rules say I can't talk.  But this is about ethics.

I could even throw the word "karma" around in this blog article (but I wont).

It's a much better feeling to know I am winning because of skill and talents, instead of sharking and "trickery."

Btw, STILL not happy I did that, even if it was 8-9 years ago. :(

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ACS State

Heading down to the center of the state of Texas tonight.  ACS State is this weekend and singles starts tomorrow morning. 

Being that ACS (American CueSports) was divided from the BCAPL some years ago and is a much, much smaller entity, I figured the # of entrants would be smaller than the BCA State tourney. 

Boy, was I wrong!  They have like 42 players already signed up!

I think at the BCA State there were like 25 players.  They had a separate division, tho, but even if combining those two women's divisions, I'm not sure that would be 42 payers.  Well, just maybe. 

Either way, what I thought would be a short day and simple tourney with not many players has turned out to be a tough event!

What was I thinking it would be an "easy" tourney to play in??  I need to prepare myself on the way down there tonight for the competition!

Dang title tourney jitters...

Video Tour of Billiardino in Zurich, Switzerland!

I went to Zurich, Switzerland for about 5 days last week.  While I was there, I visited one of their pool rooms and I was able to do another video tour for ya!  This pool room only has 47 tables.  Ha!  Forty Seven!

Please let me introduce you to:  Billiardino!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Etiquitte Versus Ethical

A couple of Friday night's ago I went to a casino in Shreveport with some girlfriends. When they went to bed, I ventured to the poker room where I feel most comfortable in a casino nowadays. I must admit that's a great feeling - comfortableness.

While this casino is 5 hours away from the regular casino I venture to, it meant I didn't know any of the dealers or players, but that was okay. I still felt comfortable playing poker.

As time goes on toward midnight, the now-drunk kids who have only played poker online show up to try their hands at "live" poker. The-behind-the-computer-screen-players tried their best and got more and more comfortable as the night went on, but they still weren't aware of all the poker etiquette that is common when playing in person, and the dealers and seasoned players would help them out when they would fold or bet out of turn, not know when to put their blinds up, etc.

My chip stack was higher than when I started but admittedly I wanted a piece of the drunk and newbie action, so instead of being patient, I started to get in more hands I shouldn't of. Boo-Hiss.

Then I get in what would be my final hand and I am chasing cards and I bluff on the river and go all in. Three others fold, and the new guy to the left was about to fold but his friend whispers to him, "she's bluffing, call her."

He calls. I get caught. I lose about $120.

I am LIVID! I start telling them they can't do that, it's not right, as I point my finger towards them as I get up from my chair and raising my voice. The dealer tells them "one player per hand," but I still go off on them some more. They are drunk and deny anything was said and I take my bruised ego (cause I got caught), ticked off brain (cause I'm mad), and now-depleted money stack and I leave.

I tell the supervisor as I walk by him, "you may wanna watch those guys" with a very obvious pissed-off tone in my voice.

And as I'm cashing out they want more explanation, and I provide the details.

While this may not seem all that bad because they didn't know the rules, it's still unethical. And even though they didn't know it, they were in a sense cheating.

  • Standing in some one's golf line to putt causing a shadow is about etiquette.
  • Taking too many bath breaks during your pool match is about etiquette.
  • Folding out of turn in poker is about etiquette.
  • Talking while a friend is about to drive a golf ball is about etiquette. 
  • Putting the chalk deliberately upside down to annoy your opponent is about etiquette.
  • Throwing your cards too far at the dealer or not placing your bets far enough for the dealer to reach at the poker table is about etiquette.

  • Kicking your golf ball from behind the tree is unethical.
  • Not fessing up you fouled in a match when you know you did and are being asked about it is unethical.
  • Showing your poker cards to friends while they are still in the hand is unethical.
  • Knowingly writing down the incorrect number of strokes one tee 9 is unethical.
  • Deliberately moving your coin two spots when you win a game in a pool match is unethical.
  • Telling someone to fold or not is unethical.

There is a huge difference. And I will never forget this night of bad ethics from those guys.

I heard the next day the dealer got onto the two guys. The dealer also shared that a couple of hours later, they confessed they had been talking to each other about the pots while in the hands.  Ugh!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Embarrassing Reactions to Embarassment

I've noticed over the years in myself, and in others, what the embarrassment factor does to a player. Even though I have experienced this horrible feeling, I have seen some of the best pros react with rage over embarrassment, also.

Fans b1tch and complain and make fun up the pros who may post on facebook and "whine." Or they will see a pro react at the end of a match with unusual, rude characteristics and the "fans" will run to the internet and tell everyone who will listen: "
I can't believe he did that

I don't like fans complaining about their idols. I really dislike it when they say "that's why pool is going nowhere" just because a pro whines or complains after a match.

I have felt what the pros have felt. And I bet you have, too.

You remember those few times that you instantly react to a comment or nonverbal cue after you lose a close match. As you reflect back, think of those times you snapped at someone after you lost a close match or started to whine to friends after a tough loss.

The key to these unusual, and unfortunate circumstances, are they usually occur after a very tough loss COMBINED with some other factor. If you simply lose and walk away without seeing or hearing anything, you normally don't say anything. But if someone makes a comment you are not prepared to receive and maybe also combined with the fact a lot people were just watching your loss, the feeling you feel in your body is like none other.

It's difficult to describe, but it's the feeling if embarrassment running through those veins and it makes your heart race and your blood boil.
When you lose to another player who outplayed you, or you simply didn't perform well, those loses you take in stride and don't overreact.

But the loses where you make a mistake at the very end of a match and you feel embarrassed over it, or at the end of the match something happens that triggers a raw emotion of embarrassment, those are the times you overreact and respond like a raging idiot. Those are the few times in your career that you snap at people or whine about the conditions, when in reality, you are just upset with yourself for losing.

I remember one tourney I was playing for 4th and I played my little heart out! I was ahead most of the match and my opponent came back and won. So many people were watching and after the hill hill match, a friend went up to my opponent and told her right in front of me how well she played. I was upset instantly because I had played my little heart out and gave the match away at the end and her words stung. Stung so badly, I'm telling you all about it and it was prolly 4-5 years ago.

Funny. We never whine after we win. Do we?

We never snap at someone who makes a crappy, unwelcomed, wrong-timing comment after we win.

But I feel for the soul who makes the wrong comment after a tough loss! We may bite their heads off and spit them to the ground!

This is why I don't complain about pros or friends who snap or overreact after a loss. And it's only because of some little thing that causes the feeling of embarrassment to rise through our bodies all of a sudden. 

I have felt this way and overreacted plenty of times.

Another example...

I lost 7-5 just two weeks ago in a match because I slow-rolled an 8 ball. I shared out loud, "the ball rolled off!" I was embarrassed but also ticked. I was about to make it hill hill and instead I lost. Right after the match, I tell a friend, "it really did roll off" and as she agreed, a guy came up to just say hi and thought he would be funny and added, "I thought you just played bad."

WTF? Yea, I snapped at him. I was rude and I was pissed.

Think for a minute though - if I had won, I would have laughed WITH him.

Instead, I complain to others what he said to me and how rude I thought it was.

Let's be fair here. I knew he was joking, I knew he didn't mean it, but I reacted badly.  And it was an instanct reaction. It's a very horrible feeling to do this (embarrassment) and I bet I'm not the only one who hates to overreact to comments no one means to say that rile us up because of their timing.

Another time a friend of mine was playing on the stream table and lost a really close match that she should have won. She sits behind the computer right after her loss and someone in the chat room states that she played bad and gave the match away. She literally had just finished the match and was embarrassed she lost on the stream and she didn't dare hold in her immediate reaction to that comment! She was hurt and extremely upset at what they said and she went off on them.

I recall one pro whined on facebook after a tough loss in the finals of a big tournament. Everyone complained and talked about how he was a sore loser. He said the racks were bad and his opponent should never be allowed to soft break.

He was mad he lost and so he complained right afterwards. Do you think he would have whined if he had beat the guy? No. He might have said something in the interview nonchalantly about the soft break, but he wouldn't have spewed off on facebook.

Embarrassment causes an immediate reaction in people. The reaction it causes can sometimes not be controlled. You are upset, embarrassed, and mad and one small, little comment can set you off in a heart beat!

This is very normal. So to all those people that think the pros should not whine or complain, they are human, too. They sometimes can't control their reactions either.

Ask them about their loss in 24 hours or even 12 hours, and their response would be completely different. That's why it's best to just not say anything to someone after a loss until they bring it up.

Each of us already have our own snowball effects going on. After a tough loss, say something funny, crappy, or comment how bad we played and you may get an earful from the red-headed demon inside us.

Sometimes we may be able to control it, but sometimes that little $hit comes out with no warning because we can't control the reaction fast enough.

Sorry in advance btw... I have been known to be that red headed demon child.

It's so very ironic to me that an embarrassing instance causes us to react without thinking, and that in itself if usually very embarrassing!

That's why all of this makes sense when one searches for the definition of "Embarassment:"

Embarrassment is an emotional state of intense discomfort with oneself, experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others. Usually some amount of loss of honour or dignity is involved, but how much and the type depends on the embarrassing situation. It is similar to shame, except that shame may be experienced for an act known only to oneself.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Video: My Cue Collection is looking for cue collections!  The trick is, wants the cue collections via video. 

Well, here is my simple little video, where I discuss my 4 custom-designed cues:  CLICK HERE to watch the video.

If you have a cue collection to share, please let us know!  We'd love to put up more cue collection videos.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pissed Off and Spoke Up

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am short on time to play my final 7 straight pool matches by the end of Oct because of all my travels this month.  It literally have 5 days at the end of the month to play 7 straight pool matches.

So when I got back early from a weekend jaunt this past weekend, I decided to try to fit in 2-3 straight pool matches on Sunday.  Although I was EXTREMELY exhausted, I HAD to try and fit in a few matches or else I would be way to stressed out come the end of Oct.

Risk versus Reward.

Tired and not playing matches Versus risk losing matches because I'm tired.  Ugh.

The first match Sunday afternoon I started off badly.  So badly, I almost quit the season right there.

Yep, seriously.

I was upset at non-pool things, and extremely tired.  I was losing and playing bad, and I was already worried about if I could fit the rest of my matches in this season.

If I was to lose this match, then why play the second match that day? (which was a tougher match.) Further, I wasn't even sure if I could play all 5 of my other matches anyway.  That would mean really horrible stats for me this season.  :(

But, I finally got some kind of fire in me and after being down16-28 in almost 25 innings, I ran 7 then 13 then 12, etc, and secured my win 100-56.

I'm glad I pulled through the funk at the start of the match!

My next match Sunday afternoon was against The Talker.  Match #2. 

As you may recall, I wrote about him before.  He asked a slow player to take more risks to speed up their match.  The Talker was agitated over the slow player's slow play. 

I was already apprehensive about playing The Talker.  He's tough to fade.  Yep.  Because he talks too much.

Even before we played he said, "We are tied in wins so this will be the tie breaker."


Why say that to me?

Why say anything at all like that?

As we start to play, I'm playing good!  I am up 22 to 5.


Yay me!

Then instead of a safe, I go for a bank.  Normally I would play safe, but I already know he hates slow games and he already made a comment about how slow our match started off.

I missed the bank and that gave him a shot and then he ran 13.

Boy was I mad at myself!!

After all these years I haven't learned to play my game?  I let his comments get to me?  Was it because I was ahead I took that risk?  If it was close, I don't care what his words would have been.

So I was really upset at myself.

This gives him new blood.  I even overhear him tell his wife, "and I was about to give up."


He gets close in score and shares with me, "Ooooh, almost even."

I made another mistake and he again capitalized.  He gets ahead of me 31 to 36 and says, "Oh, now I'm ahead."

Why say that?


Do I point out when I'm kicking his a$$? 


Why does he think his comments are okay?

He talks every single shot.  To himself.  To anyone that can hear him.  He will tell himself, "What was I thinking?" 

Or, he will sit in his chair and talk to his wife.  Too bad he doesn't talk softly.  His voice carries.  Loudly.

Or he will make a comment after I miss.

I missed a shot because I'm rattled and he tells me as he walks to the table, "Wow, you really do like me."


WTF was that?

I finally can't stand it anymore and snap back to him, "Just stop talking.  Seriously.  You don't have to say anything at all."

His response:  laughter.  He laughs all the time.  And he just has a great time playing pool.  Talking, laughing, talking, laughing.

At this point I'm down about 42 to 58.

I'm still upset with myself, still getting more perturbed at him.  Upset in general.

Then he misses a great break out and shouts at the balls as he looks at the table, "Get bad! Don't leave her a shot!"

I go to the table, stunned.  I am SO livid.  I have no shot (of course).  Even tho he just broke out all the balls, I have no shot.

He's giggling in his chair and saying something out loud to the sweaters and I mumble, "Well, you got your wish."

I was so mad, I bet I was spitting.

He says, "what?"  All happily and smiling toward me.

I reply, "I asked you to be quiet and yet you still continue to talk."

He apologizes and by now I am just stunned.

Not only am I losing to a guy who I am allowing to shark me, I am now upset because I've confronted him.

Sure, it wasn't a fist fight or yelling, but this non-confrontational girl is now upset because I had to tell someone to basically shut up (again!). 

Why say anything at all when playing in a match?  Why tell me why you missed or that my miss was unexpected?

Why "thank" me for missing.  I'm already down in the match.  Is that necessary?  Is it necessary to say anything?  Anything at all?

Sure.  I let his words bother me.

I fully admit it.

But I find it pretty freaking ironic The Talker asked the slow player to change his game because it was annoying to him, yet he talks and talks and talks and his etiquette is out the window.  He has no respect.  Zero.

Sure, he's just an extrovert and he handles misses with laughter and thinks pool is just "fun."

But etiquette goes a long way.

And I want to focus on pool - NOT his inappropriate words.

Yes, he definitely rattled my cage.

Normally things that are my fault I will just fess up,  But I am FED up with his excessive talking while either he's at the table or I am.  It's uncalled for.

And yes, I'm still pissed!

I wonder if he is aware he is sharking people?  I wonder if he knows he gets under their skin?

I really, really wonder....

BTW, I tried as hard as I could to come back in the match and beat him!  I could tell he felt bad after I asked him AGAIN to stop talking.  He knew I was upset and he missed more.  He won only 100-83 and he's LUCKY toward the end of the match that I missed 3 balls, had 2 scratches and 2 miscues or else I would have won.  Dammit.

I want to state one more thing:  these learning experiences are extremely frustrating!!!  :-( :-(

Monday, October 3, 2011

Photo: Raffle Ticket Stamp

One of the more cooler and clever things I've seen! 

One of the Ladies OB Cues Tour regulars often supports the tour by buying lots of raffle tickets.

His last name is very long.  So, instead of having to write his long name and phone number over 100 times on raffle tickets, per 6-8 events a year, he had a stamp made!

He now stamps the info on each raffle ticket! 

He bought this stamp for this sole purpose several years ago.  I caught him in action at the last tour stop and wanted to share his cleverness!

(click on images to enlarge)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

League Yikes

As many of you know, my Mom passed away in mid August.  I therefore haven't felt like playing in my straight pool league so I haven't played any matches in a month and a half.  I figured I wasn't mentally prepared to compete.  So, why play before I was ready?

I emailed the league director to see how much time we have left this season, because I couldn't remember if it was the end of Oct or into Nov.  I explained my Mom had passed and I had a lot of trips coming up in October.  He replied, "Hi  Melinda, League is over the end of October. Good luck."


That's it.

I was pretty taken aback.

No help, no sympathy, no extension, no nothing.

So as I looked at my calendar, with all the trips in October, I only have the last full week of October to play 7 matches.

OMG... Really??

To top it off,Tue, Wed and Thu evenings are taken up with other leagues, so I would only have 5 days to play 7 matches.

Luckily, I played a match two Fridays ago (won 100-74), but how in the world would I get 7 matches in in 5 days?  And at the same time be effective and not too tired to play so many in a short time period?

Let's face it, straight pool matches can last 2-3 hours.  That's a lot of focus in 5 days!

I am more miffed tho that he didn't give a reprieve of some sort.  He gave me his sympathies in person a few weeks back, but via email about the league he offered no help or even an offer to see if we could work something out.  I don't need any excuses for not playing, but the reason is justified.

Oh well, I'll just see what I can do.  I admit I almost felt like quitting.  I wont be able to finish the season off well or maybe get all my matches in any way.  But... I will still try.  Even without help.  :(