Monday, December 31, 2012

Smiling Woes and Whispers

I don't have a natural smile and so it's very difficult for me to look and act happy all the time when I am usually just perfectly at peace.  Although my mouth may not be turned upward, I'm usually very content and quite happy.  I don't naturally show it with a facial expression.  Sure, that helps!  But, it's also A LOT of work to smile all the time when you don't naturally smile.

I've been this way my whole life.

I mean, look at this cat:  he's prolly pretty content in his cat world, but he has the face of grumpy:

My whole life I have heard "Smile, it aint that bad!" or "What's wrong?" or blah blah blah.  My whole entire life.

I would find out later in life my Mom received similar comments from people her whole life also.  Guess our unnatural smile is hereditary.

When I play pool, people think I'm concentrating because I don't smile and keep a "stoic" face.  In reality, I can look like that every day of the year, lol.

People tell me, "You looked so focused!"  Really?  I was just being my normal self; my normal unsmiled self.

Here I am in a very unflattering pic of me, but it shows my everyday face (click it to enlarge and really understand why people think I'm always upset):

And here's what I look like when I smile:

When I ran the OB Cues Ladies Tour for nine years, I had to act happy, smile, be friendly, etc.  I'm really an introvert, but I had to put on my extrovert hat and be happy for two full days.  I would go to the hotel exhausted at night.  As most introverts will tell you, when we have to be an extrovert, it exhausts us.  I needed my down time; I liked it, too.  I can be an extrovert and talk more, smile more, be more interactive with people, etc., but it really does take quite a bit out of me.  But, I didn't mind!  I never minded being an extrovert (just takes a little work sometimes).  :)

Since I stopped running the OB Cues Tour for about 3-4 years, a funny thing happened.  Since I didn't have to act happy or make myself smile for the players, I was more myself; an introvert.  And I therefore didn't try to smile because I had no one to impress or ensure they were having a good time.

So, now people see me as upset, depressed, etc.  I was told the other day that I was very standoff-ish.  Huh?  Me?  Now, granted I was also dealing with a very sick Mom and then she passed so I wasn't myself for two years, but I notice now when I go to tourneys that I don't really exist.

In a way, that's good because I need to focus on playing good pool instead of having too good a time (as my friend Jennifer does ) but it's pretty disconcerting to feel like no one likes me anymore.  It's been a really rough couple of years for me in this regard.  I feel shunned and out of place.  I don't have a clique to hang around and I don't go to all the tourneys anymore.

I admit part of it was me not wanting to be around people because I was so depressed, and I admit I don't really hang around people because I am an introvert.  But, as a board member I was included more, talked to more, liked more, because I had my extrovert hat on all the time and I needed to be happy, so the players would have a good time at the tourney - that's what Tourney Directors also need to do and be responsible for.

I notice I am more talkative at the Omega Tour because I run it and want to be nice to the players so they have a good time.  I can't just be my normal quiet self - I need to step up my smile and be actively involved in smiling and be more friendly.  This is NOT the time to be an introvert.

On the ladies league I am on, I feel more at home there than anywhere!  I used to hear it was full of drama, but I instead see a great group of women who love the game of pool.  I feel welcomed and respected and liked in this league (and also on my Monday mixed league).  But, the women's tour I no longer feel welcomed or even happy being there.

I suppose that's the price for stepping away from TD duties to do the proper thing to take care of my ill Mom.  I became out of touch with the players and other board members.

But, if you don't see me smiling, it doesn't mean I am in a bad mood!  TRUST me when I tell you there is a difference on my face between not smiling to being upset.  Just ask my boyfriend, lol.

Here's another pic - I'm playing pool and very happy!  My face just doesn't reflect it.

Because I am an introvert, I would ask for your help.  Please come up to me when you see me.  I'm actually very shy but I open up like a flower when people talk to me.

Much love and happiness to my true friends in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

How I Looked at Defeats

I'll never forget around 2000 when I was at the BCAPL Nationals when a friend of mine said something really "weird" to me.

I was still wet behind the ears and really only just started to compete better without just being a ball banger.

What she said changed my perspective on the way I looked at losses and my competitors. 

I had just played a match where I lost and someone asked me about it.  I quipped, "they got lucky!" as I normally explained - blamed the other player and not taking full responsibility.

At that tat time in my life, I always thought most of the players I played against got lucky because I had missed balls and therefore they won because of my misses.  Lucky!

So, I see her in one of the long hallways at the Riviera and asked her how her singles match went, and I was ready to share how I had lost because the girl got "lucky."

"How did you do, Karen?" 

"Oh, I missed a lot of shots and gave it away," she admitted.  "I played bad."

I stood there in shock, while absorbing her words. 

Wait, did she just admit she was at fault?  That it was HER fault?

I didn't share the info about my match, because my way of thinking, I then realized, was completely misconstrued and incorrect!

I really loved that I had that exchange with her so I could see, finally, that my opponents weren't winning because they were getting lucky because of my misses, I was losing because it was MY fault.

Karen took full blame for her loss.  I, on the other hand, never did that.  It was a wonderful 'Ah Ha' moment for me!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Good News from the BCAPL

Received an email about two weeks ago from the BCAPL about the "Rio Vegas Updates" for the July 2013 BCAPL Nationals held at the Rio.

Decided today to finally read the 5 attachments/documents about the new Leisure Division, Vacation at the Rio, Player Transportation, Room Rates, and Food Options. 

In one of the documents I read something about the 3 Open divisions that will be held on 9-foot tables.  The US Open One Pocket, US Open 10-Ball and the US Open 8-Ball Championships.  Basically, these are the Pro events (but anyone can enter if you so desire).

But something pretty cool caught my eye.  I had to read it twice, and then saw it printed in another of the documents attached to the informative email.

"General admission to all three pro events will be FREE for all BCAPL/USAPL members.  Plus, each sleeping room in the Rio will receive a FREE live video feed from the pro arena via cable TV, courtesy of"

Wait, I knew about the free video in the rooms (like they had at the Riviera), but free ENTRY into all three events for BCAPL players??  Really?!!  That is FANTASTIC news!

I don't know how the BCAPL will make money off the fans and attendees, if all 18,000 players of the BCAPL Nationals can get in for free, but I am not gonna complain, I'm going to exclaim!  :)

Watching the pros plays is a wonderful experience AND improves your own game.  :)

Sweet, sweet news!  Thank you BCAPL!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Don't Worry About Results

Worrying about the results will not change them. As a matter of fact, worry just might be the engine that starts negative thinking, and if you are involved in negative thinking, you will not expect to win. ~Zig Ziglar
I'm just going to cut and paste this and give proper credit where credit is due:

Don’t Worry About Results

By Zig Ziglar

Have you ever watched people bowl? Many of them go through a little ritual before they actually get to the point of hurling their bowling ball in the direction of the pins. They carefully lace up their bowling shoes, and then the hunt for the perfect bowling ball begins.  They may put on a bowling glove as well as an elbow brace. As they step to the line they glare at the bowling pins and get into their approach posture. Then they step forward and release the bowling ball down the alley.  That’s when it gets interesting. As the ball rolls toward the pins the bowler starts deploying facial expressions, body English, and hand signals to “guide” the ball into the best impact point on the pins. As they see the ball drifting into a less-than-perfect point of impact they begin to give voice commands to the ball to correct its course. Of course, once the ball is released it is on the way, and there is nothing the bowler can do to change what is going to happen. The bowler could just as easily release the ball, turn around, and not even look at the impact of ball and pins. The results would be the same.

The bowling illustration demonstrates the futility of “worrying” about results. When you have set your goals properly and planned the action you need to take it’s a waste of time, energy, and emotion to worry about the results of what you have set in motion. When you execute an action step, it is like releasing a bowling ball. The results ball is rolling, and there is little you can do to change the point of impact.  Worrying about where the ball will impact the target won’t improve or change what happens. The results will be the fruit of how well you prepared and planned and executed the action.

Worrying Makes Problems Worse
Worrying about the results will not change them.  I certainly recognize that a certain amount of worry is just part of being human. People have concerns about many things. There are legitimate concerns about money and financial security. There are legitimate concerns about health issues, and there are concerns about our personal and professional relationships. People want all of these things to go well in their lives, and a certain amount of worry and concern is normal. But there is another kind of worry that is not only dangerous to your health; it is dangerous to your success. The kind of worry I’m talking about is “imagined worry.” Imagined worry is when you spend a lot of time thinking about the future and what might happen in your life that could be terrible. My late friend Mary Crowley said, “Worry is a misuse of the imagination,” and she hit the nail on the head with that remark.  Now you might be wondering why I’m so concerned about worrying and what it has to do with success and expecting to win, so I’ll tell you. Worry is the most significant factor that relates to the root of negative thinking. As a matter of fact, worry just might be the engine that starts negative thinking, and if you are involved in negative thinking, you will not expect to win. If you spend an excessive amount of time imagining all the bad things that can happen in your life, you will become a person who is problem-conscious, not solution-conscious. There is perhaps no greater example of how this can be so dangerous than when it involves worrying about health issues.  I have known many people who receive bad medical reports, and when they hear the news, they begin to worry so much about it that their life may as well have ended at that moment.  Yes, they have bad days, but they choose to focus on the good days and what they can still do. They live in the moment and know full well that tomorrow will be what it is and they can deal with it when it arrives, not before.

Stop Worrying . . . Start Expecting
Worry is the result of thinking and imagining what might happen in the future. I want to stress the word “imagine.” The only reality people have is what is going on in their lives today. It is in the events of the day that life transpires, and anything based on tomorrow is pure speculation. I’ve learned that if you have planned and prepared, you can have reasonable expectations about the future. If you take care of your health through a good diet coupled with exercise, you can reasonably expect good health in the future. If you save and invest your financial resources, you can reasonably expect to have financial security in the future. If you live by principles of love and service to others, you can reasonably expect to have good personal relationships in the future. Good action today will produce good living tomorrow. Reasonably good expectations for tomorrow are based on positive thinking and prudent action today. Try this: instead of imagining all the bad things that might happen to you in the future based on your fear, start imagining things working out. There’s a song titled, “What If It All Goes Right?” by Melissa Lawson. The second line of the chorus is, “What if it all works out, what if the stars all line up . . . ” You have to develop a what if it does go right and work out expectancy if you want to be the winner you were born to be.

I Don’t Worry
Worrying is something I quit doing many years ago, and today I can honestly tell you that I don’t worry about anything—period! In fact, when the terrorist attack happened on 9/11 and I had to find a way to travel back home, I did not worry about the possibility of another attack. I believe if it is not my time, there’s not a terrorist on the earth who can change the will of God about what my lifespan should be. I never worry because I know who I am and I know Whose I am. I know that the principles I live by are true and correct. I also know that I always try to do the right thing, and when you do the right things in life, you don’t have to worry about results. As a matter of fact, if I’ve done the right thing every day I’m not even responsible for results. I just get the benefit of what I do, and the benefits are usually better than I could have hoped for.

Finally, remember that if you have planned and prepared yourself to win, there is no need to worry about the results. Like the bowler who has released the ball down the alley, you must learn there is nothing your worrying can do to change anything. If you have planned well and set good goals, you can have confidence that you know where you want and need to go. If you have done what you need to do to prepare yourself to win, you do not have to worry. You will have no justification to worry about failure. You can expect to win!

The article is adapted from Born to Win:  Find Your Success Code.   Zig Ziglar was known as America’s Motivator.  He authored 32 books and produced numerous training programs.  He will be remembered as a man who lived out his faith daily.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New Pool Table

Back in June, my boyfriend and I took the plunge and bought a 9-foot Brunswick Anniversary pool table. We were very excited about a table in the house!  We got a really great deal on the table from our friend Shane who found it in the MidWest, and we got real lucky to get it!

Anniversary tables are really cool because they are made from airplane parts and back in the early 1900s created by union workers.  So, they have a lot of history to them. 

However, the table became very frustrating because we couldn't play pool on it. The light never arrived so it was very very dark with lots of shadows, the pockets weren't tight, and because the rails were old (the original cushions) it didn't bank true, so we would get very frustrated.

 This is the rubber on the rails.  It's suppose to bend like a rubber band, not break.

Eventually we couldn't take it anymore and stopped playing on it.

After months of complaining to each other and only "saying" we would get it taken care of, we finally made a decision to take care of it at the end of November when we saved up some money.

My bff Amanda Lampert suggested Ultimate Billiards and it turns out we knew all the guys who work there, from the Dallas area. They came by, removed the rails, rebuilt them with Brunswick SuperSpeed cushions (the BEST cushions), came back a week later, and installed them, along with the tighter pockets. While the table was being worked on, my boyfriend put up lights.

Now I LOVE the table! I can bank like a beast again with good lighting and am very happy!   I am disappointed it ended up costing me more than I expected, but hopefully one day it will all be worth it.  :)

 Our new dog Lily, watching us play pool.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Killer Instinct And Frienships

I'll never forget that one particular match where my opponent taught me the hard way about the killer instinct.Yea, I was on the other end of it.

Back in the mid 90s, when I was hardly a good pool player, mostly a ball banger still, I played in a tournament against my friend Karen. She was an extremely sweet woman and I think we were even on a team together once at BCAPL Nationals.  She played good, and much better than I, and was considered one of the better players in the central Texas area.

When we played in this tournament, she was beating me pretty badly. I couldn't string two balls in a row and she kept winning and winning.  I was SO frustrated and VERY upset because it seemed like everything was going against me.

Now, we aren't suppose to feel sorry for our opponents, and she for sure didn't care she was beating up on me.

I don't think I was even as on the scoreboard yet; she was just annihilating me.

I was mostly frustrated with myself for losing so badly, but what Karen did next I will never forget. Even typing it out, I can feel my blood pressure rising. It was like it was yesterday.

I fouled and she had a chance to make a combo on the 9ball to win the match. I was down 0-6.

She took ball in hand and went for the combo and made it.

I was FREAKING LIVID! I couldn't believe she did that to me!  Personally... to me! I was very angry, hurt, upset, mad, embarrassed, you name it.

I was pretty vocal to her and I told her I couldn't believe she did that. I raised my voice to her, "you just stabbed my in the heart!  How could you go for that combo when I was down 0-6?!?!"

I walked away, bitching, "she just stabbed me in the heart!"

It felt SO personal that she would go for the combo to beat me, when she was already beating me 0-6.

As I reflect back, I know now obviously that she was just trying to win. She had the killer instinct.

I can appreciate her today, and I can also appreciate how tough that might have been to seal the deal with a 9ball combo against a friend who was struggling, and losing 0-6.

I was still very, very angry about the match because I was so new to competition.

As I type this out, it reminds me of another incident... and I think I did this to a friend by accident later on.

In the early 2000s, I was playing in south Houston at Legend's Billiards in a tournament. I was playing a good friend in the first or second round.

At this time in my life, my husband at the time was helping me work on gaining a killer instinct.  Doing what I needed to do to win, instead of letting up against friends or feeling sorry for my opponents.

So I'm playing my friend and at one point in the match she scratches on the break. I have ball-in-hand and see an easy safe on the first ball. I play safe to put her on 2, to try and 3-foul her. It wasn't a very good safe, but she still had to kick at the ball. She missed it and I got ball in hand again and again played safe. This time, she kicked at the ball even worse and I won that game by 3-fouling her.

I don't recall exactly what happened next, but she was VERY visibly upset with me. I didn't understand why, but she was pissed. I can't remember if she played out the match or not but I ended up defeating her because she was so upset and wasn't playing pool at that point on anymore.

She didn't speak to me the rest of the weekend and I didn't know why. I got upset about it but she left to drive back home (she didn't live in Houston and had a long drive) and I asked a mutual friend what was going on.

She told me that my friend was upset that I 3-fouled her.  She thought that since we were friends, I shouldn't have done that to her.

I was shocked!

This mutual friend tried to comfort her, but she realized she was too upset and could only listen and hug her. 

I called my friend Monday morning and tried to leave a heartfelt message that I was sorry, and I hoped she was okay. And I hated that she was so mad at me.

We eventually talked later that morning and she was very blunt and honest with me.

She said she couldn't believe I tried to 3-foul her. She told me, "There wasn't any clusters, so why would you even try?"

I told her, "you scratched and there was an easy safe with ball in hand so I went for it."

She tells me angrily, "you didn't even play a good safe!  You got lucky I didn't hit it. "

I told her my husband was trying to teach me to have a more killer instinct and here I was getting bitched at for playing the game properly.

I was upset about the whole altercation and the words we had with each other because we were good friends. I was working on my game and trying to improve.  In my eyes, I did nothing wrong.  But in her eyes, there was no reason to try to 3- foul her because there were no clusters.

I guess I should have tried to run out.  But, I was not good enough back then to run racks, and 3-fouling without a cluster on the table is the choice I made at the time.  I didn't do it to hurt her, I was just trying to win a game. 

I went for the win; which in the past I wouldn't have done.  Since she was a friend, I normally wouldn't have done that to her, but I was trying to be more competitive; TRYING have a more killer instinct and play pool, not be friends "on the table," because being too nice was costing me matches.

Eventually, she would take lessons and get a coach and her game improved immensely!  She got way got better than I. Her knowledge for sure was exponential.

I hate that these two incidences happened but it shows how weird/different girls/females can be when it comes to competing and the killer instinct, and what we struggle through when we first start competing against friends.

I do think that if I had played sports in high school, I would have been more competitive and less likely to ease up against friends earlier in my pool career.  Even now, I sometimes still struggle with that. 

But, everything happens for a reason and is a learning experience.  While I hated these two instances occurred, we all learned from them in the end.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gambling Lesson

I don't remember my very first gambling experience in pool, but I do remember my very first valuable learning experience when I was still wet behind the ears.

I mentioned in a recent blog I hung out a Lamberts in Baton Rouge, LA a few times and that's where I was witness to the biggest money match I had ever seen.

During that same time, I was at the pool room one night and this one guy, I swear his name was Squirrel, was really drunk.   He was loud and barking and he couldn't play pool worth a lick!!   I was this chick in my 20s who was only a shot maker, but I recognized even *I* could beat this guy in his condition.  Normally, this guy played pretty dang sporty, but on this night, he was a mess on the pool table because he was so drunk.

I went up to my boyfriend at the time and told him I wanted to play Squirrel.

"Look at him," I exclaimed, "I can beat him - he's drunk!"

I only saw that I could score a win right now. I didn't think of anything else but the current situation.

My boyfriend told me I couldn't play him. Well, he told me not to play him.

My boyfriend gave me great advice that to this day I will never forget.

I pleaded with him and he finally says, "Melinda, if you play him tonight and beat him, which is possible, then tomorrow night when he returns sober, he's gonna wanna play you. And he WILL beat you easily because he will be sober.  And he will want his money back; and then some."

"Oh.  Hmmm...."

"So, don't even mess with him just because tonight you can play him. Because you will have to play him again when he's sober, and you can't win that game."

"Oh.... good point."



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Refresher Blog Entries

I wrote a couple of months ago that I noticed a little something in a friends game and pointing it out to her one night, with just a couple of games of playing 8 ball.

She's on my league team and the other day she made an 8ball in the side and we all clapped for her win and then she told me as she walked to her chair, "It's because of you!"  Pointing at me.

I was like, "I didn't do anything. What are you talking about?"

She laughed and said again, "you know what you did."
I retorted, "I said nothing about side pocket shots."

"Yea, but telling me about the importance of a smooth stroke and not whacking at balls has made the side pockets easier.  And therefore I'm much more confident trying to make balls in the side. I used to never try for balls in the side pockets, I'd always go down the rail to the far pocket,"  she shared.

I told her, "Yea, if you "whack" at a ball into the side pocket, yes, mostly likely you will miss it. Side pockets are tricky when hitting balls too hard."

Then she confided, "you know, I re-read that blog entry that you wrote about. "

"Oh yea?  Which one?" I asked

"The one about me, even tho it doesn't say my name."

"Really?  Cool."  :)

I had no idea she re-read it. I thought maybe she read it once and that was it.  Instead, I think she re-reads it to help remind herself how critical and helpful the smooth stroke is.

I told her I started my blog as my own personal pool diary to help me remember things and also to reminiscence.  I love re-reading entries in my blog - there is so much to this game (physical and mental aspects), that reminders are key b/c the information is so vast. 

And I fully admit after re-reading tips, I am like, "Oh yea, I forgot about that.  Good reminder!"
I was so tickled to hear she re-reads that entry about herself :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Accolades Go a Long Way

It's amazing to me how much verbal accolades mean to our hearts and mental game.

When I play scotch doubles, my boyfriend says out loud "good shot" when I make a good shot, and do so in return when he makes great shots.

A verbal pat on the back pumps up my confidence.  And let's me know I am shooting well for our 2-person team.

A few months ago, my boyfriend had to work on a day there was a scotch doubles tournament. I called a mutual friend to see if he would like to play with me, so I could try and make some extra cash.  He said yes right away and I felt pretty sporty he said yes automatically, lol.

My b/f said he'd be crazy not to play with me, haha.

The Guy and I ended up winning the tournament, but I didn't feel as "special" as when Brian I win it.

This Guy said only two times at the beginning of the tourney, "good shot."  After that, he never said anything; never complimented me or said one word after awesome shots. And I admit to whoever might be reading this, that I came with some REALLY fantastic shots a few times that deserved recognition (as stupid as that sounds).

I would get all pumped up after some of my pretty phenomenal shots, and yet.... he wouldn't say A WORD to me, or about the shot. 

Other teams were complimenting each other, as they should.  It's a normal thing to do, right?

Well, it actually started to bother me.  I didn't understand why he wouldn't comment anymore. It seemed obvious to me that you compliment each other when you come with a really good shot. I still said "good shot" to him after his good shots, because I was impressed or thankful. But then it became awkward because he had stopped with his verbal accolades.

Now, I'm not saying he should have complimented every single one of my shots, but I do think it's politically correct to commend someone every once in a while when a shot is pretty awesome.  So, when it didn't happen anymore, I was bummed, for lack of a better word.

I really enjoy playing with my b/f, Brian, SO much better. We pump each other up; and that's key to playing doubles well and having good fun while kicking butt!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


When I lived in Florida from 1998-2000, I played on the Ladies Spirit Tour.

Well, a "different" / interesting thing was happening to one of the players.

I want to be politically correct and I am NOT making fun of anyone. I actually am very cognizant of the differences of people.

One of the females players on this regional ladies tour was transiting to a man.

When she started on the tour, she had long hair and looked kinda boyish, but then we found out through rumors that she was going through a sex change, and that she wanted to be a man.

I had no issue with this at all. She was doing what she felt she needed to do to feel comfortable with herself.

I would watch her go into the women's restroom for years and I wondered to myself, when would she start to go into the men's restroom?   And when will the females feel uncomfy she is in the women's restroom?

And that led me to think, at point can she no longer play on this women's tour?

If I was the TD, I would let her make that choice;  and watch her actions.  I know it sounds so silly and simply, but in my mind, once she no longer finally felt like a woman, and finally a man, I figured she would stop going into the women's restrooms.  It was kinda an unwritten test to see when she finally felt like a man.

Although, obviously she would let us know and then she was no longer allowed to play on the tour.  It was no secret anymore what she was trying to do.

Eventually she started to get facial hair and cut her hair shorter.   She always dressed more "manly" and so she never really wore girlie, frilly clothes anyway.

By the time I left FL, she hadn't completed her transition and was still playing on the tour.

I do not know what ever happened to her, as she wasn't a very good pool player so I never heard her name again.

People think being a TD is easy work - but sometimes we run across these type of issues that we must handle with professionalism and leadership.

This isn't the first time this has come up - a man became a woman in the late 80s and even played on the WPBA Tour for a while.  She lived in Texas and so I knew her personally.  She passed away but I never heard that her playing on the WPBA was an issue.  Anne Mayes also played on the Ladies Tour in Texas for many, many years and also became a cuemaker.

Monday, December 17, 2012

League Team Shirts

I've mentioned a few times that I am on 2 leagues this season.

The one thing I really, really like about both of these leagues is I don't have to wear our team shirts every time we play.

I can't begin to express how cool it is to just wear what I want to wear, and not have to worry about washing my polo team shirt every week.  I can go straight from work and wear my work clothes, or come home first and find a comfy shirt with jeans.

I was on a league for MANY years that required us to wear our team shirts. I understand it promoted the pool rooms, I truly do get that, but it was a pain.   And I personally feel so much better in my own comfy clothes than a polo shirt. :(  Polo's just don't fit well on me.

And being comfortable is very important to competing well.  I have honestly lost matches if I am too worried about what I have on, and not comfortable.

Anyway, a HUGE thank you to the Women of Grand Prairie League and the DFW Pool League!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Biggest Score I Witnessed

Every one has their story of the BIGGEST money match they have witnessed. Well, that means I have one, too!

Back in the mid 90s, I traveled with my boyfriend as he traipsed across the country playing in tournaments or getting into action. I had been to New York City to see the big Straight Pool event, a Camel Pro event at Magoo's in Tulsa (yeah, I'm showing my age, lol), and Olathe, Kansas (hotspot for pool), and a few other pro events back then.

At one point, he and I went to the little city of Baton Rouge in Louisiana.

"Lambert’s" was the GO TO pool hall for high stakes action in the South.  Mr. Lambert had money, and his friend and partner "Flyboy" was a very good one pocket player who played for a lot of money.  Therefore, players from all over the country came to see if they could win big cash off the pair. 

BTW, "Lamberts" had the best ham steak special in the world!

I happened to be there the weekend in the mid to late 90s when James Walden beat Flyboy out of $150,000.

No.  That's not a typo.

When James sealed the deal it was 5am or so in the morning (after several days of playing 12 hours on/12 hours off), there was hardly anyone else in the pool room at the time.  Even my b/f was back in the hotel room sleeping.

James Walden banked the last ball on the last game of their head-set one pocket match and I was one of the few who saw the final shot. 

To this day, it's very surreal that I witnessed that.

I will never forget James' backer walking towards the pool table that early morning, slowly clapping his hands with long pauses between the claps, in sheer pleasure and delight about the big win.

Lampert retrieved a medium-sized black bag from the safe in the back, and handed it to the backer from California. 

I didn't see Flyboy in action for the rest of the trip, but I DID see a very drunk James Walden and his girlfriend Toni who celebrated the next night.

I don't blame them!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

One Of the Boys

Monday night I played league on the men's team I sub on.  I try very hard to play decent and want to play my best because they are the top team on the league and I want to contribute like the rest of the great players on our team.

I have been nervous lately when I have played for them.  The pressure to play well on a good team is pretty dang tough!

BTW, I play on this team so my b/f and I can play Scotch Doubles in Vegas at BCAPL Nationals.  As you all know, in order to play doubles, you have to play in the same league, so that's why I play on this team.

On this night, the captain wasn't there and one guy who hasn't been there in a while was there.  I became the captain and called out all the matches, set up the line up, made sure everyone was playing the right people, kept score, etc.

The guy who hadn't been there in while was very hyper and talkative.  He was making jokes, laughing a lot, more than I have seen before.  He's always in a good mood, but his mood was elevated on this night for sure for some reason.

On this team, if you break and run, each teammate owes you fifty cents.  A table run is worth a quarter, and winning all 5 of your games is worth $1 from every teammate.

I was playing SUPER good this night.  I was impressing myself, lol.  I was running out well, playing great safes, staying down; it felt FANTASTIC.

My boyfriend was watching all my games and complimented my shots throughout the night.  Another teammate said, "we all need to step up our game to be at Melinda's level," lol.  Every teammate was very supportive and complimentary.  One guy even told me, "a lot of people are talking about how much your game has improved and how well you have been playing."

And the bonus of the night was, one of the teammates told me that I belong on their team because I play so well.  I was very pumped up.  :)  But, the kudos didn't get in my way of games - I still played solid and didn't let the words get to me, like have in the past.

As you all know, if you start to think about how WELL you are playing, you no longer focus on your fundamentals.  

Back to the night - I got a rack and run my second game and my boyfriend collected the quarters for me. I was pretty happy to get a Table Run!

Then I found myself with 4 wins before the final round.  My boyfriend also had 4 wins and he and I were the only ones undefeated on the team!  The team had already won the match a round before, but we were both going for 5-0.

The other teammates started to ask who was undefeated. I finally figured out they were trying to find out who they *might* owe a $1 to for a perfect score (5-0)

My last game, I played the best player on the other team while one of our teammates, the real happy, talkative one, starts talking to me while I'm at the table.


I finally figure out he wants me to lose so he doesn't have to give me a dollar!!

Now, granted, I have seen this go on all season, and the previous season, but I recall the players would talk shit to them before or after the match, not during.  Maybe comment after a miss, but not while trying to shoot. 

Only one other time was I on the verge of 5-0 and no one tried to shark me then....

But this guy was deliberately sharking me while I was at the table; MY OWN TEAMMATE!

I missed a tough shot, because I was too worried about shape, and also because I wasn't 100% focused.  He distracted me;  It worked.  And I didn't stay down like all the other shots I made all night (and I had some FANTASTIC shots this night!). 

So, I missed the ball, and my teammate is all happy about it!

I get mad and snap to him, "that's not right!  I am going for end of season money, buddy!"  He just laughed and laughed. 

We get money for break and runs and perfect scores at the end of the season.

I was pissed!

Instead of saying more to that guy, I do what most females do, I took it out on my boyfriend.  I turned to him, raised my voice, and snapped, "That's not right!"

He said, "I know, just calm down."

I snapped again, "I can't believe it!"

Now, granted, was I more upset I dogged the perfect score, or that he was trying to shark me?  And the whole time, the guy just kept laughing and laughing.  He thought it was the funniest thing.

After my opponent runs out for the win, and no longer have a perfect night, my teammate CLAPS for him because he beat me!

That was it.  I was LIVID!

I snap at my boyfriend, "REALLY???  That was uncalled for!"

My boyfriend tries to calm me down, "It will be okay."

"I'm going for the end of season money, this is NOT right."

"Don't snap at me," he finally snaps back.

I say defiantly, "I'm gonna blog about!"

"Do it!" he tells me encouragingly.

I try as HARD as I can not to be mad at the guy, but I really am upset.  And embarrassed.  And I HATE being embarrassed.

As I sat in my chair trying to calm down, it reminded me of when Tiger Woods' Dad would deliberately distract Tiger in the rain on the golf course, to get his mental toughness tight and teach him about distractions.

"Use it as a test," I tried to tell myself.

My teammate then has his turn at the table and after a couple of misses he says, "that's what I get for trying to save a dollar."  Meaning, karma came and bit him in the ass for trying to shark me.

He never did shark my b/f his last match and he went on to get a perfect score, and $1 from each teammate.  :)

I came to the conclusion that if I am going to be on this team, I'm going to treated like one of the boys.  I guess I need to put up with it be on their team.  Since they are the top team in the league, I'll keep at it. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

12, Err, 11 Days til Christmas

With the countdown on to Christmas, I thought I do a little rendition of it for my blog.  From this day forward until Christmas, I will post a blog entry every day til Christmas. 

Starting today, that's 11 days of straight blogging!

Come back each day if you wish to kill some time in your busy holiday schedule.  ;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Straight Pool Shark Move

This crazy incident happened almost a year ago.  I found myself telling a friend about it over the weekend, and mentioned I had always meant to share it in my blog.  He said, "You should!"

So, here I am.

Here I am about to tell you a crazy story about something that happened during a straight pool match, that to this day is still very shocking to me.

Several of my friends play in the local straight pool league in the area.  A situation came up during one of the matches, and the guy who it happened to, I'll call him NYPD, actually vented about it on a public forum.  So, I'm not really sharing anything that is a secret, BUT if you haven't heard this story, it's quite appalling.

NYPD was playing against someone I'll call, The Critic .

They are in the "better" division so they race to 150 points in straight pool.

During the match, the score was 97 to 40-something, NYPD's favor.  He was up at the table and he had two balls left, both balls were in the rack area.

He pocketed one of the balls, made the cue ball come off the bottom rail bumping the other ball out of the rack area into a great break shot position.  But he also kept the cue ball in the rack area, so that he could have ball in hand.

When you leave the cueball in the rack area on your last ball, you get ball in hand behind the head string.  This is a great part of the game that can help you get good shape for breakout balls.

There is no rack lines on the table, and the cue ball rolled close to the edge of the rack area.  But he knew it was IN the rack area because of the marks on the cloth (it is easy to tell with the worn out cloth on the tables where the rack area is).

NYPD goes over to write down his score while The Critic starts to rack.  NYPD looks up and sees that he has a different rack then what they had been using for the whole match!

This out-of-nowhere rack is a thin, wood rack.  His son had brought in with him to play his match on another table. 

They had been using a plastic house rack which has a lip on the bottom that makes the rack wider.  They had been using it the ENTIRE time.  Now all of a sudden The Critic starts to use the thin rack.

"With the score being what it was, it meant we had used the house rack for 9 racks up to that point," NPYD explains.

The Critic racks the balls and tells NYPD that the cue ball is not in the rack......

"I couldn't believe the Bull he was trying to get away with," NYPD expresses.

NYPD told him that he protested the different rack, which of course ticked of The Critic.  He threw the wood rack back under the next table and re-racked using the plastic rack.

NYPD got cue ball in hand and finished off the match 150 to 68.

NYPD shared, "I wish that i could of beat him even better. "

Now, this is only one side to the story, obivously.  But I do not know any reason to all of a sudden start using a different rack.... if I hear why, I will update this plog post, tho.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Standing in the Way

Competition is a very tough thing, in reality.  For those of us who are friends with our competitors, and for those of us who don't have a killer instinct all the time, competition can be tough on our souls.

Especially when awards and titles are on the line - FOR OUR FRIENDS.

Two weekends ago is the perfect example.  And I'll also throw in a league night from last season as a comparison, along with the 2002 World Championship finals and the NFL.

At the OB Cues Ladies Tour stop in Dallas in early December, I alluded that Kim Pierce was in contention for the Tour Championship title.  Also in contention was my bff Amanda Lampert.  Orietta Strickland had a chance also, but hers was the slimmest chance.  The real test would be between Amanda and Kim, who were only 50 points apart going into the final stop.

The "Tour Champion" title is one not many women have achieved on the tour.  Three women have won it 11 times between themselves:  five times in a row by Leslie Anne Rogers, then two times in a row by Heather Pulford, and then four times in a row by Lisa Marr.  So, they kept many other women at bay from the title.  With Leslie moving to Japan 7 years ago, Heather in California the last few years, and Lisa taking a hiatus from pool in the middle of this season, it allowed for a new champ to be crowned.  Also, that person would get all their entry fees paid next year.  Which is a nice bonus for such a strong title!

A lot of people (Kim and Amanda included) tried to figure out the statistics of how they would have to finish to see who would win the crown.  But even though Amanda was only 50 points behind Kim, Kim would earn even more points at this stop.  The points race was VERY tight!  If they happened to TIE with points, they would have a play-off.   BTW, the top points are:  200 for first place, then 160, 125, 100, 80, 65 and 50 points for 9th place.

Kim was put in the one-loss side by me, and then a round later, Amanda was on the one-loss side also.  On the one-loss side, ironically, Amanda and Kim ran into each other.  This would pretty much be a do or die situation for Amanda.  If she didn't win, Kim for sure would get the title.  If she did defeat Kim, she would still have to win several matches to secure the crown.

Amanda defeated Kim and gave herself a chance at the title!  But Kim earned 50 points for 9th place.  Now that meant Amanda would have to win by more than 100 points to win the title. 

After Amanda defeated Kim, she had to wait almost 12 hours to play her next match Sunday morning against a very tough player (Orietta Stickland) for 7th place. I think it would be immense pressure to even TRY to sleep with all the thoughts of what I needed to do to win the title. 

The TDs figured out Amanda needed to place 3rd to win the title, and if she placed 4th, Kim and Amanda would be tied in points and they would have to have a playoff. 

I also don't know how Kim slept.  It was now out of her hands, but she had to be restless with the unknowns, I'm sure.  She would come to the tourney on Sunday and sweat it out all day and see what would happen. 

As I mentioned before, I was on the winners side til Sunday.  As I reviewed the brackets, I noticed that if I lost my first match Sunday morning, I would have to play Amanda if she defeated Orietta. 

I actually worried about it.  I didn't want to stand in her way of the title, but I wouldn't just give up, so I would still fight to win.  BUT, I didn't want to be put in that position at all.  I fully admit it.  I understand pressure and wants and desires of competition, esp when titles are on the line, so to play someone who is gunning for something like that is pretty tough on those of us without a killer instinct. 

I won my Sunday morning match (somehow) against Jennifer Kraber, and then SHE had to play Amanda next, as Amanda defeated Orietta 7-2 decisively. 

Jennifer and Amanda went back and forth and back and forth.

The match goes 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6.  Everyone in the entire room is eyeing the match (including those playing their own matches, like myself, lol), as we all know the title is on the line. 

Eventually, at hill-hill, Jennifer runs out from the 3ball to win the final game.  This put Amanda in 5th place, which meant Kim won the title.  And as Jennifer made the final 9ball, I looked over at Kim, who was sitting far away, but close enough to see the match.  Her head fell into her hands and she started weeping.  Meanwhile, Amanda held it together and immediately got on her ipad, but she was disappointed.

Pics were taken of Kim, announcements were made of her title, and she posted all over facebook - just as I would have done!  I was very proud of her, but at the same time disappointed for Amanda as I knew she fought so so hard for the title all weekend.

All of the matches Amanda and Kim played all weekend were crucial.  Each and every one of them were key to the points, to the race, to the title, to the player.

But what surprised me was that the opponents who played them felt pressure, too. 

Someone who played Kim expressed to me they felt bad having to play her.  They said if they beat her, she might lose the title.  But, we all still felt we had to fight and not give up, even though we FELT bad about it. 

Even when I played Kim I felt bad for winning, but I could live with it because it was on the winner's side and I knew she could do well on the one-loss side.  Kim is never out til she's out!

Jennifer told Amanda and I something very interesting later on in the day.

Jennifer said she was told right before her match with Amanda that the crown was pretty much on the line with that match.  If Jennifer won, Amanda would not win the title.  If she WON the match against Jennifer, that would put her in 4th place, and then Kim and Amanda would at least tie and have a playoff.  Or, Amanda could go on to place higher and win it outright. 

So when Jennifer played her, she also felt the pressure or uneasiness about the situation.

She told Amanda and I, "Right before the match, I was told about the points and how close it was.  I called my boyfriend who is my tough-love confidante and told him the situation.  His response was. 'what are you there for?' "  Which gave Jennifer the mental okay to fight and win and not worry about what is at stake for Amanda.

I found it very comforting, as weird as that sounds, that Jennifer also felt the same way I did had I had to play either of these players on the one-loss side.

Neither player would want us to GIVE them matches, they want to win everything with pure sweat, good play, and determination; no gimmees.

But I was surprised at the amount of pressure it put on their opponents all weekend long. 

This happened to me at the last night of my women's league season last Oct.  Before the match started a friend told me she was in contention for the Top Shooter, but she would have to win 4 out of the 5 games.  When she met up with me last that night, I felt SO badly for going for the run out.  I wanted to dog it, but in my heart I was SO torn.  I couldn't just give her the win by dogging it; I had to still play MY game.  It would not be fair to the other person in contention.

I felt SO much pressure as I made ball after ball.  I eventually screwed up shape.  "Whew!  I may not win, but I tried to win," lol, I told myself.  But I banked my last ball well for shape and ended up winning.  I felt SO badly!  I hugged her and said, "I am so sorry." 

"What for?"

"Because of the Top Shooter...."

"OH!  I already won that two games ago - the other person lost most of her matches tonight and I already won it."

Oh thank God!

I told her it crossed my mind to maybe let her win and she told me, "Don't EVER do that."

Pressure to COMPETE well is sometimes tougher than we realize. Notice I didn't just say "pressure to WIN" is tough. 

I know this is no comparison, but take for example the last two weekends in the NFL where players have lost their lives.  The teammates of the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs go on the field, playing their little hearts out for their lost teammates and friends, but their opponents don't just GIVE them the wins.  They still fight, no matter what; fight hard.  These two heartbroken teams want to win SO badly, but their opponents still play hard and tough, even though they also know their opponents are playing FOR their deceased friends.

It also reminds me of what happened in 2002.  Earl Strickland and Francisco Bustamante were fighting it out in the finals at the 2002 World Pool Championship.  But it was what had happened 3 days earlier that was on a lot of people's mind.  Francisco's 7 month old daughter had passed away suddenly.  I know how Francisco played - he played FOR his daughter; in her honor.  But how could Earl fathom to defeat Francisco in his worst hour?  Granted, Francisco had played all three days up until the finals to meet Earl even after that horrific news, but I think it would be very tough for me to play my hardest knowing that he just lost his child.  Earl had never won the title, so he focused on that.  Earl won 17-15, even trailing at one point.

I realize life and death is no comparison to awards, but the point is that no matter what is at stake, opponents still need to compete, no matter what is on the line.  I had not seen in a long time how much pressure there was on the OPPONENTS, not just the people fighting and yearning for the titles/wins.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Third Place!

Last weekend I played in the OB Cues Ladies Tour in Dallas, TX.  I planned to play in it all along, and then the week before I got sick with a really bad cold.  So sick in fact, it kept me from work for two days; for a stupid cold!

I had hoped I felt good enough to play in the tourney by Saturday morning, and luckily I did.  It was still lingering, but not like earlier in the week.

On Friday I had a great day - a better day than normal because my b/f did a very nice thing for me. So, I was in a great frame of mind for the tourney.

He ended up sick Friday night and didn't feel well enough to go with me by Saturday morning, so I ventured at 9am for the one hour drive from Fort Worth to north Dallas (Richardson) for the last stop of the OB Cues Ladies Tour 2012 season. 

I was disappointed there were only 28 ladies who showed up to play, but I also wondered:   how I would do?

Friday, I had decided on my goals for the tourney:  (1) take my time on my strokes and (2) focus on three-ball shape. 

I then wondered - Was I REALLY ready?  When did I play pool last?

I couldn't really think of a real recent time, but the previous weekend I HAD watched a lot of great pool at the Omega Billiards Tour stop

So, while I hadn't had much practice time, I felt like I would do okay; well "hoped" I would, lol.

I felt no nervousness or pressure.  I was just "there" which is the BEST for me - no expectations, no worries, just "numb" as I call it.

During my first match, I noticed I was on the first table; the first match called.  I wondered, "who I would play next??

Would it be one of the players on table 2?  Or would I play someone who got a bye?

As I look around the room (yes, I know, I should not be thinking ahead while in the middle of a match), I noticed Tara, Amanda, and Orietta all playing.  The other tough player was NOT playing, though - Kim Pierce, the current first place holder in the rankings.  I thought to myself, "damn, I wonder if I have to play her next?  Oh well, will deal with that when/if the time comes."

BTW - do NOT do this - do NOT think about potential future matches.  We should focus on the match we are currently in!

I win my first match 7-3 and sure enough, when I report my score I see I play Kim next.

I played Kim and had a few things going for me.  I had heard she had a coach and when someone gets a new coach, their game changes a little.  And normally, it goes down before it goes up.  I noticed Kim played a tad more timid than usual.  And she wasn't as aggressive.  To make matters worse, I was playing quite well.

I got up 1-0 when I ran out prolly the best out in a YEAR, but I scratched on the 8ball, following it down for the 9.  Then she won the next game b/c I hooked myself.  I found myself down 2-4 and tried so hard not to think of the two games I gave up b/c of my mistakes.  It's very frustrating to know in your heart you are playing well, but the score doesn't reflect it because of a few mistakes.

I told myself. "you are still playing well, just take your time, look at where you want to be for three-ball shape." 

She missed a 2 ball, I got out.  A 3 ball, I got out.  A 1 ball, I got out.  I started to make a lot less mistakes and really played fantastic (I thought).  I ended up winning 7-4!! 

I was SO ecstatic because she normally beats me, AND I played GREAT!  I felt bad for her b/c I knew she was going for Tour Champion, but I also knew she could come through the one-loss side.

I then had to play my dear friend Julie.  I played real good again at first and was up 2-1.  But I made a crucial mistake on the 8ball - I was too worried about shape and didn't focus on making the 8ball in the side.  I missed it, and she got out. 

That miss stayed "with me" for many games and it was very difficult to get that monkey off my back.  I found myself down 5-2.


I kept telling myself "5 more games," to keep myself mentally in the match, but she was playing well while I struggled.  She then missed a few shots or safes and I was able to capitalize.  I was on the comeback and actually got to the hill first, 6-5!

She missed a tough 8 ball and I could see the writing on the wall.  I was struggling mentally with a person in the crowd who never gives me positive feedback.  He just shakes his head when I miss.  So, I had this little demon to deal with while trying to compete.

And sure enough, I over hit the 8ball and was left with a tough cut on the 9ball that I proceeded to miss.  Julie played safe and I missed my return safe and she made a great shot to make us play for it all, hill-hill.

I tried not to kick myself in the a$$ for the 8ball shot.  I had it in the bag and messed it up, but I needed to focus on the last game.  I put no pressure on myself:  I figured if I won, cool, if not, it wouldn't be the end of the world and I learned some things.

We went back and forth with safes and shots and eventually she safed me well on the 5ball.  I had to kick at it with English, and I hit it (whew) but hit it so square, it went in one of the corner pockets!  I raised my hand for the apology wave, and then saw I had 4 balls left to win the game, to win the match.  I took my time and made the last 4 balls for the win!  I couldn't believe it! 

I went to the tourney table, and saw it:  I was in til Sunday - ON THE WINNERS SIDE!

Gosh, not sure the last time that has happened, lol.

On the hour long drive home, it of course dawns on me that if I win my match in the morning, I will be playing in the hotseat - for the first time ever on this tour.  The last two times I was in the same position the past 2 years, I completely psyched myself out.  Because wanted it so badly, I put all this invisible pressure on myself and completely dogged it the next morning. 

This night however, I felt no pressure.  I was very "numb" as I call it - I was not thinking of the future or expectations. 

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good nights sleep.  I tossed and turned and woke up all night long because things kept waking me up.  I didn't let it get to me, I just accepted the fact I didn't get a good nights sleep.  I didn't want it to be an excuse.  Further, I have recently fought through fatigue and played well.  Sure, I play BETTER with sleep, but I had no control over the lack of sleep anymore so why let it upset me?

I listened to music on the hour drive as my b/f drove me this bright Sunday morning. 

I played my first match promptly at 10:30am and was up 2-0 because Jennifer, a good friend of mine and a fierce competitor that I learn a lot from, made some mistakes.  Then she scratched on the break.  I saw a 1-9 combo, and the 4/5 were tied up.  But, I felt SUPER bad I was going to go for it.  I could tell Jennifer was agitated because of the way she missed shots at the table, and if I had to guess, she was probably distracted about my b/f sitting so close to our match.

I didn't give the shot 100% because I felt bad about to be up 3-0.  I KNOW that sounds stupid.  But I did feel bad.  I knew she wasn't playing up to par because she was distracted/upset, and I felt like I was partially responsible.  I missed the shot.  She gets out (of course) and eventually wins a few more games.  I'm down 4-2 and pretty dang ticked at myself for not being cut throat.  For not giving that combo 100%!  For not having the killer instinct.

Ironically, Jennifer is someone I interviewed before to find out about her competitiveness.  Here I was not even following her own advice!!  Competition comes first. 

I was mad at myself.

If I think my b/f sitting close to us is bothering her, then it bothers me.  I find that very ironic.  It happened once before and so this time I tried so hard not to let it bother me, but it did anyway.  I should have just asked him to move one table back.  In any other tourney, my b/f can sit where ever he wants.  On this tour, he was probably considered in the "playing area" even though he wasn't sitting at my table.  He wasn't doing anything wrong, and neither was I.  But, his closeness was distracting her; I could tell.  But if he was bothering her, maybe she should ask him to move?  Or had a TD do it?  I know, though, it's difficult to speak up during a match so I completely understand.  Next time I will try to do the proper thing so it doesn't affect us BOTH.

Then our match became weird - each of us barely inched wins because of stupid mistakes, but somehow we each get to 5.  I am upset how badly I'm playing and I express my frustration out loud when I would miss a tough 9 or a 6ball I would have made yesterday.  I was SO frustrated.

At 5-5, we each had a shot at a 9 ball carom but missed.  She then calls a foul on herself and I felt SUPER bad, as I was about to get ball in hand with the 9ball sitting in front one of the pockets.  I told her I felt bad and her response was so pretty awesome, "well, I shouldn't have missed the carom anyway."

Which is a great way to look at things.

However, I did indeed make the 3-9 (albeit it wasn't very easy and I should NOT have gone for it then) and found myself on the hill first.  She took a break (btw, I need to do that more often: take breaks).

The next game she scratches and I eventually have to play safe on a tough 4 ball after I made the first three balls.  However, I leave her almost straight in.  I'm embarrassed and disappointed I left such an easy shot for her, so I say out loud, "That was suppose to be a safe..."

She then makes the 4, but scratches getting shape on the 6ball.  I couldn't believe it.  In my mind I think, "maybe it was a good safe?"

Later on I would realize I shouldn't have said ANYTHING out loud.  And I felt badly about it, because she asked me a few years ago to not talk during our matches.  I felt like I distracted her (again!).  :(

I ran out the rest of the rack - ran it well under the pressure of knowing I'm about to be in the hotseat for the first time.  OMG!  I was in the hotseat for the first time on the OB Cues Ladies Tour!!

I then had a little wait and even though I wasn't aware of it at the time, I was mentally tapped.  As I reflect back, as I waited, I became exhausted mentally for some reason.

I played Tara in the hotseat and she plays SO beautifully!  I really love to watch her play; she plays like a guy.  She broke and ran one rack and only missed 2 shots the first 4 games.  However, I did NOT make two tough shots and so she went ahead 0-4.  I tried so hard not to let it get to me.

She scratched on the break when she was up 0-5 and I ran out a tough little out.  Go Me!  I got some snaps from the crowd and even SHE told me nice out (she doesn't normally talk to me).

I was so relieved it be on the score board, lol.

I loosened up a little bit and won another game.  I was only down 5-2 when I noticed the momentum changed.  She started to miss a little bit more and I was at the table more but I have to tell you, I got deflated.  I scratched TWO times when I swear I didn't think it was even possible.  I gave her two opportunities to run out when *I* should have been the one to run out and make the score closer.

Don't get me wrong, she deserved the win wholeheartedly b/c she played better than I, but the two misses and those two scratched were tough on the heart.

However, that was NOTHING compared to my next match....

I had to play Jennifer again next, and I know I use the word deflated to describe my emotions a lot, but whatever word means EXTRA deflated, that's how I felt after this match with her.

I scratch with ball in hand in the first game and she has a 9ball combo.  The second game I scratch off a carom, and she gets out.  She kept getting out and I felt like everything was going against me.  I then ran out BEAUTIFULLY but got bad on the 9 ball and missed it.  I felt so deflated, it was difficult to not either cry or throw my cue, lol.  And I only got ONE game against her.  I tried SO hard to smile, enjoy playing the game, FIGHT, but I felt like it was a lost cause, because my efforts were giving me NO wins.  I don't know how she got out so many times, and I even left her some tough outs, but she got out well to win the match 1-7.

I felt good she was going to the finals as she has more experience than I on this tour in that spot, but I will be there someday soon on this tour, too.  Baby steps!

After the match, a couple of people told me she got all the rolls.  I didn't really understand that; still don't.  I just think she played well, and fluky things happened when I was at the table.

After the match, everyone was so happy for me placing 3rd.  I was too upset about the last two matches to even be happy.  But as I reflect back, honestly, it was because I played so well on Saturday that got me in a good position for Sunday.  I am very happy for how I played on Saturday! 

I never got nervous or felt pressure in any of the matches I played all weekend and it felt great to be in that state of mind.  I wish I could bottle that up with me!

Eeeek, I placed 3rd on the OB Cues Ladies Tour!  I think it's my highest finish yet!  I might have placed 3rd back in 1996 by accident, but this feels like this first time to get this high, lol!

Baby steps....  :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Consistency Quote by Tony Robbins

Great quote I read the other day for pool, AND life:

In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. -Tony Robbins

8 Ball Tips - Moving Balls and Clusters

I love 8 ball.

I can't begin to describe how wonderful the game is.

And I have enjoyed learning so much about it, especially from Phil Capelle's Play Your Best books series. I've said it a thousand times in this blog, but my knowledge of 8ball has grown exponential because of his books. I highly recommend them.

Let's talk about making/moving balls, and those dreaded clusters.

It still amazes me when I play players who shoot their balls in randomly when they have clusters on the table. Even if there is only 1 cluster, I still carefully consider if I should make any of my balls.

If there is more than one cluster, I hardly ever make any of my balls. I may need those balls later to break out the clusters. Why would I make them??

While I am shocked that my opponents make most of their balls and then seemed surprised their last ball is in a cluster, those are the players I have an advantage over.  It's not cockiness for me to say that, it's just a fact.

If an opponent keeps picking off their balls and they do not think ahead to a solution to their problem (that cluster), then of course we have the advantage.

I was shocked one day when I helped a friend with 8 ball. We discussed the layout of a just-broke rack of 8 ball. We discussed the one cluster and she said she was going to leave it alone for now.




She said in APA, that's what they told her to do.

Now, mind you I don't think it's the "APA" per say that told her to play this way, but instead someone on her APA team. OR, in APA maybe balls made count more than wins? 

The point is, in regular 8ball tournaments, you should always try to break out clusters early. 

And in order to do that, you need more than one of your balls to do that.  Because let's face it, sometimes we wont break out the cluster on the first try.  Further, after the break out, we may need an insurance ball.

That's why it's also important to try and break up your cluster early (if you can).

That's just two of the many very important reasons not to make all your balls before breaking up your clusters.

First and foremost, if you can help it, NEVER leave your second to the last ball to break out a cluster.
You cannot guarantee you will have a shot on the last ball if you decide to leave the cluster last.

I have seen SO many people do this and it's just not smart to do (if you can help it).

If I see one or two clusters and a run-able table, I will start to try and break the clusters up.

I may need several attempts to break out a cluster. The first attempt may fail. The second may fail. If I instead had made all my open, easy shots, I would have run out of balls to break out the cluster(s).

Further, if you make all your balls, and then you break out a cluster, you will no have insurance balls!

SO many people pick off their ducks (balls in the hole that are easy to make). But, AFTER you break out a cluster, you will most likely need that duck. So, DON'T make all your easy balls before you try to break out clusters.

It's a great feeling when you leave a duck, break out a cluster, and then have that duck as your next ball.  You pat yourself on the back for planning ahead.

Let's use an example:  let's use the 1, 2, 3, and 14 balls.  Ball 1 is sitting in front of the end pocket.  Ball 2 is in front of the side pocket.  Ball 3 is in a cluster with ball 14.

You use ball 2 to break out the 3 and 14 ball cluster.  Afterwards, the 3 is no longer clustered with the 14 ball, but the 3 ball rolled to a position that you cannot make it.  Let's say the 3 ball moves to the end rail, and the cueball is now between the 14 and 3 ball.  Therefore, you broke out the cluster, but now you don't have a shot on the 3 ball.  BUT!  You thought ahead and left the 1 ball in front of the pocket, and now you have a for-sure shot on your balls and you can keep shooting.  :)

And now let's talk about moving balls/punting.

You are smart to not make all of your balls if you do not have a run; leave some on the table to add obstacles for your opponent and also because you may need your balls later.  I call this punting:  i.e., not making your balls.

Most importantly, tho, if you punt, do SOMETHING with your ball.

Do not JUST punt.  Do NOT just move your ball randomly.  Move it to a USEFUL location for the future.

I usually always move a ball near a cluster so I can USE it later as a break out ball. I don't just "not make a ball." I ALWAYS improve my balls' positions. Always.

Well, I try to.  :)

Even if you play safe, hit your ball so that you move it to a better location.

Maybe move it in front of a hole, or bank it near a cluster so you can use it as a break out ball later, or make it a blocker in front of their ball.

DO NOT just punt, but IMPROVE your balls' locations/positions.  Every time you don't make a ball, at least move it to a more useful position for the future. 

Hopefully these tips give you ample reasons to IMPROVE your balls' position and why to NOT make all your balls before you are ready to break out clusters.

Nothing pleases me more than seeing my opponents NOT make their balls randomly.  Shows they are playing smart, thinking ahead, and love the game of 8ball as much as I do.  :)

(btw, I happen to now be a dealer of Phil Capelle's books if you want to buy one and see me around the DFW area)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tourney Learning Lessons

As with any tournament, issues can arise. 

And when these issues occur when I'm running a tourney, the issues become a tad personal....

Last weekend we hosted our second Omega Billiards Tour stop.  This was the second event of the year, and the last of the year.  Next year starts a whole new season, our first "season" ever.  We will have 6 stops and a season finale.  It's all so very exciting!

At these tournaments, we have a calcutta.  Most people who play pool will know what a calcutta is so I wont go into detail, just to say that other people can bid on players.  So, there's money on the line and basically people are betting that their player will place high, and then they get a percentage of the calcutta payouts.  It's a gamble for sure, but one that can bring you some money if the bet is right and your player does well.

So, imagine my surprise when one of the players at our event lost his first match and then WALKED out!  Someone overheard him say, "I can't win this tourney now," as he walked out the door.

So, to say I was upset was an understatement.  The guy was bought for $200 in the calcutta!  AND, someone even put him in the tourney!  He has no money invested in the tourney at all, and two others did, and yet he walks out because he lost his first match! 

Since he went for $200, yes that means he's a good player.  To say he's not welcome again is a given.  It was rude, inconsiderate, and uncalled for. 

Then something else happened the next day. 

Right before the finals, the two opponents start discussing something.  I figure out what it is, because so many people are involved in the discussion.  They are talking about splitting/chopping the first and second place monies, and NOT PLAYING THE FINALS OUT.

So, this means I have no score, and no winner for the websites, media articles, write ups, nothing.  Further, all the people who stayed all day to watch, would not get a chance to see a Pro and a top player battle it out in the finals. 

I told the players I was not happy.  I told them I wanted them to play.  For the fans and for the tour.  Not to mention the people who bought them in the calcutta!!  First place in the calcutta was about $1500 and second was about $950.

Granted, the players were trying to work out a deal with the two guys who bought them in the calcutta, but that in itself is disrespectful to ask that they do that (imo).

This isn't a tournament.  This is a tour.   

I walked up to them and expressed that this was a new tour and I did not want that to happen. 

They understood, and so they agreed to play. 

I was upset because I don't like to show when I'm upset, but I had to stand up for the tour, the fans, the sponsors, the pool room who counted on more business, etc.  One of the players instigated the chop and the other just went along.  But, I was not happy.

Everyone told me I did the right thing, but I still didn't like the way it all went down. While it wasn't an argument per say, it was still uncomfortable and I felt it was a little selfish for them to even consider it.

But, I suppose I'm being biased.

While those reading this may think splitting is not a big deal, but because it's a new tour trying to get its feet on the ground and be reputable, I think it is a big issue.  Maybe the sponsors didn't care (maybe they do?), but *I* cared for the fans watching, for the pool room making money, and for the calcutta buyers.

Everything is a learning experience, and this weekend had a few for us. 

Overall, it was a another great event with over $6,500 paid out and a 64-full bracket of great players, tho!  I can't wait for the new season next year!

Passive 8Ball Players

Every player has their own style of play at the table. Some can adjust to different situations, but some remain in their same style, even if the table layout begs otherwise (being able to adjust is the proper way, btw).

When it comes to 8ball, I am more the defensive player. If it's a tricky out with lots of clusters, I tend to lay low and let my opponent try to be the hero. That is my style.

I DO go for breakouts when the time is right, but if there are many clusters or a tough out, I would rather punt.

I have noticed men tend to not punt as much.  They play much more aggressive. I suppose that makes my style passive?

So I found myself in an interesting situation the other day a couple of months ago during the ACS State 8 ball tourney. In the team event on Sunday morning, I was pitted against a player who used to not know 8ball very well.  But, she has been dating a really good player and I noticed a drastic change in her 8ball game.  She had also placed well in the singles for the first time, so I knew her game had improved anyway.

Duing our match, I noticed she was more passive than she used to be.  She played smart. She played, dare I say, now more correctly. But, with a twist.

We have several clusters, and so she kept punting. She wouldn't break anything out. And, she didn't make any of her balls. 

Now, usually I'm the one punting, waiting for good break outs, and not making any of my balls. But, I saw the writing on the wall.  And if I didn't do SOMETHING, we would be there all day.

So, I went out of my comfort zone and became the more aggressive player and broke out the many clusters and went for the run. I took chances and broke out shots. 

While she played correctly, she also played WAY TOO passive. When you get two players who only punt, it can be a very difficult game to wait on, lol. 

The problem wasn't that she didn't break things out.  While that may be correct in 8 ball til you see a run, the problem was she never positioned her balls to better spots, so she just kept punting.

Non-experienced players would make all their open balls and then find themselves with a cluster staring them in the face.  And no way to break it out because they just made all their ducks.

While I know not to make balls if I can't run, it's also important to know to move your balls into good positions. It's important to find OR make good breakout balls. I think she took the rule of not running out if it wasn't an open table to an EXTREME.

I used to be somewhat this way, also. Glad I've changed.

BTW, I won that game.  :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Count Your Balls

Yes, I said "count your balls."  No, no relation to count your blessings, lol.

I witnessed something over 20 years ago that has stuck with me.  It's one of those very impressionable moments in your pool journey.  Something that when you see it, you are so shocked, you never forget it.  And, it affects you the rest of your pool playing career.

I was watching a two day tournament at Galaxy Billiards in San Antonio, TX  and it was a very big tourney.  On the final day, one of the first round matches pitted an up-and-coming young player against a calm, experienced, older, local player.

The youngster was gaining ground in the match and was very hyper as he could see he was on the verge of winning against this formidable, better player.

The more mature player broke, and then returned to his chair to grab his playing cue.  As he turned back around to walk towards the table, he noticed the younger player had bounced from his chair and was now standing at the table, looking over the layout.  The older player stayed near his chair, and stood back and watched.  Then the younger player got down and shot his first shot on the 1 ball and made it.

The older player then walks up and tells him, "you fouled".

Turns out the younger player *thought* his opponent didn't make a ball.  Turns, out, instead, the guy DID make a ball on the break.  So, the older player took ball in hand and ran out the match for the win.

I will forever be disturbed by what I saw. 


Because what I saw was the mature player (only in age, not ethics), deliberately did NOT tell his opponent he had made a ball on the break.  He stood there and LET his opponent shoot.  He LET his opponent deliberately foul.  He never stopped him to say, "wait!  I made a ball."  Like normal players would have done graciously. 

This intentional move has haunted me for all these years.  While I don't think anyone would ever do this to me, I still to this day will MAKE SURE my opponent did not make a ball before I shoot after someone elses breaks. 

If I happen to not see a ball go into a pocket or happen to not hear balls fall, I will always count the number of balls on a table.  I do this for both 9 ball and 8 ball.

Believe me when I say I'm still mortified by this "tactic" the guy pulled.  I don't even know what to call what he did.  But, it was unethical and intentional and I will never forget it.

And after that happened, I lost all respect for him.  CHEATER!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recent Spankings

I am in a women's league and I fair pretty well in it.  But, I recently played in a few open events, and I was pummeled.  Beat.  Deflated.  Kicked in the groan.

This is coming off my women's team win in playoffs and my Queen of the Hill win.

I played in a tournament Nov 3rd with 27 other men, no other women.  I won only one match - the match I'm suppose to win.  On the winner's side, I'm playing okay, but nervous, but go up 2-0 in a race to 4, playing 8ball on bar tables.

The guy I'm playing tells me he may have to quit.  His shoulder is really bothering him.  Was it bothering him more because he was down 2-0 against a girl?  I was well aware of what was going on - status was on the line.

I admit, I wanted to win badly, status or not!  (for personal reasons)

He gets ball in hand in the 3rd game and runs out.  I then miscue on the 4th game and he only has an 8 ball left and he makes it.  He now has more life, while I no longer have a comfy lead.

However, it's the 5th game that really affected my mental attitude.  We were playing a safety game and neither one of us would break out this big cluster until we had a clear shot.  I finally was left with a shot where if I go for the obvious hit, he will then be left an out.  So, I know instead I need to kick at a dif ball and play a kick safe.  This is after about ten innings EACH at a safety shot.  I know what is best.  So, I do the correct shot, but I don't hit a rail after I kick safe.  Ugh!  I pick up the cueball because I fouled, and drop it on the table in disgust.

I'm SO upset with myself for showing emotion (the cueball dropped on the table seemed exponentially loud!).  I can't recover.  I also get super upset at myself for shooting the correct shot but failing to hit a rail.  I felt like I didn't get a good deed for shooting the right shot.  I was upset.  In the last game, he wins and I am PISSED.

I then win 4-0 and then lose 0-4.  I'm more than upset about my performance in this tourney. :(

Then the next Friday, I play in a weekly 9ball event and again I'm the only female.  I go out in two.

I am upset and disappointed.  I missed several shots and got beat.  The guys got out; didn't miss much.  There were a few rolls they got, but bottom line is I didn't capitalize and/or got beat.  Simply put, they got out well.  They outplayed me.  They made less mistakes.

Then On Nov 11th I play in another bar table 8ball tourney.  I feel pretty pumped.  I feel ready.  But, I evidently was not.

I played a REALLY tough player my first match, but after being up 2-1, I miss an 8 ball.  Then I hook myself when he's on the hill.  I had one fantastic out, but other than that, I really, really messed up!  OMG....

Then I play a NOBODY and lose 0-4!  WTH?!  I couldn't get my head out of my butt.

I honestly do not know what happened this tourney.  I finally wasn't out played, but I made too many mistakes.  Once I figure it out..... 

But I am grateful for getting spanked.  I need to get beat.  I need to be humbled and reminded that I need to work on my game.  Doesn't matter how upset I get, getting beat is a good thing.  Winning is good too, but getting beat is even better (no matter how painful at the time).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Recap of GREAT Posts by Pool Bloggers

"PoolSynergy" was the name we came up with for the pool Blog Carnival that started almost 3 years ago, and lasted about 2 1/2 years.  A Blog Carnival is basically where several bloggers blog about the same topic, and of course, our overarching theme was pool. 

Every month on the 15th, numerous billiard bloggers wrote an article about the same pool topic.  Topics ranged from strategy to media to top tips to favorite recommendations, etc.  Before it succumb to an end, we had 30 different topics!  It was really cool to receive a theme/topic, write about it, and then read what the other 5-15 pool bloggers said about the same topic! 

Each month, one of us picked a topic, and then we hosted all the articles.  This way, everyone participated in the workload.  Being a host was the only tough part of the job, because on the 15th of your month, you had to ensure all the links worked, everyone's article was up, and everything was working at exactly 10am Eastern time on the 15th, lol.

Honestly, even that wasn't tough. 

I really enjoyed the Blog Carnival!

PoolSynergy started out very strong, but after 2 1/2 years, it withered away.  People started to get busy and not contributing monthly, and eventually not enough participants allowed PoolSynergy to die a very slow, painful death.  An unnoticed death, really.

A few of us tried to keep it going, but with no feedback from a lot of the bloggers themselves, it simply dissolved.

I think monthly was too much for many of the bloggers and their busy lives.  Of course, I blog 10-15 times a month, so for me it was a piece of cake.  ;)


AHA - Luckily many of us still have the archives of the great articles.  And as I was writing a blog entry the other day, I searched for a particular article to link to that I had written for a PoolSynergy topic, and came across some other great Poolsynergy topics by my fellow bloggers.

I thought I would share all 30 topics with you all, as some of you are new.  Be forewarned - this is A LOT of reading.  It can be extremely overwhelming because there are so many great articles by my fellow bloggers on these different pool topics. 

But, since I am going to separate all 30 topics out, you can choose which ones you want to read about, which ones you are most interested in, which ones you want to skip. 

I will mark my favorite topics, too.  Because, well, that's just how I roll.   :)

Here we go:

THEME:  My article.
And the link to the main article (that will lead you to all the other bloggers and their great thoughts and opinions and help!)

1. STRATEGY:  My take:  Refocus Early:  I talk about what you can do during a match to help yourself - before the match ends, you must figure out things early!
Link to main article.

2. BILLIARD TALESI share two stories that helped improve my game.  ***Good Tips***
Link to main article.

3.  LIFE LESSON APPLICATION:  I talk about Leadership in Everyday Life. ***Excellent Quotes***
Link to main article.

4. FAVORITE PLAYER.  Mine is: "Someone that you learn something from."  I.E., not just one person, but everyone I ever learned from.
Link to main article.

5. POOL AND THE MAINSTREAM.  I don't think pool is mainstream.
Link to main article.

6. IF THERE WAS ONLY ONE THING TO SHARE.  My advice?  Take lessons!  **Repeat, Take lessons!**
Link to main article.

7. POOLOSOPHY.  WHAT DOES POOL MEAN TO YOU***** For me, I loved this topic*****  Why?  Because Pool has made me who I am today.  Pool may just be a sport to many, but to me, there’s a DIRECT connection to ‘playing in pool tournaments’ to me being a happy, confident person in my life.
Link to main article.

8. HOW TO FIX POOL.  My take:  Pool is broken?
Link to main article.

9. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN POOL?  My story, how pool captured my heart***Interesting to me, lol***
Link to main article.

10. SUPPORT.  First I didn't have it, now I do
Link to main article.

11. VIDEO OF WHAT's IN OUR CASESHere's my vid.
Link to main article.

12. THE FUTURE OF POOL FROM A FAN/SPECTATOR PERSPECTIVE.  Because I'm so optimistic, I asked a guest writer to help for this topic.
Link to main article.

13. THREE TIPS OF THE SAME CLASSIFICATION.  I chose to write about how to prepare for a tournament BEFORE you GET to the tournament**Good Tips**
Link to main article.

14. OUR FAVORITE RECOMMENDATIONS.  I shared my all time FAV book and DVD.
Link to main article****Read ALL the recommendations from my fellow pool bloggers****

15. TEAM PLAY.  Instead of writing about something good, I shared a very tough team experience.
Link to main article.

16. FAV POOL ROOM.  Mine was easy:  Rusty's Billiards!
Link to main article.

17. TOURNAMENT PREP.  Bottom line:  I need good sleep!  *This is important*
Link to main article ****Great tips from NUMEROUS players!****

18. OUR FAV GAME AND WHY.  For me?  Duh, 8ball.  :)
Link to main article.

19. POOL MECAS.  For me, this is (still) BCAPL Nationals.
Link to main article.

20. GREAT TOURNEY EXPERIENCEA good Tournament Director goes A LONG WAY.  **A must read, imo**
Link to main article.

21. ADVICE TO OLDER PLAYERS.  I asked some friends what their advice would be to older players picking up the game new (or again).
Link to main article.

22. "TEN THINGS" RELATED TO POOL. Blog host Samm Vidal said we could write about anything.  Hmm.  So, I choose to share the top ten things I wish I knew 10-15 years ago*****Good tips!!!*****
Link to main article. *** GREAT tips and advice in this compilation from 20 bloggers!!! ***
Special Note to take time to read Jennifer Barretta's interesting and important article:  10 Ways to tell the level of a player without ever seeing them hit a ball

23. PRACTICE.  Sounds simple enough.  LOL.  I suggest:  Practice not only on the table, but your mental game as well.  Pool is 90% mental - we should be practicing that too!
Link to main article.

24.SHARKING. My experiences with sharking.
Link to main article.

25. THANKFULNESS.  What are we thankful for in regards to pool?  For me this is easy:  I am thankful for pool because I have met amazing, wonderful, impactful people.
Link to main article.

26. HOW DO YOU RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES.  I do this by setting goals.
Link to main article*** Read here what others do when they are burned out ***

27. CELEBRITY STAR POWER.  I don't see celebrities helping pool...
Link to main article.


Still - GREAT plethora of awesome advice and tips and info.  RIGHT!?!  :)