Tuesday, January 31, 2012

There's No Crying in Pool!

As the famous line in A League of Their Own, as the female baseball player is crying, Tom Hanks tell her, "There's no crying in baseball!!"

Well, evidently, there is crying in pool, too.

I think it's EXTREMELY ironic that just on Friday I wrote a blog post to share my thoughts about the pain, frustrations, pressures, and heartbreak of competition.  While I wrote that post to help newcomers, I did reference that even players who have been playing for years still feel heartbreak and discouragement after their matches.  I have listened to my friends vent, seen their emotions escalate, and even witnessed their tears.

After this past weekend, I now think my post was incorrect.  I now think I was wrong.  It's not newcomers that feel discouraged.  It's the some of the seasoned players that feel the most pain!!  lmao.  Some of the seasoned players have competed for a long time and even though we have more experience, the heartbreak is harder on us.  I think I'm feeling more discouraged as my game goes up.

It's very frustrating!


There were 50 women at the first OB Cues Ladies tour stop this past weekend.  It was a GREAT turn out and a very well-run event!

I was not nervous Saturday so that meant I was probably gonna do okay.  No expectations works best for me.

I won my first match (played good), got nervous my second match because I made mistakes and almost lost (but I won).  Won my 3rd match and then my 4th.

All of a sudden, I'm left on the winner's side on Sunday!  OMGoodness!  I was SO excited and not sure how that happened (okay, I played good and got a decent draw), but it felt good.  :)

But, I could feel my heart race when I couldn't go back to sleep on Sunday morning.  I thought about  why I was nervous (and the match was 4 hours away!).  I could tell my nerves were building up, so I tried to calm myself down. I ran through the many mental toughness things I've learned over the years.  I knew if I didn't think of the expectations, I would do better.  I tried to simply be happy I was able to play on Sunday.

I posted on my akatrigger FB page, "Expectations are my enemy".  I tried as hard as I could not to think of the results, but I admit, I wanted to win because if I did, I'd be playing in the hotseat and that would be my highest finish yet on this tour!  (My highest finish is a few 4th place finishes).

I know how to stop the chatter in my brain (taught to me by Phil Capelle) and he said to focus on my pre shot routine and three balls ahead.  But I could tell I was still nervous.  :(

I read a comment from Ingo on my FB post and he said,

"Just define your goals- 3 timezones: short,middle and long. Note everything you do and did. So you can *clear* the list by working on each point :-) clearly defined goals/targets are better than expectations."

A light bulb went off my head and instead of focusing my concentration on my pre-shot routine and three balls ahead, instead, I made it my goal!  Ingo really helped me out.

I was very nervous the first game of the match on Sunday morning and missed an 8 ball because of it.  I then calmed myself down, tho, and concentrated on my goals:  Smooth stroke, three balls ahead.

It really, really worked!  I played SO good! 

I didn't want to lose from nerves.  I didn't want to dog it because my arms were wobbly from nerves.  And I didn't - I played good!  I saw the layouts SO well, checked for shape, saw three balls ahead crystal clear, but......................

I missed late in the rack.  :(

A lot.

Too much.

I scratched on a tough 6ball (with two balls left on the table);  I fouled on a 7ball;  I missed a tough cut on the 8 ball, trying to hold the cueball for shape; I scratched on a 9ball when my opponent was on the hill;  Missed that first 8ball;  And scratched on a 7ball.

That's 6 games and I lost 4-7.

When the score was 4-3 me, I was on the 6 ball and saw the run.  Tears swelled in my eyes as I thought to myself, "I'm close to playing in the hotseat."  I then fouled on the 7ball and she took a break at 4-4...and I even told myself I might lose.  I knew the break could be costly to me.  I tried not to reflect on my misses or what the score "should have been..."  I can honestly say I wasn't beating myself up, but I did feel a little deflated after every game I felt I gave away.

I played SO @#$$%*^% good, but couldn't close out for some reason.  I lost my chance to play for the hotseat.  I gave the match away.  "It was not my time," I told myself.  :(

But, as I shook her hand, I mumbled I gave the match away (which wasn't fair to her), but I truly felt that way.  I walked outside the pool room and started to cry.  Then I came back in to get my things, and as I drove home (to pick up my b/f so he could play league for me), I cried on the way there.  When I walked in, I cried as I walked into his arms.  I was sobbing!  I was cry baby!  :(  I was so emotional.  So upset.  I lost.  Badly.  Played good, but still handed the match over.

Everyone kept telling me, "but you are still in."  Still, the heartbreak of knowing how close I was was extremely painful.  :(

I had almost two hours to wait til my next match and the same thing happened again!  I would see the patterns well, but would miss late in the rack.  It was heartbreaking.  I lost 4-7 again and went immediately outside, and cried AGAIN!

There's no crying in pool!


A friend comes outside (because he thought I was leaving) and he calls my name, "Hey Melinda!"

I shout, "don't talk to me.  Please!  Don't do it..." as I put my hands over my face and start to sob....

He walks up to me and tries to console me.  He tells me that it just means I care.  He tells me, "You are human.  Humans make mistakes.  It's okay."

I tell him again "I tired...." and he says he understands.

He keeps trying to console me as I keep crying.

Then he says, "I do have some advice for you."

I immediately raise my voice, still crying, "No, I can't take it.  No, don't tell me anything.  I'm too upset and my heart can't take it at this moment!"  (completely aware that I'm sobbing and I know from experience I can't take constructive criticism too early after a loss)

And he tells me anyway, "You are taking it too serious.  It's just a game."

Later on, I did ask him if he saw anything I could work on (like, did I jump up or not take my time, etc) and he said he didn't notice anything.

One of my other friends tells me (after I calmed down), "You played good."  I turned to her and hugged her real hard as I shared, "Thank you for that."  She kinda laughs and says "you did play well, just missed some balls at the end of the rack."  I felt relief for some reason.  Felt relief that I really DID play well, dangit!  lol.

I placed 5th outta 50 and while I should be happy, I'm trying to figure out a few things:  Why did I miss balls late in the rack?  Why was I so emotional?  What are my learning experiences?

First, my mental game is still very soft still right now.  I'm not sure why, but it's obvious I am thinking too much during my matches (even when down on shots I have been thinking too much).  While that might be a tough thing to tame, it's something I need to work on to help me succeed.

Second, I was very emotional all weekend.  My Mom was on my mind a lot and I feel I am not doing well in that regard.

Third, while I'm embarrassed I cried, it shows how much I love this game and that I care.  I have expectations and although I wanted to place further, the two matches on Sunday will forever be great arsenals of knowledge for me for the future. 

It's funny, in the blog on Friday I stated that the more experiences you have, the better it is for our game.  I've decided in order for me to do better on Sundays, I need to play in more tournaments to last until Sunday so I can keep trying and get more experience to be able to handle the invisible pressure I put on myself on Sundays.  The sooner I get over this "obstacle," the more goals I can make and be better prepared for.

I'm a cry baby!


Eventual winner of this event, Ming Ng!

Amanda, Yvette and I.  :)

 Veronica, who toasted for my Mom!  Very touching.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Tour Member Angst

A friend called me this week for a pep talk.  There is an OB Cues Ladies Tour event being held IN our city this weekend and she had reservations about playing in it.

"I don't feel quite ready yet to enter the Ladies Tour stop this weekend.  I just don't think I'm prepared."

She should take advantage that the tournament is in town!  Further, I explained it's important she get her feet wet in this type of big women's tourney.  I also tried to share my experience with her that the more tourneys you play, the more comfortable you will eventually get --> and, your game will improve because of the experiences. 

I also touched on (carefully worded but didn't go into detail), that she might get frustrated in this tourney, because a Big Ladies Tournament is a whole-lot different than practicing.  I didn't go into details, but my heart ached about the emotions I wanted to express, so I felt like writing this blog entry about it to explain some things us ladies go through.  I wonder if guys go through the same thing?

Anyway, she mentioned she practices well with friends, but then come league or weekly tourney time, she sometimes doesn't do as well and gets frustrated.  I told her that was very normal and we all go through that.  And quite frankly, many are still going through that, even after playing pool for years; it takes much experience.  There is no pressure when we practice. Tournaments are full of ALL different types of pressures.

I tried to express that she needs to start to get her feet wet now.  Don't wait til she thinks she is ready, because I don't know anyone who ever feels they are ready, lol. 

She is getting a lot of flack from guy friends who are telling her to enter the tourney, etc.  I told her the expectations people put on us are very unfortunate.  I know I always hated to come back to work on Monday and share I "only got 24th place" and then my coworkers wonder why I still play this game.  :(

However, what I didn't get across to my friend and what I didn't have the heart to share with her yet, was that she might get very disappointed.  I'm not here to debbie-down anyone, but it takes YEARS to finally feel comfortable in a big ladies tour event.  But you have to start somewhere!  It takes years to finally even play well in a big ladies event.  It takes years to finally not let the mental game get the best of you (I still learn about the mental game during every tourney).  It can sometimes take years to last until Sunday. 

I don't care how many hours your practice, the mental aspects of playing in a tournament is quite frankly, BRUTAL.  The pressure is immense sometimes.  But - it's the best experience for your game!  I have so many friends who cry after matches, tourneys, and weekends.  It's tough to accept that you KNOW you play so much better than how you just played in a big tourney.  It can be heartbreaking; extremely emotional to be so disappointed in yourself and your own expectations.  Saturday you can't make a ball, and then Sunday when you are out of the main event, your game shows up!

Sure, tournaments are fun and my friend will have a GREAT time in the environment  among great friends ("Good Pool. Good Friends. Good Times. "). But, I'm also aware if she doesn't perform well, she might get disappointed and discouraged.  Hopefully that wont happen and maybe she is mentally stronger than I realize!  But, it happens to many of my friends even today, many who have been playing for a long time.

However, I want all players to know that we have all felt this way.  It just takes time, commitment, pain, tears, frustrations, etc. to finally feel good about our performance in these big tournaments.  And, the success WILL come!

The sooner you enter tournaments, the more experience you will get.  The more heartache you feel, the tougher you become for the next tournament/opponent.  Tournaments are not easy.  Sure, they are suppose to be fun, but they are emotionally very tough on our hearts and emotions and will power.

Almost damaging sometimes.  It's very frustrating to know you play better than what you performed. ;-(

So, now that I've basically ruined fun expectations (lol, sorry), let me be a good ambassador of the game and share what I have seen that has worked to counter this the fastest:
  • Take lessons.  The friends who have taken lessons do so much better in the tournaments much much faster than people who haven't.
  • Keep entering the tournaments.  While it takes time to become mentally strong and finally "show up" in tournaments, the more tournaments you enter, the more experience you get.  And the better you become!
  • The best advice my friend Cristina ever received was to "Put yourself in competitions above your skill level whenever possible."  Read her great article about this on her blog.  
  • Talk to friends.  Friends who have been playing for a while can empathize with you and share that they have felt all these same emotions you are feeling.  Talk to them about your concerns before and after matches.  It will help!
  • Time.  Time is your friend.  On Saturday you may be crying, but come Monday you will want to be playing again!  I promise.
  • Read about the mental game.  While each match you play in will strengthen your mental game, it will also help if you can learn about the mental aspects of competing from books, too. 
I'm sharing this "ugly" side of competing so my friends wont feel like they are the only ones who go through this.  I went through it for years, and even now I still sometimes get very upset after matches.  And I've been playing for over 20 years.  And, I see my friends' heartache a lot, too.  It's part of competition, but the rewards are there, I promise!

Remember, Pool Is A Journey!

And my friend Janea describes competing perfectly:

'I know this may sound kinda silly but, the main reason I love playing pool competitively is that it's like a spiritual practice for me. Ironically, when I stopped playing to win, is when I started winning. And when I fall back into the habit of trying to win, I start losing. To me, playing pool is about being patient, present, compassionate, empathetic, gracious, respectful, forgiving, kind, persistent, in the flow, accepting, emotionally intelligent, calm, conscious....sure, winning feels great! but I feel like if I'm improving any one of those areas from playing, then I AM winning! :) Now, if only I could remember that when the pressure is on and my nerves are going nuts!"

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Round Two Straight Pool Match Result (2)

    After my Friday night loss that put me 0-3 for the beginning of my straight pool season, I reflected a lot. What was going on?  Why was I playing so bad?  Was I in a rut?  Not taking my time?  What?

    I wanted to find the nearest bridge after that loss (I was very upset), but then I told myself, "Well, you just aren't playing well.  Maybe you are in a rut.  It's too late to try to win the top shooter.  Just accept you are playing bad."

    The next day (Saturday), I play in a scotch tourney and win it with my b/f.  Yay!  We both played very well.  Then on Monday night, I have another straight pool match.  A toughie.  One of the top shooters in the league.

    I show up Monday, knowing full well not to have any alcohol and not to eat until after the match, and I wear very comfy clothes (all recent reminders).

    I walk in and a friend says to me, "What's up straight pool champ?"

    "F*** You," I snap quickly.

    "Oh, is that how it's gonna be?"

    "Yep," I reply, with a scow on my forehead.  We are friends and I can say that to him, but it still ruffled my feathers he said that, when I *think* he's making fun of my 0-3 deficit.

    I'm already not very happy about having to play my opponent.  I forgot my ipod and I know he's gonna say things to get under my skin.  Already perturbed on the whole drive there.  But, I'm not nervous.  Which is a very good thing.

    My friend Rebecca and I had discussed over chat earlier in the day how people say things before a match so they can use that later as their excuse.  I wondered if my recent blogs sharing my nervousness about potentially losing affected me?

    I went into the match with a determined attitude.  No nerves.  I was very standoffish, as I didn't want to communicate with my opponent.

    I knew I had just played well on Saturday in the scotch doubles tourney, so I had more confidence than in my previous matches. 

    My opponent tells me to put my cue together and hit some balls and to let him know when I was ready.

    "I'm ready."

    He doesn't hear me.

    I put my cue together, start to move balls into pockets and reiterate, "I'm ready."

    He states, "normally I put my cue together and try and figure out which end is which by hitting balls.  You don't want to hit any?  Really?"

    "No, I never do," as I move to the front of the table to lag.

    He also walks to the front of the table to lag, and he says under his breath, yet to me, "You never hit balls before a match."

    "Sometimes I do, yes."

    We lag, I win.

    I put our names in the wrong spot but do not realize it til I sit back down from my opening safe and he's scratched our names and switched them around.  I immediately feel embarrassed.  I have to get the feeling out of my body and I tell him, "I'm so used to losing the lag, that's why I put our names in the wrong spot," I share as my excuse.  When in reality, I'm just not thinking straight.

    He doesn't reply.

    He misses his first shot and I make three balls then play safe.  He misses a safe and I run 12.  I then go up 22-0.  Twenty two to zero!  Against a good player!

    I am playing well, but remind myself not to think ahead, like I had in my last three matches were I was ahead in the beginning of each match.  I can tell I'm more mentally strong and very aware of my mental thoughts.  But, I'm also playing well.  Staying down, following through.  Felt good. :)

    I'm up around 39-17 and miss a long shot and he says to me, "That's only the second shot you have missed."

    I don't reply, but as I sit down I think of the perfect too-late comeback!  "Well, that's 2 too many misses!" I say in my brain.  lol.

    I know his comment can be a shark technique, or more so, it can get to a player if they start to think too much about how they are playing and that can throw their mechanics off.  But, I don't let it get it to me.

    I'm ahead 54-33, 62-35.  But, he rallies and runs 10 and 15 to get within 5 (66-61).  I tell myself that rallies are normal, and to not let it get to me.  I also tell myself that if he wins, that's ok!  Because, I am finally freaking playing good in a match this season! I was so happy I was finally playing well, I honestly could care less if I lost or not.  I already prepared in my mind that thought to share with him after he won.  lol.

    As I'm sitting at the table, I notice a piece of paper with our schedule.  He has many names scratched out and "W" 's next to most of the names.  I'm thinking, "did he really already play all those matches?  Does that W really mean a win?  Has he really won that many matches?"  I tell myself that can't be right, lol.  I don't know what his scribbles mean.

    I didn't look at the score or notice I had him down so much, because I rallied last year from a 30-35 deficit to beat him so it wouldn't surprise me if he returned like that.

    He ran 9 and had a great side pocket break shot and he missed it!  I was very surprised!  He tells, "Go ahead and pick out a few balls" or something like that.  He was not happy.  He had just opened up the rack.  I run 13 and the score is 79-73 me.

    Then he runs 12!  Score 80-85 him.  He's passed me up.

    My League Director tries to check out the score sheet and I tell him, "I'm trying to concentrate."  I don't want any distractions and don't want to be perturbed.   Usually I just tell the nosey's the score, but today I don't want to entertain anyone during my match - trying to focus and have my mental toughness hat on.

    He plays safe and I try to play safe back but leave him an opening.  And...he's about to win. :(  There are 14 balls on the table and he only needs 15 to win, so just know I'm about to lose.  He makes 4 balls, but then misses.  OMGoodness!

    I grab my cue quickly and confident, but still take my time and run 10.  Safes back and forth and I'm up 93 to 89.  He's at the table with a pretty open layout and again he can win with this turn at the table.  But, he fouls and calls it on himself.

    After we discuss if the ball get spotted or not (it does on a foul, of course), I run 7 and win 100-89!!!

    I told him after thank you for calling the foul on himself, that not that many people would do that.  He said that wasn't what cost him the match - it was the side pocket break shot he missed that cost him the match.

    I was SO elated I played good!!  A huge relief!  And it was a bonus I won somehow. 

    The League Director tells me after that my opponent has played most of his matches already because he has to go to Australia and I was only his second loss.  Really??  So, all those W's really were wins.  But there wont be one next to my name.  :)

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Round Two Straight Pool Match Result (1)

    As I mentioned before, I had two straight pool matches last weekend.  Going in with a 0-2 deficit, I was already worried

    This first match (Friday night), I lost.  I played badly.  Good in the beginning, but then I missed a lot of balls in the middle and end.  And, since I wasn't playing well, I should not have gone for a lot of the shots I did.  Further, I got hooked a lot, almost when it seemed I could make a come back.  :(

    I was up 26-10 and my opponent, Turtle #2, mumbles to himself he can't believe we are in inning 13 and he only has ten points.  He mumbled quite a bit during our match.  Like when we had to use the back of the score sheet, he mumbled that meant we had already played 50 innings.

    A couple of friends (Dane and Beth) showed up to watch and I didn't feel uncomfy about them being there at all, but I did feel uncomfy about other things.  For instance, I ordered my dinner (grilled chicken and carrots) and I realized that distracted me.  As soon as the food arrived, I didn't play as well. 

    Turtle #2 almost rallied and the score is close 47-38, then he passes me 60-62.  I rebound and go ahead 77-69 (whew) and I take a bathroom break and feel very relieved.  I guess I felt too comfy?  Not sure, but he ran 9 and a several 4s while I struggled to find shots... and then lost 88-100.

    We started the match at 6:30pm and it ended about 10:00pm.  Wow.  But, we played a lot of safeties back and forth a lot, too.  It really was a good match.  Just wish I would have played better.  :(

    I lost because I played bad.  I missed too many shots.  I reflected a lot after the match.  I was really upset, but also trying to figure what the heck was going on.  It dawned on me that I was extremely uncomfortable.  I wore a new shirt and kept tugging at it - throughout the whole match, even when seated.  I didn't like the pants I wore either.  I was determined to wear something very comfortable the next day for my scotch doubles tourney and that proved beneficial (we won!). I already know how important it is to dress comfortably, but I don't think I realized just how uncomfy my new shirt would be. 

    I'm not saying my shirt caused me the loss, but I really did not feel comfy and that is key.  But, bottom line is I didn't play well.  I missed too many shots.  Furthermore, my mental game is on vacation.  I was not mentally strong during the last three matches.  And now I'm 0-3 for the start of this straight pool season.  :(

    I apologized to Dane and Beth for my bad play, lol.  I admit, I was embarrassed.  But, because they talked about my blog and that they follow me, I was anxious to tell them my upcoming schedule:

    1. After this match, I had a scotch doubles match the very next day in Dallas.
    2. Then WSOP Ladies Poker tourney on Sunday.
    3. Another straight pool match Monday night (a toughie).
    4. The next weekend the OB Cues Ladies Tour stop
    5. The next weekend a scotch doubles tourney and a Ladies event in Temple, Texas
    6. Then a weekend "kinda off" but on that Sunday I go to Reno, NV for a week for the Bar Table Championships (8bll, 8bll and 10ball tourneys).

    Whew.  :)

    I explained to them that my busy pool schedule made me feel further stressed and worried about my recent bad play.  A lot of tourneys coming up and I was playing badly right now.  :(  Possibly in a rut?

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    WSOP, What?

    I played in my first ever poker tournament last Sunday.  AND!  It was a ladies event.  AND it was a WSOP circuit event! 

    Yep, WSOP - World Serious of Poker!

    I have played a few poker tourneys online, but that was three years ago.  I never did well and was way out of my element.  I had no idea what I was doing, lol. 

    For the past 12 months I've played a lot of 1-2 Texas Hold'em No Limit games at the casino, but never in a LIVE tourney.  So, on Sunday I felt nervous and anxious, and was very timid for most of the tourney. 

    I decided to play in this Ladies WSOP Circuit Event at the last minute mostly to live life to the fullest.  To experience something new and cool!  Maybe a bucket list item?  I dunno.  But, the circuit was only two hours from my house, so after convincing by a few friends and my b/f, I decided to play in it. 

    151 entrants, I lasted 5 hours, and placed 29th!  They only paid the top 18, but I'm still very happy about how I did.  Only made two bad plays, otherwise I feel really great about the whole experience!  I was so excited to last that long in an important poker tourney!  I was very giddy after the event, lol.  It really was a cool experience for me.  :)

    I got lucky I had nice women at my tables.  Only a few were intimidating, but then they got knocked out pretty quickly.  Tough to go "all in" in poker tourneys! 

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Deal or No Deal?

    After my straight pool loss on Friday night, I wondered I how I would do in the big Scotch Doubles tourney in the Dallas area the very next day.  I missed a ton of balls in my straight pool match, and afterwards reflected hard about what's been going on lately with my game.  I just accepted the fact I guess I'm in a rut.  Gotta fight through it some how.  :(  Ugh.

    And for Saturday during the scotch tourney, I told myself to try and take my time on my shots.

    I also informed my b/f (my scotch doubles partner) to not get on to me like the last debacle, and to just play pool and stop trying to play the game for both of us (we did well ALL the other times but that one tourney).  He replies, "okay" as we walk into the Billiard Den this past Saturday morning for our tourney.

    VERY long story short - play starts at noon and out of 31 total teams, we win several matches and then the hotseat match later that evening!

    But, we have to wait around FOR-EVER to play in the finals.  I mean, literally, hours.  We finished the hotseat match at 10:30pm.  We started the finals at 1:30am.  Count with me, peeps - yep, that's 3 hours later.


    Of just sitting around.  Waiting.  After a long day already....

    Just sitting around for 3 hours to play another match was tough to fade, I admit.  But, I wanted to win the tourney and I felt we had a good chance (my b/f on the other hand had told me 12 hours earlier (on the drive to the pool room) that we were going to win it, lol).

    We watched about 3 matches complete and then in the semi finals, one team is very tipsy and the other team played deliberate and slow.  No reflection of their ability, because they all played very good - each person on each team!  And, it went hill-hill.  But, we had to wait for many matches to even SEE this semi-final, long match.

    The slower team won and I walk up to the table to flip the coin.  I'm ready to get this show on the road!  It's 1:30am and I'm ready to play.  First place is $430.  Second place is $300.  :)  They would have to double dip us.  Let's go!

    But the male of the team wants to make a deal.  Huh?  Deal.  What?  He explains to me it's late and he wants to make a deal.

    I told him, "Uh, I don't want to split."

    He says, "I'm not asking to split, I'm just asking for a little deal so we don't have to play because it's so late."

    I stand firm, "I really don't want to split."

    "No, not split," he tries to reaffirm me, "just an agreement so we can go home."

    "I don't want to.  I want to play it out." I say uncomfortably.

    He says, "okay then, we'll play."

    My b/f comes out of the bathroom and I told him about the convo and what my stance was.  He said the guy had already mentioned something to him about that during the semi-final match.  He never said he would do a deal, but he was aware the guy was already thinking it.

    But, my b/f told me he also wanted to play it out so he was good with my response.

    Then the Tourney Director says she is going to use a shot clock because the matches were taking long and the play was slow.  The guy tells her mater-of-factly, "That's why I wanted to make a deal."  She responds with, "Well, it's their choice, they won the hotseat."

    "I know, okay, let's play."

    But, the discussion about the deal affected me.  Thoughts kept running through my head during the final match:

    "What if we lose and didn't make this deal?"
    "What if we lose the first set, do we then ask for a deal?"
    "I really want to play.  I want to see if we can win."
    "I would love another win under my belt."
    "This is good experience for me.  Doesn't his partner want to finish it out, also?"
    "Should I have just made the deal?"
    "Is it okay to want the money?"
    "Is it bad karma I didn't make a deal?"
    "What if we lose the match?"
    "But I want to play.  I'm ready to play."

    All of these crazy thoughts are going through my head.  During the match.  The finals!

    I realize people make deals all the time, and while I don't care how much money I make, I evidently really DID care after all.  I didn't even want to give up $30.  I wanted the $430 for some reason.

    I also wanted to see if we could win, even though that conversation made me very nervous and uncomfortable, I still wanted to play.

    Maybe chopping is a normal thing people do, but I would rather play it out.  I had nowhere to be Sunday morning.  I came this far and won the hosteat and I haven't won many tournaments in my life.  Deal?  NO DEAL.

    Of course the shot clock affected us more than them (lol) because of some key decisions we had to take our time on, but we won 3-1!  Undefeated!  WOW!  31 teams and we won.  :)  $430 richer, too.

     Thick envelope!

    Even though my brain was "worried" about the ramifications of deal/no deal, I still played well and so did my b/f.

    He and I played SO SO good together this tourney!  It was awesome!

    Also, I felt relieved that I played well, because of my recent bad play the last two weekends.

    Maybe I'm not in a rut after all?  Hmmm...

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Vegas 2012 Scotch Doubles

    So, about a month ago I found out my boyfriend can't go to Vegas because of his job.  I was extremely disappointed because we play scotch doubles REALLY well together and we were looking forward to placing well (or winning) the BCAPL Scotch Doubles Open tourney in May).  :(

    On the bright side, we found out early enough for me to be able to look for another partner in time.

    A friend of mine who plays 8ball like I do and also plays very smart, would make a great partner and also we get along really well, but he and his wife aren't sure they are going to Vegas.

    So, one day at league, as I mentioned in another blog entry, I asked one of the top shooters if he would like to play with me, if he goes to Vegas (I didn't know if he did or not).  He said yes that day.

    Then I called him a couple of weeks later to let him know that sure enough my b/f can't go to Vegas and would he still be interested.

    He said he would love to.

    A month goes by and I wonder to myself, "Does he really go to Vegas?  Is this a for sure thing?"  Due to the holidays and the league schedule, I haven't run into him.

    And I don't really know the guy too well - only even seen him a few times - but since he has like 20 break and runs and is the top shooter in this large league of ours, I thought it would be a good choice.

    I called him last night to verify, as I started to wonder if he was just being nice and said yes, or was he really going to go.  I had never seen him in Vegas, so I wasn't sure if he even has been there before.

    I call, he doesn't answer.  He calls me back, I miss the call.

    Finally we connect.

    "Hey, just making sure we are still on for Vegas.  And that you know the dates and are looking for flights and stuff."

    "Yep, we sure are on still."

    "Okay, just wanted to check."

    "I'm.... " (muffled word)



    Again, a muffled word.

    "I can't understand what you are saying.  Do what?" as I let out a few giggles with embarrassment.

    "I'm driving."

    "OH, you're driving!  Really?"

    "Yeah, haven't been to that part of the country and my cousin is going with me.  Only about 18 hours.  "

    Well, I think to myself, that's a sure sign he's going, then!  Whew!  :)

    Yay - a confirmation! 

    I tell him I will send in our singles and scotch doubles entries at the same time to make it easier and he was insistent on paying me up front.

    Then he says kinda with a serous laugh, "I just have to ask, Why me?"

    I was caught off guard!  I'm like, DUH, isn't it obvious?

    I replied, "I only play with players I think I can win with."

    "Fair enough," he replies.

    I thought it was so funny and kinda cool he asked that!

    He adds, "Let's get together and hit a few balls sometime."

    "Okay, sounds cool."

    While I don't normally do that, since we don't know each other at all, can't hurt to spend some time together.  But, him suggesting that shows how serious he is about wanting to do well.  It also shows he's dedicating himself --he said he never practices pool at all. 

    He adds, " I just need a shot, something I can see." LMAO!

    I hope I didn't pressure him by telling him I've placed 5th, 4th, and 7th. lol.

    He is a funny guy, but I can tell he feels a little obligated to do well, if that makes sense.  He has the confidence, and so do I.  And we both play pretty dam sporty 8ball.  We shall see how we do in May!

    I think we will do fine but I wish my b/f was going... :( 

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Straight Pool, Round Two

    I have two more straight pool matches this weekend.  One tonight and one on Monday night. 

    While I roll into the new season with zero wins (and two losses), I am about to play the two players who I came back from a deficit of 30-35 points to beat last season. That's pretty tough to do, imo.  Yet, I somehow did it.

    And now I'm going to play those two guys back to back, with already two losses to my record.

    I'm nervous they are going to want revenge. 

    More nervous about being 0-4 or 1-3 at the start of the season.  :(  Maybe even embarrassed about it.  But, it's not the end of the world, right?  I MUST remember this.

    I am determined to play my best, stay down, smooth stroke, take my time.  TAKE MY TIME and enjoy my whole body being STILL as I execute my shot. 

    Do I want to win?  Of course.  Do I need to win?  OF COURSE!  lol.  Do I really NEED to win?  Not really, but I would love to. 

    Can I ask for a few good rolls, too?  ;) 

    I'm also a little apprehensive because one of the two opponents talks a lot and makes snide comments throughout the match.  I hope I remember my ipod on Monday!  He's very annoying.

    I need to just not care about the win and simply be thankful I can play pool (thanks Matthew!) and remember (and be excited!) that my knowledge of straight pool really is so much better (thank you Phil Capelle, and Pat Flemming!).

    And like my dear friend Mike G. said last weekend, "I get nervous b/c of the expectations that I put on myself to play my best. People always say go out there and just enjoy yourself. It is not an easy thing to do when one expects so much out of one's self.

    As for your record over these past seasons, it is way above normal. You can hold your own against many players. Keep that in mind and play your best. It will come out positive."

    Thank you, Mike!

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    The Love of Straight Pool - Photo

    This is on a friends truck.  This pic doesn't even need words, it says it all!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012


    I'm trying to figure out what exactly is going on with my pool game.

    I did surprisingly well the first weekend out of hibernation (last lady twice while playing real good with a smooth stroke, good pre-shot routine, and taking my time on my shots) to all of a sudden not winning games I'm suppose to win just two weekends in a row later.

    I won a ladies event on a Friday night, but there were only 5 total females in the tourney.  Then the following day in scotch doubles I play badly and only get 3rd place.  Then play league and should have won 5 outta 6 games, instead lost 3. 

    The next weekend I play two straight pool matches and I lose both of those.  To players I can beat if I'm playing well.

    I am more than deflated and upset right now.

    I seriously feel like a kicked dog.

    I wanted to start my new straight pool season off with a few wins. I want the league trophy so badly, I want the wins so badly!  I could use that desire as my excuse - I kept my eye off the ball in front of me and was thinking of the future - but I know that's not true.  What IS true:  I am not playing my best and I am not taking my time.  My pre-shot routine is off.

    I started off both straight pool matches on fire, only to not "stick it" to my opponents when I was ahead.  I let up, started to think too much, didn't play my best, let the matches slip away....  blah blah blah.

    I lost the first straight pool match Friday night 100-77.

    At the end of the second match on Saturday morning, a friend stopped by to watch me.  Score 75-75 when he walks up.  A few safes back and forth, and I leave my opponent a window by accident and he runs 8.  I foul.  He runs 8.  I then miss two very key shots (break shots) and he runs 6 and beats me 100-81.  I was up 42-18 earlier in the match, too.

    But, starting off well means nothing if you don't cross over the finish line.  :(

    My friend who watched the end of my match shares with me that I played all the right shots... I simply missed two important balls, and messed up that one safety. 

    Both my opponent played well toward the end of the matches, but if I would have taken advantage of their misses in the beginning-to-mid part of the game, I just know I could have won both.  It burns to lose to peeps you feel you can beat, esp since the wins means so much to me in this league. :(

    I felt relieved my friend said I played the correct shots.  That's gotta count for something, right?  He's one of the top shooters in the higher division so to hear my choices were correct made the loss sting a tad less.

    But, to stop being negative for a moment..... I can tell the straight pool DVDs I have been watching have really improved my route to the break shots.  I feel ecstatic about that part of my game!  But, you can't tell any of that by the score and my ZERO winning percentage so far for the season.  ARGH!

    I am extremely upset. (can you tell?  lol)

    And, I'm scared right now, too.  I am timid to even schedule another straight pool match; scared of the consequences. 

    I know I need to not care about the wins. 

    I know I need to focus back on playing each shot to my fullest potential.  Key in on that object ball last to help me stay down.  Take my time, too. 

    As frustrating and debilitating as the losses were, it was weirdly "fun" (dare I use that word) to try and overcome my nerves and the score and test my mental toughness to try and fight back in those two matches.  I haven't played competitively in a while!  It felt good, even though the losses hurt.  Ohhh, reminds me of that quote, "no pain, no gain."

    Maybe I have some fight left in me after all?

    BTW, 4 big tourneys in 5 weekends coming up for me.  I better prepare by envisioning my good pre-shot routine over and over in my mind during the weekdays, huh?

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    January 2012 PoolSynergy

    PoolSynergy's January's Topic is hosted by NYCgrind.com:

    "There are numerous pro athletes, entertainers, and other celebrities who are pool enthusiasts. What kind of potential (if any) do you see for celebrity star power to influence media exposure for the pool world? I really believe that we can all have a positive influence in bringing new eyes to this sport with this next post."

    I am normally an optimist, but with topics like this, I am afraid I'm not.

    While I don't know what will ever make pool popular, I simply don't believe that if celebrities played pool on tv or at events, that pool will magically become mainstream.  I think this way because I've already seen celebrities play pool at events, and that didn't bring droves of people into the pool room or pool leagues.

    Would I like them to, sure.  Would I like star power to help raise the popularity of pool?  Absolutely. 

    But, I don't think it's the answer.

    While I don't know what the answer is, I suppose more and more celebrities that play pool definitely wouldn't hurt our sport. 

    However, the only people who get excited when a celebrity plays pool are pool players.  If non-pool players see Shaquille O'Neal play pool, they don't run and buy a pool table. 

    If a popular actor maybe was hired and many commercials were run where this celebrity tried to sell certain pool tables, then I think more pool tables would be sold to non-pool players.  But would the increase in people buying tables make pool mainstream all of a sudden?

    Let me ask you this way.  If Brad Pitt or Beyonce' or Mathew McConaughey or Pamela Anderson was in a commercial, that aired on all the tv channels and during big time events to try and convince us to buy a Foosball table or a certain special dart set, would that all of a sudden mean darts and/or Foosball would be shown on major networks and tens of thousands of dollars thrown into their tournaments?

    Even if I saw my favorite musician or favorite actor playing shuffle board, it wouldn't get me into that sport.

    Like I said, I don't know what the answer is.  But we need more than star power for pool to become mainstream.


    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Decisions Decisions

    I can't figure out if I should go to both ACS and BCAPL this year or not.  They are back-to-back National tourneys held in Vegas in May (in case you didn't know).

    I wanted to last year, and even sent in early my entry fees for both tourneys, but backed out of ACS due to my Mom's health. I didn't want to be away from her for that long.

    She passed away in August :(  (btw, it feels like it's been sooooo much longer than only 5 months) and therefore I could feasibly go to both this year. 

    My concern is taking two weeks off from work.  While I have the vacation time, is it good to be away from work for that long?  I suppose I will still be connected via laptop and phone, tho.

    Additionally, the flight prices keep going up.  Do I risk buying a plane ticket now on one of the few remaining legs at the price of $150 (outbound) or do I wait until I firmly decide?  If I miss getting a good price, it goes up by almost $75.  Seems every day one of the outbound flights that was about $150 goes up to $225 (that' with tax).  So, I feel pressured to make a decision asap.

    I will always attend the BCAPL, but I'm interested in playing in the ACS National tourney, too.  Further, next year I will most likely not play in both tourneys (only BCAPL), so that is another factor in my decision for this year to go to ACS Nationals, also.

    Oh, the unknowns of what to do and the indecision's!


    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    New Straight Pool Season Starting....

    And I'm nervous.



    My new straight pool season is upon me... and the top guys I couldn't beat the last few seasons have been all moved up to the upper division.  BUT - there are still a few really tough opponents left, and all the other matches wont be easy anyway (never are).

    To be the top player in my division and win that little dang trophy would mean SO much to me!  I can't even put into words what an accomplishment it would mean to me.  It would be a life-goal achieved! 

    But, being already nervous, wont help me much.  I know that from experience.

    I have two matches planned for this weekend, I truly hope I play okay and start the season off well. 

    I have been watching straight pool DVDs - Phil Capelle's new straight pool DVD and Pat Flemming's Accu-Stats instructional straight pool DVDs.  They each discuss my problem areas - key balls and break shots.  I feel more comfortable, but how will I do at the table this weekend?

    And, the season is early and yet I'm already nervous!  :(

    It's amazing how I perceive the possibility of achieving "titles" and achievements - I freak myself out over the possibility, which is what we aren't suppose to do - think ahead.  Only think of the present moment and my pre-shot routine.

    Gosh I hope I remember that. 

    Scotch Fall

    I entered an 8-ball scotch doubles tourney last Saturday and my boyfriend and I failed miserably.  :(

    We usually play well together, but not all days can be good pool days, huh? 

    We didn't click for some reason and I also upset him with my choices a lot.  He expressed his disappointment, which never helps me.  I'm already upset at myself and embarrassed when I miss, so it really doesn't help to point things out to me.  I'd rather focus on the positives or be lifted up. 

    I did miss a few keys shots and made mistakes because I over thought, and I admit, I just wasn't on my game this day.  So, the combo of  my bad play and he not playing up to par either further complicated things by us not "gelling." So, it was an unpleasant day for me (and him, I presume).

    Eventually, I became too unsure of myself, fearful of the repercussions I guess.  I wish we just played pool like we had in previous tournaments where our lowest finish was 2nd place (three 1st places and one 2nd place in all the scotch doubles tourneys we have entered).

    We placed 3rd and while 3rd place seems good, it's not good to us!  And, we could have won and should have easily won.  :(

    I told him I don't want to have another day like that again.  LOL.

    We have another scotch tourney Jan 21 - this one even tougher.  My only goal is to have a pleasant day.  :)

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Cheering Against You

    Two night ago I went to Vino's in Hurst, Texas where they have a little 8-ball bar table tourney on Sunday nights.

    They pay Last Lady (LL), so it's a cool little tourney for me.  The prize for LL is $5 per female who enter the tourney, and on this night out of 31 players there were 10 of us.  Wow!  That's $50.  :)  Also, Vino's adds $5 per player, too, so it's a tough tournament.

    I played in this tourney a few weeks ago and beat a kinda cocky guy so I'll call him Mr. Cocky.  I play pretty good eight ball, so to beat a cocky player is always cool, I admit.  :)

    Since I didn't drink this particular night, I had a good shot at getting LL, but I still had a tough road ahead of me and had to play smart.  It was definitely no gimme.

    I won my first 3 matches, but one of them was a bye, so I didn't get credit for that for the LL tally.  LL is decided by how may games you win.

    So, for my first one-loss side match, I'm tied for LL with one other girl and I feel some pressure, admittedly, to get that $50.  I'm also playing for 5th place (and they only pay 3 spots).

    I play a real tall fella (Mr. Tall) whom I hadn't seen before, but he knew all the people by our table, who were watching him.  It's a race to 1.  Yes,  I said One.  Lol.  So, it's an important game - I either move on AND win LL, or tie LL and have a playoff with the other girl. 

    I am playing pretty good and smart, but he only has two balls left on the table when I try to play safe.  He goes for the only shot I left him (a cut shot in the side) and he makes it and all of a sudden his friends start clapping and cheering and carrying on!  Mr. Cocky is cheering loudly and they are all going crazy over this cut shot.

    I was trying to figure out what was going on and why they were so excited.

    I could feel the adrenaline rising through my body as I tried so hard not to let it get to me.  It *felt* like they were against me, but I knew in my heart that wasn't the case.  But it still didn't mean the cheering didn't pierce my heart and hurt.

    He missed the next shot and I ran a few balls but had to play safe again, this time on the 8-ball.  I thought I would leave him a bank, instead it was a cut in the side.  I knew as soon I was walked away from the table he could make it.  I hoped he would still miss it, though (lol), but instead the 8-ball went right into the side pocket.

    And his friends start to cheer and clap again.  Mr. Tall high-fives Mr. Cocky as Mr. Tall is celebrating and I stand there with my hand out ready to shake, and my blood starts to boil from my emotions of them going crazy over the stupid 8-ball shot.  Everyone over there is cheering him and saying what a great shot it was and he finally comes to the table to shake my hand.

    I go to the bathroom to wash my hands before my playoff for LL and as I stand there rinsing my hands, I tell myself, "Don't let if bother you, Melinda. You know they weren't rooting against you, they were just rooting for him."  While I was told this golden nugget of information a long time ago, and while my brain is aware of that (esp since I reminded myself of it), it still doesn't mean it didn't sting.  :(  It hurt my little heart.  :(

    I was nervous I'd have to play on the same table in front of all those guys for my LL play-off, but I recovered and I won that $50.  Yay Me!

    As I stayed around til the end of the tourney to watch my boyfriend capture First Place, one of his teammates comes up to me at the end of the night and says, "You are the one to beat, obviously.  Those guys went crazy when he played you, all that cheering and stuff."

    "Yea, and it bothered me."

    "But it just means they are trying to beat you badly.  That you are a tough opponent."

    "Do what?"

    He continues to explain, "They went crazy clapping, but only when he played you.  It shows they all wanted him to beat you.  Because you are a good player."

    I liked his perspective!  I hadn't thought of it that way and that made sense why it seemed they cheered more when he played me than his other opponents.  :)

    I love differing perspectives that help me figure out situations, because as we all know - we can't read minds and we take others actions wrong sometimes.

    Maybe I need to give myself more credit as a top female player in these tourneys.

    And I hope I remember this golden piece of info also the next time people cheer and clap for my opponent.

    Ahh... perspectives!

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Drinking and My Pool Game

    One of the benefits of going out and wanting to play pool again is I get "material" for my blog, lol.  And last night was no exception.  I will write another post soon about the final match I played last night, but first let me tell you about my second match.

    Because I want to focus on my pool game again, I know I can't drink during the weekly tourneys, if I want a decent outcome.  If I drink while playing pool, I lose many of my talents I've worked on for so many years - my preshot routine goes out the window and my ability to figure out patterns and smart shots follows my preshot routine right out that same window.  lol.

    Because I hadn't really cared about pool the last few months, I had been drinking during these weekly tourneys.  However, last night (and Friday when I got Last Lady) I didn't drink during the tourney.

    I get a bye and then win against a formidable opponent who played good safes.  As I waited around for my next match (31 players, 4 tables = long wait), one of my friends' boyfriends comes up to me and looks at my drink in the tall plastic cup and says, "What is that?"

    "Diet Coke."

    "Diet Coke?  You aren't drinking?"

    "No, trying to focus on pool.  And I can't play very well if I drink."

    "Oh.  Hmm. Not even a shot?"

    "A shot?  Maybe later."

    "You sure?"

    "Yea.  Thanks, though."

    He then confesses while laughing, "I'm only asking because I play you next."

    I laugh as he walks away.

    Then his girlfriend shares after I beat him, "He said he only beat you last time because you were pretty tipsy, so he was hoping you were drinking tonight!" 

    See?  Proof I can't play pool and drink at the same time!  People are even rooting for me to drink!  lol.

    BTW... placed 5th (no money), but got $50 for Last Lady!  :)