Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Running a Men Versus Women's Tour

Being the TD of a Men's Tour is completely different than running a Ladies Tour.

Men have more testosterone and don't back down.  They speak up more.  They bark more.  They defend themselves more.  They are more vocal.

When they get upset, they don't bite their tongue.  They speak UP.

I'm not trying to generalize and I know not all men are like this, but competition brings out a nasty side of men sometimes.  Mostly from the players who play pool for a living and need the dough.  But, their opponents don't back down from their venom and tongue lashing. 

The dynamics of running a men's tour versus a women's tour is quite eye opening and VERY different.

I expressed my shock to a friend and he replied,

"You're getting your feet wet with men, you've been playing and help running the women's tour. Men pool players are a different breed. In women's tour they don't have the ego's and smart ass attitudes.

Your doing a good job!"

He hit the nail on the head, I think! 

I'm up for the task and can handle any arguments and verbal attacks that may arise again, but it wont be all smooth peaches and creams for the Tourney Directors, lol.  But, if this is what needs to be dealt with to bring a Tour to the DFW area, then I'm ready!

My dream has always been to bring a Tour to the area to help pool players compete, grow/learn from, and make some money at the same time.  Hiccups and dealing with personalities is just part of the game.  :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Taking Breaks

I am not going to go over the many detailed reasons why it's necessary to take breaks during matches or WHY at a certain point in a match you should take a break, instead, I'm going to share I'm not the best person to give advice about breaks, lol.

If I had to break down Taking Breaks, these are the 3 main reasons:
  • You need to go to the bathroom or smoke a cigarette, Or
  • You are losing and need to regroup, Or
  • Your opponent is on a good dash, and you need to slow them down.

However, I only do the first one, most of the time (don't follow my lead).

You see, just as I have had bad experiences in the past with cheesing the 9ball, I had a very bad experience once when I took a break.

I was playing in a Ladies Tournament in Florida in the late 90s against a real good player.  I was up in the match and she decided to take a break to slow down my momentum and to help her regain hers.

I sat in my chair as she went to the bathroom for her self-pep talk, and was just sitting there, minding my own business.

A friend came up to me and was very adamant with me, "You need to take a break too!  She's trying to get under your skin, and you need to also take a break and get away from the table."

"Oh, okay," I said as I walked away, not sure where to walk to or what to do. 

And of course all I could think of was how well I was playing, that I was ahead, while also thinking about what this friend said.  Which of course was the very wrong thing to do.  Up until that point, I had never really thought people took breaks for strategy.

She came back, shooting lights out and I fell into her trap and faltered like a turtle hiding in its own shell and ended up losing the match.

I can't say for certain if I lost focus because *I* also took a break, Or if it was my friends' comments that got me, Or, maybe her taking a break iced me. 

Either way, now I don't like to take breaks.

I am not a stupid person and so I know that taking breaks during certain critical times during matches is crucial, but I just don't take break unless I really have to use the bathroom or I need to step outside to shout in frustration.

I see people who are way down in matches and take a break.  I also see people who are missing shots and take a break.  Or the player who recognizes that it would ice their opponent if a break is taken.

There are two players that do this perfectly on the OB Cues Ladies Tour.  Their breaks are calculating and timed well to either give them a boost or ice their opponent.  It really is kind of a beautiful thing to witness, at the same time a tactic imo.  But, it's not illegal.  And the NFL ices the kicker all the time, so it is fairly common.

My problem is when they do it to me, I know what they are trying to do.  And THAT gets to me. 

I need to look at breaks as a good thing, not a "trap" lol. 

I also would like to recognize more when I should take breaks.  Sometimes I do, but other times I just fight on.

Breaks are tied directly to being aware of what is going on in your match

Pool Tourney Virgins

This past weekend, as I mentioned, was the Season Opener of the OB Cues Ladies Tour.  Four (4) of my friends who had never played in one of their stops before, played! 

Sometimes, the biggest step is stepping through the door to a pool room of a big women's tourney and actually playing in it.  It's really not easy at all to do!

There is SO much pressure for new players.  Mostly because the whole experience is very new and there are a lot of unknowns.  And there are really talented players all around them, they notice, as they scope out the competition and absorb the atmosphere.  Plus, nerves, stress, desires, unfamiliarity, etc., all the while they are trying to play pool and compete!

I am SO proud of my friends this weekend who played in their first-ever OB Cues Ladies Tourney - Angelina Dean, Lyn Jones, Ileana Ford, and Jennifer Dooley!

I was also worried for them, tho.  While the OB Cues Ladies Tour is a very friendly, fun tour, it also has some very strong players on the tour.  That in itself can be intimidating and discouraging.

It takes a very passionate, dedicate player to want to come back and do it again.

And....all 4 ladies had such a great time, memorable experience, learned a lot, and enjoyed the day, that each one of them have already stated they will play again - and can't wait to play again!  I am SO excited!

As my friend Courtney said, (who just recently joined the Tour), "I have been putting off tourney's for years, and now I can't stop going!!   And I won't stop....I learn so much from playing such great players and I am not afraid to go out and take a beat down anymore!"

I do wish my friends would have been able to play in the Second Chance event on Sunday, though.  It's even more laid back than the Main Event, and most of the top players are still in the main tourney and can't play in the Second Chance event.  The Second Chance tourney is named just that for that reason (then again, at one point we called it "The Cry Baby Tourney," lmao).  But, it's another fantastic avenue to compete against women players.  With $100 added, it can be lucrative, too!

I have already heard their calendars are marked for the next OB Cues Ladies event and they are very anxious to play.  :)

I cannot express enough how very PROUD I am of these Ladies!!!

And if anyone else wants to be a virgin on the Tour, please let me know so I can try and convince you to play.  :)

As I keep telling anyone and everyone who will listen, the BEST way to improve your game and to get better at competing is to play in more tournaments.  And the OB Cues Ladies Tour is a perfect opportunity no one should miss out on.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Stop Abusing My Chalk!

I played in the Season Opener of the OB Cues Ladies Tour last weekend (Jan 26th weekend) and in my second match, I was having a little bit of an internal melt down.

There were two green pieces of chalk on the table and my own personal blue piece of chalk.  I always leave it on the table, and most players respect my chalk.  In other words, they have their own chalk or use green chalk, and so leaving my chalk on the table was never an issue.

Some people grab their own personal chalk and take it with them every time they walk away from the table.  I believe I heard once it's taught in some pool schools that it's ingrained as part of their pre shot routine, so it's important to always have their own chalk with them.

For me, I really don't mind sharing, but I DO mind when the person is butchering my chalk!  I don't want my chalk gone in one day, or, I don't want an empty piece of chalk.

I can make my chalk last weeks or more. 

And I like my own blue chalk. 

So, imagine my surprise during my second match when my opponent kept picking up my piece of chalk and rubbing too long on their tip.  I could see the chalk dust dropping into the air, as she kept grinding it into her tip.  UGH!

It bothered me so much, I started to try to take my chalk with me back to my seat.  And, since that's not part of my routine, it was VERY distracting.  I would forget a lot, and then have to walk back to the table to grab my chalk, which of course made me feel self conscious.  I didn't want her to use my chalk, but I didn't want to let her know that;  I didn't want to offend her. 

I almost felt like it was a race.   I'd sit down, remember I forgot my chalk, have to get back up and rush slyly toward my chalk and hope she didn't grab it before I could. And if she did get to it before I, then it would irritate me to see her abuse my poor little piece of chalk!

I doubt my opponent even noticed. 

But, it was extremely distracting to feel so possessive about my chalk, lol, when she would torture it.  And yet it was also distracting when I had to keep going to get it.

Tough to focus on pool when I'm trying to protect my little blue friend!

(I did win that match, tho, btw)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cheesing the NineBall

Cheesing the 9ball isn't an easy thing for me.

I have all sorts of feelings about it.

I think it's because I have had so many comments over the last 20 years of playing pool about it, that it as affected me.

I have gone for 9ball combos and after I miss, someone would say, "You weren't suppose to go for that anyway."

So many good players don't go for 9ball combo's if it's not right in the hole or if the table is an easy layout (i.e. no trouble balls). 

I understand some of the unwritten rules, but I want to seriously get over feeling bad about 9ball combos.

Sometimes I feel bad b/c it gives me an easy game and I am up already in the match.  When that happens - NUMEROUS times I miss for feeling guilty, and then it comes and bites me in the arse later when they come back in the match.

I despise feeling bad about 9ball combos.

I hate feeling bad for going for them and I hate wondering if people are judging me for going for them.

I told a friend of mine about 7-9 years ago, "I felt like people were judging me for going for that 9ball."

Her response was, "So what.  But next time, make sure you take your time on it.  Don't shoot it fast and not concentrate b/c you are worried what others are thinking about it."

I have even had people get mad at me for making 9ball combos. 

It's like I went against some unwritten rule or something.

I'm hoping by me typing all this out I can convince myself how SILLY and STUPID it is to give my 9ball combos judgement by others. 

I need to do what's best to win games and win the match.  I'm not doing anything illegal or against the rules.

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel bad every time.  I know the times it's obvious to go for a combo (i.e., it's "socially acceptable"). 

But it's the borderline ones that I feel guilty about or feel judged about. 

NO MORE Melinda!

Who cares.  I'm following the rules, dang it. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Marking My Games

I have a certain way I like to move my coin when I mark my score.  If I am looking from the break, I like to move my coin to the left.

So, if I win the first game, I move my coin first to the left. 

If I lose the first game, I *hope* my opponent moves their coin to the right.

When my boyfriend and I spar, since we both prefer to move the coin to the left, whoever wins first gets that luxury.  :)

Something else I do - if my opponent wins the first game, and then they go rack (because it's their rack in alternate breaks), then I will move their coin for them, as I stand there to wait to break.  Well, obviously, I move their coin to the right, because I like to move on the left, lol.

Only one time, that I can remember, did someone switch their coin to the other side.  Normally, people leave it there.

If they moved my coin to the right for me first, I'd switch it to the other side.

So imagine my surprise during the Season Opener of the Omega Billiards Tour when I saw a player lose their first match, wait to break, and as their opponent was racking asked, "which way do you want your coin to go?"


So, either this person did not have a preference, OR they truly respected that their opponent won the first game and therefore deserved to choose which direction they wanted their coin to move.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Me, Competitive?

I played in a scotch doubles tournament last Saturday with my boyfriend.

We ended up winning the tournament.  We either dominated our matches, or it was too close, lol.  Not many inbetweens.

After our first match, the female player of the team came up to me and said it was difficult to play against me.

"Really, why?" I asked.

I *thought* she was going to say it was because we were good friends, instead she said, "Because we are both competitive.  You want to win as bad as I do.  And, so it's tough to be friendly during the match."

I laughed in embarrassment and shared, "I don't think I'm very competitive.  I mean, I don't have a killer instinct at all, for example."

I realize her point was it was tough for her to be competitive, while also being friendly (because we are friends).

I have written before about how certain people are extremely competitive.  Some even say, "we are friends off the table, not on," like my friend Lisa Marr for example.  But for me, it's tough to separate the two.

Further, while I struggled with the killer instinct in the past, I'm the type of person that has to be reminded of it, if that makes sense.  Like from Brad Gilbert's book who kinda teaches you to want to pummel your opponents.

I'll be brutally honest:   Because the killer instinct is not intuitive for me, I have to remind myself about it.  As silly as it seems. And I usually forget to remind myself, lol.

But the exchange with my friend really got me thinking about the word "competitive" in her sentence.

I don't consider myself competitive.

Why is that?

Do I want to win?

Of course!

But I don't have that killer instinct (all the time) and I just don't see myself as a competitive person.

A strong competitor, yes, but not very competitive.

Does this makes sense?

I mean, I COMPETE and I compete with all my might and I try to win, but I mostly just try to play my best under the circumstances that I can with my knowledge of the game/shots. 

I don't really see myself as a person who wants to win badly; yet obviously I do try to win.

Even the definition:
Competitive: "having the strong desire to compete or to succeed."
And when I look up the synonyms of Competitive, the words seem kinda negative to me:  aggressive, rival, cutthroat, viscous, unfriendly, hostile.  I DO like the "ambitious" and "aspiring" synonyms better, lol.

Even if I pick apart Competitive:
COMPETE definition: to strive to outdo another for acknowledgment, a prize, supremacy, profit.
Sheesh, no wonder I don't have the killer instinct!  No wonder the peeps like Lisa Marr and Jennifer Kraber and Kim Pierce have that presence during matches - THEY emulate competitiveness.  Thinking about it, I'm just a standbyer in my own game, lol.

No, I know I'm not, but I definitely don't feel like I'm very competitive. I am so docile, I can't even imagine myself that way.

Maybe that's why it's tough for me to consistently have the killer instinct inside me?  Hmmm....

Don't get me wrong, I still want to win and I still give it my all!

I do get upset if I lose a close match or if I don't play my best, or miss out on tournament titles I crave, and so I do CARE about playing pool and competing.  I mean, pool is the air I breathe.  

I know it just seems like I'm picking on the word.  When in reality, I do like competition and enjoy competing, just don't see myself as "competitive."

I know, tomato / tomahto  :)

However, look at that sentence I just wrote.   "When in reality, I do like competition and enjoy competing, just don't see myself as competitive. "

Should I use words like "like" and "enjoy" in the same sentence as competitiveness?  Shouldn't I be more aggressive or something?  Like, I want to torture my opponent or I want to beat everyone in my way" ??

Nope, not me.

I'll be the type of competitor who loves the game of pool and wants to win.  Brad Gilbert would be so disappointed in me, lol.  It's okay, writing this blog has been a very sweet reminder for me!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Let Me See

I have noticed I get agitated when I practice with my boyfriend at the house.

We have a nine foot table in what-was the living room.  :) 

There isn't much space left in the room, but we do have a tv in one corner, a recliner to the side, and a small rocking chair in the other corner.

But, I can't see the layout of the table when I'm not shooting.  :(

I am the type of player that needs to sit down when I am not shooting.  I can actually get very irritated during matches, for instance, if someone takes my chair or I have no where to sit. 

I'm a sitter; plain and simple.

But, I also need to be able to SEE the table when I'm sitting.

Mostly, I have a bad back and cannot be on my feet for long periods of time.  Also, I like to rest - my whole body, not just my legs and feet, in between my turn at the table.  I also think it's because I feel uncomfortable if I have to stand and hold my cue in my palms as the other person is at the table.  I feel like the cue gets dirtier when I just have to hold onto it.  And, since I'm a player that doesn't like to set their cue down, I prefer to have it leaned against my body, IF I can sit.

But mostly, I'm just uncomfortable standing.  And if the player plays slow, or runs out, you could be standing a long time.

So, the issue at the house is irritating.  Because I don't own a stool or a tall chair, I can either sit in the low recliner, sit in the rocking chair (that is also low), or I can stand.  Since I don't like to stand, I sit in these chairs.

BUT I can't see the whole top of the pool table! 

I like to be able to fully see the layouts of the table.  I cant just sit there and not be engaged in the match; I like to watch what my opponent is doing, or be able to see what is going on on the felt.  If I'm too low sitting, I can't see angles, I can't learn, I can't be fully into the match... and that makes me irritated and not engaged to play my best.

It's very frustrating even more, because my b/f is running out more, which means even more time sitting low.  And since I can't see, that means less time learning or watching patterns/shots, or being prepared to play my best if I do get to shoot, which means agitation.


I am on the lookout for a cheap stool with a back, when I get some extra money. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Let There Be Light

At one of the pool rooms for league, the lighting is not very bright over the sitting tables.  The pool tables have great light, but not where we sit and take score.

After struggling to read and take score in the dark on numerous occasions, I finally remembered to buy a little flashlight!  

Sure, my phone has a flashlight option, but it's cumbersome to grab the phone, unlock the phone, find the app, click the app, hold the phone right, etc.  There were too many steps involved.  

Instead, I wanted to K.I.S.S.

Having a small little flashlight I can grab and click quickly so the light comes on fast is much more efficient!  

And, it's so small, I easily carry it in my purse. 

It works perfectly and now I can finally see to call out matches and record our wins!  :)

Me and my new little flashlight at work during league.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Saying Goodbye

It's with very mixed emotions and a heavy heart that I share I had to sell two of my babies.

Yep, I am having to let go of two of my cues.  :(

I first put the notice up on FB and when no one was interested, went to the WANTED/FOR SALE section of the Forums.

The first Jacoby I designed *may* be bought by a friend of ours, but the second designed Jacoby, I put up on AZB.  Within minutes, I had interest.

I was SO new at trying to sell anything, I didn't list all the specifics.  So, I had lots of questions I hadn't even considered, lol.  Now it's very obvious to me the extra specs I should have included.  If anyone is going to buy a cue, we would want to know more details than the below: 

Here is what I said, and shared these photos of the cue:

Low on money and need to sell the cues 
I'm not using to pay some big January bills. 
 So, must let this go.
Custom designed Jacoby cue, half off what I paid for it. Two shafts.
$550, OBO.

The most asked question was, 'was it straight and were the shafts straight?'  And of course: what was the weight, the pin, what type of shafts, the shaft sizes, cue length, how were the tips, etc.

I told my boyfriend later in the day I was getting lots of questions and interests.  He got real quiet.  It dawned on me what was going on...he was sad about it - he loved that cue and occasionally used it, too.

As I took it to work the next morning, to be shipped off, I had almost chest pain-like symptoms.  "Was I really letting go of my Baby?"

Then it hit me, "What if something happened to my current playing cue or I needed to ship it off to get fixed?  I wouldn't have a back up!  I'd be lost without a cue; without one of my own custom designed cues!"

But, I have big bills in Januaray that need to be paid and so I had to say good bye to this one (and hopefully the other one).  I even told the guy, "Please take care of my baby."

In his paypal comment he said, "Money for your Baby."


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Corner Man

Well, this piece should really be entitled 'Corner Woman,' lol.

It amazes me when I'm watching my boyfriend gamble how many people ask me to play.  I'm sitting there, focused on his gambling match, and yet people come up and ask me to either gamble, practice, or ask where my cue is, "Why aren't you playing?"

I mean, I am so focused supporting him in his match, I barely even check my phone or play WordFeud when he gambles.  I sit there and watch, encourage, inspire, and provide mental assurance.

I remind myself of The Mighty Mick (Mickey Goldmill - Rocky Balboa's coach), or Freddie Roach (Manny Pacquiao's coach).  Sure, I don't get paid like them nor have my own tv show, lol, but I'm still there for a purpose, for a reason:  to support my guy; to be fully present.  

Need water?  I'm on it!
Make a good shot?  "Good Shot!" I say in support.
Need a pep talk?  I'm there.
Need me to laugh when you make a stupid mistake to help ease the embarrassment? I'm your man! 

It also helps when one goes into a pool room where my b/f is not a regular.  So, his opponents SEEM to have more support from the locals.  That isn't the case, it only feels like it.  But, if I am there, he for sure feels, sees, senses support in his corner.  Being comfortable is a crucial part of competing.  By being right there at his table, I help the atmosphere feel more comfortable.

Even Kevin Trudeau, who formed the famously defunked IPT (International Pool Tour) allowed "corner men" during the matches of his pro events.  Now, he did this for show, for the cameras, but it still helped the players to have a little Jiminy Cricket on their side during a match.  

Can you imagine golfers without caddies?

If I was to walk away from the comfort of my hard, stupid stool and go gamble, do you think my boyfriend would be focused on HIS match?  No.  He would be wondering how I was doing.  How I was handling myself.  If I was winning or not.  Even the simple gesture of looking over to see my score would distract him from his own game.  I don't want to do that; ever.

I know how it feels to have support and someone watch me play in my own matches.  I can't describe it fully, but encouragement and support gives me confidence.  It's kinda like mental nourishment.  So, I understand. 

When someone asks me to practice or gamble, I reply, "Sorry, watching Brian."  And then they look at me funny and confused. lol. 

Well, put yourself in my shoes - I'm there for a reason; not for me, for him.  I'm Mickey and Freddie!  Freddie wouldn't go eat or play cards with friends in the audience or even leave the corner. 

I'm the same way.  :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Role Model

Since I wrote the other day about not feeling accepted and welcomed around some places, I think it's apropos I share where I DO feel accepted, welcomed, and respected.

I mentioned I feel comfortable around the ladies league I play in, and also my Monday night league.  I'd like to expand on that because something pretty amazing happened - someone shared with me last week some pretty wild compliments.

She told me that the ladies in the women's league look up to me.  I was shocked and humbled because I don't know why and I don't fully comprehend it.  But, obviously the words made my day to hear such compliments. 

My friend told me that I am a "stellar" player and an "icon" and that the other players welcomed me on the league because they know I play well.  When I was added to the roster, she told me that people asked, "is that THE Melinda Bailey?"  I told my friend I don't even know how people even know me and she kinda laughed at me, in a loving way.

She shared that a lot of people watch my matches to try and learn; they watch my choices on the table carefully.  I have always felt a lot of eyes on me.  It isn't really a comfortable feeling, lol.  It puts pressure on me to play well.  And when I miss or mess up, I get a little self conscious.  But, I also love that the ladies like to learn and so I hope they DO see why I choose the shots I choose to shoot (or NOT shoot).

She also added that I show no fear when I play, and exhibit a lot of confidence.  She said that is helpful for the ladies to witness; and they want to be that type of player.

However, I also have a bulls eye on my head!  *I* am the target.  When the girls on other teams beat me at league or in local tourneys, the claps are louder, lol.  It's like, "Hey, you beat that real good girl!"

I don't mind really, I like team dynamics and team support so I think it's great they all watch each others' matches and show the love.

I also notice tho that people tend to try and impress me, and also apologize to me when they miss.  They want to play well FOR me (as funny as that sounds) and they apologize when they miss or explain why they missed.  I chuckle to myself because I think it's the cutest thing they feel they have to justify what happened, lol.

Another friend told me I give the players on the league something to endeavor for.  They aren't upset I joined the league, instead, I make them WANT to improve because they see how well good players can be.  I guess I give them something to strive for.  Too bad they can't see my fellow players fron the OB Cues Ladies Tour - those women put me to shame, lol!

It is a little discerning when I play people and they play nervous against me.  I'm just another player, feeling the pressure, too.  In all honesty, I have more pressure than them because I'm suppose to win, lol.  But, I keep hearing (or can see) that people are nervous against me.  I would instead want their best game.  But, I also know it takes years and years of playing better players in all types of competition to get over that.

I really love the ladies league and love that they accept me and respect me.  But I admit I don't know how to respond when people tell me I'm a role model.  Someone told me that last night and it made me feel kinda uneasy.  I mean, it's cool and all to be a good player, but it's also weird when people say they are my biggest fan.  I am trying to wrap my mind around that concept - I just see myself as a person who loves pool.  I'm no pro or anything; just an amateur female player that can play well sometimes.  To hear people say they use to follow me and watch me at bigger tournaments is a very unexpected, funky feeling. 

However, I don't mind being a role model.  I LOVE helping people and their games.  And, I have a lot to share (mistakes not to make and nuggets for improvement).  I also like that I've slowed down from drinking.  I think drinking made me look like a fool, not a good pool player or a good person quite frankly.

I'm uncomfortable talking about all this, because I know I sound vain, but I promise I am just as surprised as the rest of everyone to hear these compliments.  But, if I can share that I don't feel accepted (which was VERY difficult for me to admit and share), then I can also step out of my comfort zone and share that some people do accept me because I play good pool and am a good person.

I want to send a special shout out to the Women of Grand Prairie ladies league for welcoming me with open arms!  And to my b/f's team for welcoming me on their team on Mondays.  Thank you for showing the love!  :)