Monday, March 31, 2014

Preparing for the Unprepared

I've mentioned I'm in a rut. 

I am.

Timing is horrible!

I'm playing in the BCAPL Texas State tourney that starts this week.  And I'm unprepared.

As I said in my Rut Uh blog entry, "anyone that reads this blog the past few years know that is the one tourney I've always wanted to win. "

I haven't practiced.  I haven't hit balls.  Both my Monday and Thursday night leagues are on hiatus.  Haven't played weekly tourneys.  Nothing.  No table time.

When I do play on Sundays during league, I can see just how badly I'm playing.  :(

So, I decided to prepare for the unprepared.

I have to face facts.  I'm not playing well.

While I want to say, "Oh, hey, this will allow me to just have fun and not think of this title tournament."  But we all know how that goes.  Especially if we are playing badly.

So, I'm resigned to the fact I prolly wont do well.  And I'm okay with that.  If I haven't prepared, then I am unprepared to do well.  Right?  Fact. 

I have to admit I DID read the eight-ball section of Play Your Best Pool (my FAV 8ball book) by Phil Capelle TWICE in two weeks.  AND Brad Gilbert's Winning Ugly (my FAV mental book) also TWICE in two weeks!

Hey, I didn't JUST sit around doing nothing.  lol.

I just need to be very self aware this week.  Come on, Melinda!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Talker

On Saturday my boyfriend and I went to a local pool room to play in a tourney and low and behold the guy I played back in October and April was there.

And he was barking.

And we said yes.

I have already mentioned I'm kinda in a rut and boy did it show this day!  Ouch.  Not to mention I was hung over and tired, so the combination wasn't a good one at all, lol. 

During the first set I notice a friend of mine watching.  Older gentleman, always nice to me.  Then I noticed he was practicing, so I didn't even think about it anymore.

The guy I'm gambling with is a HUGE talker.  He talks before he shoots; after he shoots; while he shoots; after he misses; when he gets out.  ALL THE TIME.

However, this doesn't bother me. 

I'm actually used to it.

The first time I played him, the guy backing me told me, "he's a talker, he likes to talk, so I'm going to talk to him for you."  So I knew right then and there what he was about.

And it didn't bother me.

Even this third time, he was still a-talkin'.

Didn't bother me.

My boyfriend talked right back to him the entire time, too, and I just played pool (well, tried to through my struggling game).

The first set goes hill-hill, even though I was up 8-6 in a race to 9 for $150.

We start over for $200.

I am down 4-5 and I win 5 in a row to win 9-5!  Saweet!  I was rushing and felt like I was trying to much and once I said that out loud to my boyfriend, I worked on NOT doing those things and it really helped me focus to win the set.

During the next set, he jumps up 3-0 on me.  I'm starting to struggle real badly.

All of a sudden, the older gentlemen slides over from his far away seat (which I didn't know he had come back to watch) and whispers to me "He's trying to get into your head.  Don't listen to him."


No THAT bothered me!

Let's see now.  I go hill-hill the first set.  Win the second set, and now you think his talking is bothering me?

Honestly, YOUR talking is bothering me!

He made me AWARE of my opponents nonsense!  More aware than I had been the whole time, honestly.

I am struggling more and finally get a game.  I'm down 1-5.

And then... yep, he tells me that AGAIN!

I finally retort back, "It doesn't bother me!"

"Oh, okay."

I found it ironic every time he said something to me my boyfriend had gone to the bathroom. shm.

I keep trying my little heart out to come back but I'm still struggling so badly.

The gentlemen tries to tell me one more thing and I just nod my head but didn't hear him.  This time my boyfriend heard and they discussed not to chat with me anymore (thank GOD!).

I admit I was pretty miffed.  I had to vent to my boyfriend about it because it was bothering me so much.  He told me not to worry about it and already took care of it (he could tell I was bothered).  But, to deal with struggling, people pointing out things, being tired, trying to catch up, made it very difficult for me to FOCUS.

I made a small comeback but it wasn't enough and I lost 9-4 or 9-5.  :(

Although it was a good practice session for me, and although breaking even isn't losing, still sucks I broke even when I should have won the first set and the whole day could have been different.

But hey, don't let this talking get to you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Pause

I believe that a "pause" in your stroke is a good thing.  If you ever had the privileged to see Buddy Hall in person or on tape, you will see so clearly his pause!  And of course Allison Fisher has a clearly defined pause.  But, not all pro's have this clearly defined pause in their stroke.

People talk all the time about if you need a pause to be a good player or does it help you be a good player, etc.

I sometimes pause, I sometimes don't.  It's not a consistent long pause in my stroke for sure.

The other day someone posted about pause, and thought I'd paste what he said.  Food for thought:

From Pool School instructor Leslie C. B. Rogers:

I just wanted to add my 2 cents to this discussion of what the "pause" in a stroke represents. I'll try to be concise and to the point. That's not easy for me (ask anyone).

I feel the term "pause" is frequently taken out of context and misconstrued be
cause there are basically two sides to the pause coin. Both are equally important, and in order to avoid confusion in discussion, it is necessary to distinguish between the two. On one side, the pause is an "Event" that happens naturally. On the other side, the pause can be an intentional "Act." Both are related to what is happening at the moment the stroke changes from a backward motion to a forward motion. The true focus of the term "pause" is about this transition.

Physics states that in order for an object to change direction 180 degrees, its velocity in the contrary direction must approach zero. Like when a pendulum reaches its apex, the backward motion must stop before there can be any forward motion. This period during transition of no velocity in either direction is frequently referred to as a "pause". Whether the duration of the pause is discernible to the naked eye is immaterial; it is there. For all practical purposes, the forward stroke starts from a stopped position and accelerates from there.

Physiology states that muscles operate by contraction. Basically, there are different groups of muscles used for each (forward and backward) stroke. This means that before moving the arm forward, the muscles used for the back stroke should stop contracting to allow the next muscle group to do their job. This period during transfer of control between muscles can also be referred to as a "pause". The amount of time it takes to transfer control may be different for everyone.

The above are somewhat simplified descriptions, but essentially the pause is about transition. It is not about "if" (because it does) or "how long" (that depends) a cue stops at the end of the backstroke. It is about transitioning from one state of motion to another. Since this pause happens anyway, it is neither a question of "should I pause?", nor "how long should I pause?". That would just be missing the point. The real question should be "how well do I pause?". Ideally, the pause should happen smoothly without fighting the inertia of the cue or trying to muscle through it. Which brings us to ...

Pausing can also be an act of deliberately or forcefully stopping the cue. But (and this is important), for a specific purpose: to help learn the feel and timing for smooth transitions. As such, it is useful mainly as a practice tool to aid in developing proper habits. Exaggerating the pause during practice can help build muscle memory and rhythm much more quickly than simple repetitive trial and error. It's about developing feel and control. In essence, this type of pause is not about how to play - it's about a way to practice.

When I first devised the Set-Pause-Finish description of a stroke, I needed clear and concise words that could reference each phase of the stroke order. I chose "Pause" because it is both descriptive and directive. It is a simple way to reference that specific point in the stroke (and asking a student to "Transition!" during class is a bit tedious as well as distracting). The SPF regimen has always been intended mainly as an instructional and practice tool.

In a classroom environment, I use the word "pause" because, frequently, that is exactly what I want a student to do. Sure, with video I can freeze-frame, but sometimes stroke issues are easier to diagnose when pointed out on the spot. By exaggerating a pause, it can be easier to identify and correct errors in the stroke transition. Using a pause helps me to efficiently analyze and communicate with my students. It is also a simple method for practice that can be used by anyone without the need for video equipment.

I disagree that "any stroke with a change of direction that lasts under 1/30 of a second does not have a pause". By definition, if it lasts more than 0 seconds it has a "pause". There is no exception for duration.

Regarding the assessment that "over 90% of (professionals) do not use a pause", well, that might be accurate - but only because there is a difference between "having" a pause and "using" one. Deliberately "using" a pause is not really a suitable technique during play because focusing on your stroke can take focus away from the shot. If you're not used to it, it can even feel downright weird. Professionals have generally established their technique to a point that they don't need to think about their stroke. Years of cueing have helped them to develop habits that allow for a smooth and efficient transition. Some may be quick, and others may be a bit more methodical about it.There may not be a conscious effort to use a pause, but they do have a pause. Pretty much all of them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Surprise Calcutta

At my Monday night league end of season singles tourney (called the Turkey Shoot), I had heard this was a really big payout tourney, because of the calcutta.

One of my teammates, Lisa, had won it a few times and said she made lots of money.

I had to choose between this singles tourney or another one (for my Thursday night ladies league end of season singles tourney).

In the end, I made the right choice kinda by accident.  I chose the Turkey Shoot because I heard it had a high calcutta.  And even though I don't normally buy half myself, I figured if someone wants to give me jelly so be it.  But it turns out this tourney added $500 to the prize fund!  The other tourney was a $5 entry fee and the house added $5 per player.  So this tourney had much more money in the prize fund.  And since I placed 2nd, I made $175 with only 17 players!!  :)

Okay, back to the calcutta....

My boyfriend was suppose to buy me (because I don't buy myself) but he ended up having to work, so I was on my own at the last minute.

So, imagine my surprise to be in this so-called high calcutta tourney and I wont bid on myself.  LOL.

Lisa said she was going to buy me.  And I heard another teammate say he was going to buy me.

However, I do not buy half myself most of the time.  I don't know why - just don't.  I never have, except for in scotch doubles tourneys, or unless someone tells me I really should lol.  I don't know if it's superstition or what.

So, anyway, they do the ladies calcutta first and the first pick of the liter is bid by my teammate and he picks little 'ole me for $140.

"Not too bad," I'm thinking.  Especially if it's true about how high the calcutta is.  Then most of the girls will go for a lot too.

The next pick goes for like $70.

Then they start to go down the list of the 17 players and they START off at $5!!!!


Omg.... there wont be any money in the calcutta payouts since they starting off the bids at 5 bucks!


Only 3 other girls went for around $30, all the rest went for $5 or $10.


I went up to Lisa later and told her I went for $140 and she said, "That's it??"  She was talking a friend on the other side of the pool room and missed the whole thing.

I told her, "I thought you said this was a high calcutta..."  And she was just as surprised, "Well, it normally is."

My teammate Jennifer would tell me later that normally the ladies is done AFTER the men's calcutta, and she thinks that is why there's normally more money in it.  Because everyone would be bidding high on the guys and it would continue to roll over into the women's calcutta.

So, then they start the guys calcutta.  Pick of the liter goes for $100.  Second goes for $80.  Then they go down the list and start the guys off at $5 also.  About 6 go for $50 or so, and they only have about 17 players in their side, too.

I don't think anything of all this until Jennifer leans over to me and says softly, "you went for higher than any of the guys!"


I did!


Are you serious?

Next time they need to do the ladies AFTER the men's.

I really went for the highest out of BOTH liters?  lmao.

(Btw, 2nd place calcutta was only about $240, and I did not buy half myself, but I let Jennifer take my half)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Happy Birthday

In my previous blog, I alluded to the reason I went 6-0 was because of the team we were playing.  They aren't a top team, and they don't run out consistently, so my team had a lot of chances, I admit. 

In my first game, I was on a break and run!  I was so excited.  But I had a long shot on the 3 and was a worried about shape on the 8 and I missed.  Ugh!  Almost a B and R my first match!

As I sat there, I watched my opponent make ball after ball.  I couldn't believe it.  He was going to get out.... and I had my chance!  I REALLY wanted the win since I did so poorly the previous week so my miss was even more heartbreaking because he was getting out.  :(

He left himself this shot on the 8-ball:

And I knew I was dead meat.

But he missed!  OMG HE MISSED!

I couldn't believe it!


Straight in, wow.

But, he left me this tough-ass shot:

I tried with all my might to make that tough cut (and also get shape on the 8 and not scratch), but it was just too far and just too thin to make.  And sure enough, I missed it.  :(

So, he was left with ANOTHER straight-in shot:


Omg... really??

He missed two straight-in 8-balls and I could not believe it.  Well, no one could.  Not even him!

I made my 7 and 8 and won the game.

About a month ago, it was my  birthday ON league day (a Sunday).  After my opponent would miss, my team would tell me they missed because it was my birthday.  They must have said it 10 times that day lol.

So this day, I walk back to my teammates and ask, "Is it my birthday?"

They all laughed as we just couldn't believe those misses.

In my next match, I missed the 8-ball and my opponent has a very make-able shot on the 7 and he misses the shot!


I made the 8 easily and won.  I'm 2-0 at this point.

I walk over and I shrug to my teammates as I tell Natalie I won.  The new guy on the team, Steven, says, maybe we should sing "Happy Birthday when someone gets lucky like that.

Everyone laughed, "Right?"

A few games later Steven has a great run but misses his 8 ball.  But then his opponent scratches with only two balls left!

"Happy Birthday," I thought in my mind.

Then we are watching the 5th to the last game and one of our top shooters misses the 8-ball.  Yikes.  It was tough, but make-able.  But then.... wait for rolled right between his opponents' last ball... and he had no shot at his last ball because the 8 is now in the way!

Steven turns to us and sings softly, "Happy Birthday to you..."


Monday, March 17, 2014

Self Awareness

Two Sundays ago I played in my Sunday league and went 0-5.  Ouch!  I wrote how I was in a rut and was pretty bothered by it.  Just 3 weeks before, I went 6-0 (pretty tough to do imo), but that wasn't all ME.  I mean, my opponents have to mess up and/or not run out.

On that dreaded 0-5 day, I had 2-3 opportunities - ONLY.  In FIVE matches.  And wasn't able to capitalize.    :(

Well, imagine what a week can do.

Well, and imagine that we played the next Sunday against a weaker team (no offense to the team).

I really DID play better.  Still made mistakes, tho.  Bottom line is, my 6-0 yesterday (yep got ANOTHER 6-0!!) was not because I won all my matches with great play and no misses.  It's because I was given chances in 4 of the games.

(the other two games I ran out - 1 break and run and 1 rack and run - GO ME!)  :)

It makes a huge difference to play a team that doesn't run out on you or play jam-up safes.  Because I AM the type of player if I get 1 or more chances at a table I can prevail a lot of the times.

I did play better, though.  Been thinking about my poor play and so I slowed down, and focused on my fundamentals.  Been also reading Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert that I've wrote so much about (and highly recommend), to help me prepare for a big tourney-to-me coming up the first week of April so that might have helped, too.

But mostly, NOT rushing and playing a little slower.

So, I am very happy I am playing a little better right now.  It's not GAME time so I'm not really sure how I'm playing overall, but I can tell a little difference.  Self-awareness is HUGE in pool in my opinion and can help us.

Even Brad Gilbert talks a lot of about self-awareness.  Before, during, and after a match.  Especially during which I have written about before, also.  Mostly to recognize before it's too late what is going on in the match,

But this self awareness was refocusing on my fundamentals.  And being conscientious to slow down a little.  Not play so fast and focus on staying down and looking at that object last.  For me, that is KEY.

Hope this continues!!

Wish me luck please :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Self-Leveling Pool Table on a Cruise Ship (video clip)

Who would have thunk it?

Glad they did.

Gyroscopic self-leveling pool table on a cruise ship!

Here is another video clip that shows the self-leveling even better:  Click HERE

Pretty neat if you ask me!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Can't Play Favorites

I found myself in a tough spot last month. 

I was running the Omega Billiards Tour's 2nd stop of the year at the Billiard Den in Richardson and as the Tournament Director, I of course have to stay til the bitter end, lol.

Well, the finals was pitted between my buddy and former teammate Jersey Jack and newcomer Steve Collins. 

This is the pic of the final three players.  Steve is on the left, David G in the middle and Jersey on the right:

As a friend of Jersey's and a former teammate, it was natural for me to cheer on Jersey and to root for him more than Steve.  But I realized after only a couple of shots that I need to not be biased and stay neutral. 

While I clap for great shots from ANYONE (either competitor at the table), as tourney director you cannot put your "friend" cap on or your "teammate" cap on; instead you have to be neutral.

It was tough, too.  I have been on a team for almost 2 years with Jersey and seen him play in Vegas with my Monday team. 

But, I just rooted for him silently in my head.

BTW, he won!  It went two sets til 1am but he won his first Omega tourney!!  Steve out up a great fight but Jersey came through in the end.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Trophy Effects

On my Monday night league, we had our end-of-season award ceremony and then a singles tourney.  This league calls that tournament "The Turkey Shoot."

I kinda felt like a turkey! 

At the awards ceremony, I have to admit it was pretty dang cool!  I wish my boyfriend could have been there to see all this.

My team won FIRST place in the league/playoffs.  Here is our awesome plaque (with our names on it!!):

(click photo to enlarge)

And then the individual awards were given out.  I was SO surprised!  I had no idea I won two awards (and $25 for EACH award!):

Most break and runs for a female and most rack and runs for a female! 

And THEN I was also given a trophy for each of these individual awards!

And THEN our team was given a trophy for 1st place - and I mean, we EACH received a big trophy with our names on it!  (I guess the plaque was for the pool room we played out of.)

I was elated!  I don't have a lot of trophies to my name, even though I've played pool forever.  So, it was so awesome!

Here is a pic of me and the three trophies:

(click photo to enlarge)

And here's how I REALLY felt:

(click photo to enlarge)

I posted the close up on FB and one of my friends said, "You were holding more trophies than Adele after she won 12 Grammys!"  LOL!  Funny funny.... :)

I have written before how I love trophies - it's a symbol or recognition to me.  Some people may have a million of the dust collectors, but I don't have that many.

Then we had the tourney!

Suffice it to say I found out that not only do I have title tournament jitters and ruin tourneys with expectations, I now know I have trophy pressure!

See the two pics above?  See that HUGE trophy in the background on the table?  That was the first place trophy for the Turkey Shoot!  OMG, I WANTED that trophy!  It would have been THE biggest trophy I've ever received in my life!

After I won several matches, I found myself in the hotseat.  I walked over to the new table they put us on, and on the very next table was this magnificent beast!   I think I slobbered a little.  I wanted it SO badly!

Well, I don't know if that was the reason I lost that match, but I did.  Wanted something badly and expectations can KILL your focus on the game in front of you.

I'm not saying that's why I lost, because I mostly felt like I was playing "catch up" the whole time instead of being in control of the match; this short race to 3 Nine-ball!

I barely squeaked by my teammate in the next match 2-1 to have a rematch with the girl I played in the hotseat.

The men were already done - hardly anyone was there watching.  Just me, and all her supporters for her.

I played my little heart out but I was playing too fast.  Even though I am the better player and the whole time there was never a doubt I would I would force a second set, it just didn't happen.  I lost 2-3 AND the dang trophy............

I texted a few girlfriends about it, as they were asking for updates.  Two of them texted back, "We'll MAKE you a big trophy!"

LOL.  Love my friends!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rut Oh

Been playing bad lately.    Not sure what is up but it sucks lol.

One week I go 6-0 in league, and just 3 weeks later I go 0-5 in the same league.  Granted we were playing a much better team, and I only had two opportunities, but that's not the only indication I'm playing badly.

I played poorly in the Omega tourney.  Yep, I actually played in my own event!  Although I was ahead in both of my matches, and I played REALLY well at the beginning of both of those matches, I lost focus and lost.

I also played in a singles tourney for my Monday night league on Saturday.  I placed 2nd, even though I was the best player in the tourney.  I am not sure what happened, but I am just not playing well right now.

The timing really sucks too because I have the BCAPL Texas State tourney coming up in less than a month and anyone that reads this blog the past few years know that is the one tourney I've always wanted to win.  Well, saying that is already pressure, lol.

I keep hearing I'm playing fast.  Not just in early February when I wrote about this, but also this past weekend.  And I'm not sure why that is happening.  What happened to playing slow and deliberate and taking time on my shots?

I need to figure all this out asap!

I honestly think because I haven't been competing in tournaments more, that it's affecting me.  I am losing focus in tournament matches for sure. 

I am still playing great for team events, but when it comes to playing for me, that is another story.

Hopefully this rut (or whatever is going on) will turn around soon.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Actually Studied

I admit it. 

I've been slacking.

I haven't watched a video, practiced, or read anything about pool in a LONG time.

Well, Thursday night, I actually put in the DVD player a one pocket match (Buddy Hall versus Ray Martin) with Ronnie Allen and Bill Incardona commenting.  THEN, I read the 8-ball section of Phil Capelle's Play Your Best Pool (my #1 recommendation for 8ball!!).

Whew, look at me!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Stats Can Ruin a Run

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my stats in my women's league.  Well, all of my leagues keep stats for break and runs and rack and runs.  And of course 5-0s or 6-0s.

I have to admit it's pretty neat to see the numbers go up for each of those statistics.

But what it does sometimes is make me go for shots I normally wouldn't. 

If I am playing against a really good player (or even decent player) OR playing in a tournament, I NEVER do this, but against certain players at certain times (not playoffs for example, but on a regular league night), I sometimes shoot a tougher first shot to pick the "easier" balls that would garner me a break and run.

Whereas I should instead be picking the CORRECT shot and balls, not look for a chance to run out.

If it's an easy run, then it doesn't matter.  But let's say the first shot of stripes is sketch, but I can run stripes and bump up my break and run stats, I will try that tough shot instead of going for the easier shot on solids.

For the record, this is NOT the way to play 8ball!  And I have missed MANY tough shots "trying" for that almighty break and run to up my stats. 

You don't take a tough first shot.  You take  the CORRECT shot.  The correct shot might be to take solids and then play safe because you can't run out due to clusters or blocks.  The correct shot might be to take stripes but leave that risky shot til you have better position.

Your goal is not to run out!  Your goal is to win!  And that means by choosing the correct first shot with the correct ball choices.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Team Name Causes Confusion but a BIG Win

The other day I posted this photo on Facebook right before our first match on Saturday of the playoffs for my Women's League:
I posted it because most photo bombs are from the back, not the FRONT!  LOL.  Funny friend of mine, Angel, LOL!

After I posted it, several people commented on it.  Most talked about Angel, but some had questions about the playoffs.  

Person 1:  Who's still in?
Angel:  Gba, Nite Mares, You Figure it Out.
Person 1 responds:  Sorry I asked.
But Angel responded:  No. That's our team name, silly!!!
Yep, a team named themselves "You Figure It Out."  Same team I wrote about before who high-fives with glitter!  But their name threw off this person on Facebook.  Oops.

BTW, I mentioned that You Figure It Out put this team together so it would be drama-free, so they could improve themselves, and also have fun.  
They worked together to improve their skills at the table and it was VERY evident as they defeated the second ranked team to get into the finals!!   

And THEN - they double dipped my team (GBA) to win the playoffs!!!  SO SO SO proud of these girls!!  They've come a long way in only ONE season!  
CONGRATs You Figure it Out!!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Three Ordinary Looking Guys

Perusing through Facebook the other day and my friend Mary Ann of posted these words:

Three ordinary looking guys....

With this photo:

These three guys/players are at the Reno Open this week.  Admittedly to any non-pool player or pool players that just play recreationally, they would be just be 3 ordinary guys.

"Three ordinary looking guys........Unless you play pool. Lol"  she said!

Why?  Because from left to right you have the phenom champs Warren Kiamco, Dennis Orcollo, and Carlo Biado!

Dennis Orcollo was featured in ESPN magazine as the best gambler in the world.
Warren Kiamco won the Texas Open last year (on 9 foots) and the same year won the OKC bar table championships and just placed 2nd this year in a large One Pocket event.  How's that for versatile!
And Carlo Biado is "new"on the scene compared to the others, but was ranked 25th in the world on the AZB Money board last year, and that included a win on the super-tight Hard times tables.

Yea, just three ordinary looking guys standing by a pool table in Reno.  LOL.