Saturday, May 31, 2014

8 Ball Singles Event at 2014 ACS Nationals

As I woke up on Monday morning, I was for the first time a National Champion.  I had just won the night before the ACS Nationals Women's 9-Ball Singles event.

To say I was on cloud nine was an understatement.  But, my trip wasn't over yet, and in reality, had just begun.  I still had 8-ball singles, 9-ball women's teams, and 8-ball women's teams to play.

My first Women's 8-Ball Advanced Singles match was at noon. Because I'm still on Texas time, I get up real early again.  I had so much time before I played, that I walked the entire way from Harrah's to the Tropicana (a full 45 minute crisp walk), with enough time to rest and cool-off an hour before my match started.

My view, walking the strip that morning.

wrote already how in my very first match, my opponent might have psyched herself out accidentally, by asking me questions.  I won that match 7-2.  I thought I felt pretty good, even though the race to 7 is tough and daunting.

The Advanced women's division race to 7 (we are all ACS Master and ACS Advanced players).  I have to admit, I was SPENT already.  I used a lot of mental energy playing in the 9-Ball singles event and I didn't know just how mentally tired I really was until my second match.

Next, I played a girl I recognized, but not sure from where.  I could tell I was the better player, but I didn't play well anymore for some reason.  I was missing kinda easy shots that I was nailing the day before.  And I admit, she would get out from nowhere and I definitely second guessed her ability.  But, I was so mentally taxed, I didn't put up a fight.  I tried, but I just could barely function.  It was brutal.

I guess this is what Joe Salazar was talking about.  Physical and Mental exhaustion are for sure two different things.

Kinda remind me of a couple of examples.  When you are hungover, you can still play pool for some reason right?  Obviously not as well if you were well-rested, but still function-able.  But when we mental exhaustion is tougher to overcome.

I was mentally exhausted from the long weekend to even make simply shots and safes.  I was drained!

Before I even lost that match, I decided to not even stick around to play my next match.  Yep.  I forfeited.  Yep.  Me.

I was disappointed I even thought of it.  But, my next match wasn't until 6pm.  If I won that, then 8pm. Then come back the next day.  I didn't think I could overcome my mental exhaustion in 3 hours anyway, and I honestly would rather rest up for a day and a half to be very well-prepared and well-rested for my women's team event that would be 3-days long.  Plus, they depended on me and I wanted to be in tip-top shape for them - not mentally or physically exhausted.  Resting up meant more to me than trying to race to 7 in 8-ball.  DANG that's a long freaking race!

I honestly don't think I can give my all to both events.  It's just mentally tough.  It may not seem like a lot, but 4 full days of constant competition really is.  Not a lot of breaks.  And long, tough races.

Not sure if I will do this next year.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Future in Women's Teams

In May 2012, my women's team, How's my Rack, went undefeated to win the ladies open team event at the BCAPL Nationals!  It was BAD-ASS!

It was my first National title win and with a great group of very talented women!

Me, Jennifer, Lisa, Monica, and Connie

It was a wonderful, amazing experience.  And since I won the case game, it was even more thrilling for me personally.  :)  (Re-watching the video makes me tear up even today!)

With BCAPL, you can only have 2 original players to be able to play in the Women's Open Team Division (since we placed so high that year), so Lisa and I decided to be those 2 original members.

In July 2013,our new team, Born Ready, WON it again!  Lisa and I were now TWO-time Champs!  We were elated!  :)  We had to double dip to win it, and we did it!

Maria, Tracie, Nina, Lisa, and Me

During this tournament we heard some "rumblings" about Lisa and I being on a team together.  Why?  We were always told you could have two original members, but for some reason people still complained.

So, after we won, a couple of months later, I called the BCAPL to talk to them. 

You see, when you place 1-3 in the team events, BCAPL automatically moves EVERY team member to Advanced status.  Yikes!  So, just like the previous year, I called BCAPL and talked to them about moving us all back down to "Open" players.  They asked how we did in singles and not one of us placed well in singles to even be moved up.  I always joked we can only do well with others, lol.

So, they moved us all back down to Open players.

However, they told me I could not play in the Open Women's Team event anymore (nor Lisa).  They got too many complaints, and since Lisa and I won again, we especially can't play together.

That simply means we could play together in the Master/Advanced women's team event, but both Lisa and I do not want to do that quite yet.  Her and I have decided to just not play BCAPL teams at Nationals this year ( and prolly next ). 

My biggest concern has ALWAYS been I have wanted to stay as an Open player so I can play Open Scotch Doubles and Open Women's Singles 8-ball.  I always wanted a chance to do well in those divisions, and if I got moved up from the team event, I would never have a chance again.  But, they moved us all down and so I was able to play in the Open last year and also this year.

I speak to BCAPL throughout the year on other issues, and they always bring up about my team play, lol.  They say, "ya know..." 

"Yes, I know.  But..."  I always asked, "I can still play in the open singles and doubles right?" (because I haven't done well in either divisions as an Open player recently). 

I don't know how to express that to be given a chance in the Open is something all players want.  I recall June Hager was put in the Masters division the first year she played and she always got upset that she never had even played in the Open.  And another friend is currently upset because he is being moved into the Advanced Division and yet he never placed well in the Open 8 ball singles (just 9ball singles).  So, it's not just me.  It's all pool players, really.  We want a shot in the Open. 

So, imagine my surprise when my new women's team, "All Mixed Up," literally had just made the last two 8-balls to seal our ACS Nationals 8-Ball Women's Team win in Vegas in May and I turn around and there is the guy I always talk to at BCAPL headquarters, watching us celebrate and hug and high-five!

He says, "What am I going to do with you?"

I exclaimed, "This is an entirely new, dif team!" 

Here is our "All Mixed Up" pic from our 8-ball National Championships win:  (btw, we won the 9-ball women's team event, also!)

Courtney, Me, Janet, Nina

I then asked what I always do, "I can still play in the Open in July right?"

Now worried even more!

He says, "In the singles, not teams."

"Yes, I know.  And what about Scotch Doubles?"

He says, "Who's your partner?"

"Um, Marty Jones." 

He tells me, "his name sounds familiar."

OH SHIT, lol.  But he said we could play in the Open, and was trying to make me nervous and be funny.  WHEW. 

The same team that won at ACS Nationals also played together at BCAPL Texas State in April (along with Jennifer from the How's My Rack team) and I heard there were rumblings about THAT team as well.  Sheesh. I don't understand.  No one is Advanced (even though one Advanced player is allowed) and the Texas State tourney doesn't event follow the same rules as Nationals (even if they did, Lisa and I didn't play together in April). 

Anyway, it's all part of the what comes when Open teams place well, I suppose. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 ACS 9-Ball Singles - the Details

I guess it's about time I give the details to my ACS Nationals 9-Ball tourney, held at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, the second weekend of May (Mother's Day).

This is my 3rd year going to the event.  First year I placed 3rd in the women's open 8-ball division.  Second year my women's team placed 3rd in the women's open 9-ball division.  While those two finishes may SEEM minor or unimpressive, lol, I have to say that for whatever reason, I play THE BEST pool of my life at this ACS Nationals tourney in May.  I have no idea why, I just do.

However, this year I hadn't been putting any time on the felt and was only looking forward to going to Vegas to get away from the real world for a while.  It is my favorite city and I needed an escape.  Honestly, I didn't even care about the tourney.  I was just glad I was going because it was in Vegas and I needed to get away.

Maybe that is the key to my title tournament jitters from the past: not caring.  No expectations means no nerves for this lady!

So, I get to Vegas on Thursday afternoon and I admittedly proceed to my favorite table game at Harrah's (that's where I stayed) called High Card Flush and sat there all night drinking my helpless life away and playing this card table game that I love so much.

I woke up early Friday morning and decided to head to Planet Hollywood, my new favorite casino, to have breakfast at their cafe, called the Planet Dailies.  Although it was filled with good/sad memories for me, I also had a few glasses of Champagne with cranberry juice.  YUM.

I walked by their High Card Flush table (only a few casino's have this card game, mostly the ones affiliated with the Total Rewards card) and it's already open.  Yay!  After the first hour, I got a 6-card diamond flush that paid out 100 to 1, and I had my little $5 bet, so made a cool $500 on the spot.

After a couple more hours, I then went to back to Harrah's and went poolside, even though I heard the pool was blah (and it was!).  Very boring and just a square pool.  But I laid out for a few hours to get some sun.  The most interesting thing I saw was this pigeon, who is very good at avoiding the paparazzi!  (me)

I tried to fall asleep that night but I had too much redbull and could NOT go to sleep.  I was begging for sleep because my first match was at 10:30am on Saturday and I KNEW I would be up early because I was still on Texas time.  I think I got about a whole 3 hours of sleep total.  I was pretty doomed.  And I knew it.

I was so physically exhausted and hung over, I didn't care about pool.  Which, is what I wanted, right?

I got a bye, so had plenty of time (since I woke up at 4am) to ride the MonoRail from Harrah's to the MGM, where I then walked a mile thru the MGM (not joking) and then over and across to the Tropicana.

My first match is at 10:30am and I am EXHAUSTED.  I don't care about anything.  It shows, too.  I find myself down 6-1.  :(  My opponent is a GREAT player and she was a Master so had to go to 7 to win, I am Advanced and needed 6 games to win.

For whatever reason, little by little I hung in there and managed to claw back and won 6-6!  OMG I could not believe it.  Here I was exhausted and SO VERY tired and yet was still able to play pool and came back to win!

My next opponent at Noon was also a Master, and we started a little late because my hill-hill match went over time.  She didn't really play like a Master and I won 6-3 I think.

I'm still VERY tired.  I just really want to go home honestly.  Crawl back in bed.

I then played a 5 (Open player) at 1:30pm.  I don't know how I was even functioning, as obviously tiredness does not wear off.  I knew my opponent, and every time we have played in a National tourney the last few years, she has defeated me. They were all very close, memorable matches.  I told her I didn't think she should be a 5.  Maybe I shouldn't have said that, but what I meant was she played better than an Open player.

I find myself down 3-2 and she needs 2 games and I need 3.  At this point, I *kinda* want to look at the bottom of the score sheet.  The score sheets have times printed at the bottom for the next round (win or lose), so you know when you play next so you don't have to look it up on the brackets.  I knew if I read the loser didn't play until the next day (Sunday), that I would prolly just give in so I could go to sleep, lol.  But, quite honestly, I knew I had enough energy to go play High Card Flush and wouldn't go to sleep right away anyway.  If that was the case, I told myself, then I could play pool.

I noticed she made mistakes late in the rack and I kinda waited for my turns at the table and sure enough it goes hill-hill and a tough choice by her (after a very long decision, she tried a safe that was wasn't successful), I was able to seal the game with a 3-ball out.

Here I am in that very match:

WHEW.  Got by that one, too.  (somehow)

I check the sheet.  Dang.  I have ANOTHER match today.  This time at 4:30pm.  This time against the tournament favorite.  Luckily, I ENJOY watching her play because she is the epitome of 3-balls-ahead shape and so I emulate her and play good.  She walks around the table and sees exactly where she needs to be for her third ball.  It's truly beautiful!

She jumps up 4-2 and I am just SO exhausted I could cry.  I'm barely functioning and really just want her to put me out of my misery.

After a discussion with retired Pro Joe Salazar (who has a booth there), he shared that there is a big difference between mental exhaustion and physical exhaustion.  If I was mentally exhausted, I really wouldn't be able to function or execute my shots.  But because it was physical, I was still able to compete and shoot and make decisions based on my muscle memory and knowledge.

Down 2-4, I look at the score wrong.  I think it's 5-2.  With my opponent going to 7.  I figured I was done.  D.O.N.E.

But then when I checked the score again to see who broke, I see I'm *only* down 2-4.  Mentally, that was HUGE to me.  It gave me some extra pep for some reason and I was able to tie up the score at 4-4.

At this point, she's getting frustrated and starts to get upset at people walking by, some bad rolls she is getting, some good rolls (well, $hit in balls by me), and she is very agitated.  Eventually, her emotions get in the way and I'm able to capitalize on some of her mistakes (while also playing decent) and I won 6-5!!


I look at the bracket and see I am playing FOR the hotseat at 1pm the next day.


I am already on cloud nine and canNOT believe I just defeated the favorite.  WOW.  All that exhaustion and not caring and not thinking ahead WORKED again!

At this point it's about 6pm and I figure, "well, I have time to gamble."  lmao.  High Card Flush here I come.  This time I walk back and it's a HIKE but I stop in at Planet Hollywood on the way to Harrah's and play my fav casino game, and then eat a really juicy hamburger at PBR Rock Bar and Grill to reward myself for a good day of pool.

To show the distance between casinos, here is a map of the strip.  The tournament is at the Tropicana (down on the bottom), Planet Hollywood is in the middle (where I enjoyed staying last year) and this year I'm all the way up at Harrah's (top blue circle).  Wont stay there again for any tourneys held at the Tropicana I can guarantee you that, lol.  While I LOVE the strip, it made for an even more exhausting time playing pool, even if I didn't walk the entire way back and forth.  I did take the Tram 3 times, walked a lot though, and then taxis once my roommate Courtney came in for teams.  Anyway, here is the map:

I get a good nights rest (finally) but still a TAD tired.  But, NOTHING like Saturday.

This day, Sunday, is pretty difficult though as it was Mother's Day and my lovely Mom, Toni, had been passed just 2 1/2 years ago.

My goal this day was to not think ahead, though.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  I reviewed my checklist a few times (the one that I prepared for the BCAPL Texas State tourney) but otherwise just relaxed.  I ate at the Mirage buffet (MY FAV) and had their champagne Sunday brunch and then rested before heading to the Tropicana.  I knew not to WALK this day, as I wanted to be rested up as much as I could.

I got to the Tropicana about 12:15pm.  I saw that my opponent was already hitting balls.  I grabbed my cue from my teammate, Janet (she graciously kept it at the Tropicana for me so I didn't have to trek it up and down the strip every day), and I hit some balls and felt real good.

We start the match and I'm in a good mood.

My opponent's name is Jacki and she is from Virginia.  Her and her husband are good friends of a friend of mine.  As I shake her hand she says, "I feel like I already know you" as she shyly laughed a little.

She raced to 5 (and Open player) and I still raced to 6 (as as Advanced Player).  I broke first.  The 9-ball is sitting down near a pocket and I see that I can back bank the 1-ball into the 9-ball.  Risky, but the 1-ball doesn't go anywhere else, anyway.

I make it!

Then she breaks, doesn't make anything, and the 1-9 combo sets up and I make it.

I am now up 2-0 and she says, "Nice way to start out."  She wasn't being rude, she was just frustrated.

I didn't want her to feel bad, but it was how the first two games went.  I was SUPER confident and just told myself not to think of those "rolls" and instead realize that, well, this was just my time evidently.

And just like that, things turned.

I hooked myself, she got out.  I missed a tough 9-ball, she made it next.

Score 2-2, and I could tell I was trying too hard.  And she was playing really good.  Bad combo for team Melinda.

At this point, it seemed like the match was put on fast forward.  She got out really well and I missed a tough 8-ball after a REALLY great run.   I felt it slipping away, even though I was playing well.  But, I hooked myself AGAIN on a really fantastic shot, and she got ball-in-hand and ran out well and won the match 5-4.


I was really pissed and ready to play at 3pm.

I go to the tournament desk and they tell me it will be delayed.

Wait, WHAT?

Evidently the scotch doubles matches were still going on.  The match I was waiting for, hadn't even STARTED because one of the players was in the doubles tourney still.  REALLY?

I went upstairs and had a slice of their thin pizza (YUM), went back downstairs.  Still.  Nothing.  No opponent.  They hadn't even started yet - STILL!

I texted my g/f Amanda about how upset I was with the previous match and she suggested I listen to my ipod.  So I went upstairs to the couches and the beautiful sunlight and listened to Rihanna as I sat there sulking, not wanting to talk to anyone.  Just pissed.  Upset.  Disappointed.  :(

I still didn't think ahead, just thought of the missed opportunities I had in the match.

I finally went back downstairs to the convention center where all the main pool tables where about 4pm and HEY, they are finally playing!  I go sit by Joe Salazar, who runs a booth there, and I sat with him and expressed my woes.  I consider him my mental coach and we just chatted about things in general and he gave me some advice about how I played well at State, and that this experience no matter the outcome will be good for me.

Finally I had an opponent at 5pm.  Ugh.  5PM!

Unfortunately, it was against the favorite.  Yes, I had beaten her the evening before, but she is so so tough to beat.

I didn't think I would defeat her this time.  Yep, no expectations at all.  (I think you all are seeing the theme here, also.)

She gets ahead 2-0 and then 3-1, but she makes a few uncharacteristic mistakes and I tie it 3-3.  More mistakes occur and I start playing good pool!  Really smart safes, and outs.  I get ahead 5-3, but she makes a small comeback and regroups well and the score is now 5-4 me.  The last game I shit in the 3-ball.  She gets pissed.  Trying to get perfect shape on the 8-ball, I shit-in the 7-ball.  Ooops.  She's pretty livid.  I don't blame her, really.  Even though everyone would tell me later "that's 9-ball," still sucks when it happens to you.  I got out and won 6-4!

OMG I'm in the finals!!!


I feel like a winner just beating the favorite (again).  Honestly.  It felt like SUCH an accomplishment!

OMFG!  Joe was SO happy for me to persevere!  He said I learned a lot coming off a bad loss and ALSO being down in that match.  All these awesome learning experiences!

I turn in my score-sheet.  Yep, my opponent is playing scotch doubles!

I can't even begin the finals now.  I have to wait.  MORE.

Yep, I go have another slice of thin pizza.  That's what I do!  I was barely eating on the trip so indulging a little for celebration was fine by me, lol.

I had a few drinks during the course of the day, but didn't drink anymore as I wanted to feel the whole finals match, completely, with all my senses.

I watched from afar her match and it seemed to take forever.  I hit a few balls, rested my feet, listened to my ipod some more.  Just relaxed.  Nothing I could do but wait.  And try to relax while I waited.

And I tried as HARD AS I COULD to not think, "You might be a National Champion."  Now that I reflect back, I don't think it even entered my mind!  I just wanted to play pool and give a good fight, like I did NOT do the last time Jacki and I met at 1pm earlier this day. 

I didn't think ahead.  YAY me!  That has totally affected me in the past.

We finally start at 8pm and she said it, even though I was thinking it, "I'm exhausted."  At that point I knew I had a little edge.  At that point I realized she had been playing pool non-stop all day since 1pm, I had only played two matches.  AND, she still had another scotch doubles match after ours.

I felt bad, "what if it goes two-sets, she'll really be tired."

OMG did I really just think of my opponent like I always do?  Yep, I did.  BUT, that wasn't going to get in the way.  I told myself, "if it goes 2 sets, it goes 2 sets,  Melinda.  Nothing you can do."

It crossed my mind had we played the finals sooner in the day, the outcome could have been very different.

I played really good the first set and she makes a few mistakes and I capitalize.  I win 6-2 I think.

At this point, we both have to run to the bathroom.  I knew that could be my demise.  But I had to go.  I still didn't think ahead, or think of the possibilities or anything.  I just wanted to get back and play more pool.

But I could tell I got relaxed.  I could tell I felt like I had already accomplished a lot by winning the first set.  I tried so hard not to relax, but I could feel it in my body after the quick restroom break.

She tells me she hopes she gives me a better game this match, and I can see she's a little more confident and awake.  I'm saying, "noooooo" lol in my head. 

Jacki plays really, really good.  She said she had never placed well in this tourney before and that's why she was a 5, but she told me she had been gambling more in the pool room the last year and her game has gone up.  And it was obvious.

I thought of this a lot when I saw her bear down on shots and get out.  She played really well and I knew it would be a good, tough finals.

The first game I make a mistake and she capitalizes.  Next game I make a mistake and she capitalizes again.  Dang it!


I do NOT want to go out this way.

The next game I make another mistake and I realize I'm getting tired and I go get lots of cold water to wake up.  She's running out and my heart is sinking.  She will be up 3-0 if she runs out.  That's overcome-able, but tough to overcome in reality.  She leaves herself a really long 9-ball.... and she misses it!


Light at the end of the tunnel!

I make the 9-ball and I have more pep i my step!  Whew.  I can see she's tired and I feel bad for her, but I keep going and I win another game.  Score tired 2-2.  The cold water and getting on the scoreboard helped me so much!

I started to play really well again and found myself ahead 4-3.  We both need two.

The next game is a safety battle and for the first time in a long time, I win by three-fouling.

I'm now on the hill.


I try still so VERY hard not think ahead and I did not.

I broke.

I see an out.


I ALMOST hook myself on the VERY first shot, but had enough room to make the 2-ball.  I look at my three-balls-ahead shape well and plan ahead and I can see if I get on this 6-ball okay, I will win.  I make the 3, 5, and get on the 6 ball perfectly.  Stay down Melinda!  I make the 7.  Breathe Melinda!  I make the 8ball and slide over well for the 9-ball.

I get down on the 9-ball, a short, straight-in shot.  I get back up because I'm crying.

Yep, I'm CRY-ing!

OMG I'm really about to win this tournament.  OMG.

I get down and the tears are so much in my eyes, I can't see.  I get back up.  Melinda, hold it together.

I finally shoot the 9-ball and start bawling!

I shake her hand and she asks me why I'm so emotional.  I tell her it's Mother's Day and I won it for my Mom.  :)  And plus, I add, it's a National title.

She tells me how sweet I am to dedicate it to my Mom and I hug the few friends of mine who were there (Connie and Janet and Ren and his wife).


I post on Facebook, "I won the tourney for you, Mom.  I'm a National Champion!" 

Joe had left already by the time the first set was over, so the next morning I practically ran to tell him, "I won!" I exclaimed!  Awww, his little grasshopper doing so well!  :)

Days later, still can't believe it.  Weeks later, still can't believe it.

Official ACS photo.  Jacki (2nd) and I (1st)

Jacki was a really great opponent and I couldn't have asked for a nicer and talented opponent with a big heart and calm demeanor.  I am honored to share the podium with her!

Even as I type this.  I still can't believe it!   HOW DID I REALLY DO THAT??  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Tiger Woods Effect

Everyone has heard (or felt), "I player better when I play a better player."

Well, the same is also true for the OPPOSITE.

Sometimes when we play a really good player, instead of player better, we are overcome by nerves.

"OMG I'm playing Allison Fisher, top pro for over a decade."


"OMG I'm playing Dennis Hatch, the Mosconi Cup MVP Player."

So, I'm very aware that people can get nervous playing me OR they can play a little bit above their game against me.

I'm not trying to say I am special or a great player, but I have seen where my opponents are nervous against me or "I know who you are" type of attitude.

But I'm simply another female pool player, just like you!  Nothing more.  Nothing greater.

But, I am aware of the Tiger Woods Effect and have seen it my whole life, and also have been through it myself against better players.   I falter instead of playing my game.  I do BEST against them when I realize they are suppose to beat me, because then I sit there and try to learn from them.  Then they make mistakes and are human and next thing you know, I get close to beating them (or beat them).

Anyway, because I am aware of the Tiger Woods Effect, I was very uncomfortable with a conversation I had with my first-round opponent in the Ladies Singles 8-Ball Division at ACS Nationals a few weeks ago.

We had to wait on our table because a match was still playing on it.  My opponent and I sat there, waiting patiently.

Finally, she starts with small chit chat.

"How long have you been a Master player?" she asks me, as she hasn't seen me play in this tourney.

"Oh, I'm just Advanced.  I only played in it the first time last year."

So I try to be nice, "How long have you been one?"

(not really wanting to know, but since I don't recognizer her name or face, I figure she isn't one of the TOP players there.)

"Oh, since it started," she replies.

"How long is that?"

She says, "About since 2005 I think."

Oh cool.

I this point I am BEGGING her in my mind not to ask me any more questions.  I can see where this is leading.

"So, did you play in the 9-ball?" she finally asks.

"Yea, I did."

She shares, "I don't care for 9-ball so I don't play in it."

(please stop now, please don't ask me anything else.  PLEASE).

"So you played in it, huh?  How did you do?"

I shyly say almost in a whisper, "I won it."

"You what?"

"I won it last night."

"Oh wow, good for you."  She says as she turns her head and no longer asks me any more questions.

I really felt bad.  I know if *I* personally knew my opponent had just won a tourney I prolly wouldn't fair too well against them and would be nervous.

Sure enough, I won 7-1 because she was playing kinda timid.  I figured she would have played better being a Master all these years.

That's another reason why I don't ever look at the charts and ESPECIALLY do not look up my opponents.  I have friends that look up stats of their opponents.  Well, now you know they play well.  Play the table.  WHO CARES what they finished before or placed in some big tourney.  Don't look up anyone.

I always play better if I have no idea I'm playing a champion, lol.  If I recognize their name, YIKES, I might already have mentally psyched myself.

You might think I could have WANTED to share my recent win with my opponent to maybe get an edge, but I did not.  I would rather have her A game against me.  Not win b/c of the Tiger Woods Effect.  I really wanted to STOP her from asking me questions, lol.

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Brain Finally Shut Off

Might sound like you need to think to play pool, especially since pool is mostly mental, lol, but not for me.

Don't get me wrong - thinking IS key.  But when I think of the expectations, status, what could be, etc, I falter.

I fully and completely admit that my brain got in the way of winning title tournaments

I feel that back in 2012 when I played at the ACS Nationals for the first time, and I found myself in the hotseat for the Women's Open 8-Ball singles, that that FAILED experience was a HUGE LEARNING experience for me.

Here are my exact words from that blog entry:

"The next morning, I get up early because I'm still on Texas time.  After some yoga, I try to go back to sleep for a nap and it suddenly dawns on me:  I'm going to be playing in the hotseat for a NATIONAL tourney!  Further, I may not play in this tourney again so it's my only chance.  Omg, the calm before the storm: I all of a sudden was freaked out.  To think to yourself in just a few hours you may be a National Champ is very unnerving.  And for me, who always freaks out in title tournaments anyway, made it extremely difficult for me to be mentally strong for such an important match. 

And sure enough, true to form, I did not play well in the hotseat.  I lost 0-4.  :(  My opponent shot well, but I also had a chance in every game.  I wasn't nervous, just, didn't play well at all.  I was playing timid and unconfident. "

I know in my heart that that experience helped me WIN the 2014 ACS Nationals Women's 9-Ball Singles event this year.

What's funny to me is, I heard most of my life from books and audio-tapes that you are suppose to think like a winner.  Well, I tried.  But, every time I walked into a pool room and tried to think like I winner, I faltered.

I wonder if I did that too early in my pool journey?  I didn't really have enough experience yet or have my fundamentals down pat enough yet to be thinking that way back then.

But, I think it but too much pressure on me.  It really did!

All I know is, at the BCAPL Texas State tourney, the most important thing to me was my checklist  AND to NOT think ahead.  Not to freak myself out.  Not to want the win so badly that I don't even play pool (like I had the last 6 years before).   And, I finally succeeded and won!

And that's what I did this time in Vegas in the ACS Nationals 9-ball women's division.  I didn't think ahead.  Well, I tried with all my might not to think ahead!

Even when I was still on the winner's side the second day and about to play for the hotseat, I didn't think ahead.  Even after I lost that match and then beat the favorite of the tourney to play in the finals, I did NOT think ahead.

Even after I WON the first set in the finals, I tried NOT to think ahead.

I just wanted to play pool.  No expectations.  No thinking.  I just let my years of experience kinda show up through my body and play the game.

Was I hopeful?


Did I want to win?

Well, sure.

But I just tried not to think, "OMG I could be a National Champ!"

THAT is the type of thinking that has always stopped me from winning in the past.

This time, I just played pool.

If I caught myself thinking ahead, I stopped it.

If I thought something negative, I reversed it or fixed it.

All the years competing have led me to this point.  All the times I was the clutch for my team (only the last 2 1/2 years mind you) have prepared me for this moment.  All the failed tournaments.  Lost matches.  Dogged balls under pressure.  Mental game got the best of me.  .... All led me to this point.

Don't get me wrong, there were MANY positive experiences that led to this point too.  But what I'm trying to say is EVERY SINGLE experience.

Even in 1999 I can remember someone telling me "second place the real winner" because they learn more from getting second than winning.

It's also important for me to realize that my recent win at the Texas BCAPL State tourney was a huge confidence booster.  I fully admitted I had not hit balls before this event and only wanted to have fun in Vegas.  That is a key for me - no expectations.  I always play best with no expectations or wanting to win a title tourney, lol. 

But as Phil Capelle told me directly:
Congratulations on your latest win. I remember once advising you that you must let winning go to your head, but in a good way - and apparently you have! As the great Jack Nicklaus once said, "Winning begets winning." And it is so true. Once he got the habit, he won majors for 25 years. I see your latest win as another big confidence booster - the kind of thing that will help you to quell that voice of doubt once and for all. And do not explain away you win to good luck or whatever. Winning takes a separate skill from playing, and you are showing that you have learned it. I am so proud of you and I wish you more happiness with your game and the sport as you march forward into battle. You go girl! Best always, Phil

So, maybe that recent win was helpful?

Phil thinks so.  :)

My point to this entire post was my brain really got in the way before.  I don't even want to think about the future possibilities of my pool career - even now.  I honestly feel like retiring, lol.  Seriously!  But, I think that's key - I have accomplished a lot already in my pool life in just the last 2 years, and no longer freak out during title tournaments because I am NOT thinking ahead.

I have always known this.  I just always wanted the wins so badly that desire got in the way.

I didn't know how to quiet my thoughts and just play pool when it counted.

That's why I STRESS playing in as many tournaments as you can so you get experience.  I think playing in these women's team events the last few years has helped me gain more composure, play better under pressure, focus on my fundamentals when it counted, etc.  Being the clutch is no easy task, but it gave me a lot of experience.

I also felt like *I* could be the person to be held accountable.  Not everyone can lose gracefully for a team and handle it behind closed doors well.

All of the experiences in local, regional, state, and national tourneys has led to a quieter mind and "easier" thoughts during these big title tournaments I yearned for so badly.

The more experience, the better you will do/play/get each and every time!  :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Title Goals - Not for Me

After I won the BCAPL Texas State tourney in April, people would joke that a National title is next.

"Uh, no," I would reply back.  "I'm not that good."

I really felt this way.  I imagined the BCAPL Nationals and how TOUGH that tournament really is.  Sure, I've won two BCAPL National Women's Team events, but that's with the help of lovely ladies to win it!

To imagine I could even remotely win a "singles" National Championship is beyond my comprehension, really.

During the Texas BCAPL tourney in Texas in April, one of my friends and I were talking about titles we always wanted to win.

I told him I had ALWAYS wanted to win the Texas BCAPL State tourney.  He shared that he always wanted to win the Texas Open.

The Texas Open??

OMG, I realized right then and there just how "low" my 'dream' was.  I'm wanting to win this "little" Texas BCAPL State tourney and in my mind, he was reaching for the moon with his goal/dream!

Granted, my big goal in life was to win a tourney in my 30s (almost missed that goal!) and then my wish/dream was to win the Texas BCAPL State women's division.

But, I never listed it as a "goal."

I have written a lot about goals and goals should be VERY attainable.  Even though I always thought I *should* win the Texas BCAPL State tourney, I "failed" for numerous, many, tough years from that.

But I know goals should be realistic and attainable.

So, I fully admit that my goals do not have to do with winning certain events.

So, to hear after State that people said next is for me to win Nationals, I thought they were crazy!

And then I found my self VERY close to the finals of the ACS Nationals 9-ball women's division.  Did I ever think I could win it? Nope.  Not at any time.  Not even during the finals.  I have learned (finally, after much heartbreak) to NOT think ahead.  It wasn't a goal to win the tournament, even when I was in the finals.  I just frankly tried with all my might not to think ahead because in the past it got in my way of winning the elusive titles. 

So, honestly, THAT was my goal.  And for me, finally, attainable!

The ACS Women's 9-Ball event is very tough!  It's a handicapped tourney and I play masters, advanced players, open players, etc.  I raced to 6, Open raced to 5, Masters raced to 9.  I played three Master players the first day!  It was a tough tourney!

While someone recently made fun of my win (which hurt me badly), in my heart, I feel very fortunate to have won the ACS Nationals 9-Ball Women's event and know my Momma would be very proud of me!  But, was it my goal?  Nope.  Should it be your goal?  I honestly don't think so.  That's a LOT of pressure.  More so, that's dependent on a LOT of things out of your control. 

Having a goal to have fun, stay down, don't think ahead, stay in the moment, re-focus early, study the game, etc ARE attainable, realistic goals.  "Wanting to win a certain tournament" is dependent on SO many factors out of your control, I personally don't recommend that.

Team Line Ups

Although I have a lot of good things to write about from the ACS Nationals, one of the things I witnessed was NOT good.

Actually, it upset me and perturbed me pretty badly.

On our way to the hotseat match, we ran into a really good team from Texas.

We started the match about 630pm, and it was 8-ball, and we had 4 players each on our team.  I flipped, the opposing Captain took the "home" side and then I walked back to my team and got out the score sheet to fill out.

I filled it out as best I could - putting the best player in the clutch position and then pitting the other 3 players in positions best for the team.  In a race to 10, it may seem easy to do, but it's still strategic placement.

I fill out the names and I wait patiently (okay maybe not) at one of the pool tables for the other captain to bring her score sheet over so I can fill in HER players' names.

Well, she comes over, and her FORM IS NOT FILLED OUT.


She then looks at MY score sheet and fills out her player's names based on where *I* put the name of all my teammates.


I was in such shock, I just watched her.  Mortified.

I *should* have grabbed my sheet and hid it behind my back and told her to come back when hers is filled out (nice how I think of these things days later, lol).

Well, I'm pretty miffed but it was too late.  My teammates told me she was prolly doing it deliberately to rile me up, lol.  I think she was just trying to pit the right players against each other, but imo that's not allowed/ or right.


We are suppose to fill out our sheets and THEN share the names.  Not look at the lineup and then decide where to put players.

We won that match and would play them again later on in the tourney.

This time, I hid my sheet until she was done filling hers out.  But, she comes over, and hasn't filled hers out!


So she's standing there and asks me, "Which game is the hill-hill game?"


This is the final match of the tourney and you do NOT know this yet?  REALLY?

I point it out to her, which I shouldn't have.  And she filled out two names.  Then changes one of the names.

Then she added the other two.

I was SO happy when I saw her final line-up b/c she wasn't breaking against me (she slow-breaks).

I then call out the first two matches.

Then she says, "Hold on, making a change."

And she changed two of the names around and now she's breaking against me.  OMG.

My sheet was all messed up because I used a pen!

I can't believe people would really look at someones sheet before filling theirs out.  Smooth tactic.  Rude, smooth tactic!  One I would never use.  One I wont ever let her use again.

Lesson learned from her!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Trading Teams

On one of my last Sunday afternoon league sessions, I was playing my game on one of the side tables away from my team.

I thought I was minding my own business.

All of a sudden, a guy standing near the table says, "Hey, you play good.  Do you want to join my team next season?"


What makes this guy think I want to join another team; leave my current team?  I didn't give any indication of such a thing - I was just playing my match!

I told him, "Uh, thanks.  Not sure what I'm doing next season."  Just to say something nice back.

"Well, if you need a new team, please just let me know.  You play good; we'd love to have you."

Really, Dude.  Really?  What are you doing asking me that? 

I guess he's desperate for players or something?  I dunno, but I thought it was kinda rude to ask me that while I'm in a match with my current team.  And further, I am not looking for a new team.

Wait, is my team kicking me out and I don't know it?  lol.


Monday, May 19, 2014

ACS Nationals Championships 2014 - One for the Record Books

I just came back from 9 days in Vegas.  6 of which were playing pool at the 2014 ACS National Championships!

I'll post lots of stories and tidbits from the week, as you all know I will.  As usual, I wrote little reminders down each day on things I wanted to blog about/share, so I wouldn't forget!

Before I give a long, drawn-out detail of each of my tourneys, lol, here's a VERY short, but exciting recap!

I won the ACS Nationals Women's 9-Ball Singles! 

 Jacki Duggan and I


I am a National Champion!  I still can't believe I did it, even as I type this out over 8 days later.  I am on cloud nine! I won it on Mother's Day and dedicated the win to my lovely Mom, Mrs. Toni Bailey.  :)  Gosh I miss her.

My ladies team, All Mixed Up, won BOTH the 9-ball ladies team event AND the 8-ball ladies team events!

Courtney Evans, Me, Janet Ybarra, and Nina Stillwell

I can't believe what a amazing week pool-wise I had!  Especially under the personal circumstances I was under. 

I will provide details later of each division, and also share many, many blog entries of cool, different, or interesting topics that I saw, learned, felt, experienced throughout the week.

Until then - enjoy the game you love to play.

Will it Blend? Pool Cue and Chalk (video clip)

Never seen this guy before, but evidently he sees if certain things can blend in a blender, lol.

He tried it with chalk and a cue.  Check it out!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Jack Daniels Billiards (photos)

Found this in an old billiard set:

Hadn't seen this before!  Hello 8-ball!  Talk about taking a shot and playing pool.  ;)

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Philosphy Isn't Healthy

I am the first to admit that how I prepared for BCAPL Texas State was NOT ideal. 

I hadn't hit any balls, didn't spend any time on the table, didn't play in weekly tourneys; nothing.

I spent NO time on the table.

While I read a couple of books, it is obviously much more beneficial to remain in stroke by practicing or playing pool! 

And yet here I find myself in the same situation for ACS Nationals.  YIKES!

I've played even LESS pool than last time.  I've played two league nights only twice since I won on April 4th.  OMGoodness, that's almost a month!

I again read Play Your Best Pool (the 8-ball section the last two nights) and will also read my notes about Winning Ugly to get my mental face on. 

But I do NOT recommend this.

Someone told me I'll be okay because I have natural talent.  UM NO.  I am the last to have natural talent.  If I had, I'd have been placing better and higher MANY years earlier in my pool life.

Instead, it's been 1000's of learning experiences I gained in each tournament match that has led me to my skills and knowledge I have today.  And it took me over ten years to solidify my fundamentals.

This philosophy I'm using for this tourney again has GOT to stop!  I have to start practicing again if I want to do well consistently.  I need to prepare better if I really want to place better in my tournaments.

Sharing More at Work

I noticed something the other day.

I actually was SHARING with coworkers I was either running a tournament or going out of town to play in a tournament. 

I usually NEVER do this.

Many of the reason why are listed here.

I think I'm being more open because I won the BCAPL Texas State Tourney.

I know that sound silly, but that is a huge accomplishment to me. 

I no longer have to be embarrassed to say, "I only placed 9th."  Or, try to explain why $150 for 5th place is still worthy of my passion to continue compete.

Now, I'm a little proud, "Going to Vegas for a big tourney."

Of course they don't know I just won the Texas state tourney so they still retort silly and unrealistically, but also sincerely, "Gonna win it, right??"

OMG people.  It's not that simple.

But, still, I've noticed I'm being more open because I've been more successful lately.  Interesting twist I never thought would occur in my workplace. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

New Team, New Teachings

I have kinda alluded before I feel my niche in the pool world is not to just be an ambassador of the sport, or a representative of the sport, but also to help others.

I wrote how I decided not to play on my last-season's ladies team.  I had several reasons, which all made sense to me, lol.

As I did that, I found myself being approached by another team.

My goal was to not play at all, but the captain said they could really use some guidance and help from me.  I was flattered!

Really?  Me?

Then it dawned me - this is something I LOVE to do.  Help people.

So, I thought maybe it would be the perfect fit because among other things, they wouldn't need me to play every single Thursday (which was a plus) and their home bar (it's a traveling league) is the closest pool room to my house.

I wasn't really sure if I really would give advice or help or whatever.  Would they really want advice/help from me?

I went to one of the matches on this new team about two weeks ago and right off the bat, during the first practice game I saw something that I could point out that might help my teammate.

But I felt REALLY weird saying something.  So, just sat there.  And watched.

In the middle of the match, my captain says, "She really wants to learn," pointing to one of our teammates

"Really, because I saw something earlier but was afraid to interrupt and speak up."

"Well, tell her at the end of our matches, after we are done, show her, she will love it!"

Then, at another point, another teammate says, "I put right on that bank was that correct?"

I told her she'd have to set it up after we are done because I was thinking of a dif shot she shot.

So, I talked to both players after all our matches were over with.

We talked about the one shot I saw during practice, and she explained why she banked her ball to make it, and I explained why to leave it as a break out ball since she had only one ball left.

And then other teammate, we went over the bank shot with right, center, and left English and why the ball widened or not.

I was pretty stoked to help my teammates!

I played the very next Thursday and afterwards, they had a couple of questions for me about shots.


I get such a feeling of euphoria when I talk about pool and options and learning and teaching!!

It's been so cool to help them improve.

I love the game so much and loved helping my teammates.  It felt wonderful - so that they can improve with the game they love as well. 


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sweating is Fun!

At the last Omega Billiards Tour stop at JR Pockets in Denton, Texas, as the Tourney Director for this tour, I also run the Calcutta.

I'm proud to say that we do not take ANYTHING out of the calcutta.  It's 100% payback!


I sometimes bid on players in the calcutta.  But, I hardly ever "get" them.  It's kind of a running joke.  Every time I think I'm about to buy a player, someone bids a higher amount and I lose my bid.  I stomp my feet and raise up my hands with defeat, lol.  I sometimes think everyone is TRYING not to let me buy anyone, haha!

So I bid on a few players this fine Saturday morning and I couldn't let this guy buy himself for $20 so I bid $30.  And guess what happened?



OMG I was SO excited!  :)

I bought somebody.

Immediately Chuck bought half himself, so we both had $15 invested.

But, something else happened that was even better, though I'm afraid will taint me for all future Calcutta's, lol.

He was still on the winner's side til Sunday!

I called my b/f, "Hey, guess what?  I bought a horse and he's still in!"

He wished me luck almost as much as I wished for the player to win.  He's so sweet :)

Chuck needed two wins just to get INTO the calcutta prize pool.

Well, he wins both!

So I go and look at the brackets.  Talking to myself, "If he wins here and here, or goes here, we will win $250!"

Not bad for a $15 each investment!

I tell you what, it was FUN!

I had so much fun sweating his matches.  I had to be careful not to cheer out loud, only on the inside, because I can't show favoritism as a tourney director, but it was fun!

I normally just glance at all the matches going on, this time I was intense following his games.

And he kept winning!  And won again!  And then he had a close match.  But won that one!

Then he had another tough match and he almost won if a two bad rolls hadn't of happened.

So he was on the one-loss side but never gave up and kept fighting.  At this point, we are now guaranteed $350!

Best $15 investment I ever made!  :)

Thanks for the sweat bet, Chuck, and CONGRATs on a GREAT 5th place finish out of 80 players! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Congrat's to Bobbi!

My friend Bobbi from Oklahoma was asking how to find the books Play Your Best Pool by Phil Capelle and Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert.

I figured she was trying to find out where to buy them because of this blog.  I know, I harp A LOT about these two books!

Well, she got them only a couple of weeks ago and then played in the APA Nationals Singles in Vegas this week.

She placed 3rd!!!!!!!

Look how happy she looks!!

She texted me and said that the books helped!  She said she didn't really remember all the points in the book but it helped her play well and smart.

I'm so proud of her!!!

I want a trophy that large one day!

Congrat's, Honey.  Proud of you!  Third place in a Nationals tournament is fantastic!! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

That One Winning Song

Brad Gilbert talks in his book, Winning Ugly, about singing a song in your head to help calm your nerves.

That is great advice.

You know what else songs can do, right?

Yep, immediately take you back to an event in your past.

Well, imagine my surprise when on a plane recently Rory Mcilroy stated in a Bose advertisement:

"When I won my first major, I listened to the same song every day on the way to the tournament.  It played in my head over and over all the way around the course.  So whenever I want to remember that winning feeling, all I need to hear is that song."


I can so relate!

My first ever tournament first place win was at the end of 2009 at the Fast Eddies Tour stop Season Finale.  I was completely and utterly in the zone and I distinctly recall this song that played, and now EVERY time I hear it, I picture myself in that match, playing solid, playing in the zone, and winning.

While it's not the song that helped me win, it's just the song that when it comes on immediately takes me back to the finals.

It was Chris Brown's "I can Transform Ya" with Lil Wayne.  It was just a quirky little different song that when it came on I remembered it and now correlate it with that win.

I wonder what Mcilroy's was??  I bet it was something he deliberately chose to listen to to pump him up!  :)

What's yours that gets you pumped up??

Friday, May 2, 2014

Females in the Same City

A good friend of mine and I sometimes play at the same pool room, but hardly ever AT THE SAME TIME.

She goes to this pool room more than I do.

About 4 times this has happened now to her, just in the past year with different people.

"Hey, you play pretty good."

"Thank you," she replies nicely.

Then they start it... the cat fight, lol.

"I know another female player that plays well. "


"Yea, you should play her - that would be a great match up!"

In other words, the guys want to see who is better.

I've actually seen and heard this my WHOLE life in the pool room.

  • How would you play her?
  • Are you better than her?
  • How would you match up?
  • Who's better you or her?
  • You should play her!

The difference in these recent, NEW scenarios are, these guys have no idea how good of friends Courtney and I are!!

They continue, "Yea, you two should really play.  She plays good, too!"

"What does she look like?"

"Blonde curly hair, I forget her name, starts with an M."

"Yea I know her - she's MY TEAMMATE and GOOD friend."

But they don't care what she just said.

"So, you two should play each other!"

"No, no, you don't understand... we wont play each other.  We are good friends!"



We already know how we play.  We don't need to play each other for others.  We are on the same team, practice together, been at State and Nationals.  Come on people!

Like good female pool players don't know each other in the same city?


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Barking Quote

I thought this was kinda funny so wanted to share:

So many people bark but yet they are really "afraid" to play.  Others' barks are REAL loud.  And others, they really DO want to play!