Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gambling a Set for $835

I heard a couple of weekends ago that someone in the area played an out-of-towner a set for $835.

I was like, "How does someone come up with THAT amount to play for?!"

I mean, really?

Are they betting for $800 and a $35 side bet? 

No, that doesn't make sense either, who would do that?

And since it was a set, and not a few races, I was confused.

So, being the curious person that I am, I had to ask about it.

"Uh, how did they come up to THAT amount?"  lol.

"He kinda went off after losing a set, so he wanted to play for everything he had in his pocket."


Yea, now, that makes sense.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Different Way to Rack 9-Ball - Video Clip

Last weekend I was at my Sunday league playoffs.  Towards the end of Saturday night, two of the top players left at the pool room decided to gamble.

They were playing 9 ball, I think $10 or $20 a game.   They were racking their own racks.

One of the players finally gets his first win and so he starts to rack for himself.

But he uses ALL 15 balls to rack!

I was thinking to myself, "Omg this guy can't be THAT drunk can he, that he doesn't remember he's playing 9-ball?"

Check out how he racks 9-ball:

Whew!  He is still playing 9-ball.

Unconventional, yes.  And first time I had ever seen racking 9-ball like this.

As I look back at the video, I bet he got a really tight rack of 9-ball doing it this way!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tournament Director Playing in a Tourney Still a Tourney Director

Being the Tournament Director of the Omega Billiards Tour, I am the person to call upon when you need a shot called or someone to talk about any issues.  And now that I play in the tourneys myself, I'm finding myself in "interesting" situations during my matches.  This past tournament had the most interruptions so far for this.

Now, I'm more here to run the tournament FIRST, not play in the tournament, so the other players come first.

Usually it's just, "hey can you call a hit?"

And then I leave my match to walk to another table to call a shot.  

Easy Peasy.

The thing is, what about my opponent?   Either it could be my turn at the table and I have to walk away from my run to call a shot. Or it's my opponents' turn at the table and I walk away hoping they remain honest (normally they stop play, but sometimes they don't).

Well, at this past event it was much, much worse.  I had to leave my match to figure out if something was a foul or not and it took a lot of time looking things up and asking others.  I felt bad for my opponent but luckily they understood.

However,  this next instance was even worse. AND in the same match!

I'm about to get up and shoot because it's my turn at the table, but a new player comes near me and sits down next to me. 

"I know you are in a match, but I just wanted you to know that I don't deal with cheaters and I am going to forfeit."

I'm thinking to myself, "Um, okay."

Being the person I am, though, I take the time to I ask him about it.  And of course also ask him not to forfeit.

I give him my full, complete attention as I can tell he's very upset.

I see someone looking at us from the next table, as I'm looking in that direction to talk to this guy. And I can tell this discussion is bothering the other guy now.

I sat there very, very patiently listening to let him vent, and also trying to convince him he should really stay and play.  But he said he was too upset and he knew it would affect his other matches.

It must have been at least a 10 minute conversation, I swear.   I just kept trying to let him vent and talk while I comforted him by acknowledging his situation. (Leadership 101).

Finally, the guy on the next table can't take it anymore and says nicely, "You know you are interrupting her match."

The player then apologized and quickly left the area.  The the other guy was now able to play, and then I was able to continue in my match after apologizing to my OWN opponent (who luckily was very understanding).

The upset player stayed and played, which I'm very glad!

And I thanked the guy who intervened.   He didn't have to do that at all. 

And I somehow managed to win that match, but it's just the type of situation that tournament directors deal with.  I don't mind as long as the players don't mind.  Because I do call shots a lot, even if I have to leave my current match.

You might be thinking I should get help when I am in matches but a lot of disagreements can come up and I'd rather be the person who takes all the heat and deals with any difficult situations, not players volunteering for the Tour.

Plus, I really don't mind. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Omega Tournament - Third Try Playing

I have played in three Omega Billiards Tournaments so far this year.  Latest one was at Rusty's Billiards in Fort Worth, Texas:

Cool, huh?!?!

As the Tourney Director, I wouldn't be able to play in the tourney also if I didn't have really great help.  My friends Dana and Heather are my sidekicks and I feel very comfortable with their professionalism and so I can leave the tourney in their hands during my matches.  At this event, Dana could not make it and Kara stepped right in to help.  Such a great team of ladies! 

Kara and I:

I don't feel like I can really keep up with all the great guy players on the Tour, but since it's a handicapped tour I feel much better about playing in it.

At the last tourney, I played HORRIBLE.  Even tho I had just won the Texas BCAPL Women's singles and scotch doubles, I think everyone presumed I would automatically place well?

Doesn't work that way.

Didn't work that way.
I was super nervous for some reason.  Played really badly.  :(  And for some reason my two matches were next to the only pro in the tourney (Jeremy Jones) and so more people were around watching.  Granted they were watching him and not my matches, but it's still unnerving lol.

This time on June 14th weekend at Rusty's Billiards in Fort Worth, I can proudly say I won 2 matches!!  My first time to win a match, Lol.

The first match I play a 5 (I race to 6, he raced to 5).  Before I played him, his wife jokes with me he can't believe he has to play a world champion first.  I was like, "omg ..."

But those kinda comments are a little unnerving, I fully admit.   I saw them again and she says it again.    

I reply, "Ummm. .. Not a world champion."

"Might as well be," they said as they laughed.

I was sooooo nervous during our match.  He got ahead, I made a few stupid mistakes.   With such have a short race, it makes for a very brutal match.  He had me down 3-0.  Yikes!  And I felt like all eyes were on me anyway,  "she's a national champ,"  because I had just won at ACS Nationals in May.

I really did notice more people watching more than usual.

The pressure was immense and I was more nervous in this match than any match at the ACS Nationals!  lol.

I somehow managed to win (still not sure how), then won my next match a little later on against a 6.  This time I was less nervous and my opponent was the nervous one.  I then played another 6 and really hoped I would win because he beat me at the last tourney AND because if I won, I would actually be on the winners side still on Sunday.  Just the possibility was amazing really!

I tried too hard tho and several rolls he got was just too much and I lost.  :(  Gosh I wanted to win!

I played the very last match of THE TOURNEY and it didn't end til 1am.  I was sooooo exhausted from the long day that even tho I had a shot in every game I made maybe 5 balls total and lost 0-6.  Ouch.  My opponent played very, very well tho (might need to bump him up to a 7, as I might have mis-ranked him lol).

I placed 17th out of 61 players.  Not too shabby I suppose?

So, even tho I faltered I need to really play in more of these events to get more experience.  It will help me so much to keep trying!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Photo Pressure

I played the last match of my Sunday league back in early May. 

One of my teammates brought a couple of older relatives with him. 

I play two of my games and notice they are clapping for me a lot.  I don't mind support; it was cool.

But then I see my teammate point to a photo on the wall, and then point to me.  "I was like OMG are you really showing them that?"

It was the team pic from when my ladies team won the BCAPL Women's Team Open back in 2012.

Of course after that I felt so much pressure, that I of course didn't play as well.

I walk by them to play another match and they ask me, "are you the best player here? " 

"No, no," laughing with embarrassment, "THAT guy is, " pointing to THEIR relative.

It's amazing how much pressure we put ourselves under lol.  I could not play well after that.  Ugh.

You would think success would give you confidence.....but not all the time.  Sometimes we add invisible pressie to ourselves.   

 I need to figure this out.  Happened last weekend in big tourney, too.  (blog entry to come)   Yikes.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Winning Can Lead to Other Opportunities

I hadn't ever thought about this before.

After I won the BCAPL Texas State tourney, I mentioned that it crossed my mind to see if I could get sponsorship from someone for my ACS Team, to kinda ride the the wave of success I was having.

Well, last week someone called me and wanted to interview me for a new online billiard magazine, since I just had a great April and May.

The next day, I received ANOTHER call to get interviewed!  This is from one of the top billiard magazines so I was even more excited!

Each interview asked different questions about my wins - how I overcame jitters, what's next (not thinking ahead I told them), how I got my nickname, which wins had more meaning, and of course some details about the win, etc.  It was really fun!

But, I guess winning can lead to even MORE opportunities as I was actually (I still can't believe this) approached by a CUEMAKER who wants to make me my own custom cue (that I design)... FOR FREE!  So, I would have a cue sponsor.  OMGosh!

I can't believe it!!

This is WAY early, but if this comes to fruition, you know I'll be writing about it here in this blog.

I already have 4 custom design cues (even though I had to let two go) and I thought the final one would be my last..... but maybe not.  Wow!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Comment About Glass Trophies

I'm usually the last person to comment negatively on trophies.  You all have read how I yearn for trophies and get giddy over them, lol.

But I have to admit those clear trophies are very hard to read. 

So what I did was, bought a black poster board and put it behind the glass trophies on a shelf!

Against white walls or in brown cabinets, you can never read what they say.  This solution works well I think! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Straight Pool at it Again

The other day I mentioned I actually cleaned off my pool table.  I brushed it and dusted it and it looked so pretty!

I never practice on it (I really don't hit balls at all), but wanted to clear it off, as I mentioned in a previous blog post.

Well, there I was Monday night, not doing anything but watching Major Crimes on TNT, and I was texting my friend Rebecca about her straight pool match.

And then all of a sudden I was like, "I should play some straight pool, too."

I got my cue, and since the table was already cleaned up, I just pulled the balls onto the table from the pockets.  Then, had to find the box the balls came in - I hadn't ever played with more than the 9 balls since I got the table in December, HA!

I broke a few racks with the break shot John Schmidt showed me in Vegas when I competed in the Straight Pool Challenge a few years ago:

I tried this a few times with no success.  UGH!  I scratched, I got stuck in the rack, I scratched in the far pocket with too much bottom right, or didn't have shots,..... it was a mess!

Then I finally figured it out (it had been too long to recall what he told me, honestly). 

And had a few racks I could make some balls.  I was seeing the table REALLY well - it was amazing.  I honestly thought about joining the straight pool league I had been in before, to see if I would do better since I am playing so much better pool in general.

I only played for an hour, but had a 24 ball run.  WOW!  I was stoked!  I don't recall my highest run from that league I was on, but I know I often didn't get over 14 balls lol.

But as straight pool goes, that wouldn't last long, lol.  This game is SO frustrating!

I was SO excited about playing (believe it or not since I don't practice or hit balls), I decided to play straight pool again on Wednesday instead of sitting on my butt and just watching tv lol.

So, I played for TWO hours this night!

But..... omg.... I only had a high run of like 12.  Maybe only 10, lol.

I was SO frustrated.

I was missing a lot.  I couldn't get a good break shot a lot from that angle.  It was NOT fun at all.

I would re-rack after every miss or bad break. I must have racked a 100 times.  It's obviously "Easier" if you have someone to spar with, but I did not, so I just kept re-breaking after each miss.

Well, the next day I go searching in the 14.1 section of the AZB Forums for some tips.  I figure a few VERY important KEY things out that I was doing incorrectly.

First, the break shot I was using, no one really used.  I asked Marop (straight pool beast) about this and he said I should use the normal first break shot, because it will also allow me to practice it as it's the one that comes up the most.  Like at the beginning of this great instructional video from Mike Grosso:

14.1 Instructional Video Part II from Michael Grosso on Vimeo.

Second and more importantly, I should NOT have been re-racking after every time I missed!!  I should have just started my run again.  OMG, really!  I think I was kinda thinking of the straight pool challenge where you have 4 tries and keep re-breaking. 

Well, at home I don't have to keep re-breaking after every miss, I simply start my count over after I miss.  Sheesh!

I can't wait to play again already!  I think I will be more successful with these two very important changes.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Watching Other Matches

I am usually an optimist, so this hadn't even crossed my mind.  But, I shouldn't have been surprised because it seems to be a theme where I hurt people after successful, personal events.  Or, after big tournaments.  I really am beginning to think I shouldn't compete anymore if I'm just going to hurt people.

First of all, I never intentionally ever hurt anyone.  But, people keep getting hurt by my actions or inaction's.

I just found out over the weekend that a couple of my friends are disappointed that I didn't come watch their team play in the finals at ACS Nationals.

What I heard was, "We have watched you play in team finals."

You see, after my own team won the 8-ball Women's Team division late Friday afternoon, we all went to celebrate at the MGM and then at the New York New York casino.

My friends had just won another match on the one-loss side in the women's 8-Ball standard division and were playing for 3rd place.

My teammates and I went upstairs and got our checks, our trophies, and took the official pics for ACS and then decided to find a place to eat and celebrate our HUGE day!  That we were 2-time National Champs because we won the 8-ball and 9-ball women's open team divisions at ACS Nationals that day.

I had heard via text later in the evening that they made it to the finals, and they would need to double dip to win.  I was SO excited for them!  

At this point in the night, my teammates and I were pretty inebriated at another casino still celebrating.  It crossed my mind to go watch, but I suppose we were being selfish having fun.  

Honestly, the timing was what was really bad.  If we were all in the finals at the same time, obviously we would have stayed.  Instead, this was about 3 hours later.

Anyway, I was told that two of my friends were disappointed in me that I didn't stay to watch them play nor come back when they were in the finals.

So, I feel like a failure (again), instead of a champion.  

I understand I hurt my friends and I am very sorry for not being there to watch.  It wasn't intentional at all, but that doesn't mean it doesn't bother them.  And now of course it bothers me.

I've learned the hard way that I can only depend on myself for support in tournaments.  Not everyone important can be there for me, even though I yearn for it.  Everyone has things going on in their lives.

I honestly didn't realize that they wanted me to watch.  I watch because I enjoy the game and like to support, but I didn't know people wanted me to watch.  I didn't know I was supposed to watch. 

I am happy to say that my friends DID win the Women's 8-Ball Standard division and are ACS National Champions as well!!!  Congrat's, ladies!!  But sorry I hurt you.

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Table

I was in the position back in Nov/Dec to acquire this lovely 8 foot table for my living room:

I used to have a 9 foot table, but I had to sell it back in September.  Yep, I cried!  And I wish I still had it today and never had to sell it!!! 

Anyway, this new one has new felt and shimmed up pockets (not super tight but not buckets), but I hadn't played on it but MAYBE 2 times.

Well, last weekend I cleaned the entire house and organized and decided to even clean off the pool table and stop using it as a shelf and storage area, lol. 

So, there it sits... all clean.  lol.

I don't normally practice at all.  Maybe I should have left it as a table....  hehe.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Advice from Dennis Hatch - Taking Your Time

I eluded the other day in my blog that Dennis Hatch gave some advice to a friend of mine during the ACS Nationals.

Well, here it is!  I finally had time to write this up.  :)

He noticed that a friend of mine two-stroked her shots and shot real fast.

Now, everyone in the world has given tips to my friend (and all fast players), not to two-stroke.

They will say, "stroke the ball more.  Take your time."
I heard this a thousand times myself the first ten years I played pool (or more, lol)

Or, they will try to be more specific: "Take 5 strokes before you shoot.  That will help you from two-stroking."

BUT.  This is what Dennis told her:

"Stroke 4 times, then shoot."

Then he adds, "Stroke 1."

(then he paused for a second)

then he said, "Stroke 2"

(then he paused for another second)

Then, "Stroke 3."

(then he paused again)

"stroke 4."

(yes, he paused again)

Then he said, "Then shoot."

She replied, "okay, thanks.  I understand.  Stroke 1, 2, 3, 4, then shoot."

"No,"  He shook his head very politely.
"No, that's not what I said."
 And he repeated himself:

"Stroke 1."

(then he paused for about second)

then he said, "Stroke 2"

(then he paused for another second)

Then, "Stroke 3."

(then he paused again)

"stroke 4."

(yes, he paused again)

Then he said, "Then shoot."
She looked at him intrigued.  And I looked at him intrigued.   And then her and I looked at each other.  WOW.

The next morning (she was my roommate), she woke up and as she was getting ready, she repeated what he said and HOW he said it, with ALL the pauses and everything!
"Stroke 1."

(then she paused for about second)

then she said, "Stroke 2"

(then she paused for another second)

Then, "Stroke 3."

(then she paused again)

"stroke 4."

(yes, she paused again)

Then she said, "Then shoot.  I got it!"

I told Dennis later that day that the WAY he said and DESCRIBED the 5 strokes was so key and spot on.

I know I will learn from this exchange for the rest of my life.

Even the other day when I was explaining not to whack at a ball to a girlfriend, I got out of my seat, and motioned how to have a smooth stroke on a tough shot.  Visualization and the WAY you word things is obviously key to get your point across.  AND, for the person to remember it better.

I bet a thousand people have told my friend to stroke more, or stroke 5 times, or take your time.  But the way Dennis explained it, using pauses in his explanation, and having her repeat it WITH pauses will be instrumental in her game and she will remember it a LOT more than just "hey, stroke more."
 Dennis Hatch from BonusBall

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Using a Bridge - Advice

During the team event at ACS Nationals, one of our opponents were from San Antonio and they are friends of ours.

One of them is actually a really good friend of mine.
She is a fantastic shooter, too!

She is short (not sure of her height but she has to be close to 5 foot or less) and when she used a bridge and NAILED a really tough shot for the win, I complimented her on it.

I exclaimed, "WOW, hell of a shot!  Especially with a bridge!   I don't think I could have made it withOUT the bridge."

She replies, "Well, I sleep with a bridge."

And we all laughed, imaging her with a bridge in her bed next to her, lol.

"No seriously, I actually try to run out an entire rack, every shot, with a bridge.  I practice this because of my height."

This is a very good tip for ALL heights, my friends.  

One day I want to try this out.  I bet it's tougher than we realize!  (esp since I can barely run a rack out without the bridge, lol).  
But, this is a great tip that I wanted to share!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Unique Poker Card Protector

I stopped by the lovely Bellagio casino while I was in Vegas for the ACS Nationals to go to their large poker room.

A lot of people have card protectors that go on top of your cards.  Usually the card protectors mean something personal to you.

Why use card protectors?

Watch this brutal video clip why they are important:

Prolly the most first famous one was Greg Raymer's (he was known as the "fossilman"), after he won the World Series of Poker in 2004.  He used a small fossil as a card protector while he played poker.

I've seen all sorts of card protectors, so when I saw this stuffed animal, a cute dog in this chicks' lap, I didn't think anything of it.

Until it moved!

OMG, this chick brought in her REAL dog and the dog sat with her the whole time!

While the dog was never on the table, I just thought it was her "little card protector."

Well, maybe he was.  :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ladies T-Shirt From ACS Nationals

One of our opponents during the 9-ball Women's Team event at the ACS Nationals had this design on their shirt:

I thought it was very clever.

Then they told me a tattoo artist came up with it.

Ahhh - Good Idea!!  They are very talented artists!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dennis "The Hatchetman" Hatch at ACS Nationals

There were a couple of photos on facebook that included Dennis Hatch and I from the ACS National Championships.

I was very happy (and shocked, lol) that Dennis came to watch my team play, but the rumor mill is a funny thing, lol.

I finally figured out that not many people know that Dennis and I have known each other for years, but more so that Dennis lives IN Vegas now.  Some people thought he came all the way from New York (where he used to live) to watch.  No wonder people were intrigued, lol.

Dennis moved to Vegas for Bonus Ball and so he visited friends at the APA tourney the two weeks before, and then at ACS Nationals, as well.

He came to watch my women's team compete and he was SUPER supportive!  If you've seen Dennis in action, in tourneys, or at the Mosconi Cup, then you know he has more heart and cheer and support than any player, really.

Here are some photos from the Mosconi Cup in 2009 when he got MVP.  It was his first time on the USA team, but he cinched the MVP easily with his talent, play, and enthusiasm!  You can see his personality resonate in these photos:

The following years I went to the Mosconi Cup in the USA and again he was a team member.  And he again be the one to pump up not only his teammates, but the entire crowd!  He was awesome.

BTW, Dennis is a leftie in pool, but is right-handed, just like me.  :)

I should have known what a great impact he would have on my team.  But, although I've known him for years, we've never really hung out in this type of atmosphere before.

His was very down to earth and treated us like HE was a part of OUR team.  I was really impressed.  He would clap and cheer (not rudely, but enough for us to hear), and he was very complimentary to each and every one of my teammates.... at very crucial times during the matches.

When he first showed up, my teammates heard him cheer (he would use their name) and they were like, "he's someone important, right?"  lol.  It was really funny.

He watched our matches Wed evening, Thursday morning, and Thursday night.  Then he watched us win the Women's 9Ball Team division Friday morning:

He had to leave during the 8ball finals, but he sent me a message about the team and the dynamics, because he noticed something and wanted to help.  And he was right - we had more emotion and energy during the 9ball finals, just an hour before.

At that point, I tried to pump up my teammates - well, wake them up a a little bit more.

As captain, I had thought the previous night that if we win or lose the 9ball, the team would be "tired" from emotions and the 8ball finals would be kinda tough for us.

I then told my teammates all these tips to "wake up" and get more energized (we had just lost the first set in the finals). 

I told them:
  • drink COLD water,
  • eat a small snack,
  • jog to the bathroom (it was kinda far anyway),
  • take a shot if you need it, lol,
  • do jumping jacks in the bathroom to get energy,
  • put your hair up (it was warm in there),
  • suck on some mints, or
  • even use paper as a small fan

It was really warm in the room, also, and we needed ENERGY.  All the above can get the juices flowing in our body!

Besides the advice above, I told them what Dennis had said.  I noticed that they all already really appreciated Dennis and I knew they would listen to his words.

Sure enough, we each pepped up.  And we ended up winning the second set and won our second ACS Nationals title that day!  (8ball)

I, personally, was really appreciative that I was able to ask Dennis about my outs or shots after I was done with a game. Dennis either confirmed I made the correct out, or if he offered another solution, it was very positive and upbeat, never negative.  But to pick his brain was AWESOME.  

He also gave advice to one of my teammates (that I will share in another blog) and it was so smart the way he described the advice.  I will learn from it forever, actually.

He was very complimentary to each teammate.  It really helped our self confidence!

One of my teammates is a bartender and she heard that Mike Massey was scheduled to do an exhibition while she was in Vegas for ACS.  After a couple of days around Dennis, she confides, "I'm not even mad about not seeing Mike Massey anymore, I got to know Dennis and hang around him!"

I shared that with Dennis because it was cute and his response showcases his personality so well.  He said, "Wow, that's nice.  I like Mike Massey- he's a great guy, but that's cool she said that."

I witnessed over and over again players coming up to Dennis saying hi.  This is how EVERY convo went (I was VERY impressed):

"Hi Dennis, I'm Jack, nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too, Jack" (he shakes their hand).

"I saw you online, a footage from the Mosconi Cup.  You played great."

"Thanks, Jack - means a lot.  So, how is your team doing?"  As he leans his head toward Jack's team.

And Jack would respond.

Dennis was never about himself.  He made the player approaching him feel like a rock star and that he was really interested in how their team was doing.  It was very refreshing and really unselfish.

Then he would share how OUR team was doing.  "They're playing for the hotseat," for example.

For a top pro, he was very impressive, down to earth, and not selfish at all.  And he really cared about all the players there.

My entire team was very flattered he watched our matches and that he was genuinely interested.  I told him he was lucky we played well, because players that can't make balls are boring to watch, lol.  

Dennis is very smart when it comes to the mental part of the game.  He suggested we go to dinner on Thursday night, and he did it intentionally.  We had shots with him and his friend, and he did that to get our minds off the fact we would be playing two final matches tomorrow.  He told me, "this is good for them," and he was right - we had fun and were distracted.  Just what the Doctor ordered!

A BIG thank you to Dennis Hatch from Nina, Courtney, Janet and myself!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What I Know For Sure

So, what has happened the last few years that propelled my game?

(Don't worry, I'm curious, too, lol.)

This is what I know for sure.  (btw, in case you don't get the reference, this is a column Oprah has at the end of each of her monthly magazines.)

First, let me say obviously I wish I had taken stock in the things that have helped my game the last few years.  Notice I didn't say, "wish I knew sooner."  Because, I knew these things, I just didn't know what to do about them.

STAY DOWN.  I heard this the first 15 years of my life of playing pool (and I've been playing for 25 total years).  Stay down.  Yea, I KNOW.  I just didn't know HOW to stop it.  What I know for sure is, you need to try all different kinds of "tips" til you find out what works for you.

I was told many things:

  • Stay down til the ball falls in the pocket.
  • Have someone hold a board above your head when you practice (seriously, a coach did this for one of my friends).
  • Stay down until the cueball stops.
  • Count to five after you hit the cueball.
  • Take your time, it will come naturally.
  • A quote from a friend, "Stay down and admire the shot."  (it helped for a little while for me)
Here's the interesting thing about STAYING DOWN.  It's part of your shot routine.  So, get solid, secure, redundant fundamentals, and staying down becomes part of your shot routine.

LOOKING AT THE OBJECT BALL LAST.  What no one told me that I found out through experimentation, was what helped me most to stay down was to look at the object ball last.  Now, this was also about the same time as when I learned a smooth stroke.  But, if I personally look at the object ball last, I'm less likely to move my head or jump up.  Like my friend Mark Garza told me around 2005, "you already know where the cueball is going after years of playing, why are you so worried about looking at that?"  Because when I looked at where the cueball was headed, of course my head moved more to see if I "got shape."

Granted, there are THOUSANDS of differing opinions on if you should look at the cueball or object ball last.  All I know for sure is, looking at the object last helps me stay down and pocket balls better and more often.

SMOOTH STROKE.  I heard this from Sylver Ochoa back in 2010.  I was like, "uh, okay."  It was his number ONE advice.  And once I figured out NOT to whack at a ball, my game improved.  Here's the deal, players do not realize that you don't have to hit balls hard if it's a tough shot.  If you "whack" at a ball, then you hit it too hard, you then jump up, you hit the cueball at the wrong spot, and you don't make the ball.  The players with the BEST, SOLID fundamentals will hit every single shot the same - no whacking, no hitting hard.  SMOOTH stroke on all shots.  I figured out that if I use a SMOOTH stroke on tough shots, I'm less likely to JUMP UP.  Do you see the connection? This is what I know for sure: Smooth stroke, staying down, good fundamentals.

GOOD FUNDAMENTALS.  Everyone HEARS this, but do you work on it?  Do you REALLY have a solid pre-shot and shot routine?  The best one is SPF that I have heard of.  Set.  Pause.  Finish.  Randy Goettlicher teaches this at Pool School here in Dallas (I haven't been to it, not use SPF, but it would help you stay down for sure).  Here is an article I found about SPF that said his ball making improved by 30%.

The key here is good fundamentals.  EVERY pro mentions this.  Why wait to work on it?  Why not take lessons or go to pool school NOW to solidly this extremely important part of every one's game. 

MENTAL TOUGHNESS.  Okay, Melinda, how do you get mental toughness?  Play in as MANY tournaments as you can!  Practicing your heart out wont give you experience.  It only gives you time to figure out how to make balls.  But you wont go through all the ups and down of competing if you DON'T GET OUT THERE AND COMPETE.  Like I said before, every dogged shot led me to my recent wins.  Every moment under pressure gets you closer to being able to handle pressure.  How else have you learned how to refocus early?  BREATHE to slow your adrenaline?  STAY DOWN under pressure shots?  These do NOT come from hitting balls all the time with friends, under friendly conditions.  It comes from gaining mental experience playing in as many competitions as you can.

MENTAL TOUGHNESS (2).  The other way to get mental toughness and that killer instinct is to READ MORE.  I have written how Liz Ford suggested I read Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert because it helped her so much.  And of course I offered mental toughness advice from my friends Lisa Marr and Jennifer Kraber before, that also helped me.  I seeked out how to have more mental toughness.  You should, too!  I also recommend Loehr's book, Mental Toughness Training for Sports.

CONFIDENCE.  I have recently gained a lot more confidence than I ever had in my entire 25 years of playing pool.  Recently someone told my I was more confident.  How did they see that?  But, now that I think about it, it's true.  I AM more confident,  But, confidence doesn't just come out of nowhere!  Confidence comes from gaining experience from competition.  Do you see how these things are all connected?  

I see now looking for links to this blog entry, that I have already written about most of these before, back in August 2011.  There are a few other items on that list of TEN in that blog entry you should check out.  

But, what has changed for me from now til then?  All the above I mentioned back then, and even more.  

I think I have been put in more tough situations because I got better from the topics above.  More tough situations means I have more confidence.  I have more experience in national tournaments in team events; in State events.  And of course I have finally experience enough to shut my brain off, lol.  

But in a team event, I don't think ahead.  I just play good pool now.  By playing on a ladies league, I think I have been very blessed to have been asked to be the clutch for my team playoffs, team state tourneys, team nationals tourney, etc.  I was giving a lot of experience that has helped me.  But, let's face it, I didn't run out (video link here) in 2012 and stay down in this hill-hill match my very first women's national team event from CHANCE.  No, not at all.  Instead, it was all the above!!!

What I know for sure it, Pool is a Journey.  If you want to improve in 2-5 years, instead of the 20-25 years it took me, then I highly suggest you really take in what I state above.  Read the words.  Check out the links.  You'll love me for it!  :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Omega Tour Representing!

It was pretty sweet when fellow Omega Tour player and I both won titles at the ACS Nationals Championships!

Tony Sulsar won the Men's Advanced 8-Ball division by double dipping his opponent in the finals.  And I won the Women's 9-Ball singles division two days before.

We BOTH wore our blue Omega Tour shirts on the day we won, respectively.  It was pretty cool!

Took me a few days to get our pic taken together, but here we are during a team event break:

Also, after the team event, one of the Omega Tour players stated this on Facebook:  "Really proud of myself this year. I helped out my team getting the wins we needed. Thanx Melinda Bailey for getting me into the Omega Tour. Its really helped out with the nerves!!!!'"

When I read this, I teared up.  It REALLY meant a lot.  One of the reasons for starting up the Omega Tour is to make dreams come true and to help players improve their game.  And there was proof already!  Makes my heart smile.  :)

Omega Tour Rocks!  :)

Celebrations, Good and Bad

After my teammates and I came home from winning TWO ACS Nationals titles, they each had families to come home to to celebrate with!

Here is a pic from one of my teammates' welcome home from her kids:

I thought it was super SUPER sweet!

Another teammate lives with her Mom, and so she was waiting home for the huge hug!

And the final teammate, her Mom was actually IN Vegas with her so they were able to celebrate on the spot (okay, later that weekend in Vegas).

I feel very happy for my teammates, because I wouldn't wish my welcome on anyone:  I came home to an empty house.  I am not here to take away from my teammates' blessings, and that's the last thing I want to do.  But if I am to be honest in my blog entries, I have to say that coming home after such huge accomplishments to an empty house, with no one to even hug or share my achievements with was actually extremely depressing.

As you all know, my Mom passed 2 1/2 years ago, am an only child, and have no children.  No roommate, either.  My lovely dogs Lily and Izzy ALWAYS welcome me home, but they didn't know I came home as a 3-time National champion.

I have to say:  It sucked.

Most of my friends live too far for anyone to even say, "let's go celebrate."  (luckily one friend contacted me, who I will mention in a minute)

I'm NOT saying that we all need celebrations after a big accomplishment.  But I am saying coming home to no one and nothing was down right brutal, sad, and depressing.

Unless you are in my shoes, you have no idea even remotely what I am trying to say.  Let's just say it was a very lonely time and I was very sad.

Even one of my girlfriends told me this:  "I watched your team after you all won the second title.  Everyone was SO excited!  And every one of them got on their phones to call their families and loved ones.  Not you, though.  You were smiling and happy, yes, but you simply put your cues up and turned in the score sheet.  You didn't jump on your phone or text or nothing.  It was eye opening."

I don't want to harp on this, so let me share that my teammates and I DID celebrate the night of our wins, IN Vegas!  Although Janet was with her family in Vegas, Courtney and Nina and I went to MGM across the street from the Tropicana to try and find somewhere nice (and not super expensive) to eat.

After a couple of shots

We finally ended up a WolfGang's place.  

I admit I was apprehensive, but I was WRONG.  I LOVED the food.  AND, we got champagne, too!   So, we toasted our wins with the sparkling.  It was super cool!

It was a lot of fun!

After I came home, my friend Julie (who I wrote about recently) was so happy for me about my wins, she offered to meet up and have a toast.  It meant so much to me, that yes, I cried.  More than once! It was so very moving for me, and she had no idea how tough things were going.

Here we are:

So, coming home was bittersweet.

Can't take away that I'm a National Champion, though!  I just know in my heart my Mom and Dad are proud of me. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Think Ahead on Safeties

The other night at league, I found myself in this situation after my opponent missed her 7ball:  (click photos to enlarge)

I told myself that it meant MORE to hide the cueball, than to make the ten ball.  I had to slide over enough to NOT leave a shot on her 7-ball.


As soon as I focused more on the safe, and missed my bank, I saw that she could play a devilish safety on me.  And she did!  :(


I was able to hit my ten ball, but that still left her with another shot at the safety, to which she hit even better the second time.  That gave her ball in hand and an easy win.

This is a reminder to THINK AHEAD.

I normally do, but didn't this time.

I should have just nailed the bank, which would have given me a shot on the 8ball no matter where my cueball landed (or I could have played a safe then, if somehow I didn't have a shot on the 8ball).