Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Billiard Shirts and Gambling

Back in the mid 90s, I had gone through my closet one day and all the old t-shirts I didn't want anymore, I was going to donate to the Salvation Army.

Before I did that, though, I thought that my one of my good friends' son may want all the pool shirts I had.

You know, the ones from pool rooms, or pool tournaments, or big events (like BCAPL in Vegas).

I asked her, "Do you think John would want these shirts?"

She laughed so hard I could barely understand her.

"No, Melinda, are you serious?" still laughing.

"Uh, yea, he wouldn't want them?  We are the same size."

"No, Melinda.  He can't walk into a pool room with a billiard shirt on if he's trying to get a pool game."

"Oh, okay," I replied, not REALLY understanding what she meant completely.

He was a hustler.  He traveled all around.  If we was to walk in a pool room, trying to act like he doesn't play pool but has a POOL shirt on, well, that obviously gives it away.

I didn't realize what I was truly asking til many years later, and how important it was to really seem like you aren't a pool player.

I remember once he even dyed his hair blond to seem like he was a surfer or in the sun a lot or something.... just so he wouldn't seem like a pool player.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

High School Hall of Fame Inductee!

This is SO cool to me!

A professional pool player was inducted into their high school hall of fame!

From Shane Van Boening via Facebook:  "Tonight during half time at Stevens High School basketball game. I been inducted into the Hall of Fame at my high school in Rapid City, SD. Go raiders!!!"

How freaking cool is that?!??

Congrat's, Shane!  I think I can safely say that every pool player is happy to hear such news!

Here's what he posted on FB:

Monday, December 29, 2014

Beast Mode

Do you have what it takes to rise to the occasion?

If not, practice wont get you there.

I'm just going to be honest.  It wont.

What will?


The more tournaments you play in, the more you learn.  Not about POOL, silly!  About competition.  About yourself.  About how to handle pressure.  Adversity.

You learn all sorts of things that will carry over into your NEXT performance at the pool table.

You learn how to stay down under pressure.
How to breathe under pressure.
How to not let distractions distract you.
How to not think ahead.
How to focus on your fundamentals ONLY.
How to make the winning shot.

This doesn't come from practicing by yourself or practicing with your friends.  This comes from the many tournaments you play in.  Or maybe the many gambling matches you play.

Think about it.  Practice only gets you so far.  COMPETITION gets you SO much further.

I'm living proof.

Once you master the fundamentals (which comes from competing!), once you figure out 3-ball shape and which side of the ball you should be on, and the better choices to make at the table - you still have your mind and breathing and pressure and distractions and missing balls to deal with.  Taming those only comes from experience after experience after experience in competition.

You can master your fundamentals (you think) but then put yourself in a pressure situation and see what happens.  Yep, you dog it.  Yep, we have ALL dogged it.  A LOT.  Do you know why some people don't dog it anymore?  Yep, EXPERIENCE.  They/we/I have dogged it enough not to do that any more.  They figured out from pressure situations to STAY down and stroke more.  Not stroke fast b/c you are nervous.

Only lots of competition can help with that.

My single best advice has always been:  Play more tournaments.  Compete more.

You will thank me, I promise!

(see my top ten tips from 2011 here.) 

Year 2014

2014 is coming to an end soon.  Only a few days left.

While I have accomplished a lot in pool (one title I've ALWAYS wanted to win (BCA Texas State singles), another I never thought I could win (a single Nationals title), how do I feel about my year?

You want the honest truth?

I don't feel any different.

I wish I had someone important by my side when I won those titles, instead my b/f at the time was always breaking up with me and not there for me.  I was alone for each win; for each title.  It was bitter sweet to win the ACS National 9-Ball Women's Single tourney on Mother's Day, though. 

One thing I don't like is everyone keeps telling me I'm a master player when I am not.  I'd like to earn that title, before being told I can't play in events.  It's upsetting me a lot b/c it's not true that I am a master player.  I'm advanced ONLY with ACS.  Open player with BCAPL.

Yet, you win titles and people assume you are "ranked" higher.  I suppose that comes with the territory, though, right?

I didn't play a lot of pool last year.  I mean, I played in big tournaments, yes, but I only played in two OB Cues Ladies Tour stops and that's only because they were in town, lol.  I quit two of my leagues and now only play in my ladies league.  I don't even play in weekly tournaments anymore, either.

I hope to play in more weekly tournaments next year, though!  Play against the guys and hopefully get even better!  That'd be fun to get even better!  Wow!  I can't even imagine how exciting that would be!

And then, someone in the billiards field said if there was an award for female amateur player of the year, he thought I should get it.  I never thought about that.  WOW, me, really?  That thought actually crossed someone's mind??  He said, "Seriously, it is probably one of the best season's that an amateur has ever had."

I don't really know about that, but it's sweet and awesome to even think that, really, of me and my pool year.  :)  Makes me look at the past year QUITE different!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Party Pool

I went to my cousin's annual Christmas party Christmas Eve Eve (Tuesday night).  I didn't get to go last year and was very disappointed, so I made a point to go this year even thought I went alone.

My cousin's house is VERY cool.  They have a media room, rec room, TWO fire pits, gravity pool, trampoline, ya know, the works.

And they make all these amazing treats and food to serve at these small gatherings.  I was glad I went - needed to get out of the house.

Of course their rec room had a pool table in it.  I dare say it was an 8 foot! 

But alas, as at most parties, the true pool players don't play pool.  We just walk by the table, admire they have one, check out their cues, and keep going.  We might stop to see who is playing (if they aren't kids), and see how they measure up, but let's face it, us "regular/real" pool players hardly ever play pool at parties.  It's just wouldn't be proper to show off or hog the pool table all night, right?

Here are some pics from the party: (dessert area, fire pit, and the pool table)

Towards about 10pm, I was about to leave and one of the husband's (who I didn't know) says he was prolly the best player in the house and was going to shoot some pool upstairs.  I roll my eyes thinking to myself, "whatever, dude." 

My cousin's wife says, "You probably are.  Mike and the boys like to play but aren't too good.  I wonder if there is anyone here who would play you, though."

He was super cocky and I couldn't believe he was bragging how well he could play.  

He then leaves the room to go upstairs to the pool table and my cousin's wife is motioning at me to go play against this guy, lol. 

I was stunned!  I had no idea she knew I played pool or was good at it, and here she was trying to pimp me out to play pool!  If it wasn't at a party, I would have put him in his place, but it was close to 10pm and I needed to get home so I could rest for work the next day.

Pretty funny, though!

I'm still amazed she knew I played pool well.  Wow. 

And here I am with my Aunt Faye "&" my Uncle Mike:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pool Ball Art Decorations (photos)

Found these on Pinterest.  Yep, I Pinterest.  Here are my boards, if you want to see my likes, humor, and thoughts. 

But in the meantime, check out these pool ball deco's (the last is my favorite one, I think):


Monday, December 22, 2014

Pool Dancer, GaYoung Kim

GA-YOUNG KIM - Pool Champion AND Dancer Extraordinaire

Kim has many talents (complete pool game, singing, speaks several languages, etc.) and she can dance, too.

What separates those talents from others is that she was on the Korean version of Dancing With the Stars!!

As Phil Capelle stated, "the way she smoothly glides around the table planning and shooting reminds me of a dancer, and so she is!"

Can you IMAGINE the propulsion pool would get in the USA if a pool player was on our Dancing With the Stars?!?  Wow.  Just Wow.

Here are some clips of Ga-Young Kim from that show.  Impressive!

Friday, December 19, 2014

How to Not Think About Those Around You And Play POOL

A guy at the pool room was saying how he can't play good pool in front of the players that have known him for a long time, but in front of new players he plays good. 

Evidently, he had just started to come back around to play pool, so he felt like all the players he used to know were judging him about why he hadn't improved more.

He asked me if I knew why that was that he played so differently in front of different people? 

I told him, basically, that he's not thinking about pool.

I told him what I learned from Phil Capelle a long time ago:  Focus on your fundamentals and pre-shot routine, and also your 3-ball shape.  If you do that, then your mind will be busy focusing in playing your best pool, and you wont be thinking or worried about who is watching or around you!

Then he scooted off excited to play more pool. 

Women's International Pool Championship

The Women's International Pool Championship is going on right now in New York, December 16th-21st, 2014 at Steinway Cafe-Billiards.

I actually got an invite!

I could not believe it, really.  I was very honored they thought of me.

But I could not take a week off of work, could not afford the airfare, nor the entry fee (about $500 or so), plus all the NY expenses, lol.

Plus, and most importantly, I do not even care if I play with the pros or not.

I'm just not interested honestly.  

I don't put in any practice and I'm not even close to the pro level, so why spend all that money to go?

I found out I could save a smidgen of money b/c I could have stayed for free, but still - airfare and entry alone was over $1,000, plus losing 5 days of work. 

It just wasn't feasible to me.

I will say that I have played in a pro event (the WPBA Women's U.S. Open) and I LOVED the experience!  I even won a match  :)  lol.  But, it was within driving distance and I shared a room with another player.  And, I only had to take about two days off from work.

I will never forget that experience, ever.  

But the cost of playing/flying/staying in NY is not worth it for me.   

Ironically, I'm not even jealous of all the pics and posts from the event from my friends.  I'm just happy for them that they get to play the game we love in such an awesome setting!  And one of my friends, Debra, has never played in a pro event before and I am SO excited for her!  She will love reflecting like I have with my first pro event.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bowling Trick Shots (video clip)

I wonder if bowling trick shots are as tough to learn as pool trick shots?

Check these out:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CoWorker Surprise

I mentioned in blog entry just last week that I don't normally share my pool life with my coworkers.  I have about one million reasons why, and here lists just a few:  LINK ONE, LINK TWO

So, I go to dinner with a few ladies from work last night, something they do for the Christmas season, and I finally said yes to the invitation.

As I sat there, eating my meal and mostly listening, one of my coworkers starts to ask me about pool.  They are aware I play pool, but no one really knows any details or how often I play.  I am hardly friends with any coworkers on facebook so they don't even see those posts about pool tourneys or anything.

Here's how the convo went:

Me:  (eating)

CoWorker:  "Hey Melinda, you played any pool lately?"

Me:   "Yea, last weekend, in Arlington."

CoWorker:  "Hey, uh, have you ever qualified to go to those nationals tournaments, I think in Vegas?"

Me:   (I reply softly), "Yea, I won last year."

CoWorker:  "What?  You are going this year?"

Me:  "No, I WON it last year."

CoWorker:  "Won what?"

Me:   "The tournament.  In Vegas.  Back in May."

CoWorker:  "You did??"

And then many of my other coworkers turn to look at me.

Me:   "Yea, I did."

CoWorker:  "What does that mean?"

Me:   "I'm a National Champion."

CoWorker:  "Wow, really?!  That's great.  Have you won others?"

Me:  "Yea, I won the state one in April."

CoWorker:  "You mean a Texas one?"

Me:   "Yea..."

CoWorker:  "Wow, I had no idea, that's wonderful!"

And then I continue to eat my food, feeling uncomfortable talking about myself.

It shows just how much I don't share my pool life with my coworkers.  I really try to keep them  separate.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dilemmas in Pool

Last season on my Ladies Thursday League, there was a mix up with the dates.  While the secretary tried to avoid ALL tournaments that could affect the players, one of the OB Cues Ladies stops had to CHANGE their date!

Let me see if I can explain this well, lol.

The Best of the Rest tournament end of season ladies Thursday league tournament was the last weekend of October.  This was also the same weekend as the Jamaica Joe's tourney for the OB Cues Ladies Tour (b/c they had to change their date).

The Best of the Best end of season ladies league tourney was the first weekend of November.  If my team got in the top FOUR (4) of the league in the rankings, then we would automatically play in that tournament, and not have to play in the Best of the Rest.

So, a few months before the rankings would be finalized, we all played our little hearts out.  Why?  Because one team member is a aboard member of the OB Cues Ladies Tour and would have to go to that tournament at the end of October.  I *wanted* to go, but wasn't sure what I would do if we didn't get in the top 4.  Not go to the OB Stop in Oklahoma City and play in our league end of season tourney to play with my team?  Or play at the OB Cues Ladies Tour stop?

Either way, we could *potentially* lose two players for the Best of the Rest tourney if we didn't get in the top 4.

So, the last few months were stressful.  Each week we wondered where we stood.  How did we do compared to all the other teams?

Two teams were guaranteed to be ranked 1 and 2.  The 3rd and 4th spots were actually a pretty big fight and close call by FOUR teams!  Omgosh, so much stress!

Would we get in the top 4 or would we have to play in the Best of the Rest tourney without our top two players?  (If I decided not to play).

I recall last year that a player posted on FB what she should do about this very situation - but her conflicting tourney was an apa regional event that could possibly send her to Vegas.  At the time I still thought she should have played with her team (which is what she eventually did even though I think she bailed on them during the event or something?).

I thought - wow, what a tough dilemma!

And then I find myself in it.

Although I LOVE playing at Jamaica Joe's b/c they have diamond bar tables and it's only about 3 1/2 hours away, I already knew in my heart I would play with the team.  But I never told them that!  lol.

We were in 5th place I think for many weeks and then we all of a sudden with only 2 weeks left got in the top 4!  And then we made the cut by like only a few points!  So, Monica and I were able to play at Jamaica Joe's and THEN play with the team in the Best of the Best the following weekend!  (where we took second, baby!).

Tough choices when it comes to league, whew!

We want to be a team member at all times.  But sometimes choices and decisions are tough.  Luckily this worked out for everyone!

And next time I would pick playing with my team again!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Easy Trigger"

So I mentioned I watched football on a Sunday with a few friends at a local place that happened to have two pool tables.  Well, one of the girls there I had never met before, but my friend Teri talked about her all the time.

We watched the football games for about 4 hours or so and her friend would say every once in a while "Easy Trigger."

I kept thinking, "did Teri tell her my nickname?  Heck, does Teri even know I have a nickname?"

After the 3rd or 4th time, I finally asked her, "Why do you keep saying 'Easy Trigger'?"

She replies, "I don't know, just something I've always said."

"Do you say it because of Roy Rogers and his horse?" I asked.

"Nope, just a saying I say a lot," she shared.

Then she would drink more and say it louder, "Easy Trigger!"

And I would turn and look at her every time, thinking she was saying it to me, lol.

Kinda freaked me out hearing my nickname all afternoon because I hardly ever hear it, honestly, lol.

Fun times!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Pool Niece

My Aunt Carol texted me the other day.

(btw, she hardly EVER texts me)

Aunt:  "What is your pool title?"

I was confused.

Me:  "You mean my nickname?"

Aunt:  "No, like Women's Champion.  I know Trigger."

OMG!  She knows my nickname!  How cool is that?

Me:  "LMAO.  You know my nickname?  I am the ACS National Women's 9-Ball Champion."

Aunt:  "I'm so effin proud of you!"

Me:  "Aww.  Thank you!"

(here is a screenshot of our convo - click photo to enlarge)

A few hours later, I wondered, why did she all of a sudden asked me that?  I mean, I won that title back in May.

So I asked her why she asked and then she called to explain:

She told me, "I got this new job and there is a girl here who keeps saying how good she is in pool.  Like, all the time, she's constantly telling everyone about it.  I told her "my niece plays pool, too," but she just keeps bragging about herself.  It drives us crazy."

(I was laughing.)

She continued, "I told her I might go to Vegas in May and she asked me what for.  I said, to visit Vegas and to see my niece play pool.  I told you she played.  "

(I'm still laughing.)

"She asked me what tournament you played in and I said I didn't know but you won it this year.  That's why I textetd you - to find out what tourney you won, what title it was.  So, I passed on to her you what you said, what title you won, and she could only say "Oh" and FINALLY SHUT UP!"

OMG!  My Aunt Carol is a hoot!

Glad I could help you, Aunt Carol!  :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Co-Worker Love

I went to Silver Spring, Maryland for a work meeting back in September (I live and work back in Texas).

I visited a couple of my colleagues at their office before we headed out for lunch one day and walked up to their cubicles and saw this:

(click photo to enlarge)

I was like, "HEY"!

It was a print-out of my blog entry from May, that stated I was an ACS National Champion!

It was SO cute how proud they were - that they printed it out and hung it up for the coworkers to see.  And that made ME proud.  :)

I don't normally share my pool journey with people I work with, but these two (Fran and Pete), I do happen to share (and Pete reads my blogs because he likes pool, too).  

What a surprise!  Thank you, Fran and Pete! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Concussion and Pool

Not many people know this, but I was in a one car accident on the way to work back in late June.

I ran over something in the road and it caused me to veer into a ditch.  My airbag came on, my car needed to be towed, and I was obviously late to work. I got a burn on my right hand from the airbag, and while I will have a scar, it could have been much worse and I'm very lucky.

What I didn't know right away, but figured out a few weeks later, was I got a concussion.

I was forgetting even the smallest of things and could not remember emails I sent at work, the correct words were hard to locate in my brain, names would evade me, etc.

It finally hit me (sorry for the pun) that maybe I got a concussion.

So, I looked up the symptoms and most importantly, what can I do if I have one.

The only "symptom" I had of all the ones listed, was memory loss.

And what can one do if you have a concussion?  OMG, it said to rest!  Am I suppose to rest for weeks on end?  I have to work and live!

You might be thinking to yourself maybe I'm just getting old(er) but this was a SUBSTANTIAL memory difference.

I wondered how I would do at BCAPL Nationals less than a month later after the accident.  Would I "forget" how to run out?  Forget certain aspects of playing pool?

Sure enough, a couple of instances I wasn't thinking clear or made really stupid choices and decisions.  It hindered me a little, but I admit not enough to lose matches (just games).

Then my friend Teri had a car accident (about a month ago) and her air bag deployed, also.  And she too is now suffering short term memory loss and having a difficult time remembering which words to use or saying the wrong words, just like I was.

While we will both be okay, it's still very scary.

I can tell my memory has improved from that scary day in June, but every once in a while I will still struggle with the right word to say or use.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Did I Play Well?

Sometimes, you just know you played well in a tournament.

Sometimes, you know you didn't.

But what if you thought you did, but turns out you didn't?

I recall several "tests" where lets say a guy runs up to a woman and grabs her purse and runs off.  Several people are interviewed, they all have a different description.  Turns out it was staged, and they were all shown the footage and shown just how bad their recollections really were.

Well, this is what I am wondering about my ACS State singles play.

Did I "really" play as well as I think I did, or am I reflecting incorrectly?

I remember telling my friend Michelle, "Damn I'm playing good."  But, is that what got me to 4th place?  Or was it me taking advantage of my opponents' mistakes?

Sure, I was playing exceptionally well.  But, I honestly don't think I won because I played all that perfect.

I was more knowledgeable than my opponents and it helped in safety battles.

I took advantage of their mistakes and ran out after they missed.

But I didn't break and run a lot.  I didn't even rack and run a lot.

I had GREAT shots.  GREAT shot selections, yes.

But as I reflect back, maybe I was only winning because of my opponents, not because of myself.

I DO realize that some tournaments/matches are won b/c our opponents make mistakes.  We pick up the pieces and win from there.  Even then - we still have to come with it - even if we have 3 balls left on the table - it's still up to us.

I recall feeling like I was playing very well in that ACS tournament in October, but I lost because someone finally took advantage of my mistakes.

If I was really playing well, I would have beat my last opponent, right?

Does any of this make sense, lol.