Friday, July 31, 2015

Game Face

Back in Feb when I went to my Dad's memorial in Virginia, his wife and his wife's sister both suggested I do my eyebrows different, as they are world renowned make up artists.

So, they plucked away at my eyebrows and taught me how to reshape them to make my eyes look bigger, younger, and my face more open and happy.

I was coloring them thin and then down on the ends, and they said I need to thicken them and for sure not draw them down.  Drawing them down makes you look sad, instead you need to open up your eyes.

So, as I shaped my eyebrows the morning of the last day of the BCAPL Nationals Singles competition, I joked with myself that I should draw my eyebrows into an angry look.  You know, drawing them like this to make me look angry and mean for my opponents:

 (for all you Seinfeld fans)

I thought it was pretty funny!  It would definitely had distracted my opponents, lol!

I then just practiced my angry, game face:

But in reality, I play best calm and cool, not angry or mean.  :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Finally Finished Well at BCAPL Nationals!

After all the years I have been playing at BCAPL Nationals, I can finally say that I finally finished well!!

I placed 5th out of about 250 players!

I cannot begin to express how happy and accomplished and ecstatic I feel.  I can't even put it into words, really.

I have wanted to place well for so many years, had the talent to do it the last few years, but could never come with it during game time.  This year, I did!


Still honestly, can't believe it.!!

The girl that put me out of the tournament went on to win the entire event - the BCAPL Women's Open Singles!  VERY proud of her as she played GREAT!  Even though I had a few chances against her which may haunt me (lol) I am happy to have been beaten by the eventual winner.

And, her name was Toni and since that's my Mom's name, that was cool, too.

Further - I placed high enough to finally get moved up as an ADVANCED player.  YAY!!  So happy!   And, I was ONE match away from becoming a Master - dang it, so close...  :(

But still very extremely happy to finally place so high in this event that I have played in for about 15-20 years.  Feels awesome after all those years of thinking I can do well to finally actually play well enough to place high.

Go me!

And congrats to Toni Sakamoto for winning the entire shebang!

Everyone keeps saying how can I leave the competing after placing so high, but I have already made up my mind - no more leagues.  So, super glad I went out on a high note!  Wow - still can't believe this....  :)

No Showboat

I have written several times 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, check out this crazy exchange that JUST happened today.  The timing is very ironic to me:

I walk to the elevator and three coworkers are standing there waiting for the down elevator, also.

One starts a convo with me:  "I haven't seen you in a while.  You been on vacation?"

"Yes" is all I reply.  I don't mention I just was in Vegas.

"Oh that's good.  Guess you don't want to tell us where, huh?"

"Nah" I say with uncomfortableness.

"Do you still play pool?"

"Yes" is again my one-word reply.  I don't share with them I was just in Vegas for pool.

"You used to play competitively.  Do you still?"

"Yes" is all I reply.

"Are you good?"

"Yes" is all I reply again, not even sharing I just placed 5th out of 250 women!

I could have shared that I was just in Vegas playing pool competitively, placed my highest finish in singles, and am ECSTATIC about it, but I just smiled shyly and replied, "yes" to most of his questions without adding anything extra.

I just don't talk about my personal pool life anymore with folks here.

Wish I could - I'm pretty freaking proud of myself!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How Are You in a Crisis?

I just read a leadership article at work and it resonated with me - as most do.

This one is about how we handle ourselves during a crisis.

While the article talks about managers during a crisis event, it resonated VERY much so with playing in pool tournaments and competing.

Have you noticed that sometimes people falter during a tough, important match?

Well, this article makes good points - it's what we do under certain situations and how we handle stress.  Why some people can play well under pressure, while newcomers in the finals of a tourney do not.

Stress and pressure cause the same reactions in competing as in a real life crisis:  we have a fight or flight response.

As the article states:

"This means that at the time we are faced with a crisis, our bodies undergo physiological changes that prepare us for a response. Among these are increased respiration and heart rate, auditory exclusion and tunnel vision. These changes can inhibit our ability to think rationally and limit our decision making capacity. The greater the crisis, the more extreme the reaction."

Whew.  Been there; done that (still feel it a at times).

OMgosh can you pictures and almost "feel" these stress indicators from a past match?  I sure can!  I can picture that time I felt so much stress I wasn't even thinking clear enough to realize the perfect safe right in front of me.  It was like oxygen was cut from my brain.  Stress definitely can limit our decision making capabilities. 

Luckily there are solutions to how we handle ourselves under pressure, or as the article talks about, during a crisis.

The article gives three suggestions that you can read about in more detail here, but basically:
  1. Direct experience - I have written numerous times how I can play well in the finals or as the clutch because I have been in the situation A LOT now.
  2. Learning from the experience of others - improve your game by reading, watching videos, reading bios of other athletes not in pool, etc.
  3. Simulations - in regard to playing pool, I would attribute this to gambling or playing in weekly tournaments.
Good luck and BREATHE!  Slows downs that adrenaline and helps you think,. too.  :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Awarded Best Pool Blog!

I can't begin to express how cool it was when I received a message from Phil Capelle two weeks ago:  "I read in BD that you won blog of the year - it is in the July issue - I have not seen you mention it, is this news to you?"


I was out of town for work and told him my Billiards Digest magazine was prolly sitting on my counter, waiting for me to open it when I returned.

Sure enough, I open the magazine right when I get home and read with my won eyes my blog won "Best Pool Blog"!!

// big smile //

My blog has come in second place I think twice, and always wondered why I hadn't won the TOP honor because I don't know anyone else that blogs as much as I do (I blog 10-15 times a month).  Most other blogs are WAY outdated, and yet they would still win the top spot, so I was confused.  But, the author did mention my blog's template is 'cumbersome' (one other time they didn't like the colors), so maybe it's not my content, but how it looks is why I hadn't inched up to the top podium til now.

Further, to HEAR I won before I READ about it, was pretty cool, too, I admit! 

I can't begin to share with you how excited I am about this!  I really do love blogging and I make notes all the times for future blog entries so I don't forget to write about certain situations.  Writing in my blog would be the number one thing I would miss if I stopped playing pool (and so I would have to figure out a way to keep writing about pool!).

A HUGE thank you for Billiards Digest for the including me as one of their winners of their 2015 Web Awards!!  I'm very honored!  (and happy)  :)

 (Click on either photo to enlarge)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Who You Barking At?

Guess my dog Lily wants the 7ball from me, since she keep barking!

Taking Advantage

I mowed my lawn and edged and trimmed the yard on Sunday.  You know, when you own a home you have responsibilities and have to get things done.

So, while I did all that (and also getting exercise and great sun on my skin), I took advantage of the perfect opportunity to listen to my self-help tape, The Psychology of Winning, to get my mind ready for BCAPL Nationals.

I LOVE taking advantage of situations like these:  Multitasking and doing things for yourself; and all were very fruitful!

See you in Vegas!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

When You Really Need to Smoke....

Visiting a pool room in Louisiana in June, I ventured into the bathroom and saw this little gem:

Is this bathroom really that old that an ashtray is in there still?

I hadn't seen this in years, so of course I had to take a pic of my "find."


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

League is Costing Me Money

I'm one of those people that does not like to waste time.

So, I always find things to do with my time;  I am never just sitting around doing nothing.

So, on Tuesdays and Thursday when I get off of work at 6pm, I have to kill about an hour an a half before league starts at 7:30pm.

That leaves me about an hour or so to find something to do.  (because it takes about 30 minutes to get to league).

So, what does a female do?  Yep - she shops or eats!

Therefore, league is costing me MONEY!  More money than just the $6-a-night fee.  Sometimes much more.  Just last night I ventured into Walmart and then Ross to kill time.  $89 later, I finally show up at league.  :-/

If I'm not shopping, do you think I'm grabbing a bite to eat at a fast food place?  Heck no - I'm going to Olive Garden for the soup and salad, or Carrabbas for their juicy sirloin steak or maybe even On The Border to get my tex-mex fix.  Either way, I'm spending my time spending money before I even set foot into the pool room that night for little 'ole league, lol.

Best GiftCard for a Pool Player



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pressure for BCAPL Nationals?

I have written over a 100 times probably on my blog over the years that expectations are pretty much the root of evil for me.

And yet here I sit, less than two weeks away from the 2015 BCAPL Nationals, so do I have any expectations?

You bet I do!  I am a pool player, after all ;)

I shouldn't be nervous though - I haven't prepared or hit balls, so I should feel any nerves.  And while I know I play my absolute best not thinking of the future, I admit I am not doing well with that.

The last few times I was unprepared for State events, I earned first place trophies in the BCAPL Texas State tourney in 2014 and 2015.  But this is a national BCAPL event.  One I haven't placed high in singles before.  My highest was 9th, and that was prolly about 12 years ago.

  • I KNOW I'm better now. 
  • I KNOW I know the game of 8 ball very well.
  • Physically, I am doing better than usual. 
  • I KNOW after playing good scotch doubles I should be really be warmed up well for singles.
  • I think my partner and I can do real well in scotch doubles.  REAL well - we have a great chance - IF I can hold it together and NOT think ahead of the possibilities like I already am  :( 

I should be going over these two books in the next week and a half to mentally prepare myself:

But will I?  I am being pretty lackadaisical for sure this time around.

Since pool isn't a priority in my life right now, I'm really not doing anything to prepare for this big tournament.  But yet - it means a lot to me and I would LOVE to finish well as my last hurrah.  Kinda of like gaining weight, ya know?  We WANT to lose weight, and it's on our minds, but we don't really put a lot of effort into it lol.

And this is what I also know:

  • I am not as mentally tough as I have been the last few years for some reason.
  • I haven't prepared AT ALL for this event.
  • I am slowing down in playing league and pool in general, and what if this is my "last hurrah" to play BCAPL Nationals and I dog it?

Well, let's put this in perspective:

Will it be the end of the world if I don't place well?


Will I still be a good person in life, even if I don't place well?


Will I still be proud of myself?


And what if I don't even get in the money? (although my personal goal would be to get deep in the money)  Would I be okay?   Would I be okay knowing I didn't get moved up yet again?  Would I be okay knowing I might have lost my last opportunity to do well in this event because I may not play in it again any time soon?


I have had so much success in many other tournaments in the past few years, if I don't do well in this one this year, I should be okay with myself.  Because, as I said - it wont be the end of the world if I don't place well.

As one of my friends has told me over and over in the last few years, winning or losing doesn't define me.  

Glad I wrote my thoughts down.  Whew!  I already feel better and much less pressure!

No, go out there and have fun, Melinda!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Poker Star?

My ex boyfriend and I used to go to Winstar Casino, about an hour and 20 minutes from my house, about twice a month (sometimes more often) for about two years.  We went to play poker, A LOT!

We loved the poker room - it has 46 tables - and we would go and try our hands with the cards.  We were pretty addicted.

I fully admit I wasn't very good (he wasn't either), but we loved the excitement of the possibility of doing well, the atmosphere is fun, and we started to know a lot of the people there (players and dealers).  Because we went so often for two years straight, we saw a lot of friendly faces.

For me, it became very social and I loved talking with people I knew, even it was only seeing the regular players about twice a month, or seeing the dealers for 30 minutes each table visit.

If you don't play poker, let me share real quick about the dealer rotation.

The dealers rotate around from each table throughout their shift, and they change tables every 30 minutes.  So, if I am seated at one table for 8 hours, that's 16 different dealers that rotate through that table I am playing on.  We would not see the same dealer again that day, because there are 46 tables in the room, and they would rotate through them all.

Some dealers are talkative, some are quiet.  Everyone has a different personality (obviously).  When I drank, I talked more, so sometimes I was very chatty, lol, and when I used to go with my ex, I would drink more when I was with him, so I was chatty more back then.

After we broke up, I didn't go to Winstar to play poker but a couple of times in a whole year.

The first time I went, after my hiatus, it was quite the experience!

I sat down at a full table, and the open seat was on the end and next to the dealers' seat, and I was quietly playing poker.  I didn't say too much while I sat there and was just mostly listening to the other players at the table and just trying to catch some cards, trying to get the feel to playing again because I hadn't played poker in such a long time.

I was there only about 4 hours, but it became quite comical.

I was getting only a few good hands, but not playing much because the cards just weren't coming.  But as the dealers would switch tables, they would see me at the end of the table, and they would say hi.

"Hey!  How's it going?  How you been?"  One or two would ask.

Then a new dealer would sit down and we would chat because I hadn't been there in a long time and we had to catch up.  I asked her how her kids were doing, and her husband, and we small-talked.

Then another table change 30 minutes later.  A couple of dealers would walk by and they would happen to see me, "Hey - nice to see you!"  Or, "Hi - How's it going?"  I would smile back and say my hellos.

The players at my table were looking at me real funny.  "Who is THIS chick?"

Then the food service girl walked by and noticed me, "Hey How are you?!" smiling.  One even gave me a hug, lol.

The players at my table were very confused.  And I noticed they started to play timid with me.  I was starting to bluff more than I'm used to, but they would fold to me a lot after they saw I knew a lot of people, lol.  They thought I was this bad-ass poker player because everyone knew me, haha.

Another dealer would rotate through to our table and we would start to chat and catch up.  And other dealers would walk by and say hello to me.

You have to realize that I used to go there A LOT for two years and I had been MIA for a year, so we were all kinda happy to see each other and they were cool and said hello to me.

Eventually, after about two hours of this going on, one of the players eventually asked me, "Who ARE you?   Dang, you know EVERYONE here.  And everyone knows YOU.  You must play good."

I laugh and blush and reply, "no, no, I just used to come here a lot; that's all."

"Yea, surrrrre..." the player respond as others at the table laugh along with him, not believing me at all, lol.

It was really comical, as the next couple of hours it kept happening - a different dealer would walk by and see me, and say hey because I hadn't been there in a long time and used to be a staple at the place, lol.

And the players would say, "See?  Another one knows you."

"I swear - I am nobody!"  As I bet and they folded to me again, lol.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Complaints to a TD

As a Tournament Director,  I'm put in a position of leadership, really.   I deal with a lot of million things, but the most important are the players and pool room owners.

And with competition, comes emotions.

And that creates a side of players that are normally not seen, except in the heat of the battle, and sometimes only to the TD.

I get to hear all kinds of complaints, but I'm personally not complaining at all.  Because it comes with the job.  It's actually on the job description!  Lol

Anyone that is a TD knows this.

The catch is how we react.  How we respond.  How we empathize.  And recognize that sometimes the emotions we are on the receiving end of are because they just lost a crucial match, or something really just pissed them off, etc.

IMO,  it's a crucial part of the job to be able to handle venting.

And being an active listener,  showing empathy,  being fair, not overeating, etc are all key parts to listening to the complaints, moaning, and whining.

I feel I am very good during the Omega Billiards Tour events at listening and not judging; being an active leader; understanding;  showing empathy;  etc.

All the while I can't let the players walk all over me, tho.  I must defend myself at times, most times tho I let them vent.

I've been on the receiving end of a lot of bad emotions and venting, and I simply realize the player is upset because they lost.  I don't take their comments personally, either.  Sure, I'll get upset sometimes because that's a normal reaction to getting "chewed on," but most the time I'm very aware of our invisible roles.

I have learned through 10 years running the OB Cues Ladies Tour and 3 1/2 years running the Omega Billiards Tour that emotions are suppose to run high after and during matches, and sometimes the TD is the person the players vent to.

Part of the job!  Doesn't bother me at all.

The Cost of a Jump Cue

I was playing in an Omega Billiards Tour match last month and the player next to us needed to borrow a jump cue.

I didn't have one, but my opponent did.

He got it out of his case for the guy.  As he handed it to the player, he tells him jokingly, "That'll be $10.  $15 if you make it," as we all laughed.

The player took his time with the jump shot, got down well on it, stroking well, and then jumped the shot.  But it didn't even get over his ball.

He handed it back to my opponent and I said, "Now that will cost you $50 because it's obviously broken and didn't work."


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cheering on a Team

One of my teammates pointed out one night, "we don't cheer much, do we?"

And that was it!

I couldn't put my finger on why there didn't seem to be any team dynamics or support.  I felt like I was ON a team, not PART of the team.

And the cheering was a major factor, I think.

The captain talked to a few of us about this - that we should prolly cheer more.  But what bothered me most was:  I didn't realize or recognize that we all weren't cheering.  :(

I could have easily helped!  Well, anyone could have.  But I felt like I could lead the clapping and kudos and cheering, and I should have been since I have the most time in the game.  I felt bad I wasn't helping the team more.

Instead, I just sat back, played my games, and felt uncomfy about the lack of support, when in reality, I could have been the shill to get my teammates more animated and excited about our games!

If you see or feel something is off, take the lead and help out!  Learn from my mistake.  And help your team by leading the cause.  It will be better in the long run for everyone involved.