Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Giving Advice After You Lose

On one of my last nights of my women's league season (the same night I played a biker dude, lol),I was in a tight little safety match with my opponent.

This was the table when she got ball in hand: (click photo to enlarge)

She studies the table a little bit and I presume she's going to play safe.

Instead, she makes the 3 ball, then gets good on the 5, calls SAFE, and then makes the 5 ball.

I then safety her to death because her last two balls are all tied up in mine.  It was pretty easy to play safe and get ball in hand and move my balls around until everything was open for me.  However, I missed a shot because it barely went by one of her balls and she had two easy stop shots before the 8ball to win and beat me.

She was SO excited!

She was jumping around and all happy! (as the top player in the league, I get that a lot when someone beats me, lol.)  I'm trying to be as nice as I can be and I shake her hand and smile and try to slip away with my tail between my legs.

Before I could walk away she grabs my hand to keep me near her, and she starts to share with me what she did and why she did it and then asked me if I would have done anything differently.

I hesitated at first as I was still trying to deal with my loss, lol, but she was real eager to learn, so I shared, "well, I guess would have done one thing differently."


I shared with her that it's important when you play safe to always improve your situation.  Don't just "play safe."

I explained further:

I would not have made the 3 ball and then the 5 ball, but instead, I would have used the ball-in-hand to move the 5 ball down the table toward all the stripes.  I would have rolled it in front of the side pocket, for example, so it can be used as a break out shot later.  The 5 ball is not being helpful way up table, so let's move it to make it helpful down the road.

At that point, it doesn't even matter where the cueball is left because the stripes can't be run out anyway by me because everything is so clustered.  So, the most important thing is to move the lonely solid to where it can be used as a break out ball down the road.

You'll see me punt balls a lot - I'm simply moving them to a better position if I don't have any break out balls.

Try it.  You'll like it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I was really taken aback over the weekend.  Someone touched me very deeply.

As I'm sitting with a teammate as we watch our other two teammates on the tables, playing in our playoffs, she says to me, "I really wish you weren't leaving the team."

I looked at her kinda sad and confused and then she added very quickly, "not because you play well, either.  Because I enjoy being around you and like you."

I told her that meant a lot.

About 30 minutes later, it REALLY sunk in what she said.  Like, the words she said earlier didn't hit my heart right away, or it didn't make sense or something.  Soon, it FILLED my heart.

I saw her at the bar and went up to her, "It REALLY meant a lot what you said earlier." as I started to tear up with emotions.

She said, "now, none of that!  But it's true - I like getting to know you.  Your game is just a bonus.  I'm going to miss YOU, and being around you."

I hugged her tight and then had to step away as the tears were welling up in my eyes.  I cant even begin to express how much that meant to me.  I'm having such a difficult time right now with drama in the pool room and dealing with negative situations, that it was refreshing to hear such positive words about little 'ole me.

I've always strived to be a good person and kind-hearted.  Sure, it's cool to be considered a top pool player, but being thought of more as a decent person and friend that people want to be around, means a trillion times more to me than being a real good player. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Asked to Play One Game

The last night of my Thursday night women's league season about 4 weeks ago, while we were playing in this small bar I hadn't played in before, a group of bikers came in towards the end of our match.

They knew the bartenders and were obviously regulars.  Two guys, two girls, in leather, owning the place, really, you could tell, as they walked in.

They sat at the bar and watched us play.  I think they wanted to play some pool themselves, and were politely waiting on the sidelines for us to finish.

My last game, I had a very long tough 8 ball shot, and I wasn't sure if I could get by a ball that was located in the center of the table.  The pocket for the 8 ball was of course at the end of the pool table closest to the bar, yes, right towards the bikers.  So, if I was to shoot the 8 ball, I'd be shooting right at them. 

But I wasn't sure I had a clean path.  I leaned down to to check out if I could really squeeze by the 6 ball, and as I did that, two of the bikers leaned down from their stools to take a look also - to see for themselves if it went by.

I stood up and kinda laughed.

You have to imagine - I get down to see if the shot goes, and they are doing the same thing from the other end of the table, at the same time.  Lol.  So, basically, we are kinda looking at each other, lol, except I'm the one who has to shoot the game-winning ball.

It was a bit of a distraction, I admit, but I got down and nailed the shot.  I joked with them afterwards, "could you tell it went?"  They all agreed it would go by the other ball just fine.  lol.  I honestly didn't think it could sneak by (luckily it did, tho).

After all our games are done, we start to pack up and I can't get my cue unscrewed.  I keep trying and trying and while I'm struggling, one of the biker dudes comes up to me and says, "since you can't get the cue unscrewed, would you like to play me a game of 8 ball?  I heard you were a master player."

I normally never play strangers that ask me to play.  Like never, not even one game.  But I was in a decent mood and he was being super kind and genuinely interested.

I replied, "I'm not a master, just advanced, but sure I'll play one game."  He told me his name and then introduced me to his girlfriend and their two friends.

Here's where it gets interesting.

As he's racking he asks, "bca rules?"

Uh, yea, this guys knows his pool games, lol.

I told him to break and he motioned for me to.  I told him I already put up my break cue and then he holds out his house-cue and offers it as a gift to break.  I obliged.

I break and make a ball, then start to run out while he and his friends are watching me.  Then on my last ball - a tough shot - I miss it.

So, it's his turn at the table, but he comes up to me first and says, "I don't want you to take any offense to this but I play one-handed.  It has nothing to do with you and I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, I've just always played this way."

You have to understand that he didn't have to say that to me.  He could have just started to shoot one-handed, as he obviously does every day, and not explain himself to me.  It was really cool he was very cognizant that it would be best to explain this before he plays.  Why?  Because otherwise he would have come off as a cocky, arrogant guy playing one-handed trying to be an asshole. 

And I was impressed with that.

So, he did shoot one handed.  And in the other hand he held his beer bottle.  The whole time.  I'm not shitting you!  This is how he played! 

And he played GOOD.

OMG, he ran ball after ball - and was making everything!   I was impressed now with his game, and I thought he was going to beat me for sure.  He had one ball left and it was a tough cut (even for someone using both hands lol) and he missed. 

I got back to the table, made my tough shot and then the 8 ball and won.

He shook my hand and said, "I think even my girl over there now thinks you play better than me" as he tilts his beer bottle towards the bar and she smiles at me.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Billiards Paraphernalia (solo photo)

Pool is loved everywhere!

Check out what I saw in a restaurant as I walked by heading to my gate to fly out for a work trip back in August:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Top Shooter?

The last two years I was second in the rankings at the end of the season in my women's league.

Two years, SECOND.  I was very stoked and happy!

This year, wait for it, wait for it.  Yep:  FIRST!

I have to admit I tried and tried and tried so hard to do well all season.  I was neck and neck with another player who had a FANTASTIC SEASON and I am SO proud of her (Shaunte).

Every week I'd check the stats.

Either I said "whew" or "dammit" lol.

Her and I kept getting closer and closer, and switching places from first to second, the last few months, too.

I played 90 games, won 70 and only lost 20.  :)  That gave me a 77.78%!   And, I am the top shooter!  She had 77.12% - see how VERY close??!  WOW.

So, while I'm VERY proud of myself and I really tried to get first this year (even though I admit I'd be happy with second place again because that IS tough to do that too imo), I have to confess something....

While I have the highest % in the entire league, in order to earn the "official" Top Shooter award/plaque you had to have played at least 109 games.  So, I'm very honored I have the stats of the top shooter still, but I am even more happier for my friend Shaunte who will get the award money and plaque as she had quite an impressive year!  (she played 118 games)

[And btw, yes, 109 games is over 21.8 weeks.... and the league only has 28 weeks.]

Still, happy for her, happy for me!

Her game has seriously improved and I am extremely proud of her!  It's been an honor to see her game mature (I know I don't like to compete against her, lol). 

Here all my final stats for this season on the ladies league:

2015 Season, 90 games, 77.78%, first place:
Wins:  70, Losses:  20
Break and Runs:  1
Rack and Runs:  5
Five and 0s:  5

Here was my last two years:

In 2014 Season, 96 games, 77.08%, second place:
Wins:  74, Losses:  22
Break and Runs:  1
Rack and Runs:  7
Five and 0s:  5

In 2013 Season, I played 85 games, 75.3%, second place:
Wins:  64, Losses:  21
Break and Runs:  4
Rack and Runs:  4
Five and 0s:  5

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Even When We Lose, We Like Our Name in Mags

I was reading the recap of the BCAPL Nationals in Billiards Digest and saw a pic of the girl who beat me in the singles and went on to win the whole thing.  Dang cute, skinny, young, bad-ass player, dammit.  lol.

As I read the article, there's my name!

"...rebounded to oust Melinda Bailey, Leslee Blaikie and Christine Tome to earn another shot at Erdahl in the finals....

Wow Hoo!

 I still made it in the magazine!  I guess it helps being beat by the best :)

Click photo below to enlarge.  And Toni Sakamoto who put me out is the one in the photo with her well-deserved first place trophy!

Monday, September 21, 2015

High Balls

I was in a very early match one morning at BCAPL Nationals during singles when I asked my opponent (just to be sure) what balls I were.

"High balls."

Now, it's early in the morning.  I'm not thinking clear and not hearing her correctly.  What did she say?

I ask again - I swear I didn't understand her.

"High balls."

It still just didn't register.  Am I strips or solids?  Was she mumbling? Seriously, what am I?  Since I was only trying to hear "strips or solids", "high balls" meant nothing to my mind at this point. 

I ask again, "Uh, what are you?"  (I ask a different way)

She says "low balls."


Me and my blonde moment, but just to be clear, "Oh, okay you are solids and I am stripes, okay."

Canadian lingo I guess?  I hadn't heard this either before or in a long time and was very confused.  She prolly thought, "dumb blonde" LOL. 

But miscommunication can cause a lot of problems during a match (well, in life) and I HAD to make sure (even if asking a bunch of questions made me seem weird and crazy lol).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Poker Hustlers Loving Pool Players

When I was in Vegas in July for BCAPL Nationals, I was eating at a restaurant one night and the bartender asked me what brought me to town.  I told him I was here for a big pool tournament.

His reply was, "Oh, at the Rio."

"Uh, how do you know that?"

Usually the taxicab drivers know this info, but not bartenders at some random restaurant on the Las Vegas strip.

He said he was a part time poker player.  And that because a lot of pool players love to gamble (he's right, you know), that the pool players like to play poker, too.

So, he knows when all the big pool tourneys come to town because he hangs out in the poker rooms of the host casinos to take our money!

Hustlers in every sport, huh?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Share Your Experiences

As I have been debating this whole "quitting pool" thing in my blog, you may recall that I said this back in August:

The loudest thing I'm hearing that is making me second guess this is this one fact:  "After you step away, your game is never as good as it was if you come back."

I found it ironic that the person who told me this one night at league, read my blog later on, and then told me this a couple of weeks later:

"I felt bad I didn't let you experience that on your own.  I shouldn't have said anything and just supported your decision, and let you find that out later down the line."

Yet, that type of advice is the BEST advice because he already HAD been through it.  And that's what he experienced - his game was never the same.  And he was sharing with me that I may not like that aspect of coming back - that my talent will not be like it was.

Therefore, I think it would have been a disservice had he NOT shared that with me.

Again, that's the main thing making me reconsider and possibly playing in at least one league to keep up my game.

And, this is the best part about life:  sharing what we have learned to help others.

So, THANK YOU for sharing with me that it was difficult playing again after you took a break, because your game goes down.  I appreciated that info.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Irony

I find it ironic that in the last two weeks I have been approached to play pool by new people.

I was asked to join a women's VNEA team in Dallas.  Really?  Well, If I was playing pool like in the past, I would have been excited about the possibility to play with them and then at nationals!  But, alas, I'm not playing that much pool very soon.

And this week I was asked, "You playing scotch doubles in San Antonio?"

OMG I was SO excited and honored!  This is a big tourney in San Antonio and the guy who asked me is a top player and I was super stoked!

I replied that I was honored and that it made me want to play, and he replies back, "Honored? I was just asking if you were playing? Lol"

Omg, we would have made a great team with that type of humor!  And, the guy plays JAM up!

But alas, I have a league playoff that weekend and can't even entertain the idea.  Dang it!

But, it's ironic I'm being asked about these opportunities and yet I'm trying to slow down, lol.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pool School During a Match

Tuesday night at league, my team and I were playing in a very tough match. 

This league makes it simple and goes by WINS during the season - there are no weekend playoffs like other leagues.

We had beat this top-ranked team last week and because so, that meant we were both tied for first place, so there needed to be a tie breaker!  So, we had to play this tiebreaker match just this past Tuesday for all the marbles.

Now, as you can imagine - each team wants to win the top dog, the first place, the bragging rights.  Me, I just hope I play decent enough, lol.

During my very first game, my opponent, who is a nice guy who shoots JAM up (I'm pretty nervous to play him), plays a safety.  He shoots it PERFECTLY.... until... he accidentally doesn't move his cue away fast enough and hits an object ball that he was playing safe with.  We all kinda stand there.  Oh shit, it's ball in hand for me!

However, I have a ball tied up and I don't get out. 

He comes back to the table and says out loud (but to himself) because he's pretty embarrassed and upset with himself, "Let's go back to pool school now."  He's a funny guy and he makes jokes like this.

He shoots a couple of shots then misses.  I get up to the table, but I don't have a shot.  I play safe.  He gets back to the table and one of my teammates jokes on the sidelines, something like "okay, let's go to pool school," something relating to what this guy had just said to himself earlier.  So, my teammate is trying to be funny, too.

But as we all know, during competition things like this just aren't taken as 'funny.'

My opponent misses again and I walk up to the table and I can't believe it:  again, I don't have a shot.  LOL.  It was almost comical I again had no shot, lol.  As I'm standing there trying to figure out what to do, HERE THEY COME....

The two guys are talking to their OWN teammates, but loud enough for each other to hear (and on opposite sides of our pool table).  One is upset, the other trying to defend himself.  Me?  I'm trying to figure out what shot to shoot to win, lol.

My opponent is upset that my teammate said something to him.  Or about him.  He assumes my teammate was being rude, so now my opponent is upset. 

So, my opponent is saying things like, "but you don't have to talk like that during a match."

He's absolutely right. 

But, he's behind me.

While I'm at the table.

While I'm trying to shoot.

I listen to them banter for only about a minute and say out loud to point out, "well, I'm in a match, too" as I'm standing at the table in the middle of this, lol.

I think they were surprised I said something?  I don't know.  But, luckily, they had no other words and stopped "joking" for the rest of the night and we all were able to focus on pool.

And, yes, I lost that game.  Because I had no shot again!  lol.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Smooth Move

I played poker last weekend and I saw the funniest thing, that I just HAD to share!

At Winstar Casino there are about 46 poker tables and the dealers rotate around the tables every 30 minutes.

The regulars who play there all the time know the dealers and chat with them a lot while at the table.  It's not annoying and it's NOT done during big hands or anything, I say this to mostly show that many of the regulars and dealers are friends.

So, at one point on Saturday, this female dealer sits down at my table for her 30 minutes. 

I'm at a table with a regular who is also an extrovert, so he's talking to everyone and kinda loud, but it's who he is.  No biggie.

He says hello to her (I don't know who she is or recognized her) and she says hello back and they obviously knew each other by they way they said hello to each other. 

So, we get the first hand of cards from her and as each person decides to throw in their cards or not, it is now his turn.  And he throws in his cards, ALONG with his hotel room key! 


He says, "Wow, not sure how that got in there," as he slowly grabs his hotel key from the table to put back in his pocket.

At first I was VERY confused.  How DID that get in there?  But then I realized he was being flirty with her.  She laughed and he laughed, and then the whole table laughed.  It was the smoothest move, lol. 

We then found out that they joked with each other a lot, and evidently he does this about 3 times a year to her.  She takes it in stride and blushes.  It was so cute! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Decorative Chalk

I have written before how I have used colored or decorative duct tape to wrap the outside of my chalk.  This allows my chalk to stand out so that others hopefully won't use it, and also helps for me to distinguish between my chalk and my opponents' chalk on the table.

Back in the Spring, a friend of mine mentioned at the Texas State Tournament that there is thinner duck tape and therefore MUCH easier obviously to wrap around the chalk.

If you've ever tried to put regular duct tape around a piece of chalk it's really very cumbersome and you have edges sticking out and it's just not very smooth at all (or easy to put around the chalk).  So when I heard of this thinner duct, tape I was very excited.

However, just a couple weeks ago I saw some decorative regular TAPE.

So, therefore this is much MUCH easier to apply around the chalk but further, I figured out that the chalk feels much better between my fingers.

It's a little tough to explain, but as you know duct tape is kind of shiny and slippery, yet tape has more of a "fabric" feel to it (at least the decorative tape does), and it's easier to grab and even clasp through your fingers.

I highly recommend decorative tape for all the reasons mentioned above.

I promise you will thank me.  And by the way, it's found in most school supplies sections (I bought mine at Walmart).

Can you tell which piece has tape and which one is with duct tape?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Timing of Comments

I mentioned the other day that I broke and ran my first rack at league. But what I didn't share was that it wasn't easy.

What's crazy is my captain has been playing bad and he recognized that I was playing good, so he actually switched us up in the lineup so that I would have more breaks than himself.

So, for some reason, my 8-ball breaks on a bar table are working really well for me. Seems like I've been struggling with them for 2 years and now that I want to step away from the game, it's coincidental that I'm not scratching, making a ball every time, and the cue ball is sitting itself right in the center of the table.  It's really quite comical that my breaks are working out now - and by the way I don't recall changing anything except moving the cue ball a tad to the left when I break now (which didn't seem to help last year when I tried this change).

Back to my story - so I make a ball on the break and I see that stripes are much better than solids.  I have to make one risky shot but I know it's the right shot for the out, otherwise I won't be able to get up and down the table for a good leave on the 8ball.

I'm staying down well, I'm breathing well, and I feel like all eyes are on me.  I then leave myself a tricky 8 ball shot in the side.  It was really the only available pocket I had and I felt good I was able to get shape for it in the side, even if it wasn't an easy shot.

So, you're probably wondering, "well what part of this rack was tough?"  Well, it was my opponent!  You see, as soon as I made my last ball before the 8ball, my opponent says to me, "Come on Melinda, really?"

At this point I'm a little more than annoyed because number one, I still haven't run out.  Number two, this is the case ball.  Number 3, why would you possibly ever think that it would be okay to say something before I'm about to shoot the final ball?

I realize he was saying it because I was about to run out on him and he not get even one shot.  But, I was not very happy because it was a tough shot AND it wasn't over yet.  He couldn't wait til after I made the 8ball to say something?  Luckily I did make the 8ball to run out for the win.  But I had to really re-focus and bear down, as he definitely distracted me. 

I'm suggesting that even in league, it is still important to be aware of your words and timing.  I think it's actually unsportsmanlike, even though he was probably trying to be funny, the timing was hideous.

And I can tell you that if I would have missed the tough 8 ball, the tone of this blog post would have been much different!