Saturday, April 30, 2016

Barking Gets Games

The other day, I heard about this player that was barking so much at another guy, it pissed him off so badly, he finally couldn't take it anymore and HAD to play the guy.

Normally he should get the 8ball, but he was so hot at all the barking that went on towards him for too long, his temper won and he gave in and just played even.

While the match ended up being close in the end, the player who /had/ to play because he was so riled up, ended up losing.

Days later I heard that the guy who was barking a lot told a friend of the situation.  He shared something like, "even tho I was prolly rude.... see?  He played; it works."

Interesting ploy.

There is so much to gambling and barking I don't understand, lol.

Friday, April 29, 2016

All Around Player

When you are deciding players for a team, talent only gets you so far.  Good players are only asked if they also have the demeanor and composure needed in a team dynamic.

Some great players are hot-heads or throw tempers or are mean or are not nice people in general.  No matter how good someone plays, we are looking for the complete package.  Sure, talent is the top reason, but if the player is a jackass or doesn't get along with others, then why ask them to be on a team?

Just like when choosing someone for a job, you are looking for someone who gets along with others.  Even if they are the top salesman, if they are a douche bag or don't have any people skills or fly off the handle at coworkers or customers a lot, you would probably pick someone else who gets along with their fellow employees and loyal customers instead.

Or what about relationships?   You would want the entire package for a significant other as well.  If they make great money, but have a bad temper all the time, what is that?  Or they are the hottest dude in school, but can't keep an intelligent conversation?

Same for team dynamics

We want a great shooter with a level head, gets along with others, drama-free, and maybe even one with humor who can make teammates laugh during adverse situations when competing. 

And what being dependable?  If you happen to nab the best player around but he won't show up on time for league or flakes committing for big team events, is it worth the stress and anxiety!?

It's not just talent.    

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stepping In

Because I've run big tours for over 14 years (9 years with OB Cues Ladies Tour and 5 years with Omega Billiards Tour), I really enjoy being able to relax and just focus completely on playing pool when I get a chance to play in a tourney I'm not running.

However, since I'm a perceptive person especially of things going on around me, I also can't help but notice if any fellow Tournament Directors (TD) need assistance.  Then my instinct to help naturally kicks in.

At a tournament in early April, I noticed the TD struggling trying to fill out the tournament chart at the same time trying to collect all the calcutta money.  I could NOT STAND IT.  I /had/ to help.  I could only wait impatiently for about 5 minutes and then wiggled my way through the crowd and went right up to the chart and started adding the players names to their appropriate spots, while the real TD was collecting money and being bombarded with players coming up to pay him.

I recognized the tourney would start so much later if someone didn't intervene, and so because I feel very comfortable in my role as fellow TD, I just kinda stepped right in.  He thanked me later for the help, and we both recognized that you need two people sometimes to get a tourney started timely.

I also help at another locations.  In Feb I was at a tourney and was helping make announcements, helping with decisions, and pulling numbers for the draw, kinda all automatically when I recognized the TD was stressing dealing with unappreciative players.

My leadership skills kinda kick in magically and I love to help a tourney run smoothly.

Kinda funny... I am happy to play in events where I can focus on pool, but also happy to be able to help!

Obviously I don't do this at every tourney,  but more so at events where I am friends with the fellow TD or they could use some help to move things a long or help smooth things along.

I recall as I walked to help the TD in early April, one of my ex teammates in the crowd quipped, "I was giving you about 5 minutes before you jumped in to save him," lol.

Just who I am.  A little helper.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Celebratory Apology

At the scotch doubles tourney I played in back in February, my partner and I had to race one extra game because I am listed as an Advanced player for BCAPL.

This meant that we were one of the teams "to beat."  Everyone had their eye on the "good team."

We were on the one-loss side and after winning several matches, we found ourselves in a tough little match, deep in the tourney.  It went hill-hill and we lost.

The female player of the team is a very good friend of mine that I adore and she actually told me WAY before I ever won a title that she was my biggest fan.  Which still to this day is surreal to think I would have a fan.

And her and I became good friends a couple of years after that and we really respect each other in life.

Fast forward to that match, and after her partner makes the 8-ball hill-hill, she kinda yells and claps with delight.  For a very split second I was a tad bothered, but in all honestly I was upset we lost, not that she showed a happy emotion.  And let's be honest, Greg (my partner) and I are such a great team, that I would also celebrate if I was in her shoes, too!  It was a GREAT win and they had to play well to defeat us and they did.

Greg and I never spoke about it, as we both knew it was just part of being the "team to beat" syndrome.  Didn't even think of it again, honestly.

Two days later, he and I receive this text: 
"Hi Melinda and Greg,

I wanted to message you to tell you something.  I want to apologize to the both of you.  I got way over excited Saturday and left that damn yell come out of my mouth when my partner dropped the final 8 Ball.  My emotions took over.  I normally never do that, it's rude and I think it is disrespectful to your opponent.  It shouldn't matter if I know you or not, but I am even more disappointed in myself that I did that playing against you two.  I respect both of y'all immensely, personally and as pool players and I'm honored to call you both friends.  So, I am sorry for that.  I will be better behaved in the future!  Hope you had a great Easter.  I hope to see either of you soon. "

When I read her text, I was completely floored.  She didn't have to do that at all.  But she is a "feeler" like I am and since it bothered her what she did, she really felt like she should apologize.

I was impressed.

I responded with:
"No worries at all!  You should have been excited!  :)  Sweet of you to think of apologizing, but no worries, babe :)  Love ya!"
She said,
" Ok. Thank you.  I just had to, though, it was out of character.   :-)."
 And I shared back,
"I know what you mean. Been there myself  :)  "

It was a great exchange among friends that admire each other.  I cherish her and her passion for the game and learning so much - and that experience and exchange is part of that journey!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Complaints As Blessings

A friend of mine was all up in arms on Friday.

I asked her why, then walked away from my computer for a meeting, and came back to all this venting in my chat window:

  • My dang Tuesday night league keeps blowing my phone up!  
  • I told them I was super busy with my side job and am preparing for a wedding tomorrow.  
  • I have so much to do!  
  • One of my teammates was like, "just shoot a few games and then leave."  
  • And I'm like really, WTF?  
  • Okay, let me drive 40 minutes away to shoot "a few" games and then drive back home and waste 2-3 hours of the time I need to prepare for this wedding.  
  • No, no I can't do both.  
  • I have to choose.  
  • These playoffs are just bad #%^!@# timing!
  • grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

So I reply with:

"Awwww, you're so wanted!"

And she replies:

"LMFAO!  I'm over here in this turmoil and that's what you find out of the convo!  I just ADORE you!"


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Competing Helps Real Life

The other day I received an email from a dear friend.  In it, he told me, "I applaud your devotion you had for you Mom.  All the tough situations you went through, the heart you've developed as a pool player was invaluable to help you through it all."

I admit I wasn't sure what he meant.  So, the nosey person in me asked him.

And he replied with words that I'm still shocked by:

"It means the resilience that you have developed as a pool player - the ability to overcome adversity, pick yourself up, and get going again - helps you in difficult situations."

Did he really just say all that?

It sure does put quite the spin on just "competing" in pool (or any sport), doesn't it?

While I didn't see that in myself over 4 years because of the grief and depression I could barely climb out of bed for, it's been pointed out to me on numerous occasions that ALL my big title wins were during those years.

It's funny though, that he said this, because I actually never thought of that and usually see the reverse:  When I find myself in a pressure situation in a tourney or I'm in the finals of an event, or I can feel the adrenaline moving through my veins and pumping my heart feverishly, I sometimes use life learning experiences to calm myself down:

"This is /nothing/ Melinda.  You found a loved one pass away. "

"Why are you so nervous?  You had to speak in front of 200 people you didn't know through sobbing tears and absolute heartbreak about your Dad after he passed."

So, to read his take on the reverse - using what I learned in pool to help me through adversity in life - is not only huge compliment because of the words he chose ("heart," for example), it's also because I never really thought of that before.

P.S.  I was reminded that A Mind for Pool by Phil Capelle touches on this.  :)

Friday, April 22, 2016

April 8-Ball Tourney Recap

Seems like I have referenced that 8 ball tourney that I played in in early April a lot, but I admit a lot different things happened at the two-day event I've wanted to share.  I have even more still on my list from that event, but I promised a recap of my matches, so here it goes.

Recaps are prolly boring for anyone but me, but I like to remember my matches through my blog (even tho my friend Dane always wonders how I remember all these details, lol).

Out of 51 players in this 8-ball tourney, only 3 were women, with 8 beautiful Diamond bar tables held at a semi-new place called Open Table.

I didn't get a bye my first round and played a guy I didn't know.  He seemed pretty timid at first - wasn't sure if he was more worried he was playing a chick or what.  He would make a few balls and then miss, but as I jumped to a 2-0 lead, he then couldn't make more than 1 ball in a row.  Actually felt bad for him as he was clearly not handling the current situation well.  I then win the 3rd game in a race to 4 and he shakes my hand.  I remind him it's a race to 4 and he seems pretty dang deflated he has at least one more game to sweat through and play.  He misses in the next game and says, "please take me out of my misery."  It's always funny people say that at the worst times - when there is NO way I can run out and have several balls tied up.  Poor guy will have several innings before I finally let him loose 4-0.

I then play a friend next.  I haven't really ever seen him play pool before, but he's been around the pool room for many, many years.  He played real good against me - great safes and shots.  I felt like maybe I was the better player between the two of us, but he kept coming with these good shots and safes that made if difficult to capitalize, lol.  I ended up barely winning 4-2, while all the while I have really no idea if I could beat the guy.  He would tell me later that he played above his head because he was trying to impress me (whatever that means).  Well, he should always play that way as he was a tough opponent to get through!

My next match was against a good player.  However, I am the first to admit I have doubted his game in the past.  NO MORE will I ever do that ever again.

He has played on team events with my ex, but I never really seen him play a whole set against someone - just one game against dif players in playoffs or team events, so I didn't fully appreciate his game til this day.  The dude played freaking good!

He won the first game by playing super smart and tight.  I had a chance the next game but I missed shape and couldn't get out.  I then played a good safety on the 8-ball, but he actually long-railed kicked-safed against me and blocked me right back.  I was impressed!  I lost that game, too.

I was running out the next game and again I got bad shape and couldn't get out.  He would play great safes if he couldn't get out and I was pretty bummed I was losing, trying desperately not to be upset the score should be different because of those 2-3 mistakes I made.  But I'm not taking anything away from his game.  He played tight, he played smart, he took his time on shots and on his decisions.  I had no idea he played that well.

He won the 3rd game and I'm now down 0-3 in a race to 4.  I am trying to figure out what is going on with myself, instead of being down about my errors.  I realize I am thinking while down on my shots and not looking at where I do NOT want to be.  In other words, sometimes it's better to go past your reference point instead of short of it.  I needed to be aware of that, and decide before I get down on my shots.

The next game I actually get a shot after a mis-fired safe by him!  I run out and I state out loud proudly with A LOT of relief, "I won a game!"  I even think to myself, "oooh, I should be nice and not sat that if I win another."  Don't want to be rude to the guy by jabbering inappropriately.

The next game, score 1-3 him, he breaks but makes the 8 ball.  He sets the 8 ball on the spot and studies the table for a while.  Neither stripes nor solids are run-able and he finally decides to re-rack.  He re-racks, doesn't make anything on the subsequent break and I RUN OUT!

Hole sh!t.

Score 2-3.

The next game is a cluster fvck.  Almost literally - it seriously has so many clusters it's a pretty tough little table; tough run for either stripes or solids.  I find myself at the table after a few innings between the two of us and I want to play safe immediately.  But oh crap - I actually have the opportunity to break out the 8 ball and my solid.  I decided WTH and go for it.  I get the 8 ball out, but not my solid.  Next shot actually allows me to draw back long rail and break out the solid/stripe cluster.  I do that, too.  (wow.)  I am EXTREMELY cognizant that I am doing all the risky break outs - sometimes we want our opponent to do it, but I had the perfect opportunities and was just hoping I wouldn't miss to give him back a now-open table.  But, I ran out :)  Probably one of the toughest and best runs of my life!

Hill-hill baby!

Neither one of us get out the next match at our turns at the table.  Then my opponent has a chance to run out and my only chance left is a tricky shot he under-hit for shape.  He studies it for a long time, seeing how he needs to hit it and he misses!  I have 3 balls before the 8 ball and my heart is beating out of my chest.  I have a hanger, a long rail shot, and a ball I can't see from my position.  I go for the long rail shot praying I make it (by that I mean, I focus on taking my time, smooth stroke, and staying down on the tough shot).  If I went for the hanger, there's no guarantee I'd have shape on either ball left so the long rail shot was THE shot I had to shoot for the run.  I MADE IT!

Then made my other two balls and the 8 ball to win the match!  After being down 0-3, it was quite the little come back.  He walked away in utter disbelief.  He HAD that match.  He wasn't sure what happened or how that happened.  I was in shock, too, trust me.

I then had to play my friend Anthony.  I felt confident the whole time because my knowledge is deeper in 8ball than his, but he is a good shot-maker and we found ourselves hill-hill.  A lot of people were watching and I just tried hard not to look at the crowd.  He breaks hill-hill and makes a few balls and ALSO the cueball.  I get ball in hand on a fairly easy run, except since it's hill-hill, it's not easy.  I take my time ensuring I get on the correct side of the balls and I run out for the win. :)

OMG I'm seriously on the winner's side til Sunday?!

I came back the next day pretty refreshed (even after finding out I need a new roof from all the recent hailstorms), and I was ready to play.  I hit a few racks to get warmed up and we started.

The first guy I played that day was super nervous and I told myself to just take advantage of any mistakes he made.  I was playing good, so felt good.  At this point in your pool life, sometimes you just don't want to DOG IT when you make it until Sunday.  Luckily though, I have a lot of experience now and so I have learned to be confident in my ablity and to simply focus on my fundamentals and the table.  Not be upset at any errors that can snowball your thoughts into barely allowing your arms to play pool anymore.

I win the first game.  But I make an 8-ball out of turn the next game.  1-1.  He then scratches on the 8-ball the next game.  He was so nervous, I knew had the upper hand.  2-1, me.  He then wins the next game, so score 2-2.  In the next game, I play a safe and make the 8-ball AGAIN out of turn.  This time, I completely disappoint myself and declare out loud, "G Dammit!"  (I can't even spell it out - that's how much I despise that phrase).  But, the words spit right out of my mouth uncontrolled because I was so shocked.

He's now on the hill, 2-3.

He plays safe late in the match and I am running out.  And then I hook myself on the 8ball.  I am in disbelief.  Seriously.  I stand there disappointed - I can already see the writing on the wall (and so could the crowd when I heard them gasp when I hooked myself, lol).  I made contact with the 8ball but didn't come close to making it.  So, he gets out with his 2 balls left.

I lost 2-4.

And I was NOT playing for the hotseat next match as should have been.  Instead, I found myself playing for 5th place on the one-loss side.  Now it's a race to 3.  Yikes!

This is the match I talked about before where the guy clapped when I missed a ball hill-hill.  You can read the tough, sob, brutal story here.

So, I lose that match hill-hill and place 5th out of 51 players!  Not too shabby!  Even though I know in my heart I should have been at least in the top 3 if that first Sunday match wasn't full of errors.

Here are the payouts (and YES, I did get that 50 cents with the $102):

click to enlarge

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What Side Are You On?

I hate the word "loser."

I can't even say "loser's side."  I prefer "one-loss side" when I talk about the left side of the brackets.

One of my friends pointed this out the other day when we were talking about a tournament.

He said, "Hey, why do you say "one-loss side"?  It's really the loser's side."

I told him I just couldn't say that - it seems like a negative term.  'One-loss side' has no negative connotation at all to it.

And he just laughed and shook his head, "of course you would think like that."

I even searched my blog articles because I thought I wrote about this before.  Instead, I noticed the last time I used the term "loser's side" in my blog was in 2007!

Hey, I try to be optimistic!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Compliments and Timing

During the weekend of that 8 ball tournament I played in at the beginning of April that I wrote about, I received a lot of compliments for some reason.

I am not sure if it was because people hadn't seen me in a while or what, but while it can make one feel good, the timing of them can be kinda of brutal.

I have been through so many experiences (ups and downs) while playing that I can actually handle what goes on around me pretty well and not let it bother me (or, I am at least better prepared to handle them because of all the experiences).  It's the one of the main reasons the biggest tip I give to players is to play in as many tournaments as you can.  The lessons are endless and will help you in future matches. 

The weekend was kinda weird in general though because of all the people I hadn't seen in a while or didn't know.  And it wasn't just because I hadn't been playing league, I think it was also because this pool room was pretty far north west of where I live and I hadn't been out that way in several years.  And also I think because I was this chick who people had heard won titles, so people were just sharing things to me they had heard.

At one point, someone said to me who I haven't seen in a few years, "I heard you have been playing really well."  And I gushed and said shyly shrugging my shoulders, "I guess so."  One of my friends (and recent teammate) pipes up and says, "have you not seen her play lately?"  The guy says no, and my teammate declares, "you are missing out if you haven't seen her play in the last 2-3 years."

I walked away feeling amazing I admit!

Wow, did he really just say that?  Awwww!

Fast forward to the next day and I find myself on the winner's side still.  As I'm IN THE MIDDLE OF A MATCH, I hear two people talking right behind me.  One is a bystander watching and the other is a player who I defeated the previous night and had just won his match that morning.  The bystander is asking him questions, did you just win, are you still in, are you on the winner's side?

The player says, "I'm on the one-loss side.  But it's okay, because I got beat by the best player in here."

The bystander asks who and he points to me, "her - she's the best player in here."

Mind you, this is a huge compliment right?  "Why would that bother you, Melinda"?  You are asking yourself right now.

Well, because I'm in the middle of a match and that actually puts pressure on a player.  It can give you either too much confidence or for some people, they would now want to "perform" well in front of this bystander that just heard I'm the nutz. 

Have you ever played well with too much confidence or trying to show off?  Nope; me either.  I have written about this before, but thinking about things like that can actually take you AWAY from your game.  You get a little big headed or aren't as focused and you don't play the same. 

See where I'm going with this "compliment"?

It's actually a pretty weird phenomenon.  If you tell someone who is running out and free-stroking against you in the middle of the match, "my goodness you are playing so well and staying down good!" it actually THROWS their game off.  I have seen people use it as a sharking technique.  Because the player then is thinking more about how they are playing instead of free-stroking like they were.

Of course, the seasoned players aren't deterred and may even laugh about the possible "move."

Luckily, I consider myself a season player and I have been through so much during competitions that the experiences I have gained taught me to simply ignore what the guy said and concentrate on the game at hand.

So, don't let words get you over confident.  I try not to listen or hear anything when I play - it can throw your momentum off.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What a Difference a Year Makes

While writing a blog entry the other day, I came across this blog post I wrote about a year ago about my thoughts (dare I say "plans") of my future in pool. 

It was a good little read for me, to reflect what I was thinking a year ago.  While it upset some friends last year, it was quite the post.... basically talking about me stepping away from the game, but also sharing I needed to gain inner peace.

So, has anything changed?  Did what I envision materialize?  Have I reconsidered things in the pool realm?

Here is my take almost exactly a year later:

Do I miss league?  NOT ONE FREAKING BIT.  For some odd reason, there has be in influx of people asking me to join teams/leagues. It's like there is an APB out on me, "she isn't playing on any leagues, grab her now."

And my old teams reach out to me every once in a while, "we need you" or "you are missed."  It's sweet, I admit, but I'm enjoying ALL my week nights open for whatever might come up.  Mostly, I have been having dinner with friends or coworkers that I want to get to know better, to learn from.  Or, friends I didn't go out with the last 4 years of my foggy life when I was as hermit.  The other nights I might be just having quiet evenings at home relaxing and getting rest.

It's nice to be able to tell a friend, "yes I can meet tonight!"  Instead of, "sorry, I have league."

Part of the point of the blog last year was to also express I want to do more for others.  Playing league, while helping my teams, was a little limiting in that it was only a certain circle of people I was helping.  I have begun to give lessons more and I can state for a fact that of all things I do pool-related, that gives me the most high in life.

It's nice when just two weeks ago I was asked if I could meet with a team on a Thursday night for a "team lesson" on 8-ball and mental tips.  Normally I'd had to say, "Sorry, I'm at State."  This year it was, "what time shall I meet you all?!"

(I'll write more about this 'lessons aspect' later - how it came to fruition and how that particular team lesson went (and what /I/ learned from it).)

I am also going to dabble more into writing.  Not just this blog, but in magazines as well.  And a partnership blogging thing a friend and I will be announcing in a month or so. 

Of course still running the Omega Tour as well.

You can see that those three main things go right along with the theme of helping others, which I have so much more time for now because I do NOT have leagues I'm committed to.

No, what about competing?  Do I miss that?

Well... I was wrong about that part.  Don't freak out - there ARE women who admit when they are wrong. 

I did find myself a few times actually /wanting/ to play (either gambling, actually played some pool during the winter months I wasn't expecting, looking forward to a scotch event, or when coerced to play in an 8 ball tourney I ended up LOVING competing). 

I think for me, the love of the game is still there, and more so because I am still playing well (even with taking this "time off") has really helped me still like playing.  If my game had gone down like some predicted, I'd be FAR away from wanting to compete still.

I can see that I don't miss league or league events at all, but I do see I still like to play.  I guess what I'm realizing is I don't want to stop competing, but I still want to steer clear of league events (weekly or state or otherwise).

I can't even tell you why, though.  Maybe it's because I have the freedom to decide when I want to play or when I don't.  With league - the commitment is all decided for me.  Weekly, or playoff weekends are set, or I HAD to attend a state tourney or nationals. 

So, I'm not staying away from playing pool at all - if anything, helping others, talking about pool to certain people, writing more, and competing when I have the strong desire to is helping put pool even more right in front of me.  But more so - in front of others because of the Pay It Forward effect.

It's funny - I actually have more plans related to pool and yet less time to do it all b/c my bucket list is so full with so many different aspects.  Quite the twist of events, huh?

Giving lessons and doing more writing is especially heart warming to me and very exciting.  To be able to give back is bottom line the ultimate goal for me.  You know, that inner peace thing I mentioned in the beginning.  :)

Monday, April 18, 2016


A friend of mine played in a tough little tourney this past Saturday.  I ran into her as I stopped in to say my hello's to everyone (I had plans later in the day and couldn't play myself this time).

She was up against some great players - and only 2 females played in the event.  It was a very top-heavy field.

Later that evening, she texted me about her pool day.  Saying she was proud she played, but disappointed and frustrated.

I texted back and shared that it's tough to play perfect every time we play, though.  And that it took balls to play in that event to begin with!

Her reply completely took me by surprise!

She texts back, "You can never play perfect.  Everyone wants to, but some wise woman told me once, "everybody misses, no matter how good they are."
- Melinda Bailey"

OMG did she just quote me!?  Seriously made my day.  :)

But seeing her play in that tourney ALSO made my day!  It wasn't a cheap-entry-fee tourney, it was a tough field, and even more so - I knew the experiences she gained from that day would be so very helpful to her future self.  I was excited for her!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Commentating in my Ear

One Sunday of the previous Omega tournament (in March), I was watching the matches like I normally do as the Tournament Director.  I can't recall which one now that I had been focused on at that time, but it was a match still on the winner's side and deep in the tournament. 

One of the Omega players stopped by to see what was going on, and who was still left in the tournament.

He decided to stand right next to my chair.

And then he started to talk in my ear.  Well, talk near enough for me to hear.

He was pretty much giving me play by plays of the match.  Player A hit that ball good, or Player B wanted better shape.  Or, Player A should be out, or Player B should play a good safe here by sending the cueball down table and hide it behind the 5 ball.

Things like that.

He was pretty much my own little personal commentator.

While this may seem annoying to some, I LOVED IT!  100%

I respect the players game very much and to hear his thoughts about safes, or shape, or runs of this match was an awesome treat for me!  Play by plays can be very helpful watching pool.

I actually really enjoy dissecting a match and analyzing the decisions so I can learn more.  I am a very lucky girl in that I pick up A LOT by watching, but obviously to hear someone talk about a match and any options is even more powerful to my repertoire.

I am going to mention this the next time I see him!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Elbow Position Using a Bridge

I was practicing one day about 6 years ago at my normal jaunt and I had to use a rake (I like to call it a bridge, so hence-forth bridge means the rake, not the bridge you make with your hand when shooting).  
I grabbed the bridge, got down on my stance and shot (and made) the ball in front of me.  As I walk around the table for my next shot, my friend Robbie (and a local favorite in the pool room) comes flying from the other side of the room, "Melinda, Melinda!"  
Sheesh, what??
He said, "I don't normally interfere in people's practice session, but I noticed how you were using the bridge and I learned a long time ago from..." (of course now I forgot the person's name).... "to use the bridge with your elbow to the side, not like you were using. "
I replied, "oh okay."
I went on my merry way and didn't have to use a bridge again during that practice session, but when I did the next time, I positioned my elbow up and to the side, instead of my elbow being straight down.
You all may already know this.  Heck it's probably in every pool book and I just don't recall, but I had to share this in case others are unaware like I was.
I have seen every snooker-backgrounded player use a bridge this way, yet I never did!   In A Mind for Tennis, the guy talks about learning from imitating and watching, yet I saw so many pros use the bridge that way and never did.  
When I started to use the bridge in that position from then on, I felt more comfortable, more solid, more secure.
I hope you see a difference, too.
I admit there is never true right and wrong in pool - there are OPTIONS.  But I beg you to try using a bridge with your elbow to the side (if you aren't already) and notice how much more stability you have.  At first it might feel awkward, but only after a few shots (or strokes), you will notice you do have much more control. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Quit, Doesn't Mean I Quit

Sometimes after a tournament or league where we are so disgusted with our play, we want to quit.  We might exclaim to a few friends as we steam out the door,  "I'm done with this game."  Or, "I'm never playing again - what a waste of time money."

Yet all our friends know we will be back next week, or back again at the next tournament.

The next day you wake up feeling so much better.  You're not mad at all, and the night of sleep has calmed your hostility toward the game.  Instead, usually you're renewed in your pool game!  You want to work on your game some; maybe hit more balls than usual or reevaluate parts of your game.

Well, this proclamation confuses our significant others!  Especially those that don't play pool.  We come home from league mumbling, "I should have won all my games," as you walk in the door and exclaim your new-found wisdom: "I'm done playing this game.  I'm never playing league again."

You're very agitated. You think about how you keep coming home late, spending money, being around smoke.... for what?  Not winning the games you are suppose to?  You are very agitated you are playing so badly. 

Then next Tuesday comes along, and it's league night.  You're grabbing your things, pool cues, quarters, etc.  Your spouse looks at you like you're crazy.  "What the f*** are you doing?"

And you are startled by their question and tone.  What?  It's Tuesday.  I always play league on Tuesday. 

"What do you mean, what am I doing?  I'm going to league."

And they just look at you really confused, "you quit league last week.  Remember?"

You stand there a tad perplexed.  "I didn't quit league," you say as you head out the door.

"Why would I quit league?"  You continue to think as you start your drive to the pool room, looking forward to competing and testing your skills tonight. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

It's Okay To Play Your Opponent

They say that you are supposed to play the table and not the opponent. But I was taught by a friend who had a coach, that at times, you should actually play your opponent.

What she was taught by her coach was to find out what your opponents are good at and what their weaknesses are and use that to your advantage.

She would actually watch the matches of her upcoming opponents to see what their strengths and weaknesses were. 

She would notice if someone was a really good banker, or maybe kicked well.  She would use this knowledge on how she played safe - if they banked poorly, she could leave them a bank if there wasn't an opportunity to tie up the cueball well (as an example).  Or if they kicked well (or esp kicked-safe well), then she would look for other avenues to either play safe or maybe go for the run if the safe and shot were equal in %.

As a reminder - don't forget to also use your all surroundings to your advantage as well.  I've written how one player would play safe and leave the cueball at the end of the table where her tall opponent had to awkwardly shoot b/c the table was too close to the next table.  Or, how about when Shane rolled out to a spot that Alex (who is short) could not reach?

Know your opponents!

So don't be afraid to play your opponent.  Sure, playing the table might be best when you are nervous against someone.  But even those people you are nervous against - do they have an all-around perfect game or do they have a few weaknesses that you could capitalize on?

This is actually a huge part of the book I have always recommended, Winning Ugly, by Brad Gilbert.  He would study his opponents and defeat the top players when most thought he was the underdog.  I'd like to reiterate that this booked helped me gain the killer instinct and I highly recommend it for mental toughness (pretty amazing book that teaches a lot about competition).

Friday, April 8, 2016

Honoring Surprise at BCAPL Texas State

Bad Boys Billiards, who run the BCAPL Texas State tourney, came up with these two trophies for the top female and male finishers who play in scotch doubles, singles, and teams at the Texas BCAPL State Championship.

Click image to enlarge to see Royce Bunnell and Emma Davis's names on the trophies.

Such an AMAZING honor and a heart-warming idea.

I'm speechless.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Memories This Week

Facebook has this "Memories of the Day" thingy on it, and it shows you all the memories you had that day for every year you've been on Facebook.

This week happens to be the week of the Texas BCAPL State tourney.  Normally I don't like to see the memories of things I've posted that I no longer care to remember or were about my Mom's hospital stays, but I have to admit these memories this week are pretty fantastic!

This week these have come up for me:

What a great three years for BCAPL Texas State pool hardware for me!

Imma lucky girl!

Several people have called to give me sh!t for not being there this week, or asked me how I felt not playing.  Well, I feel pretty dang good about my decision!  I am working at work this week, not spending money on a hotel room for 6 days, getting rest, not going through emotional roller-coasters in matches, not dealing with drama, not trying to figure out 1099s, and getting things done around the house and in the yard - pretty dang good week for me :)

Sure, a smidgen of my heart imagined me playing in singles and I do miss seeing my cool fellow female pool playing friends that I only see when these tourneys come around, but otherwise, I'm very happy with my current titles that I walk by in the hallway every night as I walk to my room to lay my sleepy head.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tell-Tale Signs Practicing?

I decided last minute to play in a tournament last weekend (read how that happened here) and did not show up until about 5-10 minutes before noon.

The calcutta would start late about 12:25 or so and I was able to collaborate with a couple of friends about who might be good buys in the calcutta.

I knew most of the players, or recognized them, but there were a few I did not know.  Many I hadn't seen in years it seemed like.

As we discussed the potential horses to buy, one of my friends said, "I don't know who he is, but he plays really good - I saw him practicing earlier."

And another friend said a little later about a different player, "that guy right there couldn't miss a ball practicing this morning against Phillip."

I quickly discounted both of those players.

I told each of my friends when this came up, "well, everyone practices well.  There's no pressure just hitting balls."

It gave them something extra to think about - because I didn't want to them spend their money on an unknown player just because he hit balls well while he practiced.  We all free-stroke during practice, right?  That is actually why some people suggest to play in your matches like you are practicing, because there's no pressure in practice and we play pretty sporty while we hit balls by ourselves with no "real" competition right in front of us.  For instance, have you felt adrenaline during practice?

Don't get me wrong - practice IS important.  Crucial and essential, actually.  But, you can't judge who will be the top players of a tourney the morning of.  Some may be just trying to get the table speed down.  Or warming up their body or getting lose. 

One of the guys asked about another player, "What about the guy in the black shirt?  Do you know him?  He was also hitting balls well this morning."

I didn't know who he was, but I joked, "Well, again, everyone practices well with no pressure.  Wait til he runs against a chick like me."  And everyone laughed.

While funny, it IS true.  If you find yourself against a good player, playing a chick in front of all your friends, or being down 0-3 against a scrub, it WILL affect your play and your free-stroking games of practice in the morning are all of a sudden now no-where to be found.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Clapper

I wrote the other day that I played in an 8-ball tournament. And I eluded to the fact that something bad happened so I'm going to talk about that now. If you don’t have time to read a long post, I apologize in advance lol.

51 players, Diamond bar tables, couldn’t play if your Fargo rating was below 640, and it was 8ball. Almost the perfect storm for me.  After fighting pretty tough on Saturday, I find myself on the winner’s side on Sunday!  I’m guaranteed 5th place.  :)   

I felt like I'm fighting for my life out there being the only girl left on Sunday, and everyone was talking about my game all weekend, too.  People I didn't even know were telling me they heard how well I played, or heard I was a champion, or people I hadn’t seen in a while were telling me how impressed they were.  As I drove 35 minutes on Sunday morning for Day Two to the location (near the beautiful Eagle Mountain Lake where I’ve hiked before), I thought about how the words of others and their expectations could be unnecessary pressure.  But, I know from experience to have NO expectations and to simply focus one ball, one game, one match at a time.  But, again, I was fighting for my life out there.  Playing with so much heart.  I was trying so hard and had the opportunity to finish high in this event, so it's just interestingly unfortunate that this crappy situation happened at the end.

I lose my first match on Sunday because of some brutal things that happened. I made the 8 ball TWICE out of turn (and this is a race to 4) and when the score was 3 to 2 him, I hooked myself on the 8-ball and didn’t tie it up - instead he won 4-2.  Those three things pretty much cost me the match, and so I lost.  Heart breaker - I would have been playing for the hotseat, dammit.

But now I'm on the one-loss side and as we start, there's another match going on right next to us, but they finish pretty quickly.  And so in a room full of 8 tables and lots of people watching, we are the /only/ match for the crowd and patrons to watch on the center stage.  And, this time it's a race to 3 so that makes it a little bit more intense on the mind because there's not a lot of chances in a race to 3. 

During this match at one point, I missed a shot and I heard someone say from the crowd, “come on Scott,” as I walked to my seat. I kind of looked toward the area of where the words came from because I thought the timing was kind of weird, but I told myself it was no big deal and that they were just rooting for their friend, not against me (I’ve written about this before how crucial that frame of mind is so it doesn’t become negative).

I make a couple of mistakes that match and he plays really good safeties, but I also capitalized well on some of his errors, and the match goes hill-hill!  

At hill-hill, I find myself at the table and after taking some time to survey the layout, I see which way I'm going to go with my patterns and I see a run.  I take my time and I'm playing really good, but I can tell my heart is racing as I can see the finish line (i.e, my run pattern is working out).  With only two balls left before the 8-ball, I shoot a long shot on the 3-ball to set up perfectly for the 1-ball.  I shoot it, and think I made it, but I missed the shot!

I'm pretty devastated at this point but devastation turned into bewilderment with a touch of appall.

Right after I missed this crucial 3 ball, someone clapped after I missed the shot. Yes they were clapping because I missed and because their friend was about to get to the table.

So at this point I'm pretty pissed off and my emotions took over.  I saw who it was and I stood there and I said to him from across the room, “Really?”

And he replies, “Yep. Really. “

I admit I was not happy at this point. Usually when this happens, someone might say hey I'm sorry you're right, or raise their hand as an apology.  But he was very defiant. He could give two s**** that he just clapped.  As I'm walking back to my chair, I'm still looking at him and I proclaim, "I would never do that to you.  I would never to that to anybody.  That's just not right."  And he's just looking at me smiling, cocky, and could care less what I was saying.

While this exchange was happening, one of my friends was standing near him (this is difficult to describe), and as soon as I said “Really?” to him, my friend got caught completely off-guard that I was calling him out. He kinda bent over with that “oh shit!” kinda movement and bolted out the door out of the line of the fire.  He could not believe that I was saying something to this guy and his reaction was actually priceless. (only funny part to this story)

So I sit down in my chair and I see my opponent running out. I see he's going to get out, and I see I'm not going to get another chance at the table. I shook his hand after his run, and congratulated him. Hardly anyone clapped at this point, everyone could feel the tension in the air. He said he was real sorry what the guy did.  I told him his friend was rude and he agreed.  

So then I had to go get my money and I walked over to the tournament director and he and his helper both told me that that wasn't right and apologized.  In the midst of being angry, I made some stupid comment like, “yea, I may not ever play here again.”  But I didn’t mean it - I was just pissed.

But, it was a local player rooting for their local friend.  It was just tough being an outsider already coming in there playing and people rooting against you like that. I know that people root for their friends and I understand that, but to clap when someone misses while you're playing your heart out, just was really brutal and bad etiquette.

Of course wrestling with my emotions, I share this on Facebook, and told a few friends about it who aren't on Facebook. Many people told me "lucky I wasn't there," or that they wouldn't have blamed me if i called him names, and many wanted to know who it was and suggested I should blast his name and photo on Facebook.  lol.

But, I have learned never to call people names, even in the heat of arguments I wont do it.  I just kinda learned that name-calling just leads to unfortunate situations and more anger.  And that was last thing I wanted to do was make this guy angry.  And I would never put this guy on blast and publish his name or anything - that's just not who I am. I mean, I feel bad it happened.  But I’m actually glad it happened to me because I can handle it, even though I was pissed about it at the time.  But, it’s not the end of the world and I know he probably didn't really even mean to do that.  It was just a reaction (I hope that he would not do that deliberately, because if that's the case then I'll completely re-write the theme of this blog entry LOL.).
People also kept talking about karma.  Well, I don't really don't believe in karma.  I just hope he learns from this and I don’t wish no ill will on anybody.
The only thing I’m disappointed about is I was upset afterwards when I should have been elated I finished 5th. There’s a lot of emotions that go into playing pool hard. I should be happy I placed 5th out of 51 players in this tough tourney!  But it ended this way within 2 minutes of me being put out, and that really puts a sour note on to what should be a fabulous weekend for me. But, in the end, and after some time of reflection, I am pretty stinking proud of myself for doing so well. :) I surprised myself!

But again, I’d rather it happen to me than someone else; anyone else actually.

This does make for a very interesting blog entry tho, doesn't it? 

Helping Others - Careful Advice

I am one of those weird kinda players that can spot what's going on with a players' game - why they may be missing, or why they are having trouble running out, etc.

I call it a gift, really.  But, I suppose it could be annoying to others.  lol.

However, I don't ALWAYS share what I see, I usually keep it to myself, or if I do share, I choose my words very carefully.  Nothing like telling a CEO or a cocky player or a sensitive player you caught something they can work on to improve their game.  So, I gauge when to say something, if to say something, and how to come across the most helpful and effective while NEVER hurting feelings or putting down a player.  Always positive.

One thing that has helped me over the years is when someone tells me during a match, "hey, you're not staying down" or "take your time, your rushing your shots."  Those tidbits have helped me immensely overcome deficits during matches.

So, when I saw a friend over the weekend miss a pretty normal, easy-type of shot, I watched a few more times and saw he was barely stroking his cue and not taking his time.

So, as I walked by to report my score, I leaned in and said, "you're two-stroking.  Take your time."  He replies softy so his opponent cant hear, "well, I've been watching the Chinese pros and most all of them do not stroke the ball a lot so I've been trying that out."

I looked at him like he was crazy, and the words that came out of my mouth had no filter at all, just came out: "Um, you're not Chinese."


Monday, April 4, 2016

Play In It, You'll Like It

I had heard of this cool little 8ball tourney on Diamond bar tables for the April 2nd weekend, about 35 minutes from my house at a fairly new place that everyone keeps talking about.

I was VERY undecided if I wanted to play.  The idea of being in a confined place with potentially over 60 people all day wasn't my idea of fun, honestly.

The pool room has 8 of these beauty tables, and they weren't letting anyone play if you had a Fargo rating above 640.  So, I admit it was tempting, but still wasn't feeling it the whole two weeks before the tourney to even decide if I wanted to play or not.

I'm a planner, though, so usually I've decided weeks and weeks before an upcoming tourney if I'm playing or not.  I mark it on my calendar months in advance, lol.  But this time, I just didn't have a strong urge to play for some reason.  Plus, it was an "open" weekend for me and lately I've been spending my open Saturdays at the poker room at the closest Casino (an hour and 20 minutes away).

I was asked by a few people if I was going to play in it.  "I don't know, don't think so," was my repetitive reply to everyone the last two weeks.

Come Saturday morning, I woke up in a fairly unhappy mood.  I had decided I wasn't in a good enough frame of mind to play poker.  So, def wasn't even thinking about that tourney everyone kept asking me about.  I was just going to stay home I decided, and not do anything special but kinda hang out with my sappy mood.  lol

Then a good friend of mine sent me a message.  Here is the convo:

Friend:  Pool or poker?
Me:  Neither I guess.
Friend:  Neither? Why not?
Me:  Just gonna stay home. You playing in the tourney ? 
Friend:  Booo...yeah I'm going to play
Me:  Good! I hope you have fun and kick butt 
Friend:  Thank you...if you change your mind the Calcutta starts at 12...and if I can't buy you I got to start looking for a new horse...
Me:  No reason to buy me lol.
Friend:  Bar box 8 a 640 under tournament, you have to be top 5 pick
Me:  Damn u make me want to play lol
Friend:  You should be playing
Friend:  And it's on 7ft diamonds..
Friend:  It's the right game and the right table for you. .
Me:  Hmmm. Maybe I will now that you talked to me more abt it
Friend:  Get off your butt..and come knock this tournament off!

Me:  Hmm... well, seriously considering it now that you say all that.  Okay, sign me up please, I may not get there till noon.
Friend:  Will do
Me:  Thx for convincing me.... I think.
Friend:  It will be fun..
Me:  Oh yea, limited tables, small place, lots of people. Sounds like a blast.
Friend:  Hush it and get ready

I joked with him every so often on Saturday (he did end up buying me in the calcutta, btw) that I wouldn't thank him for convincing me to play until I played a few matches to see how the day went.  Depending on how the day went, I mighta wanted to kill him for convincing me to play lol.

Then on Sunday, after I find myself still on the winner's side!

Friend:  Good luck got this!
Me:  Thank you.   And thanks for swindling me to play.  lol
Me:  Seriously, Thx again for getting me out. 
And, I'll be blogging abt it. 
I really really really appreciate it.
Friend:  I'm glad you did very well for someone who has no interest in playing pool :-/ lol
Me:  Lmao!!!

It's amazing to me how many people have more faith in my game than I do.  I would never consider to be in the top 5 of this tourney against a host of great players (99% of them were guys, too).

And there I was, still on the winner's side Saturday night and making plans to return the next day to play in Day Two!  Wow.  I placed 5th out of 51 players and will write several blog entries of things that happened during this unplanned, spur of the moment tourney weekend.  Including details of my matches and also some bad etiquette that happened to me (fun times!).  

BIG thank you to my friend who got me out of the somber mood and around friends in the pool world last weekend.  It was needed. 

Further, I'm giving 8-ball lessons later this week to a team, so playing in this 8-ball event was super timely for that.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Have to Say Goodbye

This is a such a tough post to write, but it must be done.

I can no longer keep up with writing in my blogs.

I am trying to focus more on work and taking care of myself, and that actually is a lot of work and time.  And I need to just step back and re-evaluate my priorities.

So, I have to be smart, and I have to say goodbye for now.

Maybe some day I'll return.

Until then, hit the balls well, smooth stroke, and don't forget to enjoy the game we love to play!

Oh, and April Fools!  I aint going ANYWHERE.  This blog is one of my absolute favorite things about playing pool!