Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Getting in the Zone

Isn't it cool when you see someone trying to get into the zone?  Or, trying to mentally prepare for a upcoming match?

I think what I appreciate is when other players recognize this and then DON'T bother the player.  Let them do their own thing, don't come up and shoot the sh!t or ask dumb questions, leave them be to get mentally prepared.

I have seen this a few times, and once I describe these few scenarios I think you will recall similar situations.

The first time I was strongly aware of this was in April 2000 when I attended some big Straight Pool Tournament in New York City (i.e. the US Open Straight Pool Championships).  Everyone was super dressed-up in tuxes or dresses.  Quite the tournament.

I was there supporting my boyfriend, even though I had no idea at the time just how difficult yet amazing the lovely game of straight pool is, and how some 15 years later I would have a love/hate relationship with it, lol.

A friend of mine had sent me a message to tell Ralf Souquet good luck in the finals.  I went looking for him and there he was, sitting by himself behind the stage... just.....thinking.  He wasn't talking to anyone, he looked at peace with himself, all alone, hiding from everyone.  He had his eyes closed and you could tell he was in deep thought.

I didn't bother him, and told him after the tournament (that he won, btw) his friends' well-wishes.

Another example of a player getting into the zone is female pro Vivian Villarreal.  She wears earbuds and listens to music as she's walking to her matches.  I presume she does this for several reasons.  One, because she's trying not to get interrupted by fans because she's trying to get in the moment on her way to her matches.  And two, because good music always helps us feel good and get in the zone .  (Btw, after matches she puts her earbuds away and is very approachable for the fans!)

The other time that is vivid just happened a couple of months ago.  Two local players were going to play an 11-ahead, $1,000 set on diamond bar table.  I showed up to watch the action because I was in the area.

As they both came into the pool room, they each took turns warming up on the table they designated for the match; they alternated out every few games.  Then, one of the players steps away from the area.  He moved to a chair near the wall and kinda sat there, thinking.  Just like I had seen Ralf do some 15 years earlier.

It was the same aura - you could see him trying to mentally prepare, getting mentally ready, staying by himself to compose his thoughts and emotions, and try to get in the zone.

Maybe they were reminding themselves not to get upset over outside influences, or to take their time, etc.  Either way, it was pretty cool to see him/them literally mentally getting prepared and ready to play their big match.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Shooting Terminology

My boss plays golf pretty often - at least 2-4 times a month.  When he can, he will leave work a little early using his vacation time, to hit the links to get some good time in on the golf course.

His son came into town from college and he mentioned he was going to leave work early on Friday to go shoot.

So, as the afternoon came, I heard him getting ready to leave. 

"You going to play gold today?"

...mumble mumble...." shoot"

I asked from my office through the wall towards him, "What?"

He replies a little louder, "we are going shooting."



I asked intrigued, "Shooting what?"  Since it's not golf, is he shooting pool with his college son??

"No, we are shooting guns..... at the gun range."

"Oh!  Well, hell you have to be more specific about 'shooting' when talking to a pool player."  LOL

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Best Team Shirt

I still think this would be the absolute best team shirt EVER! 

/insert evil laugh here/


Friday, June 24, 2016

To Play or Not to Play?

Ladies tourney this weekend in Dallas - only about an hour from home.  Do I play, or not play?

Most of my being isn't even interested.

Going to Vegas during BCAPL Nationals.  Not even interested in playing there, either.  Just going for vacation and picked the same week. 

I was sharing with a coworker how cool it is to not have to compete anymore.  Don't have to deal with drama, or expectations, or disappointment, or all the emotions one goes through when competing.

Let's face it, I've had my good years.  I don't expect to do well anymore because I don't play anymore.  And.... I don't even miss playing.  

I am blessed beyond belief that I was able to have such fantastic years in pool from 2013-2015.  And it's kind of a small curse, because now that I have been successful, I feel fulfilled and want to step away from competing.

Maybe one day I will feel like getting in the ring again, but right now I can't even figure out if I have the desire to play in a ladies event tomorrow!  lol.  10-15 years ago, I'd already be packed!  I think if the atmosphere was like it used to be, I would go and try my now-old skills.  There's just a lot of reasons NOT to play.

I've learned if you really want something, nothing can stop you.  And you wont be on the fence.  And right now, I can't decide what I want to do about playing in a regional ladies tournament semi-close to home lol.  Doesn't that say something?  Doesn't that show my interests have changed? 

I may wake up tomorrow morning and feel refreshed and energized and happy and then start that drive to the venue.  Who knows.

It's tough to describe to people how moving on is not a bad thing.  Things change.  So many friends say, "you'll miss it!"  If anything, not playing just reinforces I don't miss competing, don't miss the time, don't miss the energy or emotions.  Funny, normally when we miss something, we think of the good times.  While I have fond memories I'll never forget, I'm also thinking about all the things I don't have to go through anymore or deal with lol.
Again, will never, EVER, forget all those years competing, having fun, making friends, learning about mental toughness, etc.; it's all helped me become the woman I see in the mirror (who I like, btw).  Competing gives one all sorts of learning experiences that help in every day life.  I'm blessed beyond belief!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Delays the Pain (video clip)

While watching a match during the Omega Tour stop last month on Sunday, CJ Wiley was playing Carl Bodeker.

It was a great match that went hill-hill!  The winner would move on in the event, while the player who lost would place 9th out of 81 players.  It was a big match, obviously.

At hill-hill, Carl is running out and this happens:

As I'm standing there, I say under my breath to a few people in the crowd, "well, at least he didn't scratch."  Trying to take away the sting for Carl from across the room.

One of the guys near me who is also watching quips, "yea, but now it's just delaying the pain!"

Many of us laughed at his comment, because it was so true!  He added, "at least if it scratched the pain would have already occurred and been over with, now the pain is being dragged on and delayed."  More laughter.

Pretty funny, actually - never thought of it that way.

Here is the end result, btw:

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pool Passion - Hair Video Clip

8 ball and 9 ball shaved! Omega Billiards Tour Player, Alberto Nieto, shaves his head for the love of the game:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Not THAT Tournament

I played poker this past weekend at my favorite jaunt - Winstar Poker room - right on the state line between Oklahoma and Texas.

I have mentioned several times in my blog that I have visited there so often the last 4 years or so that all the dealers know me.  And it's a very large room - 46 tables.  So, because the dealers rotate tables every 30 minutes, that's a lot of dealer (friends) that I ended up getting to know, and then they get to know me.

So, a lot of them know I play pool.  Know I'm pretty good, etc.

So last Saturday at one point in the afternoon, one of the dealers who always talk pool with me, mentioned as he dealt cards to the table, that he had been to Vegas last month.  I asked where he stayed and he said Mandalay Bay gave him a good rate.  He then asked when I was going back and I said, "July."  Being kind in turn, he asked where I was staying.  I told him I, "didn't know yet, but the tournament is at the Rio."  

A couple of players at the table looked at me funny. 

I wasn't sure why, but they just kept quiet and listened to us talk and gab on about things.

After about 30 minutes, the dealer rotates out and all of a sudden one of the players sitting across from me asks, "Your going to Vegas for a tournament?"

"Yea.  One in July."

He looks a tad stunned, and it still hasn't hit me.

"At the Rio?" 

"Yes, this one is at the Rio, but it used to be held at the Riviera."

And then I added, "Yea, the convention center at the Rio is much more suitable for the number of pool tables and all the pool players."

And responds with, "OH!  You're going for a POOL tournament!  For a while there I thought you were playing in the World Serious of Poker's big famous poker tournament that is held in July at the Rio."


I didn't even put two and two together, lol.  The players at the poker table prolly thought I was this bad-ass poker player sitting with them, lol.  Nope, just a little 'ole wanna-be pool player.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Practice Makes Perfect

After I posted about a solid break, someone asked me to explain this sentence:

"That's yet another cause-n-effect of not often-enough play in tournaments or leagues and so I kinda forgot due to lack of play and repetition. "

I'm glad they asked!

I practiced over and over and over again my 9-ball break on a diamond bar table.  Suffice it to say, it's my most solid, accurate, and dependable break I have.

AND, because I practiced it so much and was diligent about learning the sweet spot to it, I wont ever forget how to break well on a 9-ball break on a diamond bar table.

Whereas, I did not work on or practice my break for 9-ball on an 8-foot table or 9-foot table.  When I played all the time the last 10 years, I had a certain "routine" down for those breaks that worked well for me, but since I haven't been playing, that routine is no longer there and I'm just kinda whacking at my breaks on the bigger tables.  "Hopeful Break" is what I should call it lol.

Now - had I practiced a lot my break on those larger tables as I did on a diamond bar table, I wouldn't have had to remember any "routine" and instead it would have been ingrained how I break with what speed, finesse, or solidness.

That's what I meant by "kinda forgot due to lack of play and repetition."

So, if you want to remember certain aspects of the game, practice to perfection will help you a lot if you ever take a hiatus.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Breaking With a Good Stroke

It's amazing to me that some players on the Omega Billiards Tour still do not know that I play pool, when in fact 2014 was my best year ever on the felt.  I thought we all knew each other in the pool world  ;)

Most the time when they see me play, they are shocked and (luckily) surprised that I play as well as I do.

While I didn't play in a lot of Omega stops at the end of last year because that's when I was slowing down on playing pool as much, but I need to play in at least 4 (four) tournaments this year to be able to be eligible to play in the $4,500-added season finale in November.  So, I played in the last two tournaments to try to get my qualification started.

Towards the end of Saturday night at the previous stop, a player came up to me and he acted a little hesitant, but he was smiling and I could tell he wanted to share something with me.  He said, “I watched your match earlier;  I had no idea you played pool.  You play well.”

I said, “aw, thank you.  Which match was it?”  He described it and I shyly responded, “damn, I lost in that match,” kinda laughing with embarrassment.
And then he started to explain that I have a great stroke and shoot well…. But that I was whacking some shots.  

At this point, I was quite surprised and disappointed.  I pride myself on the fact that I have solid fundamentals that I have worked on for many years, and so it was disappointing to me that he said I was whacking at balls.  I actually really strive not to do that and it’s something I teach others, ironically.

Luckily, however, he went on to explain that I was whacking during the break!

I looked at him kind of confused, and he continued.  He said, "you have a very smooth, good stroke and repeat the same solid stroke every time, but NOT during the break, which is one of the most important shots in the game.”

I looked at him in awe - he was SO right. 

He then emulated my stroke and again shared I have a good fundamentals, a smooth stroke, with a level cue and fluidness that I use on all my shots - but I need to do that also during the break.  And he’s right - right now what I'm doing is I'm swinging way back and trying to move forward with strength and hit the cueball as hard as I can, which, as we all know, does not allow us to control the location of the hit on the cueball and that does not allow for a controlled stroke nor controlled break.

It was a great discussion/reminder for me and I really appreciated that he took the time to share something that I needed to work on.

That's yet another cause-n-effect of not often-enough play in tournaments or leagues and so I kinda forgot due to lack of play and repetition.

So it was a really great exchange of helpful information for me!  And now I’m glad he watch me lose that match lol.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pro Racking For You

I wrote before how Warren Kiamco played in the April Omega Billiards Tour stop. 

At the next Omega Billiards Tour stop a month later, one of the players was saying and bragging to those around him that he "still has the photo of Warren racking for me."

Then he added, "yeah, I don't share with my friends that it was an 'alternate beak' tournament, tho."  LOL. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Huebler Cues - the Man, Paul Huebler

On May 14, 2016, Paul Huebler turned 89.  On June 8th, he passed away.  One of the icons in the cue industry, Paul will be greatly missed by his friends and family and the many players who own or have owned a Huebler.

I am one of those players.   My very ever-first cue I owned, was a yellow-toned beautiful and beautifully-played Huebler. 

Another great one in Heaven.  RIP, Sir.

Here is his story (from his obit), which shows what a great life he lived:

Paul attended school in Chamois and was of the catholic faith. He served his country in the United States Army.

Paul, the youngest of eight children, developed a knack for woodworking at an early age because his father and grandfather were both cabinetmakers. Paul also developed a love for the game of pool. Unfortunately, an accident at a young age kept him from pursuing a career as a billiards player. However, it did not stop him from owning a billiards room in Chamois and sponsoring many tournaments there. It was at his billiards room that he met Harold Schmidt, who was the owner of the A.E. Schmidt Company, a manufacturer of billiard supplies in St. Louis. In 1958, Paul was offered a job with them and later became their national sales representative where he built a loyal client base in many Midwestern pool halls.

In 1965, Paul surprised the Schmidt’s with the news that he was going to be a Catholic Missionary in Papua, New Guinea. While in New Guinea, Paul supervised natives there for 5 years in a lumber mill and this is where he learned about different types of exotic woods.

Paul came back to the United States in 1970 and immediately resumed his job with A.E. Schmidt Company. While Paul was in New Guinea the movie “The Hustler” came out and regenerated billiard play throughout the country. It seemed every pool player had to have a two-piece cue exactly like the one Minnesota Fats used to lick Fast Eddy in the movie.

In 1973, Paul left the Schmidt’s to start Huebler Industries in Linn. The Schmidt family helped him secure a loan and were also among his first customers.

Paul’s cues were known as “the straightest handcrafted cues on the market” and they sold for anywhere from $54 to several thousand dollars. Pool players from as far away as Germany, Japan, Russia and Australia have used his cues. Paul also served as President of the Billiards Congress of America, a Colorado Springs, Colorado based trade organization from 1982-1985. 

Watch Riviera Implode From the Sky

Get your tickets now!  Watch the Riviera implode via helicopter June 14th.  All proceeds go to MakeAWish Foundation. 

Can't get there June 14th?  A second implosion will occur sometime in August.

Read the story HERE, and find out how you can get your birds-eye seat.  Yesterday bid was at $500 (starting bid), as I write this the bid is up to $858.

So many memories at the Riv for us pool players.  But, we all know it started going downhill and this is the normal steps for old-time-era casinos still left on The Vegas Strip.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Glass is Half Full: Upset at Racking

I've always appreciated how different perspectives can enlighten me.  Especially when my thought process might be negative, and someone shares a different point of view that brings attention to things I hadn't thought of.

Case in point:

At a recent Omega Billiards Tour stop, two players were in the fight of their lives (okay, just playing a close and important winner's match on Sunday afternoon).  One of the players is a regular on the Tour and very well liked.  His opponent was new to the Tour, yet a seasoned player, but had already ruffled my feathers by his words and actions and my interactions with him on Saturday.

During their match on Sunday, the newbie was making so much racket, I went to the other side of the room to see what was going on.  Turns out he was upset at the racks he was given by his opponent.  He was so upset that he was throwing cues on the table and hitting the sides of the table because of it.

And then *I* became very upset at this point.  Mad, actually.  He was throwing a temper tantrum and also accusing his opponent of cheating (because he thought he was deliberately getting bad racks).  Because his opponent is very up-standing and I've never had an issue with him over the numerous years I've known him, I was not very happy at what was transpiring.

The match was very close and the only thing I could do at that point was move the newbie's friends away from the match, because they all kept talking to him and each other (which I was also upset about).  It is tough to interfere with a match that is close to finishing - you don't want to cause more angst by stopping the momentum of the match by talking to players when it's almost over anyway.

As I stood close by watching, trying to figure out how I should handle what was transpiring (i.e. his temper tantrum), I happened to stand next to a guy who had been watching matches all day long.  He was a player of the Tour and came back Sunday to watch matches.  I didn't say anything to him about my thoughts or that I was upset, I was just standing there near him.  All of a sudden, he leaned over towards me to talk....

He shared with me that we all know the regular player and we all know in our hearts that he would never cheat the guy or give bad racks.  But he also shared that he would be upset, too, if he was the newbie player.  He said the newbie had been breaking well all day long and to all of a sudden in one match go from making balls on the break every time to making no balls at all (and hardly any movement of the balls in the first few racks), that he understood why the new guy was upset. 

It was quite remarkable how I went from a scowl on my forehead and tense shoulders to a calm face and relaxed shoulders after he shared his perspective.

The match went hill-hill and so I never talked to the newbie about his slamming of cues, but I am really glad that that player shared his thoughts with me.  It calmed me down and made me see things from the newbie's point of view, not just a Tournament Director (even tho I have to do that, too).   Sure, he still shouldn't have been slamming things around and causing a ruckus, but even I admit I was only focused on his reactions and bad actions mostly because of the issues I had had with him the previous day.

Good learning experience for me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Muhammad Ali Story

One of the very first books I read on mental toughness was in my mid 20s.  I went to the book store and looked around and found a book called "Dare to Win."  I figured, hey, this could be perfect for me and my pool game!

Little did I know it was really a book about winning at life, not really a book about sports psychology.

But, one of the chapters in the book is all about the power of suggestion and willing things to happen.  It was specifically about writing down who you want to meet, even the most un-reachable type people, like famous or well-known people for example.

Well, the one person I wrote down was Muhammad Ali. 

I liked his perseverance on and off the stage and of all the people, I wanted to meet him so I wrote his name down as the book suggested.

His passing on Saturday leads me to write about him today.  He touched the world with his attitude and confidence and love his impact to history.

So, did I meet him?


Sort of.

A few years after I wrote this name down, I went to Times Square for New Years Eve in New York City in 2000.  Yes, along with every other idiot packed liked sardines to watch the ball drop in person in the packed streets.  Literally elbow to elbow and hardly any room to move for hours. 

However, at one point we look on the stage which, since we got there early, we were positioned close to.  And low and behold, up walks Muhammad Ali! 

I was shocked!  Sure, I didn't get to meet the man or have a convo with him, but the one person I wrote down was standing almost arms-length from me (well, if I could reach up /on to/ the stage).

I twas so freaking cool, and made the whole trip that much more memorable for me!

May you RIP, Muhammad Ali. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Coin Memories

While going through things in my house to downsize and organize, I came across this gem:

WOW!! Remember the days when we used COINS at Nationals?  Not even quarters or silver dollars, but special-made coins for Nationals! 

Heck, nowadays even slot machines are coin-free.  Good ole' days of carrying around coins and getting our fingers dark from the metal of the coins are gone.

Seems almost unreal this coin is from 10 years ago.  But, another great ten years of my life.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Funny Secretary

There are several systems in my office where if we try to log in a few times unsuccessfully, we get locked out.  Then we have to go to the office secretary (Administrative Professional) and ask her to reset our account.

In order to do this, she has to come up with a temporary password for us.

So, I got locked out of one of the systems on Tuesday and went to her for help.  She resets my password (you know, to 100 letters long with at least one capitalized word, number, and some kind of punctuation mark).  My account gets unlocked, and then she comes to visit me to hand me my temporary password:



How clever and funny she is!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Admitting to Fouls or Not?

What do you do when you foul and no one's looking?

If you're down 0-6 in a match and you're about to get beat out of a tournament, do you call a foul on yourself or just let it go?  What about if you're in a team event and it's hill-hill, but no one sees you foul?

I was told in the mid-90s by a great player that it's your opponents job to pay attention to the match.  Therefore she was of the opinion it's not your obligation to tell your opponent if you fouled.  Of course, this person was around gambling her entire life, so maybe her perspective is different?  However, the other side of the coin is, you want to do what's right and you would want to be able to sleep at night knowing that you didn't cheat your opponent.  But is that cheating if your opponent wasn't paying attention and didn't see it?  Or is it cheating if you just didn't say anything?

I remember one time I was playing scotch doubles in Vegas with a really good partner and I thought I fouled when I shot my shot.  So as he came to the table to shoot, I whispered under my breath to him, "hey, I think I fouled."  He just kept walking by me to shoot his turn.  I asked him later if he heard me and he said, "yes I did, but I acted like I didn't hear you or that you didn't foul."  It was very weird for me because I respect this guys game very much and he's a very good player, but I had no idea that he would do something like that.   

I've heard of several stories where Pros have called fouls on themselves in key moments of big tournaments and the crowd shows them accolades and people talk about it for weeks and weeks after about their ethics.  Of course, you also hear when people foul, but don't fess up.  People talk about both extremes.

Before Facebook, players used AZBilliards forums to discuss such instances.  I recall one very vividly where a teammate fouled and didn't honor up, and he was blasted on the forums and his fellow teammate said he'd never play with that guy again.  We all knew who it was and every year we would see the "perpetrator" at Texas BCAPL State and whisper and point our fingers at him.

But that's only because it was brought up to the forefront.

Some players remain staunch on the ruling, "well you didn't have a ref present, so it goes to the shooter" (themselves).  Even if they know they fouled, they use the rule as their "excuse" not to give up ball-in-hand.  And in actuality, that's the rule and is true.  (however, the rules also talk about unsportsmanlike conduct which this could be considered as.)  But can that person sleep at night knowing they did indeed foul and didn't do the "proper" thing?

I think what is "proper" depends on the person and also on the situation at hand.

I think it also depends on your mood and the situation if you give up fouls or not. If you're the type of person that /always/ gives up a foul, I commend you, because that's not easy to do.  As the philosophical thought experiment says, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" 

Do people really give up fouls because someone else might have seen it, or or because they know that they fouled?

What if you are royally pissed off in a match at your opponent or yourself?  Emotions sometimes decipher our decisions as well.

And then of course a lot of people believe in karma so they think, "well if I don't admit to this foul then something like this might happen to me later."

Hitting balls with a friend with no money on the line?  Fess up right away, right? 

So you can see there's a lot that factors into this honor system: 

  • how you were raised
  • how you live your life
  • did anyone see?  
  • do you answer to God?
  • can you sleep well at night?
  • is it a team event? 
  • is it a big state or nationals tournament with a lot on the line?
    • first match 
    • or finals?
  • are you in a certain frame of mind or certain mood?
  • etc.  

I think all of those factor into if you decide to tell your opponent if you fouled or not.  It's not black or white or yes or no for some people.  Some people it's ALWAYS fess up, others it's situation-dependent.