Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Advice and the Ramifications

When I hear any player ever say, "I can only play well on a bar table," I shake my head at their unfortunate words and then feel so very thankful for some advice in my very early days of playing pool.

Back in the mid 90s when I was breathing and dreaming pool, my professional pool playing boyfriend at the time gave me some amazing advice that has helped me in every tournament I have ever played in since then:  He told me to always practice on a 9-foot table.

I took that advice WAY to heart.

If I was to walk into the pool room to practice and all the 9-foot tables were taken, I'd promptly walk back out and return earlier the next day.

I noticed RIGHT AWAY that I had much more of an advantage in the tournaments I played in - because most were on 8-foot tables.  Playing on a 9-foot all the time, made the 8-foots look pretty "easy."  And I felt comfy on them.

When I would play on bar tables, holy cow!  The table was so much smaller and again I had the advantage from spending all my practice time on 9-foot tables.

In the past 20 years, I only ever practiced on a 9-foot table.  And of course the tables I had in my living rooms over the years were always 9-foot tables.

I found that throughout the years, always practicing solely on a 9-foot table helped me in every single tournament I played in.  Some tournaments are solely on 9-foot tables.  I was ready!  Most tourneys in Texas are on 8-foot tables; still ready!  And the league events and larger tourneys on bar boxes - omg, SO ready!

I am saying all this today to share that some times in your pool journey you may hear a bit of advice that if you incorporate, will help you throughout ALL the years of you competing in pool.  I have a few others of course that helped me, but this is one of the bigger ones.

If you feel super comfy on a bar table, I implore you to step out of your comfort zone to the 9-foot table to practice.  Don't even think about taking the jump to the 8-foot will suffice - instead LEAP right to the 9-foot table to help your game.  Why wait?  I promise in just a few practice sessions that you will feel comfy on the 9-foot table.

Your game will love you for it; your opponents, eh, not so much :)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Last Lady Payouts

A friend of mine told me a few times lately that I need to come out of pool retirement.

"Oh.  Why?" I asked him, sincerely curious.

He said, "Because the Last Lady payouts are getting pretty ridiculously generous."

First, I never played pool for the money I could possibly win, so this discussion of increased Last Lady payouts wont get me out of retirement.   Nice try.  lol

But, let me talk about this issue in general today.

There are some tourneys that payout a lot for Last Lady - more than most.  Some tournaments base it on the number of female entrants.  3 females, $50 a piece, that's $150 payout.  Most, however, set it normally around the amount of the entry fee:  $50 entry fee, $50 for Last Lady (no matter how many entrants) (this is how the Omega Tour handles Last Lady).

One tourney (held normally about 4 times a year) paid about $125 for Lady Lady in January out of 44 players and a $60 entry fee. The female won 2 matches and won $125 and my friend placed 7th, but the tourney didn't pay down to 7th/8th place, so he got zilch.

Other tourneys with much higher-caliber players in it - I've noticed their Last Lady payouts could be as high as $500.  Whether there's 6 ladies or 12 ladies.  So, those events don't base the payout on the number of ladies.  However, 9th-12 places got $150-$200.  Further, the Last Lady paid out more than 5th place in those events (this is the very reason he brought this up and had some conerns).

As I learned recently, as long as things are consistent in the payout from the same tournament, I am okay with whatever these tournaments decide to do.

I can write another very long blog post about the Omega Tour and Last Lady from a female Tournament Director's point of view, but the point of this post is about Last Lady payouts overall. My only concern is that if certain tournaments are going to pay out more than "usual" for Last Lady, I just hope they keep it consistent.


Because the female players ARE very happy about the higher amounts they are getting for Last Lady and shouting about it on Facebook (as they should!).  That may mean more ladies will want to enter these higher-paying Last Lady tourneys.  I think that's great!  But I hope these events keep it up and be consistent - because if they don't, a lot of females will be upset they traveled so far for a chance to win that same money paid out before.  If things get changed, they will be upset they traveled that far for nothing.

Don't get me wrong, these tourneys will still get a lot of women to enter the events whether they get paid $50 or $500.  But consistency is the key to keep them more interested.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Learning Differences of 9ball vs 8ball

I have always found it interesting how I couldn't get enough of learning about 8ball from Phil Capelle's books, yet I never read any parts of his 9ball books.

Even his BEST book (imho), Play Your Best Pool, has both a 9ball and 8ball section.

The 8ball portion (of the two copies I own) has so many sections highlighted, pages dog-eared, sentences underlined, pages spattered with sloppy hand-drawn stars near amazing advice, etc.  That part of the book is WORN OUT!

Yet if you flip through the pages of the 9ball section in the same book, it looks brand new - nothing touched or written on.  Every page clean and pristine.

Although I feel my best game is 8ball, I play a darn good game of 9ball, too.

I wonder why the difference in learning styles for these two games for me?

Is it because I play more 9ball and learned a lot from others throughout the years so I feel my 9ball game is pretty good based on on-the-job-training (lol), 3-ball shape, taking my time, and having good fundamentals?

I didn't know all the beautiful strategies of 8ball until I read his book.  8ball is one of the most amazing, thought-provoking games out there that I never realized UNTIL I read his book.  After I read it the very first time, that year I became a BCAPL Master player (in 2006 or so).

As a matter of fact, every single year before I play in 8ball singles of State or Nationals, I would reread the 8ball section as a great refresher.

For 9ball?  I don't really do any preparing like I do for big 8ball tourneys.  I just focus on my 3-ball shape and years of experience, and try to tame my mind and get mentally tough/focused.

Wierd, huh?

Even typing all this out doesn't give me the urge to go read the 9ball section.  I guess I feel comfortable with my 9ball game because I've been so successful with it.  Can you imagine if I would have read his 9ball books YEARs ago?  It would have saved me a lot of time!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pool Shirts and Hustlers

When I was moving from San Marcos, Texas to Jacksonville, Florida for a promotion with my job back in 1998, I did like most people and I went through a lot of my clothes to see what I didn't need anymore.

I came across a lot of pool-related t-shirts that I had collected over the past 8 or so years.  Some were from pool tournaments/venues and some were from pool rooms that I had visited.

It ran the gamut from Texas State events to New York Straight pool tourney to Vegas events to shirts from pool halls all over Texas and parts of Louisiana.

I figured out (not quick enough) that I hardly wore those t-shirts.  And yet I had a dozen or 2 dozen sitting lonely in my closet that I did NOT want to traipse across the country to Florida with me.

I asked one of my close friends if her son would want the shirts.  He played/gambled a lot of pool (in town and out) and he was my size.  I thought she would jump at the chance at so many free shirts for him, and figured he would love wearing shirts from different pool rooms because he played a lot more pool than I did.

When I told her about them, she laughed so loudly through the phone at me!

I was startled, "What?!  Why is this so funny?"

She explains, "Melinda, he hustles at pool.  The very last thing he would want to wear as he walked into an unknown poolroom is a BILLIARD shirt!  He wants to walk in like he's never played pool before.  If he wears a shirt from any pool room, it gives up part of the plan."

Shit, I didn't know.  I was too new to the concept of hustling and gambling.

Sounded so obvious after she said that, though, lol.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Missing the Six Ball

One of my dear friends from the late 1990s told me a story about how she was in this tough money match and she kept missing the 6 ball.

She wasn't sure why it was going on but she just kept missing it.  Out of all the balls, she missed the 6 ball the most for some reason.

Eventually she was so in tune with what was going on, she decided to play safe every time the 6 ball was next.  Even if she had a straight-in shot on the 6 ball, she would play safe!

And yes, she ended up winning that big money set :)

It goes to show to be aware of what is going on with you in your matches early so you can figure out solutions to help you win.  All about those tools in your toolbox.  :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Talking After You Miss

I find it amusing and yet frustrating at the same time how different players react after they miss a shot.

I'm referring to during tournament play.

I am a tad bit of an introvert and so when I miss a shot, I sit down and reflect about it internally.

For those that are a tad extrovert (or more), after they miss, they tend to want to talk to anyone within earshot about why they missed.

What players who do this don't realize is, it's really unfair to their opponent.

It's kinda of like having their own personal coach in their corner.  Let's face it, if I'm playing an extrovert named Mike, and he misses a shot and then starts to talk to someone about it, he feels better after explaining himself.  This isn't really fair to me - I am going through these same emotions and trying to get through them on his own, yet he gets to talk to someone about his.

Further, after Mike misses, it's now my turn at the table.  Yet, Mike is talking to his friend while I'm at the table trying to shoot!  How rude is it that?  After I missed, I sat down and was quiet.  Instead after he misses, I am distracted by him talking.

I realize it's habit to talk to someone nearby or especially if someone is an extrovert, but it truly isn't proper to do and isn't really fair.  It can also be considered sharking, which many people do think it is.

In reality, they are just miffed they missed and they want to vent to a friend.  But it's a distraction to your opponent.  Be kind, peeps!

The OB Cues Ladies Tour has a pretty strict rule that we can't talk to the audience, so for those of us who play on that tour, we are already "trained" to not talk to the audience or our friends.  For others, this is something not ingrained yet.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

American Billiard Radio Debut

Well, I shouldn't really call this a "debut" as I was interviewed by American Billiard Radio (ABR) last year.

But the "debut" is:  I will now be a regular contributor!

David Bond (creator and main host dude) asked me about joining the team late last year and I told him I would have to think about because my plate is run-ith-over.  But I did give it some thought over the holidays and decided I would be honored to contribute and help out!

So, you get to hear my non-sexy voice prolly 1-2 times a month if you listen in already regularly.

New episodes/broadcasts are posted 9pm central time just about every single Thursday.  

I will mostly be talking about blog topics with David.  Going in depth a little more on what I write about.  I will cover only one topic each time, and I will try and correlate the topic to a recent blog post, although I LOVE some oldies, but goodies, that I might locate in the deep archives that I may wish to talk about.

The goal is not to talk simply about pool per se.  The goal is to provide tips and advice and learning experiences that have helped propel my game, which I hope will help others.

If even one person learns something new to help their game, I will be pleased. :)


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Watchful Eye

On Sunday of the February 2-day tournament of the Omega Billiards Tour stop, one of the players was sitting next to me at the tournament table, waiting to play.

His significant other was across the room - she had been playing pool for a few hours and getting some good practice in with friends.

He was watching her play from afar and it was really sweet.

At one point, his significant other walks to the other side of the room to talk to potential action; she was trying to convince this guy to play her.

As this was going on, the player next to me started to get a little uneasy and he started to sit up more in his chair, staring intently over at the table she had been playing on.  Turns out he was now focused completely on her sticks that were still on the table, along with her friends' cues.

He started to talk out loud about the cues and that he was keeping his eye on them and that he was concerned about them.  When she was near the cues, he wasn't so worried, but now that the cues were all alone, he considered them very vulnerable.

He was so fixated I finally said to him, "have you had cues stolen before?"

And he said, "Yep.  In Austin during the Texas Open in the late 90s.  I put my cues/case under a table and when I moved to another table, they were stolen!  I haven't kept my eye off my cues or my friends' cues since."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

High Five Timing

While I didn't play in the OB Cues Ladies Tour this past weekend, I did drop by Saturday evening and Sunday to say my helloooo's, see some friends, and watch some of my friends play the game we all love.

One of my friends from Oklahoma was in a tight match Saturday night.  She pulled out the win, but it wasn't easy.

I saw her walk outside after the match and I decided to go see how she felt about it.  She was leaning against the wall, and I could tell she was exhausted, trying to cool off, and also trying to get away from the smoke.

As I walked up to her, I held up my palm for the cordial high five congrats hand slap, and JUST as our hands met, her opponent comes walking out the door!!  Of all the times for someone to walk out, it would be her opponent the moment I'm saying with our hands, "great job kicking her butt!"

While that's not what I was SAYING, the timing was horrible.  I felt pretty bad (and so did my friend, as we talked about it).

I was more so showing my support, but to her opponent (who was unfortunately a new player to boot), it looked like I was rubbing in her face she lost.  I know that seeing that sort of thing can sting right straight in the heart.

I talked to her later and expressed how well she played, to try and ease any uncomfy feelings she might have had (plus, she really does play well for a newbie to the game - has a very natural, beautiful stroke).  It takes guts to conquer fear and anxiety to play in a new event with new people, and so I wanted her to feel comfy, not upset she lost (or that it seemed like I was being rude).

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

After a Long Weekend of Pool

We all know that after a long weekend of competing pool how tired we are the next few days.

It actually takes us awhile (few days) to recoup from the two long days of hours of focus, hours of walking, hours of waiting, and hours of mental toughness.

It may not see like it would be exhausting, but it really is.  And with any physical or mental activity of long duration, we need time to get our energy back..

A friend of mine placed really high in a ladies event last weekend.  Yet on Monday at league, she went 0-5.  One of her friends told her, "you must have Tournament Hangover."

Made me laugh out loud - HOW TRUE!  What a great way to phrase how we feel after a long weekend of pool.  Can't function when hungover in general so the correlation was awesome!

Made me laugh anyway. :)

Friday, February 3, 2017

When You Beat Your Kids

I have mentioned a couple of times that the Omega Tour is now using the Fargo Ratings to rank player's handicaps, instead of going by just known ability.  We implemented this change with the first stop of the year (in Jan).  This takes out any "opinions" and is based on stats.

This meant that some players ' handicaps moved up and some moved down.

A father and son are frequent players on the Tour and the Dad moved down from a 6 to a 5.  The son remained a 6 handicap.

(btw, your handicap number is what you race to in the matches).

For the first or second time in 5 years on the Tour, they ran into each other on the bracket.  Come Sunday morning, father and son had to battle it out!

So, the race was 5 for Dad and 6 for the son.

I see them playing and playing, battling it out, and finally the Dad comes over and tells me that he won and what the score was.  As I'm writing down his name on the bracket, he leans in and confides to me, "When I was on 4 games and won the last game of the match, he tried to rack for the next game because he didn't know I had won already.  I told him, "Daddy goes to 5...."" in his sarcastic, funny, proud voice!


It was hysterical!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Adding Good Players to a Team

I have learned through the years that adding good players to a team isn't always best for everyone on the team.

I was on a league team in San Antonio and a few guys needed to join a team to get qualified, I think for BCA State.  They were TOP players.  I was super excited for them to join our team!  I would find out later that some of my teammates didn't like them on the team, though, because they didn't get to play as much anymore - the guys needed to get six weeks in and had to play every night.  That left the regular members out of playing as often for the rest of the season.  A couple of friends were REALLY upset with me.  I was too young and immature to know that saying Yes to those guys affected the team dynamics overall and badly hurt some feelings.
Fast forward about 20 years later, and the same thing kinda happened.

A few years ago I was asked to join a women's league team and I said yes.  I didn't think too much about it really, until at the end of the season, one of the original players had decided to leave the team!  I was in shock and perplexed.  But when I really thought about it later on, she didn't get to play as much anymore.  I'm sure she was frustrated with the whole thing - playing on the team at state was based on how one finished in the season, yet she didn't get to play every night like before and so her record went down and the Captain decided not to play her as much at State.

If you look at the quote above, she did not understand, she didn't respect the team anymore, and she definitely wasn't having fun,

While it may seem wonderful to most team members when a good player joins the team, we must also think about the players who love the game but maybe aren't top level.  Some league players see league night as a social night, not a "win" night.  So, in reality, those players are getting the short end of the stick - not being able to play as often on leagues nights and not being able to be a part of the team in big team tourneys.

I will add that she joined another team and was MUCH happier!  She was able to play every round every league night, and also was able to play every round in state tournaments.

But the relationship of some friendships were definitely damaged.