Friday, September 29, 2017

Status Thoughts - The Danielson Series, Sept 2017

One of the toughest things to do when we go into a tournament is to not look around to see who else is playing.

If you think you are the best person there, it can create an invisible sense of pressure.  If you think you are the worst person there, then you are already setting yourself up for failure.  It's a no-win situation.

However, it's normal.

It wouldn't be normal to walk in a room and not size up our opponents, right?  However, it's how you handle the information that's key.

Grasshopper, I mean Danielson, and I talk about this a lot.  He asks me all the time how does he handle these thoughts going through his mind.  I try to exclaim (sometimes with a raised voice) "you aren't playing pool!"

He isn't thinking about playing his best pool, he's too worried about "status" or as he calls it, "penis measuring contest."

Don't get me wrong, I am the first hypocrite who does this.  I even wrote in my blog when I finally won a big tournament, "My brain shut off" or "I finally played pool."  That means I finally played my best on the table and didn't let my thoughts consume me and derail me (like it had so many times before).

Danielson played in the September Omega tournament and played fairly well, but he seemed to force tough shots instead of play safe when he should.  When you force tough shots, you either make them and have no shape left over, or you miss and sell out.

His next tournament was the same tournament I played in that I wrote about earlier this week - a tournament where if you were rated a 6 or under on the Omega Billiards Tour, you could play.

Danielson didn't fair well, just as I didn't.  We were both too worried about that penis measuring thing I referenced earlier.

During the calcutta, I was announced as "the best player there."  Hmm, pressure much?  And all eyes were on the "chick who was a National Champion" (boy were they disappointed in my play lol).

And Danielson saw this tournament as a great opportunity: finally playing in a field of his own level, without the higher-ranked players to run into; a chance to really show his speed and talent.

And then we both fell on our faces with our tails (or whatever) between our legs.  I felt so much pressure, like a bloated can filled with botulism.  And Danielson (during the tournament) was telling me, "I know people are going to wonder why I didn't place well in this tournament."

I was wondering, "why would they care?"  lol.  Further, "why are you thinking about that instead of playing good pool?"

You see, we add so much to our plate before we even walk in the door.  That's why I say I play my best when I'm "numb," which is when I don't think of anyone else in the room, what people think, or what a win or loss would mean.  Those are the true glory days of playing in the zone.

But alas, Danielson and also myself (the hypocrite, remember) were thinking too much about what people MIGHT think if we lost, INSTEAD OF PLAYING OUR BEST POOL.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Taking In the Words of Quotes

I find it intriguing it takes me years to truly comprehend what a quote or sentence is really conveying.

For instance....

The first time I heard "second place is the real winner," I had just placed 2nd in a big Florida tournament in 1998.  Someone told me that advice right after the finals, trying to console me, as I stood there trying to accept my loss.  I had no concept at all what the statement really, truly meant, though, until years and years later when I was finally delving into the mental side of playing pool and getting better at competing.  I actually reference this advice/quote several times in the past 10 years on my blog.  It had become (eventually) that impactful and powerful for me.

There are simple examples as well:

Red Lobster.

Yep, it's a restaurant.  But, it's a clever, simple, unforgettable name.  Red Lobster.  Lobsters are red, they sell lobsters, it's a seafood restaurant.  Red Lobster.  Get it?  But when I say "Let's go eat at Red Lobster" I don't think about red lobsters.

Best Buy.

Yep, it's a store.  They sell electronics and such.  But, it's almost subliminal, huh?  Best Buy.  They want you to think you get the best buys there (even though we know otherwise).

You get the picture. 

We say or hear words or phrases and yet we don't really think about what the words mean until they affect our life. 

Kinda like we don't understand or hear the lyrics of a sad song until we go through a sad time in our life.  Then the lyrics finally touch our hearts and we relate and understand.  Otherwise, we just sing along in our cars loudly without understanding the words, lol.

So, let's go back to "second place is the real winner."  Do you see the underlying words of advice in that statement? 

Here, let me help out: 

  • It means I learned more from NOT placing first. 
  • Had I won that tournament, I wouldn't have reflected on how I won; I would have just basked in the glory. 
  • When you don't win, you reflect more about what could have helped you win, which in turn helps you in every single future competition you will play in. 
  • Had I won, I would have missed out on a lot of learning experiences and self reflection. 
  • Losses make us better. 
  • It really is true:  second place is the real winner. 

Listen.  Hear.  Learn.

Like this one, from Michael Jordan:

This is one of my favorites, but I didn't truly grasp the true depth of the words and advice until I started to fail.... and then succeed.  

We go through our pool journey at first just playing pool.  When we start to truly compete, though, we then start to comprehend all the aspects that comes along with competing.  And our level of learning about the mental side of competing exponentially expands. 

And that's when the quotes make sense to us finally.

Listen.  Hear.  Learn. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Paul Potier Quote

Paul Potier is one of my favorite instructors.  He has no idea about this at all, but he is.   I wrote about him once here, when he gave me advice while we were playing poker one time together at the Riviera.  Ever since then, I've been a huge fan.

He played in the very full and talented field at The Spoken Open in early September and I really appreciated this post from him during the event (where he ended up finishing 3rd!). 

I think we can relate and also learn from the subtleties of this extremely valuable wisdom in this confession.  I bolded my favorite parts:

"I connected really well with the table and my inner self in the last match and played very well.  Yesterday I was full of stress because of car trouble, etc, etc. But I managed to find 3 wins in spite of it.  No stress today!  I prepared myself mentally and emotionally today.  It has paid off so far.  I have lots of patience, a huge desire for perfection, and confidence that whatever picture I draw in my mind will be realized on the table.  If I get beat today it will not be because I beat myself, someone will have to play really well! 😀😏"

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thomas Edison Didn't Fail Quote

You all know how I love quotes.  Check this one out from a presentation at work a couple of weeks ago and reflect how closely it relates to pool shots we take:

Pretty awesome, huh?!  Relates to why we practice shots over and over until we get them down pat.

SPOT ON, Edison!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Ouch. Practice IS Important

This is one of those unusual post topics where I'm going to just straightforwardly admit to you all that I was wrong.


And what a harsh reality it was for me, lol.

I played in a tournament this past Saturday.  It was basically a tournament where if you were rated a 6 or under on the Omega Billiards Tour, you could play.  I wanted to play because it was a nice change of pace instead of playing a lot of players better than I was, and it was cool to be thrown into the mix of playing players my own level.

The night before, I located my cue stick out from the back of my closet and put it together for the first time in about 6 months.  I wanted to see if I could even make a bridge comfortably with my mower-strickened hand.  And of course I found out it was extremely painful to play pool.  The two fingers of my bridge hand that I need to put on the felt are the two fingers that my lawn mower blade cut right into.

But that didn't stop me from going, as I envisioned my heyday of pool playing springing out of my body and I was going to play spot on like I did without practicing all these past years.  Plus, I was going to show up Saturday morning as planned because I wouldn't want to cancel on that Tournament Director (I know from first-hand experience how cancellations cause so much extra work).

Also on that Friday night, I prepared myself mentally.  Since I didn’t have time to physically practice, I still imagined the many, many instances of staying down, following through, looking at the cue ball last, and trying not to think of my surroundings.  You see, in this particular pool room, it's very close quarters and it feels like all eyes are on you, so it’s a tough environment to play in.

But alas, Saturday was a harsh reminder of why I simply don't want to play pool anymore.  I guess you could say I’m finally growing up.  Awww!  You see, I'd rather walk through a new lush park on a beautiful day with a great friend or my dog than be in a smoky pool room dealing with pressure, emotions, conflict, mental toughness, etc.

I went through years of that very successfully!  And I'm very proud of those successful years and titles.  But now I just want to take it easy, lol.

I'll be honest - I wasn't laughing, I wasn't smiling, I wasn't having fun on Saturday.  And yet there I was, trying to play pool from my golden years, lol, in an environment that I'm trying to stay away from, even with hurt fingers.  lol.

And I also found out Saturday I turned into the person that has learned the hard way that playing pool is definitely not like riding a bike. The few times that I competed last year I competed very well with still not practicing.  Even when someone asked me, “it's not like riding a bike, is it?”  I countered with, “what are you talking about?  I don't even notice a difference - I'm still playing gooooood.”

But what I want to say right here and now is that I'm a hundred percent wrong.  One does need to practice. One does need to hit balls to stay competitive.  No matter how many times I tried to pontificate that I have such solid fundamentals that I didn't need to practice, I was completely wrong. I lied to myself.  I lied to anyone who would listen.  And it turns out I'm just like everyone else after you take a break - you're just not the same competitive pool player that you were before.

You may think - then go practice! 

Uh, sorry.  My pool playing days are over with.  And I’m extremely content with that!  It's time to find out what is beyond the smoke-filled pool room walls out there.  I can’t wait!

I was very frustrated and disappointed about Saturday, but it was also a great reminder that my new focus on life really is away from the pool room and away from competing (read more about this here).  And I want to be around things that give my heart and soul peace.  Competing in pool gave me that happiness before, but my goals have shifted away from that.  And again - that's okay!

So I'm glad Saturday happened.  Sure, I'd rather of been getting a massage or walking in a park, but having a great reminder of your goals for your heart in life is not a bad thing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Longer Races and Mental Exhaustion

As I was watching the finals of one of the Omega tournaments recently, I noticed that one of the higher ranked players was showing signs of exhaustion at the end of the tournament. 

It could have been due to dehydration (which I have written about before that water can substantially help - it’s a great read; you won’t be disappointed).

But it also could have been due to mental exhaustion because his races are longer.  You see, he is a top player and his races were to 9, while most of his opponents were racing to 6 or 7.  And he had played 8 matches in a row nonstop just that day to get to the finals and he was still fighting hard all the way up to the first set of the finals (which he won hill-hill).  But in the second set, I noticed he was just a little off and that fatigue had set in and he wasn’t playing the exact same.  

I wanted to share my amazing insights with a friend, but that top player was talking to him and a couple of other people in the crowd while his opponent was taking a bathroom break. 

When the players started to shoot again, I took the opportunity to then walk up to my friend to share my thoughts.  You know how it is: a lot of us like to talk about pool and learn from things.

I shared with him that because this is a top player, he actually has to focus more than most because he had to race to 9 in all his matches.  It may not seem like that means he has to focus harder, but he does.  He has 2-3 more games to earn EVERY single match he played and it takes A LOT of energy to keep mentally strong and focused every single shot, all day long.  And eventually, it’s natural for a player to get tired. 

Sure, the lower-ranked players also have to focus, but the top players actually have to focus longer and harder. 

I was very proud of my knowledge I had just shared with my friend and then he looked at me funny and then kind of laughed at me. 

Uh, WTF?

Then he exclaimed, “that's exactly what he just told us!” 

As he laughed a little more with surprise, he then continued, “that player just told us that he is tired because he's had to focus so hard on all of his matches all day long because his races are longer... and so now he is feeling tired.”

So, yep, proves I can read minds and knew exactly what the top player was feeling and thinking. #Fist pump#

No, no, no.


I can’t take credit for this knowledge.  I’ve just witnessed it for several years and also heard it from other top players who have played all day Sunday of the Omega tournaments. 

BTW, the second set of the finals went hill-hill AGAIN!  Alas, a scratch on the break from the top player allowed his opponent to the table and win the final game of that very long day.

But it was a great day for BOTH players who fought hard with heart all weekend.

If you watch closely, though, you can see exhaustion and fatigue set in sometimes at the end of a day.  Usually it’s due to one of two things:  (1) dehydration and/or (2) getting tired from being mentally strong all day, match after match.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Second Place Needs a Hug, Too

Being the one who normally cheers for the underdog, I am the type of person that when someone loses (I wrote something similar before), I go to them first to show condolences, understanding and emphasize with their pain.

As a Tournament Director, I find myself doing this a lot.

Here's what happens:  It's the finals in the Omega Billiards Tour Stop and both players are playing their hearts out.  The crowd has their favorite player and are intently following their every shot and win.

When the dust finally settles, the eventually winner gets all the claps and congratulations!  While the second place player who also fought their way, doesn't get the same type of congrat's.

Sure, a few friends will tell them they did great, all the while that player sees the winner getting the high-five's and smiles from the crowd.

As the TD, I recognize this a lot and so I make it a point to go to the second place finisher first to give them the congrats that they deserve as well.  They are normally very disheartened and upset but a quick hug from a friend is never turned down - a normal hug is not returned, but I understand.

I also ALWAYS pay the second place finisher first.  It's my other way of still ensuring they know they did great, even if it wasn't the top prize.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Had An Accident

I guess it's finally time to share I had an accident.  Why would I share this on a pool blog?  Yep, because it could affect my pool game.

Basically, I had a fight with my lawnmower and I didn’t win.  Dang it.

I’ve been doing my own yard work since I was a child helping my parents on weekends, so the embarrassment factor is high for this.  But, on a nice Thursday morning, I was rushed to mow my yard and the wet grass from days of rain was not helping move things along.  I tried to lift the side opening to let the stuck, wet grass out, which I have done a 1,000 times, but this time it didn’t lift and I reached under too far with my fingers to try and get it to raise.  Yes, while the mower was still on.

It was just a freakish kinda of accident, really.

The blades clipped two of my fingers on my right hand and after grabbing a towel and ice, I then carefully (not really) rushed myself bleeding to death (not really) to the ER.  The same ER I used to take my Mom to.  So, yea, I lost it as I walked in.  And then kept losing it at weird moments sitting alone in a hospital room watching my life flash before my eyes (not really).  But, the emotions of being in the same ER of the last moments of my loving Mother made for a much tougher, very lonely, scary, alarming, dire situation.

When the finger doctor (really a “hand surgeon,” but I think my description is funnier) asked me if I brought my skin in, I knew it was bad.  I looked at him confused, then pictured my lawnmower and my yard and realized some blade of wet grass was holding the top skin of my middle finger ransom.   

The finger doctor gave me shots into the top of those two fingers (yea, it hurt like $%@!^& hell) and then gave me 11 total stitches.  The longest finger (yes, the famous middle finger) was the finger that was damaged and slit open the most between the two.

Fast forward 5 weeks and I still have an open wound on the top of my middle finger.  My 4th finger is extremely sensitive and hurts, also, but the skin has closed up at least on that finger.

I can’t stress enough all the things I canNOT do quickly or easily on a daily basis because I am right-handed and the wounds are on the fingers of my right hand:  Brush my teeth, put on makeup, wiping (no matter what type of wiping - face, going to the bathroom, counter, etc), zipping up a zipper on my pants, cleaning around the house, typing, using scissors, opening any type of can (dog food or diet soda), etc.  Try doing dishes one handed!  I dare you.  I can’t even wash my hair - I have to go to a salon to get it washed and straightened (kinda like a diva).  I can’t write, can’t…..well…..can’t do anything that puts pressure on the top of my middle finger because it’s an open wound.

I have a couple of months of healing left.  Healing well, but still extremely sensitive and hurts to the touch on those two fingers.

However, if anyone needs a partner in crime, my fingerprints are gone and altered, so there’s that to help throw off any forensics and CSI.

A few fellow players were like, “good thing you are right handed and it didn’t affect your bridge hand.”  But alas, I’m one of those unique players who is right handed and yet plays pool left handed so it DOES affect my bridge hand.  But, I haven’t competed in a long time and haven’t even tried yet to see if I can play pool (that will be tested next weekend, tho; scary).

Makes one wonder, though, if I was still in the throws of competing, the type and amount of delay it would have in my pool playing plans.

While this is a horrible, scary experience that put me into a very deep depression for reasons related to aloneness and invisibleness, I am completely aware how very blessed I am.


Yep, blessed.

The blades didn’t go to the bone and the blades didn’t take off any fingers.  So, extremely blessed I still have all my appendages.  Could have been a TON worse.

I have to keep my hand elevated because any blood flow going down to my fingers causes a lot of pain (I even sleep with my hand in the air resting on a pillow above me).  And, I had to wear a sling for the first couple weeks to help keep it elevated.  I went to Paris, France right after this freak accident (and don't worry, I wasn't about to let my almost-gone-fingers stop me from traveling across the world to see the beautiful city for the first time) and so all my photos have this monstrosity in them:

But then in some other photos I took off my sling and hid my bandages behind me:

Bottom line is:  I can’t wait to mow again, do the dishes, brush my teeth normally, etc.  I still might have that chick wash my hair tho - that’s a pretty sweet deal!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Help Phil Capelle and his next Book

My friend and book author, Phil Capelle, has a Go-Fund-Me campaign set up to help print his next book.  It will be a book that contains each of his 250 columns that were printed in Pool and Billiards!

That's articles from May 1996 to July 2017. 

WOW!  That's dedication!

The only thing I've done​ consistently since 1996 is gain weight.  hahaha

Read all about the project and what your contribution will directly help.  He also has donations levels - that means you get something in return for every donation.  That's pretty new huh?  Usually people want something for nothin.

Here is a link with ALL the details, including a video where we get to hear in his own words about his vision:

Thank you for any help to make this come to fruition for Phil - one of the best billiard authors of our time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tough Decisions

The hardest decisions in life are the ones that affect other people.  When I stopped playing competitively, that tough decision only affected me.  Maybe a few others indirectly (like a team that wanted me or a scotch doubles partner), but only me directly.  However when you stop doing something that you are good at and that others appreciate, it makes it all that much tougher to feel comfortable with any tough decision.

Last weekend at the Omega Billiards Tour stop, after five and a half years, I announced through tears (how embarrassing!) that the Omega Tour will end its run at the end of the year.

The sponsor and I came to an agreement and we decided it was best for each of us.

Here is the official announcement:

After much consideration and sleepless nights, myself and the sponsor of the Omega Billiards Tour made this announcement today:  
"Due to increased responsibilities at my job and any potential future career opportunities and because Omega Billiards Supply (the sponsor of the Omega Billiards Tour) needs to make sound business and financial decisions, we are sad to announce we have unfortunately mutually agreed we can no longer move forward with the Omega Billiards Tour after this year. This was not an easy decision - actually one of the hardest decisions! - but we must each do what is best for our livelihood and future pensions. We are very thankful for you all helping put the DFW pool scene back on the map for the past five and a half years! We know in our hearts this is just a start for more amazing things to come to the area. We love the players, pool rooms and the fans and we wish you all nothing but the best in your pool journeys!" 
I want to sincerely thank you for always being so supportive, responsive, and a great friend to myself and the Tour.   Please know this is one of the most difficult of decisions.  

I've been keeping this inside for many months and have been having literally months of sleepless nights about this heart-wrenching decision; it’s tough to sleep with that much weight on you.

You see, when you know you're good at something that people love, and a decision directly affects people and businesses, a decision like this is not taken lightly, accepted lightly, or even able to put into words lightly.

I'm at a loss right now of what to say or how to say it except the fact is I've been in the pool room for 25 years and I need to get out of the pool room... for so many more reasons than I can even put down on paper.

Mostly for my heart, my health, and my soul.  Being in the pool room does not bring me peace and further, my job is suffering.  Running a Tour is really a part time job, and it’s not fair to my career (that pays my bills) to keep interfering with that.  I can’t possibly even apply for any promotions because I couldn't give proper attention to both the players of a Tour or my day job. 

It was a tough weekend and week hearing all the accolades that my hard work has paid off, the players loved how I ran the Tour, and the offers to keep it going.  But the decision is made.

The good news is, many have told me the Omega Tour has a solid foundation and great momentum, so a few players have already approached me about ideas to continue some type of Tour for the Dallas-Fort Worth area and so there will still be great tournaments in the area for the players - which was my dream all along and why I started the Omega Tour. 

So, the dream will continue, but it’s just time for a new leader.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Maria Sharapova Quote

I stumbled upon this great quote which turns out to be fantastic advice, too, by tennis great Maria Sharapova.

Let this soak in a bit:

Best Way to Tame Butterflies:

"If I'm nervous, it means I had to work hard to get there, whether it's playing in a tournament or speaking at an event.  So, I try to stop and be proud of getting to live in that moment."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Just A Hop Skip

I'm not on social media that much lately, but I did just check Facebook this morning and one of their features is "on this day" and it showed up for me.

And on this day a mere four years ago, my women's team, Born Ready, received our official photos after we won the BCAPL National Championship Women's Team Title!

I'm absolutely astonished this was only four years ago. It seems like so much longer than that.  I'm not sure why it seems so much farther in the past, but it sure doesn't seem so recent: