Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Neighborly Love

I forgot to share my Christmas present from my neighbors.  Do they know me, or what?

Mmmmm, chocolate!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Topics Change as We Grow Up

I found it pretty comical when I was sitting with my girlfriends at the Oklahoma tournament, catching up and gabbing.  The reason I found it funny was because our topics were so different from when I first starting playing pool some 25 years ago.  

In my 20s, the girls would sit around and talk about the normal things at that age.  Maybe what makeup we like best, stupid drama shit, cute clothes, boys we liked, etc.

Fast forward 25 years and instead of finding out where you bought the cute shirt, now we talk about how much we saved buying the shirt.  Instead of sharing how bad our cramps are, we are sharing who is going through menopause already, lol.  Instead of wondering if the cute boy likes us, we're figuring out ways to like our self.  Instead of makeup tips to look make us better, we're talking about makeup tricks to help our wrinkles, lol.

I do love the more mature conversations for sure, and also because many of the more insightful convos lead to helpful tips swapping from one woman to another.

Ahhh, from girls to woman.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

RIP David Bond

It's the type of message you dread:  "Can you call me?"

On Saturday night I received such a message.  And I was told my friend David Bond had been found passed away that morning.

David Bond is my friend who ran American Billiard Radio and I was a monthly guest on his podcast show.

I then reached out to a couple of people who knew him, and it's always tough to give such bad news.  Hearing a mutual friend cry on the phone from the pain was heartbreaking.

David will be missed.  He had a sense of humor that was off the charts, really loved to gab, and had a passion for our sport.  He was working on a project that was taking a lot of time:  the Chicago Billiard Museum.  Turns out Chicago has a lot of billiard history than most of us never knew.

David's American Billiard Radio program will live on through the previous podcasts.  But, he will be sorely missed.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Imitation Can Hurt or Help - Danielson Series

Danielson had his first tournament of the year a week or so ago.  How did it go you ask?  Not very good, lol.

I like that sometimes he doesn't do well (hear me out first, lol!) because his tough losses make for great learning experiences for you all as well.

This one is quite interesting, as I'm sure you will agree and I hope you learn from it too.

I was watching the Breaking Bad marathon on Saturday night a couple of weekends ago (they are showing all 10 seasons on weekends the whole month of January and I've never seen the highly-recommended show before).  But, I also noticed that Danielson was on the live stream of the tournament he was playing in.  I opened it up on my phone and watched only a couple of games of his, as my mind was really on the meth-making story on tv lol.

What I noticed was Danielson wasn't playing like himself.  He was shooting much faster than he normally does, didn't seem engaged at all, and was missing shots he normally doesn't miss.  He just didn't seem himself.  I even joked between commercials, "Who is this person and what did you do with Danielson?"  lol

Later on the week, I asked him how his tourney went and he said it was a fiasco.  He didn't win one match and played badly.

And then I found out why:

He said he only did one thing different to prepare himself for the tourney:  "I watched a lot of pool matches the week before and I think I might have unconsciously tried putting things into my routine."

I shared I thought he didn't play the same - shot too fast for sure.  He said, "Yea, I didn't play my normal pace and caught myself shooting shots differently than I normally would."

Although this was a tough weekend for him, he (and you all!) get to learn from it.

Here's the gist:  It's actually really helpful to watch great pool matches, but you need to be careful what you see and pick up.  Mostly watch the position play and outs.  If you accidentally watch the player too much, you will start to mimic their habits.  And let's face it, not all habits are good lol.

When I used to watch my friend June Hager Walter a lot in the 1990s, I noticed I'd all of a sudden be walking around the table like her and gained her mannerisms.  And of course, the top players I watched most often on the Omega Tour all those Sundays had nice, smooth strokes; nothing rushed and nothing fast. That's who/what I was mimicking the last several years and that's why my game soared.

Sure, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, yes, but only if it's positive. 

I have no idea who Danielson watched, but I can already tell you the player shot fast.  Some of us can be that fast shooter, but if we are the type of player that takes our time (like Danielson) and that works well for us (works REALLY well for me), then accidentally mimicking a fast shooter can be disastrous for our game.

Good luck, peeps!  Focus on the game, not the player.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What I Learned from 2017 Interviews

One thing I found really intriguing and exciting was a fellow blogger asked me, "What did you learn?" after I shared how much I enjoyed my interviews last year.

It was such a great question, that even though I didn't answer him, lol, it gave me the idea to write about what I learned from EACH interview I conducted last year for my column in Billiard Buzz (you can find all the interviews in one place here).

Cool question, right?

Now, realize these are very personal learning experiences and most do not have anything to do with playing pool.  But it was a profound question that I loved so much, because I really did learn a lot, and so wanted to share.  I'll even share a few quotes from the pieces, some fave answers:

First up in 2017 was my interview with Tony Sulsar.  What I learned from him was how important his Dad was to his game even to this very day, and that he misses his Dad deeply, just like we all miss our parents who have passed.  There are people like me who talk about the loss, and people like Tony who don't talk about it, but feel it.

Next up was Robley Fontenot.  I had wanted to interview him for years, and what I learned from him was no matter your conditions, you always press forward and prevail with all your might.  Don't give up and strive.

Rachel Hurst was the April interviewee and she also had been on my list to interview for years and she did NOT disappoint.  I so love her choice of words and outlook on life and the way she describes things.  Her life is truly amazing from hardship to many radical changes in her careers.  What I learned from her interview was it's okay for me to be an introvert, and to make your home more comfy because of that.  She also has a great perspective about image that I loved and hope you all read how she learned the hard way about image in a woman's body.
"My physical recovery was about a year and it consisted of several surgeries to try to reconstruct my face and scalp from the damage the lathe had caused.  A couple of non-physical symptoms still linger with me 20 years later:  some random vertigo and dizziness, and a somewhat spotty memory. 
The accident had the opposite effect on me, actually.  I looked so hideous and horrible during the recovery period that I lost a lot of the vanity that was actually the cause of the accident in the first place.  I was lucky enough to have people who loved me in spite of the fact that I looked like a cartoon character… so from then on I became far less concerned with whether or not people thought I was physically attractive in general. Women, in particular, struggle with the idea that we’re supposed to be pretty at all times – and it’s not only unrealistic, but it can also be incredibly painful and limiting.  To be unburdened inside in my mid-20s of this idea that I had to look good was a revelation.  Ultimately, that was an enormous gift."
Fred Pankey was showcased in the May issue and he is a 96-year-old pool player!  Can you imagine growing up in The Depression?  It was so cool to hear him talk about how he grew up in that era and all that he's accomplished in his long life.  What I learned from him is how important friends are as you age.
I don’t have any friends my age or in their 90s like me.  My friends in the pool room are getting older, too (he laughs), but, I associate with them and we’ve been friends for 20 or more years. “ 
Next up was custom cue maker Jake Hulsey.  A mentor to many people, my take-away from my interview with Jake was how important it is to have a relationship with your spiritual higher power.  That relationship may even be a bad one, but as long as you have one is what is important.
You’ve had issues with substance abuse and a stint or two in rehab in your lower 20s.  What was your take away from that experience?  
"Very specifically the principles of Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Humility, Love, Justice, Perseverance, Spirituality, and Selfless-ness.  People have likely heard of the 12 Steps at some point in their life while discussing addiction.  These steps are often discounted or disregarded either because they are not understood or require too much work.  The secret that people don’t get is that each one of the steps has a spiritual (biblical) principal behind it.  Once you GET that principle you will begin to be okay with living life on life’s terms.  Another huge roadblock for me was that I was mad at God and just assumed that I would eternally be cursed for such.  As it turns out, God already knew I was mad and was happy I could finally be honest about it.   At the end of the day, the same problem exists (me).  The difference now is that I’m capable of dealing with situations without blaming others or using something to change the way I feel."

Mike Panozzo was in the July issue - first industry interviewee.  He better feel special!  haha.  He's actually a really good friend to me and gives me great advice (prolly has no idea) and has been a great mentor to me.  What I learned from him from the interview was to enjoy every single day and surround yourself with people worth sharing you passions and enjoyment with.  His perspective about the pool industry was also interesting - and he is correct:  Because the pool industry is so small and not mainstream, pro pool players are reachable.  If pool was mainstream, we wouldn't have the accessibility we have now to them.

Aimee Peterson was next.  What I learned from her was there are so many things a lot of us are going through that we have no idea about.  We have health problems or other pains in life and hardly anyone knows.  And we go through life struggling, but also surviving.  To read Aimee's story about all her health issues is truly eye opening how she can even play the game we love (there's your reason).
"The only comfort I’ve been able to find from the accident was that I must have had a grand purpose that day to save the lives of the two people in the Toyota truck.  I have absolutely no doubt in my mind, that had I not taken the brunt of the initial impact, they both may have been killed in the head on collision.  I also think I got a bit lucky too.  When I was pushed into the intersection, I wasn’t put into the path of the oncoming traffic where I could’ve easily been hit again head on. "
Dennis Hatch was the first professional I interviewed and he didn't disappoint.  I think the thing that surprised me the most was playing pool was chosen for him because of his Dad seeing his natural talent for it. 
"Pool was essentially chosen FOR me as it was what my father (Greg Hatch) wanted most as I was growing up and growing into a career choice. I had a natural talent and he refined it. He loved the game and he molded me to be the best."
Mike Page, the co-creator of Fargo Rate was the October interviewee.  If I am to be honest, I learned how to better my interviews by interviewing him!  I gave him the questions and he rearranged everything, adjusted the questions and turned the piece into a masterpiece.  I could easily see his PhD teaching skills come into place, lol.  I wasn't hurt with him changing things up so much, instead I paid attention to how he asked the questions better.  I was impressed with his career changes in life as well, btw, but it was his ability to really change the interview into a better piece was what I cherished.

Melanie Archer was next and I was so honored to give her a voice.  Most spouses of pool players are not really considered for interviews.  What I learned from her is there are ways to find time to being active in what you want to do.  A lot of us sit around thinking about things we would like to do or are maybe interested in doing - she gets up and does it; does it all!  I also like how she uses social media to share positive things, but also points out we need to put technology down to enjoy our surroundings, the outdoors and traveling.  I also loved this:
Your Mom (who passed in 2005) has a big influence on your life to this day.  Do you have a favorite quote from her you live by?
"“Be True to Thine Own self.”  When I was younger, I really didn’t understand it.  Now that I am older, I totally get it.  It means, be true to you and what you believe.  Don’t conform to this world or what others want you to be.  You were made just the way GOD made you to be.  So be it!  But always continue to grow and become a better version of yourself.  You are the only one who has control over this. "
Don and Mary Akerlow were the final month of the year and I was happy to get to know them better.  Mary is fighting cancer with Don and their love for each other shines through in the piece.  What I learned was how important friends and support on FaceBook are to them during this process.  Also, to get several opinions (not just 1 or 2) and ask many, many questions when fighting cancer.

I enjoyed this so much I will do this again next year for all the 2018 interviews!  Thank you to my friend Dane for asking me the great question to begin with, "Melinda ,what did you learn?"

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Ameritrade Has a Place in My Heart

I have pointed out several commercials that has billiards as a theme or even just a pool table in the background.  I figure anytime pool is in a commercial is good for business, right?

Well, Ameritrade has some recent commercials talking about the future, options, investment services and trading support.  They have several commercials out there right now and they all show an Ameritrade guy talking to people in a "Green Room."  This Green Room happens to be, well, yes, green, lol, but also has a pool table in it.  In every commercial (about 5 of them) you can see the pool table in the background, or the Ameritrade guy is playing pool with a potential client, or another guy is playing pool while he talks to the client.

What I find really cool is Ameritrade sees also that pool is not just a game played in a smoke-filled, seedy bar.  But a game among smart investors, and a game that everyone loves.  I guess my point is, they are shining a positive light on pool.  And I love it!

Here is one of their commercials:

Friday, January 19, 2018

RIP Lucille Donahue

One of my dear friends and mentor passed away in late December - Lucille Donahue.  I can't begin to express how impactful this woman was to me.  Not even remotely begin to express it.

I found an interview conducted by author Carl Miller of Lucille during one of the Ladies Tour stops in 2007.  (back then, the Ladies Tour was the "Hunter Classics Tour").

I'm going to paste his interview right here, so you can find out more about Lucille.  She was an amazing woman full of life and such a contagious, positive attitude.  And a laugh so joyful... you would never forget!

RIP my Dear Friend.

No Rocking Chair for this Grandmother

The one-hour drive up the freeway from Galveston Bay to North Houston is tiring on this early Saturday morning, but Lucille Donahue perks up the moment she steps through the front door at Bogies Billiards and Games.  For the past two years, a severe lung infection has limited Lucille’s appearances on the Hunter Classics Amateur Women’s Tour.  Now, as she joins the other board members and players at the registration table, she enjoys the familiar banter.  She’s back in her element, appreciative of the recent improvement in her health and excited by the opportunity to play in another pool tournament.   

Concurrent with this stop on the Hunter Classics Tour, Bogies is hosting a benefit for Anne Mayes, a Hunter Classics Tour member and respected custom cue maker.  Anne is battling cancer.  Throughout the weekend, WPBA touring professional, Kim White, will conduct a benefit in Anne’s behalf, which will include an hourly raffle.  Lucille asks for roll of raffle tickets, and within minutes of her arrival, she’s sold $100 worth. 

Fellow Hunter board member Melinda Bailey says with a smile, “The Hunter Classics Tour is alive because of Lucille.  She’s the nucleus.”


Lucille arrived on the competitive pool scene relatively late in life, and by unusual circumstance.  She was in her late forties, and owner of a real estate company, when one evening she agreed to meet a broker at a bar he frequented.  Lucille had never played pool, but as their business meeting concluded, a mixed-doubles tournament was about to begin.  Lucille got talked into playing, and before the evening was over, she discovered she had a natural talent and an affinity for the game. 

Later that year, two local players, Barney Garza and Ole Olsen, invited Lucille to accompany them to a professional tournament at Top Cats Billiards in San Marcos, Texas.  The field of Texas women professionals included: Vivian Villarreal (“The Texas Tornado”), Belinda Calhoun (“The Texas Belle”), etc.  The skills of these women both impressed and inspired Lucille, and she became hooked on the game and the lore. 

Lucille joined the Hunter Classics Amateur Women’s Tour twelve years ago, and for the past eight years she’s served as a board member.  She’s proud to be involved with the largest and longest-running regional women’s tour.  As a board member, her personal goal is to continue to attract talented women players, so the Hunter Classics Tour will not only remain strong, but continue to grow.

During the twenty years that Lucille has now played pool, she’s also been a member of several league teams that have competed throughout the Galveston Bay Area.  She particularly enjoys playing in the annual BCA National 9-Ball Championships in Las Vegas.  Making Las Vegas even more inviting is the fact that her daughter, Linda, and granddaughter, Allie Rae, live there.  Her other daughter, Lori, and grandsons, Trevor and Keaton, live in the Galveston Bay Area.  When not playing pool, Lucille often turns to her other favorite bay area pastime: fishing.

Despite her late introduction to competitive pool, and never having taken lessons, Lucille has developed a respected game.  Early on, she was just a shot maker, but as she gained in experience, she added defensive skills.  She admits, though, “I don’t practice as much as I should.  Mainly, I’ve just learned from playing.”

As the Saturday afternoon at Bogies progresses, Lucille loses her first match, then wins a match, but then loses again and is eliminated from the championship tournament.  However, since health problems have limited her appearances during the past two years, she’s pleased with her performance, particularly at having won three games in the match she lost to perennial Hunter champion, Leslie Anne Rogers.

On Sunday, as the tournament winds down, Kim White announces that raffles, auctions, and a Saturday night open tournament have raised nearly $5,000 for Anne Mayes.  No one is more pleased than Lucille and the other members of the Hunter Classics Tour.

Despite losing her two matches in the second-chance tournament, Lucille remains as enthusiastic as ever.  “I miss it a lot when I can’t play,” she says, “but life sometimes throws curves.  I love pool, and it’s such a pleasure to be part of the Hunter Classics Tour and to be associated with all these talented young women.”

The next Hunter Classics Tour stop will be at Legend’s Billiards in the Galveston Bay Area.  Lucille plans to play in that event.  Billy, her husband of 48 years, and their grandsons will be among the fans watching.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Friendships Are Stronger Since Not Drinking

I don't recall if I've mentioned this in my pool blog or not, but I quit drinking over a year ago.  421 days as I write this to be exact.  :)  Ahhh, but who's counting?  :)

One of the cool benefits of not drinking anymore is every single conversation with a friend has my full attention and I remember everything.  I have also noticed my friendships are deeper.

I especially noticed this when I went to OKC two weekends ago for a tournament.  I can't begin to express how joyful it was to spend time with my friends giving them my full attention, instead of breaking off to go get us shots.

Sure, drinking can be fun and taking shots all day with friends can be fun, too.  But for me, being fully engaged and spending quality time with my friend who took time out of her schedule to come visit me at the tournament was much more impactful and memorable than when I used to spend my time drinking instead.

It also meant a lot that she pointed out to me, "congrats on the accomplishment of not drinking over a year," as I had shared the great milestone on Facebook back in November.

Here is a selfie of Bobbi and I on that day in OKC:

I shared many other benefits of no longer drinking on my personal blog, if you want to read them.

I find it rather cool and awesome how fully aware I was that I enjoyed so much more spending quality time engaged with my friends, laughing and having fun, instead of interrupting them to make trips to the bar for our shots.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Danielson's 2018 Goals

As promised, the Danielson Series continues!  "New Year, New You."  No, no, none of that crazy bullshit.  How about New Year, New Learning!

Danielson reached out to me and said he was thinking about his goals for 2018. 

Now, if you are a regular reader, you know I already blogged about goals a couple of weeks ago since it's the new year.  However, Danielson never reads my blog unless I send him a link to one of my posts lol.

So, it made me smile he was thinking about goals on his own, without any prodding.

Because he had such a successful year last year and working to improve his game more this year, one shouldn't set too high of goals or goals with tangible expectations.  Even he said, "I have a lot of changes this year and to try and put any kind of performance goal on myself could be disastrous."

So, he suggested his goal should be, "Play Smart."

OMG that's perfect!

Absolutely perfect!

And of course I told him, "add that to your checklist."  LMAO.

I think this is a really great goal for him and one that will prove to help him have another successful year.

Play Smart. 

Love it!

I am super excited for him!

In the last few years he said his goal was to improve in the ranking, which he did.  And currently he is borderline moving to a new handicap level and so Play Smart is a very smart (sorry) goal!  Danielson shared, "I just wasn't sure what I should be aiming for this year, but regardless of a ranking if I play smart and keep mistakes to a minimum, it will all take care of it's self."

Ahhh, Grasshopper! 

They grow up so fast, don't they?  :)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Where Everybody Doesn't Know Your Name

One of the coolest things I experienced in a long time playing in the OKC tournament last weekend was I only knew one single other player in the tournament!

Talk about fun!  That was SO cool and relaxing.  And less pressure, too.

I normally play in Texas and we all know each other.  And when I used to go play out of state, I normally played in larger events or women's events.  In the larger events, all the top players are there and I know them and also run into a ton of friends or acquaintances.  At the ladies tournaments out of state, we also all know each other.

But since this was a tournament for players rated 575 or below in the Fargo Ratings, I didn't know many of the players there since it was out of state and not open to the top players who normally roll in to steal the show.

So this tourney was completely different and a joy to play in because of the atmosphere.  It was so relaxing and refreshing to play somewhere where no one knew me and I didn't know them.  I could focus on my game, not on the expectations of others.  Nor did I have any predictions of my opponents as I had no idea who they were or how they played lol.

Sure, there were some whispers that Tina and I heard: "the Texas girls" or "they came all the way from Texas to play."  But it was nothing like the accolades (while flattering) I hear in Texas tournaments or national events that can be a added pressure if one doesn't hone it all in.  

I'm not trying to brag, I promise.  But I think it's important to share that a lot of players (no matter the sport) who have had success are very aware that success can actually sometimes add pressure.  

So, I guess my point is it was a really treat to be able to focus all my attention on playing good pool. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Opinions Before or After Matches Should be Off Limits

I don't know why I find it so intriguing and confusing when people make comments that I feel can be detrimental to our games.

I guess I just wonder WHY.

Why say something that can affect someone's play?

I know, I know - some people just don't realize this.

While I stated a few times (either in print or my video blog) that my mental toughness isn't want it used to be, I am still good with not letting some things bother me.  And I was lucky, too, because a couple of things over the weekend at the Oklahoma City tournament could have really derailed me lol.  Although I am distracted with my own thoughts while down on shots, I AM still good at not letting things get to me from others that could potentially be pressure type things.  And thank goodness!

My friend Tina and I went to OKC for this tourney and it was a really cool trip.

Of course several things happened I want to blog about, lol.  Come on - you all knew the blogging was coming!

Here is one:  As I walk to my table for my first match to play a guy named Victor, the Tournament Director for some reason walks right by me and tells me with a soft, cavalier tone, "I told the guys, "Watch this girl from Texas run all over Victor." "

Uh, WHY?!


WHY say that to me.

Now, I know from experience not to let that bother me or get to me, but come on now, why tell me anything.  And as a Tournament Director, I would expect one would know not to say anything to a player before or after a match.


Isn't that obvious? 

Oh, guess not.  lol.

While waiting to play that said match, a friend from the area told me I should do well in the tournament, as they looked around at the competition.  Again - pressure much?  LOL.  But, like I said, that part of my mental toughness is still solid.

But, it does bring up the fact we just shouldn't really say, well, anything.  It's really one of the best things you can do for a player, friend, whatever - shut your mouth, hahaha.  Any type of words that have to do with future thoughts or opinions of them or their opponents should be off limits, lol.

Reminds me of this gem:

(Unwelcomed) negative reinforcement is described well by this AWESOME story by one of my favorite psychology and sports psychology authors, Denis Waitley, in The Psychology of Winning:

The World Series, in the 1950s.  New York Yankees, Milwaukee Braves.  Warren Spahn, the great Milwaukee left-handed pitcher on the mound.  Elston Howard, the great Yankee catcher at the plate.  Score tied.  Two men on, two men out.  Three and two.  A critical part of the series.  And a critical part of the game.  
The manager walks out of the dugout to give Warren Spahn, the great pitcher, some encouraging motivating advice.   “Don’t give him a high outside pitch, he’ll knock it out of the park,” said the manager.  And walked back to the dugout.  
Warren Spahn said to himself, “why did he have to say it to me in that way.”  Let’s see, “don’t give him a high outside pitch.”  “The reverse of that is…” too late.  Like a neon sign, high and outside came as the dominant message.  Out of the park went the ball.  A 3-run homer.  
Because of that one dominant thought Milwaukee almost lost the World Series.  But Eddie Mathews came in with a home run to save the game and the series for the Braves.  Warren Spahn, to this day says, “why would anyone ever try to motivate anyone with the reverse of what they want?”  
That’s like motivating and office staff by saying, “firings will continue until morale improves.”  You know, it just won’t work.  
I know many series for the coaches who unwittingly set up their players for losing performances every day.  Here’s an example and basketball.  “Missing free throws is what loses big games, team,” yells the coach.  “You’re all going to stay late during practice and shoot free throws until you stop missing them so often.”  While the winning coach would take advantage of the positive motivation opportunity by saying, “teams with high free-throw averages win ballgames.”  “I want you to put an extra 15 minutes a day making your free throws in practice, so that when we get them during next week’s game, we’ll make all we can, and will win the game.”  
You see, this is the right way to motivate. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What I'll Miss Most

There were many special things that happened personally for me over the course of running the Omega Tour for almost 6 full years that I am honored and blessed to have happened. 

Let's look at some remarkable parts of running the tour in detail that I cherished and will miss:

PLAYERS BECOMING FRIENDS:  New friendships, even some love interests, happened because of running the Tour.  And not to mention all the cool players I met who either I learned a lot from (about pool or personal things) and also who ended up being genuine good friends.  Had I not run the tour, I wouldn't have met all these wonderful people who are now a part of my life and for that I will be forever grateful. 

RESOURCES:  One of the cool benefits were the contacts I gained.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, having access to so many different types of people allows one to find trusted resources of expertise we may need.  Like I now have a roofer, a friend who works on cars, a friend who helps me with house improvements, people who will lend a hand if needed when friends are sick, etc.

GAME IMPROVED:  The other thing that of course happened was my game skyrocketed because I watched so many talented players compete for 2 full days at a time for 8 to 12 times a year.  That's A LOT of learning that not many people get to witness!  I admit completely that part of my winning run for a few years was because I was able to watch patterns of the top players and also see how well they stay down with smooth strokes.  You watch great pool like that so often and so much, you gain such incredible knowledge that helps propel your game.  And I was lucky to be on the receiving end of that.

LEADERSHIP:  And another thing I truly loved was all the leadership I gained.  Talking at times to all the sponsors allowed me to learn a lot of the ins and outs of a business and why decisions were better than others.  Further, a lot of leadership opportunities also arose by running the tour when I interacted with the players.  There's a lot more to just running a tournament and going through the motions, it's also about personalities, and how to handle conflict, and dealing with issues professionally.  Huge opportunity and experience for leadership.

FRIENDSHIP:  The thing I'll miss most is talking with friends and getting to know them.  Even a few friends would come to visit me at the tournaments on Sundays, and we spent hours chatting and catching up.  We have decided to continue that in other arenas (away from smoke and pool rooms).  Further, all the players who helped me run the tour became really good friends and I will miss them.  Heather, Ginger, Jeff Georges, Dana, Duane, and Kara.  Even my bestie Amanda and I only really saw each other at the tourneys.  But I gained valuable friendships in all these people and I will miss hearing their advice, learning more about them, and enjoying conversations.  It's not to say I'll never see or talk to them, but the Omega was the Perfect Storm for all that conversing to take place.  And of course hosting birthday celebrations for friends who I normally wouldn't see was a pretty cool side benefit of running the Tour.

And no... none of this changes my mind about my decision to get away from the pool room.  But, many have asked me what I'll miss from not running the Omega Tour anymore, so wanted to share.

But, the distance wont stop me from still having great connections with friends!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Video Diary - OKC Trip Jan 2017

Well, I decided to change things up a little bit and try something new and different:  A Video Blog instead of typing out words.  In this video blog I describe a recent trip I took with my friend Tina  when we traveled to Oklahoma City this past weekend for a pool tournament.  This is just a little test of something new, and right now I only have the capability to do this from my office (not very pool-related-friendly background, lol), but it's a start of something different.

This video blog shares how I played in the tournament in OKC.  How did I play?  How did it go?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Betting on a Roomba

A lot of pool players are your typical gamblers, and as such they will find anything to bet on.

During tournaments, many players will match up and gamble on the open 9-foot tables or bar tables either in ring games or one-on-one matches.  For those pool rooms who don't have open tables, players will match up and bet on darts, shuffleboard or foosball if they have those.

Players will also side bet on matches or bet on a football game on tv.  You know, anything for a sweat bet.

Other times players will flip a coin for $100.  Or see who can make (or can't make) a certain tough shot rail to rail.  Players gather around, wads of bills in their fists, ready to bet.

It's kinda of unheard of for no bets to be taking place during tournaments.  There's always some type of action/betting going on.

So, this should not have surprised me at all when Heather Bryant posted a video of people betting on a Roomba!!  

Talk about being creative, lol!

Her and Charlie "Hillbilly" Bryant were at the Rocket City Open in Huntsville, Alabama at Good Timez Billiards over the weekend. 

She posted a video of what was being bet on, and it was shared over 1,250 times!  

Whatever ball the Roomba makes, the person who bought that ball wins the money.  Check out the video for yourself:  Like I said, gamblers will bet on anything!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Pool Chair with a Twist

I'm amazed how much I relate everything to pool.

This chair was floating around on Facebook a few weeks ago.  I, however, barely noticed it was perfect for wine.  I noticed I could put my chalk on the front left carved-out section, and that I could lean my cue in the groove where the wine glass was resting.

Everyone knows any chair with a groove is a spot for your cue.

People!  This isn't a wine chair.  It's so obvious it's a chair for pool players.  Come on!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Playing Preparations

I mentioned the other day I had sparred with a friend (video edition).

And I had some important preparations to do beforehand.

Because I don't play that often anymore, I don't think of things I need to do to better prepare myself for playing.

This time I remembered! 

Yep, needed to tape my chalk up so I can easily identify them.


I know - sound crazy that THIS would be my only preparations.  lol.  But, even being comfortable with your chalk is important.  My other pieces were either too low, had bad-colored tape, or not tape at all.  All aspects of comfort are important, peeps!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Filling Your Head

As I sat with my friend Dave Faver on Christmas Day, who was in the hospital over the holidays, we were talking about pool at one point.  Dave is a great pool player in the DFW-area (and other states, too) and he has a vast knowledge of the game that most people don't realize he has.

I was sharing with him that I was distracted when I had sparred over the weekend, and was missing easy shots at times.  You see, because I'm not competing as much anymore and as often, my mental toughness is actually really weak.  I don't bare down or focus as much as I used to, and I get easily distracted with thoughts.

He shared with me, "Yep, if you don't fill your head with of the right things, then the wrong things will wind up there for sure."

And he's SO right!

I have a tourney in Oklahoma this weekend and I know if I can fill my head with focusing on following through, staying down and focusing on the object last, then the surroundings and atmosphere and negative thoughts will have a tougher time to get into my head.

Great advice/reminder for me for this tournament!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Dart Championships on TV

I was intrigued over the weekend when I saw that there was this "thing" called the Dart World Championships playing on TV. 

Maybe it was the bad cold I was trying to get over blurring my thoughts to watch something I have no interest in, lol.  However, I really was genuinely interested in seeing the production and how it compared to pool.

Of course. 

I swear everything I read or see I can relate to pool somehow, lol.

And as I watched it, flipping back and forth from it to the Fifth Element (a fav movie of mine), let me just say I'm highly jealous for our sport.

Here, this photo kinda already proves why I was disappointed and jealous:

Can you see the depth of the crowd!  It was a HUGE venue and it was PACKED!  The amount of fans standing behind the two dart players was astounding.  Fans were cheering and yelling and it was quite the spectacle.  Even when pool was on TV we didn't have crowds as big as that.  The crowd was even larger than what I've seen at poker tournaments on TV.

It was a three-hour program and it had one of those famous announcers that extenuates the words, like for boxers.  And in this corner, the World Champion Briiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeennnnnnnn Casperrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I have to admit I didn't see any payouts I didn't watch it all that long, but what I recognized was is darts is a highly followed sport that I probably had no idea about, but happened to see it on TV this day.

Even when I came to work this week, our secretary mentioned it to me and she was surprised how much the fans were into it and also had no idea there was a Championship or that it is something popular enough to be televised.

I bet people think the same thing about pool.  They see pool on TV and they think that we make great shots and that they wish they could play like us.  They are even surprised that there's a tournament that we're playing for money on TV.

This was held in London and doing research for this blog post, Wikipedia shows this is a mostly a sport with European players.  And there are qualifiers and brackets, etc etc.

I had heard that people play in dart tournaments, but hadn't thought past that to think they would have a World Championship like we do.  And didn't think it'd even be on TV.  Of course there's other sports like this that we don't think of but yet we see all the time in the pool room that are more popular than we realize:  Shuffleboard, darts and foosball are the ones that come to mind.

I'm sure the competitive dart players were very excited that this Championship was on TV, just like we get proud when pool is on TV.   I presume darts has the same struggles as we do trying to get  mainstream in a world that doesn't see pool as a mainstream sport yet.

I was pretty happy to see the darts on TV.  They are very similar in our wants of a low hanging fruit sport that should be more nationalized.  Hope for pool!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Goals! 2018.

I have a written a ton of times about GOALS (okay, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration).

But because it's the first of the year, let's continue this important tradition. 

First, I don't believe in resolutions but I do believe in GOALs and feel they are very important to our improvement.  Bottom line is there are good goals and not so good goals.  Don't set yourself up for failure; set you set up for success!

One year I had a goal to get "Most Improved Player" on a tour in the late 90s. Boy, I learned my lesson the hard way!!  I had no control over that - someone else decided that "title" (and no, I did not win it, even though I came close).

That was a very unrealistic goal because I had no control over that.

I was so na├»ve.  lol.

Goals are important because they give you that something extra to strive for, to look forward to, to plan for, etc.

I like simpler goals now.  Like in matches:
  • Have fun
  • Stay down
  • Smooth stroke
  • Enjoy the game we love to play

These goals below seem realistic and attainable, but sometimes they are not:
  • Get in the money every tournament
  • Last til Sunday
  • Win all my matches in league
  • Get in the top 25% of a tourney
These goals are setting you up for failure.  Sorry!  They are affected by A LOT of outside factors that you have no control over.  One time I placed 9th and didn't get in the money because the field wasn't large enough.  One time I ran into the top two players and didn't make it to Sunday.  Another time someone slopped in the 9ball and cost me a 5-0 at league.

So, as you can see, goals are only as good as you set them.

Let's compare: "Watch more videos this year."  It's better to put a time factor on it.  How about, "Watch 2 videos a month."

Here is a list for you, that I would follow if I was still competing regularly:
  • Practice for 2 hours every week
  • Talk (or email) with my mentor every quarter
  • Watch one youtube video about pool (lesson or great match) once a month
  • Spar with a higher-ranked player at least once every two months
  • Play in a weekly tournament once a month
If you have any free time (who does thee days?  lol), then check out this blog post from last year that has several links to goals and their importance (with great examples).

Good luck!