Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Golf Etiquette and Kicking Out Rude Fans

I read an interesting article the other day about a rude fan being ejected from a golf tournament!

Can you imagine if we did that during pool tournaments?  I can envision sweet claps of joy and calmness filling the room as they were escorted out.  Ahhhh.....

You can read the article yourself here, and it talks about a fan who was verbally shouting out that Justin Thomas' ball should hit the water or go in bunker.  Eventually, Justin asked that he be removed.  In the article it also quotes Justin and why he chose that action against the fan.

At first I read with delight, imagining being able to kick a rude fan out from a pool tournament, lol.  But what struck me MORE from the article was these two paragraphs, comments from the writer (Kevin Kaduk) of the piece:
If you’re one of those people who think this is the latest case of pro golfers being special little snowflakes, it’d be hard to argue with you. Professional athletes in other sports deal with much worse on a regular basis.
But if you’re a golfer or a golf fan, you know this isn’t something that’s tolerated on the golf course. Respect for other players is baked into the DNA of the game and going to a tournament usually isn’t about rooting for one player or another but appreciating the competition — and giving the golfers the space and atmosphere to achieve that.
Instead of being excited about this possible option to kick out a fan, lol, I was more disappointed and wishing that pool had the same "DNA of the game" as golf.  I find it intriguing that bad behavior isn't really tolerated in golf and respect for the players is held in high favor.  But in pool, let's face it, we don't have that.

We have players trying to cheat with breaks, sharking, etc trying to get an edge to win.  In other countries, this type of behavior is NOT tolerated at the pool table.  But for some reason, here in the US, it's almost norm to play pool in an atmosphere that is the opposite of calm and welcoming.

Is it too late for us to be like golf?

Yes,  I'm afraid so.  But, hey!  Wishful thinking!  Maybe the teenagers playing pool today will help our sport become as revered as golf.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Watching Good Strategy

I have mentioned before that I give lessons.  I don't show anyone how to hold a stick or adjust their bridge, I mostly work with players who are already a good player, they just could use help in areas such as strategy or decision making.

Most of the things I talk about are the things I learned from Phil Capelle's book, Play Your Best Pool, or things I've picked up from playing 8 ball competitively for so many years.  Okay, mostly his book, lol. 

One thing that came up at the OKC tournament in January that was quite cool was one of my "clients" (is that what you call someone you give lesson to?) was able to watch me play 8 ball.

Now, luckily I played well LMAO otherwise this blog post would be quite different, lol, but because I played good and smart and ALWAYS followed my own 8 ball advice that I give, this client was able to see my words and advice in action.

It's kinda tough to explain, but usually it's me talking to her about what to do or why I am going to do something as we spar with each other.  Her watching me play was a huge opportunity for her.  She sat there and watched me battle it out, safe after safe or run after run.  When I would do something, like play a safe instead of going for a shot, she would know EXACTLY why I did that.  And when I play safe, I ALWAYS move one of my balls to a better spot.  So, when I would play safe she knew EXACTLY why I might punt a solid back down table, for example.

It was a treat for us both, actually.  The match she watched went hill-hill and my opponent was a really good player.  We both were battling it out and playing well and smart.  So, this "client" was able to see my decision making and able to kinda see all my advice right in front of her.  She saw what I preached.  (I repeat certain things in 8 ball a lot when I give lessons, lol)

The one thing I would love to do with her next (if ever possible) is to watch a great 8ball match together and talk about the decisions of the players.  I think she will be surprised I can guess what they will do - why?  Because I'm psychic?  Not yet.  No, because all good 8 ball players know good strategy.  Even if we were get to watch a good 9ball match together, I would love to share the whys of certain shots.  One of my favorite places to sit when I used to watch tournaments in person was next to someone who liked to talk about why the players were choosing certain shots or playing certain balls.  HUGE learning opportunity.

This game isn't easy, folks!  Love learning and sharing the learning!

Monday, February 26, 2018

How Fast Players Stay in Stroke

Late last year I was chatting with a player who shared with me because he plays fast, he thinks that's why doesn't finish well in tournaments. He said a pro player confirmed with him that he's better at gambling because he's a rhythm player and can keep playing fast with no down time, like tournaments do.

I was actually really disappointed to hear this. I strongly believe that that pro player should never had put those doubts in his head. Why? Because even though he is a fast, rhythm player, he has been successful in many tournaments before. And now he's thinking when he doesn't finish well, "Yep, he was right. Just not prone to doing well in tournaments because of the long wait between matches."

I so much disagree!

And to prove my point, I reached out to another top player who shoots fast and is a rhythm player who has had a lot of success finishing very high consistently in tournaments. No reason for me to try and tell you my opinions about this - let's go directly to a successful player!

He's what I asked this Champion player:
I am going to write a blog topic about players who are rhythm players that shoot fast. I thought I'd ask you a couple of questions to help my piece. How do you keep your rhythm during a two day tournament with all the waiting around? Why do you think you are more successful than other rhythm players at being able to get back into a match after maybe being "cold"?  Other rhythm players are better at gambling than in tournaments, b/c they can keep playing fast with no "down time" between matches.

He replied matter-of-factly, "Well, during a 2 day tournament, I still like to hit balls while I'm not in a match. I will rent a table and throw 12 balls out and play rotation. Playing the 12 ball rotation will make 9-ball seem easier."

I like how he was specific - he doesn't just hit balls, he uses 12 balls to practice rotation.  

Then I asked him the more relevant question that affects a lot of people here in Texas:  What do you do when there are no extra tables to practice on?  Some pool rooms in Texas have 12 tables - and every single one of them are used for the tournament. That allows for no ability to keep in stroke.  So, what does he do then?

He shared, "If I come in cold because there are no tables, then you will see me on the sidelines just moving my arm back and forth to try to stay in the rhythm. Sometimes when I'm waiting you will see me make a bridge with my other hand to loosen them up.  So even though I haven't hit a ball, my bridge fingers and swinging arm are already loose.  Which in turn I think gives me an advantage."

He continued, "As far as gambling goes, I think I'm the same way in a tournament or not. Even playing one pocket I shoot fast."

He then pointed out the exact player I had chatted with as an example!  "Take XXX for example - he plays fast, great gambler, but an okay tournament player. Why?  I think when he plays in the tourney betting short races compared to gambling, he falters.  He plays the player in the tourney, but plays the table in gambling.  He needs to play the table in both."

He continued, "So his game allows just a little in tournaments. Maybe because of his opponent I don't know. But I know what I do in both is I play the table. I never pay attention to the player. My mind is constantly thinking "if he misses how a I going to run out" or "if I get ball in hand what am I going to do" when I hook him. That's another reason why I shoot fast - I know exactly how I am going to run out and where to put the cue ball.  So, my two main goals are to play the table and keep my swing arm loose."  

I like how this top player not only shared how he keeps in stroke being a rhythm player, but also how he keeps focus on the table which is most advantageous for him.  

Isn't it cool to be able to get into the mind of a Champion?!  :)

Thank you, Rick Stanley!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Feel of Family at Certain Pool Rooms

Sometimes we have no idea what people go through and how tough things are.  I think a lot of people (including myself) haven't truly sat down and thought about some of the things some players go through or are having to deal with when they are playing/gambling.

I recently interviewed someone for Billiard Buzz (for the March edition) and to read about how he tries to handle the pain in his only leg for as long as he can, makes you wince.  Knowing some people might be dealing with cancer and still trying to play (like I wrote about recently) or maybe struggling to keep their emotions in-check while they are going through a bad breakup or recent death.

We really don't know what people are going through sometimes and trying to deal with all that while trying to play the game they love??  How do players focus and play their best with so many life distractions?  Crazy.

One of my friends who gambles all the time prefers to only play at a certain pool room.  He brings his loving wife along and she loves to watch him play and she is his biggest fan. 

I've actually never even seen him play unless she's around.  What's interesting about this is his wife has Huntington's Disease (HD).  What is HD?  Well, HD is a brutal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. This means her body is failing and her movements aren't smooth. The best way to describe what it looks like is a person with HD can't really walk straight or talk normal.  However, if you know him and you know her you don't think anything about it.  They are two great people in love who are great friends to many of us.

He constantly professes on Facebook, "I'll play you at my home pool room." And he will play just about anyone.  The only catch is, you gotta go to him.  So, being the nosey person I am, I asked him why he only likes to play pool at that certain pool room.  But, I already knew the answer. I knew he was going to say it was a certain table he liked to gamble on or the smoking wasn't as bad there or that it was close to his house.  But the reason was actually really shocking to me.  I had no idea.  And I don't think many people have any idea.

He shared with me at this certain pool room he goes to most often, everyone there (patrons and people who work there), treat him and his wife as family.  He said, "They know us and they care about her.  It feels like family." 

And because his wife has HD, that's more important than I can even put into words in this blog.  While he's gambling, she can sometimes spill a drink or drop a cigarette.  His and her friends (the patrons and workers) will help her if something comes up he happens not to see first.  He is the one who normally helps her right away, but sometimes he might be down on a shot or someone might be in his line of sight of her when he's playing, and he may not see something as fast as someone else who is closer by. 

Other times, his wife is in the bathroom too long and he would need to find someone to go check on her.  At this pool room, when she's MIA for too long, the waitresses and female bartenders check on her even before he asks them to.  Everyone there cares for him and his wife and because of that, THAT's the reason he plays out of that pool room most often.  And that's also why there's an open invitation for anyone to come to him to gamble - because it's not comfortable for him and his wife at other places.

When he goes to other pool rooms, the caring atmosphere isn't there because they don't know them well. 

At other pool rooms (don't get upset, peeps), drunk people will actually make fun of her (thinking she's really drunk) or no one helps her right away if she needs help.  As you can imagine, anyone who makes fun of his wife is quite a distraction and it also hurts her feelings deeply. 

If you don't know either one of them, one does wonder what's going on with his wife. That is natural, right?  But sometimes people don't ask, and instead assume.  And sometimes these assumptions are rude and occur when the husband is trying to concentrate and gamble.

So, in order to be in a more peaceful, calm and caring atmosphere among good friends, he goes to this certain pool room where they both feel most comfortable and cared for.

I don't know why I'm so surprised, as I thought humans had more decency and were kinder to others.  But I guess when you get around a bunch of drunk young friends, people aren't thinking clearly and say stupid things not realizing the situation.  I know no one is deliberately mean, but sometimes hurtful, rude things are said.  And in the home room they go to, NO ONE would tolerate anyone treating her badly or making fun of her.  The friends would jump in before the husband could lol!

So I was completely wrong.  It's not the comfort of the atmosphere, the comfort of the pool table, or the closeness to home.  Not at all.  THE reason is because he and his wife are treated like family.  And that provides a sense of relief, support, and comfort for them.  Let's be honest.  He's already distracted and always on the look out to see if she's doing okay or needs anything.  But to be able to be in a setting where people help him by watching out for her, that allows him to be able to focus a little bit better knowing there are good, thoughtful people around that cherish her.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Cowboys Love Pool Too

My friends a Pro Billiard Service in the Dallas-area (but travel out of state, too, a lot) helped refelt and level a pool table this week.

They did this at the star practice facility, called the "Cowboy Club" for the Dallas Cowboys!  Pretty coolio, huh?

Photos or it didn't happen, right?  Here ya go:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Playing Even in a Tourney - Thanks to FargoRate

Catching up a bit from my trip to OKC for that tournament I played in January...

When we play in tournaments (whether open or handicapped) it's very natural to "judge" ourselves and our opponents ahead of every match.  We wonder things like:  who is the better player, will I have a chance, I should win, this will be tough, or this will be easy.

To be frank, it's is best if we DON'T ever think any of these thoughts and just focus on the game in front of us - that gives us the best chance to win!  But it is kinda normal to compare our skills to others.

The tournament in OKC was different than any other I had ever played in.  Basically, the race of every single match was not standard and instead depended on who you played.  And the race was established using an option on

It was a "575 and under tournament," which meant any player with a Fargo Rating of 575 and under could play.  And depending on who you played, your race was determined for you.

This is going to be tough to explain, so bear with me.

There is an option on entitled "Find a Fair Match."  See top right choice below:

From there, there are 3 categories: Hot, Medium and Mild. The Hot column is the race that should benefit the lower ranked player and the Mild column would benefit the higher ranked player, if two players would try and match up evenly:

In the OKC tournament, the race was to 7 on the winners side and 5 on the one-loss side. And we were to use the "hot" column to determine our races.

So, if I (524) was to play a player ranked 460, I would race to 7 and they would race to 5. (See below far left column and find the match up that begins with 7, since this tournament was a race to 7 on the winners side and I was Player One). If it was a one-loss side match, I would race to 5 and my opponent would race to 4 (again, below far left "hot" column and find the match up that begins with 5, since this tournament was a race to 5 on the one-loss side).

So, what was SUPER cool about this tournament was each player was essentially playing about even, no matter who you played because the race was stat-dependent.

So, let's set me up to play a higher-ranked player. If I was playing a player rated 570 and we were on the winner's side, I would race to 6 and they would race to 7. See hot column on the left and notice my opponent is Player Two, so we look for the "7" in the hot column for the second player, which would be 6-7 in this case:

It was actually a lot of fun and really cool to realize we were all playing about even in every single match. I don't mean we all played the same, I mean each race was established under the "Fair Match" option and that allowed for every person we played to be matched up pretty evenly in our matches.  I admit it was a different type of pressure - not one where one or the other is suppose to win, but who will win?

There was no guessing who played better and there was no pressure like there normally is when we all race to the same number. It was cool that each player raced to their own proper race against whoever it was we ran across based on our skill.

I liked it!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Confidence Booster - Danielson Series

Danielson reached out to me last week and was very happy to report that he was invited to play on a top team!

From going 0-2 for two years, then cashing in over half his tournaments in 2017, has propelled him into a position that top teams are seeking him out to join their team!

Jumping up 60 points in your Fargo Rating will do that to ya - be sought after!  And, this is such a really great confidence booster.  To know you are wanted because of your capabilities on the pool table is something all us players dream of.

So happy for him.

Also, in a tournament he played in in late January, he placed 9th-12th, which is better than his 0-2 he did in the same formatted tournament just back in Sept.  So, the hiccup he had from watching a certain player just two weeks before was quickly learned from and he went back to his previous pre-shot routine that was so successful for him.

Learn, peoples!  Reflecting and then learning go a long way.  Don't just go through the motions - reflect and learn.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Being Perceptive Can Hurt

I wrote the other day how I noticed a family come into the pool room.  After I took their photo a couple of hours later, my partner-in-crime, Tina, asked me, "How did you even notice them?"  I told her I saw them walk in the door and noticed that it might be three generations of pool players.

Her question led me to some thoughts.  Hold on for a ride, hahaha!

Her question reminded me how perceptive I am.  I can be in any room and I will notice every person that walks in, and what everyone is doing.

While this "attribute" may be great for being prepared for any situation that may suddenly arise in a room fill of people or emergency that may come up, it doesn't bode well for a competitor!

One of my friends, Dave Faver, told me once that he is so enthralled in his game and not distracted by things around him, he sometimes forgets to mark his score.  And yet here I am being "perceptive" of every person and movement while I'm trying to play pool lol.

This is why it's tough for me to focus well and be mentally strong throughout an entire tournament, and it's why I look at the ground a lot (read this favorite article about this tip HERE).

Sometimes certain attributes are not good for us competitors lol.  Wait, what was that? (as I look towards the window as a bird flew by)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Three Generations

Back in December when I was sparring with my friend Tina, I noticed two guys come into the pool room, and then a kid with them.  They got a rack of balls and went to the non-smoking side.  I saw a couple of pool cases they were carrying, too.

I wondered if they were Grandpa, Dad, and Son.

After Tina and I were finished, I told her to hold on and then I went up to them and asked if they were related.  And sure enough they were three generations!  I noticed Tina behind me, watching proudly as I took their photo.

Here they are, Dad, son, and Grandpa: three generations of pool players!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sick Pool Players Still Want to Play

A couple of different situations came up over the last year I wanted to share.

It's about people who are very sick, who still want to play pool and gamble, and how that affects them and others.

My friend Dave Faver, who had esophageal cancer last year and now has brain cancer, is a genuine pool player. By that I mean he has no day job, and makes his money either gambling or playing in tournaments. He's 62 and has been living like this for over 20 years or more. Because he's had cancer the last couple of years, his pool playing hasn't been as active as it used to be. However, he SO loves the game still, it helps him stay moving around, he gets to hang out with his friends, and he also needs the extra money. We are talking cheap action, even $5 a game one pocket or $10 a game one pocket.

However, he shared something I had never heard of or thought of. He said that it's super tough for him to get a game. He says that players feel bad taking his money, and if players lose to him, then they get mad about it lol.

He says people go out of their way to avoid him and they don't want to play him because he's sick. But what people don't realize is, he really loves the game and WANTS to play badly, but it's too tough to get even a $5 game anymore because players just don't want to play a guy who is so sick.

A situation came up in the Fall with a friend who was battling colon cancer. He was literally begging to play a certain player (I'll call him JM) and barking at him badly to play $1,000 sets all over Facebook. JM really didn't want to play the guy, not just because he was sick, but because he wasn't playing like he used to because he was sick. JM knew it wasn't a good game for the guy.

The guy was being backed, but that still didn't matter to JM, he didn't want to play him.

JM eventually gave in from all the ongoing egging. And what I found interesting was that some people were really upset at JM for playing him. Like, really upset. They thought he was taking advantage of the guy, but what they didn't know was in reality JM didn't want to play him at all.

JM adjusted in the two sets, but still won both sets.  I can imagine even though the guy was upset he lost, he was prolly still elated to gamble so high and be competitive!  Pool was his passion; he was glad to be put "back in the box."

These situations show how much players want to still gamble and play even if they are sick. Sometimes, pool is the thing they love the most, and they want to still gamble and play. And may not have long to do the thing they love.

So, while players are avoiding Dave Faver, look at it as someone who wants to play the game they love, not that you are taking advantage of a sick person.  Think about it - if you were sick, wouldn't you want to still do what you love for as long as you could?