Monday, December 30, 2019

Stop Checking Our Score - The Cueist Project

I'm still catching up from my long list of blog topics. But this month is due for a Cueist blog post, so let me get right on that today!

The Cueist (the pool player of The Cueist Project section of my blog) described a match from a regional tournament he played in last year and I wanted to chat about it. I know, you all are soooo surprised!  lol

Here it goes:

"I had to play my next match against a guy who I lost in the 1st round last year, so I wanted revenge. I got to the table early, hit balls, and was ready to play. I jumped out to a 4/1 lead and he broke and ran. Then he took a potty break, and during this potty break, someone asked me what the score was. Now with that one little question, my concentration was gone. Poof! Just like that. I don't remember anything that happened in that match prior to that question [i.e. he had been in the zone]. And no matter what I did, I couldn't run out after that. My opponent came back to beat me hill/hill and I was deflated, devastated, and wanted to be drunk right then and there. I was SO upset with myself and my mental game that I've worked so hard on. And to top it off, as a result of the loss, I was going to have to face last year's winner, ugh!"

I can completely relate to what The Cueist shared.

I don't like to ever tell anyone the score during my match. Why? If I'm down in the match, I get embarrassed. If I'm up in the match, I sometimes get cocky or start thinking too much.

As a matter of fact, when I used to play in state and national tournaments where you would mark your wins on a piece of paper, it would thoroughly distract me when someone would come up and look at the score.

For friends and loved ones and well, everyone, I think it's important to think about what happens to the player when you are checking out the score or when you whisper to them, "Hey, what's your score?"

OMG I'm playing a match! Don't talk to me. Don't distract me. I have enough of a hard time to remain mentally into a game, lol.

Because this exact situation has caused me to lose focus as well a-many-times, it has changed the way I check the score on other player's matches. What I normally would do if I wanted to know a score of a match was instead of walking by and trying to sneak a peek without the player seeing (and trust me, they ALWAYS see you no matter how stealth-like you try to be!), I would ask people sitting near the match. Or, even better, text them, "Hey, you are close, what's their score?" without even moving NEAR the match, lol.

I never wanted my friends to see I was curious about the score because it's sharked me so much in the past. I didn't dare want to take a chance to accidentally shark them.

So I can relate completely with what The Cueist went through - and oh, I feel for him!

You might think that this means we're not mentally strong. Wrong!  That's really not the case at all. It's more of an unfortunate jolt and distraction that kind of throws off our momentum.

Sometimes we can recover, and unfortunately sometimes we can't.

I know what you are thinking... sheesh, Melinda, I can't do anything around my friends while they are playing.  Come on, that's not what I am saying!

Let me put it to you this way, if your friend was shooting free throws in key basketball game, would you be sitting in front of the basket?  No. You'd be doing all you could to sit like a statue on the other side of the room, maybe even hold your breath so he doesn't see you breathing, lol.

So, help a sister and brother out!

I'm sharing this and suggesting (okay, maybe begging) that you please don't go check people's scores or make it obvious that you're checking their score. This will help your friends out!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Seeing Improvement in an Unexpected Way - Project Hunger Games

I received a message from Katniss (the pool player of the Project Hunger Games section of my blog) last month, and as usual, I was super excited to hear from her!  Usually that means a blog topic will creep up in our discussion and I will get to write about it and share it with you all!

She said, "I’m not sure if you watch many pool matches online, but there are these two guys playing a race for $500.  It's on FB Live.  I see some awesome blogging ideas."

Hey, wait a second!  Is she telling me I should write about a certain topic?  WTH, I thought that was my job?


I told her, "Let me know the topics!"

And she shared, "Too much body movement while making their shots. On guy especially is the worst. I have to give them props, though, for matching up and recording it."

Of course I had to dig deeper (you all know me!)

"What do you mean exactly, please?"  

She laments, "That guy just lets go of a shot, and then his body moves. Kinda like he is willing it to go in...  with his body.  The other guy is missing, also, while moving.  His misses may be from nerves, too?  He's missing more than usual.  They are both missing badly."

I told her, "Interesting."

She continued, "I’m just not use to seeing them play so badly like this. It also didn’t help that I was watching the Mosconi Cup warm-up matches. I was watching pro’s play with great form and technique before I was watching these local players play lol."

I could go on and on and on about the importance of staying down and staying still, but like I said recently, I'm trying not to write novels so I can blog more frequently (so here is a link to a previous blog post about the importance of "stillness").

Instead, what I really REALLY want to point out is:  how much Katniss is improving!  You see, let's say a player named Cindy (made up name) is not working on her game or trying to improve, Cindy would never have noticed such an important part to our pre-shot routine of staying down: being still.

This tells me SO much about Katniss!

It tells me just how far Katniss's game has come. Cindy may be watching the gambling match because it's fun and exciting to watch. She is most likely watching to see if they are winning or not. But, is Cindy noticing the shots or patterns they are trying to make?  Did she notice they are moving their body a lot and maybe that's why they are missing?

If she's not trying to improve or work on her game, the answers are no.

When you notice things such as stance, body movement, not staying down - that's an extremely good indicator of your own game improving!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Running Tours Differently

I saw this post from FaceBook the other day and as par the course for me, I wanted to blog about it!  (smile)

This post shows a couple of photos of the committee members of the DFW 9-Ball Tour, "getting ready for season 2020."

(click image to enlarge)

The reason it stood out for me was because there is roughly 15 people around that table, working on the Tour.

As you may all remember, I ran the Omega Billiards Tour for 7 years in DFW.  When I stopped running it, the DFW 9-Ball Tour was formed.  I was SO thankful a tour was going to continue in the area for the players!  Relieved, actually.  So, it was a Godsend the DFW 9-Ball Tour came to fruition... for the players!

The difference is, I was a one-woman shop.  Don't get me wrong, I had a few advisors I would bounce ideas off of, and I ALWAYS spoke to the sponsor of the tour (Mike Hoang of Omega Billiards) to get his suggestions and/or confirmation of ideas.

Because I helped run the Ladies Tour in Texas for nine years, I was very seasoned and felt very comfortable in the role.  Further, I am extremely conscientious (maybe too much) and therefore updated the website and put out FB announcements routinely, frequently, and often.  I also was on top of writing the articles, taking photos, running the tournaments, etc.

I always worked hard to get the calendar ready early for the next year - the players were anxious to know the dates. I would call and try and confirm locations, which took a ton of time, and also ensure the dates didn't conflict with other big tournaments. Every October when the last location/date was confirmed for the next year, I'd throw my fists in the air with such happiness and satisfaction! I would be ELATED! It's such a big thing to get finalized, whew! But, all this was done by little 'ole me.

I always needed a couple of helpers at the events and luckily had some great help all those years - couldn't have run such successful events without them.

To see such a large committee for the new tour tells me a few things.  One, each person probably brings a certain talent to the group, which is great for a business.  Two, it's great they are planning things together - the success of a committee is to ensure all have input and know the vision of the business.  Three, that they are taking the responsibility of the Tour seriously (which of course I LOVE).  Four, I shouldn't have ran the tour with so little help all those years.

Number Four is the reason I wanted to write today.  I remember when I announced I was stepping away, one of the players told me they wish they knew I was burnt out and they could have helped me, so that the Omega Tour could keep going. He and another player even offered to help me, and I immediately felt anxiety and stress... I didn't want to even be "just an advisor," they reassured me.  By then, I was way too ready to stop being a Tournament Director, a Baby Sitter, and down right exhausted.

Do I wish I had a committee of people to help me?  Actually, no.  lol.  While running the Tour solo was in reality not a good idea, lol, but in the end - it was what was meant to be.  It allowed me to remove myself completely from running a tour and to step away about 1,000,000 miles, lol.

I am a FIRM believer that everything happens for a reason.  I am extremely thankful Mike Hoang and Rusty's Billiards believed in me, which helped start my dream to run a Tour in DFW for the players. While 7 years later I stepped away, it allowed for another Tour to jump in and continue the dream.

Me stepping away was beneficial to so many people. For myself, I now have more peace and happiness away from the pool room. For the committee members, the DFW 9-Ball Tour is allowing for new people to gain experience and/or showcase their talent/experience. For new pool players, a Tour continued in the area. And most importantly, for all the players and businesses in DFW, a Tour continued in the area and that is the best gift ever!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Stream Treat!

I caught a match or two from the Royce Bunnell Memorial tournament over the Dec 14th weekend. It was cool to see some of my friends play on the stream.

But then check this out!

What a treat!  Four of the top players in the tournament on ONE screen!

Juan Parra playing Gary Abood, and Randy Staggs playing Shane McMinn.

I screen-captured it for you all as proof, lol:

Rackem TV provides a really great stream - you might want to subscribe to their YouTube channel if you like watching matches.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Reveal: Blue or Pink?

If I can share something with you all (in confidence of course, right?), I do not understand the gender reveal thing that has gone viral the last few years.  Maybe if I was in my fertile age wanting to have kids, it would make more sense to me.  Or, maybe if I had any friends who were prego, I would understand more.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's interesting and different, I just grew up in a different era where this didn't happen.

I have seen car smoke colors, release of balloons, cake cutting, etc, but I have to admit that when I saw the gender reveal of Sky Woodward's child-to-be with his girl Ashlee, it got me excited!  So, maybe that's what was needed!  A connection to something I love (pool) to make sense about the reveals.

I thought that was super cool!!  What did they do?

Check out the photos!

Congrat's to Sky and Ashlee - baby boy coming in April 2021!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Payout Woes of Pool and Poker

Well, I have to admit I didn't see this coming.  Poker players complaining about payouts?  Whhhaaaat?

I thought poker was a breathe of fresh air, embraced with big, open arms, and a rising sport loved by all.  Turns out poker is more like pool than I thought!

I related pool and poker many times in my blog, but I always wrote from the persepctive of a competitor - same mental toughness needed, dealing with crappy opponents, etc.

Today, is a whole new flavor of comparing the two sports.

Turns out poker is getting the same complaints as pool in regards to payouts.  Here is the article I am referring to:

In this article, poker pro Maurice Hawkins talks about several things, but here is the section of the article that reminds me of pool.  Does it for you, too?

Too Many Spots Paid

"I think the biggest concern with many people who are playing the WSOP Circuit, which is paying 15%, is that you have to get in the top percentile in order to actually min-cash or double your money on the Circuit right now," says Hawkins.
"Basically, you have to get in the top seven percent to double your money. While that may not be problematic to the people that are playing it, the reason the numbers are going down is because the likelihood of doubling your money is slimmer."

Hawkins believes the circumstance is creating a dynamic in which people cannot be equitable playing poker unless they are elite players — in other words, one in which the recreational player will never turn a profit.

"Therefore, we're going to lose that player forever," Hawkins believes. "We need to get the payouts to where it's double the buy-in back to 10 percent. You can take the extra five percent along the bottom end and increase the top a little bit more."

"The allure of poker was when the top prize was life-changing. It's just not working for a player to travel for a week when you're not even doubling your money when you min-cash. With overhead, it's a negative-equitable situation for you. I feel like it needs to be said. I know it probably can't be changed this year, but they need to get back to what made poker beautiful," he says.

Maurice Hawkins is expressing the exact complaints billiard Tournament Directors hear the most from the pros and top players: payouts!

I could go on and on (and on) about my thoughts and experiences regarding payouts from the point of view as a Tournament Director and an amateur pool player, but I am going to try and stop writing novels (which is keeping me from blogging more). So, I deleted 4 paragraphs (yes, four, lol) and will shorten this baby up for you all so you can get to other things in your day.

The one difference with what Maurice states above, is in regard to recreational players. While he believes poker players will NOT keep playing because the money they may win is not a lot.  IMHO, recreational pool players love if we even barley tip-toe into the prize fund.

And that is because he is correct about poker:
"The allure of poker was when the top prize was life-changing. It's just not working for a player to travel for a week when you're not even doubling your money when you min-cash. With overhead, it's a negative-equitable situation for you."
Alas, this is opposite of pool.  I mean, we WANT it to be life-changing payouts, but billiards is not.

And, the majority of pool players do not break even when we go to tournaments, right?  gas, food, hotel, entry fee, beverages, and if we do cash... did we even turn a little profit?

Enjoy your day, folks!  P.S. Get your holiday shopping done!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Lessons Are Valuable

I was skimming through Facebook the other day (something I don't do that often anymore), and something caught me eye.

It was this post from Joey Gray:

Hopefully you all remember I interviewed Joey (and his best friend Chip) in Dec 2018.  In that interview he mentioned he gives lessons.

But what caught my eye was these two kids in the photo and what Joey said about them (click the image above if you need to enlarge it). He said, they are both "checking their elbow alignment" (as both kids are looking behind themselves while in stance).

Checking their elbow alignment?


This is a perfect example to let you know how valuable lessons are.

You see, I don't know anything about 'elbow alignment.'  I mean, I kinda remember a few people throughout the 25 years of me playing pool saying something about it, but it was never something I worked on, really knew about, or learned about.

These kids are learning this important part of their stance and stroke at such a young age!  And as person who never took lessons, can you imagine how much sooner my game would have improved and also how it would have helped me throughout my entire pool journey if I had?!

It kinda reminds me of golf.  MANY people take golf lessons. How come we don't have the same attitude and respect toward our pool game?

Obviously, players can get well and have success without knowing about this thing called 'elbow alignment.' But, imagine how great it would have been if I already knew about this and had incorpated it in my game.

Just another blog post expressing how important lessons are.

P.S. If you want to know more about Joey and his lessons, where he will be, or contact him, check him out on Facebook at "Joey Gray Coaching."

Monday, December 2, 2019

It's Our 20 Year Anniversary!

Mike Howerton, the brains and workhorse behind (the premier online billiards website and the longest-running) and I were chatting today.

You may remember that I interviewed Mike back in November of 2018 (here is the link in case you didn't have a chance yet to read it). In that interview, I mentioned how he and I became friends:
You asked me to become a partner with AzBilliards in the late 90s when you noticed I created a website for my boyfriend at the time, a top pro. Not many people were online then and websites were a new thing so you and I were pioneers (and there were very few of us). Any regrets? Haha, seriously, I have enjoyed helping AzB and while I don’t help out that much anymore, I have enjoyed seeing AzB grow, and also our friendship!
And then I asked him, "Did you worry about the risks asking someone to join you?"

He replied,
"For the longest time, I was the only one who worked on AzB. On top of that, I have been a micro-manager all of my life and have always struggled to ask for help on things. So while uncomfortable at first, asking you to partner up made perfect sense. You introduced me to a number of top players back then. You have also became a great friend over the years. "

The reason I'm bringing this up today is because it's been 20 years that Mike and I have been friends and started to work on AzB together. So, it's our Anniversary!

BTW, the modern gift for the 20th anniversary is platinum. So, we expect some beautiful platinum goodies in the mail soon.

Yes, really! (lol)

Mike has been in Arizona and we've remained long distance friends from when I worked in Florida to now Texas all these years.

While we were chatting about the next issue of Billiard Buzz today, he shared: "You know I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing right now, if it wasn't for us working together many, many years ago. "

I asked him what he meant. He explained:
"AzB wouldn't have gotten to where it is without your help way back when. I tell people that the success of AzB was equal parts working without a real goal and getting lucky with the timing. But you were a big part of the success when it was becoming a success. You brought that connection to the pros that the site didn't really have. 
And you reminded me that they are all just people."

I was shocked! I had no idea about this and it really warmed my heart!  I told him sincerely, "Thank you for the compliment. We made and make a great team! 20 years now."

He replies, "Absolutely."

I've always found it interesting how companies start out. This is another example of things coming together perfectly!

To 20 more years, Mike!