Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bad Positional Error - Katniss

From Katniss, of the Hunger Games Project of my Blog:

I was at a local poolroom by myself, no one was there at the time. 

An hour in to my practice session, though, another individual walked in. 

I decide to take a small break and watch this guy. He was hitting them real good… well, until he missed a side pocket shot. So he set it up again and attempted to make the shot.  

Again and again and again. 

What he did not realize was, that it was a POSITIONAL error and NOT a potting error. 

His issues started way before his missed shot. Once he figures that out, he be able to fix it, and the error will be resolved. 

The Lesson?  Pay special attention to the cause and effects of your practices!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Cueist - Funk with Life/Pool and Who Helps

From The Cueist:

So, I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Not just pool-wise, but just with things going on in my life and around me. Not a depression-type funk. But, still a funk nonetheless. Coincidentally, I found myself wanting to go to the pool rooms more often. Maybe not to play, or get in action, or play a tourney. Those things are nice, sure. But I went to the pool rooms just to go hang out with friends I've made over the years. From all walks of life, ages, colors - this beautiful game that we love to play has a way of bringing people together.

I remember being younger and being in the pool room practicing 6-8 hours a day when I wasn't working. There were always 2 "old timers" there having coffee. Being that I was in my early 20's, I'd say hello, chat with them a while, then go practice. See, I love talking to these "old timers" in the pool rooms. Some of these guys have been in the pool rooms for 50 years and have seen many different things both inside the pool rooms and outside of the pool rooms. Some are veterans, some are millionaires, some are widowers, some are former top players. 

While I'm not at the "old timer" status yet, I have seen my fair share of things at the pool rooms. Been a part of many stories that I'll be able to tell years from now.  Learned life lessons in the pool rooms that apply to personal and business life. And most importantly, I've made friends from all walks of life that I enjoyed visiting with during this "funk" of mine. 

Much to my surprise, these friends of mine knew something was going on with me right off the bat. See, this is how much we've gotten to know each other over the years. And almost all of them offered great life advice. But when it came to advice on how to get out of the pool slump, they all pretty much said the same thing.....don't take pool so seriously. All of us are so competitive that sometimes it's easy to get engulfed in the pool scene and become overwhelmed. Next thing you know, you're not playing your best because of the pressure, then you get down on yourself, and then you may end up quitting the game that you loved so much. 

My point is this....while we all want to see results on the pool table after hours and hours of practice. Don't forget that time away from the pool table is just as important. Once you get past that hump in your pool game and remember why you fell in love with the game again, I guarantee that you'll be playing great again! 

And be sure to say hi to those "old timers" at the pool room next time. You might be surprised to learn a few things from them, not to mention hear great stories.

Katniss - Pool Shark?

From Katniss:

Someone told me, "I heard you are a pool shark."

I looked around and asked, "Are you talking to me?" 

He said, "Yes," 

I said, "No I’m not." 

He replied, "Well everyone is telling me you are."

I was persistent with my 'no,' even though I ran out and beat him.

My thought process was this:

A pool shark is someone who engage in sharking in billiards, that a player who distracts an opponent by means of vocalizing (talking crap) or with movement on purpose. Or a person who hustles people for money. 

His thought process was:

A pool shark refers to a player who is very well skilled. 

He explained to me that I played very well...not only against him, but in all of my games. I told him thank you 🙂

So MAYBE I am a pool shark after all! 

Monday, May 17, 2021

In Between - from Katniss

Find your WHY.....and you will find your WAY.

Somewhere in between when you leave your comfort zone, to enter a more challenging zone.

com·fort zone
/ˈkəmfərt zōn/
a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.

My comfort zone: Known ability to play in a higher caliber event/league. Having the stats and skills to back it up. Competition is “fun and care free.” 
Players looking up to you. You're the top of the food chain.

testing one's abilities; demanding

Players are of bigger and stronger playing abilities. Your mental and thinking process will be tested constantly. You are no longer on the top of the food chain, you are now at the bottom trying to make your way up. It may even feel like players are looking down at you instead of them looking up at you like in the comfort zone.

It’s basically the same concept for both zone's, tho:

  • Pre-shot routine
  • Pattern play
  • Stay down on your shot

Start with a small goal and once that is achieved, set another a goal. DO NOT GIVE UP!!

Once the challenging zone toughens you up, and makes you a confident and stronger player, going back to what was your comfort zone will actually make you feel like you no longer belong. It will make you feel out of place. 

I do feel that you adapt to your surroundings. So if you stay there too long, you have to keep moving in order to excel or you will stay playing at that same level.  

Change is is tough when you are IN BETWEEN leaving the old and making your way in to the new. 

I am determined and I will NOT give up! 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Fargo Thoughts from The Cueist

So I want to take a min to talk about Fargo ratings since it's all the rage right now. So many people are on either side of the Fargo debate. You can walk into a pool room and bring up Fargo ratings, and you'll hear the typical "oh, it's great! I have 15,000 games robustness, and it helps me gauge where I am against the better players." Or the TD's that use it as a tool for handicapping tournaments more accurately.

But on the other hand, you'll also hear the "oh, Fargo is a load of crap! It's so easy to dump and lower my Fargo." Or the, "I hate any kind of handicapping system. I remember back in the days when everyone played even, and you had to improve in order to place higher in the tournaments."

Then you have pool players like me that can see both arguments, and have seen it both help and hinder pool players of different skill levels.

We have monthly tournaments here in my area that are handicapped based on Fargo ratings. Now these tourneys are great! They consistently have 80+ players, and there's been all kinds of players from beginners to pros play the events. Even though you hear the top level players moan and complain about the handicaps month in and month out, the top players still seem to find a way to win and place high in these events. The handicap system ranges from 4-13, and it's rare that anyone below an 8 places in the top 3, let alone wins it. Funny how that works, right?!

From my humble point of view, the handicap system that these tourneys use is pretty close to accurate. The difference is truly in using Fargo ratings that are established for all of the players. And personally, I think the higher level players are just so used to running through different tourneys without any tough matches until the later stages of the events. Hence the moaning and complaining about someone rated too low when there's an upset, which is rare even when it's handicapped.

And that's not taking anything away from players w/ a lower Fargo rating. However, the difference comes down to consistency. On any given day, a lower level player could play perfect and easily beat a higher level player with very little mistakes. Then on their next match, the lower level player might lose, and struggle badly. But nobody ever remembers the times that the lower players perform to their level. Everyone always remembers when the lower players play over their head and play great. This especially happens with players in the mid-level range, such as the weekend warriors like myself. We could play perfect on day 1 of an event. Then come day 2, we can't make a straight in ball! Trust me, I struggle with this every month. LOL.

So back to Fargo.....personally, I believe Fargo is a great tool for handicapping tournaments, leagues, etc. However, there are still some downfalls, as with any handicapping system. So is it perfect? Umm, no! But I believe that the math involved to create the Fargo numbers is far more accurate than subjective opinions. And that's a good thing! You're able to run tourneys that men/women can compete in, as opposed to having 2 separate events for men/women. You're able to fill up tourneys that may not be full due to an unfair handicap system.

For the players that are only concerned about making money, this means more money in the tourney pool. More people in the establishment that is hosting the event. And for the weekend warrior, that means more competition. It's a win, win!

Let's hear your thoughts on Fargo, and how it's going in your area. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

That Muscle Memory Thing - by Katniss

From Katniss:

In the past, I remember saying, "Oh man. I’m in a slump - I can’t make a ball!"

I have not said that in a while. Not that it has not happened, ha. But, I now realize the reason I can’t make a ball is because of my stance; it doesn't feel comfortable or natural to me. Me missing and not making balls just proves it. 

I try to pay extra attention to my footing, bridge, arm, and aim. Easy enough right? ha! Not so much when you're in the middle of a match, competing, struggling to play decent, and playing your heart out. It’s hard when you're losing and the pressure is on, then all you feel is embarrassment! 

Does every player go through that? 

Is it just me? 

Do all player lose their muscle memory? 

If not, why? 

Is it too much or too little practice? 

Is it that they are always in action? 

Is it solid fundamentals?

I don’t quite understand how to keep that muscle memory active and keep it working for me. It’s so discouraging at times. When everything is going well, it goes well and I don’t have to work as hard - it’s all automatic. Effortless. I get to the table, bend over, and shoot! But when I’m off, I don't play well nor catch a gear. I want to learn how solve that problem! 

I do admit I have more good days than bad. But, dang them bad days can be brutal!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Social Distancing in the Future

My friend Janet was helping run the Midwest ACS Championship tournament in Davenport, Iowa last week. She shared some photos and said they were all wearing masks and social distancing, including the tables, and shared a photo to prove it:

I immediately thought, "hey, every tournament in the future should do social distancing between tables even after the pandemic! "

There have been many times in bar table tournaments where our butts get in the way of the table next to us, or we have to wait for someone to shoot on the next table because the tables are so close together.

How cool would it be to not have to worry about the matches around us in bat table tournaments?!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Cueist has a Question for You All about COVID

On Wednesday before Christmas, I started to feel a little sick. Just a sore throat and a bit of a cough. By Thurs morning, I had gotten worse and my family decided to cancel the Christmas exchange just so I didn't expose anybody to whatever I had. I just so happened to see a post from a guy out of state saying that he tested positive for Covid-19. He was posting it as a PSA since he was at a tourney the Saturday before Christmas (he had come up here as his wife has family in the area), and started showing symptoms on the Tuesday before Christmas. Now, I happened to be at the same tourney (he had traveled up to my state to play in it) and I was in close proximity to him a few times. So, naturally, the thought of having covid crossed my mind immediately.

Fast forward to the Sunday after Christmas, and I lost my sense of taste and smell, and had a really bad headache. Monday, I started to get a fever and lost all of my energy. So, I went to get tested on Tuesday, and sure enough, I was positive for covid. Ugh! Thanks goodness we cancelled the Christmas exchange so I wasn't around my family! So, I immediately went into quarantine mode. It had already been a week since I was first showing symptoms, and I wanted to quarantine at least one more week before getting tested again. Meanwhile, that player attends yet another tournament here locally again - and this time without waiting for his 2nd test that shows negative. Not only that, he specifically mentioned that he didn't feel 100%, while he was at the tournament.

While I don't want to debate everyone's moral compass, living in fear, or conspiracy theories.... I do seriously see something wrong with this decision on his part....all of us love this game of pool. But at what point do you refrain from going to a poolroom knowing you have a virus which can potentially be fatal to some individuals. Especially in a pool room, at a tourney, where the room is rather full and you're in close proximity to the venue staff, players, TD staff, and spectators.

So, now that I'm fully recovered, I'd like to ask any pool players that have had covid if they've had any lingering effects that have affected their pool playing?

In my case, covid has somehow affected my vision and balance. Not to the point where I'm falling over or anything. But I've not been able to line up properly when stepping into a shot. And in addition to that, I almost feel like I'm swaying while down on a shot. Swaying may be too strong of a word, but I do feel like I'm not able to stay 100% still during my shot. Which, as we all know, will cause all kinds of problems when trying to make various shots. Not only that, but I've noticed that I get tired after about 4-5 hours of constant playing. Whereas before I had covid, I was able to play at least 8 hours before I even started to get tired physically.

Anyone else experiencing something similar?

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Cueist and His Goals

I asked The Cueist and Katniss to send me some info about their goals from 2020 and the ones for 2021.

Here is what The Cueist shared:

Happy Holidays to everyone around the globe! With the year coming to a close, let's reflect a little on what's happened in 2020....most of the pool players around the world were affected by the pandemic. In my case, I was at the BCA/CSI nationals in Vegas when the country started to shut down. And when I made it home, I didn't hit a single ball for 5 months.

Five months is an eternity considering I had set some lofty goals for my 2020 pool year. Let's recap those goals really quick

- Place in the top 3 at least one time on our local tour 
- Be in the top 5 of my skill level on the tour's ranking system 
- Increase my Fargo to 645 or higher (I was at about 620 at the start of the year, and my robustness was 2,800)

The way I saw it, if I started to practice and improve, then all 3 of these would eventually happen. In 2019, I really worked on my game. I saw results in tournaments, and my Fargo jumped about 20 points in 12 months. While improving your Fargo doesn't necessarily mean you're playing better, my Fargo doesn't fluctuate too much with the amount of robustness I have. So by going up in Fargo, it was just a tangible way of me knowing that I was indeed playing better on a consistent basis.

However, with the pandemic in full force, this meant that I had about only 7 months to hit my goals, without the luxury of practicing for 5 months.

But....I was still able to attain 2 out of my 3 goals with a shortened pool year. :)

I placed 3rd in a tour stop in the Fall, which was 2 months after I dusted off my cues....seriously, my case literally had a thin layer of dust! And combined with tourney results from the other tour stops, I was in the top 5 of my particular skill level. Yay for me!

However, the goal that I didn't attain was for my Fargo to increase to 645. I reached 644, which is soooo close, yet soooo far. I know, I know, it's only 1 point. But even though it's 1 measly point, it was still my personal goal that wasn't checked off my list. Dangit.

So....where does this put my 2021 goals?

- Be more positive about pool in general. Whether it is my results in tourneys, gambling matches, individual matches, certain shots, etc, the negativity needs to be at a minimum if I want to improve.
- Improve to a 660 Fargo rating. Tough to do with 5,000 games robustness,
- Place in the top 3 of at least one big tournament in 2021. This is always tough to do as you never know how many talented players will be playing.

And to keep in part of one of my goals for 2021 (see below), I'll try to find the positive side to me not having a 645 Fargo rating....while I didn't attain the 645 Fargo rating, it doesn't mean that I'm not playing better and more consistently than the start of 2020. I mean, the overall goal is to be a better pool player. So I can safely say that I have improved almost 25 points AND I'm playing much better than I did last year.

Now, I just have to keep working on my game as much as I can, and keep the goals in mind. The results in tourneys and matches will take care of themselves with continued improvement. So we just have to trust the process.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Friday, January 1, 2021

Katniss and Her Goals

I asked The Cueist and Katniss to send me some info about their goals from 2020 and the ones for 2021.

Here is what Katniss shared:

2020 has been a tough year that has affected so many in so many different ways. However, we all know it's normal to also learn things from tough times. So, what did 2020 teach me?  TO SLOW DOWN.

As I come into 2021, I intend to do that exact thing! (and more)


My goals for 2021 are:

  1. To take my time on each shot at the pool table. I’m not saying I’m going to take 15 minutes on each shot, haha, because that is just plain crazy! I am however going to not rush like I have in past. I get so excited to be at the table that I was being careless with my shot making. Once you take that shot whether you make it or not, you will never get that opportunity back. I'll be honest, I figured out how valuable it was to slow down because of the pandemic - it gave me the opportunity to self reflect on my practice, instead of simply practicing for league.
  2. I also want work on getting my stroke in a precise stroke. I want to learn how to trust my mechanics, as a second nature type of action. 
  3. I also want to always stay in the moment, and not feel defeated when I’m down in a match. That is where trusting my mechanics comes in! 
  4. I also want the players that I look up to and admire to FEAR ME. I want my presence to be known and felt. I want to beat the top slowing down and enjoying the moment. See how they are all related?

Don’t take anything for granted....because 2020 has been a tough year to the pool community. Some will come back stronger, some weaker, and some will never come back. 

What are your goals for 2021?