Grudge Match

In my previous post of content, I talk about having a bit of a grudge match scheduled.  We started off with a nice long race of 9-ball, which you can watch below.  I took that set pretty heavily, but after some uncomfortable bickering back and forth I agreed to also play a set of 8-ball, but I was pretty much on tilt by then and ended up losing that one.  I'm not worried about since that's his game and I was pretty offended by the whole ordeal.  Over the next 6 months or so we've played several other times in the Masters league where I've come out ahead 2/3 times.  But, unfortunately, in that King of the Hill event I also talked about, he got me in our challenge match.  Honestly, I'm okay with that.  I know I haven't been playing much at all lately. I pretty much just show up to play my match then I leave.  I haven't practiced in 8 months, and I haven't really played for fun in god-knows how long.

I really want to change that as this awkward style of play I've been presenting is really getting under my skin.  In my big-table 9-ball league I'm not even at a 50% win rate because of it.  I suppose the only "good" thing that has come out of this whole playing bad experience is that I have really kept my emotions in check; no matter the outcome.  I get pretty salty once the match is over, on the drive home - but I've been really good at not complaining at/around my opponent.

Anyway, here's the 9-ball match where I "took 2 minutes to shoot every shot, slopped every key-ball in, and got lucky on every miss".

And here's the set of 8-ball if anyone is interested.  This is only a race to 7, but it took longer than our race to 11.  You can clearly tell that I don't have the pool stamina as I fade pretty quickly - but we're both trying really hard to focus and win the set; which I think played a huge part in how long it took to complete.

Keywords: , , ,

Filed Under: 9-Ball

Blog Award!

So, I got tweeted the other day that this blog has won another award!  I kinda feel bad about it because it's been fairly stagnant here. I just haven't had a lot to talk about, mostly because I haven't been playing too much lately. But, with all of my leagues wrapping up soon, maybe I'll get a chance to get back at the table and start improving my game again.

In the meantime, here's the award I received:

Unfortunately, it seems the hosting website is not responsive for me at the moment, but in case it does come back, I've linked it here

Keywords: ,

Filed Under: General

Getting in The Box

Two weeks ago, one of my regular pool rooms decided to implement an in-house King of the Hill style event.  It's inspired by what Finnegan did on the tv show The Hustlers. As one would expect, there was a lot of speculation and wonder as to who would make the initial top 10 list.  And, just as one would expect, when the list was finally released there were a lot of questions and surprises.  I was not part of the initial list, nor was my frequent sparring partner - despite both of us being quite regular and among the top players in the room.  But, we let that go and just decided to focus on our own game.  Of course, there is a pecking order that we must go through in order get onto the list - we can only challenge the #10 spot, for obvious reasons.  The problem is that there are 4 people I know of waiting to challenge the #10 spot. Among all the talking there's going to be some barking and some other challenges outside of the list that happen - and it is here that I find myself.  

Another shooter well known in the area has been asking me for weight for over a year, despite the fact that the 3 times we've played, he's won each time. We'd been "negotiating" for a while and settled on me giving him 3 games going to 15; though I don't think he needs it.  We're really only about a ball apart, but his experience on the barbox negates that, in my opinion.  Well, about a week after that the peanut gallery gets involved and through some other conversation he says that he'll play me even.  Of course, I get word of this and we adjust the race to 11, even.  This match is happening tonight; though it has been in the works for well over a year. Several people have already said they'll come sweat it, which I'm not sure how I feel about. These sorts of things are bound to happen and if I'm to continue my pool career I must get used to playing with an audience; especially if I hope to win tournaments.

I don't know if I'll be able to record this as I'm supposed to be up there to record an official challenge match so my recording focus will have to be on that.  I'm planning on just setting up the camera and letting it run.  I'll do the scoreboard in post-production for them.  I have a 2nd camera which I'd like to bring so that I can record my match as well - but I need to focus on the match more than the recordings.  I really want to win this set. It's for only a little more than bragging rights and assuming I do win, I'm sure the old requests for weight will come back immediately.  At which point I will need to examine the match to see if I won because he played poorly or if I'm simply a touch more seasoned.

Players often want weight based on their worst game, which is obviously not accurate.  Similarly, people sometimes offer weight based on their best game (I've been guilty of this) which is equally not accurate.  It is for these primary reasons that I believe all relatively skilled players should just start by playing even a few times.  A single race to 11 isn't really long enough to let all the rolls even out or to see all sides of a player.  Several races to 11 would accomplish this; though it is difficult for some who just lost a race to play again without adjusting. Luck plays a huge part in a set and some days people are more (or less) lucky than others, regardless of their skill.

The mental game will be, in my opinion, the deciding factor tonight.  Both of us can make the same shots, we both have good breaks and good safety knowledge.  Execution will be key, but that still comes from the mental game.  Whichever of us keeps their head clearer, I think, will come out on top. I've put together my little cheat-sheet of thoughts to focus on throughout the day and during the match. (I'd link to where I got this idea but akaTrigger's blog doesn't allow for searching anymore; although if I recall, she got this tip from Phil Capelle) I'm also going to watch some of my better matches, including one where I put together my first 3-pack:

I'm looking forward to the match, but I'm also looking forward to being done with it so I can stop focusing on it. haha

Keywords: , , , , , , , , , ,

Filed Under: 9-Ball

Mosconi Cup 2015

About six months ago I decided that I was absolutely going to attend the Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas this year.  I talked with some friends and we all decided to go together.  In a nutshell, I am beyond thrilled that I went!  There are plenty of other articles about the results of the event but if you want to read through a rack-by-rack update, StlPool live-tweeted the entire event. 

Instead of another recap, I'm going to tell you why you should make every attempt to attend this event whenever you can. 

In the months leading up to this event I found myself a little burnt out on the game - despite my previous post.  I generally just felt completely apathetic about pool.  I quit following threads on AZB, I quit watching matches - even those I had bought.  I have about 40 hours of pool from the US Open I haven't even watched yet. I showed up to my required league matches only minutes before I was supposed to play, played then left immediately after.  I didn't go play for fun, I didn't gamble, I didn't enter tournaments.  I barely kept the www.stlpool.net site updated.  There are a bunch of reasons why I ended up in that space, but suffice it to say that I was not active in the pool world. But, I had already bought my tickets, paid for the hotel room and had a flight purchased, so I had to go.

After landing in Vegas and checking into the hotel I went to Will-Call to pick up my tickets and discovered that this year they were handing out assigned seats - and that I had obtained amazing seats - 2nd row!  I walked from the ticket counter back to the arena and found where my seats were.  

Empty Arena

Standing there, just seeing the table and all the empty seats and remembering what it looks like when I watched the stream I found myself getting more and more excited for the next day. I was instantly in a better mood and was almost skipping out of the arena to head back to the hotel.

The next morning I was up early and even though I only had a single small cup of coffee (compared to my normal 3 cups before speaking) I was near giddy with anticipation.  The closer we got to the hotel, then walking to the arena the more and more excited I became.  Once I sat down and looked around at the 1,000 other people from all over the world I knew this was a great decision.  The energy of the crowd was intoxicating; it was cheerful, yet highly competitive.  The chants of the Europeans had already began which met smatterings of "U! S! A!" from various places around the room.

The match began and Skyler Woodward won the lag and I heard the actual roar of the crowd - for just the lag - I was uncontrollably glued to the edge of my seat with my eyes on the table. For the next 6 hours I only got up during commercial breaks to get more coffee or to buy some merchandise.

When Corey Deuel hit that incredible jump shot I was standing and shouting before I even knew what I was doing.  I have never been so wrapped in a crowd mentality before.  I've been to plenty of major sporting events, but never have I been so closely entwined with the crowd as I was throughout the entire week.

At the end of the day I had witness some amazing pool.  It would be impossible to NOT see amazing things with the players in the room.  Even though the US team lost the day 2-3, I didn't feet like we lost.  I was still excited and immediately began recounting shots with my friends as we paced out of the arena and through the hotel.

Each day it was more of the same thing: wake up excited, feeling that "rush" to get there and for the action to start.  To see what would happen next.  Wishing that finally this year USA would take the title back, and especially because of the team this year.  Living in St. Louis, with frequent contact with both Justin Bergman and Mark Wilson, hearing them talk about this for so long and wanting it even more - combined with this being my first attendance I was really wanting this to that extra little bit of special USA needed.

The second day things were looking a little rough when we found ourselves down 1-3 going into the final match.  Then, out of nowhere, Shane hits this amazing 2-9 carom at what seemed like 120mph!  Again, pure exhilaration! (as noted by the reaction of Shane and Mike). That shot ended Day 2 and even though USA were down for the day again, we felt like winners walking out of the room.  And once again, everyone was rehashing what they had just witnessed, making predictions and giving their opinions.  

Days 3 and 4 blended together due to the sheer overwhelming amount of energy both spent and absorbed participating in the crowd. Plenty of highs coupled a few more lows for Team USA.  I won't bother recapping all of it as it's now all available online for you to watch and enjoy.

Each day I would talk to some friends and each day, somewhere in the conversation, there would come the line "Man! I really wanna go play right now!".  And each day that desire to play grew and grew.  It didn't matter where, it didn't matter on what, just that basic need to play the game. To feel the cue, to hear it *ping* with the cueball with that warming wood tone that informs you it was a good stroke, to watch the cueball dance around the table and hear the *kerplunk* of the object ball dropping into the pocket.

It's that level of drive and admiration for the game I had been sorely missing.  The Mosconi Cup gave that back to me. The drive to improve, the inspiration to succeed, and the desire to own the table - all of it - now back in the forefront of my pool mind thanks to participating in this event.

I've attended the Derby City Classic a few times and while that same drive perks up from that event, it just can't compare or compete with the energy of the Mosconi Cup.  There's more to see at the DCC, but there's less energy to help fuel you through the event. I get table time at the DCC so I'm going to get into stroke, but the Mosconi Cup gets my mind in stroke. I am mentally prepared to play, mentally making better decisions while looking over a table without ever hitting a ball.  

Now, because I haven't been playing a lot (barely at all) my body needs to catch up. I need to my arm in line with my mind, and if last Monday's final league match is any indicator - there's a large distance between where my mind is and what my arm is willing to do.  Thankfully, I am welcoming the hard work in my future because I know what the rewards are. Even though I will never play in the real Mosconi Cup, I can treat each future tournament with the same level of attention and preparation required so that I can, hopefully, enjoy the same level of exuberation as each winner of each match of the Mosconi Cup.

Keywords:

Filed Under: 9-Ball · General · Tournaments

Back in the Swing

I've been gone for far too long. Mostly because I've been heavily involved in several other ventures that just take up all of my time.  Plus, my day job keeps me quite busy these days.  But, last week I had something happen that just kickstarted my drive again.

I've been playing about once or twice a week for the last 6 months or so, and while I'm not playing horribly, I'm not playing as well as I was a year ago.  It's pretty obvious why, but I've been letting it slide.  Over the holiday weekend I was feeling a little froggy and got into an action match with a player that I used to give weight to.  I lost 2 sets off the bat and I quit.  I know why I lost, but it's still frustrating.  So, I decided simply: No More.

I played a league match the following day and after falling behind badly, early I was nearly ready to unscrew; but I stuck it out and grinded through and ended up winning the set.  That felt great. It was a great glimpse of what I'm capable of doing.  Then last night, I met up with a practice partner and we played a race to 21 on the barbox.  Full disclosure: he played horribly; like, missing ball in hand multiple times kind of horribly.  But I was still focusing on my own game; trying to play smooth, with a good rhythm, work on my position routes and decision making.  I still have plenty of work to do there, but I also managed to stay focused a little better.  I didn't sweat missing position as much and just concentrated on making the ball.  After all, this is a barbox - there's not really any long shots in that arena, so I don't need to get dead perfect on every ball; as long as I get on the right side the ball.  I won the set 21-13, with a couple of break and runs tossed in.  

I like that I've played 4 of the last 5 days, and will play tonight, tomorrow (league) and Friday for sure.  There's a tournament on Saturday I will play in as well.  I'm actually excited to be back at the table again.  I'm excited to watch my progress, and excited by its promise.

In other news, the 2 side projects are going very well.  StlPool.Net is still the source of tournament information I wished it to be, and I still get complemented on it often.  The Players Club is still coming along, with amazing things in the works for the near future that I'm extremely excited about, but can't say any more at this time.

Keywords:

Filed Under: General

Justin Bergman vs Oscar Dominguez in St. Louis

I know I've been away for a while, but things have been incredibly crazy on my end.  Between tournaments and streaming and more streaming, I've barely had time to relax.  I mostly popped in here to say that I am now an official contributor to NYCGrind!!  

The streaming division of The Players Club put on our first PPV, with the help of BigTruck (PoolActionTV) last week to bring to the fans a great match between two format Mosconi Cup players: Oscar Dominguez vs Justin Bergman.  After the first night was over I got a message from Alison from NYCGrind asking if I would also do a write up on the event.  A few days, and many hours of sleep, later, it was delivered.  You can read the article here!  

I'm working on a way to offer a VOD of the match for those that couldn't watch it or just want to see it again - and I'll post an update when that's available.  

Big things are coming to town this year, this is just the tip of the iceberg. :)

Keywords: , , , , , , ,

Filed Under: 10-Ball · 8-Ball

I Went to New York

In a weird sequence of events revolving around my work, I found myself with a free trip to New York City for February 8th-10th.  I decided to extend my time there and head out on the 5th instead to see what I could see in the big apple.

I arrived uneventfully at LaGuardia and found my car service driver who quickly revealed by example that I could in no short amount of time be able to drive in New York City. Wow. After checking into my hotel and getting some food from the next door deli, I grabbed my cue and hopped on the nearest subway towards Amsterdam Billiards. After only 1 wrong turn at the top of the stairs, I corrected my direction and found the place to be jam packed.  It was Thursday around 8pm and nearly all 21 of their 9-foot gold crowns were taken.  I talked to the counter guy and got a table off the corner.  Immediately to my left I saw Hunter Lumbardo practicing and two tables away from him was Tony Robles giving a lesson.  I put my cue together and tossed the balls out on the table.  I wasn't really playing so much as observing the rest of the room while I lazily shot balls around the table.  My initial reaction had several pieces:

  • 1) Every table has a ball return, and each tray comes with a measle cue ball.
  • 2) Like every other pool room, there's a wide variety of characters.
  • 3) Like the rest of the New York, people are always close to you.
  • 4) At least half of the serious players I know in St. Louis couldn't play here because of the noise/distraction level.
  • 5) Look at all these people paying $10/hr on 9-foot tables - I wish we had one of these.

There was a jukebox or some sort of house music playing, but it wasn't blaring.  It was a nice volume, just above background music.  The table I was on had larger pockets, but nothing outrageous.  A nice size for the average player and good-time seeker, but most serious players would consider them buckets.  A few hours later I decided to head back to the hotel and get some rest for the next day.

That Friday I was to meet up with a friend, who was also visiting NY for other reasons, at Steinway Cafe and Billiards (website outdated).  Our hopes were to play on the 10-foot table where Earl Strickland and Efren had played earlier in the year, but after arriving there I learned they no longer had the table.  I sat and talked with Manny, one of the owners, for a while and waited for my friend.  We talked a little about the scene differences and general pool stuff. He informed me that TruTV was filming a reality show there based on a character: Finnegan; a tournament director and action player.  TruTV actually came in and painted the place, hung cameras and some other house-cleaning/preparation things.  Alan arrived and we had lunch, then hopped onto the only Diamond table they had. Again, measle cue ball - and again $10/hr - and again 20+ 9-foot tables.  I didn't particularly play well (at all), but the railbirds and other players around us were too darn entertaining.  Or it could've been the giant Mexican Coffees we were drinking.  Who knows.  About 5 hours later we quit playing, then order dinner and watched as the room filled with players of all calibers.  There was a tournament the next day (sold out a week or more in advance), so people were there to practice, I expect.  Alan and I met up with his friends and spent the evening at a little neighborhood bar in Brooklyn.  Afterwards, I hopped a train back to Manhattan where I immediately hopped another train on down to Amsterdam Billiards for a nightcap.

I got one of the newly recovered tables up front this time and a few minutes later some random guy asked to play a little bit, we did - and I won bragging rights.  However, the neat part of the night was that the table next me was Alison Fischer of NYCGrind.  A few racks later I walk over, and she beats me to the punch: "Are you Johnny?". We chit chat for a while and I meet a few other locals, including Charles the photographer (sorry, I can't remember his last night at the moment - but he shoots a lot of NY pool events). She's finishes her wine, we part ways, I close out my tab and head back to the hotel for a sleep of the dead.

Saturday I wake up quite later than expected and finally go out for breakfast around noon-ish.  But I settled on a slice of new york style cheese pizza from a corner restaurant instead.  It was cheesy, greasy and decent - but nothing overwhelming.  From there I walk around Manhattan for a several hours. I literally just walked and turned corners when I felt like it. If I saw an interesting looking building down that way - that's the way I'd go.  I "stumbled" into Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, Rockefller center and central park, among others.  Then I realized I was late to meet Alan to head out to Long Island for Gail and Tony Robles' housewarming party.  I hop on a train back to the hotel, quickly change and hop another train out to Jamaica; where I catch the LIRR out to Wantaugh (sp?).  From there I grab a taxi ($6) right to Gail's front porch.  I walk in and quickly find Gail running around like a crazy person trying to be the absolute best hostess that ever existed - and she did a damn fine job of that.  I was greeted with a big hug and excitement and was immediately introduced around.  After handing off the bottle of rum I brought I found my way downstairs to the pool room where I joined Alan, Tony and host of other New Yorkers:  Michelle Li, Neslihan Gurel, William Fuentes, Alison Fischer (again), Rys, July, Ron Mason (of Gotham City Technologies), Joe Torres and several others I can't recall at the moment.

We spent the night playing ring games, target pool, then finally a game called "Killers".  It's a group-based game where your only objective is to make a ball. One shot, one stroke, shoot any ball.  The secondary objective is to also play safe against the incoming player so they don't have a shot.  If you don't make your ball, you get a strike.  3 strikes and you're out.  Everyone buys in with $5 or $10, winner take all.  Very interesting game, a lot of fun - and way more exciting for a group of players than a traditional ring game.

After some unsure travel times, we required a ride from Tony back to the LIRR, where William, Nes, July and myself headed back to Manhattan.  I went back to the hotel and prepared for Sunday.

Sunday I met up with my other work people and we walked around all day. I also got to meet up with some highschool friends we checked out the Empire State building, the Flatiron building and Cheslea Market.  I watched the premiere of The Walking Dead and considered going back out, but finally decided to sleep instead.

Monday was more Manhattan exploration which primarily included Obscura (from the SciFi show: Oddities) - then back to midtown for the Lego store, Nintendo World and a few other places I can't remember.  That evening was the award ceremony for work after which I changed back into pool player clothes and went to check out Society Billiards.  This place was neat - it's in the basement of a building and I feel like it used to be a speakeasy back in the 20's; then a gentleman's club until it became a pool room.  It's very dark, with the required red neon lighting at the bar.  But, the whole room was filled with 9 foot diamond tables.  Again, measle cue balls and again $10/hr.  It's marketed as an "upscale pool hall", which I can believe by the rest of the prices.  It wasn't very populated though, but I suppose it was after midnight on a Monday, so... I enjoyed my drink and played various games.  Table played great, despite somewhat of a space issue on one side.   I packed up, bought a shirt and chatted with the staff a little while before heading back to the hotel.

Tuesday I checked out and left my bags there for a while, since my flight wasn't until 6pm, I had all day to kill... so I went back to Amsterdam, played a little bit then decided to explore Union Square in the daylight.  I'm glad I did, because I found an amazing store to suit all of my darkside: Gothic Renaissance.  A great collection of things black, silver and gothic.  I bought a shirt and unfortunately nothing else, then continued to walk around a bit before finally heading back to the hotel to pick up my bags and head back to St. Louis.

Upon my return I realized that my short time in New York had incredibly spoiled me... I have yet to not miss the culture and environment every time I walk into a "pool room" here.  I have to go back and can't wait until I do.

Keywords: , , , , , ,

Filed Under: General

Missouri State 9-Ball Championship 2015

This past weekend was the 2015 state 9-ball championship for Missouri, held at Billiards of Springfield.  This is an annual event and draws quite an array of top quality players based in Missouri.  Only people with state IDs are eligible to play, which keeps it from being overtaken by road players.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend to compete as I was out of town on a work trip in New York (blog post about that later).  But, here's the info and winners:

http://www.stlpool.net/Events/missouri-state-9ball-championship-2015

First place: Steve Boucher
Second place: Mike Banks Jr.
Third Place: Nick Evans
Fourth Place: Darrent Everett

The next big state tournament has been announced and it's the State BARBOX 9-Ball Championship, held at Teachers on the Diamonds.  Info for that tournament be found here:

http://www.stlpool.net/Events/missouri-state-barbox-9ball-championship-2015

You can watch the recorded matches on UStream here.

Keywords: , , , , ,

Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

Scotch Doubles 10-Ball - WINNER!!!

So, this weekend was a Scotch Doubles 10-ball event.  I was already planning on attending, since I was running the stream for the event, but wasn't sure if I was going to get to play.  At sort of the last minute, I asked the question on social media and got a response right off the bat.  As it turns out, it was the best decision.  Why?  Because WE WON THE TOURNAMENT!!

Here are the finals:

We played pretty well all day, got the rolls, took advantage when we got the chance and just stayed positive all day.  We did kinda lose ourselves while on the hill early in the 1st set, so before we started the 2nd set, Jake and Ryan actually asked us if we wanted to split.  Jean and I talked about it and we decided to go ahead and split it.  We played out the event so there'll be a winner, but that way there's no pressure about the money or anything.  

Normally I'm not a fan of splitting - but that's mostly because there's no tournament winner when people split. In this case, we also agreed to play it out so there would be a winner.  Of course, whichever team won the event would then wish they had not split, and the 2nd place team is happy they did - but hey.  1st or 2nd is still a good payday!

Just adding more money to the DCC pocketbook!  I'm gonna try and get in some more weekly tournament to add to it between now and the end of the month.

Keywords: , , , ,

Filed Under: 10-Ball · Tournaments

So Many Irons

Sorry folks for not posting in such a long time.  I've been going crazy with other projects.  I'm still playing a lot of pool and doing pretty well overall.  I want to say I've turned a corner and I think it's been a long enough streak that it's not just a streak.  I really think I've hit a new gear.  It's not one of those "my game jumped up 3 levels" kind of gear; just a "my game is pretty consistent now" kind of gear.

In addition to the new website, which has been sucking most of my free time away, I stole the time to attend a 2-day seminar with Mark Wilson. At first, I was concerned that I had just wasted money because I felt like it wasn't tailored to my own areas of concern enough.  But, then I thought about it and while it was heavily geared toward fundamentals, it was also a lot of forced attention and forced practice on things I rarely, if ever, get to do.  So, I knew that I'd have to just wait and see how things turned out.

Well, here we are almost 2 months later and I'm seeing the results manifest.  My pre-shot routine is far more stable, my pre-strokes are straighter than they've ever been and my command of the table is more consistent than ever.  Also, there was one piece of advice that struck me more than anything else and it's helped my mental game by leaps and bounds.  It's simple to say and something I'm sure I've heard time and time again, but for whatever reason; that time it struck the chord that rang true.

Since then, I've won 85% of my league matches, I've won a tournament, and placed in the money in others.  I'm breaking and running out more often and I'm keeping my head in a much better space more often than not (finally).

I can't help but wonder what I could be doing if I weren't so busy with everything else and actually had the time to practice I'd like.  So, what are these other things?  In addition to STLPool.net, I've been tapped on the shoulder to start up the streaming division of a new billiards company!

That's right!  Let me introduce you all to The Players Club!

We've already streamed one event over Thanksgiving and will be streaming at least 1 event a month going forward.  You can watch all the videos on STLPool's youtube channel (until the new TPC channel gets off the ground).

Here's the finals of that event though if you wanna see how my first live-stream went:

On top of all of that ... I've been really working on several things around the house, dealing with the holidays, the new job and just general life things.  Still, I'm very excited about everything that's going on right now, both personally and professionally.

2015 will be a HUGE year for pool in St. Louis.  TPC will be launching a points-based series of events; something of a tour.  There's a bunch of sponsors already involved, not from the billiard industry, so companies with money are getting involved.  The prizes listed for the next year are out of this world!  There's finally going to be something that draws pool players to the area, like the old days!

Keywords: , , , , ,

Filed Under: General

Recent Tweets

Note: For Customization and Configuration, CheckOut Recent Tweets Documentation

Quick Archive