I’ve decided to use this blog as a space for me to keep track of little tricks, lessons, tips and experiences involved with my newest hobby of pool.
I’ve been playing randomly for years. I had a table at home when I was in highschool, but after that only played whenever a bar had one available. (Frequently you could find me at the table at Rocket Bar [RIP] or at Hi-Pointe [RIP].)
It seems as though my job search would lead me to more pool. In 2001 I took a job in Chesterfield, which inevitably led me to Chesterfield Billiards about a year later. It was a fantastic place. They had seven 9ft tables and 12 7ft bar tables. The place was well kept, clean and the food was pretty decent as a bonus. I played mostly during my lunch hour which was a limited exposure, but still valuable. It was there I learned the true meaning of “a lot of green”. The cue-ball loved to sit on the rail it seemed. It was also there where I purchased my first cue; based almost entirely on the look and only a little bit on the weight and performance. However, it was a valuable learning experience. Having my own cue meant I was able to play with a consistent tool. I abandoned the vice of hand powder for a shaft-slicker and I learned the value of tip maintenance. I played there quite a lot and often after work for a few hours. Sadly the hall closed and I had to move on.
As luck would have it, another job switch in 2004 placed me close to another venue. So, between 2004 and 2007 I played at least three times a week at The Pink Galleon. It was nearby, almost always empty, and it served food. I practiced several things during those hours, trying to solidify my game. I tried to ensure my form was the same each time – first and foremost. Secondly, I tried to learn how to use english properly. There was another player there frequently, I believe his name was Sascha [he was Russian], and we used to play whenever possible. He was very consistent and was an excellent source of tips and tricks. He continued to school me on the table though; and all the while telling me I had to get over to this other pool hall with nicer tables, but an excellent staff and selection of products. I never managed to get there.
I switched jobs in 2007 which moved me away from the galleon. I spent the first year at my new job reading during lunch and didn’t get to play too often. Then one day I decided to see if there were any pool halls near my work. As it turns out, there was: Cue & Cushion. This is a full service pool center. They sell everything related to the game and are a family owned place. I started going there once in a while to check it out. It’s a very serious place – not for the kids. Groups of older men playing one-pocket with some serious attitudes towards it. Specific tables reserved for one-pocket play only as well as two 3-cushion tables and a snooker table. Most tables are 8ft, but there are two bar tables, complete with the annoying under-table tunnel system for the balls to follow after being pocketed. After some hindsight, I realized this was the place Sascha was telling me to frequent for services and playing.
I’ve been visiting that hall at least three times a week now for the better part of 6 months and in that time I’ve learned an awful lot. I’ve purchased two cues and a number of other accessory items from them. To be fair, one cue was purchased for my step-daughter who is also very fond of pool. We’ll get to that later. I bought a new cue to replace one that was stolen (along with my truck a few months back) and now I play with a Lucasi E7. A big thanks goes out to Chris who works during the day there for helping me, answering all of my inane questions and giving me a pretty good deal to boot!
Over the years I would catch 9-ball and trick-shot tournaments on ESPN sunday afternoons and I couldn’t turn them off. I would study, as best I could, their form, their choice of english and watch in amazement their position play. Of course, the next day I would go to a hall and try those same trick shots. Sometimes it worked, usually it didn’t. Of course, I didn’t know anything about deflection or throw back then, so I could never understand the shots that required that knowledge – not surprisingly.
I’ve become somewhat absorbed by pool lately. I watch pool videos online when I can, I search for other pool players’ blogs, I watch other players at the hall, I listen to the instructors when they’re giving lessons.
Generally these days I primarily play straight pool when alone to practice my position control – but also play 9-ball with a few other regulars from time to time. I’m trying, again, to build a correct form which is throwing my game off quite a lot. In addition to that hurdle, I’m also trying to be more precise with my english and speed control. All together it makes for quite a frustrating hour sometimes. Other days, everything comes together and I’m always happy and surprised when I get lovely position.
I expect that if I could ask 10 pros what the biggest key to the game is they would say: consistency. It’s that item I lack. I have the shots and I have the processing power, but my stroke isn’t consistent enough to do what I want it to, yet.
So far all of my work has been self-powered. I have no delusions of being able to tour playing pool, but I would be very happy to play (and place) in some local tournaments. Until I’m confident in my game, I will abstain from them and continue to work on my fundamentals.
I would love to meet other players to play with some time – people who are close to my skill level (which I can’t identify because I’m not APA rated – no league involvement) who are friendly, but competitive and open to the sharing and exchanging of information.