Saturday evening XY (codename for step-daughter) suggested we go play pool.  She hasn’t played in a while – and doesn’t get to play all that often, so of course we head on out to the closest pool hall.  It’s really not a fancy place at all, but they have decent-ish tables.  It’s always flooded withe a bunch of kids yelling and screaming and whatnot, but it’s still pool – and generally affordable.  I learned a few things that night.

I used to think that music was a nice addition to playing; generally because the place I go during the week is always pretty silent and I welcome the random song the jukebox puts on.  However, if one doesn’t like the music playing, it can become quite grading very quickly.  Couple that with a table of older boys who think it’s appropriate hit every ball has hard as they can and you have a recipe for my being extremely annoyed.  Now, the topper to finish all of that is the fact that I’m shooting terribly.

Normally, it’s not an issue when we go there, but for some reason, that night, all those things added up and after the 2nd hour I was really getting frustrated/angry.  XY had said she was done, but I was determined to play a decent rack so I kept shooting for a bit.  Shortly thereafter one of the locals asked if we wanted to play doubles… we accepted.  Then after that we played a series of singles + winners.  Then another local got in on the action.  The first two, AJ and Carly then finally Josh.  AJ, honestly, isn’t necessarily all that great of a shot – but could be with practice.  Carly has really good form and could be deadly when she’s “on”.  Josh is the best of the three, in my opinion. Personally, I think we’re evenly matched – but that’s his hall, his tight-pocket table and I was fortunate to get as many turns at the table as I did. I got lucky a few times and got back to the table in two racks to run out after a slight miss on his part. 

All told we spent just about 4 hours in the hall and although I lost the match to XY, I won every match against the locals.  It was a lot of fun and I’ll be less hesitant to return there in the future having met a few others there.

Things I learned:

  • It apparently takes me 2 hours in that environment to get my head and stroke in the game.
  • It’s important for me, personally, to play through the frustration period – this is similar to another hobby of mine (not important, but now glaringly obvious).
  • When good player miss a shot, they leave a shot for the next player; conversely, when not-as-good players miss, they leave nothing for their opponent.
  • Don’t overthink the shot. I have good instincts, trust them – this includes backing off a shot if it doesn’t feel right; but also includes going for a shot when I feel it.  If I stay down on a shot for more than 5 seconds, get up and reconsider – obviously it doesn’t feel good.
  • I’m getting my timing better on the break: I think it might be time for me to look into getting a break-cue.  I’m getting good action on the balls, good spread and somewhat decent position afterwards. Now, if I can just get a reliable and consistent cue to accompany me…

Side note: I made the 9 on the break… twice! 🙂

As an interesting coincidence, I caught the quarter-finals WPBA 9-ball Open on ESPN Sunday afternoon (why they didn’t finish the tournament is beyond me, but it was really annoying!).  I saw Monica Webb play Greta (forgot her last name) and lose. :/  She missed a 6 ball that was a pretty thin slice, but not beyond her ability at all.  That let Greta back on the table with a 5-5 score, race to 7. Greta finished that rack then broke and ran out to win the set.  The interesting part of all that is the commentators mentioned that a lot of the people are now wearing earplugs to drown out the noise of the audience and any other tables in action.  I won’t be doing that any time soon, but I can understand, now, how important it is to avoid other distractions.