8-Ball ... nope

Last night was league and I would have done better if I hadn't shown up. Shortly after getting there I started getting a headache, not sure why, but it was just enough to put me in a less-than-stellar mood, but not enough to make me want to go home. I should have, but oh well.

In the interest of honesty in this blog, I'll go ahead and divulge the rest of the evening.  Our players were late, so when we did the matchups, I had to play every round, since I'm lowest ranked player.  Normally, I'd be fine with that, but... after my 1st game, I wasn't so sure.  There's a slew of shots I could talk about, but none of it really matters.  What matters is that I missed the shot, shape or just plain made bad decisions.  I've been trying to figure out just what was the problem, am I ignoring my routine, am I worried about the league, am I still pissed about the tournament, am I getting sick, am I ... ? Dunno.  I know that all of those thoughts are going through my head while I was shooting.  As much as I tried to "clear the mechanism", I just couldn't.

The entire night was a disaster.  I had so many chances to get out, and any other day I would've been out, not last night.  After losing my 3rd match, I was so furious I wanted to scream, I went to the bathroom and looked for something softer than concrete and in a fit of anger punched the stall wall.  I dunno what thing is made of, but god damn, it's hard material. Much harder than I anticipated.  Scraped up my knuckles and the spaces between my 3rd and 4th knuckles started bruising/swelling immediately.  I was really worried I broke something for a while, but it's fine.  Just bruised. 

I had to play 2nd in the next round (I was last in the previous round).  We needed 2, they needed 1.  I took a bunch of deep breaths, tried to clear my head.  I won the lag, smashed the rack, didnt make anything.  My opponent ran 5 balls and missed.  I chose my pattern carefully, but after the 3rd shot, I came up short and tried to scramble to get in-line, but missed the thin cut.  I had 4 balls on the table, with one hanging.  I hit the duck too hard and went futher up-table than I wanted.  I had a plan to get out, but my captain didn't like it because it involved using a partially blocked pocket.  He was right, but I was a little annoyed that my plan had to change.  I came up short on the first shot and tried to slice the 15 into the side in what is essentially a spot-shot on the short length.  I missed, while also moving her ball in the path of the 8, so if I had made it, I would've screwed myself.  She ran the last 2 and sunk the 8. I went 0 for 4 last night.  Absolutely disasterous.  It burns my ass that I *KNOW* the captain will remember that and I probably wont play but maybe once next week.  Everyone has a bad night, but... man that was horrible.

I shook some hands, packed up and drove home.  I was thinking about not playing at all this week, but I dont think that's the issue.  I could've been the amount of time I've spent on the big table monday night.  It could've been a lot of things.  I just don't know.  Taking some off isn't a bad idea - but if I go back to the pool hall, I'm not sure if I want to play on the bar tables or not.  My captain insists my problem is that I don't play on them enough.  I know he's got a point, but I've been playing on them enough to know I have a pretty good feel for them now.  The problem is I just can't seem to really enjoy playing on them.  I mean, sure, I like playing pool and I like running out and I like playing the game.  And after a few hours, I forget it's not really my table; but when I go to the pool hall, I want to play pool - real pool.

Perhaps that last line is the exact reason I'm not doing as well as I should.  I just don't really find any "awe" in 8-ball like I do with other games.  I've been really into one pocket lately, and almost have no desire to play 9-ball anymore.  I think I need to just pick a discipline and stick with that for a solid month to see how it goes.  Maybe that's what I should do... Only play one game each month. 8-ball for July, 9-ball for August, 1P for September, 10-ball for October, 14.1 for November.

Something to think about.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball

One Pocket Videos

Last night, I decided to see how my droid does with some video.  I knew I couldn't stream it live, but thankfully, the UStream app can record locally in "high quality" then upload it later, so that's what I did.

Here's me playing some pocket:

 

There's more videos of me and 2 other local kids on my UStream page.

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Filed Under: One Pocket

8-Ball Championships Part 3 (Final)

8-Ball League Logo

Well, Friday night was the big night. I got out to Side Pockets at 6pm and found Tattoo John hitting balls, so I joined him.  We played for about an hour before a few other team members showed up.  The tables were pretty nice, considering their bar tables.  They were pretty fast though - the cloth was nice, and the rails were consistent. I picked up a few tips from John and even got out on him a few times. 

So, at 7:30, they started calling matches and we moved to our match table across the room.  Mike and I hit a few balls, then the other team hit a few balls.  Finally, it was time to draw.  As is typical, I didn't play the first round.  However, as it NOT typical, our guys couldn't finish. After the first round, and with the 4 games we spotted them, we were down 7-2.  I expected to play the second round, but again, wasn't chosen.  I can understand that, mostly - I mean, I'm a 4, he wants his "heavy hitters" to get us back in the game.  Unfortunately, the table was too fast for most of us, and again, we lost more than we should have.  After the 2nd round, we were down 10-4. It's a race to 11.  The third round draw came up and I fully expected to play... although once again, much to my dismay, I again, was not chosen.  We win the first 2 games, but on the 3rd, our captain makes the 8, but the table speed let the cue ball head towards the side pocket... it jawed... paused... then fell in.  Lost. That's game, match, and set.  We were knocked out. 

Everyone was feeling pretty down about their performance, and rightfully so.  Our 7 went 3-0, which is good, but our captain (7) went 1-2 (I think, I know he lost 2, but maybe 3?). Our "power 5" went 0-2, our "new 6" went 1-1 and our "has been a 6 since the dawn of time" went 1-2  We packed up our stuff and all went our separate ways.

I'm still kinda peeved about the whole thing actually.  I mean, I feel like I put the most practice and preparation.  Hell, I did 15 hours on bar tables the two days before the tournament - half of which was with the captain, so he knows I was practicing.  He also knows that I was there before anyone else, but I don't know if Tattoo commented on my play or not.  Regardless, I felt like I should've been given a chance.  I mean, obviously if the regulars aren't doing it - putting me in certainly can't be any worse. lol  I guess the thing that kinda got to me was for the last round he chose to play another guy who didn't play last week's match, and has admitted to not really being "into" this session.  He's got a lot of stuff going on, and that's understandable - but he's not playing well at all lately, whereas I on the other hand, won 5 out of my last 6 matches. 

I dunno - maybe I'm feeling 'over-entitled' or something, but I was really excited about this tournament, and anxious (see my twitter feed); but overall I felt good about it.  I just wanted to have a chance to test my preparedness and/or prove my readiness.  I can't decide if I should mention any/all of this to my captain though.  I mean, I understand why he wanted to play the better players, but I also can't understand continuing to play them when they aren't able to come through.  A few guys were winning, keep those 3 in, keep another hit-or-miss and put me in.  In the least, I'm a hit-or-miss, at best, I should be out - just like everyone else.

The only good thing about the night was that we got our division champions trophy.  I haven't had my name on a trophy in nearly 20 years.  The one I saw was for the bar, but I was told we could order one for ourselves if we wanted, so I asked to order one. :)

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · Tournaments

8-ball Championships Part 2

8-Ball League Logo

I again went to the pool hall last night to get more comfortable on the bar tables.  Normally, I feel mostly okay on them, but they still feel like something borrowed.  They feel like "mine".  Not the way the big tables feel to me.  I played for about 7 hours, well into the night (which I probably shouldn't have done), but I think it was well worth it. 

I started out doing really good for about an hour and a half, then I lost focus somehow and played poorly for another hour or so.  Then sometime around 10 I started playing decently.  Finally, around midnight, Mikey and I started playing, I played really really well.  We played until nearly 3am and I think he only won 8 or 9 games in the 3 hours we played.  Usually, when I got to the table with 5 balls or less, I was out.  Nearly every time.  After a break, if I made a ball, I could usually run out.  I dogged the 8 more times than I should have, but with him having nearly all of his balls on the table, he almost always let me back to the table.  I can't take all of the credit for winning because, like I said, he let me get back more times than I think he normally would have.  Overall, I'm very happy with my playing, and I noticed towards the end of the night, the table felt like "mine".  I felt confident knowing where the CB was going, and how to get there.  My speed control was pretty good, and my safety play was pretty strong.

Normally, they say not to play too much before a tournament, but in this case, I think it was just what I needed.  I guess I'll find out in a few hours when I head off the tournament.  Tonight we only have one match, and it's a 'league standard' match - race to 11, handicapped.  I expect we'll have to give up a few games, we normally have to, but I also feel really confident that we'll win tonight's match.  After that, we'll be in the top 32, then tomorrow's 11am match will get us into the top 16.  I've mentioned already that's the last match I'll get to play, unfortunately.  Well, I don't want to get too ahead of myself, so I'll just leave it with I'm looking forward to tomorrow's match.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · Tournaments

8-Ball Championships Part 1

8-Ball League Logo

My 8-ball league team finished first in our division with a record of 13-3.  As such, we're heading to the championships this weekend to be held at Side Pockets.  I'm told this is a very competitive tournament.  The biggest known problem is simply the level of competition that exists in the west and north divisions is above what we normally encounter in the south division.  That means we can't rely on getting back to the table more than twice most of the time.  Our first match is Friday at 8, and if (when) we win that one, we play Saturday at 11.  Now the problem for me personally is that's the last match I can play in since I have tickets to see a very rare concert in town.  TOOL is playing Saturday night, and they haven't been through town in many years. Also, they're my favorite band that I have never seen live.  I'm not missing them.  I talked to my team captain about it and it shouldn't be a problem.  It does kind of suck for them since they'll lose their lowest ranked player, meaning they have to play an extra notch.  I still don't expect it to be too much of a problem, but still, I would love to be able to be there and participate - and/or watch the finals.  If we win our 11am match, we play at 4 - then possibly at 8.  If by chance we win the match at 8, we play sunday afternoon sometime.  I know that if we win the match at 4, we're guaranteed to finish in the money, as that's the final 8.  The 8pm match decides the final 4 to be played on sunday.  If everyone plays their top game, I wouldn't be surprised to see us in the final 4.  There's a few teams that are always a big challenge, I'm told, and those are the guys that generally only need one chance at the table.  Run out machines, nearly all of them.  I'm going to try and not psyche myself out for this tournament, but I also know that I need to really bring it.

Last night, I went to the pool hall and played bar-box 8-ball all night.  Generally I did okay, and when my opponent missed and left me with 5 or fewer balls on the table, I was almost always out.  That's good.  But I also need to not wait for the other guy to mess up.  I noticed too, that I don't always pay attention to the 8-ball when it's in a cluster.  I'm focused on my suite and it's clusters, if any, but I, more than once, overlooked the 8 being locked up with some opponent's balls.  I'm going back tonight to continue to work on my route-planning.

I really wish the tournament started Saturday though.  The AC broke in my house earlier this week and I haven't been sleeping well at all.  It's nearly 85 in my bedroom, which doesn't lend itself to good sleep.  I thinking about taking tomorrow off just so I can sleep in later and try to get some solid rest throughout the day.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · Tournaments

Breaking, 9-Ball and One Pocket

I was able to get to the pool hall just once this week.  As luck (sorta) would have it, there was no one there which meant I could finally give the 9-ball skills self-assessment test a try.  What this entails is playing 10 racks of 9-ball.  For each rack, you have 2 innings to run out.  For each ball made in the first inning you get 2 points, for each in the 2nd, 1 point.  After the break and at the beginning of the 2nd inning, you get ball in hand.  The idea is to do this ten times (for a total of 100 racks) over some period of time.

So, I started warming up, tossing out the 9 balls and running out.  Generally, I was getting out in 2, sometimes 3 innings.  After a while I felt in-stroke enough to start this test.  I quickly found a huge problem in my game: My break is terrible.  I have clusters on the table. My cue ball is flying around, usually ending up behind the footstring.  I used to have a decent break, but it's gone now.  I don't know what happened to it.  I've been taking a bit off of my break to help add some control, but I think it's making it worse.  I spent about 45 minutes breaking after I noticed this.  I broke from each side rail, left, center and right from the box as well.  I racked the balls the same way each time (order), broke and examined the table.  Where did the balls go, where did the CB go?  I tried a few different stances, I tried staying down, I tried coming up, I tried soft breaks, cut breaks and power breaks.  On the racks where I got the CB in a decent spot, the rack was a tough layout.  On the racks where the layout was wide open, the cue ball was in a rough spot.  Hardly ever did I get whitey near the center with an open table.

Well, I knew this was going to be an issue, but surely with BIH and 2 chances, I can still get through the racks.  I started the test again.  Taking ball in hand and trying to run out.  It was another disaster.  I was so worried about getting out, getting position, that I often forgot to make the ball.  Hardly running more than 2 or 3 in an inning, I was quickly getting frustrated.  After just 5 racks, I had to quit so my own sanity's sake.  It was not a good night for pool.

I hit some balls around with the gf of one of the owners for a while, then sat to grab to a snack and have a smoke.  The guy playing solo on the next table asked if I was still shooting.  I said "Sure, I'll play some", he responded with "cool, just hitting balls though."  It took me a minute to realize that in pool hall lingo I had just asked to gamble - I'm glad he said no, as I was in no shape to play for real.  I totally spaced on that phrase. *shrug*

We played 9-ball for a while, talking about getting in stroke, different mechanics and whatnot.  Seemed like a really nice guy.  He was getting more in stroke as I slowly got out of stroke. It's how the game goes sometimes.  After a while, we decided to switch over to the 'good' table and play some one-pocket, since he loves that game and I was feeling more confident with that game than 9-ball. I'm glad I did.  I played a lot better. Not leaving him with anything and getting out some pretty decent traps.  I shot at a few flyers, but since they went in, they were dead.  The most notable was this 3-railer:

I thought for sure the 13 was in my way, but IIRC, he needed all but one, and I needed 2. I stood there with a grin on my face watching the 7 pass the 13, hitting on the long rail and heading towards the pocket. I expected it to hit the short cushion first, but it held it's track and trickled in. I sent the 13 down to my pocket and blocked it with the 4/5 wall. Ending the night on a good note. :)

I just can't help but wonder if maybe 1p isn't supposed to be my game? Or is it just that I play better because I have more chances in general? Although, when I play someone who's really good at 1p, I don't get too many chances. However, when I'm matched up with someone that generally beats me at 9-ball, I generally win at 1p. So, maybe it's just an entirely different ranking system? Only time will tell, I suppose.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · One Pocket

Best Night of 8-Ball Ever! (1st 2-pack, and a league run-out)

So league was night, and it was probably my best night of 8-ball play ever. 

First off, during alone practice time, after hitting stroke shots warming up, then doing some positional drills to get a feel for the table, I racked the balls, broke, made a stripe ball and ran out!! I couldn't believe it!  It's only my 2nd ever time doing that. I was feeling good, so I decided to see if I could run the rest of the table (solids)... and I DID!! All 15 balls in a rack. I was happy. So, I went to sit down, drink some tea, have a smoke and enjoy the moment.  Then a teammate comes in and says "let's go".  Okay, he breaks, doesn't make a ball.  I take some time deciding which suite is better, decide on solids... and start making my way through the rack. Before I know it, I'm on the 8... and down it goes!! :) :) THAT'S TWO (2) FULL RACKS IN A ROW!! Oh man... I'm just thinking "wow, I gotta hold on to this."  so, I sit out for a few rounds and let the other teammates play, since I had been there a while anyway.

League finally starts, I'm 2nd in line.  We lose our first match, then it's my turn.  I lose the lag by a 1/4 inch.  My opponent breaks, makes a stripe, but scratches.  The table is wide open, no clusters, but almost everything is on one end of the table.  There's a stripe in the jaws and another on the 1st diamond on the end rail.  Realizing that I absolutely should be out from here, I decide to take stripes.  I make the ball in the jaws, moving the ball on the head towards the other corner.  I make a few more balls narrowly navigating through the pack.  I overcut the 13, but his 2 ball gives me some help and pushes it in the pocket.  I continue my run.  2 more shots and I'm on the 8!  Deep breath, "shut up", stroke. ker-plunk. Down goes the 8!!  My first ever league run-out! 

I will absolutely be the first to say I got some rolls that helped me out... but it's part of the game.  Next time, I'll make the balls clean. heh I ended the night going 3-0, although to be fair, the last two games were gimmies since my opponent missed his last ball and left the 8 in playable position. 

The tables at this particular bar were 8 foot tables, and we normally play on 7 footers.  I think this has something to do with it.  I'm more comfortable on the bigger tables, more room to navigate, etc.  I'm curious to see how/if this translates to 7 footers next week.  I'm still quite enjoying my night, as it set a few milestones for me.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball

Dr. Dave's VEPS Review (4.5 outta 5)

I received discs 4 and 5 from the series Dr. Dave's Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots (VEPS) last week.  I skipped the first 3 because disc 4 dealt with banks and kicks and I really want to work on that aspect of my game at the moment.  The first 3 discs are filled with great information and I will be getting them soon as well, so just because I skipped them doesn't mean you should.

If you've seen any of their preview videos, then you know what to expect.  To be honest, the production quality looks like it was done on a small budget - but that doesn't mean the information isn't super high quality.  If you can get past the off-balance room mic and introductory level graphics, you will find yourself being treated to some of the best information on pool available. 

This is not an instructional dvd series, so don't expect your video guides to spend a lot of time telling you how to aim shots. They tell you/show you how to line-up the shot for the base shot then they might repeat it for a variation. In most cases (at least in disc 4) they are far more concerned with what happens with the object ball.  Which is fair, considering this is about banking and kicking.

What you can expect though is an uneding assault of information about each and every shot they demonstrate.  The typical format goes like this: Introduce a shot, shoot the shot, show what happens with variations to the shot (speed and english), show the correct shot again from a different position.  In some cases, they'll spend some time demonstrating several variations of the base shot. (banks, for example)  There are some areas of the discs where they will spend more time explaining the shot and variations on them.  3-rail kicks, for example, was explained and demonstrated from several locations around the table and that made it much easier to take that information to the table.

Disc 5 is a collection of stroke and specialty shots.  Great shots to know - but you will rarely ever need them in a real game.  There are some great tips about how the rack works for certain games.  Some "secrets of the rack", if you will.  Some of this information is the same as what you'd find on other discs. Mastering Pool, Disc 3 (with Mika) also has a few shots sections that involve half-ball jumps and masse shots.  However, VEPS d5 also gives some instruction on how to really use that information, how to predict the masse curve and some basic techniques for how to execute jump-shots.

I have to watch these discs to try and gather all the information they present.  Disc 4, especially, has a ton of information - and they move through it quite rapidly in areas.  I have to keep reminding myself, this is not an instructional dvd, per se, it's an encylopedia - straight and to the point, no extra blabber.  Disc 5 has some things that might be considered filler, but those that like to trick their friends, you'll find some good stuff there.

My only "gripe" about these discs is that they refer to external resources far too much.  For a lot of shots  they refer to an article written in a magazine up to 5 years ago, or their website to watch more youtube videos about the shot they just explained.  All of the external information is free (which is nice), but if I'm paying for a dvd of shots and information, I don't want to have to go through a variety of other online resources to complete the disc I'm paying for.  If I wanted to watch youtube videos, I'd watch them.  If I wanted to read articles in magazines, I'd read them.  Instead, I chose to watch a dvd and I shouldn't have to go somewhere else to "complete" the information presented.  If they don't want to waste main-disc space with all the extra high-speed videos, then include a 2nd disc of "extras" which could have the high speed videos and maybe even PDF's of the articles they suggest.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this purchase and I will most certainly be completing my collection in the very near future.  I would absolutely recommend these discs to any other pool player who is serious about the game and who might wonder why the balls do what they do.  I'm excited to get discs I - III, and when I do, I'll be sure to post a review here as well.

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Filed Under: Gear · Training

A Story of Action and Dogs

Friday night I went out and was sorta hoping to find some a game. When I got to the pool hall there were 2 guys there playing each other, both of whom I've played before. I can't believe I didn't post an entry about my first action game of one-pocket! Anyway, for reference, the first time I ever played one pocket was in January, but that was only once in a while. I first played it with a guy, Rob, for cheap money in March. I've only been really liking and wanting to play/learn it since late April/early May. So, now that's out of the way, lets get to the good stuff. After an hour or so of me playing 8-ball with some of the other kids, Rob and Ray finish up and Rob asks me to play some. I agree on an amount and that we'll play even in 1P. He wins the 1st, I win the 2nd, he wins the 3rd, I win the 4th. Then he asks to double the bet, I agree. I win the next 2 racks. Then he starts complaining to other people that he needs weight from me and that he can't beat me at 1P. WTF? I was shooting well, for sure - afterall, I saw, lined up and nailed this double bank:

But seriously? he's complaining about needing weight? He knew I was decent competition two months ago when we first played - and broke even. Then I didn't really know what the hell I was doing. Anyway, he wants to change the game to 8-ball, and I really don't. He doesn't want to play 10-ball, after I say that it's a no-slop game. Call-shots, like the WPA. Fine, I'll do a race for the amount I'm up from the 1P games. He wins the first rack; breaks dry and scratches on the 2nd rack. I RUN OUT!! That made me really excited - apparently too excited. I don't think I made a ball the next 5 racks. I lose that race, and the 2nd one. I ask to change the game, he says he can't beat me at 1P, I say I could give him 9-8, but it's not like was running 8 and out on him before, it was always close. He doesn't want it. He suggests 9-ball, and I said okay, but a short race for half the bet, since it's 9-ball and accounting for slop. Well, long story short - he becomes a banger and just fires at everything - and its working out for him. I'm getting nothing in return, and he's slowly getting more chips on the wire. He wins that race and I say I'm done. At that point I'd been up for about 20 hours and I could really feel myself running out of steam. I knew it was bad when he missed a 9 and left it around the 1x1 diamond cross in front of the pocket - and I miss it. Woof Woof - hiya doggie.

Lessons learned: (*)Stick with the game you feel good about. (*)Take your break when things aren't going your way. (*) Run out when you're supposed to make them pay when they miss. (*)Bring healthy snacks to keep energy and focus levels high.

I have to mention this because it's been a popular topic on AZB lately, he was really throwing a fit during our 1p games, because he didn't have his headphones and had to deal with the rest of the pool hall noises. This makes me glad I've never tried to seclude myself with headphones, I don't want to depend on them.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · 9-Ball · One Pocket

Kiss of Death

This is a supporting entry for fellow Pool Synergy author, Gail Glazebrook and her team "Kiss of Death". What that team is doing is what I personally think will be the future of pool teams. These young ladies are highly motivated and extremely talented. They've been doing a vlog (video-blog) type thing for the past few months documenting their training and practice while they gear up for the BCAPL 8-ball championships.  Because of this, they're getting exposure and even sponsorships by some big names in the industry.  I can't wait to see how the rest of the pool world responds to their success.  Of course, the underground has already responded and it's the typical split decision.  Some people claim they're over-hyped and they're only getting attention because they're a group of hot girls.  Now, I can't argue with KoD being a group of very attractive women - but I sincerely doubt that's why they're getting attention.  It probably doesn't hurt them, but it's not why. The other half of the peanut gallery all support them and their efforts (and I hope take note and emulate).

Team "Kiss of Death" (Photo by Jonathan Smith)

Don't mistake their looks as a weakness, these girls are pure pool-player.  Some of them have interviews on Jim Murnak's Site, Go4Pool.net where they talk about the hours and dedication they've put into this game.  It's impressive, if not intimidating.  As a side note, you can see about 6 hours of Borana Andoni playing a 9-Ball match, race to 21, with OMGWTF in the archives of OnTheRailTV's UStream channel.  This match came about through an online discussion of the merits of KoD in the AZB forums.  Neither player is a pro and it's an even match up with their own money at stake.  Borana, after playing all day on 7-foot barboxes, meets up with Melinda around midnight (vegas time) to start their race on a 9-foot diamond. They play through the night until well after dawn.  I won't spoil it by giving the winner, but it was a very close race and both girls did a great job of playing hard and fighting through those tough times.

The biggest news of KoD is that Gail won the BCAPL 8-Ball National Singles Championship in Vegas last month.  There's a great video about this win, as well as the road that brought the team to vegas on NYCGrind.  Here's the latest video documenting the win and tournament:

Kiss of Death features: Team captain Gail Glazebrook, Michele Li, Emily Duddy, Borana Andoni, Olga Gashkova, and Alison Fischer.

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Filed Under: General

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