Friday night, I had the great pleasure of meeting both Tony Robles and Gail Glazebrook. If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I’ve been very excited about this, and this will be the last post on the subject.
In short: Tony and Gail are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They make you feel like you’re old friends – and does the rest of Gail’s family apparently. I had lengthy conversations with both her aunt and her grandmother, who was awarded Volunteer of the Year with the Make A Wish Foundation this year.
So, first off, the pool room. The event was held at Riverbend Billiards in Alton, IL. It’s about 30 mins north of downtown St. Louis. I had never been there before, but I had heard of it at least. The building is pretty big and they have lots of tables. Only two 9 foot GC’s, the rest are valley barboxes – although they appeared neat and in good condition. They have a full service bar, as well as a full service grill. There is no smoking inside the building (IL rules); but a covered and ventilated smoking “patio” is available. It was well air-conditioned, considering it was in the mid-90’s that day.
I arrive a few minutes before 7 to find the place not nearly as full as I was hoping, but there was still a good amount of people. I find a table and watch Tony and Gail warm up with straight pool a little bit before starting the show.
The first bout on the card was a “grudge match” between the mayor of Alton and the captain of the police/fire department of Godfrey. If you’re not local, this won’t make any sense; but think of it like this: two relative small towns battling each other through their high school football teams. This is just another form of it. It was all in good fun and Alton finally sank the 8 for the win.
Next they started the the trick-shot exhibition, which they will admit isn’t as flashy as what you might see on ESPN. These are straight pool and 9-ball players, not trick shot artists (full time). Tony set up a few simple shots for Gail, then kept making them a little more difficult. I, apparently, forgot to post the action of Gail’s jump shot through the rack to make the balls at the other end. I’ll try to add that tonight. Then Tony stirred the crowd up by giving a little backstory which involved Gail and Tony competing with each other – each trying to make one more ball than the other in a single shot. After 2, there was 3, then 4, then Tony put the nail in the coffin for this match by shooting an excellent 6-in-1 shot (seen below in both single frames and a WMV) on the first attempt.
After that shot, they took “challenges” from the crowd – the only requirement was it needed to be in a scotch double format. During the first few matches Gail came over and we were formally introduced, then we joked about whether or not I was going to play. I waffled a bit, and she said “So… if you’re name is called…” at which point, I set the camera down and went to get my case from the truck. lol I didn’t have a partner, but someone else didn’t either, so I played with him, Lorenzo. He broke, make a ball but the CB was in a bad place. Not terrible – and if I had shot a ball any time between Friday and Tuesday, I might have been to make my first shot where I wanted. I made a ball, but only because my subconcious thought I was still playing 1-pocket. lol A few turns later, we were done. Lorenzo opted for a tough side-pocket shot and it bounced off. Gail/Tony ran out.
After the doubles event, Tony gave a short instructional session. Topics included stroke training, grip, stance and eye patterns. I was shocked to see so many people so enthused by this information – it’s the foundation of any pool player. I guess most of the guys up there just play the only way they ever figured out without ever learning the “proper” way.
Lastly, they offered 9-ball singles challenges. I played again, drew Tony, had the break, hit ’em good, considering, made a ball – but the CB got tied up with the 1 and I tried a safety. It failed, but didn’t leave anything. Tony hit another safe, and I sold out on the return. He ran down to the 9 – then tried a FOUR rail bank shot; which went long for him (all night actually).
This is one of the reasons why I twittered he was such a class-act… he did this over and over again. Once he got to the table, he’d run out to the 9- then try and 3 or 4 rail bank/kick. He did it in the 8-ball challenge as well. Never wanting to take an easy win from the crowd.
They thanked everyone for coming out and Tony passed out some cards. Then they packed up and headed out. It was supposed to be over at 9, but by this time it was nearly 10:30.
The exhibition was free to attend, but I wanted a souvenier, so I bought a cue-ball from the place and had both Tony and Gail sign it. Some other people took note and also bought cue-balls for signatures. I’ll snap some pics of it this week to post later.
Click the “More…” link to see the pictures.
Here is a short little WMV that is a sequence of 13 images captured during the trick shot portion of the evening. Download Tony’s 6-in-1 trick shot here.