Southwest 10-Ball Tour Coming Close!

I just found out that the new Tiger Southwest 10-Ball Tour will be just outside of Kansas City, MO in October.  Specifically in Blue Springs. You can check out the schedule and money added here: http://www.swtenballtour.com/ I'm considering driving out there for that one.  It's the closest "tour" we have, and it's played on 9 footers!  I'll see if I can find some road-mates to join me.  I bet I can.

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Filed Under: 10-Ball · Tournaments

The Tell-Tale Sign

So, after last week's post about needing to get more practice, I didn't actually make that goal.  What did I do? I made an all-around game with a local kid who shoots okay, but I had to give him some serious weight to make it fair.  I wanted to make it tough for me so I would be forced to really bear down.  I also wanted to make it a game that would he feel comfortable taking.  I think I gave hime a little extra weight in one of the games, but not all of them.  The game was this: 3 sets. 8-ball race to 7, spot him 4 games. 9-ball race to 7, spot him 3 games, one-pocket race to 3, 10-6 ball count.

I felt like that was pretty fair game, maybe even to his advantage - definitely the 8-ball spot.  The spectators that know both of us agreed it was a pretty fair match, and tough for me. We got started around 10pm, after both of us had been there a few hours already.

I'll spare all the gorey details, but that's because I can sum it up really easily: I might as well have spotted him 6 games and the break with bih and 4 shots.  I completely forgot how to play.  Maybe I was tired, or hungry by that time, or just had used up my mental energy earlier in the day, but it was exhausting, frustrating and most of all, embarassing.  He won the first 3 games of the 8-ball, so that closes out that set.  In the 9-ball set, I played a little better, not much, but far too often, I left him with 2 ball outs, or jarred the 9.  He got that one as well.  We started the 1p match and I was perhaps a bit over-confident, knowing he doesn't play, at all.  Had only played a few matches the week prior, but was interested in it.  I guess he did some homework because he was playing really - really well.  Almost never shooting at his hole, and always clearing out mine.  He got the first 2 games from me and was on the hill for the 3rd set.  I finally decided I had had enough of this crap, and even though he got the rolls the first 2 sets, I was going to close this out.  I played tough, tight, and pretty smart.  I was able to get it back to hill-hill when he conceded the set at 2am because he couldn't stay any longer to play the final rack.  Sure, I'm happy to get one set's worth of cash back, but I really wanted to finish it out.  The only good thing is that I know I can get another game with him.  I intend to do just that, in a month's time.

Of course, this game, after last week's ridiculous league performance, has done nothing for my confidence.  It has, however, solidified my drive to spend all of my pool room time doing meaningful things instead of jacking around with doubles one-pocket for fun and entertainment.  Tomorrow is league night, and so I will spend tonight on bar tables. I don't even want to play anyone on them really, I just want to run drills. Speed drills, stroke drills, position drills, shot-making drills.  Get back to the way I used to practice, alone.  I gotta do something.  I'm regressing, no progressing and it's driving me insane.

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

Who Said Pool Players Don't Care?

I just witnessed something really awesome...  A well known person on the AZB forums posted about a "chance to live a dream" situation which required the help of the rest of the forum.  The short story is that someone got a long awaited invite to compete in a professional event, but due to some personal tough times, couldn't afford to go.  Because the invitee is fairly well known and very well liked, and the person posting is even more well known and loved on those boards (and for all good reasons), they were able to raise over $1,200 in just 17 hours, through member contributions alone.  It was really one of those "see, people can be good" moments.  I'm glad I was able to help out.  It's just one of those "feel good" days now. Laughing

Best of luck to Ashley Nandrasy, aka HellOnHeelz!!

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Filed Under: General

Practice Methods

I've been noticing a change in my game lately.  I've been doing a nightly recap of how I played and why I missed certain shots/patterns/positions/etc.  A few things come to mind:

 

  • I started playing a lot of one pocket.
  • I don't run drills very often.
  • I haven't set any goals.
  • I only play with friends, for fun.
  • If I do play for money, it's a one pocket match.

Back in March, I changed jobs, which relocated me to a place where there are no nearby pool halls (I don't count bar tables), so I can no longer play during my lunch break.  It was during that time when I'd work on my position, speed control, pre-shot routine, stance... just about everything really.  Sure, I'd get into a game once in a while, but mostly it was my "quiet" time at the table, where I could really practice. Alone with my notebook. Now, I never get over there anymore.  Also, I started playing one pocket around the same time.

My usual evening pool hall has become pretty popular, which is good for them - but not for me.  I never get table time alone anymore.  That wouldn't be so bad if there weren't so many people trying to play on the one good table.  Typically, Mondays and Wednesdays, there's at least 4 of us playing scotch doubles one pocket.  That's about the least effective way to spend time on a table.  Yeah, it's fun - and I do get to practice one-pocket, which I like, but it's also keeping me from really practicing.

In addition to all of that, my 8-ball league performance is really suffering.  Last night, I went 0-3.  Now, to be fair, my opponent ran out on me after the break twice, but I should have one that second game.  There was no reason for me to give him another chance at the table.  I just dogged a fairly standard cut shot.  Then later, I jumped the cb off the table shooting a fairly standard draw shot.  It was quite embarassing actually.  I know why I did it, so that's good, but it should have never happened in the first place.

My captain and I have been talking the last few weeks about how we don't get real practice anymore.  The sad thing is that we both keep going back to Sportscenter and complain about it.  I think it's the price.  For just $8, I can play all night.  I think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and move to a different place.  It's still only $4 an hour, so it's not terrible, but I obviously won't be playing the 6 or 8 hours when I go there.  Mostly because I don't think I can hold my practice-focus that long, and there's no other games to distract me.

So, I'm setting a new goal for myself: Spend at least 4 hours a week in the quiet and almost always vacant pool hall down the street getting in some real practice.  The following is a list of things I want to work on:

 

  • Pre-shot routine.
  • Position routes/drills
  • Speed control.
  • Consistent stroke.
  • Mental focus/control.

I noticed last night that after I had decided what my shot was going to be, I got down and was still thinking... not about the shot - but about my stroke.  After I missed the shot, I remembered I used to tell myself to be quiet on the way down to the shot, and that I don't do it anymore.  Just one example of my lack practice... I shouldn't have to re-train myself to do that.  I've also noticed my stance has changed just so slightly that my arm is no longer 90 degrees perpendicular to the cue.  I worked really hard to change things up to get that arm perfectly straight, and now without constant reinforcement, it's off again.  The worst thing is that I noticed my arm trying to steer the CB on a few shots.  These were in a practice game, thank god, but after the shot, I thought "what the @#$* did I just do?".

In short: I'm really tired of losing, for fun or otherwise, and I'm going to take the steps necessary make sure it happens less.

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Filed Under: Training

SVB vs The Iceman???

According to The Action Report's newest video on their homepage showing these two at a late-night diner discussing the where's and when's of if they matched up for a race to 100 in 10-Ball.  It's friendly, it's funny - and it's honest.  I really hope this happens.  Seriously - Shane van Boening and Mike Immonen!! Race to 100, over 3 days.  That'll be a classic match-up!

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Filed Under: 10-Ball

[Pool Synergy] What's My Story

Pool Synergy

This month's issue of Pool Synergy asks: What's your story? How did you get started and why do you keep coming back?  Click the logo above for the complete list of stories this month.

When it comes to my story, I find it's best to start at the beginning.  When I was 13, my parents thought it would be a good idea to get a pool table so that I could have friends over to the house, instead of me running off into the wee hours of the night (aka an hour past the street lights at that age).  So, we got a pool table, some house cues and little booklet by Minnesota Fats that came with the package.  I really enjoyed the game, as much as I could with no real training at that time.  I have fond memories of  certain shots - which ironically are some of the shots I have trouble with now - although I do still enjoy watching a ball ride the rail all the way down the table.  In my banging hours after school it didn't take long for me to notice that there's a pattern to the movement.  At that time, I couldn't identify it, but I really enjoyed sending the cue ball 3 rails into the corner pocket.  I remember challenging my friends with that shot.

Soon, a few more of my friends had talked about playing pool enough at home that they had gotten a table for their own rec room.  It wasn't long before we had daily cut-throat matches scheduled. Nothing to do? Make a few calls, we can play pool somewhere tonight!

We only knew two games then: 8-ball and cut-throat.  I knew there was a game where you shoot all the balls in numeric order, but I thought it was called "straight pool" (it wasn't until just last year I learned of my mistake, but that's later in the story).  I had seen 9-ball racks, but didn't know what the game was about. Hey - I was 14 and had never seen a pool hall.  I had seen The Color of Money, and yes in the privacy of my own room with no one home, I was a pool shooting samurai too. 

I continued to play at random places (friends houses, college, bars) at random times, and I always loved it - and wished I could play more often.

Fast forward a number of years - I'm out of college and working full time on the complete opposite end of the city, unfamiliar territory at the time. Through conversation I had discovered there was a pool hall, open for lunch near by. One day the "lunch crew" decided to go there.  I was happy to join them.  This was the first time I ever saw a 9 foot table - and the first time I ever played on one.  I was hooked immediately. I started going there for lunch as much as I could.  They had a pretty darn good chicken sandwich, and the price was right.  Sometimes, I'd stop by after work and play a few hours on the way home.  As time went on, I decided that I should have my own cue.  So, I bought something that looked snazzy and was the weight I had settled into when I was in highschool, 19oz. That's all I knew ... and that I thought $300 for a cue was absolutely outrageous. LOL

Over the next bunch of years, I continued to frequent pool rooms as often as I could.  I gave myself little drills to do and made-up games to play.  Like, toss the balls out and kick, combo or bank all 15; or something I called "Alternating 8-ball", in which you couldn't shoot more than 2 of a suite in a row. I also tried to play rotation (though I still called it straight pool then). I tried to work on my form by making the same bridge every time on every shot.  Little did I know I was making the absolute WRONG bridge. haha  I would make random pool friends and ask them random pool questions when I see them do something I didn't understand.  I loved learning and trying new things - but I never found my way to something better.  I played alone 90% of the time, it's understandable.

Then, last year - 2009 - something terrible happened.  My truck was stolen, and it had my cue in it.  As it turned out, this was a blessing in disguise. I did get my truck back - but no cue. I, again, had a new job and a new lunch-time pool hall.  I went there one afternoon to pick out a cue and decided to try and learn all I could about cues.  I had so many questions and asked for all the pro's and con's for each type of joint, tip, ferrule, wood, shaft, size, length, wrap - and more importantly would I - someone who knows nothing - notice the difference in any of those things?  After trying out a bunch of cues, I ended up with one that I really liked the look of and something that felt comfortable in my hands.

Shortly after that, I decided that if I was going to have a new cue (one much nicer than my last), I should really learn how to use it - properly.  It's been a year, to the month, since I got my new cue, and August will the mark my 1 year anniversary of being a real student of the game. 

What keeps me coming back to the game? Education and self-improvement.  I love learning - and I love employing knowledge just as much.  I love watching old videos of myself and thinking "what was I doing??" - then watching more recent videos and thinking "wow - I guess I have improved - but I still have a ways to go."  I look forward to my own "monthly review" to see how I've done.  I like going through my practice log and seeing the number of innings required to comlete racks continue to shrink.  Most egotistically, I love hearing the guys I've been playing with the last year comment on my progression when I win the sets now.  Every time I play, I learn something.  Lately, I've been playing a lot of one-pocket.  okay - a LOT of one-pocket, so of course I'm learning - or should be.  The president of the math club in college in me absolutely adores the strategic aspect of the game.  So much more than I ever thought I would.  I still work on my other games, 8, 9 and 10 ball - but if you ask me today what I want to play, I'll probably say one-pocket.

Whoever said you don't learn anything in a pool room has obviously never spent any time in one.  There's interpersonal politics, business and finance, psychology, physics and geometry, spatial reckoning and mental prowess.

So - why do you play pool?

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Filed Under: Pool Synergy

Tony Robles and Gail Glazebrook at Riverbend Billiards (Pictures)

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.

More...

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Filed Under: General

Tony Robles and Gail Glazebrook July 9th in Saint Louis!!!

I really... really hope that people will spread this around!

Tony Robles, aka 'The Silent Assassin' and Gail Glazebrook will be in the area THIS WEEKEND!! See the flyer below more event details. Feel free to email me with questions and I'll try to get them answered as soon as possible.

Tony Robles and Gail Glazebrook in Alton, IL

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Filed Under: General

Crazy One Pocket Shot

Last night, while playing some one pocket, I was left in this situation - then a guy (who consistently wins top player in our league) suggested this shot:

The weird thing is that I hit it pretty f'n good! Of course, I tried it a few more times on another table to see if I could learn it, but never made the 2-railer. But, the goal isn't to make the ball, just to move it and try to get the CB far up table. Of course, this only works if your opponent has no balls on their side, as you can see, the CB heads to their side of the table.

The other weird thing is that the guy that suggested it is an older guy. In my experience, the older guys don't come up with crazy shots like that, they play small moves and strategic - and they're deadly at it. Of course, that particular shot is a flyer, no matter who you are - but if it goes... heh

I was at the pool room waaaay too late last night - and tonight is league night. *sigh* I have to start harnessing my "good vibes/chi" now since it'll take all day with my limited available energy. On top of that is that I'm out of my breakfast protein shake, so not only did I not have breakfast, I didn't have my vitamin, I only have a hot pocket to eat. *sigh*

I'd almost kill someone for another 3 hours sleep. (and a steak dinner)

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Filed Under: One Pocket

New Toys - again, Thanks AZBMarketplace!

I just received my order from AZBMarketplace which included:

The Magic Ball Rack for 9/10 Ball

The Magic Ball Rack for 8-Ball

 

The The Q Claw 3 Cue Holder

And finally, a new Cue Cube, since I apparently lost my old one somewhere.

I'm really excited to try out the Magic Rack - I've heard so many great things about it.  Most importantly, I'll be happy to finally quit fighting the rack trying to get as many balls as possible to freeze.  My only concern is using the 8-Ball rack since it's possible to get more than one or two balls to come to rest on the rack.  But, I'm reading that it doesn't really affect any playability - but there have been a few test cases posted where the movement of the rack has moved one of the balls resting on it.  Although it's just a slight millimeter movement, sometimes that's all it takes to mess up a combo or clear a ball.  I'm hoping to test this tonight.

Of course, I'll report back with my findings.

Hope everyone has a great 4th Holiday!

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Filed Under: Gear

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