OB Classic Pro Review

So, I got my OB Classic Pro shaft on Monday.  Even though I was pretty sick, it was impossible not to get some table-time with a new shaft.

To sum up: I LOVE THIS SHAFT!!!!

The details: I ordered it from AZBMarketPlace, and I had them swap out the default everest tip for a Kamui Black Super-Soft.  Now, this is different from my normal tip, which is a Kamui Black Soft.  Although, honestly, I'm not sure I can really tell a difference in the hit just yet.  I'm too new to the shaft to be able to feel the tip by itself.

This shaft is 11.75mm, about 1mm thinner than my playing shaft.  Initial observations are that it is a great deal stiffer than my stock Lucasi shaft; which I hadn't really expected, but so far, I really like it.  The tiny ferrule looks a little strange at first, but is quickly forgotten.  In fact, the tip is actually taller than the ferrule at this time.  I need to reshape it a bit as it's very flat, and I prefer more of a dime-ish radius tip.

You might recall that after my put the Black-Soft on my regular shaft I wasn't sure how I liked the sound of the ping - it sounded... "plastic-y" to me.  Well, this shaft is entirely different sound... it has a very good wood-based ping sound; I very much prefer it to my regular shaft.

There is one thing that will take some getting used to: the laminate lines running down the length of the shaft.  98% of them are so near identical it's not an issue, but there's 1 in particular that's quite a bit darker than the rest.  It stands out like a seam; although I know it's not.  It does distract the eye a bit at first.  A slight turn of the cue removes the distraction so, again, not really an issue; just something I noticed.

Now - as for playability... I just love it.  I feel like I'm hitting the cueball more accurately, and I can more accurately control just how much english I'm applying.  1-tip, 2-tips in any direction; they are entirely different areas of the cueball; not nearly as close together as the older shaft appeared.  The shaft doesn't flex nearly as easily or as much as my stock Lucasi; but it also doesn't bouce and vibrate like the old either. 

Deflection? There's such a thing as "deflection"? Not really. Not hardly.  My standard deflection test is to put the cue ball on the headspot and an object ball on the 2nd diamond frozen to the rail.  I shoot to make the OB and send the cue ball 3 rails back across the headstring using inside english.  With my stock Lucasi shaft, in order to make this shot, I have to aim at center object ball - nearly exactly straight as it lies.  With the OBCP, I only have to adjust my aim about a tip's width from the ghost ball+objec ball line of centers to make the ball.  For nearly all shots that are less than "hard" power - I don't have to compensate for deflection - AT ALL (exceptions, of course for full-table length cuts, etc).  For any soft or medium power, if I missed the shot, it was because I compensated for my old shaft, not the new one.

Because of this new "nearly pure aim" ability - I'm able to slice balls in I could never hit before with a consistency I never had before.  For example: object ball 2-balls off the rail at the diamond just passed the side pocket.  Cue ball across the table, 1 to 2 balls higher than ob.  Cut the object ball into the corner, using inside english to hold the cb under the side pockets.  That's a shot I would *maybe* make 1 in 10 times before.  Monday night, I made 7 out of 10, and 4 in a row even.

After I did some more drills and played some "Equal Offense", I was invited to play in the 1p round-robin happening a table across from me.  I agreed and we played.  After running the last 4 to win the 1st rack, 3 shots into the next rack, my opponent makes a mistake and leaves me a clean shot.  I start making balls... and continue to make balls.  Shooting almost without fear, I'm playing position routes up-table like I'm playing 9-ball... Before I know it, there's nothing left down table and I have 9 balls. Only needed 8, but ran 9!!  I didn't believe that I had just ran out, but when talking with the railbirds, they confirmed it.  True - I got lucky with the layout, but I also played the proper patterns. Had to - otherwise I would not have gotten out.  It's not the shaft, but also not worrying about deflection when needing to around the stack with inside is a huge relief.

For a "new" player - this is golden.  For an "old school" player, they'll hate it.  Me... I love it and can't see going back to a stock shaft for anything.  Sorry custom cue-makers, if I ever order a cue, I might just get the butt and forgo the shaft entirely, unless they can make an ultra-thin shaft as well.

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Filed Under: Gear

Some 9 Ball Videos

I'm sick today - and I get my new shaft tomorrow. This is no good at all. I'm going to spend the bulk of the day on the couch with juice, food, meds and my new Accu-Stats DVD (A double feature of Effren playing 1p). In the meantime, here's a couple of videos from Friday night:

The first is what happens when I get really excited about the possibility of completing my first 9B break and run caught on video.

9 Ball, Break and Run out - Doggy Style from Johnny101 on Vimeo.

This is what happens when you get too excited about capturing your first break and run on camera. :(

The second is a pretty sloppy and frustrated runout - but it's still a good out, even if I had to try it again. heh. It's still, actually, a pretty good improvement for me, since this is the 3rd full runout in a single week - a new accomplishment for me. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about my game, even if I still sometimes dog easy shots.

9 Ball, Break, BIH Run-out from Johnny101 on Vimeo.

Well, sorta. I miss the first one, reset it and run out from there. heh.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball

League Update - Smart Moves

8-Ball League Logo

Last night was league night and I'd like to report that we did awesomely and ran out the night for the win, but I can't.  I guess we were still under the weather from the poor showing we had on Sunday at the championships.  But, the real point of this post is two-fold. 1) I played perhaps one of the smartest games of 8-ball in league to date. 2) I overheard a great compliment regarding me from the league's top-shooter.

My first match was ... well, it wasn't really my fault.  My opponent broke dry on a miscue of sorts, scratched and left a jumble of balls on the spot.  I make a stripe and try to break out some stuff, doesn't really happen.  I try it again, but overcut the ball and break everything open.  She runs out, with a bit slop, but whatever.  My 2nd match however, was quite excellent, if I do say so myself.  At this point, the other team needs only 1 game to win, we need 5 games.  I draw an older guy, Jerry (bar owner).  (2) As I'm preparing for the match, I hear Mark O'Brian (league's top shooter 3 sessions in a row: currently, he's about 82 and 6 over the last 2 sessions and the first week of this session) say to Jerry: "Be careful, John's a smart player."  I wasn't sure I heard that right, but I played it in my head a few times and it had to be right.  Mark and I were talking most of the night about table strategies for the other matches and we've played together in other pool halls randomly.  He has a decent knowledge of my game and my desire to learn and improve.

I win the lag and smash 'em open pretty good, leaving only a single cluster of solids sandwiching the 8 ball, but don't make a ball.  Jerry comes to the table and misses a shot at a stripe.  I try a long cut shot on a stripe but miss as well.  After sitting for 2 hours, I let that miss go pretty quickly and chalk it up to not being in stroke.  Jerry starts sinking balls, stripes, and I'm quickly realizing he doesn't have a plan for breaking out the 8.  I stare at the table intently, figuring out what my problem balls will be and how to deal with them when I get back to the table. He was able to break out the 8, but he missed the object ball.  He now has 2 balls left and I have all of them. From where he left me, I could only make one ball with hopes to possibly get on another one.  I make the 1st, but come a little short on the next one.  Rather than fire at and turn the cue ball lose, I play to miss it and lay it in front of the 8 ball along the long rail.  He makes one of his balls, then tries to play his last ball off my blocker, but fires at it and knocks my blocker into the open while leaving his last ball middle diamond on the head rail.  (1) Then he leaves the CB in the best place for me to get another problem ball out of the way. I take down the 4, then the 5 in the side.  Now I have the 1 by the corner pocket on the short foot rail and the 6/7 tied up around the footspot.  Without hesitation my brain sees this lovely opportunity and I bank the 1 up to 2nd diamond and the cb drifts beautifully to FREEZE on the 6/7 blocking his 15 up-table.  He tries a semi-standard 4-rail kick but the CB died off the 3rd rail and comes up short.  I take BIH and sink the 6, end up too straight on the 7 so I try to draw it 1 rail back out for the 1, but the draw didn't take (my fault).  I look at the layout and realize I have another perfect opportunity here. (1) Bank the 1 cross-side play the cueball 3-rails for a standard cut-shot on the 8.  If I miss, the 1 might lay dead in-between the CB and his 15.  Well, I shoot it, get nice position on the 15, but I do miss the bank.  The 1 drifts just a bit too far past the side pocket and leaves him a free bank on the 15.  He fires at his, misses, but the CB is now heading straight toward the side pocket.  It would've scratched has the 15 not 2 railed to intercept it.  Neither his CB or 15 fell in the pocket and now I'm left with a delicate cut-shot.  I slice the 1 with as much "pocket speed" as I can muster without sending the CB straight to the opposite side pocket.  I missed the corner by less than an inch, and leave myself dead straight on the 8.  I call the corner pocket and sink it with a stop shot.

Afterwards, I'm talking with my teammates and they all congratulate me on playing a nice rack - despite the missed shots.  They agreed I played the right shots, the right safety and good patterns (or intentions anyway).  Although we lost our next game, I felt like a winner that night.  I played well, I played smart, I didn't get anxious, I kept my head.  I also didn't overthink things.  I calculated quickly and kept my rhythm when at the table.

I was also able to, I think, "force" myself into the mental game by focusing on the table as if he wasn't playing and I was just looking at the table objectively; looking for patterns, break-balls, etc.  Once I had all that figured out, if/when I got to the table, all the questions were answered which allowed me to focus on making the shots.

We have a BYE next week, but I'll be working in those types of things in the meantime.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball

I Finally Clicked "Checkout"

I've been pining for a new OB shaft for some time, something like 4 months at least. I keep thinking, oh I'll get it next month, then something comes up.  Well, after our place in the money from the tournament this weekend, I decided to take that money and put it right back into my game.  So, today, I finally ordered this shaft; customized with a Kamui Black Super-Soft tip.  I should have it by Friday, I'd expect.  They claim there's no shipping delay for changing the tip, and I got the 2nd day air shipping, so... I think Friday is fair. 

Now, I don't think this is going to make me some sort of run-out player, but I do think it will be a valuable tool in my case.  I'm still new enough to the game that I can adjust to different deflection cues fairly easily.  I am hoping that this "ultra low deflection" shaft will help me when making extra thin cut shots; which are a pretty big problem for me still; although I'm getting better at them, even with center-ball.

I had originally wanted the OB-2 shaft, but after thinking about it, and reading all the reviews, I decided to go with the OB Classic Pro.  It's supposed to be a bit stiffer, and it's not foam-cored so it should have a nice *ping* to it.  I'm hoping so, but if it doesn't I wont toss it out. heh.  Plus, it has a traditional looking ferrule, which I wouldn't really care about, but it'll garner fewer questions from onlookers, I expect.

This comes at a great time because I was just asked by my step daughter (XY for you long-term readers) yesterday about setting up a practice schedule for her again.  She's decided she wants to get good and play seriously again.  Tired of getting beat by the other boys I imagine, even better for her. heh

Friday can't get here fast enough!

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Filed Under: Gear

8-Ball Championships Summer Session

Well, this past weekend we had the team championships tournament from the summer session.  I'll spare a lot of the detailed action, but Saturday was tough to start out.  We gave the opponents 3 on 12, (we race to 12, they race to 9); and it came down to each of us needing 2 games at it's closest.  We finally pulled out ahead though, then moved on to our next match.  That team was against another team we regularly play in league.  This session, they beat us both times, and I think they thought they had this one in the bag, but wait... not this time.  We gave them 11-8 and won by 5 games if I remember correctly.  That win put us in the final 4; which was sunday's matches.  It also put us in the money; which is extra nice.  Sunday we start off against a team that is really tough, we play an even race to 11.  I think the morning storm really put some of us off our game because it took us a while to get going.  Unfortunately, it was too little too late.  We lost the match 11-5, I think.  After nearly being swept the first round, then only getting 2 in the second, you could feel the despair building amongst the team.  I dont think we gave up at all, but it didn't look like we had our killer game faces on after that.  We weren't getting the rolls and when we did, we didn't take advantage of them.  So, we finished tied for 3rd/4th (single elimination).  Which is still respectable, but I know we all wanted to get at least one round further.  Maybe next session.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball

9-Ball Run Out

It's been a good week for me, it seems.  Although this isn't a break'n'run, it is a run out after the break; which I don't do too often.  I actually had 2 of these that night, but wasn't recording the first time around.  I should know by now, if I want to record, do it all night, because it's not like I can choose when I get a good layout to run out.  Oh well.  The rest of this night was pretty frustrating actually.  My break was *not* working at all, I was missing easy shots far too often, overall, it was a bad night. I was worried it might be, I was very tired, going on my 3rd day of not having enough sleep.  However, I got a few gems in the midst.

This was after a terrible break, I missed the 1 ball twice after that, then I got angry and hammered the cue ball into a cluster that rearranged the whole table and scratched.  Once things stopped rolling, I grabbed the cue ball from the pocket, took ball in hand and started my way through.  *WARNING* I blow position on the 8 pretty badly and I make it known; some very harsh words are said so if you'd rather not hear the F word 4 times in 2 sentences, turn the audio down.

9 Ball Runout from Johnny101 on Vimeo.

I realize I've been posting nothing but videos lately - and for that I'm sorry. I will get back to some real content very soon; I'm just really enjoying my new toy. :)

 

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Filed Under: 9-Ball

[Pool Synergy] What's In The Case?

Pool Synergy

This month's issue of Pool Synergy is taken directly from Samm Diep's What's in the Case series of interviews.  Here's what you'll find in J&J 3x6 case:

Cues:
    - Lucasi LE-7 Playing Cue (Kamui black soft tip)
    - Action Break Cue
    - Predator Air Jump Cue (just picked up last week)

Tools:
    - Cue Cube
    - Q-Whiz
    - Tip File with various sandpapers
    - Kamui Gator Grip
    - Magic Eraser bits
    - Shaft Slicker

Accessories:
    - Hand towel (by hook)
    - Q-Claw (holds 3)
    - Pocket Chalker
    - Extra chalk (PoolDawg master)
    - Moose-head Bridge attachment
    - Aramith Measel Ball
    - Hole Reinforcements

Food: (only stocked before I leave the house for a known long session)
    - Cliff Bars
    - Cliff Shot Roks - I call them Power Pellets
    - Gum

Some notes about the food.  I generally try to have at least one Cliff Bar with me all the time anyway, since I would much rather eat a tasty protein bar than a Snickers.  The "power pellets" may not always be the Cliff Shot Roks - sometimes they're the Powerbar - Energy Bites variety.  I actually prefer these 'snacks' to the bars.  I can open a bag of those bites and just snack on them over the course of an hour or so.  Each one has just a little pick me up so I'm not eating a large amount all at once. Each one provides a small amount of protein so I never let my tank get down to empty while also never filling up so I feel "full".  A serving size is based on your body weight, but you'll generally take in about 5 grams of protein over the course of an hour; which isn't a lot - but it's just about right for me while playing pool.

You might be wondering about the hole reinforcements... well, if you haven't figured out from this blog, I enjoy doing drills - and they require accurate relocation of the object and cue balls for repetitiveness.  Also, if I'm practicing with someone and we stop the game to try a shot or a variety of shots, we will need to remember the location of the balls on the table.  The hole reinforcements allow us to do that, without getting chalk all over the table.  They're thin enough to not affect the ball's path and they peel right up when you're done.  Obviously, you dont need (nor want) to really press them into the cloth or they can, depending on the cloth, be a real pain to remove.  I've been using them for a little over a month now and I like them so much more than the old "mark a spot with the chalk" way.  No more ghost chalk spots, no more extra chalk on the table, cleaner hands, cleaner table.

I have a variety of tip tools in my case - mostly because I'm a pack-rat and never throw anything away.  I started off using the cue cube, but then graduated to the file.  However, now I have that Kamui Gator grip and it's by far my favorite tip tool so far.  I can agitate the tip's surface without sanding or grinding off the top layer.  In this way, I can extend the life of this tip far beyond what I could possible imagine using the other two tools.  I nearly bought a Tip-Pik once, but then realized it's not designed for layered tips; which I use.  I might get one anyway, just to have it.  Lots of people really like the Willard Tip shaper (the one that looks like a flattened silver coin with a half-bubble in the middle); I've never used one though; I expect someday I will, and will probably like it better than the cue-cube.  The cube is a little too rough, especially when it's new, though it gets the job done decently.

The same goes for why I have that velcro-lined shaft slicker, a towel and a q-whiz.  I recently (as in last week) decided to try a q-whiz for burnishing; which I had never done before; not like that.  I had always done the shaft slicker and towel; while frequently washing my hands to keep everything extra dry. I didn't full understand how people could put wax on their shafts and have it be smooth.  I kept comparing it to when I got my first cue and how awful the shaft would stick against my skin... that is until I found the slicker.  It was so smooth, I just loved it.  I think it's because I used the slicker soooo much that my stock shaft is thinner than most other shafts; just by shaving it down accidentally.  I'm okay with that - I prefer a thinner shaft anyway.

The Magic Eraser is a great, great tool for cleaning your shaft/ferrule.  I keep small pieces in the case for the ferrule usually, but if the environment is really dirty, or I happen to just feel like it, I'll use them to clean the shaft.  They get all the chalk out, as well as unwanted dirt and hand oil.  Afterwards, use the Q-Whiz to burnish and seal the shaft to help keep it cleaner, longer.

I'll be taking a video, ala Samm Diep, of my case and it's contents the next time I get to a table with some time to kill.

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Filed Under: Gear · General · Pool Synergy

8-Ball Break and Run - on Video

So, I brought my camera last night to practice in hopes of catching a break and run.  Turns out, after a quick little break, I finally got one:

8 Ball Break'n'Run from Johnny101 on Vimeo.

During practice tonight I had a fairly decent break and run.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball

I got a new toy!

So, my birthday was the other day and I was gifted a Kodak Zi8. Here's the first test at the pool hall with it: I still need to find a better clamp location for an ideal view, but for now, this works pretty well. :)

vs Johnny One Pocket from Johnny101 on Vimeo.

This was my first game of the night, and it was fairly decent. I ran the 5 to win the rack. It was the last rack I'd win for about 4 hours that night. *sigh*

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Filed Under: One Pocket

Power One Pocket - Trailer

I could've sworn I posted this once, but I can't find it in the archives and I don't really care. Here's a short video that starts off with a road story - then the trailer for Power One Pocket - then a sequence of shots from a match that is just UN-REAL! The whole video is only like 6 minutes long - and well worth it. Enjoy!

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Filed Under: One Pocket

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