One Pocket Wonder

This weekend, I had something pretty damn entertaining happen.  Watch the video to see what is probably the best slight-masse sequence I'll ever do.

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Filed Under: One Pocket

Forest For The Trees - Clusters

Last night, I went to back to the pool hall the first time in a week.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect, I was tired all day long, and I had to play on the barbox to prepare for league tonight.  I tossed some balls out and started hitting around.  Making balls nicely, overall.  Then the captain comes in and we start playing; which is not at all what I had planned for the night.  Oh well.  He racked, I broke... and RAN OUT! what - what? Yep. Break and run.  Unfortunately, that'd be the last game I'd win for an hour. I kept blowing position on the 8. Run out to the 8 ball, or key ball, and blow it. *sigh*  Each time, I was really worried about position, and those were the times I'd blow it.  It's like, I let my brain do all the work the entire rack, then when I try and give it something a bit more specific, it says "oooh, NOOW you wanna cooperate.  okay, have fun with this: *POW*".  I totally needed to draw that CB 7 feet back to the other end of the table.  Absolutely.  *facepalm*  anyway, that one more game I'd win, it was another hour before I'd get a win.  When he left, I racked, broke and ran out. *headdesk*.  Now, my break really has been working well - I'm making balls, and not leaving clusters.  Whereas, when he'd break, there'd be clusters all over the place.  *shrug*

I got home and was not really happy about my performance. I missed way too many "easy" shots, or blew too many "easy" position routes. Then later, it occurred to me, I broke and ran-out... twice... in barbox 8-ball.  I'm not sure I've done that before.  I've ran out from the break multiple times in a night before, but not break'n'run-out. So... actually, even though I lost most of the night, I did pretty well when the table was open.  It really just shows me that I don't see/know how to deal with multiple clusters; which in my opinion, is what makes a bar-box player.  Clusters are so rare on a 9 foot table - providing a good break - that I've never really had to deal with them, so I haven't learned the tricks for them yet.

After taking a week off, I'm happy with that.  I'm also happy to learn that I did not get raised to a 5, even though my win percentage was well into the 50% range. It's because we're moving to a tougher division they kept me a 4.  Which I'm sure everyone is quite happy with - me especially. I can be a 5, but I wouldn't be as strong of a 5 as the other 5's.  See the above paragraph.  If I get to a point where I start seeing the solutions to the clusters, then I'll feel like a strong 5. Until then - I'm content to remain a 4.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · General

Proverbs: Take A Week Off

So, after the break-cue fiasco of 2 weeks ago, I was somewhat disheartened by pool.  It's like, well, if I can't play with that new break cue, I don't want to play at all.  It really doesn't make sense, but that was something like the proverbial straw.  My game, recently, has really dropped off and it's becoming very, very frustrating.  I was posting videos quite often in November, where I was running balls, running out, etc... Strangely, I haven't ran out since then. I'm still winning (league), but it's taking multiple innings.  My 9-ball game starts off okay, but then I lose focus somehow and about 2 hours later, I can't run 3 balls. My 1P game has declined as well.  A guy I used to give 9-8, now beats me even with regularity.  I have some theories on this, and I'm working on it; but regardless. In November, my focus was stronger, my shotmaking was more solid, my aim was on and I was slicing balls all the way up and down the table.  There are a few reasons for my distractions - personal events and whatnot among them; but I should be able to put those things out of my mind when I'm on the table.  I think my stance has gotten lazy and my eye-location has been general.  It seems that when I when go play now, it's more of a "something to kill some time" feeling. I don't feel inspired, or dedicated, lately.

So, instead of forcing myself to play, I decided to take a week off.  It wasn't a fully conscious decision, but as each day came and went, I just didn't feel like going to shoot. I stayed home, relaxed, spent some quality time with my girl, and played a lot of COD: Black Ops.

I still read pool blogs, and watched pool videos, including the Derby City Classic PPV stream, thanks to Accu-Stats.  But I just didn't feel like playing.  I did try to play Thursday, but it still didn't feel right.  I shot some drills, and generally played 10-ball alone, trying to analyze my arm, my eyes, my stroke, my stance and see what felt different.  I found some things, but nothing really stood out as "AHHH-HAAA! That's it!".  At the end of the night, I felt like I hadn't done anything. *sigh*

Now, league starts up again tomorrow night, so I'll be back in the game, starting tonight.  Having the DCC stream up all day will (hopefully) get me a little pumped up for the tables tonight; although it's 1P and Banks today; it's still promising. :)

I guess we'll see just how things go. :)

Oh! I received a shirt order from LeagueShirts.com the other day, and I'm very happy with them. :) If you want a nice shirt with a design of your choice, be sure to check them out!

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Filed Under: General

Missouri State 9-Ball Championship

This is really just an FYI more than anything else.

Missouri 2011 State 9-Ball Championship

Billiards of Springfield 541 East St. Louis Street Springfield, MO 65806

Feb 11th-13th, 2011

Preliminaries

Friday, Feb 11 8pm and Saturday Feb 12 11am
Round Robin
Ten flights of eight
Race to 6, winner's choice
Single foul, 40 second shot clock
Top 2 per flight advance to finals
5 wild card finalists

Semifinals

Sunday, Feb 13 11am
Round Robin
Five flights of Five
Race to 6, winner's choice.
Top 2 per flight & 2 wild cards advance

Finals

12 player double-elimination playoff (4 byes). Race to 6 in winners bracket, Race to 5 in losers.

Prizes
1st - $2,000 + Trophy
2nd - $1,100 + Trophy
3rd - $700 + Trophy
4th - $500 + Trophy
5/6th = $300
7/8th - $225
9-12 = $175
13-25 - $140

Fees & Requirements
Entry Fee: $95
Greens Fee: $10
Early entrants have choice of session in preliminaries. Entry time judged by date and time of postmark or hand delivery.

Missouri Residents ONLY! Must have valid MO Driver's license or other Picture ID.

For information call Scott Morris: (417).866.4319

Download the entry form here. Download this information as a flyer here.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

[Pool Synergy] Pool As A Team Sport

Pool Synergy

This month's Pool Synergy is about the team aspect of pool.  The majority of pool players, at least in the United States, play in some form of team-based pool league.  Click the header image to get to the main index of this month's issue and to read a bunch of great team insights!

For me, I was hesitant to play in a league because of the negative stigma associated with league play.  The APA (and other formats) are riddled with players who are notorious for playing the system, as opposed to playing the game.  However, leagues offer a lot of benefits, especially to newer players. One of the goals of this month's Pool Synergy to talk about how to keep a team alive and doing well.  I have no team captain experience, and can only comment on what I would like to see, as league n00b.  But first, a bit of league and background information.

I play in a locally ran league, called Missouri-8.  It has a handicapping system which tries to even the playing field for all teams, and although there are those who purposefully lose games once in a while to keep their handicap low, I haven't seen as much evidence of that as I first expected.  Teams are comprised of between 5 and 10 players.  Each player is rated a number between 2 (weakest) and 8 (strongest).  When 2 teams match up, the race is to 11 games (typically, although some handicaps require more games which I'll mention later).  Each round is made up 5 games, 1 player from each team to a game.  Teams can not play a group of 5 members who's ratings sum is more than 32.  Before the match begins, each team decides what the maximum round number will be.  For example, our team has two 7s, two 6s, two 5s and one 4 (me).  So, the highest we could possibly play is a 31.  The lowest would be 26. At no time can a team submit 5 players with a total rating sum higher than the pre-determined round number. This round number is also used to determine the handicap between the teams, and the length of the race of the match. Assuming the other team picks 24 for their round number, if we chose 26 to be our round number, we would not have to spot the other team more than 1 game, but the 7's would never get to play.  If, on the other hand, we chose to play 31, everyone could play, but because it's such a high number, we would have to spot the other team 5 or 6 games. Once the round cap is determined, the captain picks 5 players for the (first) round.  Then the *other* team's captain draws the order of our players, then we draw the order for the opposing team.  Draw 1 for us plays draw 1 for them, and so on.  This creates the randomization so that no team can try and stack the deck, so to speak.

My first session, the captain kind of let me loose, just to see how I'd adjust to the game.  As such, I got a decent number of games and finished the season just shy of .500 winning 10 of 22 games.  It wasn't bad for my first session, with all the adjusting I had to do. The 2nd session, I went a little crazy trying to over-analyze the table, trying to think "what would [insert name of teammate] do?"... I totally lost my rhythm and ended with a horrible record of 9 wins and 14 losses. Unfortunately that poor performance has stuck with my captain, and the 3rd session has had me sitting on the bench most of the time.  He once said to me that it was safer for him to assume a loss when he played me, so if the score was close, I wouldn't get chosen for the next round if we couldn't afford to lose a game. That was pretty harsh, but at the time, I understood; eventually. We've just finished our fall session, my 3rd session with the team, and I ended with a record of 10 wins and 7 losses during the regular schedule. We had to play a playoff round and I went 2-0 for that round, but those games don't count towards our overall score.  As such, I expect to be moved to a 5 at the start of next session.

I've ranted in this blog before about the experiences I've had in league.  Just last week, I posted one actually.  The point of all this is what I would like to see happen for leagues.  Captains, especially those who are competitive, should be keenly aware of each and every game being played. They should know which suit the player is (solids, stripes), they should know how many coaches the players have available (both their own player as well as the opponent).  They should be able to recognize that the player is confused and/or needs a coach.  And most importantly, they should offer positive reinforcement.  New players will screw up, at some point, maybe more than once in a single game even, but in order to keep the spirit of the player on the positive side of things, it's essential that they aren't barked at or put down.  There are plenty of ways to inform someone they messed up that don't involve negative attitudes.  I'm not suggesting treating people with kid gloves, of course these are adults we're talking about; they don't need coddling.  They just need information and direction.  They need to feel they're contributing to the team, and not inhibiting it.  They need to feel a part of it, not an awkward, broken appendage.  A team is only going to do as well as the overall attitude of the team.

In short, take a note from Dalton, not Shannon Dalton, THE Dalton.  (Warning: contains strong adult language) Three simple rules.

I will say this: playing in a league, specifically a bar-table 8-ball league, has really taught me a lot of things; especially humility.  The first thing I learned was there is a serious difference in strategy on the table when playing a small table with more balls.  All the 9-ball routes I had worked so hard on are essentially unavailable on a barbox with 15balls.  Having a good stroke is rarely required, and most of the intermediate players (4's and 5's) have poor fundamentals and would die playing on a 9' table.  Yet, those players are so used to the minimum effort required to play pool and are so used to the awkward conditions of bartables that it's all natural to them; as such they tend to do better than me.  It took me a long time to realize what the problem was.  I started as a big-table 9-ball player.  Big stroke, multi-rail position play was mandatory.  I had studied the game of 9-ball, strategic routes, shot choices, shot-making, stroke drills, stroke improvements, etc.  It was my dedication to those goals that caught the attention of the team captain who eventually recruited me into the league.  However, I went in thinking I would win lots of games, afterall - every shot is easy on a smaller table, right? There's less distance between the balls, less distance the balls have to travel, and the biggest difference is the amount of clutter that exists on a bartable.  I fully expected to quickly rise through the ranks - I'm a dedicated pool player when I'm on the table.

As I write that, I can only sit back and laugh at my naivety. 

In the end though, after all the emotions are settled, I'm very thankful to be a part of one of the best teams in the area.  We frequently win our division and commonly place in the top 8 from the state team championships.

If you're thinking about joining a league, I'd suggest asking your local pool room for information about the leagues available in your area.  Or, ask around. Chances are, there's a player in the room with you that knows of a league.  If not, check the APA or BCA websites.  Lastly, if you want to play in a league, but don't want to deal with teammates, then I'd suggest joining a new virtual league that's just starting.  It's called Behind the Rock; and it's a national league/tournament that pays weekly.  The best thing is - you play the 10-ball ghost, for 11 racks, once a week, submit your scores and that's it!  There are some stipulations, like you need at least 4 or 6 players locally (you can not mark your own scoresheet) and you need a room to host the event (they will submit the scores to the tour manager).  Read up on their website about how this new tour works and then start practicing your 10-ball ghost game!

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Filed Under: Pool Synergy

The Look of Pure Disappointment (Laughing at myself)

So... well... just watch this:

Miscue on break from Johnny101 on Vimeo.

I just had to post this because it's just too damn ironically funny not to. I received the cue on Wednesday, but couldn't play that night due to my girl's birthday, so all day Thursday I was chomping at the bit to get to the pool hall. A few hours of playing, then that happened. I emailed Mike with the story and sent him the video. He replied asking that I call him. I thought I was in trouble. Hahaha I wasn't. He had such a good laugh from my video and my "deflating" when I realized what had happened, we both just started laughing. Everything is being taken care of, so really this is a no-harm, no-foul situation; which is why I posted it. Sometimes, you just gotta laugh at yourself. :)

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Filed Under: Gear

Predator BK2 From Mike Fieldhammer


This is a huge special THANK YOU to Mike Fieldhammer from Billiard Coach.com.  After I posted a question on the AZ forums, he emailed me privately and answered a bunch of my questions; which lead to a bunch more questions.  We've been emailing back and forth for quite some time, and then the holidays came.  Shortly after they passed, we got back to business.  After everything, I decided to go with the Predator BK2 break butt with the OB Break Shaft; which has the Samsara tip. 

After that decision was made, I noticed he had a Predator Air jump cue in his store.  I currently have one of these already, but it has the default phenolic tip on it; which is going the way of the do-do in coming years. We talked about it a few emails, and turns out he can put a Samsara tip on that too.  :) 

So, I decided to get both of those cues; with the intention on selling my existing break cue and my current Predator Air (both of which have buyers standing by).  Not only did Mike answer every one of my questions with plenty of informative details, alternative suggestions and reinforcement, and not only did he make me feel totally safe in giving this equipment a try by offering an equipment swap if I really hate it for some reason; but he also threw in some extras that were surprises to me when I opened the package! Extras like *joint protectors* and Blue Diamond chalk!!

Mike is a busy pool playing professional billiard coach; and if you get the chance to catch him at home, I highly encourage you to go to him for your next equipment purchase!!

Thanks again Mike!!

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Filed Under: Gear

A Diamond in the Rough

Last night I got to play on a Diamond table for the first time.  A friend I made through the forums on AZB invited me over to his house to play a little.  I was most intrigued because he has a 7' Pro-Am in his basement.  I was really excited to try it.  Diamonds are notorious for banking short and having deep shelves which means you really have to hit the balls pure for them to drop.  During my warmup stage, I noticed immediately just how FAST the cloth is.  I think he has 760 on it now because he mentioned wanting to get the 860HR cloth the next time; perhaps it's the regular 860 at the moment.  Regardless... the table was super fast.  And the rails... my god! The rails were soooo springy the CB bounced off 6" when I would expect it to die after contact (I'm used to GCs).  I did notice it banking short when hitting short-rail banks - especially with speed, and even some long-rail banks when hit with speed.  But, to my surprise, the 3-rail "Corner 5" path was textbook perfect!  With and without speed/spin!

Overall, I was really impressed with the table.  It had the under-rail system and was QUICK and pretty quiet, even in the confines of a basement room where sound bounces around more.  The wide/flat rails proved to be more of a comfort than a hindrance, which I wasn't sure how I'd like that.  I don't like bridging off the rail (does anyone?), but was especially skeptic of them at first.  The balls rolled true and given the 4.25" pockets, I was surprised at how well I pockets balls, even at speed.  We shot a number of different stroke shots, including Earl's "Donkey Shot" (though neither of us could do it like him, of course) and just getting the CB all the way back down table was quite fun!  

Although that table has "ruined" me for most of sub-par tables, I can't wait to play on it again. More importantly, I can't wait till I get one of my own.  Now, I just need a house with a 25x15 open room so I can get the 9' pro-am with the black diamondwood rails. lol Where's that winning lottery ticket?

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Filed Under: Gear

Johnny Archer & Nick Varner in St. Louis Feb 8th!!

I am so excited about this!  Here's the flyer for the event!  Pass this on/out to everyone!!!

Archer/Varner Feb8th Side Pockets, St. Charles, MO

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Filed Under: General · Tournaments

League Rant

8-Ball League Logo

So, last night we had a playoff match since we didn't finish 1st in our division.  We finished 2nd, and had to play the 5th place team.  We gave them 5 on 12 (they only had to win 7, we had to win 12).  Bar table 8-ball.  I'll try to summarize the bulk of the evening, I know I can get a little wordy sometimes.  Each round is a random draw of 5 players per team.  Being the lowest ranked player, I never play the 1st round; which I've come to accept over the course of this session.  Now, the weirdest thing happened during that first round.  ALL FIVE of our guys couldn't get out.  We lost the first give games.  So, now they need 2 and we still need 12.  We have actually come back to win from similar deficits before, so while it was quite a shock, we weren't terribly scared. After hearing we lost the first 5, I assumed I wouldn't get to play at all (based on the history of the decision), but as it turns out, I did.  I drew 4th in the next round. 

I lost the lag, but that's not usually a big deal, since so many people do that side-break trying to snap the 8 and just create a giant cluster on one side of the table instead.  After a few shots, the guy misses and I start picking apart the layout.  I have just one frozen cluster, but there's an great break-out ball available and a pretty easy path to it.  I start working my way through it when I get a coach from the captain who suggests instead of trying the full rack, just play a safe off the frozen ball, leaving my opponent hooked. (see below)

He suggested I play a stun-through shot on the 3, hiding behind the 8 ball.  Although I felt confident in getting position off the 5 to play the 7 in the side to break out the 3, I decided to follow his advice.  Afterall, he's a better player, and smarter with the bar-box 8ball than I am.  It's "the safe bet".  I do, the shot works, my opponent kicks at something, leaves me with an open table and I get out.

We lose one game that round, meaning they need 1, we need 8.  On to the 3rd round.  I get drawn again to my surprise, I play first.  The guy gets the lag on me by less than a dime, *shrug*.  Again, side-break, massive cluster.  I play about 4 safeties in a row, each time opening a ball up and hooking him.  My last frozen ball, I open, but misjudged the CB's path and it found gravity in the side pocket somehow.  Oh well.  We take our turns going back and forth, making some balls, and finally he gets a good opportunity from my over-cutting a ball up the rail and scratching again. :( With BIH, he has 3 balls on the table.  He manages, somehow, to hook himself all the way up table on one of my balls.  He tries to tie up another one of my balls with his, but overhits it and leaves it up, giving me ball in hand.  I go to work, finish off the last 4, but end a little short on the the 8ball, leaving me with the show below.  Now, remember, this is a heavy, magnetic red-DOT cueball.  This ball scratches if you just hit to make the 8.  Slow rolling is a disaster, I've seen it all night on this table. Not to mention the times I have personally scratched on this shot.  I knew I had to hit it with enough draw to stun up to the end rail.  Well, my nerves got the best of me and I overhit it a bit.  Didn't scratch, but got too close to the side pocket for comfort.

Now, everyone else is congratulating me, joking about how I made them nervous, I got away with one, etc... The captain, however, says "You never fucking hit that ball that hard."  Okay, yeah, I over hit it.  I went over to him shortly afterwards and admitted I hit it too hard, but he goes on this mini rant about "what the hell have you to been learning" and how "the CB traveled 7 feet after making the ball, that's just stupid", this that and the other.  I'm getting a verbal pounding as if I had just lost the season hill-hill game.  I didn't lose, I won.  People overhit balls all the time, including him, yet *I'm* getting bitched at; not the reliable top players on our team that are losing. I finally said "Sorry for winning." and walked off.  I nearly broke down my sticks, packed up and quit all together.  But, that would be an emotional tantrum of a decision.  Which is dumb.  I might have made a mistake for coming up short on the 8, then another hitting it too hard, but I won the game - a game we desperately needed.  I know he's extra pissed because the usual "guaranteed" winners aren't delivering. (we have 3 of the top 5 players in the *league* on our team)  I know he's not going to bitch at the other guys, and I know I'm the FNG and shit rolls downhill; but damn.  Give me a freakin' break.

That is not the way to encourage your teammates.

Anyway, we win the next 3, but our highest ranked player played a tricky position to get to the 8 and came up short, tried one hell of a back-cut bank, but left it.  The opponent ran his 6 balls and sank the 8 to win the match.  No championships for us.

I finished this session with 10 wins and 7 losses during the regular session.  2-0 in the playoffs, which don't count towards our records.  I'll be moved up in rank next session to a 5 based on this record.  We're also moving divisions to what should be a tougher division so we don't have to give the world away to these teams.  We gave this one team TEN games on the wire going to 15 a few weeks back.  That's ridiculous. I'm going to have to really be careful about my playing because although I'm a 5 in a weak division now, the 5's in the other division should be stronger than me.  Even though I have the knowledge, I'm going to need to work on my game to stay a 5, and contribute to the team as a 5.  That is... if I stay.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball

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