A Sad Day

Last night, I went up to my usual pool and saw this:

 

That makes me very sad.  Guess I'll become a more regular patron of Ride the Rail, Cue and Cushion and probably Affton Billiards. :/

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Filed Under: General

A Tornado and a Run-Out

Friday was the 2nd week of league and I had the foresight to bring a change of clothes, some dinner and my cues to work with me so I could just hop on over to the pool hall after work, instead of driving all the way home then all the way back out there.

I get there and receive a new schedule.  Tonight, I'll be playing Mickey.  Mickey is probably my favorite pool hall character up there.  He's an old black man, and he is a freaking riot!  Got all the jokes, all of them dirty in some fashion.  More phrases than thesaurus and is generally a nice guy to be around.  He's primarily a one pocket player but is having fun with this 9-ball league.

Our match began at 7, so at 6:30 I made my extra-strength protein shake (3 scoops, instead of 2, since it was being made with water instead of milk).  I had it early enough so that I wouldn't feel full or bloated during the match, but late enough so that my body wouldn't finish processing it during the match (which can sometimes leave me feeling a little hungry, distracting).  When I came back from the truck with a big plastic bottle holding a bag of brown powder, Mickey said that steriods were not allowed.  I told him it was brown sugar, so I'd be really amped for the match.

We played even, so it was a simple race to 9, alternating break.  I won the flip and broke and promptly sent the cue ball off the table. :/  We took some turns at the table before he left himself tough on the 9, missed it and left it for me to take the first game.  Most of the match went like that.  One of us would start of with 3 or 4 balls, then the other would finish it out.  At one point, after a lengthy safety battle, I decided to be a little aggressive and sliced the 2 ball from just below the side pocket into the corner with the cue ball starting in front of the opposite side.  Mickey then asked if I was mad at him. LOL

I got to the hill first, with Mickey only at 4.  The next rack he missed the 6, and I sank the 6, 7 and 8, but drew the CB into the side pocket.  He thanked me for having a heart. The next rack, I was on my way out but missed the 6.  He ran the last 4.  It was my break in the next rack and I just happened to hit a really nice break.  The only break of the night where either one of made 2 balls.  I kept the CB on the table and ended up with shape on the 1.  The table was wide open.  The 9 got jostled a little and Mickey pleased "Oh, not like that!" then looked at the table "Eh, doesn't matter, you're gonna run out on me anyway."  Which is just hilarious since neither of have ran more than 5 balls all night.

So, I started with the 1. Hit it easy, as I tend to overrun position with this shot.  Turns out, I got damn near perfect on the 4. Punched the 4, but came a little short on the 5.  Took a risk flirting with the corner pocket, but thinned the 5 and sent the CB 2 rails in/out of the corner to get on the 6, narrowly.  Followed down off the 6 and found myself under the 7, but still a good shot.  Same as the 1, actually.  I managed to get back up table for the 8 nearly straight in.  Stunned that in and was looking at a pretty straight shot on the 9.  I forget what Mickey said, but it was then I realized I was about to sink the 9 in the hill with my first break and run out in over 5 months.  I was immediately flushed with excitement. To the point where I started laughing while down on the shot.  I bent my knees and laughed, stood up and said "I'm not doing this again." (referring to a previous rack when I ran 5 balls, thin-sliced the 8 to get nearly straight on the 9, but dogged it)  I refocused and got down on the shot again and drilled it.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball

New League Review

Friday was the first night of the new 9-Ball in-house league taking place at Cue & Cushion.  I hurriedly ran home after work, showered, changed clothes, ate and drove back across the city to get there at 6:45. League started at 7.  I hit some balls and was warming up decently, then we had the players' meeting.  A couple of interesting notes: 1) Because the room doesn't supply them, Magic Racks are not allowed by individual players. That kind of sucks, but what's lucky for my opponent is also lucky for me. 2) It's alternating break! That was a serious surprise, a most welcome one, even though I'm not a break'n'run player, I still get to break. 3) (and this is my favorite) The THREE FOUL RULE!  I doubt I'll win any games on the 3 foul rule, but just knowing it's there makes me quite happy.  It's a race to 9, and it's handicapped.  The number of games on the wire is determined by the difference in the player's handicaps.  For my match, I'm a 4 and I played a 6, so I was given 2 games on the wire.

There are 10 players this round, and there's 10 weeks of league, so we'll get to play everyone twice it looks like.  

My first match, I drew a guy named Arthur.  I remember him from when I used to play up there during the day a lot.  He's a good player - I was surprised he was only a 6 though, I seem to remember him shooting better. *shrug* We flipped for the break, I won the flip, so *if* this went hill-hill I'd have the break in the last rack.

The table was not breaking very well, and I couldn't get the wing ball to go at all. Nor could I get the cut-break working for the 1 in the side.  Most breaks, for both of us, were dry.  We each took several innings during each rack, and I will be the first to tell you, I was getting all the rolls.  If I missed a ball, he was dead hooked.  When playing safeties, I would get some nice rubs and hook him pretty good.  When he hooked me, I'd make a good hit.  Actually, my kicking was dead-on that night.  Here are 2 of my most perplexing situations and the kicks that I finally shot:

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Filed Under: 9-Ball

[Pool Synergy] Your Favorite Game

 

Pool Synergy

 

This month's Pool Synergy is all about the games you love to play. After you read all of these and find yourself hungry for you, be sure to check out the Pool Synergy Archives!

Our resident mystery-man, p00lriah (who may or may not actually exist in the human world) tells us of his affection for the Cardigans. ... No, wait, he was confused, he meant to say 8-ball & 9ball but promises a bonus surprise!

One of our founding members, John Biddle of PoolStudent.com promised to sing to us for this edition.  The content of that song will focus on the praise for 14.1 (aka Straight Pool).

Another of our founding members and famous interviewer, Samm [Diep] Vidal, explains why she loves cribbage. Yes, even more than straight pool.

If you need some cute and fuzzy creatures destroyed, you should contact Gail Glazebrook about her "Kill The Bunny" services.  In the meantime though, you can read about her love of team-based games here.

The keeper of lost rumors and general pool historian, Jake Dyer, tells us of the miraculous performances to be found only the game of One Pocket.

The aggressive timeline-driven aspiring pool pro, Michael Reddick, explains his favorite game is also his most despised opponent: the Ghost.

Billiard instructor, coach and salesman, Mike Fieldhammer details of the virtues of England's favorite game, Snooker, here.

Gary Frerking comes with a surprising entry, Rotation (aka 15-ball) as his most enjoyed game.

Melinda chimes in with a surprising blog about 8-ball edging out One Pocket in the favorite game category.

If you have any change left, why not hop on over to Pool Bum's blog and read why he considers One Pocket to be his game.

We have a new author this month, everyone welcome Detroit Larry.  You can read about his favorite game: Golf, yes it's a pool game too.

What's my favorite game? It's a toss-up, which you can read here.

Thanks for reading this month! Remember to check out Pool Synergy each and every month on the 15th for a new topic with opinions on all subjects across the internet! Be sure to check the Pool Synergy schedule for upcoming topics too.

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Filed Under: 10-Ball · 14.1 · 8-Ball · 9-Ball · One Pocket · Pool Synergy

[Pool Synergy] My Favorite Game

 

As for myself, I'm torn between WPA-Rules 10-ball and 1-pocket.  I like rotation games, but 9-ball has a little too much luck.  Although I admit I enjoy those shots that turn luck into my benefit, I still prefer a game forces me (and my opponents) to be a little more purposeful with their shots.  WPA-Rules 10-ball requires that both the ball and pocket be called for a shot to count. It's still a rotation game, which I like, but it takes away the "poke'n'pray" aspect I've seen too often in local 9-ball tournaments. I could take this a step further and use a different set of rules, commonly called the "SBE Rules" (aka Grady's Rules) wherein if the player shooting calls a shot, makes legal contact with the object ball, but does not pocket the ball, the incoming player has the option to accept the table or hand it back to the original player.  This further removes "luck" from the game because if the incoming player is now hooked (snookered), they can return the table to the player that left it; and the player is forced to deal with a bad situation they created.  I like that aspect of the game, but I also feel it takes away some strategy, namely the "2-way" shot.  Because I like just a little luck, I prefer to the WPA over the SBE rules for 10-ball.

One-pocket on the other hand, is just a beautiful game of strategy and precision control.  Each and every shot is a test of self control, creativity and confidence. This "easy to explain, impossible to master" game is one of subtleties. Like straight pool, a game of 1-pocket (1P) can be won or lost by a less than a quarter of an inch in cue ball placement. The game is so dynamic that it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour to play ONE rack.  Additionally, there are 2 distinct schools of players currently in action: The Movers and the Shooters.  The Movers are the guys that perfected the strategies, the guys that will take an hour gently nudging balls towards their hole, before they finish you off with 6 or 7 ball run.  These are guys like Billy Incardona, Danny DiLiberto, Freddy the Beard, Nick Varner, Grady Matthews, John Henderson (the Old Guard, I call them).  Then you have The Shooters, with their posterchild: Scott Frost.  Alongside, you have Gabe Owen, Alex Pagulayan, Silver Ochoa and a slew of other younger shooters. The younger guys are risk-takers, akin to the adrenaline seekers of other sports.  These would be the guys who go skydiving, at night, blindfolded, strapped to a surfboard; while The Movers are the guys watching them thinking "Damn kids. Back in my day, all you had to was roll down the street on metal (or clay) wheels real fast to get amped up!".  This isn't to say that the movers don't run 8-and-out, they certainly can and do, but they play a little more conservatively, constantly keeping you on the defense until you make a mistake, then they pounce on you and you're done.  The shooters are the guys that just might break'n'run on you once in a while. They're the ones that'll shoot a tight-tracked 3 or 4-railer, break into the stack, sending balls to the other side of the table (essentially selling out the game if they miss).  But the thing is... they don't miss. They fire shots that make us mere mortals question our choices in pass-times.  

In my opinion, neither school is "right". I think it's mandatory that players of today (and future generations) learn the moves as well as the shots; it's the only way to be able to take on all opponents in a fair match.

 

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Filed Under: One Pocket · Pool Synergy

Stock Shaft Revisit #2

So, Tuesday I went back to the pool room with my original shaft to see if things would stay the same.  Overall, I don't think so.  I continued my bad habit of overrunning position and strangely enough, there's a few shots that I have to relearn apparently.  These aren't shots I was missing before, so this is something new.  However, some of the shots I was not making before are pretty easy now... so there's definitely something to this shaft change.

The biggest thing I noticed is that I've fallen back into that age-old trap of over-cutting balls while using inside english.  With my OBCP shaft (no deflection), I didn't have that issue.  With my original shaft (medium/high deflection), of course I'm going to overcut them.  This means, I have to go back and really focus on The Rail Workout, among other things.  

I have a Kamuii Black Soft tip on the original (which is a traditional medium hardness) and the Kamuii Black Super-Soft (which is a traditional soft) on the OBCP.  I do know that I don't like the super-soft. It's just too... spongey, I guess.  It spins the hell outta the ball, but honestly I don't need that much spin, and more often than not, it gets me into trouble.  I can still spin the ball with the harder tip, but it's not out of my control like I sometimes feel with the softer tip.  I do know that no matter what I do... I have to stock up on the Kamuii Blacks.  I hope their 2nd generation tips haven't changed how they play, since both of these are 1st gen.

Actually all of this has gotten me thinking about maybe trying to find a happy medium... a 12.75mm shaft with less deflection than my stock shaft.  Lucasi makes one, the OB1 and predator 3142 are the options I'm thinking about it.  Honestly, the thicker shaft feels better in my bridge, but I'm starting to remember why I wanted to move away from my shaft now.  There's a lot of guess-work involved when dealing with varying deflections (speed, distance, etc).  That will always be the case, but there are tools to help manage that.  I feel like I've tried both ends of the spectrum and now I'm ready for something in the middle.  I just wish I didn't have to fork out another xx amount of dollars for each "test". :/

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Filed Under: Gear

Shaft Regression: OB Classic Pro to Stock??

Yesterday morning I received a txt from the organizer of the 9-ball league forming up at Cue & Cushion saying that I was in and we were starting THIS Friday!! WHOA! That's really soon!  So, I opted to skip the bar-box tourny and instead go hit the big tables and practice some 9-ball.

I went to Sportscenter because I knew it'd be dead (how sad is that?) and I'd get some good alone time at the table.  Well, I was right. It was just me and the employer for the first few hours.  As such we were talking about what I'm trying to do and he was commenting on my patterns and whatnot.  He's and old-school road player, so I know he knows what he's talking about.  He has always been kind and generous is offering simple and basic tips - but those are really the ones that are the most important.

At one point, I was working my way through a rack and got a little straighter on the 7.  He said "just high left, 2 rails and out", I saw that but was worried about hitting the 9 which was along the side rail, he said I shouldn't hit it, but would have bet money on it.  So, I hit it, and sure enough I hit the 9 on the way out.  So, he set it up and shot it with my stick and the cb damn near died after contact.  He set it up again, same result.  He was essentially hitting the cue ball like a stop shot, with a ton of inside english.  The CB spun forever, but had no forward roll on it.  So then he took out his original Meucci, and shot it... the CB did exactly what it was supposed to do.  He is not a fan of aftermarket shafts, not predators, not *anything* (old school, remember), so of course he couldn't handle the zero-deflection of my OB Classic Pro with Kamuii super-soft tip.  

After a few more of those types of situations, he handed me his cue and said I should try it. I tossed out the 9 balls on the table and ran out. what-what?... tossed out 9 and ran out! what - what what?  tossed out 9, and over-stroked every shot, inside english over-use. power-draw to the side rail, inside to go forward 2 or 3 more. I shot 30 balls or so and missed 2.

 

Now I was really confused. So, just to see, I brought out my original stock shaft for my Lucasi with the Kamuii Black Soft tip on it.  Damn near the same thing! It was really... really bizarre. I was slicing balls in that I haven't made since the first week I had the OB shaft.  In fact, that was one of my biggest "OMG" moments was when I was cut this in.

But as I telling Joe about how good I was cutting balls with that OB shaft, I sliced that shot in, first try. Clean, never touched the cloth.  He just laughed.  I continued to shoot shots, make balls, and get position that I had been overunning for months with my OB shaft.

I'm still not sure if I'm happy or sad about this. I mean, I'm ecstatic that I shot so well and how comfortable it felt; but at the same time, I am a little disappointed in what happened to my game while using the OB shaft.  Now, *maybe*, it's a comfort thing. I shot well with the stock shaft for nearly a year before going to the OB... so my body is used to it? Or maybe because there's still a glitch in my stroke, the OB is enhancing that glitch, whereas the stock shaft is more forgiving?

Regardless, I'm going to play this entire week with the stock and shaft then re-evaluate how things are going.  Below are some of the shots I was shooting, most of which I have not been able to do with my OB for some reason - especially the big draw shots for some reason.

 

 

This one was weird, I haven't been able to really draw the ball too well the last month or 2, so when I got too straight in on the 7, I decided to draw back for the 8. Being that the 7 was 5 feet away, I figured I had to hit this pretty good.  Turns out, I hit way too good and over-drew the ball 3 feet!

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Filed Under: Stroke

Just Some Thoughts

I haven't been playing too often, and have skipped out on the last 2 weekly tournaments.  I'm clearly not ready for them - although I know that by continuing to play in them I can only figure out how to play in them. *shrug*  I've been playing a local, Zac, who's been really stepping up his game lately.  2 weeks ago, he offered me 10-8 in one pocket to pass the time.  We played 2 games, I won 2 games. They weren't big wins, but they were wins.  Each game I fouled at least once, so it was essentially 10-9 or 10-10, but still, it's a win.  Last week we changed it to 9-8 and I think we ended even at the end of the night.  This week, we again did 9-8, and I won the set 3-2.  I realize that he's playing more than I am and he should be passing me by now, but either the bet isn't high enough to make him really care (which has said before) or he hasn't really learned when to play safe.  He is absolutely moving better these days though. And he banks way better than I do, so I'm not sure how he's not winning.  Actually, I do.  It's when his misses a safe - badly. I will likely get 4 - 6 balls when he misses a safe.

And right there is when I let him back into the game.  I will 4 or 5 balls, leaving me with needing just a few to all of his and instead of playing the game "properly", I continue to play the game I played in the opening portion, move balls to my side, hide the CB.  This has almost never worked well for me, yet I continue to do it. :( Now, I do usually win the rack, but when I'm up 6-0 in ball count and I win the game 8-7, that is NOT good.

I'm hoping that by me writing this out, it will be the engraving my brain needs to fix this issue.

I've also noticed that my stroke has developed a lean to it.  My arm isn't perfectly perpendicular to the floor/cue and it's causing me to twist my wrist just enough to put some unwanted right enlish on the ball.  I can't say I'm entirely surprised - with all the varying stroke mechanics I've tried recently coupled with the overall lack of playing time - it makes sense that my arm would be a little out of whack.  However, because of this - I've re-developed a fear of a long straight-in shot.  I've lost several ring-games and a few 1P games because of that flaw.  Again, I'm hoping that by writing this out, my brain will pick up on the post-it note to fix it.

Not sure how much I'll get to play this weekend, but I'm hoping it's a good amount.  I need to start preparing for the weekly 9-ball league that's forming out at Cue & Cushion. I'm really excited about this. 9-ball on the 9 foot tables! None of those tables are easy either and they all play pretty darn well.  The only downside is that place tends to get pretty warm whenever it's above 75 outside.  That's really annoying sometimes.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · One Pocket

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