I decided to head out to Olathe, KS for the Midwest 9-Ball Tour stop in Olathe, KS last weekend.  It’s always a good time and it’s nice to get out of town once in a while.  I like the measure-up aspect of going there to see just how my game has come along; even though I’m often disappointed with the results.

My only concern was that it was the day after Halloween – and I tend to enjoy that holiday quite a lot.  This year was no different, other than I might have enjoyed it a little too much.  The drive across the state was not fun and I tried to nap as much as possible.  But, after a couple of hours of car-sleep I felt like a human again and was ready to go.

I’ve been on this weird streak of drawing some real top-name players early in the tournament, and this time was no exception.  My first match, I drew Darren Everret – a top regional player.  I didn’t get too much time to warm up before the match, as I had arrived late thanks to some traffic on the road.  Darren wins the flip and off we go.  Honestly, I don’t remember too much about this match.  I know that he got out on a few racks that were really impressive.  Racks that I looked at from the chair and thought, “Where’s he gonna play safe?” … only to watch as he picked apart the problems using caroms and combos then drained the 9 in the corner.  I played pretty decently when I got the chance. He got off to a quick 4-0 lead, then I got a couple of racks where he broke dry or missed a safe. I had a very nice break and run to get my 3rd rack.  But, at the end of the day, I made a couple extra errors, and he just didn’t make any. I lost 9-4.  Darren would go on to take 2nd place this weekend, losing to Mark Haddad in the finals.

My next match wasn’t until Saturday at 5pm, so I had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the environment.  I didn’t get into any action, just played with a friend for a little bit, then went to the hotel and slept a good long night’s sleep.  Saturday I got up, got ready and went for breakfast. Took my time drinking coffee and waking up. I got to the room around 3 and hit some balls to warm up.  At 4:30 I went to check in for my match and discovered that my opponent had to quit the tournament for personal reasons, which gave me an automatic win and moved me to the next round – which played at 8:30.

I had a small bit of food and waited for the finals of the One Pocket tournament to begin.  Joey Gray’s 9-ball match took a little longer than expected, and so by the time he was done with that, I was just about to play my next match.  Luckily, I had a friend monitor my camera and I filmed the finals to watch later.  I still haven’t watched it, but heard it was an amazing set.

At 8:15 I went to check in for my match and found that I was playing Mike Durbin, of Durbin Custom Cues; who is friends with my cuemaker, Josh Treadway.  I was really nervous about this match for some reason, mostly cuz it’s a name I recognize and Josh joked with me prior “Beat him with a Treadway!” – a nice little pun about Jim Buss’s tagline “Run over your opponent with a BUSS”.

I felt the adrenaline from the start of the match, the drive and focus and the nervous energy; but I wasn’t shaky – like normal nervous jitters; strange.  Whatever I was doing, was working as I found myself up 5-1.  He was making some strange errors – and even stranger still was he wasn’t getting any rolls at all.  Working really hard through a tough rack, then on the 8, bumps into the 9, makes it and the cueball banks cross-corner into the pocket — kind of weird stuff.  But, the water or my lead drained the adrenaline from me and I felt that nervous/focus energy dissipate.  He caught up and tied it at 5, then took the lead at 6; and I thought to myself – well, I think he’s supposed to beat me?  Then I countered “so what?! I wanna win – how awesome would that be?!”  I tried to get back some of that adrenaline, but couldn’t generate it. However, I kept my head in the game and took advantage when I could and tied it at 7. He broke and nearly ran the next rack, but bobbled a ball late, and I cleaned up to get on the hill, 8-7.  Then I broke dry, but left him tough, he tried it and left the 1 in front of a cluster of balls on the side rail and the cue nearly parallel with it.  But, the 9 wasn’t too far from the corner pocket, and the 1 did go into the side, but the rest of the rack of a mess.  I decided that I would go for the carom on the 9.  I looked it a little longer than the 45 second shot-clock guideline, but finally got down and sent the cue ball into the 1, it glances on the tangent line, then the forward took and cut into the 9; which hesitantly dropped into the pocket to win the match!  I win 9-7!!

My next match was just 10 minutes later, barely enough time for me to grab my cigarettes and check on the 1p finals.  I played another name I had heard before: Mike Wagaki.  Unfortunately, all my luck and patience had been depleted in the previous match, and this guy was taking 1-2 minutes on nearly every shot. I was falling asleep.  And in my haste to get going in the match I might have not taken the time I needed to ensure a solid pre-shot routine.  As such, I missed some balls I should never miss; and I wasn’t getting any of the rolls.  In short: I dogged the entire match.  I lost 9-2 – but the match took longer than my match with Durbin.  I was out, and I was furious.  Oh well.  I held it together during the match pretty well, other than complaining under my breath about the terribly slow play.  Next time I will be going to get a shot-clock from the tournament directors.

I spent the rest of the night watching other people gamble.  I saw sets for $1,500, $3,000 and $3,500 – all from the same 2 guys, and the same guy lost each one; not to mention the side-bets going on.  The barking and woofing was pretty entertaining, and reminded me of Derby.  A game-maker/backer was bored and decided to throw a pretty drunk top player into action with a young and sober and eager local hot stick; it didn’t end well, but I was still impressed with just how well the drunk guy played and could extrapolate from there what his sober game would be.  I’ll probably draw him next time. lol

Sunday we left early and stopped off in Columbia to visit a friend and hang out.  Played some pool and I found out that my break is perfect for table 8 at Billiards on Broadway.  The pop’n’stop SVB patented break was in full effect for me.  That just felt awesome to do it consistently.

Overall, I’m mostly pleased with my performance this weekend.  I made it one round further than I have in the past, even if it was by the grace of a forfeit.  I got a match win – a legitmate win, against a tough opponent.  I got to watch some great pool all weekend.  And I look forward to the next one!

I wont even bother mentioning the disaster that was my league match last night.  I clearly need more sleep than I used to.