I’ve been playing randomly for years. I had a table at home when I was in highschool, but after that only played whenever a bar had one available. (Frequently you could find me at the table at Rocket Bar [RIP] or at Hi-Pointe [RIP].)
It seems as though my job search would lead me to more pool. In 2001 I took a job in Chesterfield, which inevitably led me to Chesterfield Billiards about a year later. It was a fantastic place. They had seven 9ft tables and 12 7ft bar tables. The place was well kept, clean and the food was pretty decent as a bonus. I played mostly during my lunch hour which was a limited exposure, but still valuable. It was there I learned the true meaning of “a lot of green”. The cue-ball loved to sit on the rail it seemed. It was also there where I purchased my first cue; based almost entirely on the look and only a little bit on the weight and performance. However, it was a valuable learning experience. Having my own cue meant I was able to play with a consistent tool. I abandoned the vice of hand powder for a shaft-slicker and I learned the value of tip maintenance. I played there quite a lot and often after work for a few hours. Sadly the hall closed and I had to move on.
As luck would have it, another job switch in 2004 placed me close to another venue. So, between 2004 and 2007 I played at least three times a week at The Pink Galleon. It was nearby, almost always empty, and it served food. I practiced several things during those hours, trying to solidify my game. I tried to ensure my form was the same each time – first and foremost. Secondly, I tried to learn how to use english properly. There was another player there frequently, and we used to play whenever possible. He was very consistent and was an excellent source of tips and tricks. He continued to school me on the table though; and all the while telling me I had to get over to this other pool hall with nicer tables, but an excellent staff and selection of products. I never managed to get there.
I switched jobs in 2007 which moved me away from the galleon. I spent the first year at my new job reading during lunch and didn’t get to play too often. Then one day I decided to see if there were any pool halls near my work. As it turns out, there was: Cue & Cushion. This is a full service pool center. They sell everything related to the game and are a family owned place. I started going there once in a while to check it out. It’s a very serious place – not for the kids. Groups of older men playing one-pocket with some serious attitudes towards it. Specific tables reserved for one-pocket play only as well as two 3-cushion tables and a snooker table. Most tables are 9ft, but there are two bar tables, complete with the annoying under-table tunnel system for the balls to follow after being pocketed. After some hindsight, I realized this was the place the guy from Pink Galleon was telling me to frequent for services and playing.
Over the years I would catch 9-ball and trick-shot tournaments on ESPN sunday afternoons and I couldn’t turn them off. I would study, as best I could, their form, their choice of english and watch in amazement their position play. Of course, the next day I would go to a hall and try those same trick shots. Sometimes it worked, usually it didn’t. Of course, I didn’t know anything about deflection or throw back then, so I could never understand the shots that required that knowledge – not surprisingly.
I visited that hall at least three times a week for the better part of 2 years and in that time I learned an awful lot. I purchased two cues and a number of other accessory items from them. To be fair, one cue was purchased for my step-daughter who is also very fond of pool. We’ll get to that later. I bought a new cue to replace one that was stolen (along with my truck a few months back) and now I play with a Lucasi E7. A big thanks goes out to Chris who works during the day there for helping me, answering all of my inane questions and giving me a pretty good deal to boot! It was then (Summer of 2009) that I decided that I was going to commit to learning how to play pool correctly and properly. I became as student of the game. I bought videos and books monthly, and started doing drills. I bought a video camera and started watching myself, to review my form, my shot selection and most importantly my execution.
I’d become entirely absorbed by pool. I watch pool videos and streaming events online as often as I can, I search for other pool players’ blogs, I watch other players at the hall, I listen to the instructors when they’re giving lessons. Then I started this blog to document my own progress, achievements and failures alike.
At one point I played 4 nights a week, between various leagues. I’m currently an SL6/7 in APA (though I don’t play in the handicap league anymore), I still play APA Masters and I play in the in-house league at Cue & Cushion as an A. I’m playing with a Treadway Custom Cue and I scored a sweet deal from Mike Fieldhammer on a Predator BK2 with an OBBreak shaft.