DCC 2014 Trip Review

How can I even begin to write a wrap-up of my DCC trip?  I mean... it's DERBY!  Almost half the stuff I saw/heard, I can't publish online and the other half is being streamed on the internet. ;)

I guess that means this entry will be a highlights-only entry.  So, with that, lets get down to it:

  • Hearing Corey Dueul say to Mark Wilson "I'm just saying, the last time I was on the team, we won."
  • Earl playing a young unknown kid from Hawaii one pocket, kid is shooting at stuff you "don't shoot at" and getting away with it.  Comments included "he wouldn't shoot that against Efren!" and "You know how LUCKY that shot was?! He never would've made that against Efren.", "Man this is a funny cue-ball.  Funniest damn cueball I ever seen."  But my favorite was while the kid was taking some time to find a way out of Earl's break, Earl is squirming in his chair and finally says "What are you waiting for? Bank the 5 and run out! You take too long."  The kid banks the 5 and runs 5 more before getting out of line and has to play safe.  Earl lost the match eventually.
  • After Efren won a match with who I assume was a friend, the loser comes over and says something about the match. Efren says in his little voice: "What can I do? You play bad."
  • Meeting both Lou Figourea and John Barton (of JB Cases) and hearing them make comments to other people about each other's games.
  • Watching a dispute about stealing a ball from the tray nearly come to fisticuffs in the dead silence of the action room mid afternoon, to which Alex Olinger (playing on the next table) says to his opponent "NOW it's Derby!".
  • Heard about a match with a friend of mine, where they were going to play a 6-Ahead set. Friend loses the flip, guy breaks, no shot, freezes CB against a ball for safe, opponent then RUNS THE SET out.  Runs out that rack, then breaks and runs the next 5 to get to 7.
  • Same friend against someone else throws up a SEVEN-pack in a 7-ahead race the next day.
  • Regional players playing for BIG stakes, every night.
  • Watching Earl come back from down 3-8 to win EIGHT racks in a row to advance in the 10-Ball Bigfoot Challenge against Oscar.
  • Watching straight pool, banks and one pocket all at the same time, depending on what direction I turned my head while in the balcony.
  • Getting to meet and play a local player finally, after years of hearing his name around town.
  • Playing one pocket again.
  • mmmmm Diamond tables!!
  • Watching Billy Incardona match up with Scooter
  • During the Earl/Oscar match Earl being Earl... also pointing at Shane in the crowd once, adding "He knows how hard that shot was!". And Shane, sitting next to Jayson Shaw are busting up laughing.
  • Listening/watching the backers and calcutta buyers squirm and complain and praise their players, the draw ... and everything.
  • Walking into the tournament the first time.
  • Running into a friend 5 mins after walking in, he offers to "find out who's buying who a drink" and takes out a coin ... I win the flip, he buys me a drink.  I'm up already after just walking in! haha

And now ... some pictures:



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Filed Under: Tournaments

First NAPA Night

Last night was the first night of the new session in the recently founded NAPA league in my town. First impressions were good overall.  I joined a team captained by a player I know loves playing, is a good shot, and a good strategist when it comes to getting people games and getting the team to Nationals.

The division we're in is a small one, with only 5 teams at the moment, across three locations.  So, last night it was just two teams matching up.  It's a double-jeopardy league, 8-ball and 10-ball.  The other team had some player issuers (missing players) so they had to forfeit one round.  They picked up a player that was just hanging out in the room, he shot well and was gifted his first wins in any league he's ever played.  Sucks for us, but good for him - hopefully he'll stick around.  Seemed nice enough.

For me, I had an absolutely stellar night.  Even though I missed a couple break'n'run opportunities, I was still able to play almost perfect pool.  It helped that my opponent was having an off-night.  I played 8-ball first, and after losing the 1st rack, I won the next 4 by just playing smart. Defense instead of aggression.  Although, when I found myself in this position, I knew the shot was a favorite for me to make it.

I overhit the 10 ball a bit and nearly hooked myself on the 9 ball.  I had the only edge I needed however, for the cross-corner bank.  The trick was to play the cue-ball 4 rails for shape on the 8-ball.  The tables were playing really short on the multi-rail positions, so I made a little adjustment, and fired it.  The 9-wobbled, but it dropped and once the CB got out of the upper corner, I knew I was in good shape to win the match.



Later, in my 10-ball match I drew the same player again. I lost the lag, but it didn't stop me from winning 4 racks in a row to win the match.  In the 3rd rack, after making the 6-9 combo, I mis-judged where the 6 would go and ended up nearly frozen to the back of the 6. I was nearly dead straight in anyway, so I knew if I could just jack up and do a little masse-draw I'd probably get a good enough angle on the 8 to get to the 10.  It worked better than I could've planned.



It helped that I cut the 6 a little bit, which gave the CB a little curving action to even better get across table for the easy 8-to-10 route.

The captain is confident that I'll likely win top-shooter in 10-ball, she's familiar with my game from the APA so it isn't just one night's opinion.  It's kind of a lot of pressure, but it's also flattering, and I do look forward to seeing just how far I can go.

Now for the NAPA specifics.  First and foremost, every shot is a CALL BALL/POCKET shot.  E.v.e.r.y. shot.  That's awesome.  No slop.  Also, I can push-out after the break in 10-ball.  In 8-ball, the table is open after the break, regardless of what suite you make.  So, no punishment for the breaker (a very common thing in barbox 8-ball).  I can call a SAFE shot and pocket my own ball, making the opponent shoot from where the cueball lies.  I haven't needed that rule yet, but I can really see its advantage.  And lastly, jump-cues ARE allowed.

As for skill levels, I'm a 6 in APA 8-ball, so I'm starting at a 70 in NAPA, but after beating an 80 (twice) last night, I'll likely go to a 75 (so thinks the people with experience).  The ratings are adjusted every week, so there's no point in someone sandbagging.  It doesn't really help them individually - but it really hurts the team when someone loses a match.  Another thing I really like about the NAPA format - it's centered on the team's performance, as a whole.  Losing a match, gets your team, at most 3 points.  Winning a match, secures 14 points (or 20, if your opponent doesn't win a single rack).  A player can earn extra points FOR THE TEAM by breaking and running out, or making the money ball on the break.  It doesn't do anything for you, personally (no skill level adjustments, etc).

Last night, I had it kind of easy, I had a 4-5 race (me going to 4) in both 8 and 10 ball formats; I don't expect that to be the case next week.  And since there's only a handfull of higher skill levels, I imagine I'll have to start giving games on the wire pretty soon.  Time will tell.

Tonight is the 1st round of playoffs for APA Masters.  If I understand everything correctly, if we win tonight, we're guaranteed to go to Vegas, as the 98% sure winner of the other match has already qualified for Vegas.  So... this is an exciting time for me/pool.

Monday begins the spring session of the in-house league at Cue & Cushion; where I've finally been raised to an A - after I told the LO that if I'm on the fence, just put me over the edge. I'm gonna need to bring my game every week, there's 17 players this time; so every match is worth a significant amount of money - projecting to the end-league winnings.

Next Friday, I'll be at the DERBY CITY CLASSIC!! :) :)

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Filed Under: 10-Ball · 8-Ball · League

Happy New Year 2014

I, for one, am quite glad to see 2013 firmly in the history books.  Though it was a great year in some aspects, it was a horrible year in others.  I played some of my best (and worst) pool ever.  I went to Vegas with my APA team.  I went to my first Derby City Classic, and I placed better in every tournament I entered than any previous attempt. I won more money on the table than lost. Overall, it was a fairly good year for my game.

A couple of quick things before I run off to league:

1) In reading through the history here, it sounds like I've been stagnant for two years.  Every couple of months I post a rant about not playing where I should be, not feeling like I should, not getting the runouts I should, etc.  It got me thinking: what have I actually done?  So I watched some old runout videos (and a lot of blown runouts) and I compared them to the newer ones I have. In doing so, I realized something great.  I'm a better player, overall, than I was 2 years, even just one year ago. I do actually play smarter than I used to.  I play better shape than I used to.  I adjust to table conditions more rapidly and I have great control on my finess shots.  So, while my percentage of runouts is roughly about the same, the way I get them now is head and shoulders above what they were.  I rely much less on luck during my runouts.  Before, in almost every one of my runouts, there's a fluked ball, or a good bounce.  In the newer ones, it's much more precise and and clean.  I'm quite happy with that.

2) I got a new tip the other day: a Kamui Brown Medium.  I had been wanting to try something a little harder than the Kamui Black Soft or Black King (nearly the same); so I went for a Medium.  I went with a brown over a black only because of availability.  Now, it's not as hard as I was hoping, but it's not as soft as the others either.  And best of all, it came pre-shaped in a dime-radius.  I've forgotten how much I like that shape.  I don't know if it was the tip, or just that I was swinging purely that night, but I shot one stroke shot better than I have in a long time.  Check the video below:

The best strokes are back-to-back starting at the 2:50 mark, on the 7 ball (oddly enough) and 10 ball. I hit it perfectly rail-first and the cue ball comes back 3 rails with inside spin with enough juice to bounce several inches off the 3rd rail.  I've called this "The Shane Shot" because there was recently a video of Shane shooting this on a diamond to get position on the ball nearest the cueball (assuming the corner was blocked to shoot it where I stood). You can really tell when I hit it good as the cueball picks up speed off the 1st and 2nd rails.  In the sequence, I do miss a couple balls, but 7/9 on that shot? I'm fine with that. :)

3) I don't subscribe to new years resolutions per se, but I will say that I have every intention to continue my improvement this year. To earn that A ranking in the local league system.  To earn every win I get because I outplayed my opponent and took the win, not because they dogged it less than I did. To cash in as many tournaments, no matter how big or small, as I can.  To not let up on my opponent when I have the lead, to "Kill The Bunny".

Here's to a great start in 2014!

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Filed Under: Gear · General · Stroke

Tournaments and Leagues Update

The 8-Ball doubles "Captain's Tournament" went pretty well.  We started off well, played a couple of great matches, but eventually stumbled one too many times, and lost the match would've put us in the money.  It was a good time overall and it was by far the best ran APA sponsored tournament I've been to yet. No table was left empty for more than a couple minutes and they moved the 32 teams through the brackets swimmingly.  Afterwards, I had some drinks, then got propositioned to play a guy a race to 7, giving him the 8 ball on someone else's dime.  His "backer" was being quite a nag most of the day, so I took the game, despite having already started drinking.  I took the match 7-5. :)

The following Monday was the "End of Session" pizza party and prize handouts for the in-house 9-Ball league at Cue & Cushion.  Going into the last playing week, I knew that if I won my match I'd be in 6th for sure.  I also knew that if any of the 3-5th place players lost I'd take their spot, since our records would be the same, but I've won more racks, which determines the tie.  Not just one, but unbelievably ALL THREE players lost, rocketing me to THIRD place!!  I was ecstatic (that money's going with me to the DCC)!  I end the session with a record of 8 wins and 5 losses.  Not too terrible. There were a couple of matches I let slip through my fingers, which would'be put me into 2nd with a 10-3 record, but I just couldn't close them.  Always next time.  It's possible I might get raised to an A in that league though. Only 1 or matches were won because I got weight from the player; most of the wins were by more than 2, so we'll see what the LO finds out when he crunches the numbers.  I'm fine with going to an A, I might struggle a little more, but I also might get a little more focused knowing I don't have a headstart.

Currently, only the Masters session is the only active league for me and in some ways, I just don't care.  We can't catch first (which guarantees a trip to Vegas), and we're battling it out for 2nd place, which doesn't really get us much ... other than determine which team we play in playoffs.  Plans for next session are kinda up in the air right now. There's been some talk of some people leaving, then flipping back to staying.  I'm under the impression that if we stick around, then we should make every effort to win the damn thing and go to Vegas - at least to claim our reward for the session's dues.

I've talked to a few people around and it looks like I'm pencilled in to join a NAPA 8/10 league at the start of the next session.  It's barbox, but it's a cash league and I fully intend on doing well.  I'm excited to play 10-ball, but my "dues" are that I have to also play 8-ball. *shrug* It's with an entirely new group of people, so it'll be interesting getting to know more people.  The captain of the team and I get along pretty well and I kinda know a couple of the other players, so it's not like I'm totally new to everyone at least. Rest assured, I'll be posting about that experience when I get there.

Tomorrow I'm planning on hitting the new weekly 9-ball tournament at The Break, hopefully I'll do reasonably well there. We'll see how it goes.

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Filed Under: 10-Ball · 8-Ball · 9-Ball · League · Tournaments

More Tournaments

This weekend is host the annual captain's tournament put on the local APA.  It's scotch-doubles 8-ball.  I was asked by a strong 4 and I'm a 6, so we play as a 10. The SL limit is 12, so we'll be getting some weight more often then giving it.  I like our chances - if I can keep my 8-ball brain in the game.

If it weren't for that, I'd enter in the new weekly 9-ball tournament over at The Break; which just started last weekend.  It's a normal $10 weekly deal, race to 5 or somethinng that. I'm looking forward to trying that out next weekend.  Their first event had just 7 players, so I'm hoping I can get in some wins before it gets too crowded with stronger A players.  But, that's a bit optimistic as I have no idea who those 7 players were; and the place isn't known for having a lot of ducks sitting around. heh

I'm really hoping that playing in more tournaments will toughen up my nerves a bit.  After the t-giving tournament where I fell apart under the pressure of an audience, I'm looking for more ways to cut my teeth, so to speak.  I don't really have the money to gamble anymore, but tournaments give me the chance to get loose in the early rounds (who watches early round matches?) and hopefully solidify my mindset by the time I get to the semi-finals, where there will be an audience of other players, watching and (not so) silently judging me. haha


Filed Under: 8-Ball · 9-Ball · Tournaments

2013 Thanksgiving Tournament Review (Kenny's)

I had a bit of milestone with this tournament.  I cashed!! Barely. I finished in 8th, out of 43 players.  It's the bottom rung of the payout, but I at least got my quarters back from the day!

The tournament started Saturday afternoon, and despite my best intentions, I had attended an 8-ball tournament the night before to support a friend.  As such, I overslept a bit and woke up around 10:30.  I had originally planned on being at the room by then, since I understood that signups ended at 11.  But, I forgot to factor in one thing: this is pool, and tournaments almost never start on time.  Which was a good thing, as it turned out.  I got there a little after 11, registered and ordered a giant coffee and breakfast.

I got "lucky" and drew the BYE the first round, which meant I had to sit around an extra hour or so waiting for my first match.  Finally, around 2:30 I was called to play.  I was rated a 7 in this tournament and I was playing an 11, though he was kid about 17 years old. Drake N.  I won the flip, broke, made a ball - then proceeded to RUN OUT! Nice!!  Drake broke, got bad on the 2, missed a safe, and RAN OUT again! Super nice!  Then I broke and left a mess of a table, but Drake worked it out and gets his first point.  Then he broke and ran.  From here, we basically traded games until I got to the hill, where he pulled three games ahead of me, making 6 to 9, but he missed a tough 9 to get to his hill, which I sank to take the first match!

I waited another couple of hours, then had to play Jessie - a guy I know from way back in the MO8 Days.  He's a 6, I got off to an early lead, not making a single mistake, not missing balls and playing great shape.  But, Jessie fought back, I lost some magic and quickly found myself hill-hill with him before too long.  But, my saving grace was the shot he had missed the entire match on the 6 (near the 3rd diamond on the long rail); which he again missed, leaving a pretty easy 4 ball out for me.

Next I had to play the only woman in the tournament.  She, too, was a 6.  I snapped the 9 on the first rack, but then everything fell apart. I was having a hard time concentrating/focusing on the table.  Her husband was near and really cheering her on, kinda got under my skin for some reason.  She was a very slow player, taking a lot of time between shots.  But, like any seasoned bar table player, she made the shots, but rarely played any position that was more than stop/stun or slow-roll.  I kept trying to force the tide to turn, but it just couldn't happen. I lost 6-4.

That match would've put me in the final 4 on the winner's side, but as it was, I ended up in the final 8 on the 1-loss side (final 12 overall).  I needed to win one more to get into the top 8.  I drew an old "nemesis" of sorts.  He's a 9 and we've had a bit of history around the tournaments, as well just playing locally.  It started off pretty dead even, trading racks exactly until it was 4-5 him, then 4-6, but then I pulled one out and then another tying it at 6, me on the hill.  But, he gets two more and now it's hill-hill again! Then two of the best/worst things happened: I played the best lock-up safety I've ever played, on the 7 ball no less.  With ball in hand, and 3 balls on the table, it should've been over in 3 strokes.  I make the 7, but come 4 inches too far on the 8 and have to back-cut down the long rail and let the cue-ball float foward to get to the 9 on the bottom rail.  I over-cut it, but also loose the cue-ball, hooking him entirely on the 8!  He kicks and almost makes it, but instead leaves an 8-9 combo, which I make to knock him out of the tournament (and the money). 

I was ecstatic! I hadn't beaten him in a long time, and while we started playing around the same time, he had progressed more than I had.  I still don't like his game, his stance or stroke - but the fact is, he makes balls pretty darn well. *shrug*

Next match, for 6th place, which was a GIANT gap in payouts, since I bought myself in the calcutta, which started paying at 6th place. I would quadruple my winnings, if I could get there.  I anxiously watched the match that would determine my opponent.  As it turned out, I had to play Drake again!

At this point, it's near midnight, and I can feel that I just don't have any energy left.  My mind is wandering, and I have zero focus.  Drake seemed to be in much better form than when we had played 10 hours ago.  He made far fewer mistakes and I made far more.  I missed a couple 9 balls, and some other ridiculously easy shots.  I was done.  Plain and simple.  My previous match had drained me entirely.  Not coffee nor mountain dew nor water was helping.  I went down 11-4.

I did notice some things that I hadn't had to deal with all day: there was an audience.  Since there were only two matches going on at this time, there were a lot of people sitting/standing around and watching my match.  Including the guy I knocked out, and some others I had defeated earlier.  I felt so much more "on the spot" - actually I felt more nervous than when I play on the stream table during the midwest 9-ball tournaments.  It was strange.

I then noticed another part of me thinking about how much it would suck to get knocked out by the same guy who sent ya to the left side the first round.  In other words, I wasn't focusing on ME and MY match.  Instead, I was thinking about everything else:  "What will these railbirds think? What will Drake think? That's gotta suck to play the guy you lost to in the first round. Man, I really want that calcutta money." 

I assumed he'd want revenge, and knowing I had gotten the better of the rolls previously, I hadn't expected to win anyway.  It's no wonder why my game fell apart.  I was mentally everywhere except the table.  I know better than this - but sometimes you just can't pull yourself out of a whirlwind.  This was evident by my game and behavior.  I was back to the negative self-talk, though I cut it off early every time, it still was my go-to response to the table.  I tried breathing and my trigger "that's just silly" phrase.  And all of that helped - for exactly one inning, until I made the next mistake.

Afterwards, I hung around, to watch him lose in the next round to the youngest player there, Ricky Evans, 12. He was an 8 this year (a 5 last year).  Then Ricky lost to a 5, Brett, who would go on to get destroyed 12-2 or something by Gary Lutman in the finals. 

Overall, I am pretty happy with my results.  I mean, this was the first time I played in a big event and made it passed the 4th round, plus I cashed! To top it off, I hadn't done any of my pre-tournament preparation, so I effectively broke that self-made superstition. 

I'm already looking forward to next year's event, as I have new plans for how to prepare and anticipate being a stronger player by then.  Even if I'm an 8 or maybe a 9 (depending on how the word of mouth spreads with my [hopeful] improvement throughout the year), I fully expect to do at least as well as I did this year.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

Rollercoaster ... Of Stroke

Just the other week I posted about how I had found (again) my stroke and how I was so excited to have it back, that my game went up, I had newfound confidence.  Well, those were good times.

Last Monday's league match was quite odd.  All day I had been fighting a headache (which I almost never get), so I took 2 tylenol (first time in probably 8 months I've had medicine of any sort).  It took the headache away pretty handily, but something else happened.  I took the pills around 6, went to play my match at 7.  I didn't play well, but the weird thing was my mental state.  I didn't have "medicine head", but I had absolutely no interest in the game.  I was playing horribly, but just didn't care.  Even when I tried to get upset at myself, to get some blood flowing, to make me focus on the match, it just didn't happen.  I'd walk up and shoot a shot, not even looking at the table to see where I need to be for the runout. I just shot balls in (or didn't, as it happened).  And yet, I still didn't care.  I was getting FOUR games on the wire from this guy, and I should've won as he wasn't playing his best game either - but I just couldn't focus.

I know asprin isn't a "downer", but it really felt like it at the time.  So bizarre.  I mentioned this to someone else and they were equally as surprised.

The following Wednesday, I went to The Break to get some practice time.  I went back to the same table I played on last time and had a terrible night; out of spite.  I wasn't going to let the table freak me out.  I start warming up and the table isn't backing down. So, I switch some drills, to work on some shots that have been giving me trouble lately; and I break out the Jim Rempe training ball to see how accurate I'm cueing.

It turns out, that for a large portion of my shots, where I address the cueball in all my pre-shot strokes, isn't anywhere near where I actually hit the cueball.  Anything with draw is off by a full tip.  I'm hitting the CB a full tip higher than my target location, sometimes I hit a full tip high and off to the right! 

Line-up and all pre-shot strokes point to here:
The mark on the CB after the stroke:

This was shocking and depressing to see.  It was pretty consistent as well.

I deliver the cue straight through, with no side-swing pretty well - so I'm left to assume that my timing is way off and/or I'm subconsciously raising the tip to avoid scooping the CB; which is obviously happening.

What's even scarier is that 95% of the time, I'm getting the CB reaction I expect; which tells me that I really don't understand what's happening with the CB as much as I thought I did.

However, there is one "saving grace" note to add: After I thought about the actual physics of how the tip interacts with the CB, it makes more sense that where I address the "center of the tip - to the cue ball" wouldn't actually be where the "tip hits the cueball".  The tip is round, the ball is round - I'm lining up the centers (so to speak), but when I don't hit the dead center of the CB, I also don't hit the center of the tip.  I hit with the edge closest to the equator of the cue-ball, which is automatically going to look like at least a half-tip wrong - in the direction of the 0,0 axis point of the cueball.  What I mean is, if I'm aiming with low left english, the section of the tip that makes contact with the cueball, is actually the top-right (as I look from behind the tip) section of the tip closest to center/center on the cueball!  Similarly, if I'm aiming with high-right, the area of the tip doing the work is the low-left (from behind) portion.


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Filed Under: General · Stroke · Training

The Most Amazing Shot I've Seen

During the finals of the one pocket event this weekend, Joey Gray, whose pocket is the top left here, was faced with this layout:

 After looking at everything for a good long while, he gets down and fires the cueball into the 1 ball, which then caroms into the 9 and throws the 15 into his pocket.  The 9 hits the 12, which banks into the 6, which then trickles into his pocket as well. The 8 ball goes off the 2 which goes out to the middle of the table, where the 1 ball glances off and ends up in front of his pocket as well.

Here's the resting places of the balls after the shot:


It was quite simply the most amazing shot I've seen.

You can see it in action at this link: http://youtu.be/CiyIrt-FRoY?t=53m7s

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Filed Under: One Pocket

Midwest 9-Ball Review (Nov 2013)

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.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

On The Snap


Last week something awesome happened with my stroke. I rediscovered my *snap*. I hadn't realized it was gone until it showed up again, which might explain why my game as of late has been so stagnant. I knew my stroke was lacking efficiency, but couldn't nail down what exactly was missing. I checked my stance and alignment and I felt like I was bringing my forearm forward before my wrist, but I wasn't getting the kind of CB action I'd expect. I had only recently realized that I'm not following through the cueball, consequently not finishing my stroke. 

So I started to focus on following through.  I even went back to the beginning (and waited for Vizzini) and shot balls off the foot-spot to check my follow-through and stroke line. I was able to pinpoint why I wasn't moving the 3-6 inches beyond the cueball and that helped me feel a little better about things.

Then, in the middle of a set with my practice partner I felt my wrist truly "snap" through the cueball.  And a light went off in my head. I spent the rest of that set trying to enforce that feeling on every shot, no matter the speed. The next set we played, I played much more consistently and much truer to my actual ability. Even though I lost the set on the hill, I was happy at how I played. I told Mike that only in retrospect can I explain that previously my wrist had been stiff and trying to control the cue whereas now I'm back to "throwing" it through the cueball.  My pocketing is more consistent and I'm moving the cueball around with less effort and more accuracy.  I don't feel like I'm fighting the cueball anymore.

The next night was Masters league and I was both anxious and scared to play, hoping that my stroke would still be there.  I had to focus a little bit to get it back and not fall into my old habits.  I didn't play terribly well, but that was because I made bad decisions at that table, I didn't miss shots, I just decided to make everything much harder than it needed to be.  Oh well. 

Friday, I met up with Mike again and we played a couple of sets of 10-Ball.  I lost the first, but won the second, then lost the 3rd.  But, even though I lost the night, I still felt great about how I played overall. I made some really great shots over the course of the night.  For example, here's a really nice out from me, and there's enough various angles here so that my wrist action can be seen. Jump to the 3:34 mark for the start of the run. It's the first rack, so I guess you can wait for it too if you like, or hit the link below the video. (The shots on the 3, 5, and 6 specifically).


I do get the rolls through this set, admittedly, but I also take advantage of the opportunities when they come; which is more important, in my opinion, than getting the rolls.  Most people get opportunities, but not everyone can take full advantage of them.  This has been my biggest obstacle of the last year. I'm hoping to finally clear that hurdle and leave it firmly in the past.

Monday was my other league night and I was playing another B player (we play even). I found myself down 1-3 and playing on a table that I really, really hate and it was my 3rd week in a row playing on it (losing the last 2 weeks).  I decided to not complain about the table and just wait for the table to spit out the balls for the other guy it had been spitting out on me then cleaning up when I got the chance.

The universe took notice of my change of mindset and it gave me the opportunities I sought.  I fought back in the set and even had a break and run - the first in a league match in many months.  Towards the end of the set, every rack was just one inning, unless I played a safety.  I played smart, simple shapes, taking longer shots which ensured good pocket-speed, instead of forcing the cueball around the table for an easy next shot.  I ended up winning the match 9-5.

I stayed and played Mike a quick little race which didn't go well for me as I had gone and stuffed myself silly on mexican food immediatley after my league match.  After he left, I played a race to 9 with another local who was looking to practice his 9-ball game. My food had finally settled and was out of carb-coma by now. I had another break and run during that set, and won that 9-6. 

Overall,  I'm gaining more confidence and I'm getting a lot more comfortable with my stroke. Most importantly, I'm actually excited to play again. And this is awesome timing... as I'm heading out to Olathe, KS for the Midwest 9-Ball tour stop there this weekend. I'm really hoping to stay on the right side of the bracks for more than 1 round this time. 

I'll report back next week with results.

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Filed Under: Stroke

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