Getting in The Box

Two weeks ago, one of my regular pool rooms decided to implement an in-house King of the Hill style event.  It's inspired by what Finnegan did on the tv show The Hustlers. As one would expect, there was a lot of speculation and wonder as to who would make the initial top 10 list.  And, just as one would expect, when the list was finally released there were a lot of questions and surprises.  I was not part of the initial list, nor was my frequent sparring partner - despite both of us being quite regular and among the top players in the room.  But, we let that go and just decided to focus on our own game.  Of course, there is a pecking order that we must go through in order get onto the list - we can only challenge the #10 spot, for obvious reasons.  The problem is that there are 4 people I know of waiting to challenge the #10 spot. Among all the talking there's going to be some barking and some other challenges outside of the list that happen - and it is here that I find myself.  

Another shooter well known in the area has been asking me for weight for over a year, despite the fact that the 3 times we've played, he's won each time. We'd been "negotiating" for a while and settled on me giving him 3 games going to 15; though I don't think he needs it.  We're really only about a ball apart, but his experience on the barbox negates that, in my opinion.  Well, about a week after that the peanut gallery gets involved and through some other conversation he says that he'll play me even.  Of course, I get word of this and we adjust the race to 11, even.  This match is happening tonight; though it has been in the works for well over a year. Several people have already said they'll come sweat it, which I'm not sure how I feel about. These sorts of things are bound to happen and if I'm to continue my pool career I must get used to playing with an audience; especially if I hope to win tournaments.

I don't know if I'll be able to record this as I'm supposed to be up there to record an official challenge match so my recording focus will have to be on that.  I'm planning on just setting up the camera and letting it run.  I'll do the scoreboard in post-production for them.  I have a 2nd camera which I'd like to bring so that I can record my match as well - but I need to focus on the match more than the recordings.  I really want to win this set. It's for only a little more than bragging rights and assuming I do win, I'm sure the old requests for weight will come back immediately.  At which point I will need to examine the match to see if I won because he played poorly or if I'm simply a touch more seasoned.

Players often want weight based on their worst game, which is obviously not accurate.  Similarly, people sometimes offer weight based on their best game (I've been guilty of this) which is equally not accurate.  It is for these primary reasons that I believe all relatively skilled players should just start by playing even a few times.  A single race to 11 isn't really long enough to let all the rolls even out or to see all sides of a player.  Several races to 11 would accomplish this; though it is difficult for some who just lost a race to play again without adjusting. Luck plays a huge part in a set and some days people are more (or less) lucky than others, regardless of their skill.

The mental game will be, in my opinion, the deciding factor tonight.  Both of us can make the same shots, we both have good breaks and good safety knowledge.  Execution will be key, but that still comes from the mental game.  Whichever of us keeps their head clearer, I think, will come out on top. I've put together my little cheat-sheet of thoughts to focus on throughout the day and during the match. (I'd link to where I got this idea but akaTrigger's blog doesn't allow for searching anymore; although if I recall, she got this tip from Phil Capelle) I'm also going to watch some of my better matches, including one where I put together my first 3-pack:

I'm looking forward to the match, but I'm also looking forward to being done with it so I can stop focusing on it. haha

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Filed Under: 9-Ball

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