Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big Weekend of Pool

I spent most of Saturday (until 1 AM) playing a 10-ball tournament here in Las Vegas. The tournament was part of a local tour. Having never played 10-ball before, I mainly went for the experience and to see some of the very best players in Las Vegas. That said, imagine my surprise and delight to have a decent run and make it into the money - placing 7th/8th out of 51 of the best players in Vegas!

Even though I didn't join the tour until its fourth stop, that finish actually put me within striking distance of having enough points to make it into the final event at the end of the tour. I'm very glad I went and learned a lot just by watching some of the great players there. I even heard someone utter the infamous line "that wasn't so great of a run out, all of his shots were easy." I shot really well the first couple of matches, then struggled in the 3rd match against the person who eventually won the tournament (he was struggling too - it was an agonizing hill-hill match, to be honest). I then had a couple of decent wins on the one-loss side of the board to land me in my final resting place of 7th/8th.

As I always try to do, I came out of the tournament with a couple of "lessons learned"... one of the early matches was the first time I've ever lost a game to the "three foul rule" so I need to be more wary of that in the future. I'll give my opponent credit, it was a very good play on his part. I won the match against him anyway, so the lesson learned didn't cost me too much. My second "lesson learned" was to keep a better eye out for a shot on the money ball(s) when I get ball-in-hand. There were not one but two situations in matches on the one-loss side of the board where I had ball-in-hand and was actually lining up on a shot to sink the next object ball when I realized there was a reasonable combo on a money ball. Luckily, I caught each of them in time... and sunk both combos for wins. If I'm not mistaken, both of those wins were actually match wins rather than just game wins. Playing mostly APA 9-ball, I guess I'm used to playing for points rather than looking for the money ball. And since I've never played 10-ball, I'm definitely not used to looking for the 10-ball!

Last night, I had a great 9-ball match in APA league play. I was up against a higher skill level player whom I've played several times before. The two of us are very competitive, and we always seem to bring out each other's best games. I was shooting well, and managed to jump to a substantial lead. With only two points to go for the win, he missed a very tough thin rail cut shot on the 7-ball, which was about a diamond and a half away from the pocket on the head rail. He inched the 7-ball closer to the pocket for me, but it was still a tough angle (probably around 80 degrees) and a long shot... more than three-quarters of the table. I made the 7, but then watched the cue ball slowly roll the length of the table to its final resting place in the corner pocket for a scratch. Under the conditions, I'm not sure if there's much I could have done differently - I may not have made the shot if I took much speed off the cue ball; and given the thin cut, I didn't have many options as far as English goes. Anyway, my opponent seized the opportunity and pretty much ran three racks while I watched for an incredible come from behind victory. It's always disappointing for the "it ain't over til it's over" maxim to apply to the other guy, but I can't feel bad about forcing someone to play like a pro for three racks just to eek out a two-point victory. Kudos to him!

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