Thursday, September 30, 2010

Off to Arizona!

I'm packing my bags to head down to the Phoenix area tomorrow where I'll be participating in an APA Regional tournament at Bullshooters over the weekend. The APA uses regional tournaments each Fall and Spring to feed into their annual National Championships. The winners of each tier at this tournament advance to the 2011 APA National Singles Championships next spring.

I was fortunate enough to participate in the 8-ball Classic at the 2010 APA Nationals earlier this year and would definitely love to repeat again next year (and the next year...). I'll be playing 9-ball this weekend; I unfortunately didn't qualify for 8-ball in the Fall Regionals. I've already qualified for both 8-ball and 9-ball in the Regionals next Spring, giving me a couple more chances to make the Nationals.

I just noticed fellow blogger Samm Diep rolled through Bullshooters last weekend with a victory, so I'm going to do my best to follow in her footsteps. Thanks for warming up the tables Samm! Her comments about Bullshooters posted earlier today couldn't have had better timing - I'm now looking forward to trying out the homemade beef jerky for sure... and probably the sliders... and the gyros. Mmmm, it doesn't sound like I'll go hungry!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Caroming to Regionals

I qualified for the APA 8-ball Classic Spring Regionals today, after losing in the finals in previous qualifiers more times than I would have liked. The final match was a tough one - I wasn't shooting particularly well, and my opponent was a worthy one. I survived mostly on strategy and some reasonable safety play... but nevertheless, he was on the hill and I was playing catch up.

I don't think it was an intentional safety play, but my opponent left me in the position shown (layout is approximate - I doubt I have the angles right, just trying to get the general point across). We both had two balls remaining, his were in better position, I didn't have any decent offensive shots available and didn't really see any great defensive possibilities either (my best thought was to thin the 13-ball and leave the cue ball down on the end rail).

Anyway, given the overall situation, I decided to carom the 13 off the 7 and into the corner. I figured best case I'd make the 13 and worse case there was a decent chance the 13 would at least block the pocket... and the 7-ball would end up at the other end of the table. The complication with this carom (as if caroms aren't complicated in the first place) was that the 13 would have to make a fairly full hit on the 7 to get the proper angle which means most of its energy would be transferred to the 7. The 13 had a reasonable distance to go after the carom, so I knew I'd have to hit it firmly for the 13 to have enough energy to get to the pocket.

Well, I'm happy to say I ended up with the best case scenario. The 13 dropped, the 7 cleared, I was left with good shape on the 10, and had a fairly easy run out to get on the hill.

The final game was even uglier... lousy layout from the start, a massive cluster of stripes (my balls) along the long rail, and rolls simply weren't going my way. I was frustrated for sure, but stayed patient. My opponent put together a good run or two and before I knew it he was on the 8-ball and I still had all my balls on the table. Of course, that's not always a bad thing! I slowly but surely kept improving my position while waiting for a good run out opportunity. I hooked him very effectively at least three times on the 8, forcing him to kick at it and never really gave him a good shot. There was actually a point in the game that I wondered if I could win without sinking a single ball! Not wanting to push my luck, I finally started sinking some balls and ran all but two out and left him with yet another hook, forcing him to kick the length of the table (his 8-ball was on the short rail about a half-diamond away from the corner pocket).

He came up short on the kick, the cue ball rebounded off the near end rail and headed back towards the far corner with plenty of steam to get there on the fairly fast table. Then, he did something I doubt he'll ever do again. He scooped up the rolling cue ball and gave it to me. I looked at him in disbelief, and the referee (rightly) gave me the game. If a player is on the 8-ball and disturbs the path of the cue ball or the 8-ball in a losing situation, it's a loss of game.

To be honest, it was a lousy way to end an otherwise great match... but as I mentioned to the referee, the lesson at this level was far less costly than it would have been at regionals or even nationals. There are several qualifiers left, and I'm fairly sure my opponent will qualify in another one.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Aye Aye Captain

Tomorrow night will be my first night as the captain of an APA 8-ball team. This Wednesday night team is the one I started with when I joined APA nearly two years ago now. We've had the same captain all along... but she and the team drifted apart over the past year or so, and last week she made the decision to pursue other opportunities. We had a short team meeting after the match, and I was elected captain. It's something new for me... so we begin another chapter in the pool 'career.'

I look forward to it, actually. I've played a lot of team sports over the years, so I'm very familiar with various team dynamics. We've got a really solid team that I think can be molded into a 'contender'. The evolution actually started awhile ago, and I think that's part of what caused some of the recent tension with the former captain. We took 3rd place in our division last session, and are currently in 1st place this session. In our recent tri-annual tournament, we lost a very close match to the team that went on to win the tournament.

My first order of business with the team was to find a couple more players to round out the roster since we only had six players after the captain left, and we're now into the fourth week of the session which is generally the last week players can be added to the roster. For that very reason, every other team in the city seemed to be scrambling for good players as well!

I managed to find a couple players that round out the roster very well, so I'm excited about the possibilities! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

PoolSynergy: What's Inside My Case and Why

So I got home on a Friday night (after starting off the Fall APA season on a new 8-ball team with a nice win over a higher SL player, thankyouverymuch) to find a message in Facebook from some chic in Denver who wanted to check out my equipment...? I didn't even know her! Not only that, she wanted me to put it on display for the whole world - photographs, descriptions, the works!

Needless to say, I was thrilled and honored to get a note from Samm Diep @ The Tip Jar inviting me to join this month's PoolSynergy. I've long enjoyed PoolSynergy articles and look forward to reading them every month. It's a great way to bring the community of very talented pool bloggers together, and I'm happy to now be a part of it!
I must say our dear Samm picked one heck of a topic for my maiden voyage. With dozens of photographs to take and lots of writing to do, I knew I'd have my hands full to get it done on time. It's always fun to talk about your equipment though - and as usual, I did my best to weave in some nuggets of info I've picked up along the way. Be sure to check out all of the other authors contributing to this topic! Keep in mind you can click on any of the below images to get a closer look.

The Case
My case is pretty much your run-of-the-mill production case. I was running lean in the discretionary funds department when I bought it, so decent functionality on a budget was my primary concern. I chose a fairly basic 2x4 (two butts / four shafts) Joe Porper case that has a decent amount of additional storage, so it gets the job done nicely for me for now. By the way, I chose the green felt of my pool table as the background for this picture because I'm green with envy after seeing and hearing about Samm's new case. I'm predicting a Murnak outbreak after hearing some comments from other PoolSynergy bloggers.

The Cue
Like a master chef's knives or a samurai warrior's sword, a serious pool player's most prized possession is usually his cue; and so it is with mine. I'm not the type to go for a lot of 'flash' in my cue; I've chosen to spend my money on function and a solid balanced feel rather than fancy inlays and such so far. For my current cue, I had the opportunity to "try before buying" at the 2010 BCA Nationals. I'm very fortunate to live in the Las Vegas area, so it's easy for me to drop in on the major tournaments to watch the action and check out the exhibitors when they're in town even if I'm not directly involved. Being on a fairly tight budget, my ORIGINAL plan was to buy a low-deflection shaft for my existing cue, but I think we all know how original plans tend to work out. After trying several shafts and cues from different suppliers I ended up at the demo table in the Tiger booth. After shooting a rack or two with some Tiger cues, I came to the very logical and sane conclusion that I needed a new cue more than my kids needed back-to-school clothes. I settled on a limited edition model (TPC6) from the Tiger Professional Series. It had their X-Ultra shaft (which is what I mainly wanted to check out in the first place) and the Tiger Sniper tip, which I'd already been using for some time on previous cues. The cue also featured their Stack leather wrap - I really REALLY liked the feel of it, and still do. Sometimes the cue just seems like it's on autopilot, sinking ball after ball on its own.

Of course, solving one 'problem' sometimes creates another and so it was with my new cue purchase. I no longer had a spare shaft! Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of players out there survive just fine without a spare shaft, but I had grown accustomed to having one available with previous cues and my background in submarines and nuclear power firmly ingrained the value of redundant systems into my head. I honestly felt a little naked without it, and knew if I let it fester long enough I would have woken up in the middle of the night from some nightmare about having to finish a hill-hill finals match of some huge tournament with a wobbly bar cue because something went wrong with my tip or ferrule or shaft. I immediately checked my budget, and worked out how many lunches my kids would have to skip in order to pay for it... and at the last minute my girlfriend swooped in, wiped tears from their eyes, and offered to buy me a spare shaft for my birthday - yeah!

She said I'd have to help her with the details and that it obviously wouldn't be a surprise and so on, and of course I agreed to all of that. I gave her the relevant specs and told her who to call and so on. A couple of days later, she called me to explain that it wasn't so simple. She had talked to Tiger's President, Tony Kalamdaryan, and he explained to her that Tiger would be releasing brand new shafts and a new type of tip a week before my birthday - so I had more choices to make! After some discussion with the folks at Tiger, I decided to go with the new X-Pro shaft (fitted with their new Onyx tip). In my pictures, the X-Pro is shown on the left and the original X-Ultra with a Sniper tip is shown on the right. What really stood out to me on the X-Pro was the size of the ferrule - it's only 1/4" long! The X-Pro is also tapered differently, is thinner and therefore lighter than the X-Ultra. My cue weighs in at 18.2 oz. with the X-Pro shaft and 18.8 oz. with the original X-Ultra shaft. I've been using the X-Pro shaft as my primary shaft ever since I got it, and love it!

My girlfriend lied to me about the "it won't be a surprise" detail. I unwrapped it and went through all of the obligatory "thank-you-even-though-I-knew-what-it-was" motions... and proceeded to check it out as she smiled at me... I marveled at the tiny ferrule, checked out the new Onyx tip, the joint, the X-Pro logo engraved at the base... then rotated it to see "G-Shark" engraved on the side opposite the X-Pro logo! She had somehow convinced the awesome folks at Tiger to custom engrave the shaft with the nickname she had coined for me a few months prior. To be honest, I was a little amazed that she pulled that off!

And it gets better. A couple of months later, I again visited the Tiger booth (this time during the ACS Nationals) in search of a few minor odds and ends (mainly a joint protector for my new shaft). I was chatting casually with Tony, and happened to ask him if they had or were going to come out with joint protectors with the X-Pro logo on them. He began to explain to me that they decided to use a generic Tiger logo on all joint protectors because they were getting too many different shafts in their product line and it just wasn't cost effective to have so many logos... which made sense, of course. And then he shocked the heck out of me, stopping in mid-sentence to exclaim "hey, I know you... you're G-Shark!" and that's exactly what he wrote on my invoice when he filled it out.

To be honest, I tend to be pretty humble and I'm not entirely comfortable with the nickname at this point in my pool "career" but I'm warming up to it and it definitely gives me incentive to continue to improve my game as quickly as possible to grow into it. I admit it's a cute nickname, and I think I'm just going to have to get used to it... I get the feeling it's going to stick.

Break/Jump Cue
I played for several months before getting a break stick. Initially I used my regular cue for breaking, then decided that wasn't such a good idea so I borrowed break cues from teammates and/or used a house cue for breaking. This gave me the chance to experiment with a few different cues, but all of my friends and teammates subscribed to the heavy break cue school of thought and after reading various articles I discovered that there was an alternate school of thought for break cues.

This other school of thought, I discovered, was the use of a lightweight cue for breaking - the theory behind this is that you can accelerate the cue faster since it is lighter. I was intrigued by this approach, it seemed to make sense, and it also seemed to be fairly popular amongst the pros. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find anyone who had this type of break cue, and also wasn't able to find it in a physical store here in the Las Vegas area, and i didn't want to wait several months for the next major pool even to come to town.

After doing some brand research online, I took a leap of faith and ordered a Fury Jump/Break stick with a phenolic tip. It definitely took some getting used to - but once I got it dialed in I've been very happy with it. I'm generally able to get a lot of action on the break, dropping a ball (or often multiple balls) the majority of the time (I haven't tracked exact percentages - but as I write this, I'm thinking that would be a good thing to do). In the year or so that I've had this cue, I've sunk five balls on a 9-ball break on at least three occasions that I can recall (twice on a 7' Diamond table) and once at home on my oversize-8 table. I've dropped the 9-ball on the break numerous times, and have even managed to string together multiple 9-ball snappers on successive breaks on more than one occasion (as you can imagine, that can and has turned around a match in a hurry). As I mentioned earlier, my break stick is a light one, it's 17.7 oz. configured as a break cue and 8.7 oz. configured as a jump cue.

Jump cues are not allowed in APA play other than Masters so I don't use the cue as a jump cue very often, but I've practiced enough to be reasonably dangerous with it and have used it a few times in competition (with reasonable success, by the way). I personally don't think jump cues are a magic bullet and would rather spend much more practice time working on my kicking game... but on the other hand, I've noticed opponents treat you a little differently once they find out you have a jump cue and know how to use it.

I recall one recent handicapped tournament in particular where I was on the hill against a very good opponent (much better than me) and he was obviously frustrated with my level of play. I heard a friend tell him to play more safeties against me, and he did. I kicked my way out of a couple of them, but he persisted for a few innings and finally hooked me really well (for kick shots, anyway). I'm guessing his satisfaction turned into surprise when I, without hesitation or comment, configured my break stick for jumping and proceeded to make a nice jump, nearly sinking the object ball (rattled it in the pocket). I will now state for the record that I probably couldn't have shot it that well more than maybe two or three times out of ten... but he certainly didn't know that. I don't think anyone at that tournament had ever seen me jump or even knew that I had a jump cue... but there is no doubt in my mind that one shot changed his strategy for the rest of the match. It probably affected the strategy of some of my subsequent opponents in that tournament as well - word tends to get around. And yes, I beat him ;)

Tip Tools
Proper care of your cue tip is incredibly important - and like most serious players, I keep several tools dedicated to that purpose handy. Think of it, your cue's tip is what transfers everything you do to the cue ball. If your tip is screwed up, it really doesn't matter how beautiful your stroke is because it's not going to get properly transferred to the ball. Referring back to my master chef and his knives, I'll further point out that the best chefs are absolute fanatics about the quality of the edge on their knifes. Similarly, a top pool player (or one who wants to be) should be a fanatic about the shape and condition of their tip.

I've tried a few different tip shapers but the ones I've settled on is Willard's, which are the metal disks shown in the upper right and left of the picture. These come in different sizes for nickel and dime radius tips, and I have both sizes in my bag. I use the nickel shape on my break cue and the dime shape on X-Pro shaft.

While the Willard shaper also does a pretty good job of roughing up the tip (enabling it to hold chalk better), I also carry another popular tool called a Tip-Pik (shown in the picture below the shapers). As you can see, the Tip-Pik is a cylindrical tool with numerous sharp points at one end. Luckily, it comes with a cap to cover the points (I've got the tool propped up on the cap in the picture). Poking my cue tip with the Tip-Pik makes me think of aerating my lawn... again, the effect is that the tip is roughed up a bit and able to hold more chalk.

Shaft Smoother & Burnisher
A smooth shaft goes a long way towards a smooth stroke, improving both your accuracy and speed control. This Tiger Shaft Smoother and Burnisher is the handiest tool I've found for putting the final touches on my shafts and/or addressing rough spots as you feel them in a game. It's got two sides, the red side is coarser and the white side is for the final finish. I tend to touch up the finish on my shaft regularly, every few matches or so. Of course, it should go without saying to be nice to your shaft in the first place! Tapping your shaft on the edge of the table after a bad shot or knocking your cue over is a good way to put a dent or nick on it, yet I see people doing it all the time.

Talc Bag
No, this did not fall out of a blond celebrity's Coach purse on the Las Vegas Strip... it's a talc bag, and although I don't need to use it very often in the dry air of Vegas, it's handy to have "just in case." I prefer a bag like this over the bottle of powder I used to carry in my bag. The bottles tend to be messy... leaking in the bag as well as spilling all over the place when applying the powder. With one of these bags, all you do is rub it on your hand a bit to apply the powder. It comes in a zip lock bag, so no mess in your gear bag.

Shooting Glove
As you can see in my picture and may have read in previous posts, I used to use a shooting glove. As mentioned more recently, I've reverted back to my wild commando ways of shooting without a glove. So far I'm liking it, but I still keep a glove in my bag for the time being just in case. As recently as a week or two ago I had two gloves in my bag, so progress is definitely being made.

Extra Chalk
You can't see it in the picture, but I swear these little cubes of chalk have feet on them! I'm constantly replenishing my supply. At least chalk is cheap. Related, I've cycled through a couple different types of chalk holders but haven't really found one I like. I normally use whatever is available on the table if it's decent, but always have some available in my bag as well just in case there isn't any on the table or I don't like what's there (I really dislike it when the hole gets too deep).

Pocket Marker
In the APA league, 8-ball rules require that you physically mark the pocket with something rather than just call it. Obviously, that's not such a bad idea as it reduces the chance of contention over whether the pocket was called or which pocket was called and so on. I've seen a lot of different things used for pocket markers - small toy figurines, patches, cell phones, cigarette packs, lighters, keys, it often tends to be whatever is in a person's pocket. I even saw a guy use a condom once (unused and still in the wrapper, thank goodness). I tended to be the "whatever is in my pocket" type, but was pleased to find a nice commemorative coin in my goody bag at the APA Singles Nationals and have been using that as a marker ever since (unless I forget to dig it out of my bag before my match).

Mechanical Bridge
I'm tall enough that I don't have to use a bridge very often on bar-sized tables, but the occasion rises at times and I'm not the type to shy away from using one if I need it. I've seen pros use them, and I figure if it's good enough for them it's good enough for me. Unfortunately some bars don't have bridges available, so I've found that it's a good idea to have a bridge head like this tucked away in your bag. It fits over the tip of another cue such as your break cue if you have one or a house cue. The one shown here is called a Moosehead for obvious reasons. I chose it because it has a lot of different options for cue placement that should handle just about any situation.

Cue Stick Holder
Many bars and even some pool halls do not have good places to put your pool cues, which results in sticks getting knocked over and so on. Referring back to my "fine instrument" comparison earlier in this article, bad things can happen when a cue gets knocked over - the shaft can get dinged, ferrule broken, whatever. To minimize this possibility and to present a bit more of a professional appearance, I pack a Q-Claw cue stick holder. I've seen and checked out several different styles of holders before settling on the Q-Claw and feel this one is one of the more versatile designs. It's heavily weighted and simply sits on top of the edge of the table, which to me is an advantage over the clamp types because there's so many different types of tables out there, The tops of some are too thick or otherwise shaped in such a way as to thwart clamping efforts. I've run into very few situations where the Q-Claw didn't work.

Rule Book
People never argue about rules, do they? Hard to believe I know, but I've run across a player or two who just doesn't quite have a handle on the way things are laid out in the rule book so I bring an abbreviated version along to help them out. I've considered bringing the full sized one, and may end up doing that one of these days, but the coverage in this one has been sufficient for most situations that have come up.

The Cry Towel
Useful for many, many things - sometimes for me to cry in after a match... hopefully more often to offer to my opponent after a match. Sometimes my hands or brow need to be wiped, sometimes the restroom is out of paper towels, who knows? I even used it as the background for the majority of pictures in this post. A towel is always a good thing to have.

For Emergency Use Only
When dealing with a really tough situation, it's nice to have my trusty pitching wedge handy. Settling into a good stance on the table can be a challenge though. It might seem easier after several drinks - but trust me, it's not. Beware of low hanging lights and ceiling fans. Most bars frown on the use of golf shoes on the tables, and be sure to replace all divots.

Monday, September 6, 2010

About the Three Foul Rule...

As mentioned in a previous post, I fell prey to the three foul rule at a local 10-ball tournament a few months ago. I'm glad it happened when it did and in the manner it did, because it raised my awareness to the rule in general. It was a "learning experience" that really wasn't too harmful in the end... I won the overall match anyway, and ended up finishing in the money in that tournament. But any time I run across something "new" like that I do my best to learn from it.

The three foul rule wasn't entirely new to me. I was aware that it existed in some leagues and some formats but given that my (relatively short) pool career had been sheltered in a single league that did not enforce the three foul rule, I'd never really seen it in action. I breezed over it in the book(s) and at the time didn't appreciate that it could be used as a pretty deadly weapon. To his credit, my opponent exploited my naivety at the time with a very good play. There was a nice wall of balls that he hid behind and it didn't occur to me that the right answer was to just take a foul and blast the balls apart to reduce the possibility of a subsequent (fatal) foul.

Knowledge is power, of course, and I'm fairly sure the same thing won't happen to me again... at least in the same manner it happened last time.

I recently ran across an outstanding video showing the three foul rule in action. There is a ton of good knowledge throughout this short clip with both players showing aspects of three foul rule play as well as some very good and informative commentary. Enjoy...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

8-ball Follow-in for the Win!

I try to go to local bar tournaments when I can find the time. It's an excellent way to practice in a competitive environment against players I wouldn't ordinarily come up against in league play. Until last night, I normally ended up at my original league home bar The Brewery on Saturday nights (7PM) for their tournament when I had time available.

Unfortunately, during this time of year, The Brewery hosts Fantasy Football draft parties that preempt their regular pool tournament. As you can imagine, it's a big disappointment to show up at the scheduled time, pool gear in hand, to see the tables covered and a bunch of Fantasy Football paraphernalia scattered about. In fairness to The Brewery, they sent out an email about the tournament being canceled... but the email looked a lot like the usual email I get every week about the tournament so I didn't look at it closely enough.

Anyway, as I was standing there looking at the covered tables with tears welling up in my eyes (not really), I got a text message from my friend Jim that said "looks like the Brewery tournament is a no-go tonight"... and I actually glanced around the bar to see if he was standing there laughing at me. He wasn't, but I guess we just missed each other because he had been there a few minutes before. He was headed over to another nearby pool hall Mickey's Cues & Brews to see if anything was going on over there. In the midst of a flurry of texts back and forth I remembered that another nearby bar, The Gin Mill, had a Saturday night tournament (not sure if they have a website, Google just sent me to, and I'm not going to use that link).

I've actually never been to The Gin Mill even though it's in my part of town. I see the name of the bar coming up time and time again as the sponsor for some very successful local teams so I knew I'd be up against good players, which is exactly what I wanted. The regular players there strike me as a very tight knit group of people. I've even been told in the past not to bother trying to go to their tournament because they were cliquey and didn't welcome 'outsiders.' Whatever. I just wanted to play pool. Although I wouldn't say that I'm really good friends with any of the regulars there, I knew several of them and they knew me so I figured I'd be fine and was actually looking forward to something new.

The Gin Mill's Saturday tournament starts at 8PM and is a full double-elimination bracket. They play unhandicapped 8-ball following TAP rules. Each match is a do or die race to one, which keeps things rolling quickly and you get to watch a good variety of players in a short period of time. I shot fairly well in the early going, working my way up through the winner's bracket for a few games... then lost a tough one when the table layout was very much in the other player's favor... and then my aim decided to go to bed for the last match - I missed a couple fairly easy shots that I simply shouldn't have missed and given that I was up against a very good player by that point in the bracket, the mistakes were fatal. I ended up in the 5th/6th position - one level out of the money, which I was pleased with, given the quality of players in the board. It was a good night, and I imagine I'll be back from time-to-time.

By now, I'm sure you're all wondering about the title of this post - it relates to one of my earlier victories in the tournament. I didn't get the shape on the 8-ball I had hoped for, and was faced with a dilemma. My best available shot was a cut shot into a corner pocket. The problem, as you can see in the diagram, was that my opponent's last ball also occupied the same corner pocket. I considered the long bank, but the angle was a tough one and it seemed like a double-kiss was likely. I felt any other shot would have had even lower odds.

My shot on the 8-ball, more or less (click to enlarge)

So I lined up for a cut shot into the occupied corner and called that pocket. My opponent's ball was slightly off to the side in the pocket, but not far enough that I could have made it cleanly past the ball even if I had the luxury of being able to line up and aim a straight-in shot so I knew her ball would likely drop first... then if all went well, the 8-ball would follow it in. If things didn't work as planned, my opponent would almost surely be left with an easy shot on the 8-ball for the win. No pressure there, eh?

For those of you who have tried this type of shot, you know it's a finicky finesse shot. There's a lot that can go wrong - the aim and speed have to be just right. The physics behind the shot relies on the forward momentum of a rolling ball to carry it into the pocket after the initial impact with the blocking ball. If the aim is off, the rolling follow may take your ball into the rail rather than the pocket. If your ball is skidding instead of rolling, it won't follow. I had enough distance between my object ball and the pocket to know that I'd have a rolling ball unless I did something really stupid. Beyond the basic rolling ball requirement, speed in general is fairly critical too - if you don't have enough speed, you won't have enough forward momentum to carry the ball into the pocket. If you have too much speed, your object ball will bounce back slightly upon impact... which means your object ball would have to roll forward even further to make the pocket. This initial 'bounce' also tends to further complicate any errors in aim. In sum, it's a difficult shot to reliably pull off even if you're shooting it straight in... and I was going to attempt it with about a 50 degree cut shot.

Yeah, pretty much everything in the previous paragraph was going through my head prior to the shot - over and over. Damn brain is noisy sometimes. I've gotten better about turning off the conscious chatter and letting the sub-conscious take over once I'm down on the shot though. I took aim, stroked, and watched as my opponent's ball dropped... then after a very slight dramatic pause, my 8-ball dropped for the win. What happened next was, frankly, a surprise to me... the vast majority of the crowd at the bar erupted in cheer. I had no idea that many people were watching the shot or even cared that much, but it always feels good to get such an acknowledgment when a difficult shot goes according to plan. That's one thing I learned about The Gin Mill crowd that night, they were there to play for sure... but like me, they were there to watch good pool as well... even if it's an "outsider" making the shot against one of the local favorites.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dr. Laura on Pool

This article in Michael Reddick's Angle of Reflection blog (which in turn, references a post in p00lriah's blog) mentions a post about pool in Dr. Laura Schlessinger's blog. *whew*

The post caught my eye because I'm fairly familiar with Dr. Laura... there was a period of time several years ago that I listened to her on the radio every once in awhile because her show was carried on a station I listened to when I lived in Colorado Springs. She doesn't pull any punches, and tells people what (she feels) they need to hear even though it might be painful to hear it. The truth hurts sometimes.

Anyway, I enjoyed her perspective on pool and thought I'd point it out.

I hear she's retiring soon, maybe we'll see her on the pro tour? Or maybe not.