I flew into Phoenix tonight on a three day business trip, so I get to play corporate guy during the day and pool hustler (or maybe more accurately pool chump) at night. My plan is to hit Bullshooters tonight for a couple hours, then hit Kolby’s Corner Pocket Monday night. Maybe I can get my stroke back on this trip. We’ll see.
Wow! I haven’t posted in my blog since October 2012! Have I taken a sabbatical from the sport, lost the desire to complete, or put away my cues for good? On the contrary! I’ve been so busy in the last few months that I haven’t had time to shoot pool at all, much less write about it. What have I been up to over the last several months, you ask? Well, let me tell you…
After many years of contemplating the sport and trying to make decisions about what my future might look like, I’ve finally taken some concrete steps to make my pool dreams a reality. At the stroke of midnight this New Year’s Eve, I launched a new pool organization called California Cue Sports, Inc. The purpose of California Cue Sports is to promote the game (all cue sports) by establishing leagues that are built for the players and are responsive to player input, and also work with other businesses to help promote the game and build a solid foundation that will allow aspiring players to develop and flourish. For more information about the league, you can visit here:
This February we will launch our first league; a handicapped One Pocket league that will be the first One Pocket league in California and possibly the first in the nation. The league is already generating a lot of buzz because we will be sending three players on an all-expense paid trip to compete in the 14th Annual US Open One Pocket Championship this July in Las Vegas!
In addition to the One Pocket league, we will also be launching a handicapped Scotch Doubles 9 Ball league in February. The Scotch Doubles league should also be a lot of fun for all players involved. So 2013 promises to be a very very busy year for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to carve out a few minutes here and there to hit some balls and I certainly will make an effort to post here on a more regular basis. So here’s to a great 2013, and may all your New Year’s wishes come true! Cheers!
Today I’m driving to the Chuck Markulas Memorial tournament being held at Hard Times in Sacramento, CA. The One Pocket portion of the tournament is already under way, but the 9 Ball tournament that I’m competing in starts Saturday morning. Who’s going to be there? Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Santos Sambijan, Ernesto Dominguez, Oscar Dominguez, and many other national class players. Should be fun!
Just when I thought I’d seen it all… a couple weeks ago I played in an 8-ball tournament at Cuetopia using a format that was completely new to me. The format is called a “Line Tournament.” I thought it was a very interesting format as there was no handicapping involved, yet, it provided a reasonable opportunity for lesser players to finish in the money. Here’s how the format works….
Suppose 8 players show up for the tournament. The tournament director ranks the players 1-8 based on his/her knowledge or best guess of each player’s skill. To start the tournament, the 1st and 2nd ranked players match up on table 1, the 3rd and 4th ranked players start on table 2, etc. The players lag (or flip) for the break, and each match is really just a race to one. Yes… one game. After each match (or game), the winner moves up one table (closer to table 1), and the loser moves down one table (closer to table 4). If you win at table 1 you stay at table 1, and if you lose at table 4, you stay at table 4. That’s it. You run the tournament for a set amount of time (for instance, two hours), and the tournament winner is the person with the best win/loss record when time runs out.
There are many benefits to this format, two of which are of key interest to me: (1) the tournament has a set time limit….no staying up until 2:00 in the morning, and (2) I get some practice playing against a few higher skilled players in a series of sudden death matches…. PRESSURE! I really like this format. It is fun, provides good match pressure, and still gets you home at a reasonable time.
This weekend I competed in the BCAPL Southwest Regional Championships in Scottsdale, AZ. I played okay, certainly not my best, but pulled a two and out. Before I left the tournament area for the long hot drive across the desert, I scribbled a few notes that should help me improve prior to entering my next big tournament. Here are some of my lessons learned:
- I normally practice and compete on tight pocket nine foot Brunswick Gold Crowns. If I plan to enter in a highly competitive bar box tournament that will be using seven foot Diamond tables, it’s probably a good idea for me to practice a little on bar boxes. (Duhh!)
- I don’t have to play close shape on bar box tables because there are no long shots on a bar box. I should keep the cue ball away from the object balls so that I don’t kiss safe myself. (Three times I ended a 6 ball run with a kiss on my 7th ball.)
- I should play stop shot routes as much as possible to eliminate the need to figure out table speed. The speed of the cloth and the action of the rails become irrelevant if I can plan and execute a series of stop shots. (On several occasions I overran my landing zones while still adjusting to the table speed.)
- I must pull up and chalk if I have any mind chatter. I must not shoot unless I have a very specific landing spot identified for the cue ball. (Twice I messed up on the key ball shot because of mind chatter: one voice in my head was telling me to hurry up and shoot the shot because the subsequent position was so easy there was no need to think about it, while another voice in my head was screaming, “NO! NO! Stand up!”
Maybe the most important lesson learned: No player that I watched did anything extraordinary. These guys were playing right at my skill level. I gave up games (and matches) on silly mental mistakes. I believe the biggest things I need to work on are my mental focus and pre-shot routines, both of which should easily be within my control. Next time, I will be ready.
I’m flying to Scottsdale, Arizona tonight for the BCAPL Southwest Regional Championships. Since I don’t play in the BCA league, I had to purchase a BCA Player Membership and will be entering the tournament in the Advanced/Masters category. Out of the hundreds of players expected to show up for the tournament, only fifteen of us fall within this group. I did a little research on the other fourteen players and get the feeling I’ve got a very tough row to hoe. Some of them placed high in the US Bar Box Championship Open 8-Ball, and some have finished in the money at various other open events. Oh well, enough whining, I just need to suck it up and play my game.
Wish me luck!
I haven’t been practicing much lately. Every night for the past week or so I’ve dreamed about playing pool. Each dream follows a similar plot line…I’m playing a match against an obviously inferior opponent but I just can’t seem to close out the match. On every shot I take I lose cue ball control and end up leaving myself with either a two rail bank or a three ball combination. Egads!
I guess my subconscious mind is starting to get concerned about my lack of practice. Each year I enter this malaise period right before the U.S. Amateurs in which I know it’s time to ramp up my preparations, but for some reason I just can’t follow through. Sigh.
I’ve got five short weeks before the U.S. Amateur Preliminary tournament, so I know it’s crunch time. Maybe I just need a change of pace. I think I’ll start entering some 8 ball, 9 ball, and 10 ball tournaments that I normally don’t compete in just to get myself out of my current comfortable schedule. Maybe I’ll travel to some out of town tourneys also, just to get a change of scenery. Let’s see if either of these changes gets me out of my current funk and gets my motivation back up.