My name is Michael Reddick
Follow this blog to witness a two year journey as I transform myself from an amateur to a professional pool player.
- I'm headed to the US Bar Table Championships in Reno, NV this week. Competing in the 8 ball division. Yipee! >> 3 months ago
- JEALOUS!! RT @stlJohnnyPool: Checked in at the casino. Can't wait to hit the action rooms! #DCC >> 4 months ago
- The new best quote of the night. I'm sitting in the Hot Seat, and my final opponent says, "Hey buddy, let's play for all the cash." :-) >> 4 months ago
- Sitting in the Hot Seat! >> 4 months ago
- Quote of the night: "Yeah, it's an OPEN tournament, but we give weight to the lesser players." HUH? >> 4 months ago
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Tag Archives: APA
U.S. Amateurs Update
Slept in late. Headed to Strokers in 15 minutes. Yesterday, I lost my first match 3-7 then won my second match 7-5. I’ll play again today at noon. If I continue winning (and that’s a BIG if), I will need to play 6 or 7 straight matches with no breaks to make it to Sunday. I found out they are live streaming one table on the internet. Here’s the link from the APA website:
Live streaming from the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship being held in Tampa, FL (coverage courtesy of Inside Pool magazine and JR Calvert). http://www.usamateurchampionship.com/coverage/2011/
Twenty years of struggle. Two years of serious dedication. Finally…VICTORY! Last night I won at the northern California preliminary round of the U.S. Amateur Championship tournament. I’ll be headed to Florida the weekend of November 4 to compete with 128 of the top amateur players in the U.S. for a chance to claim the title of U.S. Amateur Champion. Yipee!! This is a major positive step in my journey to get to the point where I can compete at a professional level. I’ve been on this path for almost two years now…let’s see where it leads!
Over the weekend I competed in the third and final installment of a US Amateur Warm Up League. The league was organized by our APA league operator, Doug Coleman, with the objective of preparing us for the upcoming 2011 US Amateur tournament. Doug organized the league to have play dates one weekend a month over a three month period. The league was organized in a round robin format so that theoretically each participant had the opportunity to play every other participant. The individual matches were structured just like the US Amateur tournament, with players competing in a race to 7 format of up to 5 games of 8 ball and 8 games of 9 ball. The league drew a total of 22 participants, men and women, which I thought was pretty good. For the competition, each player was awarded one point for every game won, with points tallied up over all three play dates to determine an overall winner.
Going into the final play date, I was in third place. We were scheduled to play 3 matches this Saturday, and the overall point leader was 6 points ahead of me. It would take a miracle for me to catch him. In my first match I didn’t play very well, kept losing control of whitey, and quickly got behind 1-5. Not looking good! Then I caught a gear, fought back to hill-hill, but lost the case game to finish my first match 6-7. Although I didn’t win, at least I got six points for my effort. The point leader was playing at the table next to me, and he was getting thrashed! He ended up losing 1-7 to earn only 1 point! A MIRACLE! Now I was only one point out of first place!
Here was my chance to steal the title. In my second match I was facing a guy who in my opinion is one of the strongest players in the league. The point leader was playing another very strong player on the table next to me. This would be interesting! I came out swinging, my opponent got a couple bad rolls, I locked up the table a few times, and then started running out. When the smoke cleared I had won my match 7-0, earning myself 7 points…the best I could possibly do! Once again, the point leader (by only one measly point!) was playing on the table next to me. He initially got behind in his match and I thought I might be able to take the point lead, but he dug deep, roared back, and ended up winning his match to also earn 7 points for his round two effort. CRAP! I was still behind the point leader by 1 lousy point!
In the third round, I found out I was playing yet another strong player…a guy whom I’ve never beaten. Isn’t it funny how there are some people you just can’t seem to beat? I’ve bar-b-qued other players who have beaten this guy, but for some reason, he just has my number…I can’t do anything with him. CRAP! The point leader’s match was not going to be nearly as difficult. I tilted my head back to look at the ceiling; my hands clasped together angelically. I needed yet another miracle.
In the third round, the point leader had some troubles with his opponent, but ended up winning his match 7-3 to earn 7 points and lock up first place. Me? Oh, I got my rear end handed to me on a silver platter! Lost 1-7. Painful. Very painful. For my effort I was awarded 1 tiny lousy stinking point. The only good news? That one point allowed me to hold on to second place…barely. Well, in retrospect, even if I had won my last match and earned 7 points, the overall result would still have been the same…2nd place.
So, why did I title this blog post “Second Fiddle….Again?” You see, last fall when I competed in the preliminary round of the actual 2010 US Amateur Tournament, I ended up winning the tournament hot seat with almost no problem at all, then choked in the title match to finish in 2nd place. Now in the US Amateur Warm Up tournament, I once again had a good shot at winning, but ended up in 2nd place. Hmmm…I’m starting to see a pattern here.
Last night was APA night for my 8-Ball team. We met at California Billiards and started warming up in anticipation of playing one of the top teams in the league. (My team is dead last in the league…Wahoo!) When it was my turn to play, I knew I would be playing against one of the top players in the league in a race to 5 match. I jumped out to a quick lead, but he caught me and tied the match at 4-4. In the double-hill game, my opponent made a mistake and gave me a chance to clear my last 4 balls. The layout was not that difficult to run, but I missed the position zone on my last shot. The cue ball rolled just barely behind one of my opponent’s balls and I could not see enough of the stripe to make a clean cut into the corner pocket. I thought to myself, “Great! I just blew the match! Now what do I do?” I considered 3 different options for about a minute, knowing that if I missed the shot my opponent would be able run the table with no problems at all. Suddenly, I had an epiphany, and realized there was a 4th option that I had not originally considered, which of course I immediately choose to attempt.
Take a good look at the diagram below, and let me know (1) the different options you might consider, and (2) how would you ultimately play this shot? Tomorrow, I’ll tell you the options I considered, what I decided to do, and what the outcome was.
On Thursday night I delivered the worst pool performance that I’ve had in the last two years, and it came at a very inopportune time – on my first night playing with a new APA team. At first, the team seemed very excited to have me. During our warm-ups, I shot fantastic. I was just taking it easy, not shooting any safeties since this was the team’s practice table, and was able to run the table whenever I wanted to. Everything was working. Perfectly. Then I got the call to play my match. I lost the lag for the break, and everything was straight downhill from there. In retrospect, I’m not sure how eager they are to have me back next week!
I will not rehash all the details, but here’s a brief summary of the “action”:
- I had 3 scratches in the match. I almost NEVER scratch!
- I had 2 miscues. I can’t remember the last time I miscued!
- I had 3 fouls called on me (called on myself) due to not hitting a rail and all three were very easy shots! In the thousands of games I’ve played in the last two years, that’s only happened to me once before!
- I just could not run more than 3-4 balls due to position errors. It was just soooo weird!
- I missed a shot on the 8ball. “Wait,” you may say, “that’s not unusual. Lots of people miss shots on the 8ball.” No! Let me explain why this was such a bad miss. It was a straight in shot to the corner. The 8 ball was only about 2 feet from the corner pocket, and the cue ball was only 1.5 feet away from the 8ball. I had come all the way down table and played perfect position on the 8. The shot was lined up straight with no interfering balls! Arrrgghhhhh!
I have absolutely no idea how I actually won the match against my opponent, who is a pretty good ‘7’ player. My complete ineptness must have rubbed off on him as he began playing badly also. The skill level ‘3’ players must have been salivating watching from the sidelines. It was so bad, and so embarrassing to me, that I finally made the decision to stop trying to run balls. I had completely lost all confidence in my shot making abilities, so I decided to just shoot one shot at a time, then play safe. Over the next 2 or 3 games, I must have played 15 or 20 safeties. I do have to say, due to all the practice that I’ve put in recently on safeties, most of them worked as planned. Not perfect, but good enough to force my opponent to attempt a kick shot each time. He connected on a few kicks, but usually didn’t. From a psychological standpoint, giving up ball in hands repeatedly to your opponent will wreck havoc on your psyche. (I was playing so badly that getting ball in hand from my opponent wasn’t doing me much good anyway!) Eventually, he basically folded and gave up the match. Even though I couldn’t put together more than a three ball run, I still won. Barely.
What’s to be learned? Practice your safeties and 1 & 2 rail kicks. When your confidence goes to s**t and you can’t hit the broad side of a barn, at least you can start ducking and make your opponent beat himself. That reminds me of a quote I overhead Thursday night: “Why beat a player, when you can get the player to beat himself?” Oh, wait a minute, I think I said that!
I’m at a crossroads and I’ve got some tough decisions to make. As time blows past me and I get closer and closer to my 1 year anniversary on this pool journey, I am assessing my progress and trying to figure out what the next year looks like. I’ve definitely come a long way in the last 10 months or so, but I know that the road ahead is very tough. I need to get laser focused on what my real intention is. Do I want to be a really good local player and enjoy playing in local tournaments and/or the APA leagues? Do I want to push myself harder and harder and improve to the point that I could be competitive on the regional level and play tough against players like Billy Palmer, Deo Alpajora, and Amar Kang? Do I dream big, get super serious, and still try to break through to the professional level?
Given that the time I have available to dedicate to pool is limited, how do I get the biggest bang for my buck? What training or practice options will yield the biggest ROI? Do I continue competing on the CPPT tour? Do I play in the USPPA? Do I play in WorldPPA tournaments? Do I focus on APA leagues and competitions? Do I troll around all the local bar tournaments? Like I said, I’ve got some planning to do to figure out what my real goal is, and what changes and/or sacrifices are necessary to help me achieve the goal. I need to have all of this figured out before the end of next week. More later.
Last week I invited a friend to shoot some pool with me at California Billiards. He’s a very good athlete in the cycling world, but a true beginner in the pool world. When we began our session, I had to explain the fundamentals of pool: stance, body position, bridging, stroke, aiming, etc. After a brief discussion, we shot pool for a couple hours and had a great time. During the evening, I periodically made suggestions or corrections as needed. What I discovered from this experience is that having to explain the fundamentals to someone else really made me think about my own game. For example, as I was explaining the ghost ball aiming method to him, I realized that I was actually not as disciplined myself in using the aiming method as I needed to be. I was not visualizing the center of mass as I should, and this realization subsequently helped my game in the CPPT tournament in Santa Cruz last weekend.
Is pool really all about angles, friction, geometry and physics? Hardly. If you get too caught up in the math, you run the risk of losing your passion. After my learning experience from last week, I decided to put together an APA League team at California Billiards for the fall session. This accomplishes several things at once:
1. It’s an excuse to get together with friends and do something social
2. It gives me the opportunity to teach others what I know and help them grow
3. It helps out California Billiards by bringing in new customers
4. It helps the pool industry in general by expanding the customer base
5. It’s just plain fun, and is a stress reliever
We are currently putting together the team roster, and need to select a team name. If you have any witty suggestions, please leave a comment. The most important thing to keep in mind is this: when you set goals and are working very hard to achieve them, make sure to include some type of activity to keep it fun and keep yourself motivated to stick with the plan.
I met with a friend of mine over the weekend to shoot a few games of pool. Between games, we talked about pool in general and how the industry was doing. I mentioned that I was writing an article for the March edition of PoolSynergy, where I laid out my thoughts on what I believe is holding pool back from becoming a mainstream sport in the U.S. I also told him a little about my blog, my intent to educate and attract more people to the game, and my goal to become a professional player in two years. His response was immediate and harsh: “You know you are doomed to failure, right?” I was surprised by his quick sharp response. “What do you mean?” He paused for a second, collected his thoughts, and delivered the following analysis.
“You see, there are only two possible outcomes to your mission. In the first scenario, you work hard for a couple years, you make great progress, but you don’t reach the skill level required to play competitively at the professional level. In this scenario, you fail to reach your goal, but that’s okay, because everyone will say that your goal was too aggressive. Everyone will say, ‘See, I told you so. You’ve got a very long way to go kiddo. Keep at it, and come back again in five or ten years.’ That’s scenario one. Here’s the alternative. Scenario two. In scenario two, you work very hard, make meteoric progress, and achieve the goal of being able to play competitively at the professional level. In this scenario, the reaction from the general populace will be, ‘Yeah, he’s a pro, but he didn’t do it in two years. He probably had worked on his skills for years, was already knocking at the door, and just needed a very slight improvement in his skill level to get over the edge. Big deal.’ You see, in scenario two, you reach the goal, but everyone yawns because they think it was rigged from the start. Either way, you fail.”
I thought about his comments for a moment, and realized there was some truth to it. It is true that technically I’ve been playing pool for many years; however, I never took the game really seriously until the last few months when I started this blog. So the question is a valid one: What was my skill level when I started this journey at the end of October, 2009? It’s really hard for me to describe where I was at in the broad spectrum of pool talent, but let me try. About ten years ago, I was a member of the APA in the Atlanta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee areas. While participating in their eight-ball leagues, my handicap settled around a high ‘5’ or low ‘6’. Since moving to California ten years ago, I switched to nine-ball and have played occasionally in the USPPA with a skill rating somewhere around a 50. If you’re not familiar with either the APA or USPPA rating systems, this roughly equates to a player who on average can run 4 or 5 balls, but that’s about it.
So there you have it. That’s my full disclosure. That’s where I started from when I began my journey in October 2009. As you can see, I have a very long (but fun) journey ahead of me.