Monthly Archives: July 2010

Billiards Boot Camp Day 3

Today I revised my original workout schedule to better align with reality.  I seriously doubt I can maintain nine straight hours of deep practice.  Five is still aggressive, but a lot closer to reality.  ( Thanks Jarno! )  I was able to get a good nights rest, I’ve got my bags packed, I’m standing straight as a board, just clicked my heals together and snapped off my finest salute.  Heck, I even printed up my own Boot Camp poster!  Now all I need is a bus to take me to the promised land!  HOORAH!!  Here’s the new schedule:

Tuesday, Day 1: Concept day (Completed!)
Wednesday, Day 2: Prep day to plan the workouts and do other prep work (Completed!)
Thursday, Day 3 – 2 hours warm-up practice (That’s today!)
Friday, Day 4 – 5 hours intensive focus practice
Saturday, Day 5 – 5 hours intensive focus practice
Sunday, Day 6 – 5 hours intensive focus practice
Monday, Day 7 – 2 hours retrospective/lessons learned.



Billiards Boot Camp Day 2

Yesterday, I put together a portable notebook filled with shot diagrams and drills that I plan to use over the next few days.  I also cleaned my cue and made sure I had plenty of hole punch protectors for the practice sessions.  My plan is to reacquaint myself with most of the drills in Bob Henning’s fantastic book, “The Pro Book.”  I’ll be working on drills that not only require accurate shot making, but more importantly, require precise distance control.  I’ll also work on a variety of safety shots.  Later this evening I will put in a couple hours of practice to kick off the weekend festivities.  Whoohoooo!

Billiards Boot Camp Day 1 – The concept

Enough with the baby steps!  Over the last few days, I’ve been easing myself back into pool.  For the past month and a half I’ve been goofing off, just playing some recreational pool, getting accustomed to my new cue and just having fun passing the time.  Now that my batteries are recharged, it’s time to get serious again.  In order to get me back on the straight and narrow path, I’ve decided to conduct my own “Billiards Boot Camp.”  The attendees for the camp will be me, myself, and I.  My plan is to put together a very structured program so that I don’t slip into goof-off mode again during practice.  Basically, for Day 1 (that’s today), I’m putting together a seven day plan to get me focused.  Here’s the rough plan as of now:

Wednesday – Billiards Boot Camp Day 2: Prep day to plan the workouts, clean and condition my cue, organize my cue case, make sure I have the right supplies, etc.
Thursday – Billiards Boot Camp Day 3 – 2 hours warm-up practice
Friday – Billiards Boot Camp Day 4 – 9 hours intensive focus practice
Saturday – Billiards Boot Camp Day 5 – 9 hours intensive focus practice
Sunday – Billiards Boot Camp Day 6 – 9 hours intensive focus practice
Monday – Billiards Boot Camp Day 7 – 2 hours retrospective/lessons learned.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a little more detail on the actual practice plans.

Baby Steps

I’ve been away from the pool room for some time now, but today I headed back to California Billiards for a very short practice session.  I wasn’t mentally prepared for a highly structured session, so it quickly degenerated into me throwing balls out on the table and pocketing them.  *Sigh*  Where did my discipline go?  I need structure!  Maybe this weekend I’ll put together a small notebook that contains all my practice shot setups and take it with me wherever I go.  That way, there are no excuses for lack of structure in the future.  Speaking of this weekend, there’s a WorldPPA tournament at California Billiards on Saturday and Sunday.  There’s a part of me that wants to play in it, and another part that just wants to take it easy and slowly get back into the grove.  Maybe I’ll be there, maybe I won’t.  Who knows?

New Cue

On June 12, I played on the first stop of the California Pool Players Tour at California Billiard Club.  During the warm-ups for the tournament, I ran into Ramon Mistica, a friend that I first met at Edgie’s Billiards in Milpitas, CA.  Ramon showed me several cues made by a friend of his from the Philippines.  They were really good looking cues, and he let me hit a few balls to try them out.  I liked the way one of the cues hit and admired the detailed inlay work.  He said if I wanted to buy one, he would make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Well, I didn’t win the tournament, but I did leave with a very nice memento of the occasion.

The cue is 19.5 oz with a 13 mm shaft and black leather wrap, and was made by Tony Bautista, the main cue maker for Jazz cues.  Tony Bautista is considered by many to be the top cue maker in the Philippines.  Take a look at the detailed inlay work on the points: super sharp, 8 points in all.  Also, check out the cool points at the end of the butt.  Sweet!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with the cue, getting accustomed to the performance differences between it and my current cue.  It’s amazing how small differences in cue construction can affect performance.  The 13 mm shaft is much stiffer than my current 12.5mm, so the cue ball deflects a little further from the center line on off-center shots; however, I like the feel of the thicker shaft.  Now I just need to recalibrate myself by spending some quality time revisiting the shots in my training program.  Fun Fun!

PoolSynergy: What’s your story?

This month’s PoolSynergy topic is “What’s your story?”  About eight months ago, I kicked off a two year mission to dramatically improve my pool playing skills.  In preparation for this effort, I did a little research on skill development and the factors that influence a person’s ability to develop world class talent.  My journey has required me to do a fair amount of soul searching, and as such I began questioning not only my own motivation for playing the game, but also the motivation of other players who have achieved success in the sport.  Why do some people love the game?  How did they initially get hooked on the sport?  What keeps them coming back to the table again and again?  In essence, what’s their story?

Welcome to Volume 9 of PoolSynergy, a monthly collection of some of the greatest writing in pool.  On the 15th of each month a group of writers publish articles based on a common theme, and a host publishes a summary page with descriptions and introductions to each article.  This month I’m hosting, and I decided to pose a question to the PoolSynergy authors:  “What’s your story?”  Why do you love the game and what keeps you coming back?

The Contributors

Several authors contributed to this month’s topic.  First off, we have Alison Fischer, Editor and photographer for  Alison describes growing up with a Brunswick Gold Crown III pool table, and her mom teaching her the fundamentals of the sport…the bridge, the stance, and how to aim.  She and her mom played match after match in the basement, and from there the obsession set in.  You can read Alison’s story here.

Gail Glazebrook, the 2010 BCAPL Women’s Open National Champion, also describes growing up with a pool table, a 9 foot Renaissance.  Her dad taught her the fundamentals of the game, and it wasn’t long before she was giving the guys a run for the money.  You can read Gail’s story here.

John Biddle, founder of the Pool Synergy project, describes his current relationship with pool as “a more mature, long-term love relationship, rather than the hotter, more lust based attraction of my youth.”  John talks more about his relationship with pool here.

Mike Fieldhammer, founder of, tells about spending every holiday and summer learning from his grandfather.  He subsequently honed his skills during college, practicing all night on one of four regulation size tables at 25 cents an hour.  You can read Mike’s story here.

Melinda Bailey, author of the blog “Pool is a Journey”, describes her start in pool during high school.  She played lots of video games, and “…became so good at the video games I got bored…so I ventured over to the pool tables to fill my time and satisfy my thirst for staying busy.”  You can read her story here.

Johnny, author of the blog “A Journey Into Billiards”, preaches the educational value of pool as part of his attraction to the sport.  According to Johnny, “ Whoever said you don’t learn anything in a pool room has obviously never spent any time in one. There’s interpersonal politics, business and finance, psychology, physics and geometry, spatial reckoning and mental prowess.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  You can ready Johnny’s article here.

Jarno Virtanen, author of the blog “Caroming the Combination”, describes several memories from his early pool life, and how his learning experiences in darts and table tennis led to a life of pool.  A friend of his bought a pool table and put it in a private club.  Of course, he joined the club to be with his friends, but as Jarno puts it, “…my main motivation was the pool table.”  You can read Jarno’s story here.

The author of the p00lriah blog blames his addiction to pool on television.  He watched a trick shot exhibition by “machine gun” Lou Butera, and was hooked.  According to p00lriah, pool is one of the “…few games that combine deep logic with complete chaos…no matter how good you get, you can never completely master the game”.  You can read p00lriah’s story here.

Jake Dyer, who writes the blog “Untold Stories: Billiards History”, tells us that his first exposure to pool came during college via a book a friend gave him, “Hustlers, Beats and Others”, which describes the sociology of pool hustling.  He later traveled to Costa Rica for some time, where he witnessed old-school pool hustling first hand, and he fell in love with both the game and the culture.  You can read Jake’s story here.

For a complete list of PoolSynergy editions, you can visit John Biddle’s website at  I hope you enjoy this month’s addition of PoolSynergy.

Missing in Action?

As you can see, I’ve not posted in about three weeks.  Have I fallen of the wagon?  Gotten bored and given up the sport?  Got hit by a truck?  Forgotten my WordPress account password?  Hardly!  I’ve just been very busy like anyone else.  There is one pool related thing that has been occupying most of my time and attention over the last few weeks.  I’ll tell you a little more about that tomorrow.  Until then, keep practicing!