It’s 11:40am on a beautiful Memorial Day and most of my friends are either sleeping in late, watching television, eating lunch, or otherwise enjoying the beautiful outdoors in sunny California. Me? I’m indoors, planning to hit a few hundred balls at a local pool room. Just me and four other certified pool nuts. Why am I here?
Despite the generally accepted belief to the contrary, no one is born with a natural talent for pool. THIS is where talent is actually “born.” Talent is born in a billiard club filled with the gentle clicking sound of balls being pocketed by a solitary player. Talent is born in a basement that you sneak in to late at night after your parents think you are in bed. Talent is born in a person with the single minded pursuit to master a skill no matter how difficult the challenge. It’s days like today that must be logged by anyone who wants to be a great player, and this is the part that most people don’t see. The blood…the sweat…the tears…the self-absorbed somewhat masochistic drive that we have have to push ourselves beyond our current abilities and raise the bar for ourselves. It doesn’t come easy. In the event that one of us pool nuts finally makes it to the big stage, someone will likely say, “Wow, what a natural talent!” But if it happens to be me, I will know the truth. I will know that it took me pocketing tens of thousands of balls, thousands of hours of focused practice, dozens of tournaments, and countless discussions with other pool nuts to acquire the knowledge and muscle memory necessary to elevate my game. Have I reached the top of the game yet? No, not by a long shot; therefore, I practice. I force myself to repeat troublesome shots dozens of times until they no longer give me trouble. I force myself to only shoot left handed in certain establishments to the point that everyone in the place thinks I’m left-handed. In bed at night I run racks in my head instead of counting sheep. Nobody said this journey would be easy; as a matter of fact, anything that’s free or comes easy in life is never fully appreciated. It would have been much easier for me to be a fan watching from the sidelines, enjoying the game vicariously through the experiences of others. Instead, I’m headed down a long hard road filled with sweat, tears, and an occasional spike of euphoria. Yes, I have chosen to take the road less traveled, but in the end, it will make all the difference.
Rotation games are my achilles heel, but maybe I’ll get lucky this weekend?
TAR28: Deuel vs. Schmidt
Corey Deuel and John Schmidt will be battling it out in 8Ball, 10Ball, and OnePocket this weekend for a $6,000 prize purse. Catch all the action for free at your local pool hall, or pay a nominal fee on pay per view to catch it at home!
Click the image to visit the NYC Grind website for more details. If you are in the south bay area of Northern California, stop by Shoreline Billiards or California Billiards to catch the action for free, and also get in some table time while there.
This Sunday I turned in one of the worst performances in league history and got absolutely slaughtered in an APA 9 Ball match. It’s no secret 9 Ball is my weakest game, so I decided to join an APA 9 ball team this session for the first time to get some experience playing in the APA format in preparation for the upcoming US Amateur Qualifiers.
I’m rated ‘9’ in the APA format and I was playing a guy who is rated ‘8’, so our race would be 65 to 75. To win, I would need to score 75 points before my opponent scored 65. For the most part, APA 9 Ball rules are similar to standard 9 ball rules except for the fact that the match is actually a point race instead of a game race. Each ball pocketed is worth one point, and the 9 Ball counts as two points. (Also, there is no ‘push out’ on the break.) Each player plays up to a certain number of points based upon his or her player rating.
The first rack we played set the tone for the entire match. In the first rack alone, I scratched three times and also played a perfect safe on myself during an easy run out. Four ball in hands for my opponent in just the first rack! It was all downhill from there. I could do absolutely nothing right. I didn’t actually keep count, but over the course of the match I’m pretty sure I scratched at least eight times and shot myself into perfect safes at least 6 times. That’s more than fourteen ball in hands for my opponent. Wow.
It quickly turned into a slaughter. I don’t even know what the final score was, but it was probably something like 25-65. Nasty! Oh well, experiences like this keep us modest. I sulked for a couple days, but now it’s time to get back to practicing on a regular basis, work on my fundamentals, and start rebuilding my game.
How many pool halls will I visit over the next five days as I crisscross the great state of Kentucky, bouncing back and forth over that bourbon soaked land located between Nashville, Tennessee and Evansville, Indiana? This is the first real vacation I’ve taken in years and I plan to make the most of it. In an effort to simplify travel logistics, I decided to leave my cues behind. Now that I’m at 39,000 feet and almost three hours from home, I’m starting to regret that decision. Bummer. Oh well, that just means I’ll be playing with house cues from here on out. With an unfamiliar cue I know I’ll be more risk averse in my shot selections and will rely more in follow shots and speed control to gain position rather than use some of the crazy super draw shots that I sometimes pull off with my personal cue. Getting rid of the hotdog shots I occasionally shoot should lead me to a higher level of play.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and I’m hoping the theory holds true as I visit pool halls in the area and work to further refine my game. If you live anywhere between Nashville and Evansville, give me a shout and maybe we can get together and hit a few balls.