Pool League update and other stuff!

I haven’t posted much in the last few weeks because I have been busy with work, family, pool and the like. We just finished our 2nd week of pool league and everything seems to be going ok for my new team. The 1st week was kind of rough, we got 1 out of a possible 6 points but everyone did a good job. Most of the matches we lost were only lost by one game. I won my match against a really good player that was on my team last year. I was on my game and he seemed to be having a “off” night. I finished 3-1 against him. Nothing to gloat over but anytime you can pull a win off of this guy it’s a good day.

Last night we turned the tables so to speak by getting 5 out of 6 points. We matched up fairly well and had alot of fun. I am looking forward to next week when we will be playing a pretty strong team. A win against them would be nice. The best thing about all of this is that my team mates are relaxed and having some fun for a change. We all like to win but it isn’t the main thing this year and I for one am having fun again just playing the game.

 

Also I have been busy bringing our pool league into the 21st century. I made a website for my fellow league players with all the info needed for league. It is being updated weekly with team standings, team handicaps and a schedule. It also has all of our league rules so anyone can view them at any time. (even during a match!) I will be able to post any cancellations due to weather and so on. It will also allow players to leave some feedback so that everyone will have a voice, not just us captains. How about you readers that are in league? Is there someone doing this for your league? I imagine it’s not that uncommon.

If all goes well I might start a forum so that all the league members can bitch at each other and trash talk one another!! Maybe get some side action going, who knows!

 

 

 

Okay so this pic doesn’t have anything to do with this article….. But I like it…..deal with it! For those who don’t know this is Jimmy “The King” Rempe, Danny DiLiberto (DannyD), Larry Lisciotti and Mike Segal aka The Roadrunners.

 

 

 

I am also working on a upcoming article about Biohacking (as it pertains to pool) For those who haven’t heard of biohacking, the best way I can describe it is this: The fine tuning of ones body to obtain the optimal results. It covers everything from mental strategy to physical fitness to getting the most out of your diet. Now this might sound a little far fetched at first but you can’t argue with the results. If you are will to put in the work you will reap the benefits.  Will it make you a pro player, no. But it will help you reach your maximum potential. For those who can’t wait for the article check out “The Billiards Biohacker Report” by Skippy on Itunes Podcasts. He has some great podcast and a website full of some great information. Hopefully I will be done with that article in a few days but for now I have to get back to work!

 

Have a great week everyone!

POOL LEAGUE STARTS TODAY!

Well, kinda. We are having our captains meeting tonight. This is were we have the captains from all the teams meet and discuss any rule changes and the like. We also take this time to introduce any new teams and go over the schedule.  I am starting my own team this year and I am looking forward to having some fun.

We will probably have a 12 week session, 2 weeks off and then another 12 week session depending on how many teams we have. Usually I set a few goals for myself so that I have something to works towards during league. One year I decided I was going to get the trophy for most 8 balls on the break.  Another year I wanted to get the most table runs. Last year I worked on playing better defense and playing the smart shot. But this year the only goal I have is to have fun and make sure that my entire team is getting equal playing time, even if it means loosing the match.

I figure that it may hurt us some this year in the standings but it will make us a stronger team in the future. So tonight it’s a  pitcher of beer, hopefully a short meeting and if I’m lucky a few 8 ball games for cash!

 

I hate to post a article without any pictures but I don’t have any that pertain to the topic. So I thought I would add a picture of a table layout and ask you how you would shoot this shot. The shot set up below is for a 8 ball league rules game (ball in hand rules) You are stripes, how would you play it?

I look at this shot and figure that there is a offensive shot that is low percentage, and several defensive shots. Scroll down for my offensive solution. I will leave it up to you to decide which is the best defensive solution.

 

How would you play this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Offensive solution: You must thin the 15 ball with a lot of right hand English. Your speed will be a big factor in this shot.

I did this shot on one of my trick shot videos and I have made this shot in a actual game but I would recommend you only do this as an absolute last resort because it is a very low percentage shot and will most likely cost you the game if you miss.

Product review– The Break Speed App 8/3/12

I know it’s been a while since I posted a new article but I have a good reason. I got a new Ipod touch the other day and I have been playing with it, getting it set up the way I like it and all that. Ok, so I have been playing a few games on it too!

I recently got the new Break Speed app 3.0.0 by Paul Nettle and I have been playing with it a bit. I have heard good and bad things about it so I thought I would check it out for myself and form my own opinion.

I was surprised to see just how easy it was to use. They kept it simple without it coming off cheap. I thought the programing ran very smooth and as of yet it hasn’t given me any trouble. The graphics are decent as well. The App comes with 7 preset table sizes to choose from.

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12 foot (62X124) table

10 foot (56X112) table

9 foot (50X100) table

8 foot over sized (46X92) table

8 foot (44X88) table

7 foot (39X78) table

6 foot (33X66) table

Plus it comes with a custom feature that allows you to input the distance between the cue ball and the ball you plan to hit on the break (usually the head ball). This will insure better accuracy than the presets. I used this in my personal pool room in my house and got very consistent results. Was it  accurate, who knows. I don’t have a radar gun to test it against but it seems about right to me.

As near as I can tell it figures the speed of your break by recording the sound of your break. It marks when your tip hits the cue ball and then marks when your cue ball hits the rack. It factors the distance between the cue ball and rack and the time it takes for the cue ball to reach the rack and spits out a speed in miles per hour.
I did 10 breaks in a row and my speed stayed relatively the same with a variance of .45 mph. I didn’t get any crazy reading that were way too fast or too slow. I had heard reports saying that some people were getting 35 mph every now and then. My guess is that either the app is picking up on background noise or the distance is set up wrong.  When using this in a pool hall I can see it giving false readings when someone is playing right next to you.

But when used correctly and with a little common sense I think it is a good tool for gauging you break speed.Another feature that is nice is that you can add notes to each break speed result and you can upload your results directly to facebook or twitter.

I like using this app for different reasons than most. I think most people think a hard break = good break. If you have read much of what I have written in the past you know that I don’t work that way. I prefer controlled power to raw power. Meaning that it doesn’t do you any good to try to hit them at max power if it decreases your accuracy.  I can break at 28+Mph but I successfully break at around 21 mph. I find that I get a better spread of the balls, pocket more balls on the break and get better cue ball position with a less than full power break.

There is another fun use for this app. My friends and I have had small competitions where you try to guess your break speed or see who can break the hardest/fastest. All in all it’s a fun tool to have for a few bucks. And it’s the only pool app I have been able to find so far. I wish they would make a pool table layout app that you could use to diagram shots and upload them to forums, email or web blogs. C’mon you programmers, get on that!

What’s the single worst thing that has happened to you game?

A few days ago I asked my friends at AZbilliards this question and I got some really good, candid  answers.

 

The question—“What is the worst thing that you have had happen to your game? The one thing that has had the most negative impact on the way you play.
Was it a bad beat, drugs, getting old, eyes going bad or a accident that left you impaired? Or maybe you got married to someone who didn’t share your love of the game.”

Now you might think that it is a negative question, but I have a good reason for it. How can you possibly fix the problem without knowing what the problem really is. Obviously some problems are not easily fixed, but a lot of our issues are self inflicted. And if we take a serious look at ourselves it wont take long to spot the problem in most cases. Some of us may have a bad back that has limited our ability. And some of us have had issues with drugs or alcohol. Maybe you have gotten burned out on the game or maybe you suffered a bad defeat that has sapped your will.

 

So whats the cure for your problem? In my opinion, most problems can be conquered. You just have to have one main ingredient, and that ingredient is DESIRE. Desire is one of the most powerful motivating forces in the world. When you have a strong desire, you can accomplish almost anything no matter what road blocks lie before you. When I first started playing this game I had an incredible desire to be an elite player.  I had almost no skill, no one to teach me (that knew what they were doing!), no instructional material that was easily available like there is today. No table at home. No cue. And for the most part almost no money! But I had desire, and with that I managed to overcome the obstacles in my way. And, slowly but surely, I improved.

But then a terrible thing happened. The single worst thing that has ever happened to my game.  In some way, on some level, I became satisfied. I think that after awhile I realized that trying to be the best is really hard! No matter how good I got there always seemed to be someone that came along and was better. So I got discouraged a little, and probably a little lazy too. And eventually I guess I settled. It happened so subtly that I didn’t even notice it at the time. I lost my hunger, my desire and some of my passion.  When that happens your in for a bumpy ride.

 

Don’t let this happen to you. Never become satisfied with your level of ability. Set new goals and work hard to reach them. And if you do loose some of your desire you will need to figure out what it is about the game that gave you that desire in the first place.

For me it happened in an unexpected way. I found my desire through teaching someone else about the game.  By teaching them I was able to see their improvement and the desire that grew in them made me hungry again. Watching them experience the game with fresh eyes got me excited about the game like I was when I first started.  And before I knew it the game became fun again, almost easy in fact. My whole attitude was changed. Even my friends noticed that when I played I had a smile on my face instead of a scornful look of concentration (or disgust!) I was enjoying it again and that’s what it’s really all about isn’t it?

So now I am happy with myself but not satisfied and I hope I never will be!

 

Click here to read some of the responses from the AZbilliards community

 

 

 

 

 

Knocking Action

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about here is what knocking action means.  It means to ruin someones attempt at getting someone else to gamble. Now, if you have spent any amount of time at a pool hall you have probably had some experience at gambling. Whether it be gambling on your own game , someone elses or just watching others gamble.

This weekend I experienced a situation that is worth mentioning. My family and I went to see a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. As usual I drive to the metro link station on North Hanley road and take the metro link into down town where it makes a stop right by the ball park.  As we were coming back from the game 2 guys hop on the train. One had a folded up newspaper and three screw on type bottle caps (the white plastic kind) and small red ball. He asked these 3 young guys if they just came from the Cardinals game. (it was obvious that almost everyone on the train had) When they said yes he asked them if they did the shell game on the jumbo tron. (Which they do every game) Then he told them that he can do that with the three caps that he had in his pocket.

This was not the actual guy, just a picture I found on the internet that was as close to the actual scene and I could find!

So, he starts doing his shell game with the caps on top of the folded up newspaper. It was the typical 3 card monte style of game, but as he started to show his skill I spotted his move.  I was sitting down off to the side of him and could see it well, but the guys in front of him would not have known what was going on.  Anyhow, he was trying to entice someone to bet and that’s where is helper came into play. The guy that got on the train with him made the first bet for $20.00. And of course he guessed right. Now the suckers see that and figure they got a shot so they bet $20.00, now the guy is moving the caps around the whole time and his helper starts to talk to the suckers, they think he is trying to help but in reality he is distracting them from seeing the move. They make their guess and loose time and time again.

After they ran out of cash the 2 guys left the train to catch the next one headed back the other way. I walked up to the guy that lost his money and asked him if he really knew what was going on. He said yeah, I think it was a magic trick or something. So I decided to let him in on what was up. I explained to him how the 2 guys were working together and that they had their routine down cold.  And that they most likely ride up and down the metro link after the ball games making their money.

He said “If you knew what was going on why did you tell me?”  That’s a fair question, and I must admit I was on the fence the whole time as to whether or not I should let him loose his money. I answered, “Because I didn’t want to knock his action” I figure as long as it was small stakes I would let the kid learn his lesson. I paid my dues when I was younger and I am smarter for it now.  I know this might sound harsh to some of you but I am just trying to be honest. I don’t really condone what the guy was doing but at the same time I know that some people just have to learn the hard way.

This is also something I see often in the pool world. A guy comes through town, I know who he is and how good he is but as long as he isn’t out and out trying to hustle anyone I don’t knock his action. Nor do I steer him,  because in a way that too is knocking someones action.  I find its better to just let the situation unfold on its own. I have warned a friend of mine who was about to get into a big money game and would have lost his ass because he had the worst of it by far. You could say it was knocking, but I only stepped in because he was getting hustled bad. He literally had no chance of winning.

In todays world a guy walks into a pool room and makes a few bucks and the next day his picture is plastered all over the internet killing any chance of him getting good action or any action ever again. It has killed the road player profession. And like it or not, road players are what gave this game it’s mystic and allure. The best stories came from the great road players of years past. Spend a half an hour talking to someone like Buddy Hall, CJ Wiley or Keith McCready and it will become obvious to you why pool is so colorful. Their stories are the most interesting  life stories you will ever come across. Their way of life was exciting, dangerous, funny and at times sad, but NEVER boring.

The kid on the train now has an interesting story to tell his friends for years to come and he is a little wiser because of it.

Would you have handled it differently? Have you had your action ruined by someone else?  Whats your thought’s on the subject?

Prepping For League

Our league doesn’t start for another 2 and a half months but it’s never to early to get ready, right? This year I have started my own team. I wanted to get away from the purely competitive vibe that was prevalent with last seasons team. This year it will be more about enjoying what we are there to do. To often in years past did I see some of our players sit out so that we would stand a better chance of winning. No more.

My goal is to have fewer players, and to have  players that are not so intense about winning. I love to win, but not at the cost of other teammates sitting out 12 out of 13 weeks. Never again. I found that it affected my game negatively because I felt guilty for playing every week while others watched. (It wasn’t my decision) Thankfully I am able to keep most of our team together. We got rid of the few that were all about the win and kept the ones that still manage to have fun no matter if they win or loose.

Our team will be weaker in a sense.  We wont have 2 of our big guns anymore but this will allow the others to develop more and those players might just step up and get the wins. And if we don’t finish in the top 3 so what, as long as people are getting regular playing time and enjoying what they are doing.

So I got my team together now but what about my game? I have decided to begin a rigorous workout on the pool table daily for the next two months. I will be  working on drills that improve my safety play, strategy, and  position play. I will be playing nothing but straight pool for the first month and for the next month I will switch between that and 8 ball. (It’s an 8 ball league) Straight pool hones so many parts of your game which makes a great tool for getting your game back in shape. Not to mention it’s just a fun game to play.

Here is my routine for the 1st week or two. It is mainly focused on fundamentals and pocketing skills. You might think at first that some of these drills are overly simple but if you don’t start at the beginning and get the basic skills razor sharp you will be less effective at the advanced techniques.

 

5 min straight stroke drill.

( put CB on the head spot, hit it to the other end of the table making it come back and hit the tip of your cue without moving your tip. Start of with a soft – medium stroke and gradually increase power. This will also show you how much power can negatively effect accuracy. This will also show you your range of power while maintaining accuracy. If you can hit the CB at full break speed and have it come back to your tip 9 out of 10 times than you are better than me! Honestly though, this should give you a good idea of how hard you can accurately hit the ball. Remember this exercise next time you unload on a shot.)

 

 

15 min corner to corner shot.

( draw an imaginary line from one corner pocket to the other, diagonally across the table. Set and object ball (ob) along the line where it dissects the center of the table and put the cue ball (cb) half way between that ob one of the corner pockets. Now shot the ob in using a stop shot, follow and then draw. I usually shoot 10 stops, then 10 follows allowing the cue ball to follow the object ball in, then 10 draw shots and draw the cb back into the corner pocket closest to me. This drill will work your pocketing skills, your positioning skills and test the straightness of your stroke all while working your stop, follow and draw shots.)

 

 

10 min banks

( I will set up various banks using the short and long rails. I will also practice using english and center ball hits on my banks)

 

10 min Frozen to ball and frozen to rail shots

 

(I line up 10 balls along the rail with a small space between each one. Then place the cb directly in front of it frozen to the other ball. Set up a OB down table and shot it in. After you do that from each of the 10 different positions you will be left with 10 balls frozen to the rail. Once again set up a ball somewhere down table and shoot it in using the balls frozen to the rail as your CB. *note you could just shoot the balls into a corner pocket but i think actual forcing yourself to make a shot is better practice.  This will really help you when you’re jacked up over a ball or stuck on the rail)

 

 

5 min Break Shot

( Just like it sounds, rack em up and break em! Over and over and over……. I only do this for 5 min but I will keep it in every one of my practice routines. Most people don’t practice the break out of laziness. It’s arguably the most important shot of the game, why wouldn’t you practice it.

 

 

15 min to 1 hour playing straight pool (depends on how I feel)

I like to finish my practice doing something I enjoy that also improves my game at the same time. The reason I put 15min to 1 hour is that some days my back gives me trouble and I see no benefit from playing in pain, so, I play as long as I am comfortable. You may want to play 9 ball or something else, just make sure it’s something fun for you. It gives you something to work towards during your practice session.

 

That’s it! Yours doesn’t have to be the same as mine, but if you do decide to do one make sure it focuses on the right things. The time amounts should be designed to suit you as well. Some say you should only practice for 15 min a day. I feel I do better with a hour or two. GO AT YOUR PACE.  I am also interested in other people routine, so if you make up your own post it here so others can see what you’re doing.

Sharks and Sharking

For those of you who are not familiar with these pool terms here is what they mean.

Shark- a person (usually a better player) who lies in wait for a game they know they will win, unlike a hustler who will underplay his skill to get you to play. A shark is a predator and at no time does he/she play the victim. A hustler lets you think you are the shark.  In short the difference between the two is that you choose the hustler, but the shark chooses you.

Sharking- distracting your opponent or doing something to intentionally hurt their chances of winning that would be considered immoral, unethical or out right against the rules. There are a million different sharking techniques, some of which I will list on here later.

For the purpose of this post it is important that you know the difference, today I am mainly talking about Sharking techniques and how to deal with them, not how to deal with pool sharks. (we can discuss that later!)

It strikes me odd that it is called “sharking”.  Because when a shark does his thing he isn’t necessarily “sharking” someone, and someone who is sharking isn’t necessarily a shark!  Recently on a forum I frequent they were talking about whether or not a person was being sharked by this other players actions.  I noticed right away by the peoples response who would be easy to shark and who wouldn’t.  Not that I condone it, in fact I used to really let it bother me that people felt they had to do it against me.

 

 

 

So, what do you do if you are being sharked by someone? Get mad? Most do, and end up losing because of it. I have found that the best defense against someone’s sharking tactics is a good sense of humor. I recently played a guy in league that was making blatant sharking moves against me. He would pick up the chalk off the table after he missed and take it with him to his seat (it was not his), he would move all of my stuff on the table while I was shooting, he constantly coughed while I pulled the trigger on almost every shot, he would jingle his quarters when I was shooting the money ball and he made sure he was in my line of sight on almost every shot!

Normally this would have pissed me off, but it was so obvious that it cracked me up. And whats more is that this guy was one of  if  not the best player in the league. So it occurred to me that I must be making him sweat and he feels that he needs to get a edge to beat me. Then something happened that made me take notice. I realized that once he noticed that his sharking moves were not working on me he got worried, his focus was gone and his confidence shriveled.  In a sense, he sharked himself!

 

Right then and there I learned that the best way to deal with this type of behavior is to realize that it’s a weakness on their part. They feel they need to do it to win, and when it doesn’t work they fall apart. Look at it this way, if they feel that they need to shark you then that means that they think you are better then they are.  It’s a compliment in a weird twisted sort of way! So laugh it off, keep you’re sense of humor and watch them squirm!

 

Here are some sharking tactics I have seen over the years, what are some that you have came across?

 

–The classic unscrewing of the cue as you shoot the money ball.

–Jingling pocket change as you shoot.

–Talking to you during you’re stroke (not always a shark but some do this on purpose)

–Excessive slow play.

–Farting! Yep, I played a guy once that seemed to fart every time he missed, I learned to take my time before approaching the table!

–Moistening the chalk to cause a miscue.

–Cleavage! Several women I know have been guilty of this one!

–Intimidation or trying to bully someone. I haven’t had this one tried on me since I was a kid, I’m 6’2″ now and about 220 lbs!

Those are just a few, there is literally no limit to what some people will do to shark you. Just roll with the punches and take it all in stride and remember, it’s their weakness, don’t let it become yours.