2011 World Mixed Doubles

It’s only been 2 months since I went to Hangzhou, China to compete in the Dragon Promotions 2011 World Mixed Doubles. I’m finally getting around to writing about it for one reason only. Jury Duty. More specifically, Grand Jury Duty. 30 days of sitting in a courtroom deciding whether to indict citizens of New York. I know it sounds like a long time, but it’s only 3 hours a day, and for a once aspiring prosecuter (me!), the whole process is fascinating. Anyway, as you can imagine, there is quite a bit of down time, and that extra time has allowed me to read, write and do the other quiet things that can be achieved on an iPad when you’re not in a noisy pool hall or sitting at home with a 5 year old that demands the iPad to play a game of Cut The Rope.

So anyway, back to China. When I got the invite to the tournament I didn’t know who my partner would be. Good chemistry goes a long way in a doubles tournament, so when I found out my doubles partner was Hunter Lombardo, I was thrilled. Hunter and I have know each other from around the pool scene for many years, and while we never played pool together, every time we are in the same room we end up laughing until our sides hurt. I like people who are open, impulsive and can go with the flow, so he was the perfect partner for me. Imagine my surprise when we discovered that we both travel with the same exact hair dryer. A match made in heaven.

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Considering we never played together, we played pretty well. Good doubles partners never point fingers, and help their partners get out of messes. We did that well, and when we lost, it was as a team. We ended up losing our first match to a team from Taipei. We played well, but so did they, and we ended up losing. Our next match was televised. The TV arena was on the ground floor of a mall in Taipei, and the production was extremely well done. I’m always impressed at how Dragon Promotions does live events so seamlessly. Recently I got some photos from that match that ran in a Chinese newspaper..

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In the next match we played team Japan, and got off to a great start. We played really well together and got a big lead. Then while we were on the hill, the wheels fell off. We both started making mistakes, and just couldn’t get out. In the end we couldn’t get it done, and we lost. We finished 9-12 out of a field of 16, but I think we had more fun than the other players.

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And we definitely had the best hair.

My New BFF’s!

You’d probably never know this, as scarcely as I update my blog, but I love to write. One of the reasons for my lack of blog entries is that I am stretched very thin, and it’s difficult to find the time and the peace and quiet that are required to write something meaningful. Thankfully, my new BFF’s at Pooldawg have commissioned me to write articles every 3 weeks. If there is one thing that motivates me, it’s big brother breathing down my neck, so every 3 weeks I will be delivering a short manifesto that you will hopefully learn something from, or at least enjoy reading. The following is a link to my first article. Enjoy!

Thoughts from the Electric Chair

10 things that tell me you’re a great player…or not.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written, so luckily, Samm Diep recruited me to post a top 10 list along with many other pool industry bloggers. Strangely enough I had already planned to write this post, but just needed a little push, well ok, maybe a big shove, to get it done.

My top ten things are mostly tongue in cheek, but there is at least a grain of truth in each one. Of course these are all generalizations, and there will be exceptions to every rule, so please refrain from telling me about your mom’s second cousin’s ex husband who is a world champion even though he regularly snaps cues in half when he misses.

10 Signs You Are A Great Player…Or Not

1. A great player doesn’t whine. Do people run from you when your matches conclude, especially if you lose? Do you go trolling for the first sympathetic ear that wants to listen to every layout, every roll, every game you gave away? News flash: Nobody wants to listen to that. Great players know it, and when they are asked about matches they usually respond in 3 word answers. I played bad. He played great. I got lucky. Any more than that is TMI.

2. A great player always takes responsibility for losses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people cry about losing to their opponents rolls. Hell, when I was a younger player I used to do the same thing (sorry to everyone who had to listen to that). Let’s face it, yes, people get rolls in pool, and yes, sometimes they seem to cost you the match, but it’s very rare that you have no opportunities or make no mistakes. It’s just part of the game, especially when you’re opponent is playing well and you’re not.

3. A great player sees the match clearly, and gives credit where credit is due. If your opponent is running racks and you miss a 2 ball in one of your three opportunities at the table, you should recognize that you were outplayed and you didn’t lose because you played like crap. Which leads me to the next point…

4. A great player either speaks kind words to their opponent at the end of a match, or shakes hands and says nothing at all. They don’t say “I played like shit” or “you got so lucky” or the cringeworthy “wow, I played so bad I can’t believe I won.”

5. A great player never throws temper tantrums at the table. Unless they’re Earl Strickland.

6. A great player has contempt for their opponent on the table and respect for them off the table. It is ok to want to bludgeon your opponent with the dull side of an axe while you’re playing, but great players never engage in fights, name calling, or the silent treatment simply because they lost the match.

7. A great player usually plays with a fairly simple cue. Top players are usually sponsored by cue companies that make cues for the masses. Occasionally a great cue maker will sponsor a player, but usually they really don’t make enough money to do so. People with large collections of expensive cues, or people who switch cues like Imelda Marcos switched shoes are probably not great players because great players know that it ain’t the arrow, it’s the injun.

8. A great player is a great sportsman. Everyone has their own line to draw here, but truly great players will call fouls on themselves. Most will tell their opponent if they are shooting the wrong ball or breaking out of turn. Many will give advice on shots that came up during the match when they are playing weaker players. All of them will look their opponent in the eyes and give a firm handshake at the conclusion of the match, win or lose.

9. Great players don’t disparage other people’s games. Most great players know how difficult pool really is, and know that there is a slow progression to greatness. Most of them remember being at the lowest levels of the game, and remember what it took to get to the highest level. Players who cut other players games down are just projecting their own insecurities.

10. Great players have fans, but more importantly, haters. Yes, that’s right, you haven’t really made it into the upper echelon of pool until someone you’ve never met is disparaging you on the Internet. So the next time you’re on the pool forums and you read about how someone’s grandma could give you the orange crush and your girlfriend looks like Jocelyn Wildenstein, just sit back and revel in the fact that you’ve finally made it.

Ginky

“I want to let you know if you don’t already, you are a Champion!”

I don’t know what possessed him to write this letter, but it is dated 2/28/05. It was a time in my career when I was just starting to achieve success, and it seemed like everyone around me was breaking me down. We were on a 9 ball team together, and we ended up winning that season. At some point, he brought this letter to me. I think he saw the pain that all of the adversity was causing me, or maybe he saw my self-doubt (something I never, ever saw in him), but whatever it was, it meant the world to me. I carried it in my case for years until I became afraid of losing it. Very recently I told him how much it meant to me and he told me that a great player once wrote the same kind of letter to him.

“Don’t ever quit. Maybe you lose, but don’t ever just give up.”

I have so many memories with him: A road trip to Turning Stone, scotch doubles death matches, him watching me demolish a very good player and rooting me on the whole way, playing on nine ball teams together, listening to his crazy jokes, commentating the final rack of a tournament over the phone to him, practicing for hours, then going to eat, then back to practice…I really can’t believe my friend is gone. I’m just happy that he left me this little piece of himself.

“I want you to reread this letter. Words you might forget, but you’ll always have this letter to look back on.”

And I will Ginky. Thank you.

I’m back!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to focus on making pool a career again, and practice is probably only half of that equation. I have been so busy with life that I really haven’t put much effort into the business side of pool. I’ve been practicing more than ever, and that is starting to show in my higher finishes, but looking for sponsors, booking exhibitions and, as you may have noticed, updating my blog, have all fallen off my radar in the last 6 months or so. I’ve been practicing a lot, and competing more than ever so I really have no excuse. I will do my best to change that.

Anyway, I just got back from the WPBA Masters in Michigan where I had my highest finish since I took a year off. All that practice must be paying off, right? Well, if it is, it certainly didn’t show in my play. I mean, I played downright awful. I struggled with controlling my cueball, I struggled with pocketing, I struggled with staying composed. All in all it was a disaster, but I was lucky enough to draw opponents who were in the same throes of inconsistency. The funny thing is, in the past few events, I’ve been playing great and losing. Maybe this was payback for that? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

In the meantime, I’m going to do a serious self evaluation to try to figure out why I self destruct from time to time and how to rescue myself when I’m drowning in poor play. I’m going to work on the flaws in my physical game and try to make them strengths. I’m going to start working out again because a strong body equals a strong mind for me. I’m going to compete as much as possible and watch Accu-stats matches. And yes, I’m going to update my blog regularly, and be as brutally honest as I possibly can because there is something cathartic about putting all of your fears and insecurities into a post and sending them out into the blogosphere.