The Problem with Diamonds

After playing for 4 straight days on the most wonderful tables (9-foot Diamond Pro-Am), I realized something.  There's a real problem with them.  The problem? Nothing else plays like they do!  I mean that as a compliment.  Lemme 'esplain. No, there is too much. Lemme summup. [/Inigo]

Diamonds play just different enough from other tables that you can easily get used to the little-bit shorter multi-rail position routes. So after playing 20+ hours in just 4 days on them, returning to your local barbox league can be a little off-putting.

This was the case with me when I returned from the DCC this week.  The day after I got back, I had to play NAPA league; which is played on 7' Valleys, with deep cloth and the red dot "mudball".  I showed up extra early to try and re-align myself with these conditions, and for a while it seemed to be working alright.  I broke n' ran in 10-ball then banked the last 5 remaining balls in about 7 shots.  Drop quarters, did it again.  "Okay, I'm ready." I thought to myself.  I still continued to hit balls, and sometimes I'd just soft-stroke the cueball around the rails to keep my arm loose (I also love kicking 1-rail with a ton of reverse to 3-rail it around the table).

I play 10-Ball first, and come out shooting pretty well, despite my opponent, par for the bar-league course, not being able to give a great rack. But then it happened.  That one trigger that throws a giant wrench into the machine.  While down on the 10-ball, which was only a slight back-cut up the rail to the corner, I was bumped into by a patron on the next table.  I stood up, walked around the table, took a drink of my Mr Pibb and went back to the shot.  I was happy with my "reset", but during my walk around the table, I noticed that if I "normal speed" stroke this shot, I could scratch in the side pocket.  Then I made the well known mistake of trying to make a decision while down on the shot.  I tried to adjust so that the CB would float forward on a natural tangent line, drifting above the side pocket.  Then I decided to take the pocket out of the question and let up on the speed.  "While I'm ensuring that I don't stratch, why use draw at all? Just a center-ball hit will do just fine." runs through my head.  I might have well just closed my eyes and swung through; probably would've turned out better.  I hit the 10 full, it clung/skid and floated defiantly to the rail and back out, sitting a mere 2 inches from the pocket.  The cueball, as I had told it, more or less, floated up for a perfect straight-in shot for my opponent.

Now, as much as I like to say that I can blame the equipment for this failure, I just can't.  Afterall, I had made plenty of balls on the table already.  I know it was my own mental ramblings that caused me to miss; but I always go immediately to blaming the table/balls whenever I play barbox pool.  I find myself wanting to challenge whatever opponent happens to be across from me on a 9-footer, specifically a Diamond 9-footer. More on this later.


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Filed Under: Gear · General · League

TAR 39 - SVB vs Efren Reyes

This is all I have to say about this:

Shane Van Boening won the last All Around against Efren Reyes in TAR 34 . Efren offered to play again with his choice of games. Here it is. February 7-9, 2014 the greatest player ever will face Shane Van Boening in an “Efren’s Choice” All Around. 1 Pocket, Rotation, and 9 Ball. The match will take place at the TAR Studio in Las Vegas, Nevada. The match will be available to watch live via streaming Pay Per View. A very few seats in the studio will be available and up for sale soon.

Match Schedule:

Friday February 7: One Pocket Race to 11

Saturday February 8: Rotation (Set length to be determined)

Sunday February 9: 9 Ball Race to 25

Each days play will begin at 8PM Eastern/5PM Pacific

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Filed Under: General

$32,000 Barbox April 18-20 2014 at Smokin Aces

Here's a pretty big event for all you high-rollers/pack runners:

Smokin' Aces in Poplar Bluff, MO (573) 712-2900

April 18 - 20, 2014

$32,000 prize fund (with full field of just SIXTEEN players)

$2,000 entry fee.

Race to 21, Rack Your Own, Alternate Break, Double Elimination

1st: $20,000

2nd: $7,000

3rd: $5,000

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

Missouri State 9-Ball Championship 2014

I just stumbled across this info.  Which actually is upsetting, because this should've been much more publicized and it never is.


Billiards of Springfield

Springfield, MO

Feb 7-9th, 2014

$100 entry (+ $15 greens)

Round-robin format. Semi's/finals on Sunday, Feb 9th

Field limited to Missouri residents only (with valid proof)


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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

DCC 2014 Trip Review

How can I even begin to write a wrap-up of my DCC trip?  I mean... it's DERBY!  Almost half the stuff I saw/heard, I can't publish online and the other half is being streamed on the internet. ;)

I guess that means this entry will be a highlights-only entry.  So, with that, lets get down to it:

  • Hearing Corey Dueul say to Mark Wilson "I'm just saying, the last time I was on the team, we won."
  • Earl playing a young unknown kid from Hawaii one pocket, kid is shooting at stuff you "don't shoot at" and getting away with it.  Comments included "he wouldn't shoot that against Efren!" and "You know how LUCKY that shot was?! He never would've made that against Efren.", "Man this is a funny cue-ball.  Funniest damn cueball I ever seen."  But my favorite was while the kid was taking some time to find a way out of Earl's break, Earl is squirming in his chair and finally says "What are you waiting for? Bank the 5 and run out! You take too long."  The kid banks the 5 and runs 5 more before getting out of line and has to play safe.  Earl lost the match eventually.
  • After Efren won a match with who I assume was a friend, the loser comes over and says something about the match. Efren says in his little voice: "What can I do? You play bad."
  • Meeting both Lou Figourea and John Barton (of JB Cases) and hearing them make comments to other people about each other's games.
  • Watching a dispute about stealing a ball from the tray nearly come to fisticuffs in the dead silence of the action room mid afternoon, to which Alex Olinger (playing on the next table) says to his opponent "NOW it's Derby!".
  • Heard about a match with a friend of mine, where they were going to play a 6-Ahead set. Friend loses the flip, guy breaks, no shot, freezes CB against a ball for safe, opponent then RUNS THE SET out.  Runs out that rack, then breaks and runs the next 5 to get to 7.
  • Same friend against someone else throws up a SEVEN-pack in a 7-ahead race the next day.
  • Regional players playing for BIG stakes, every night.
  • Watching Earl come back from down 3-8 to win EIGHT racks in a row to advance in the 10-Ball Bigfoot Challenge against Oscar.
  • Watching straight pool, banks and one pocket all at the same time, depending on what direction I turned my head while in the balcony.
  • Getting to meet and play a local player finally, after years of hearing his name around town.
  • Playing one pocket again.
  • mmmmm Diamond tables!!
  • Watching Billy Incardona match up with Scooter
  • During the Earl/Oscar match Earl being Earl... also pointing at Shane in the crowd once, adding "He knows how hard that shot was!". And Shane, sitting next to Jayson Shaw are busting up laughing.
  • Listening/watching the backers and calcutta buyers squirm and complain and praise their players, the draw ... and everything.
  • Walking into the tournament the first time.
  • Running into a friend 5 mins after walking in, he offers to "find out who's buying who a drink" and takes out a coin ... I win the flip, he buys me a drink.  I'm up already after just walking in! haha

And now ... some pictures:



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Filed Under: Tournaments

First NAPA Night

Last night was the first night of the new session in the recently founded NAPA league in my town. First impressions were good overall.  I joined a team captained by a player I know loves playing, is a good shot, and a good strategist when it comes to getting people games and getting the team to Nationals.

The division we're in is a small one, with only 5 teams at the moment, across three locations.  So, last night it was just two teams matching up.  It's a double-jeopardy league, 8-ball and 10-ball.  The other team had some player issuers (missing players) so they had to forfeit one round.  They picked up a player that was just hanging out in the room, he shot well and was gifted his first wins in any league he's ever played.  Sucks for us, but good for him - hopefully he'll stick around.  Seemed nice enough.

For me, I had an absolutely stellar night.  Even though I missed a couple break'n'run opportunities, I was still able to play almost perfect pool.  It helped that my opponent was having an off-night.  I played 8-ball first, and after losing the 1st rack, I won the next 4 by just playing smart. Defense instead of aggression.  Although, when I found myself in this position, I knew the shot was a favorite for me to make it.

I overhit the 10 ball a bit and nearly hooked myself on the 9 ball.  I had the only edge I needed however, for the cross-corner bank.  The trick was to play the cue-ball 4 rails for shape on the 8-ball.  The tables were playing really short on the multi-rail positions, so I made a little adjustment, and fired it.  The 9-wobbled, but it dropped and once the CB got out of the upper corner, I knew I was in good shape to win the match.



Later, in my 10-ball match I drew the same player again. I lost the lag, but it didn't stop me from winning 4 racks in a row to win the match.  In the 3rd rack, after making the 6-9 combo, I mis-judged where the 6 would go and ended up nearly frozen to the back of the 6. I was nearly dead straight in anyway, so I knew if I could just jack up and do a little masse-draw I'd probably get a good enough angle on the 8 to get to the 10.  It worked better than I could've planned.



It helped that I cut the 6 a little bit, which gave the CB a little curving action to even better get across table for the easy 8-to-10 route.

The captain is confident that I'll likely win top-shooter in 10-ball, she's familiar with my game from the APA so it isn't just one night's opinion.  It's kind of a lot of pressure, but it's also flattering, and I do look forward to seeing just how far I can go.

Now for the NAPA specifics.  First and foremost, every shot is a CALL BALL/POCKET shot.  E.v.e.r.y. shot.  That's awesome.  No slop.  Also, I can push-out after the break in 10-ball.  In 8-ball, the table is open after the break, regardless of what suite you make.  So, no punishment for the breaker (a very common thing in barbox 8-ball).  I can call a SAFE shot and pocket my own ball, making the opponent shoot from where the cueball lies.  I haven't needed that rule yet, but I can really see its advantage.  And lastly, jump-cues ARE allowed.

As for skill levels, I'm a 6 in APA 8-ball, so I'm starting at a 70 in NAPA, but after beating an 80 (twice) last night, I'll likely go to a 75 (so thinks the people with experience).  The ratings are adjusted every week, so there's no point in someone sandbagging.  It doesn't really help them individually - but it really hurts the team when someone loses a match.  Another thing I really like about the NAPA format - it's centered on the team's performance, as a whole.  Losing a match, gets your team, at most 3 points.  Winning a match, secures 14 points (or 20, if your opponent doesn't win a single rack).  A player can earn extra points FOR THE TEAM by breaking and running out, or making the money ball on the break.  It doesn't do anything for you, personally (no skill level adjustments, etc).

Last night, I had it kind of easy, I had a 4-5 race (me going to 4) in both 8 and 10 ball formats; I don't expect that to be the case next week.  And since there's only a handfull of higher skill levels, I imagine I'll have to start giving games on the wire pretty soon.  Time will tell.

Tonight is the 1st round of playoffs for APA Masters.  If I understand everything correctly, if we win tonight, we're guaranteed to go to Vegas, as the 98% sure winner of the other match has already qualified for Vegas.  So... this is an exciting time for me/pool.

Monday begins the spring session of the in-house league at Cue & Cushion; where I've finally been raised to an A - after I told the LO that if I'm on the fence, just put me over the edge. I'm gonna need to bring my game every week, there's 17 players this time; so every match is worth a significant amount of money - projecting to the end-league winnings.

Next Friday, I'll be at the DERBY CITY CLASSIC!! :) :)

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Filed Under: 10-Ball · 8-Ball · League

Happy New Year 2014

I, for one, am quite glad to see 2013 firmly in the history books.  Though it was a great year in some aspects, it was a horrible year in others.  I played some of my best (and worst) pool ever.  I went to Vegas with my APA team.  I went to my first Derby City Classic, and I placed better in every tournament I entered than any previous attempt. I won more money on the table than lost. Overall, it was a fairly good year for my game.

A couple of quick things before I run off to league:

1) In reading through the history here, it sounds like I've been stagnant for two years.  Every couple of months I post a rant about not playing where I should be, not feeling like I should, not getting the runouts I should, etc.  It got me thinking: what have I actually done?  So I watched some old runout videos (and a lot of blown runouts) and I compared them to the newer ones I have. In doing so, I realized something great.  I'm a better player, overall, than I was 2 years, even just one year ago. I do actually play smarter than I used to.  I play better shape than I used to.  I adjust to table conditions more rapidly and I have great control on my finess shots.  So, while my percentage of runouts is roughly about the same, the way I get them now is head and shoulders above what they were.  I rely much less on luck during my runouts.  Before, in almost every one of my runouts, there's a fluked ball, or a good bounce.  In the newer ones, it's much more precise and and clean.  I'm quite happy with that.

2) I got a new tip the other day: a Kamui Brown Medium.  I had been wanting to try something a little harder than the Kamui Black Soft or Black King (nearly the same); so I went for a Medium.  I went with a brown over a black only because of availability.  Now, it's not as hard as I was hoping, but it's not as soft as the others either.  And best of all, it came pre-shaped in a dime-radius.  I've forgotten how much I like that shape.  I don't know if it was the tip, or just that I was swinging purely that night, but I shot one stroke shot better than I have in a long time.  Check the video below:

The best strokes are back-to-back starting at the 2:50 mark, on the 7 ball (oddly enough) and 10 ball. I hit it perfectly rail-first and the cue ball comes back 3 rails with inside spin with enough juice to bounce several inches off the 3rd rail.  I've called this "The Shane Shot" because there was recently a video of Shane shooting this on a diamond to get position on the ball nearest the cueball (assuming the corner was blocked to shoot it where I stood). You can really tell when I hit it good as the cueball picks up speed off the 1st and 2nd rails.  In the sequence, I do miss a couple balls, but 7/9 on that shot? I'm fine with that. :)

3) I don't subscribe to new years resolutions per se, but I will say that I have every intention to continue my improvement this year. To earn that A ranking in the local league system.  To earn every win I get because I outplayed my opponent and took the win, not because they dogged it less than I did. To cash in as many tournaments, no matter how big or small, as I can.  To not let up on my opponent when I have the lead, to "Kill The Bunny".

Here's to a great start in 2014!

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Filed Under: Gear · General · Stroke

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