Sunday, May 3, 2015
posted by dave at 10:14 AM in category equipment, movies, practice, whatever

Brief update on equipment plus an average game of practice one-pocket.

Saturday, November 15, 2014
posted by dave at 7:14 PM in category equipment, movies, whatever

This is from a little over a year ago, but it's still extremely accurate. I've, once again, decided to shoot with my ugly Predator, at least until after the DCC.

One thing that I don't think I mentioned in the video is that all that crap about effortless and such was about banks. For regular shots, I don't think there's much of a differences between my cues.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
posted by dave at 10:43 PM in category whatever

I've got a million things to say about pool. What I've been doing, how I've been doing it, etc.

I really want to write some entries here. It's important to me, at least for now.

Sunday, April 29, 2012
posted by dave at 8:54 AM in category movies, whatever

Another rant, with slight inebriation this time. You're welcome.

I seem to drop the f-bomb a lot in this video. Oops.

Thursday, September 29, 2011
posted by dave at 1:06 PM in category whatever

Today I keep glaring at my left wrist, because that always helps, right? It's been hurting a little. Not the intense pain that has caused me to stop shooting so many times over the last several years, more of a dull ache that I fear could transform into actual pain.

So I've really thrown myself back into pool these last several weeks. That's why my wrist is hurting and that's why I'm concerned about it. I'd like to write more about throwing myself back into pool, but I'm making no such promises.

Monday, August 29, 2011
posted by dave at 11:55 PM in category whatever

Still playing. A lot.

Distractions that, um, distracted me for several years are gone, at least for the moment. I needed something to occupy my mind, and I've rediscovered the simple pleasures of shooting balls into holes.

Okay, fine. There was just one distraction. It's not like I'm the first person this ever happened to.

Anyway.

Back in January of 2001, I had Grady Mathews in my basement for some lessons. Yesterday I watched the DVDs I made of that session. I noticed a few things:

1. I asked a lot of stupid questions. It seemed like I was expecting that there was some big secret to banking balls, and if I asked Grady enough times he'd finally reveal that secret just to get me to shut the fuck up.

2. Grady had incredible patience with me. This was nice, as it told me that I probably wasn't the most retarded player he'd ever given lessons to.

3. I shot almost every shot way too hard.

4. In January of 2001, I was the world's fattest person. In the background of some scenes, you could see Greenpeace people lurking, just in case there was any trouble from whalers.

Monday, July 28, 2008
Hi!
posted by dave at 10:55 PM in category whatever

So, the thing is, for those of you who are here because I got runner-up in some pool blog thing - I apologize.

I haven't updated this thing in months. I have no plans to update it with any more frequency in the immediate future.

My stupid personal life took precedence over my pool playing.

Fucked up, I know.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
posted by dave at 11:08 PM in category whatever

One of my New Year's resolutions - the only one I've really stuck with as it turns out - would be to shoot more pool.

To shoot pool every day was my original goal, though I've since realized that it won't be possible, because there are going to be days when I never see a pool table. But, so far, I've managed to shoot every day this year. At least a couple of hours every day.

I'm taking things very slowly, being very cognizant of my left wrist, because if I mess that wrist up again it'll be weeks before I can make a proper bridge. Don't want that. Not at all.

So I'm sleeping with my wrist brace on, and I'm being very careful when I shoot pool.

It's been banks for the most part lately. No big surprise there I don't suppose. I've sprinkled in some nine ball every now and then. Sometimes nine ball helps me get into alignment more quickly than banks does.

Tonight, for the first time in months, I managed to bank nine in a row. Then, to rub salt into my no-camera-having wound, I threw the balls back onto the table and banked three more. So, that's twelve. Pretty good for a chump, I think.

I'm not even going to promise to update this blog more often. It wouldn't fool anyone by this point.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007
posted by dave at 11:48 PM in category whatever

Well, between the worst cold I've ever had, and the worst back pain I've ever felt, my practice time has dwindled to almost nothing. I've gone weeks without even picking up my cue.

But maybe I'm getting better now. I played for a bit tonight. I played 8-ball, of all things.

I know, not much of an update, but here it is anyway.

Saturday, February 10, 2007
posted by dave at 12:25 PM in category whatever

Still practicing a lot, though not so much for the last few days as I've been sick.

Anyway, today I redid the main movie page. It was taking way to long to load up. So now you have to go to each movie's individual page to actually watch the thing.

There was also a problem with one of the clips. It kept freezing on me. I've reloaded that clip to my server so I hope the problem is correct. I can't test it just yet because the corrupted clip is in my cache.

I never said this would be an exciting entry.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
posted by dave at 1:25 AM in category practice, whatever

Practice was much better today. I had a lot of fours, a few fives and sixes. Nothing spectacular though. Seemed to have better luck on most shots with my grip hand about an inch more forward than comfort allowed. I don't know if that's something that will carry on past tonight though. Most physical elements of my shooting style don't last very long.

Anyway, I've mentioned before in various venues that I've always been much more of a feel player, than a mechanical one. To me, it's always been preferable, and more successful, to shoot what feels right instead of what I calculate is right. Everyone's different. Most top players use a blend of FP and MP styles, I think. Even if they won't admit it.

When I switched to banking, years ago, I found that the accuracy needed to bank well was so much greater than the accuracy needed for regular shots - well I felt that I had to become a more mechanical player to have any kind of success. My thoughts on stance and alignment, such as they were, simply did not lead to the type of consistency needed to bank balls with any kind of regularity.

I think the thing that I've come to realize, or at least recall, over the past few days has been that being physically mechanical, and therefore consistent, doesn't necessarily mean that I have to be mentally mechanical as well.

So this is something I've been working on. Feeling the shot, but shooting with a consistent physical style. It's a little tough. Physical tension can lead to mental tension, and mental tension is the last thing an FP wants. Conversely, mental relaxation has a strong tendency to cause physical relaxation. And too much physical relaxation can lead to sloppy shooting.

But it is possible to disconnect the two approaches to shooting.

This is something I'm working on. It's frustrating, but it's fun.

And fun is why shoot.

Saturday, January 6, 2007
posted by dave at 6:39 PM in category whatever

I was thinking about two things today, while I sat at the DCC and watched players more fortunate and/or better than me play their second and third round matches.

The first thing was that living so close to the tournament is a bit of a mixed blessing. It's surely nice to be able to drive home each night. Sleep in my own bed. Just chill out for a while, away from the tournament and its hustle and bustle. But, and this is something that I only noticed yesterday but which probably started last year, but it's a little bit too easy to just quit and go home. I'm sure that, if I'd driven several hours to get here, and if I were staying at the hotel, then I wouldn't have been nearly so quick with my decision to not buy my way back in. This may be something I'll want to consider next year - just getting a room at the place and staying there.

The second thing was a continuation of some of yesterday's thoughts. There are some really crappy banks players. I mean really crappy. I watched a guy yesterday get ball-in-hand five times during his match, and each and every time, without fail, he chose the wrong shot and missed it. Then the fucker won his match anyway. I saw him today. He's still playing, though I can't imagine that he's still undefeated.

But that's the way these random draws work. Charlie Chumpchange somehow keeps drawing players even easier than himself, and I get the guy who took 12th last year for my first match. I'm not complaining. It's random. But it's also annoying, and it makes me understand a little bit of that gambling mentality which has eluded me for so long. It kills me to see some of these people still playing when I'm not. It almost makes me want to challenge the whole fucking room to a race for a gazillion dollars. Just to prove my abilities. Establish a more realistic standing for myself.

There are two things holding me back from issuing that challenge.

First, I don't have a gazillion dollars.

Second, I suck.

Thursday, January 4, 2007
posted by dave at 4:39 PM in category whatever

(crossposted to main blog)

I'm off work until Tuesday!

Tomorrow is the start of the Bank Pool division of the Derby City Classic, which I play in every year. I'm actually looking forward to it this year. Unlike last year when I was sorta dreading the thing, and it showed up in my play. Or lack thereof.

This year my mental state is much better than it's been for a long time. Problem is, my actual game is pretty shitty.

My practice sessions have lately taken one of two distinct flavors. Either I don't miss a ball for several hours, or I don't make a ball for several hours. Unfortunately, the latter outnumber the former by a fairly wide margin.

Oh well though. It should still be fun. And it will almost certainly be better than going in to work. I will miss going to the bar and seeing my friends *coughHatGirlcough* though.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007
posted by dave at 7:11 AM in category whatever

I've gone ahead and purchased my entry for the DCC banks.

I'm so out of practice this year.

Friday, April 7, 2006
posted by dave at 1:14 AM in category whatever

Wow, two entries in three days! Cold snap hits Hell!

Accu-Stats has finally got the 2006 Derby City Classic DVDs up for sale. I, of course, bought the Banks offerings.

Gives me something to look forward to.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006
posted by dave at 7:28 PM in category whatever

It really pisses me off that I don't ever post anything here.

I still play almost every day. I shoot banks, of course, and I'm showing a lot of progress.

At least until I fire up the camcorder, then I suck donkey balls.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006
posted by dave at 7:28 PM in category whatever

I've let a month go by without a single post.

If anyone bothers to read this anymore, they probably figure that I've given up playing or something. And I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking that.

But it's not the case.

I'm actually playing a lot.

I guess, if forced to make an update here, I'd say that I've sort of abandoned the idea of sticking with a particular shooting style. I'm sort of shooting with my regular (if you want to call it that) semi-random style except for certain shots.

I don't have anything else to say at this time.

I'm waiting for the AccuStats tapes from the recent DCC Banks to come out so I can buy them and see what I missed.

Saturday, January 7, 2006
posted by dave at 11:06 AM in category whatever

People are going to believe whatever they want to believe, but I know what the truth is.

Yesterday at about noon, I realized that I didn't want to be at the tournament. My excitement and interest levels were both at zero.

My first match started at around 5:00, and other than the first game, I couldn't make a ball.

And I didn't care.

Once that match was over, I came home. I didn't buy back in. I doubt that I'm going back to watch. Maybe Monday to see the Banks final matches, but maybe not.

I was expecting this tournament to do too much for me I suppose.

Like I said, people are going to believe whatever they want, but this is the truth.

Losing that match was not the problem, it was only a symptom. Losing that match did not cause me to leave and come home, it allowed me to do so.

I expand on this a bit in my regular 'blog.

Monday, January 2, 2006
posted by dave at 5:02 PM in category whatever

For the past couple of weeks, I've at least been practicing.

When, that is, I'm not busy looking for chocolate stout to drink.

I guess I'm looking forward to the thing. Not nearly as much as I have in past years though.

Friday, December 23, 2005
posted by dave at 12:39 AM in category whatever

Every year at about this time I usually remark how I'm "banking better than I ever have before."

Well, this year there's a twist.

I'm banking extremely well, but I'm not sure that it even matters.

Compared to previous years, I've hardly practiced at all this year. I wasted a year in my personal life, and some of that wastage has transferred to my pool game.

I'll be lucky to win a match at the Derby City Classic, which starts in just a couple of weeks.

Sunday, October 30, 2005
posted by dave at 10:37 PM in category whatever

Yay!

I just, with a broken toe and all, I just banked twelve balls in a row.

I'm pretty happy about it. I'd be quite a bit happier if I'd had the fucking camera rolling.

I've been, as usual, experimenting with my physical shooting style lately. I've been moving my right hand way to the back of the wrap.

If you've ever seen Tony Fargo shoot - that's the style I'm sort of copying right now. I'm banking pretty fucking well, if I say so myself. And I say so.

Of course, if this lasts until January and the tournament I'll be shocked. Nothing ever lasts with me.

Monday, September 5, 2005
posted by dave at 10:47 AM in category whatever

So I seem to have this curse. I call it The Camera Curse.

I really don't feel any differently when the camera is running. Maybe a little hot because of the extra lights, but I certainly don't get nervous or anything.

Having said that, I shot all day yesterday and the best I managed was another lousy eight in a row.

It's on my movies page. I called it Argh!

Saturday, June 25, 2005
posted by dave at 1:40 PM in category whatever

I've been trying since early this morning to get another nine-in-a-row caught on tape.

No luck, but I did get another eight.

It's over on my movie page.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
posted by dave at 2:21 PM in category whatever

I see a bunch of people coming here from this thread at azbilliards.com.

Thought I'd suggest this entry.

Saturday, May 7, 2005
posted by dave at 1:08 PM in category whatever

I've started and aborted this entry several times. I know what I want to say but actually putting it into words has proven to be a lot tougher than it should be.

Back when I first started to learn how to bank, I don't know why, but I adopted what I'll call the object ball overlap method of aiming.

I just learned the various banks in terms of how much of the object ball to hit. For some banks it was a half-ball, for others a nearly full hit. Whatever.

long bank shot

Take the shot above for example. I learned that making this shot required a full hit with a touch of inside english.

Of course speed is important as well.

What I never really paid attention to is where the object ball should hit the cushion.

This is the exact opposite of my method for shooting all other shots. In 9-ball, 8-ball, one-pocket, or whatever else, driving the object ball at a specific target has always been my primary objective.

cut shot

In the shot above I couldn't give a rat's ass how much of the object ball I'm hitting. I think it's about a third of a ball, but I could not care less. My goal here is to drive the ball into the pocket.

This difference in the way I approach the shots has been causing a big problem for me as I change from one game to another, and I've spent a lot of time trying to settle on a specific approach. One that would work equally well for any shot.

For the longest time I've tried to work the overlap approach into games like 9-ball. Sometimes I've had good days, but more often I've had pretty shitty ones. I stuck with this approach for so long because it worked for banks, and in my mind banks were always the tougher shots. If the overlap approach worked for those shots then, dammit, I should be able to make it work for easy shots where you're just cutting a ball into a pocket.

Well it's time to admit that I was wrong.

Bank shots are not harder, they're just different.

So what I've been doing lately, what's been keeping me so busy practicing that I've been neglecting this 'blog so much, is completely rebuilding my approach to bank shots.

I spent a week, an entire week, playing nothing but 9-ball. I never banked a ball. This was tough, but I needed to redevelop my old method of approaching a shot. I needed to work on driving those object balls at a target instead of just hitting them where I thought they needed to be hit.

That week, as I expected, did wonders for my 9-ball game.

After a week I started practicing banks again. I forced myself to always pick a target on the cushion and drive the object ball to that target.

At first, as I expected, my banks sucked giant donkey balls.

But then something pretty cool started happening.

I began to relearn the bank shots. The balls started going in. They're still going in.

And the really great thing, the thing I was hoping to accomplish with this, is that I can switch from banks to 9-ball to straight pool to whatever, and my game does not suffer. I'm using the same approach - the same style - with every shot I shoot.

I am becoming an all-around player, which is something I've never been since I started banking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
posted by dave at 10:44 PM in category whatever

Been playing most days, alternating between banks and 9-ball.

Both are going fairly well, and I'm sticking with a single shooting style, so that's something new I guess.

Not much else going on with my game.

I need to get out to The Bank Shot. Maybe this Friday.

We'll see.

Thursday, March 31, 2005
posted by dave at 10:47 PM in category whatever

Haven't picked up a cue for a couple of weeks now.

It not that I don't feel like playing, I just feel like doing other things even more.

I'm sure this is just temporary. The urge to hit balls will come back some day.

Monday, February 28, 2005
posted by dave at 9:31 PM in category whatever

Okay, so I'm back into pool mode.

My post-DCC pool doldrums usually last until about this time for a reason.

That reason is that the Accu-Stats matches taped at the DCC finally go up for sale.

Every year, I buy all of the banks matches I can get my hands on. This year there were three tapes and I bought them all.

In addition to the Accu-Stats purchase, I've been going a little crazy on eBay. In the last 60 days, I've bought about a half-dozen books and another half-dozen videos.

Watching and reading all of these has really got me fired up again.

As far as my game goes, I've made some major changes to my sighting technique. I'm no longer aligning myself along the line formed by the contact points. I've basically just gone back to sighting along the cue.

It's helped my 9-ball game immensely, though I still suck.

For my banks game, I'm continuing the experiment I started, then aborted, a couple of months ago. I'm using a little pumphandle jab and the balls just keep banking in.

It's really funny to watch sometimes, but then I'll miss a few easy ones in a row and doubt sets in. I'm trying to stick with this for a while though as it's the closest I've ever been to dead stroke while banking.

Okay, I guess that's enough for now. I just wanted to let you people know that I was still out here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005
posted by dave at 4:42 PM in category whatever

Just got messaged that it was time for me to post something.

I've been busy with my non-pool life since the DCC ended, so my pool life isn't really worthy of an update right now. I usually end up taking a short break from pool for the weeks immediately after the DCC, so this is all normal.

I guess I could say that my nine-ball match went pretty much as I expected it to except that, along with my predicted break suckage, I also could not make more than a few balls in a row. I lost 7 to 3 I think, though it may have been 7 to 2.

I may get LASIK with my tax refund this year. That will hopefully eliminate at least one potential excuse for the next time I play poorly.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005
posted by dave at 8:39 AM in category whatever

Spent the entire day yesterday practicing 9-Ball, in a fruitless attempt to make up for several years of practice lack.

What I did was play God races to seven. I won seven matches and lost seven matches. My victories were almost all narrow ones, and my losses were almost all blowouts.

My prediction for the DCC 9-Ball, which starts today, is that I will shoot well, but it will be my breaks that kill me. I'm making a ball on the break about 25% of the time, and I'm getting shape on the one about 25% of those times. This is simply not good enough, and even if I never miss a shot otherwise, this poor breaking performance will be my downfall.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005
posted by dave at 12:43 PM in category whatever

Watched the last several matches of the Banks on the TV table. If you buy any accustats tapes you just might see me sitting off to the breaker's left.

The banking was very impressive, but I actually thought people were being a little too aggressive. Perhaps this can be blamed on Jason Miller proving last year that all-out offense can win the whole thing. In the end, though, David Matlock's slightly more contained impatience won him the tournament.

It turns out that my second-round opponent knows Bugs Rucker, so I got myself an introduction. This was the first time I'd ever even seen Bugs, and to actually meet him was really an honor.

Sunday, January 2, 2005
posted by dave at 11:34 PM in category whatever

Some of you already know the story of my brief escape from the world of the mortal player and into the realm of the pool gods, but for those who don't here's a synopsis.

On Valentine's Day, 2001, I lost my job. About ten minutes later my sister came over to tell me she'd found a lump in her breast. For the next two days, in an attempt to keep my mind off those things, I played pool. To be more specific, I didn't miss for two days. I was just awesome. Then I lost it, and I spent the better part of the next three years trying to get it back. My game fell back to that of a raw beginner, so strong was my focus on this singular goal.

Most of my (failed) attempts to get back that prolonged dead-stroke focused on the physical. I'd detected, but failed to really notice, a slight adjustment to my right arm, and I spent an awful lot of time trying to find that magic placement again.

It never worked.

One other thing about those magical two days, though, was my mental state. I was experiencing a combination of depression and anxiety, with a lack of sleep thrown into the mix. This was something I was certainly aware of, all those times I sought to regain my lost magic, but I couldn't really generate a mood on demand, could I?

Now those of you who venture over to read my regular 'blog know that I've had some turmoil in my life over the past few months that, on the surface at least, seems a lot like what I experienced back in 2001. I've had depression. I've certainly had anxiety. I may have set new records for lack of sleep.

On most occasions these factors were just too strong to be any kind of a catalyst for my game, but every now and then, like flipping a switch, everything would just fall into place. On those occasions when I was able to force my mind to forget about my troubles, and focus on the table and the shot in front of me, I simply could not miss.

Actually, similar things have happened to me in the past, though to a much lesser degree. My divorce was not only one of the best things that ever happened to me, it was also one of the best things the ever happened to my game. When my father died I didn't pick up a cue for weeks, but once I did, I shot pretty damn well.

I'm sure I could think of more examples. I've certainly had enough turmoil.

What I'm thinking - and this may be obvious, is that by forcing my mind away from unpleasant thoughts, I'm essentially forcing it towards the game.

It's when my mind's internal ramblings become unbearable enough for me to shut them down, but not so powerful that I can't shut them down, that's when my game goes up a notch.

It would certainly be nice to be able to focus exclusively on the shot-at-hand whenever I wanted to, but unfortunately I seem to need a little help in that department.

I'll have to work on it some more.

Thursday, December 30, 2004
posted by dave at 10:51 AM in category whatever

Went and paid my entry for the Derby City Banks yesterday.

Guess it's time to pick a damn cue and start practicing instead of fucking around.

I haven't decided whether to play in the 9-Ball or not. That decision will probably wait until the absolute last minute. I may actually be pooled out by then.

I generally rank myself in the top third of the banks players at the tournament. Actual results show me at the bad end of the top quarter, so that's good. Enough to get into the money or very close to it.

In 9-Ball I honestly don't know where I'd stand. If I had to guess I'd say that two-thirds of the players there are better than I am. And even that may be giving myself too much credit. If I'd been playing 9-Ball as often as I used to several years ago then I might even make the top third but now, I don't know.

Of course, I don't play in the thing to win, or even to get my money back. I play for the chance to play the Varners, the Halls, the Daultons. What I don't want to do is pay my $125 dollars to enter the 9-Ball and then get beat out by two people I never heard of.

Friday, December 10, 2004
posted by dave at 11:52 PM in category whatever

I suppose an update is in order.

I've decided that I won't be playing in the one-pocket at the DCC next month. Oh, I'm shooting well enough, but I haven't been practicing any one-pocket at all. Also, I will be playing in the banks and probably in the 9-ball so a break of a couple days between those sessions would be helpful.

My 9-ball game is fairly decent. I don't think I'm playing as well as I can, but I'm playing well enough to make it into the money I think. We'll see.

My banks game is downright scary. I'm playing the best banks of my life (and I know, I say that each year at about this time). If I can stay in a offensive mode, and make it work for me, I may even be able to (dare I say it?) take the whole thing. Jason Miller did it last year by shooting at every shot, and I'm shooting better right now than he was then.

Of course that won't happen. I'll miss a couple of banks that I'll figure I should have made, then I'll revert to playing a more rounded game. Or maybe I'll start out cautiously, afraid to make a fool of myself in front of my adoring fans.

Yes, I have fans.

They watch these movies I put on the Internet, and they decide that I'm some kind of banking machine or something.

I wish.

To veer off-topic for a second...

While I was in Las Vegas last week I, every now and then, would pick up a house cue at The Tilted Kilt and bank a few racks in on their 7' tables with their 6" pockets. This never failed to get me a free beer or two, and once it got me a phone number that I didn't bother calling.

Anyway...

This friend of mine from Seattle has said that he might come to Louisville for the DCC this year. That would be pretty cool as I don't really have any pool-playing friends here at all. Just acquaintances. Also interesting would be to see if all of the stories (mostly in first-person) that I've heard about YouKnowWhoYouAre's abilities have any basis in fact. I still think of him as a bar-table 8-ball player.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004
posted by dave at 4:52 PM in category whatever

(crossposted to the main 'blog)

To properly experience election night, I've decided to watch the returns in the basement while I play pool.

I will pretend that it's Bush vs. Kerry.

While playing as Kerry, I will alternate between left and right handed play, and I will always choose the most complicated route to the pocket.

While playing as Bush, I will keep my eyes closed and blast everything as hard as I can.

Sunday, October 3, 2004
posted by dave at 6:05 PM in category whatever

I have this really annoying habit. I think I've mentioned it here before.

I usually play my best at the very beginning of any given session, and it's all downhill - or at least steady, never better - from there.

Today I had this idea to try and capture this phenomenon.

I set up my camcorder, broke the balls, and banked eight in a row.

I then proceeded to spend the next hour before I could even bank five off the break.

This annoying habit of mine is thankfully something that is unique to Banks.

Today, that damn last ball was in my thoughts througout the entire rack. I knew it would be my last ball and I just couldn't get it or my cueball into position. I ended up missing a three-railer (not the way you want to try to finish a runout) by less than a diamond.

At least I got it captured for all to see.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
posted by dave at 10:17 PM in category whatever

Okay, the new eye openers page is up and running.

The more I think about some of the most amazing and informative shots I've seen over the years, the more I think that this page may end up being the longest on on the site.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004
posted by dave at 11:48 PM in category whatever

I'm working a new page.

I'll call it "Eye Openers" and on it I'll put shots (mostly banks at first) that were shown or taught to me that truly surprised me when I saw them.

I've got some movies made for four of them and hope to have the new page and the movies available tomorrow.

Saturday, September 25, 2004
posted by dave at 12:35 PM in category whatever

Just a quick update to remind myself of something.

Hey Dipshit, if your game is a little off, and shifting your weight and/or varying your pace hasn't worked, try raising your stupid head a little.

Just a couple of inches could provide the visibility and alignment you're lacking.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
posted by dave at 11:33 AM in category whatever

Just a quick note to myself to remember to try varying the number of practice strokes I take on those occasions when things feel a little "off" but I can't pin the blame on anything specific about my style.

Preliminary testing indicates that changing my rhythm can have a profound effect on my play.

I'll probably write more on this topic once it becomes more clear in my head.

Sunday, September 12, 2004
posted by dave at 8:43 PM in category whatever

I just can't stop.

About every 30 minutes or so I just have to go downstairs and shoot some balls.

They just keep going in the holes, and I really look like I know what I'm doing.

This is so much fun!

Friday, September 10, 2004
posted by dave at 3:47 PM in category whatever

The other day when I went into my little mini-slump and then pulled myself out of it I had no idea how I did it.

Last night it happened again, and this time I paid attention.

What I did, and I know that this sounds really stupid and simple, is make a slight adjustment to my weight distribution.

Specifically I'm now leaning a bit forward instead of being balanced equally on both feet.

I don't know why, but this slight change works wonders with this NewOrleansJoey style that I've been using.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004
posted by dave at 9:20 PM in category whatever

I blame this on a couple of things.

First, I didn't even play any pool for several days. I was too busy with things like my site redesign.

Second, I went bowling on Saturday.

I think the combination of a lack of steady practice and a little muscle fatigue in my right arm must have done something.

Sunday and Monday I sucked.

Tonight I managed to fight the panic welling up inside me - the feeling that I'd fallen into another of my multi-year slumps - and brought my game back to where it's been for the past few days (weeks? I don't even know).

I'm not sure exactly what I did. I guess I just kept trying to keep the same NewOrleansJoey style I've been using. Eventually it worked.

Two things amaze me about my little mini-slump.

I cannot believe how quickly it came, then after a couple of days, how quickly it went away.

It was seriously like flipping a switch.

What also amazes me is the incredible contrast between SlumpingDave and ShootingDave. I mean, for the past two days I'd go ten shots in a row without making a ball, then tonight all of a sudden I ran four racks.

It's truly like two different people.

My money's on the one that runs racks.

Monday, August 30, 2004
posted by dave at 9:32 PM in category whatever

For the past couple of days I've caught myself several times altering my stroke when practicing banks.

Instead of the smooth even practice strokes continuing on to a smooth even actual stroke, I've been kind of jerking that last stroke.

Why have I been doing this?

First, because it's the way I was shooting nearly all last year and most of my subconscious banking systems are well-suited for that stroke.

Second, because it's a hell of a lot of fun when the banks go in with high regularity.

I try to keep myself reigned in though. I remember all too well how using a bank stroke that didn't translate to regular pool completely killed my regular games.

Whenever I catch myself straying from the compromising style I've been trying to perfect I immediately switch to 9-Ball or One-Pocket for a while to get everything back where it should be.

Racks of 9-Ball are falling like dominoes, but the banks suffer quite a bit.

I just have to keep at it and eventually I should be able to stick with one style that works equally well for all shots.

Friday, August 27, 2004
posted by dave at 10:36 AM in category whatever

As I've mentioned before I occasionally do a search for "barenada" on the various pool message boards and newsgroups, just to see what's out there. Along with general comments and feedback about the site I've noticed that the comments about ME have become more numerous. These more personal comments nearly always fall into one of three distinct genres which can be paraphrased as follows:

Fan: Wow this guy is great! He must be the best banker in the world! Man I wish I could shoot like that!

Detractor: Dave sucks. Any pro/top player/road player would tear him apart.

Females: Wow that guy is hot. And he likes cats. I must have him now.

The truth about my play lies, as it does for the incredible majority of players, somewhere in the middle of the listed extremes - and actually a lot closer to the "sucks" end of the spectrum than to the "great" end.

I've got a records page up, and on it I clearly state that those are my personal bests - not my averages.

I've got a movies page up, and while I don't specifically state it (It really should be obvious) many of those shots and runs took quite a few attempts before I got them taped. I wish I could walk downstairs and bank nine whenever I felt like it, but wishing doesn't make the balls go in.

I got an email this morning from a guy asking me why I don't turn pro. I though I'd answer him here. There are several reasons:

First, I'm not good enough. That's the sad truth. The sadder truth is that I may never be good enough. I've learned to deal with that fact, as have thousands of other players before me.

Second, there's no money in it. I'm just guessing here, but I'd venture that maybe a half-dozen men pros make more than I make at my regular job - and most of what they make is probably from endorsements. Many more make a lot of their money from gambling. Since I don't enjoy gambling, unless I could manage to be one of the six best players in the world (not bloody likely) then I'd be taking a big pay cut and would probably end up living in my sister's garage or something.

Third, all of the traveling would surely get old very quickly.

I've got my records and my movies on the Internet not because I want people to think I should turn pro. I've got them there to show that even a dweeb like me can do some good things every now and then. I couldn't bank a ball to save my life a few years ago. Now I can bank a ball, and sometimes more than one. If I can learn to be a decent banker, as I learned to be a decent 8-Ball and 9-Ball player before that, then anyone can.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
posted by dave at 12:25 PM in category whatever

Since I've been shooting pretty well for the past few days - and I seem to have found a pretty good compromise between my 9-Ball style and my Banks style - I'm thinking about expanding my participation in the next Derby City Classic.

In the past I've only played in the Banks portion because (a) it's the only one where I had even a chance at getting my money back, and (b) Banks are fun.

Recently, however, I've been playing the occasional games of One-Pocket and 9-Ball and I'm finding that I enjoy them as well.

I may, if I shoot my best, have a slight chance of getting into the money in the DCC 9-Ball tournament, but unless a group of Special Olympians gets lost and enters the One-Pocket tournament I belive that I would go out in the first round.

Of course this only makes the 3272347th time that that I've poked my head up out of my 9-Ball slump only to have it shot off. I may very well start sucking again and move back to shooting Banks exclusively.

Oh yeah, the compromising style that I've used for the past several days was copied from what lIttle I remember about NewOrleansJoey's style.

If this keeps working, Joey, I owe you big-time.

Monday, August 16, 2004
posted by dave at 9:18 AM in category whatever

Last night I wondered what the odds of banking nine in arrow would be.

Here are some attempts to quantify the odds.

For the first run, I assume that the nine shots range evenly from a 90% make to a 10% make. Multiplying that out (.1*.2*.3*.4*.5*.6*.7*.8*.9) I get a .000362880 chance of running nine banks, or once every 2756 attempts.

That seems a little too tough, so I tweaked the difficulty of the shots.

If I assume a more realistic difficulty range, like .5*.5*.5*.7*.4*.9*.7*.2*.6, I get .002646 or a 1 in 377 chance.

This time it seems too easy, but you get the idea.

Thursday, August 12, 2004
posted by dave at 9:59 PM in category whatever

(crossposted to main 'blog)

Just a follow-up on the theft of my PDFs and videos by another site.

I've had two conversations with the owner of the business with the website. He's assured me that all of my files will be removed from their site during a change of their outsourcing company. That change will take place within the next few days.

They're changing outsourcing companies at least partly because that company was, I believe, responsible for putting my stuff on the site to begin with.

I believe that the business with the website had no idea that this was being done, and I'm giving them several days to make the changes we've talked about.

I check my own website access logs regularly, and today I was able to follow the trail back to what looks like a new version of one of the offending pages. So far, it's exactly the same except for a little blurb at the end about how the videos came from www.barenada.com.

I don't know if the plan is to leave things that way, but if so, those plans will not be acceptable to me. My files are still there, and I want them gone.

Please people, just put up a link to some pool pages. Don't copy their files to your own site.

This while thing still has several days to get straightened out.

It's surprising how many attorneys are pool players. I've been contacted by several. I just tell them what I told the guy - if they remove my material from their site then I'm quite willing to drop the whole matter.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
posted by dave at 9:00 PM in category whatever

(crossposted to main 'blog)

Today I got an email from someone I didn't know telling me to check out another pool site.

What I found there were copies of my PDF files and videos. Exact bit-for-bit copies even.

I received no credit, and if not for my URL at the bottom of every page in the PDF, and the fact that it was me shooting in my basement in the videos, there would have been no mention of me or barenada.com on the entire site. The files were clearly meant to look like they belonged to the company with the website.

After a few phone calls I spoke to someone at that business. He assured me that they had no idea that the site contained copyrighted material, and that he would take care of it.

Time will tell I suppose.

For now I'm not sure whether to feel violated, or proud, or both.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
posted by dave at 9:21 PM in category whatever

For the last couple of weeks I've been practicing 9-ball and banks at about the same rate, trying to come up with a physical style of play that suits both games well.

So far I've not had a lot of success.

A big part of the problem lies in my cue selection, and I'll talk about that in another post. What I want to address here is my actual stance - specifically as it relates to the position of my eyes in relation to the shot - and the effect that stance is having on my shooting.

Every serious player has read about dominant eyes and what they contribute to the aiming process. Most books tell you to find your dominant eye and then to keep it directly over the cue.

I don't have a particularly dominant eye. I also, unfortunately, don't have equal vision in both eyes. My testing tells me that the "midpoint" of my vision is between my eyes, but shifted about 1/4" towards my right eye. This point is what I call my third eye, and this point is what I try to line up when I shoot.

I can check this alignment pretty accurately by making sure that the right side of my chin is over my cue.

What I've been noticing lately is a little unsettling. My third eye is moving. Its position seems to be dependent on how HIGH my head is above my cue.

I've basically been shooting with two different stances lately. The first is probably a more textbook-style stance, and the second is more of a Truman Hogue/Louis DeMarco combination.

Both work fairly well at times, though I've been having more success with the latter method lately. My head is just a little higher, and my accuracy on shots that are cut to the left increases. On shots where my head is lower my accuracy on shots to the right increases.

This has become pretty annoying. I'm certain that my head is aligned with my cue at exactly the same angle in either case - remember, I can use my chin to check this. I've also checked to make sure that my head is not tilting or turning to either side.

Everything seems the same except for that extra inch or so between my chin and my cue.

It's quite possible that I'm going insane. I'll report more on this if I ever get a better handle on it.

In the meantime I'm banking very well and hitting "regular" shots like a chump. Just like I have for the past few years.

Monday, January 12, 2004
posted by dave at 9:29 PM in category whatever

The Derby Classic is four days away and I have a decision to make.

Whether to play offensively or defensively is a decision I made at about this time last year as well. Back then I thought I'd play more offense, and only get conservative against the strongest players. During my pre-tournament practice sessions I was banking balls very well, and I reasoned that I'd have a better chance of advancing if I tried to outshoot my opponents instead of trying to outmaneuver them.

At least that was my reasoning going in. What ended up happening is that I played very conservatively throughout the tournament. I didn't really make a decision to switch strategy, it just happened.

As it turned out, I advanced quite a bit further in the tournament than I'd thought I would. That's the good news. The bad news is that I lost to two players that, had I been playing a more "normal" game, I would have killed.

The problem was that I didn't know that going in. I was concerned about getting blown away so I played a lot of safeties. Then by the time I figured out that these people couldn't bank as well as I could it was too late - I'd lost my alignment and so was FORCED to play a conservative game.

This year I'm not quite sure what my plan should be. My banking ability, except for the past few weeks, has slipped about 20% from last year. My strategic thinking has probably slipped about 20% as well. I blame lack of focused banking practice for the most part, though there have been a couple of injuries that certainly didn't help.

In a perfect world, I'd just bank 15 & out on all of my opponents and win the whole damn tournament. Here on Earth that probably won't happen. Here on Earth I'll probably win a couple then lose a couple just like last year. At some point some opponent will bank that fifteenth ball against me and eliminate me. I just have to decide how I want to go out - in a blaze of offensive stupidity, or a wimper of ineffective conservatism.

I have four days to decide. Maybe I'll just flip a coin.

posted by dave at 9:12 PM in category whatever

Got an email from Hal Houle this morning. He's going to attempt one of his cross-country trips, and has promised to stop by here and give me some lessons.

I'm really looking forward to it, if for no other reason than to put a face behind the voice I've talked with on the phone.

Sunday, January 4, 2004
posted by dave at 7:45 PM in category whatever

My pool 'blog just got corrupted by an earlier post. I had to delete it to get my entries back.

Maybe I'll make an image of the chart that was screwing everything up.

Yes, that's what I'll do.

Sunday, December 14, 2003
posted by dave at 11:15 AM in category whatever

A few weeks ago I wrote a little entry about respect, and in that entry I paid a few compliments to a player I know in Seattle.

So for those who've been wondering, that loud popping sound recently heard coming from the American Northwest was not Mt. Rainier awakening. It was actually YouKnowWhoYouAre's head exploding.

Saturday, November 29, 2003
posted by dave at 11:02 AM in category whatever

The severe shortage of entries in this 'blog lately are mostly caused by my wrist injury and the lack of practice it's caused, but when I do practice I'm having to deal with yet another problem - whether to play as Banks Dave or as Straight Shot Dave.

You see, Banks Dave and Straight Shot Dave have two completely different attitudes - attitudes forced upon them by the games that they play.

Most games, 9-ball, 8-ball, one-pocket, and the like share the same ultimate need of extreme accuracy. In these games missing is simply not an option. You play safe or you make the ball. Luckily, this accuracy can be obtained and maintained by the proper level of concentration.

In banks you simply have to accept that misses will occur. There are just too many variables in a bank shot to ever make much more than half the shots attempted. A banks player has to be able to accept these inevitable misses unconditionallly or he will soon go insane. A banks player's attitude is much more relaxed. It has to be, or the common cycle of safety, safety, safety, miss that repeats so frequently in banks would destroy any chance of an enjoyable experience.

As I continue to find myself on the verge of ending my long slump I've been trying to balance my time between practicing banks and practicing games like 8-ball and 9-ball. I need the banks practice as the Derby City Classic is less than two months away, and I need to practice the other games to maintain my resurgence.

The problem comes when switching back and forth. Banks Dave, when trying to play a game like 9-ball, looks like he's just whacking at balls. There seems to be no concern for cueball position. Easy shots are missed just as often as hard ones.

Straight Shot Dave, trying to play a game of banks, gets frustrated very quickly, failing to understand that all the accuracy in the world does no good if it's not properly blended with shot speed, cueball spin, equipment condition, and even a little luck.

I'd like to be able to blend the mindsets of these two pool personas into a single player but I haven't been able to do it yet. I'll have to ask Nick Varner and/or Shannon Daulton how they do it.

Perhaps then I'll start addressing the difference in the physical styles of the personas, but that's another subject.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003
posted by dave at 11:42 PM in category whatever

A couple of times each month during the past 30 months I've thought I was out of my slump. Not back to the pro-level shooting I'd briefly experienced, but at least back to the level I'd enjoyed for years prior to that magical two days. On these hopeful occasions I'd make three or four balls in a row and then excitedly set up the camcorder to capture whatever physical mannerism had turned out to be the secret to my game. The special arm angle, bridge length, or grip position that I'd so carelessly forgotten so long ago.

On each of those occasions my delusions of decency eventually evaporated. Sometimes an hour later, sometimes several days later. I'd start missing easy shots again, and getting shape would become the pipe dream of a has-been.

The jury is still out on this, perhaps the 75th time I've allowed myself to get my hopes up. For a couple of solid weeks now, except for a brief period the other day when I decided to table my trusty Schon for a while, I've played the way I'm supposed to play. The way I used to play.

To put it briefly, I run out when I'm supposed to. How strange it is to make that observation about my game after all this time. How wonderful to catch myself thinking "I'm out" instead of "I should be out" when the balls are open.

Pool, for now, is fun again. I no longer have to hide inside my banks game, where misses are expected, to cloak my inability to make even the easiest shots, to see even the easiest patterns, in other games.

Though this latest streak began a few days before my Seattle trip, I still give that trip all the credit for my recent resurgence. The enthusiasm with which I looked forward to playing against my friends in Seattle, or simply being around "pool people" again, was something I was desperately missing - even though I didn't know I was missing it.

Maybe the monkey is finally off my back. I'm not willing to say it just yet. The memory of all those other disappointments still stings and makes me cautious. I don't know what will have to happen before I'm willing to declare that my game is back for good. Perhaps it will come to me gradually, a persistent level of competence that I'll eventually realize has become my "real game" and is not just indicative of another hot streak. Or maybe I'll experience an epiphany during my practice some night. I'll simply drop into stroke and never look back.

As I said, the jury is still out. I can see the light at the top of the well, but I haven't quite pulled myself out yet. I just hope I don't fall to the bottom again.

Time to go practice.

Sunday, November 2, 2003
posted by dave at 1:36 AM in category whatever

Found myself tonight at my sister's Halloween party discussing pool with a friend of her boyfriend.

I'd played this guy once, about two months ago, and he made a very nice run and beat me in a game of 8-ball. Anyway, during the course of the conversation I ended up inviting him to my house to play. What I had forgotten, in my Cone Smoker induced stupor, is that my 8-ball game sucks.

Now I'll have to work on my 8-ball game to avoid making a fool out of myself. This will of course cut into my banks practice, and with the Derby City Classic coming up I need all the banks practice I can get.

Fortunately the little mini-streak of good shooting that began a week ago continues. I can say with confidence that I'm playing better right now than I've played in nearly three years. I have yet to drop into dead stroke again, but the balls are being pocketed with pretty good regularity, and that leaves me free to loosen up a little and allow my position play to fall into place.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
posted by dave at 1:16 AM in category whatever

A little respect. It's what we all need, and us pool players are no different. We don't need to be the very best, though it would be nice. We don't need to be ranked the highest, as self-gratifying as that may be. We don't need to make a living from playing, though that is almost every serious player's dream.

What we need is respect. Self respect and respect from others. Self respect is the easy part. You work hard, practice diligently, put those hundreds or even thousands of hours in, and you see the improvement in your play. You accomplish something that thousands of social players never even try - you get good.

Next comes the hard part - getting others to acknowledge or even notice what you've done. Getting their respect. Respect for taking responsibility for your own game and taking it to the next level. Sometimes this respect is hard to come by. The people you started playing with, the ones that are still stuck in (and quite content in) the ball-banger mentality are often loathe to acknowledge that you've accomplished more with your game than they have. By acknowledging your success they're obliquely calling attention to their own failings.

At the other end of the spectrum are the accomplished players. They have to accept you as one of them, thus diluting their own ranks as pool's elite.

I'm happy to say that I've managed, at different times in my life, to gain the respect of beginners and accomplished players alike. Gaining the respect of even the professionals is not completely out of the question for me, should I ever manage to take my game to the next level.

Where I sit right now is what I'd call the "Damn Good Social Player" level of play. In the bars I've frequented I've usually been the best player there. At the pool hall the better players will play against me if nobody better is around. I have the respect of my peers, and that's what I think we're all playing for deep down.

If I ever manage to make the leap, to pull myself to the next plateau and beyond (damn mixed metaphors), I'll have an easier time than before because I've been through it all before. People will be more able to accept me at those levels because I've already passed through the earlier ones. In other words, my time in the minor leagues will help to prepare the way to the majors, should I decide that that's the route I want to take. Basketball players who've already made a name for themselves in college are more readily accepted than those who get drafted right out of high school. Pool is the same way, just not as formal.

I know a guy in Seattle named YouKnowWhoYouAre*, who has reached the same level of play that I occupy. For whatever reason he has seemed to have a harder time getting the respect he deserves. I've been as guilty as anyone of belittling YouKnowWhoYouAre, always in a joking manner but perhaps not completely without malice. I've known YouKnowWhoYouAre for nearly a decade, and in that time he's gone from a rank beginner to a top league player. In that same amount of time I've either been stagnant or maybe even dropped a little in ability. My banks game has improved tremendously, but 8-ball, which used to be my bread and butter, has become a real struggle for me. I can no longer walk into a bar and assume I'm the big fish in that particular little pond. In many cases I'm not. In some little ponds the big fish is YouKnowWhoYouAre, and that's a little hard for me to swallow.

But swallow it I must. My obsession with making an immediate jump to the next level, to repeat what I briefly did nearly three years ago, has stalled my game. YouKnowWhoYouAre, meanwhile, has continued his steady improvement and has managed to surpass me at times. He is the tortoise to me, the hopeful hare.

I don't have to like it, I just have to accept it. And recognize it. Give YouKnowWhoYouAre the respect he's earned. So, well done, YouKnowWhoYouAre. You've become a Damn Good Social Player. What you do next is up to you, and I'm convinced that you can go as far as you want.

Enjoy the respect you've earned. Just don't get too complacent. Because before you know it some young upstart with a nice stroke but no brains will come to you seeking respect. You'll have to decide when they've earned it.

And don't be so busy watching your back that your peers all move on without you.

Oh yeah, don't forget about me either. I'll be back looking to kick your ass just like the old days, so at least try to make it a challenge for me.

It may seem like your pond now, YouKnowWhoYouAre, but I saw it first. You're lucky I'm willing to let you swim there while I'm away.

* name changed to protect the guilty