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The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.

Friday, May 13, 2005

On any given Friday the Thirteenth

Paul Potier
Student 5-13-05

Thirteen is one of my lucky numbers. Here's an example:

This afternoon I had a 4 hour lesson with Paul Potier, the Canadian pro. He is on an 8,500 mile road trip with his enchanting new bride Akio. And then on to the World Games in Germany. In addition to competing in the major tournaments all over the world, he runs a "Pool School In Paradise" with Mike Massey, Allison Fisher and Gerda Hofstatter in his home town of Vancouver. I haven't been to Vancouver, but it's the only place in Canada I hear anything good about. It's probably nice there in the summer.

Back to pool...

Paul gets me back to the basics.
He re-engineers my break and for 3 racks in a row the 1 ball goes straight in the side. Heavy emphasis on keeping cue level, aiming lower, choking up on the cue (don't hold it so far back), slow deliberate backswing, pause at end of backswing, etc. The focus is on technique rather than force.

Then we turn attention to my draw shot, which it seems is completely inoperative all of a sudden. Paul has me doing the pause at the end of the backswing and it gives me so much time to think about what I'm doing that my accustomed rhythm is completely off, and I miscue every time.

Very frustrating. I'm envisioning a long time before this feels natural.

He reveals that a secret of his effectiveness and accuracy is that 80% of his shots use NO ENGLISH. That sounds like the best of advice. My game lately has involved english on most shots, and even relying on some impulsive english to throw balls into the pocket, to offset the faulty stance or line up, or last second inspiration on position. I am realizing that my game is very un-disciplined. And I am convinced that more structure would be a good thing. But I love it "fast and loose". What will I do? Oh, what will I do...

At the end of my lessons, Paul announces "Nine Ball. Race to Five." As if I had a chance against this guy! That's a laugh. But what else am I going to do. Gotta go for it. I streaked to a 3-1 lead, but he battled back to hill-hill. He kicked at a five-nine combo and it went in (un-freaking-believable!), but then the cue ball kept going around the table and scratched. Un-double-freaking-believable! I now had ball in hand with 5 balls to sink before vicory.

I am most pleased to report that on this day, Friday the Thirteenth, I, Fast Mikie, did win a race to 5 with Paul Potier, Canadian champion, professional tour player, road player, exhibition and trick shot entertainer, and master instructor.

Go figure. Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you.

He was not really happy about this, of course, but I was, understandably, ecstatic. I am an, um, enthusiastic winner, and sometimes this could be seen as gloating, but that's in my Philadelphia traditions, so please understand Paul, it's nothing nasty, it's just my way of having a bit of fun. I mentioned my new tradition of taking a photo of those who have lost their match with me at the Fun House. Paul's a good sport.

Later we went to dinner, and returned to the Fun House for some Scotch Doubles with Akio and Tina. Tina and Paul teamed up against Akio and me. For the second time on Friday the Thirteenth, Paul's luck was running low. We took more pictures of ourselves having fun.

Paul, Akio, Tina, Fast


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