D I A R Y
of a

P O O L    S H O O T E R

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




Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Playing Cue



It has been one of my goals for this year
to upgrade from my plain-jane Predator cue
to something a little more stylin'...

After a lot of looking, there's really only
one new production cue that "spoke" to me:
the new Predator LE-11.
This cue was made in a Limited Edition (LE)
of only 175 cues, manufactured by Mezz.
Actually, only 174 cues were released.
Number 139 was defective,
and they are not going to rebuild it.
Interestingly, number 139 is the exact number I wanted!
Such is life!

So I decided to get another number...

It took a lot of calling around to find
a serial number that I could live with,
and the deal that I needed,
but with the excellent help of the
good people at
Billiards Direct
(ask for Ben)
I finally got everything right.

The design reminds me a lot of a
Mobius strip.

I'm looking forward to a lot of excellent pool with it!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bridge by Miltonio




A few weeks ago I visited Miltonio
to discuss building a custom playing cue.
We played a few games of 9-ball on his table,
and I had a chance to use a bridge he built from some scrap.
I liked the design, and suggested a couple of improvements.
And I never thought about it again until a week or so later
when he said he wanted to build a couple of bridges for me
using some nice wood he knew I would like and using
a grommet instead of a cup to hold it on the end of a cue.

So I gave him the go-ahead.
And today I get this photo e-mailed.
Classy stuff, eh?
I like the wood, and the signature.

Great gift item.
Just in time for Christmas!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Winning One Pocket: "The Book"



By a stroke of good fortune, and good timing,
I was lucky enough to get a copy of the
very rare and best book on the subject,
in outstanding second edition,
never touched by human hands
(except for the author's autograph).

This book is unavailable on Amazon.com
(Amazon didn't even have a photo of the book cover
so I uploaded a photo they are using now).
Only once in a blue moon will it appear on eBay,
but they are usually beat up used copies.
This one is mint.

And I also got the companion book:
Shots, Moves & Strategies -
as taught by the game's greatest players.

These two volumes are probably the best
pool books I have ever read.

The source?
Bob Henning's Bebob Publishing

Google Video for Pool

Google keeps expanding.


Check out the new free hosting service for video.
Now in beta testing,
this service will soon help Google rule the world.

Check out video.google.com
and search on "billiards"

There are many videos which are worthless,
but there are some that are of value.

Here's one:
Keith McCready vs. Ryan McCreesh
2004 US Open 9-ball Championship.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Protector: New product idea


From the folks at CueCare.com:

For years we searched for an alternative to gloves and powder. Something cleaner, more convenient, and far more effective...

The PERFECTOR is an interwoven sleeve worn on the cue, that expands and contracts with the motion of the shaft. Now every player can master the Standard Closed Bridge. With the Perfector your stroke will never be smoother. Friction, moisture, powder mess and drag will immediately be eliminated. The Perfector will increase your accuracy and consistency -- instantly! For the perfect stroke every time!

The PERFECTOR will immediately elevate your game ... or they will refund your money -- Guaranteed.

Only 10.95 at CueCare.com

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Gimmie a Break!

In search of a respectable 9-ball break shot,
(as opposed to my normal girly break)
I recently ordered a new break cue.
After extensive research on the AZ Billiards forum,
(check this thread)
I settled on the new X-Breaker jump/break cue,
ordered it from Beads & Billiards online.

This latest-technology cue does not use phenolic.
Instead it is some secret formula stuff,
which is supposed to be much stronger,
and with a better feel.
Check out their website.

I have been playing a little with it for the last few weeks,
but during today's 8 hour lesson with El Maestro
I really got into it.
The jury of one (El Maestro himself) is in.
I now have a "manly" break.
Anything resembling a compliment from El Maestro
is an extraordinary event.

If he says my break is manly,
you can be sure it borders on spectacular.
I kinda like it myself,
although I am a perfectionist.
I would prefer to make several balls on every break,
and leave the cue ball with an easy shot on the lowest ball,
with easy position on the next one,
and no clusters.
But, hey, that's just me.

If I were going to rate the X-Breaker cue,
I would have to say that it is excellent.
The tip is hard as nails,
seems to take chalk ok,
and is not as slippery as other phenolic tips
that I have tried in the past.

I haven't tried to jump with the cue,
because I have yet to learn that part of the game.

I would have to admit that my new super-powerful break
is not just due to the new cue.
In fact, my break has been much improved since
before I got the X-Breaker.
And that is entirely due to El Maestro's teaching.

He told me to do a highly exaggerated follow-through
and shoot down into the ball
causing it to jump ever so slightly.
This style felt very un-natural at first,
but I kept practicing it until it became routine.
It's amazing what a difference it has made.

Thanks, Tony!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Alabama" Last Pocket 8 ball





Dan made the trip from Orange County

for his first visit to the Fun House to shoot some pool.
That's dedication, when you drive 3 hours
to shoot pool for 5 hours.

He introduced me to Last Pocket 8 ball,
where the 8 must go in the same pocket as
the last of your stripes or solids.
It adds a whole new dimension of strategy,
and he trounced me with superior knowledge
of the end-game.

For extra confusion, he added the "Alabama"
version of 8 ball, whereby the 1 ball must be
pocketed into the left side and the 15 must
be pocketed into the right side.
Or maybe it's the other way around,
but you get the idea.

This leads to all sorts of nuances of rules,
such as: if the 1 or 15 goes in any other
pocket, it is immediately spotted and you
continue to shoot.
This makes for interesting possibilities
for intentionally pocketing the 1 or 15
in some other pocket, spotting it,
and using it for position on another ball,
or breaking a cluster, etc.
The 1 and 15 are racked directly behind the 8 ball,
each positioned on the opposite side
to where they are supposed to be pocketed.

I had never heard of either of these 8-ball variations,
but Dan says he read about Alabama 8 ball in a book
called "Playing Off The Rail: A Pool Hustler's Journey"
by Dan McCumber.

We also shot some 9 ball,
and we both won some, but it was mostly a social
setting, with lots of chatter, so I think we
need to have some serious matches before we
can decide who is the Champion of the (our) World.

Good fun!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pete Genovese: New US Amateur Champion

Pete Genovese

After qualifying for the event 4 years running,
Pete finally won the event.
Big Congratulations, Pete!

I qualified for last year's event,
which was held at Pete's pool room in Connecticut.
I saw him practicing alone,
so I screwed up some courage and
walked over and challenged him.
I was aware that he had finished 2nd
the previous year,
and I wanted to see how good
you had to be to beat a guy like that.
At the time, I had been playing
semi-seriously a little under a year.

I ran the first rack against him,
(I don't have to tell you how good that felt)
but then he pulled away with ease.
Then, he went on to finish 3rd in the event.
Read the full story. Click here.

The year before last, he finished 2nd in this event.
He is a very solid and determined shooter.

I think the trophies are butt-ugly.
The only thing I wanted out of the event
is the baseball jacket with
"US Amateur Champion"
on the back!
How cool would that be?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

You Might Be a D Player If...

You Might Be A D Player If...  by Samm Diep

You GOTTA get this book!
It's hot off the press and just in time
for Christmas presents for all your pool shooting friends.
It totally funny, and even educational.
Heck, I learned that I'm not supposed to chalk with my feet.
Check it out. Get several. Only $12.95

Click this link to learn more and/or ORDER IT!

PS:
You may notice that my name is listed in the
Special Thanks section of this book.
This does not mean that I get any royalties.
I don't.
I'm just a giver...
;o)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Wei Table

The Wei Table

Sometime around the turn of the millenium,
a clever programmer named Wei
created a neat little tool for pool shooters
so they can easily arrange shots on a pool table,
and communicate that situation to
other people on the internet.

It has come to be a de-facto standard.

My first use of it was this year,
and I noticed that it is real slow
unless you download the program
from the New York University website,
and fiddle with installation and settings
so that it works on your computer.

So, being a programmer myself,
I spruced up a few things,
and now it is available anytime you want it
simply by clicking this link:
http://www.MichaelMcCafferty.com/PoolTable.htm

I have emailed the programmer (Wei) to request
some additional custom features.
Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Two Good Shots in a row



Here's a couple of sweet shots that came my way
during a game of 9 ball with The Ghost.
I broke and got a ball, then shot the 1 and 2 ball,
leaving me with the position shown on the 3 ball.
The other balls are not shown for clarity.

The shot on the 3 ball is a 90-degree cut to pocket A,
and must be made with lots of low left and a pop stroke,
and hitting the rail first.
I think it's one of the prettiest shots in pool.
El Maestro taught me that shot.

After the 3 went in, I was left in position B, with a straight-on shot on the 4 and couldn't bank it because another ball was in the way of pocket A, so I had to kick it into pocket C. But even that was not easy because the 5 ball was in the way of a normal kick, so I had to hit the rail high and give it lots of right english to spin downtable. I hit the 4 just right to put it in pocket C.

The rest of the table was relatively easy to run out.

Amazingly, I had just got a new video recorder, set it up, and I got it all on tape. If I ever learn how to edit video, I'll probably post it here.

See this shot full-size on the Wei table with:
START(
%Cr9W1%DC8M7%EG1Z8%Pm6Y4%Qs4A8
%RJ6N6%SA9B0%TA7[5%Wr8D1%Xr8U9
%YD2R0%Zs1X2%[I7O8%\C2Q3%]r6X6
%^n4Y3%_C6O6%`I5[0%aK2P0
)END

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bring On The Spectators!

I have it good.
I can feed my addiction anytime I want,
as much as I want.

I have a pool table in my living room.

On a moment's notice
I can slip into my other self.
Fast Mikie, pool shooter.

Sometimes, when I'm shooting pool,
it's like I'm in another universe,
the cue dances in my hands,
my eyes can see every angle,
and I'm having so much fun.

All the hits are clean.
Click. Plop.

I'm alone, usually,
but sometimes shooting with another player.
Quiet, except for the sounds of the surf in the distance.
And the Click, Plop.

Ah, the sweet serenity of solitude.
To be alone with the most important thoughts in the world.
Mine.
And then, almost without notice,
to have no thoughts at all.

That's where pool comes in.
It's a meditation.
This is where I find peace.
Playing with the Laws of the Universe (physics)
on a table green with cloth,
and filled with celestial spheres,
and me, the Grand Mover, poking his toys with a stick.

What mankind-benefitting thought could you have
while fritter'n your time away with such trivia as pool?

And that's just the point: to think no thought at all.
To be of no conscious mind.
To let pool be played,
and let me be the player.

This is the meditation.
The person who gets to this place is Fast Mikie.

It is not a competition.
It is an exhibition of an altered state of cosciousness,
during which a beautiful performance occurs,
moments of improptu virtuoso,
a magic wand is waved and objects disappear,
while other objects spin wondrously 'round the table,
as if by some impossible, invisible force.

There is no competitor when I am like this.
He becomes a spectator.

Bring on the spectators!

;o)


(c) copyright 2005, all rights reserved

Thursday, November 10, 2005

$320,000 painting "The Hustler" up for auction




"The Hustler" by Leroy Neiman

This great painting/investment is going up for auction on December 3, but before that it is available to the first buyer who comes up with the $320,000 price. It's a big painting (4'x8') and there's no place for it in my small condo so maybe you know someone who would like this in their pool room...
"The Hustler" is a realistic adult story of a small-time, ambitious, struggling, self-destructive, pool shark, commenting on winning/success and losing, life and love, loyalty, greed, self-respect, selling out and ultimate redemption. Paul Newman is the lead role as a brash, contending pool hustler.

Neiman spent time on the set on “The Hustler” and began to work on the painting that captures the story of a young punk challenging the old master. Neiman started the painting on the set, but did not complete the work until 1963; taking the time to perfect the feeling of tension, hope and failure in that smoky pool hall.

Franklin Bowles Gallery has been Neiman’s primary dealer for 35 years and has first right of refusal on all available works. The painting is framed in an authentic 18k gold leaf frame. The art comes with a certificate of authenticity and free annual appraisals. Neiman is 84 years old and the Smithsonian is mounting the archives of his work.
I get nothing out of this. I was told about this before it goes on auction because of my interest in pool and because of a friend of mine who collects art which he buys through this one person, who just happens to work as an art consultant and assistant to the Director at the Franklin Bowles Gallery (800-926-9535) which is the gallery which specializes in Leroy Neiman works.

It's just too big (4'x5') for my small condo. I'm thinking that this is the sort of piece that Kevin Trudeau (IPT founder) would be interested in having for the pool room in one of his homes. Who else would be interested in this one-of-a-kind piece with a neat history and a great future value appreciation potential?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Joy of Break and Run

It was an 8-ball match.
I broke and ran out.
It felt so good!

Of course I have done this before.
But this time felt better than those other times.
This time it was easy.
There were tough shots in the run,
but they went down easy.
There was no stress, no hard thinking.
The run just happened.

And then I sensed my opponent's helplessness.
It was perfect.

The next game, he broke and missed.
I ran out again.

He never scored a win.
It was over too soon.

It's feels so good when the stroke is on.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

In and Out at Hard Times

I re-learned something important about pool tournaments
before I ever screwed my cue together...
before I ever walked through the door, in fact.
Show up early.

Hard Times Billiards is a 90 minute drive
into the smoggy L.A. basin

but that's only 90 minutes if everything goes right,
and how can you count on that?
The first 3 miles of freeway took 20 minutes,
and just when I was ready to take the first exit and go back home,
the traffic evaporated, and I was cruisin' easy all the way.

I figure that the right way to do the Hard Times tournament
(the first Sunday of the month)
is to get a room at The Beverly Hills Hotel
for Friday and Saturday.

Leave around noon on Friday,
spend the afternoon on
Rodeo Drive,
do a little shopping for some threads,
have a nice dinner and get a full night's sleep.
Why hassle with traffic on the morning of a tournament?
And why, dog tired after a long day of competition,
hassle with traffic on the way home at night?

The parking lot is already full when I get there.
I'm not going to leave the Jag on the street,
not in this neighborhood,
so I leave it in a red zone at the edge of the lot,
and take my chances with a ticket.
As soon as I stop, 3 more cars park in the red zone with me.
I guess they figured I knew something they didn't.
They were wrong, but we all escaped tickets anyway.

Inside: Sensory Overload! The place is packed.
Derelicts, pool junkies, hustlers, and it is LOUD!
No way I'm gonna get a practice table,
but I get lucky (as usual),
and get the absolute LAST table available,
and start pushing some balls around, when...

Hey! isn't that Jennifer Baretta? (#12 ranked WPBA pro)
I would know her anywhere, especially after she beat
me two games of 9-ball when she was in San Diego
for the WPBA tournament at Viejas Casino, Alpine CA.

So, here's Jennifer walking around looking lost.
She's from New York City, so I figure I'll be neighborly
and ask her if she wants to shoot a few racks,
and she gives me a look like I'm the last guy on earth,
so what the heck, yeah, sure she'll shoot some balls with me.
Remember, I have the LAST table available.

I mention our last meeting, 6 months ago,
and remind her that she beat me.
I figure she meets lots of people more memorable than me.
But she's not the same Jennifer Baretta I played before.
No personality at all this time. Not even a little bit of a smile.
Almost surly.
This must be her game face.

I win the first game.
And the second.
And the third.
I ask her what's she doing in LA (being a Big Apple girl).
She says only "It's a long story."
Doesn't elaborate.
She wins the next two.
Then abruptly calls it quits in the middle of the 6th game.
Shakes my hand and says she is suffering with some sort of bug
she picked up just the day before...
Eeeeewwwwww!
Probably got the "Bird Flu" and now I'm gonna die!
Her website says she just got back from the Dominican Republic.
That's right next to Haiti.
I can only imagine what kind of bugs they got there!
So I wash my hands immediately, but then go right back
to playing on the same table. Duh.

Hey, isn't that Tina Pawloski?
Who woulda figured that Hard Times would be jumpin' with
good looking girl-shooters?
I have never actually met Tina,
but I sure have seen her around
the San Diego pool scene,
at APA events, and the Swanee gig.

So, this is my chance...

"Hey Tina, wanna shoot some pool?"
Sure, she says, with a nice smile.
I read the story on AZ Billiards website about Tina winning
her fourth tournament in a row, and so I mention this
to her, and congratulations etc.
She asks me my name. Mike.
What's your last name? McCafferty.
From Del Mar? Yeah. How did you...
Fast Mikie, right? Yeah. How did you...
Super Vision! Huh?
Turns out she read my post on the AZ Billiards forum.
Wow! Tina knows me? How cool is that!

Hey, she's actually a nice person.
Sure friendlier than Jennifer, eh?
She wins one or two and so do I.
Can't remember much of the details.
It was just good to hang out with her.
She hears my name called out for my first match.
(I missed it.)
Gotta go. We split up. Good luck Tina. Good luck Mikie.

My day started off pretty good,
and now it turned ugly.
First match was a whitewash.
The kid was good.
What's your name, kid?
Oscar.
Oscar what?
Dominguez.
He's real focused, real good basics,
real good pre-shot routine.
I figure he had a good teacher.
So I ask who taught him to shoot pool.
My dad, he says.
Ok, I'll bite, who's your dad?
Ernesto. Dominguez.
Sounds familiar...
Oh, THAT Ernesto Dominguez.
Well, now I guess I'm not feeling so bad about
getting my butt kicked by this kid.

And it's off to the losers' side I go.
Damn. This place is crawling with hot-shot players!

My next game was with "John"
who was sent to the losers' side after getting beat
by #10 ranked WPBA pro Melissa Herndon.
I guess he was pissed at getting beat by a girl,
and he takes it out on me.
I won a couple of games, but not enough.
I shoulda beat him. Shoulda, woulda, coulda...

So I'm on the road home early.
In and out at Hard Times.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Super Vision



After missing a few easy cuts on table-length shots
in the tournament a few nights ago
I arranged for an emergency visit to my eye doctor
for a thorough checkup.
What I learned was, well, eye-opening!

In my previous visit, about a year ago,
I got some glasses that are optimized for the
range of vision from about 18" to 9 feet.
Anything else does not exist in my pool universe.

The problem comes in when shooting from
one short rail to the other.
This requires me to bend over and tilt my head back
in the most extreme position,
causing my eyes to look through the uppermost
edge of my glasses.

However, the "center of vision" of these glasses
was set at the middle of the lens.
This would cause blurred vision at the extreme edges.

The quick fix was to pinch in the nose pads,
causing the frames to ride higher on the nose,
moving the center of vision up higher
giving clear vision in the shooting position.

I also ordered a new pair of lenses
with the center of vision set about 25% higher.

And now for the big news:
My eye doc is one of the first to have a new system
which checks for, and can correct,
"high-order abberations"
which were previously undetectable and uncorrectable.
This system is a new invention by Opthonix
a hot, privately held bio-tech company here in San Diego.
The basic premise is that every eye is unique
and requires a unique lens to optimize vision.
They do this with lasers, computers, and lots of math.
Check this video.

My new bionic eyes will arrive in a couple of weeks.

The above combination of fixes should have me
outshooting Efren Reyes in no time.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Inauspicious Debut as an "A" player

"A"

Played in the local 9-ball tournament last night,
and for the first time presented myself as an "A" player.
Needless to say, there were some raised eyebrows,
because until now I have been playing as a "C".

So what happened to "B"?
I guess I skipped that.
Or, rather, I have been a "B" player, playing as a "C".
It's all Greek to me...
I was calling myself whatever Tony (El Maestro) called me.
And he was calling me a "C" for a year and a half.
Then, about two weeks ago, we got to talking about ratings.
I was wondering if I would ever get to be a "B",
and he says that I'm really a "B+" or an "A-",
which pleased me no end to hear him say that, of course,
but since they don't have these shadings of ratings
in tournaments, I asked him how I should present myself,
and he said to go with "A".

I'm thinking that this should have a positive effect on my game.
I'm figuring that playing as a "C" gives me a negative self-image,
and that I will tend to play at that level.
It might give me permission to miss shots because, after all,
inside my head "I'm only a 'C' player."
But playing as an "A", I have no excuse.
I MUST bear down, if for no other reason than to save my rep.

In any case, in my debut as an "A" player last night,
I got my butt handed to me.

Match 1: vs. Brian K (B), won 3-1
Match 2: vs. Jess (A), lost 1-3
Match 3: vs. Ken J (A), lost 0-3

I just wasn't in the game at all.
Allowed myself to get distracted, not focused.
Oh, I made some good shots, but missed easy ones.
I did not play up to my "A" rating, at all.
But now I have something to shoot for.

I guess it's better to be an out-of-stroke "A" player
than to be a good "C" player!
;o)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

SuperTool - the newest and best cue tip shaper



Just got a new gizmo: the SuperTool,
and it is definitely superior to the Ulti-Mate tool,
especially for trimming the overhanging part
of the mushroomed cue tip.

Rob Clark turned me on to this little gem. Thanks, Rob!

New BCA 9-ball Queen


It was just a couple of months ago,
when I was visiting friends in Denver,
and had the chance to play some pool with Samm Diep.
That was our first meeting.
Up to that point we had just exchanged a few emails,
mostly about some stuff I ordered from her online store.

I knew she was going to be a tough competitor,
because she was a student of The Monk,
and he writes good stuff about her game.

I wrote about our match in this blog entry.
I was most impressed with her pre-shot routine,
which showed amazing consistency and focus.
I could see a strong future for her, and I was right!

Samm Diep is the new BCA 9-ball Amateur Ladies Champion,
just crowned in Las Vegas last week.
Congratulations, big time, Samm!

Watch out, Allison Fisher... There's a new kid in town!

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