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.




Friday, July 27, 2007

Bye causes bye-bye to 15 minutes of fame

I didn't play last night.
The team had a bye.
But the former #2 guy in town played, and won.
So he replaces me as top dog.
Even though I'm undefeated in 8 matches,
he has played 10 and won 9,
giving him more MVP points.

Playing on a team involves compromises.
If it were not for team considerations,
I could have played 10 matches too.
Maybe I would have won those extra 2 matches.
Could'a, Should'a, Would'a, Maybe...

There are many things over which we have no control.
And speaking of no control, here's a famous quote:

God, give us grace to accept with Serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things that should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

The "Serenity Prayer" by Rinehold Niebuhr.


Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom.
Good things to have when you're shooting pool...

I was #1 in all San Diego divisions for a little while,
and I'm still #1 in my division, even with the bye.
That's plenty ok with me.

Here is the list as of today:


(click the list to make it BIGGER)

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Just out of curiosity...

So there I was, with nothing better to do, and I got curious about other players in the league who might be shooting some good pool, so I checked out the San Diego APA website pool stats calculator, reviewing all the other 8-ball players (about 1600) and especially the highest skill level players (about 84 "Sevens"). And look what my wondering eyes did perceive:



All of this, of course, is subject to the standard disclaimers, as well as the following caveat: My total of MVP points, which puts me at the top of the list, is updated as of last night's win. The figures for the other players are taken from the latest update to the SD APA website as of around 3pm on Friday. These numbers are being updated every day, so it's kinda difficult to draw a line in the sand for cutoff date/time. So 3pm on Friday the 20th of July just may be my lifetime 15 minutes of fame. Only time will tell how this winds up at the end of the session (August 9), but for now it's lookin' good.

Unfortunately, the other guys on the list are from different divisions in San Diego, so we will not be matched up. And that's a bummer! A missing element of the APA experience is that there is never a city-wide playoff match among the top-ranked individuals for a King Of The Hill title for each session, and for the year. Likewise, there is no playoff among the top teams in the final playoffs for the City Championships where the top 5 or so teams sent to Las Vegas for the National Championships. It seems odd that there can be one National Championship team, but there is no single San Diego championship team. What's up with that? Not enough money for another trophy?

I just may have to invite these people to the Fun House for a private playoff...

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Eight In A Row

After the last 2 weeks without competition,
the killer instinct was beginning to wane,
so I took extra care with pre-match preparation
for last night's APA team 8 ball.

I guess it's what you should expect
when you prepare the most
that your preparations are most in vain.
Last night proved that rule.

I could go into a litany of all the uglies,
but that would be boring;
suffice it to say that if it could go wrong, it did.

Other than my match, that is,
which, when it finally got started,
at a time when I am normally finished and home,
it went reasonably well.
(5-2 vs.
James Housewright, skill level 6)


I won the first two games,
and was feeling pretty good about it, but
he won the next two games
and I didn't like that one bit.
This meant that with the one game spot I gave him
I had to win 3 games, he needed 2.
And since he had just won the last 2,
he was on a roll, the energy going his way.

I had to close him down, hard.
Play only high percentage shots.
Play lockup safeties.
Bear down mentally.
Focus like a junk yard dog.

One memorable shot was a
3-rail, reverse english, table length maneuver
for squeaker position to get the runout.
I executed the tough shot perfectly,
but then screwed the pooch on the easy shot
(two feet, straight-in)
because I was trying to sweeten the po' on the next.
As Homer Simpson would say: "Doh!"

This seems to be some sort of Universal Law that
Spectacularly Awesome is followed by Spectacularly Dumb.
This may be why Einstein, while he got
The Special Theory of Relativity right,
he blew it with his Unified Field Theory
(look it up).

So far in this Summer Session,
my track record stands at 8 matches played, 8 won.
While I'm pleased with those numbers,
I am still living for the day when
perfection comes more easily,
the shots flow flawlessly,
I never have to stop and think,
and I never miss.
Dead stroke in competition!

Just one day like that would be nice...

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Monday, July 16, 2007

The Illustrated Principles of Pool & Billiards

The Illustrated Principles of Pool & Billiards
by
David G. ("Dr. Dave") Alciatore, Ph.D.

I just added this most excellent book
to the Fast Mikie Pool Library.
I give it a 5-star rating.
Very good in all respects.
You can tell that the author is a teacher.
Very well organized, with index.
Use of color, examples, cross referencing,
and online videos.

A first class reference work for the beginner.

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Competition vs. Practice

In reviewing Saturday's visit by El Maestro,
I sense that my competitive spirit was much diminished,
my focus was scattered.

I think one reason for this is that
when I shoot pool with El Maestro,
it is not a real competition,
so I don't play tough,
I take chances on some shots,
experimenting as I would in practice.

There is no practice better than real competition.

To get "tournament tough",
I must play tough tournaments.

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The Video Project

El Maestro has said many times
that he has never read any pool instruction books,
or seen any pool instruction videos,
a fact that I find fantastic
since I think I have seen almost all of them.
A couple of weeks ago I gave him several
different pool instruction CDs and DVDs,
created by several of pool's biggest names,
to get his feedback on the quality.

He spent a good deal of time reviewing them, and
on Saturday, he brought all the videos back.
He was dismissive of all of them,
for their incompleteness and inaccuracies,
as well as for their unsuitability for teaching the game.

We think we can do better.

Stay tuned.


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El Maestro Marathon

On Saturday,
El Maestro gave me his undivided attention
during an 8 hour marathon of pool.

We played some 8 ball,
then some sets of the Triple Play Masters format
(race to 7, 8 games of 9-ball and 5 games of 8-ball).
This is what they play at the US Amateur Championship.
That's one of my goals.

The opportunity to achieve this goal
will be here in 2 months and 5 days.

This means that my preparations will change,
and intensify.

It has been a while since I've played 9 ball.
It was interesting becoming re-acquainted with
the differences in 8 and 9 ball,
the pace and strategy.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Cleanest Balls In All The Land

You know how it is when
your balls get that "not so fresh" feeling?

I have long wanted a ball cleaning machine,
but was a bit blown away by the high price
of the units on the market,
so I never went ahead with the purchase.

Instead, I had my balls cleaned at
a billiards store about 30 miles away.
Not convenient, but only 15 bucks.

It has been said:
"All good things come to those who wait".
And although I have never seen the logic in that,
today it actually came true!

And, conveniently, it was delivered to my front door,
a rather heavy package,
inside of which was the
Ball*Star Optima (BCM201M)
billiard ball cleaning machine.

Wow!
And, it was Free!
Double Wow!!

How come free, you ask?
Free, as in a present!
How cool is that?

Who would do such a thing?
Ok, here's the story:
A couple of years ago
I was looking for a way of "giving back" to the universe
for my good fortune in business,
so I took on the task of mentoring a few people
in the basics of starting/running a business.
My requirements were only that they
"Pay it Forward" (as in the movie)
and therefore I receive no payment whatsoever,
and that included no gifts.

Sometimes, one or another of my mentees,
in a fit of overwhelming gratitude,
would try to slip a gift my way,
in blatant violation of my rule,
and of course I was too gracious to refuse,
but reminded them again of my rule.

However, today's gift is huge,
a massive violation of the rule,
but, hey, I'm nothing if not gracious,
so I immediately put the Ball*Star to work
after reading the one-page User Manual
which was translated into Engrish, from Korean,
by someone who was not real good at English,
but at least good enough to get the idea across.

Any techie will remember:
"All your base are belong to us."
And that is the sort of translation
the Ball*Star people have done with the manual.

Luckily, it's a rather simple machine,
so getting to the ball cleaning part was easy enough.

Now, I can clean my balls anytime I want,
in the privacy of my own home.
This is just the sort of thing a hermit would love!
And I do.

After my balls took a quick spin in the Ball*Star,
my draw stroke is much improved.
This seems to be some Universal Truth.
Any car nut will tell you that
"a clean car rides better".
But I had no idea it would apply to pool balls.

I may give my balls another spin,
now that I'm thinking about it,
and see if I can do that table-length draw
that has eluded me for the last 3 years...

THANKS "Malve"!

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Friday, July 06, 2007

You Can't Win If You Don't Play

I didn't shoot pool last night,
first time in 8 weeks.
Something about me going up in skill level,
and one other team member going up to a 4,
and that would put us over 23 points for the team
if we both played,
and they need to get 10 games,
and I already have my 10,
so I can't play.
It's all mathy.

Because I didn't play,
I couldn't win,
and so I slipped in the standings to second best.
One other player (Jess Libsack) in San Diego now
has equalled my 7 wins, undefeated,
but he has 2 more total points, so technically,
while his record is just as perfect as mine,
his perfect is in one way better.
He leads his division, I lead mine.
Maybe we will match up in the City Championships,
if our teams win.
It would be an epic clash of Titans.
That would be fun!!

The good news is that last night our team
had to play where there is lots of cigarette smoke.
So I'm real happy I didn't have to endure that.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

TED's Secrets of Success

Seven is my favorite number

I was born on the seventh,
therefore it's one of my favorite numbers,
but I can not recall when it has looked
as good as it does in the list below:



(click for full size image)

In a vain attempt at humility,
I keep making the list smaller,
but more players keep getting added to the list
as they finally win their first match.

To see the official list, on the San Diego APA site,
click here
and remember that the contents of this link
will expire at the end of this session (August 30, 2007).

Of course, I'm looking forward to next week
when 8 will be my new favorite number!
;o)

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Sorto Effect?

In thinking more deeply into the
Nature of Invincibility,
I have concluded that my performances have been mediocre
when it comes to the physical skills of the game,
and my mental part of the game is good and improving,
but I'm wondering if that is enough to
produce a perfect record,
undefeated in seven matches.

I was also undefeated in the
Masters format in 2005
in 10 matches
(click here for that record)
so I'm starting to believe that
undefeated is my natural state of being.

Many years ago,
I was interested in genealogy
and learned some things about the McCafferty clan
and its origin in County Donegal, Ireland.
It is recorded that the ancient crest
of the McCafferty clan
bore the Latin phrase:
"Justicia et Fortitudo Invicibilia Sunt"
or, as any Catholic schoolboy could translate:
Justice and Fortitude are Invincible.

It is a simple recipe.
Only two ingredients.
And you become Invincible.

Nice fable, isn't it?
I have found no evidence of anyone in my family
who was caught, even for a moment, being Invincible.
To the contrary, we are known for our many faults,
which we seem to wear with pride or ignorance, or both.
My current undefeated pool record,
I feel confident, is not the result of genetic predisposition.

Something more believable,
especially to pool players,
is something I call the Sorto Effect.

Here's how it goes:
Tony Sorto ("El Maestro") has an amazing gift for pool.
Those who have seen what he can do
are left in awe of his skill.
And his game strategy and safety play are pure genius.
His resulting record of having won over 95%
of his matches over the last dozen years,
and his countless trophies
attest to his powers.

Over the many years he has played,
many people have asked him for lessons.
But he has never taken on a student.
Not until 3 years ago.
He took on the challenge of teaching his secrets,

and, for reasons still unrevealed,
El Maestro chose me to be his only student.

The Sorto Effect is,
in my humble estimation,
the Fear that is struck into the heart of opponents
when they face Tony Sorto at the table.
They know they will rarely get the chance to shoot,
and when they do, they will be hooked.
Sorto's command of the game is total.
What hope would any opponent have?
They are beaten before they begin.

Now, follow along with me on this...
If El Maestro can have such an effect,
to defeat his opponent before even lifting a cue,
by his reputation alone,
could this power pass on to his only student,
who would have diligently learned Sorto's secrets?

Could this be the source of my Invincibility?
So that, in fact, it is not MY invincibility,
it is simply The Sorto Effect?

The only way to determine this is to expand the study.
If more people possessed the secrets of Sorto,
and they became invincible,
then it would prove the theory.

I have discussed this with El Maestro,
but he is not taking any other students,
so we have agreed to use my experience as a writer
and with computers, and business,
and share El Maestro's teachings with the world.

Stay tuned...

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