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, February 29, 2008

Optimum Practice #1

Dave, the newly hired Practice Assistant,
showed up right on time
and after very little time for small talk,
we got right into it.

I gave him a leather bound notebook & pen
to keep notes and record my results
and showed him how to set up
a few different drills:

1. The Sorto String - 10 rounds
2. Rail Drill - 10 rounds
3. Lag shots - 10 shots
4. Honduran pool - 10 rounds
5. Spot shots - 30 shots
6. Short banks - 50 shots
7. Long banks - 25 shots

I hit around 230 shots in about 150 minutes
for a rather efficient 1.5 shots per minute.
This is certainly WAY more shots than I
would have taken in the same amount of time
if I were playing in a match,
or even practicing alone, without help
(that is, if I even practiced at all).
The more shots I take,
the better I will get,
especially if they are focused shots,
and records are kept.

It has been so long since
I did any focused practice
that my pocketing percentage was awful
(didn't even bother with the calculation)
but I am absolutely sure that
I am on the right path with this approach.

As an example,
when I was shooting the short banks,
I started out poorly,
then realized that I was tentative,
and remembered the words of El Maestro:
"Shoot with confidence"
so started shooting as if I had confidence,
firing each shot very firmly,
and my pocketing percentage
increased dramatically.

Of course, since this was the first session,
there are lots of details to work out,
and many process improvements will evolve,
so there's nowhere to go but UP!

I am really looking forward to
seeing what I can do with this game...

Thank you, Dave!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Straight Pool Video: Souquet vs. Reyes

A most excellent straight pool video:

Ralf Souquet

vs.

Efren Reyes


A first class match featuring
two of the best players in the world for
the 2000 U.S. Open 14.1 championship.
Good commentary by Billy Incardona.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Practice Assistant - The Search Has Ended

After a long search for a
Billiards Practice Assistant,
one has been selected
from the many applicants.

The job is to
1. rack, set up shots, maintain the equipment
2. keep records, wins, misses, runs, etc.
3. operate HiDef video camera(s).

Dave is a student, applied mathematics.
It will be interesting to see what
his expertise brings to the record-keeping.

He plays guitar, so he should be able
to operate both hands independently,
which could be useful in setting up shots.

He knows the game,
has played in local tournaments,
but not lately.

He starts the day after tomorrow.
And so, a new era begins.
This is all very exciting stuff.



Monday, February 25, 2008

It is Finished

One single project has been on my list
for all of the last four years I have lived here.
And today, just this minute,
I put the finishing touches on it.
My work is done.

May I present: The Wall



My collection of pool trophies is
displayed at the far right of the line of bookcases,
closest to the chair where the pool opponent sits
and waits for his shot,
with plenty of time to let all those wins sink in...
(I know, it's evil, isn't it... Mwahahahahaha!)
(click for evil laugh)

To the left of the trophies
is the shelf of my favorite billiard books,
but there's lots more in the billiard library
on the shelves out of sight, under the pool table.

It's good to be finished with this key project.
Now I can more fully concentrate on my game.

How is it possible that this project
went undone for four years?
Pool.
It was right after I moved in here
that I took up the game of pool,
and that pretty much put almost everything else
on hold for all this time.
Now, since I hurt my shoulder last summer,
I've had some time to take care of stuff.
And now that all (most) of my stuff is done,
I'm really looking forward to getting back
into the game.



Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Royal Pain in the Neck

Since last summer
I have had a major pain in the neck,
just on the right hand side,
with very tight muscles in my neck
and right shoulder.

Therapists have not helped,
but they agree it is probably pool related
and made worse by sitting at the computer
for long periods of time.

Advil helps with the pain,
but I shouldn't be taking that stuff long term.
I'm doing all sorts of exercises for
stretching and strengthening the muscles,
but so far, the pain persists.

But what of it?
Pain exists in every life.
We are born to suffer, all of us, in some way.
It is how we learn.

The Stoics knew this best,
and believed in the power of free will, and virtue.
Consider these words of philosopher Bertrand Russell:

In the life of the individual man, virtue is the sole good;
such things as health, happiness, possessions, are of no account.
Since virtue resides in the will,
everything really good or bad in a man's life depends only upon himself.
He may become poor, but what of it? He can still be virtuous.
A tyrant may put him in prison,
but he can still persevere in living in harmony with Nature.
He may be sentenced to death, but he can die nobly, like Socrates.
Therefore every man has perfect freedom,
provided he emancipates himself from mundane desires.

In this case, "mundane desires" includes
the desire to live without pain.

If the game had been around at the time,
the Stoics of ancient Greece
would have been great billiard players.


Nine ball close call

Every once in a while
somebody gets to feeling strong
and challenges me to a match...

Like yesterday, with nine-ball.
The first set went my way, score 9-4.
But in the second set,
my killer instinct went to sleep,
and Mike R. got ahead 7-4
before I woke up my inner junk yard dog,
and I came back with five games in a row
to win 9-7.

Whew!

Which is more powerful,
the love of winning
or the hatred of losing?

One thing is for sure,
the last man standing
didn't get there with apathy.

That keeps my undefeated streak going.
But I know the young guns are out there,
sharpening their skills
for the day they feel strong enough to take me.
And that's why I need to keep practicing.

There is no rest for the weary...


Monday, February 18, 2008

Ten Ball Epic - Shane vs. Alex at Derby City




My last 3 days on the treadmill
have been extraordinarily entertaining
watching the epic 10-ball match up of
Shane Van Boening
vs.
Alex Pagulayan
on a 3-DVD set put out by
The Action Report.

The lead changed a couple of times,
and it went the full distance in a race to 21,
but I'm not going to tell who won
because you should buy the set for yourself.

Click here to order.

I learned a lot from it,
including what can happen when you've
been playing for 5 hours straight
at 4AM, on dirty equipment,
in front of hundreds of sweators,
and for a ton of money.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Other Bloggers

Check the sidebar
for a short list of some of
my favorite pool blogs.

I subscribe to these blogs using Google Reader.

Is your favorite not on the list?
Let me know.

After 4 years of writing this blog,
I just got around to posting this list.
What the heck have I been doing all this time?


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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pool Shooter's Treadmill - update



Today marks a major milestone in the
development of the treadmill project,
which continues to evolve as my secret weapon
(ooops, I guess it ain't so secret now)
for excellence in pool.

Check it out:

30" Dell widescreen TV/monitor
which is connected to the DishTV feed
so I can watch all the pool videos on TV
which are automatically recorded
so I can play back anytime later.
The monitor is also connected to the
Windows Media Center (under Vista)
so I can get any pool videos on the internet too.
And the PC (HP) has DVD, DVD-HD & BlueRay
so I can put up any of the
videos in my pool library.

The treadmill itself is a
Vision Fitness T9450HRT.

Overhead is a padded Everlast pull-up bar.
To the right side of the treadmill, on the floor,
are dumbbells of various weights,
and a scale that gives readouts on
bodyfat percentage, metabolic age, etc.

The shelves hold all sorts of remote controls
for lights, heat and fans.
Also, water, telephone and notebook
to record progress.

The frames on either side of the monitor
show the final standings on two of
my undefeated seasons (2005 and 2007)
to serve as additional motivation.
In the frame above the monitor is a
modified quote from Og Mandino's
Greatest Salesman in the World
which I have been an inspiration
for the last 25 years.

The monitor is on a movable arm
which swings out 90 degrees
so I can watch from bed.

I think I'm close to treadmill perfection.
Maybe the next step is to build
a shelf for all my pool trophies.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Neighborly Nine Ball

Taking a break from
my many projects-in-progress,
I shot some nine ball with neighbor Bud D.

He says he hasn't been shooting much lately,
but then, don't we all say that?
;o)

He won the first two games in a race to 10,
but the final score was
FastMikie 10, Bud 4.

The only notable event was that
I had one complete runout on his dry break.
I can do better than that...



Friday, February 08, 2008

Something Completely Different


It seems appropriate to borrow
the title of the 1971 Monty Python movie,
"And Now For Something Completely Different":

Check out this Nine Ball Break and Run
(sort of)

This approach is not as colorful,
but right away you'll notice the advantage
of using all cue balls.
Even if you scratch, no you didn't!

Another plus:
getting shape on your next shot is a lot easier.

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