Gold Crown IV

Gold Crown IV
FastMikie's Fun House, Del Mar, California

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Today! IPT Challenge Matches, free!

I'll be right there, in the audience, watching Efren Reyes, Austin Murphy, Oliver Ortmann, and John Schmidt, playing some great pool.

I'll have to drive all the way to Hollywood, but you can have an even better view, and for free, from the comfort of your own computer.

Today only. Tuesday, April 29. 5pm Pacific time. Do it!

International Pool Tour Logo

Broadcast Details!
IPT Viewers Choice Challenge Match

The April 29th live IPT Ultimate 8-Ball broadcast will begin at 8pm (eastern) with a pre-game show immediately followed by the under-card 14.1 Straight Pool match between World Champion Oliver Ortmann and John Schmidt. The feature match in the IPT Ultimate 8-Ball match between pool legend Efren Reyes and his teenage challenger Austin Murphy will follow the under-card match, so the exact starting time of the feature match is unknown.

Both matches will be under the grueling IPT conditions of tight pockets (courtesy of Diamond Billiard Products) and slow-nap cloth made by Gorina. The April 29th live broadcast is absolutely free. Visit International Pool Tour to sign up to watch. Signing up to watch is simple and takes just a minute.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm getting closer...

My instructor, Tony "El Maestro" Sorto, taught me this challenging multi-player game of rotation pool played almost exclusively in his native Honduras.

It is one of my goals to run the table, on video. So I have made it a regular part of my Optimum Practice session.

Last night, I achieved a new personal best. If I hadn't flubbed the position on the 10 ball off the 8, I could possibly have run the table because getting on the 11 and 12 is kinda easy, and since I had already kicked the 15 off the rail, the 13-14 combo would pass, and the rest is cleanup...

One of these days, I'll do it, and post it here, there will be a major party in Del Mar, and then I may just hang up my cue forever.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Short Banks

Bank shots are just one area
where I need to improve my game,
so I added this little drill to my
Optimum Practice routine.

I got the idea from one of Bert Kinister's
training videos.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Straight Pool Bank Break Shot

During last night's practice session,
I was doing some racks of straight pool
going for a high run attempt
and found myself with this situation.

Typically, I would play safe at this point,
but since it was practice,
and there was no opponent,
I chose to go for something unconventional.

The 11 ball on the corner of the rack
just looked like it would bank
as long as it didn't hit one of the other balls
from the exploding rack.

I hit it just right,
and went on for a total run of 25.
Here's the run from start to finish:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Combination Bank with Bonus Carom Bank

I was practicing some Honduran rotation
and was faced with this situation on the 5 ball
which would not go cross-side
so I played the 5 into the 6 for the long bank
into the corner, and got a bonus with the 5 ball
caroming for a bank in the other corner.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Practice Milestone: The Sorto String

The "Sorto String" is one of the main drills
in my Optimum Practice routine.
Last night, in one stretch of 4 attempts out of 10,
I made two perfect runs through the 9 ball
and two 'almost' runs through the 8 ball.
(making the 8 but just barely touching the
side rail with the cue ball)
This gave me a new high average for the session.
It's truly a beautiful thing when it works!
Practice stats of note:
So far this month, 11 Optimum Practice sessions,
totalling 23 hours, 2555 balls pocketed,
at 1.8 balls pocketed per minute.
Updated Optimum Practice Spreadsheet
is now posted.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Straight Pool Video: Crane vs. Balsis

For the 1966 U.S. Open Straight Pool title
Irving Crane vs. Joe Balsis
played in Chicago.

After an early safety battle,
perfection happens!

Watch this 7-part video
for a clinic in excellence:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Each part is about 10 minutes,
the limit for YouTube videos.

Kamui gets action!

Check out these videos
of the action you can get with a Kamui tip
(and a great stroke helps, too).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Video review

Some of my pool videos collected in one place.

Navigate through the videos by clicking the ">" to go forward, and "<" to go back. Click the center of the large image to play the video in a separate window at YouTube for a full description, rating, comments, etc.

A clean cue ball does weird stuff

Immediately before last night's practice I asked practice assistant Dave to clean the balls, including the cue ball. It's so easy to keep them clean because I have a BallStar 2000 machine.

I never gave it another thought until I started the practice routine and on the first drill (lag shots) I did worse than ever. It seemed that the foot rail was dead. And yet, it also seemed that I was using the right stroke, same as always.

It was only much later that I got to reflecting on it, and what I came up with was that the cue ball was so clean and slippery that it skidded on hitting the foot rail thereby taking off some of the speed and effectively acting like a dead rail.

Maybe it's just my imagination, but other shots behaved poorly too, especially english off the rails.

The only bright spot to the night was that I went a perfect 20 out of 20 spot shots, 10 from each side. The slippery ball didn't have any negative effect
on spot shots!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Reduce variables, become more consistent

One incremental improvement that I added to my practice routine is with the chalk.

I used to use a pocket chalker device but I got out of the habit. But they are far superior in several ways. First of all, your own chalk will always be way better than using the stuff you will find in most pool halls, bars, etc. Also, you save time by having it handy and not have to walk around the table for it.

I got out of the habit of using this device because I didn't need to bring my own chalk to my own practice table. It was already there!

Because I'm trying to build a pre-shot routine that will be absolutely consistent regardless of where I'm playing, it is essential to use the device at all times even during practice in my own home.

I think I read it somewhere: "Practice the way you are going to play." And that's also the reason why I wear a glove at all times, even when I don't need it.

Eliminating variables is essential to consistent performance.

Goal vs. Plan Disconnect

I was reviewing my
Plan for Excellence in Pool
and noticed a disconnect.
One of my goals is to run 50 balls
in straight pool,
but I'm not practicing straight pool.


It's not likely to happen, is it?

So that's why I added straight pool
to my daily practice routine.
And now my chances of running 50 balls
have increased tremendously.
I feel better already.

Last night I did this little run of 19,
which ended on an easy shot
which I didn't stroke properly.

On the positive side,
I got good shape for the break.

Scott Lee coming to Mikie's Fun House

Scott Lee's Traveling College of Billiard Knowledge
is coming to San Diego to give me a lesson
at FastMikie's Fun House on Tuesday, May 6.

Scott is an "internationally famous pocket billiard
instructor & trick shot artist" and a
protege of BCA Master Instructor Jerry Briesath.
Check out the Scott Lee website.

Scott has some available time on his
visit to San Diego, so you might want
to contact him for your own lesson.
Email him at
or phone him at 773-551-7473.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dig This: JAX Pool School with Superstars!

On May 21-22 in Jacksonville, Florida
there will be an unprecedented pool school experience.

"The Magician" Efren Reyes,
"Django" Francisco Bustamante,
"The Silent Assassin" Tony Robles
and "The Hitman" Thorsten Hohmann
will share their pool secrets with
a group of 20 pool enthusiasts,
and... wait for it...
I'm going to be one of them!

Yes! It's totally true.
Thorsten Hohmann just called me back
to confirm it

And if all that wasn't great enough,
one of my best friends forever (BFF)
lives in Jacksonville, and we haven't seen each other
in 15 years, so this is going to be a
spectacular vacation.

I am so totally stoked I can't sit still.

CLICK HERE for the full school info.

New Practice Milestones

Last night's Optimum Practice session
produced two new milestones:

Ten out of ten spot shots, first try.


Four perfect innings (out of 10)
of the one-pocket 6-on-the-rails drill.

Practice makes perfect!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ultimate Tip Tool is GONE!

The "Ultimate Tip Tool"
is a nifty little critter for shaping
and all the other stuff you do to your tip.

Seems like I'm either losing one,
or giving one away to new shooters,
so when I get down to none,
I order online,
but Hey, they're Gone!

It's out of stock in the known universe, including
Amazon, Seyberts, Buddy Hall's, CueSight,
Ozone Billiards, etc...

If you are a big fan of this great tool,
as I am,
you better stock up if you can find them,
because everywhere I looked online, they're GONE.

I finally found the last two at
Billiards and Barstools, San Marcos, CA
where I got my Gold Crown IV.

The Warrior Spirit sold to Singapore

The "Warrior Spirit" is Sold
Can you imagine shooting pool in a place
where you want to keep a low profile?
Yeah, me too.
I've been in a few of those places.

It may be a good idea to leave your favorite cue at home.

For occasions such as this,
you can not find a better instrument than this:

The Warrior Spirit #1, far left.

Predator P2,basic black, with black leather wrap,
no points, no markings.
Predator 314 shaft (29"), Moori medium tip.
Overall weight 18.7 oz.
Good condition.

Sold today to a new owner in Singapore.
Includes Certificate of Provenance by FastMikie.

Proceeds went to this charity.

This is the first cue I bought at the end of the
Forty Years of The Dark Ages of No Pool.
I wanted to take advantage of the new low deflection technology.
I was using this cue when our team won
the City Championships, 9-ball, in 2004.
I also used this cue to go
undefeated in the US Amateur championships in 2004.

This cue has the spirit of a warrior.

Why would I sell such a cue?
It is The Way of The Cue
to be not attached to the things of this world.
As Miyamoto Musashi said,
in his 21 Precepts,
" Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons
beyond what is useful."

Certificate of Provenance

Issued to (New Owner)
Date: Monday, April 14, 2008
Item: Pool Cue "Warrior Spirit"
Description: Predator P2 Black, Black leather wrap, Predator shaft

This cue was purchased new by Michael McCafferty (aka "FastMikie") on Tuesday, March 24, 2004 to replace his 45 year old (at the time) Willie Hoppe cue which was retired on that date. See the story for more details.

This cue was used in APA competition for the next two years and distinguished itself by going undefeated in the US Amateur Championships, California, in 2004 (see the story of FastMikie's participation in that event) and also going undefeated in the APA Masters Triple Play (8 ball and 9 ball, US Amateur format) against the highest ranked players (see dated entries in this blog for more information on those competitions).

This cue was also used in the very memorable
Big Win of February 2006
(see this story at
for more details).

Retired from competition later in 2006 and kept at FastMikie's Fun House and used as a guest cue, but only rarely.

Offered for sale, with proceeds going to this charity in 2008.
On the above date The Warrior Spirit was sold and shipped to:

All of the above is sworn to be true by the cue's sole owner since new, until this date.


Michael McCafferty

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Optimum Practice Spreadsheet

Virtually all serious players are in agreement:
focused practice is essential.
I have found that keeping records
of practice performance is very helpful.

I recently created a spreadsheet for
recording progress during my
Optimum Practice sessions.

As far as I know,
nothing like it exists in the billiard world.

It is based on the premise
"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

Check it out.
My gift to readers of this blog.

This spreadsheet is for your Personal use only,
not to be copied or used for commercial purposes.

Microsoft Excel version (.xls)
for people who have Microsoft Excel software

Google Docs Version
For people who do not have Microsoft Excel
and who want to use this spreadsheet
with the free Google Docs service,
simply download the Microsoft Excel version
and then import it into Google Spreadsheet.
The Google Docs version will not have
some of the features used in the Excel version,
but it will still be quite useful.

Open Office Version

Why keep paying Microsoft for software
when there are free versions of productivity suites
available now at!
Download the Excel version above,
and download OpenOffice,
then import the Excel spreadsheet into OpenOffice.

I continue to make major
improvements to the spreadsheet
in Microsoft Excel format
along with links to my YouTube videos
which show how many of the drills are done
and gives more info on setup, etc.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dave Hines' excellent 3-rail kick shot

Dave Hines, Billiard Assistant at FastMikie's Fun House, challenged me (the impudence!!) to a game of straight pool (14.1 continuous). Toward the end of a rack, I scratched on a shot, leaving Dave with ball-in-hand behind the head string, with the requirement that he must shoot forward only. However, there were only two balls on the table at the time, both behind the head string. Dave's only option was to kick, and he pulled off this most incredible 3-rail kick shot to sink the ball and continue with the game for the WIN.

This video clip is a recreation of that shot, done the next day, after I challenged Dave to do it again. This was Dave's second attempt, on video, which only underscores the difficulty of the shot, especially with the pressure of competition.

I'm still having a tough time believing it,
but I've got to give credit where it's due.

Nice shot, Dave!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Optimum Practice: Shots per Minute

In a recent upgrade to the
Optimum Practice spreadsheet,
I added the calculation of Shots per Minute,
which is the total number of shots taken
divided by the total practice time in minutes.

I had a vague feeling that my
Optimum Practice sessions were efficient,
but this new calculation was a real eye-opener!

In recent sessions I have recorded
that I'm taking at least 1.8 to 2 shots/minute,
on average,
over the entire 3 hour session.
That seems to be WAY more than
I would experience in a normal practice session
and definitely far more than in any
competitive situation.

Probably 2 to 3 times better.

More shots in less time
means greater efficiency.
More muscle memory and more learning
for the investment of time.

If you want this newly updated Excel spreadsheet,
click here.
Personal use only. Not to be copied.

Optimum Practice Rule #1

The Optimum Practice routine is going well.
With the help of a Practice Assistant
(see sidebar)
it is completely easy to set up
same shot over and over and over,
and to experiment with different strokes,
until you get it right.

This leads me to the realization that
when you miss a shot in practice
that you should never progress to the next shot
until you have made the missed shot.

Never leave the thought of the miss in your mind.
Practice the shot until you make it.
The next time the shot comes up in a game
you will remember making it, not missing it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sorry, Mitch

I just couldn't take any more of it,
so I hit the Mute button and
it is SO much better
watching WPBA pool on TV
without the non-stop commentary.

Sorry, Mitch Lawrence,
you were informative for a while,
but I think I know the rules of the game now.

You were even entertaining, too.
But I'm not into watching pool
for the entertainment.

I just want to condition my mind with
stance, stroke, strategy, behavior, etc.
And I don't need the chatter for that.

Nothing personal, mind you.
I've always preferred to think MY thoughts
rather than other people's thoughts.

That's why I prefer to listen to
instrumental music,
or songs in a foreign language that
I don't understand.
It leaves my mind free to do its own thing.

Give it a try.

And, by the way,
the only thing that makes
pool on TV even slightly bearable in the first place
is TiVo, or a DVR
so you can skip the commercials
instantly, with the touch of a button.

This single innovation has got to
rank right up there with penicillin and anesthesia
as one of the greatest discoveries of the modern age.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Return to the Fun House

Almost two weeks without stroking a cue.
Two weeks of hotel bed and hotel food.
Two weeks in Philadelphia.

It's great to be back in the Fun House,
with my food and my bed
and Del Mar sun and sea.

I look forward to the great bonus of going away:
The changes (perspectives, context, random events...)
create new awareness,
new beginnings.

New Moon on Sunday.
Monday I restart Optimum Practice.

Five months until "Showtime".

Fugly Footwear Fantasy

In search of anything to help my game,
I have found what could be the difference
in those grueling 14-hour days
in the early rounds of tournaments.

When the body gets tired,
the mind starts to weaken as well.
Focus and concentration become
more challenging to maintain.

I have found that my physical challenges
are with my lower back, and my feet,
and I think that some of my back problems
could be solved by improved footwear.

I believe I have found a solution
with a new pair of shoes by Mephisto
coupled with socks by SmartWool.

Be warned: The shoes are butt-ugly & expensive,
but very comfortable.

Here's my fantasy:
Sooner or later
my opponent will happen to look down
if only to verify that I have one foot on the floor,
and they will notice the extraordinary ugliness of my shoes,
and they will think:

"They are the ugliest shoes I have ever seen!
No man would put such heinous things on his feet,
unless they were extremely comfortable.
Nay, I say to you, not even Bozo the Clown
would wear these things on his feet,
unless they were sublimely comfortable."

They would then be reminded of just how awful
their own feet are feeling in the tournament,
and they would feel at a great disadvantage,
and mentally give up.

FastMikie wins again!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

U.S. Amateur Championship - #5

Just sent in my check to register for the
preliminary round of the
U.S. Amateur Championship tournament
in September.

This will be my 5th attempt to become
the oldest person to ever win the event.

I won the California preliminary in 2004,
but went 0-2 at the big show.
(click here for that story)