Gold Crown IV
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
"What I Learned From My Father the Grifter" is the title of a story in Men's Journal about a gambler/grifter/pool hustler which continues the legend of pool players as the evil underbelly of society.
Read it at http://www.mensjournal.com/my-father-the-grifter
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Notice how your body and your mind relax when you breathe out.
This is good.
A relaxed body is healthy.
A relaxed mind is clear, unworried, free of stress.
Learning breath control is one of the most important things you can do to improve your pool game, and your life in general. I learned this when I was learning and practicing yoga every day over a period of years. In yoga, breath control is essential to build strength and flexibility. With this background in yoga, I started to learn pool, and it was surprising to me that there was virtually nothing written about how breath control is integrated into the sport. So I had to experiment on my own. Soon I discovered that it is best for me to start releasing my breath just prior to releasing my stroke, and in such a way as to still be releasing that same breath after the stroke is finished.
I also learned the importance of the pre-shot routine and I made breathing a definite part of the pre-shot routine, coupled closely with walking around the table as a way to relax, get into a rhythm, see more options, line up the shot more effectively, and add consistency to my game. This was one of the secrets that El Maestro Tony Sorto mentioned over and over: rhythm. Unfortunately, in the early days of my pool education, I had no idea what he was talking about when he mentioned rhythm... I just wanted to put the ball in the pocket. I was completely unconscious of the finer points of the game. Rhythm is created by our breathing, and our movements. It starts with breathing.
I discovered over time that rhythm is the visual music which is evident when a player's movements are consistent from one shot to the next. Rhythm is revealed in how quickly or slowly the player moves, how he carries his body, facial expressions, how he sits while waiting for a shot, etc.
For players with the best rhythm (in my humble opinion), I suggest you study Allison Fisher and Ralf Souquet. You will notice that they are in total control, starting with their breathing, their emotions, their moves, their strokes, their game. Carefully study their behavior when they are not shooting and you will see that they are in such total control that it is almost inconceivable that they would miss a shot.
These are the best examples I can think of to study the effectiveness of consistent control of breathing as a method for emotional and physical control through rhythm.
To see others, go to: http://www.pooltipjar.com/2009/12/poolsynergy-volume-ii/
Deadline: December 10, 2009, 10AM
I have already published hundreds of pool stories, many without any moral and/or interesting content, so to save the reader a lot of time, I then summarized the better stories into a book called "Invincible". It's free. Click the link. So I'm done. End of FastMikie stories.
Instead, let's talk about you and your pool story.
You have almost certainly heard that we are all the masters of our fate, that we can achieve whatever we passionately pursue. It's interesting to me that if this is true, then why do so many people do so little with their lives? The answer, in many cases, is that we have difficulty truly believing that we can do anything we commit to. It's an overwhelming thought. And even if we might be able to accomplish something extraordinary, how do we do it? Did you ever take a course titled "How to get whatever you want"? Me neither. But, over time, and with a lot of study and trial and error, I was able to figure it out. And that's when it really got interesting for me because I started to simplify my System for Success, and prove it in the pursuit of my goals, and now it is second nature to me.
You can do it too. Your story of pool, and the story of your life in general, when you look back on it from some future date, can be anything you imagine it to be, if you follow a simple procedure: Think - Plan - Do - Repeat. I have written about this and put the basics into a Quick Start Guide which you can download here.
In last month's Pool Synergy article, I promised to discuss Your Plan for Excellence in Pool. Without a Plan, your life will be ruled by Random Events, so your personal pool story has almost zero chance to turn out the way you want. A plan is essential. It is the road map for how you get where you want to be, starting where you are right now.
A plan is given enormous power if it is written down and reviewed frequently, and updated with what you have learned along the way. Even more power is generated if it is revealed to other people who can help you. There is an old saying that if you fail to plan, you are in essence planning to fail. So there is really no alternative if you truly want to achieve anything worth while. You must have a plan.
Start now. Pick up a pen and start to write your Plan for Excellence in Pool. What should it look like? Amazingly, it really doesn't matter what your plan looks like in the beginning because one of the secrets to success is that any plan is better than no plan. Part of the planning process is that you will continue to update your plan as you progress toward your goals. Your plan will continue to get better. The most important thing is to start. To get you started, consider these words, which are the most powerful I have ever read because they reveal how you can use the laws of the universe in your favor:
the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which
kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents
and meetings and material assistance, which no man
could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has Genius, Power and Magic in it.
Begin it now!
and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,
he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary;
new, universal, and more liberal laws
will begin to establish themselves around and within him;
or old laws will be expanded and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense,
and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.
To me, these are beautiful thoughts, to "live with the license of a higher order of beings"? It is a promise made to us by some of the greatest minds our world has ever known. A promise to each of us, all equal in our abilities to imagine a future of our own desires. All we need to do is take that next step, and keep on taking one step at a time, until we have achieved our dreams. Planned steps, of course.
To get you started, check out my Plan for Excellence in Pool, 2008 and 2007. This will give you a framework you can use to customize your own plan.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Further reading on these topics:
Quotes on Perseverance, and Persistence and Success.
Generalized System for Success: Think - Plan - Do - Repeat
This article is the first of a series of posts written in coordination with other pool bloggers entitled "PoolSynergy" . This first month's theme is STRATEGY. To see others, go to: http://www.poolstudent.com/2009/11/15/poolsynergy-volume-001/
Thursday, October 22, 2009
This morning I read about Mika's quote in the blog Pool Cue News and Review.
And then I Googled the phrase and found that there was only one link to that exact phrase being used in that context, and it was in the London Evening Standard (today!) with a good story about Mika and how he doesn't get into much idle chit-chat.
I really appreciate a person who can get a major thought out in as few words as possible, something I always try to do, but seldom achieve. Click the two links above and read more on this winning mind-set.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Check out the website for Easy Street Billiards at http://easystreetbilliards.com/
Nice place, eh? Man, I wish I lived in Monterey, CA so I could hang out there all day long. Wouldn't it be great to own the place and make a few bucks, hopefully, and shoot pool on nice tables with mellow customers?
Only $125,000 from what I understand, including tables, furniture, the works, free and clear.
Friday, October 09, 2009
1865 West Vista Way, Vista CA
Tables: 8' coin operated. 9 ball, race to 3.
Double Elimination. 2PM. $11 entry fee.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Well, I'm not so sure that's true in every case, and my pool door has certainly not closed entirely (just played for 4 hours yesterday), but since I have cut out tournaments and the focused practice needed for tournament play, there's a lot more time to do some of the things I have been wanting to do for a long time. So here's just one of the new things in my life:
Welcome to The Adventures of Airstream Mikie!
Pool has kept me inside too long. Fresh air and sunshine and moderate exercise is important for human beings (so I'm told), and this is one way of getting out more often. The Corvette convertible is going to be sold because I have only one parking spot for the Airstream hauler, a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. The Airstream is a new (2009) Sport 17 model, the least expensive of all the Airstreams, and is just barely the smallest (the "Bambi" is smaller by about 8 inches, but lots more expensive).
OK, so now I'm all geared up and ready to hit the road. Where to? Well if you click on the link above, you can read all about it, but the short answer is The Beach. Or, better, ALL the beaches on the west coast of North America, from Cabo San Lucas to Anchorage. Not all in one trip, but over time. Lots of time. You can't be in any rush when you're hauling a ton and a half of tin behind you.
And, yes, I will be taking my cue case with me, and will be shooting pool every chance I get. Stay tuned.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
Pool Wars author Jay Helfert seems to be a thinking man's Forrest Gump of the pool world, always in the right place at the right time for some of the biggest pool events since the 60's. For example, Jay was racking the balls during the match when Earl Strickland won the "million-dollar" prize for running 10 racks in a row! Jay was the guy who got Keith McCready a role in the movie "The Color of Money"... the list goes on and on.
This is a great read for any pool player because Jay Helfert is the real deal. He started his pool career as a road hustler, then tournament director, then promoter. And he's got great stories about all of it. And he doesn't hold back a bit. His stories are filled with fights, knives, and guns (including his own 25 caliber hand gun).It was a real pleasure to read this well-written first person history of pool during the last 40 years. You'll learn the inside scoop you won't find anywhere else. Pool Wars... You'll love it.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Monica Webb read this book and recently won back to back WPBA pro pool tournaments, her first wins in 10 years of trying. I'm thinking that maybe something in this book might have been a key in her success.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Weights (using digital scale):
One ball is 168 grams
Eleven balls are 169 grams each (includes the "measle" cue ball)
Four balls are 170 grams each
Yo, Aramith! We can put a man on the moon (so I'm told), but can't make billiard balls of consistent weight? What's up with that?
A Facebook friend from a land far away asked my thoughts on Larry Keller's Pro Justa-Bridge, so I figured I'd share it here:
About a year ago, I bought one of these Pro Justa-Bridges and like it a lot. However, some guest players who have never used one would get freaked-out with it and ask if I had a "normal" bridge that they are used to.
One disadvantage is that they are not flat, and it is difficult to fit it in a typically crowded cue case, but that's not that big a deal as you'll be carrying other stuff that won't fit in a cue case.
The final analysis: Excellent product, well built and well designed.
I got mine at Amazon.com (click here for price/info/buy)
Saturday, May 09, 2009
When I get to inventing, the first thing I do is a prototype. It's not supposed to be be flawless, or elegant, just a proof-of-concept. The guidelines are simplicity, modular, easy to assemble/disassemble, and using materials at hand. This prototype was very simple and I was so proud that I didn't resort to duct tape! It included a baseball cap, the camera attached to a Gorilla tripod, and a necktie to hold the camera/tripod onto the hat. That's all. I was happy that it didn't feel overly heavy and didn't seem to bother me when shooting. Although the setup was totally idiotic looking, I wasn't trying to make a fashion statement
Two things need to be changed:
1. The focal length of the camera lens didn't give the right sight picture. It needs to be more wide-angle.
2. The camera would be more properly mounted closer to eye level.
One interesting benefit that I didn't expect: When you play back the video you can very clearly see when you moved during the shot.
I'll post a short POV video, soon, if I can get over a persistent case of laziness.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
When I got to playing some carom with those 3 fresh balls, I noticed that the behavior seemed different, and I couldn't quite figure it out.
One thing that was throwing me off was that I was using mis-matched balls. The red and yellow are from a set designed for European 8-ball, which are about 4 grams lighter than the measle cue ball. The hit sounded wrong, so I replaced the measle cue ball with the cue ball that comes with the set of mustard & ketchup balls.
Wow! The lighter cue ball really makes a big difference in how far I can draw the ball. Now I want to use it all the time!
Another observation: This set of balls was virtually brand new although I have had them for a couple of years. I think I had never used the cue ball that came with the set. A brand new set of balls plays real nice. Fresh balls are happy, perky balls!
Monday, May 04, 2009
I was hitting some balls, experimenting with cuts, and I drifted into focusing on position, and then the position I was aiming at was another object ball, and all of a sudden I was playing 3 cushion billiards and it was fun, so I broke out a fresh measle cue ball, and a fresh red and a fresh yellow, just to make it look more like 3-cushion.
Then it hit me: this is the first time I ever actually shot 3-cushion billiards. And it surprised me that in the last five-plus years of pool, there has been no carom and no snooker, even though I have always wanted to shoot some carom.
I can't even think of where there might be a carom table in San Diego. There was one table at Family Billiards in Oceanside, but they just closed.
First thing I noticed is that carom billiards requires more brain power. It's a rare thing in pocket billiards that you have to hit 3 cushions for shape, but in carom it's every shot. And the more complex shots require more skill with a cue. I'm impressed, totally.
I did make two points in probably twenty tries, but those two points seemed to give more pleasure, more outright satisfaction, than if I ran 20 into pockets.
Other observations: the first object ball seems to come into play when least expected, such as double hits, or when playing on a pool table, falling into a pocket, and while on the subject of pockets, I found myself not being able to shoot a few shots because the pockets were in the way. Also, the larger balls used in carom would take more english and travel farther with a given stroke, so it seems that would contribute to a more pleasurable experience.
Someday, when I can afford a large house on the oceanfront, I will be sure to have room for a carom table, a snooker table, and a pool table.
And a ping pong table. Oh yeah!
Sunday, May 03, 2009
This was where I first won money in a pool tournament. I got 30 bucks for third place, the first time I entered the tournament. I was a "C" player then, in May 2004. Good times! Click here for the story.
And, I also won that tournament, in February 2006, as an "A" player, a few weeks after David Nakano told me I was no "A" player. Click here for the story.
I'm sure they held on as long as possible, but increased rent finally did the place in.
Good luck, Buddy (the owner). Thanks for the memories!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to have that fantasy become reality, right at home on my own table, and even got it on video, in 3 parts, for a total of only 29 balls run. When my run come to a close with a safety, Johnny Archer spots a kick into a 5-ball combination for a break, and continues his run to 120 balls. That big run is on another set of videos. These three clips are Varner coaching me.
This was all completely unplanned. The original intention was to play some straight pool to see how high a run the three of us could put together with me playing every other shot (Johnny, me, Nick, me, Johnny, me, etc). With both of them coaching me on every shot, I figured I'd learn a lot. We were going along pretty good and then Nick misses a dinky shot ("I forgot to aim!") and the table looks so good, and I've been getting impatient to hit more than one ball in a row, so I change the rules and want to run solo, whereupon Nick coaches along with some input from Johnny.
Friday, April 24, 2009
This video starts off with Nick Varner coaching me through my last rack, where I get myself in trouble and play safe. That's when Johnny Archer spots a kick to a 5 ball combination for a break shot and proceeds to run out the rack (12 balls) and keeps on going for a total run of 120 balls.
What is exceptional about this run is that Johnny does it despite all sorts of distractions, interruptions and while carrying on conversations about the shots and the strategy as he goes.
There is a lot that can be learned from these videos!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
gave me private lessons for the last 3 hours.
Archer ran 120 in straight pool.
I got it on HD video!
Friday, April 17, 2009
1. In the first of the recent three tournament wins in a row, the worthy opponent was a guy I had never seen before, John H. In the finals, for the last game, I broke and ran out. He never got out of his chair. Bummer way to lose, but a great way to win. So to see what he had going for him I invited him over to shoot some pool at the Fun House, and he chose 9-ball. I don't remember the score, dammit, and that's why I should be writing this stuff down as it happens. Maybe I'll do an iPhone app for keeping scores... In any case, I do remember that I played pretty good and won convincingly. He's a good dude. Into radio controlled airplanes.
2. In the second of the recent three tournament wins in a row... there ya go again... I can't remember the details, so if you were in the finals of that 8 ball tournament a couple of weeks ago, and you want me to mention your name here, as the guy who came in second, just let me know. Maybe I'll remember later, and maybe I'll remember that I forgot it, and maybe I'll come back here and write it here, and nobody will ever know because nobody reads this stuff anyway.
3. In the last, most recent of the 3 wins in a row, the big Quarterly Tournament, which gets my name on the plaque on the wall, thereby granting me immortality in some very small degree... the worthy opponent was "Ball in Hand" Benny. He is a lot of fun. When he makes a great shot, and when he misses, he says "I love this game!". Gotta like a guy like that. Anyway, I played good, and so did he, but I won.
4. When Samm was in town, we played some pool here at the Fun House. In 9 ball, and she won 9-5 and we played some straight pool and I won 50-27. She was using the ICEBREAKER break cue and getting some great action with it. My break was not working at all.
5. Samm Diep and I played in the Hard Times tournament up in Los Angeles, and we both did the 0-2 barbecue. I could not get motivated, and I was not pleased with my performance. Objectively, I should be able to win against both of those players. But not this Sunday.
6. Mike R. called me out on my facebook page, so I messaged back "Bring it on..." and the match took place at time that couldn't have been more poorly chosen, and amazingly, I'm the one that chose the time! How did I get to be this old and still be an idiot? Maybe I was being efficient by trying to schedule lots of things to happen all on the same day, so I can have the other days all to myself (which is what we hermits do), but I wound up scheduling a pool match...
a) immediately after a lunch appointment with one of my favorite female friends, so this guarantees that my mind will be completely unfocused on pool. Usually I will clear my entire day leading up to a tournament. More time for preparation.
b) at the same time when my assistant Carol would be here working. Her cooking is always a distraction in a very good way, but not if I need to be shooting some serious pool. Since it was her last day before her vacation, there were extra details to be dealt with, and of course this did not help my focus.
c) at the same time as I had scheduled a plumber to do some maintenance. Isn't that the most bone-headed thing to deal with during a pool match? It seemed that every 10 minutes the plumber would be missing a part, need to make a call, needed to ask a question, or just wanted to watch a few shots!
What was I thinking to have scheduled this perfect storm of madness? Needless to say, and as much as I choke on the saying of it, and in the spirit of full disclosure, transparency, and such, and as I agreed that I would so do, I am giving the score of the match in the smallest of font sizes because I refuse to admit it into my reality, so here: (9-ball, 7-5, 7-3) Didn't see that? Well try highlighting that area with your cursor... In any case, I do have to admit that he was breaking well and getting plenty of opportunities for early outs with combinations. It seemed that all I could think of was how stupid I am for scheduling this match for such conditions.
It occurred to me that a wise man would have chosen a more appropriate time for combat, and then it hit me... these are the words of Sun Tzu in his classic "The Art of War":
Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all ranks.
He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.
Italics in the above are mine, to indicate where I screwed up. Maybe I'll remember next time.
7. The $20 gift certificate for pizza which I won in the last tournament (I would have preferred a trophy), I intended to use to treat the guys in that tournament. When I called to order a couple of large pizzas, it was $37. What the heck. Hope they enjoyed it.