Gold Crown IV

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cutest cueists: Anastasia Luppova

I just ran across this photo in a list of "The 100 Hottest Sports Pics Ever" (link).  Here's how she is described in that list:
"She may be known as Miss Billiards 2009, but Russian sensation Anastasia Luppova doesn't need a resume to attract the camera.
While she can clearly work the pockets, it's Luppova's beauty that garners respect."

I haven't met her, but she could play on my table anytime...
From the size of the balls in the photo, she must be playing Russian pool.
This is just the latest in my series featuring "Cutest Cueists".  To see the others, click here, and enjoy!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why I Didn't Compete in the US Open 9-ball Tournament

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon and foggy by the beach, perfect for hanging out in the newly remodeled Fun House and watching the US Open 9-ball finals.  What a great show Appleton put on, easily winning for the second time in a row.  

Each shot of his match appeared so perfect that it almost seemed to require no effort at all.  Some of the shots were truly extraordinary, so I had to go to my table and try them myself.  What I learned from the experience (as if I hadn't already learned it many times before) is that while I can make those great shots, I just can't do it consistently.  And, of course, that makes all the difference in the world.  Another reason for not competing in these marathon tournaments is the enormous stress it puts on one's body.  My physical conditioning is just not up to it.  

While I'm on the subject of reasons (excuses?), there's the hotel food I'd have to endure (I'm a vegetarian).  And don't get me started on the rigors of air travel.  I'm sure the weather was awful too; I'm so spoiled by SoCal climate.

And that's why I didn't go to the Big Show...

While standing at the foot of my table (9' Brunswick Gold Crown IV, with Simonis 760 cloth) I can watch the tournament on two 65" plasma (Panasonic) screens, streaming through my MacBook Air and redirected to these external monitors.  The High Definition webcast was amazingly clear on these screens.

I had the "best seat in the house"!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pool Comes to a Quiet Mind

The new, improved Fun House is spectacular.  The new wood floors and minimalist theme are calming and yet very strong.  

Late into the night, with quiet all around, save the distant sounds of the surf, and in solitude, I sense every shot with maximum attention.

It just doesn't get much better than this.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Illusion of Winning

Scott Adams, the creator of the wildly popular Dilbert cartoon series, is a pool player of some considerable skill, it seems. Although I have never seen him shoot a ball, his post describes a deep understanding of what it takes to excel at the game.  I couldn't have said it better myself, so click here and read it yourself.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pool Has Returned to My Life

FastMikie's Fun House remodel project has turned the corner!

The pool table (Brunswick Gold Crown IV) has been re-assembled and re-clothed (Simonis 760 Tournament Blue) with the excellent assistance of Steve Leistikow. Thanks, Steve, it plays flawlessly!  

To celebrate, I spent a few hours just hitting one table full after another, getting back in stroke, and enjoying it a lot.  Next up was a "Shoeless Pool Tournament" with a couple of friends.  The "shoeless" stipulation is to protect the new, spectacular wood floors as well as to help give it a shine while walking around the table (socks required).

I sure am enjoying the new space, and the table, a Ton.  And I'm looking forward to having a lot more friends over in the coming weeks and months to shoot some pool, talk business, and plan Global Domination, as usual...


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Pool Table Goes Here (soon)...

The new, improved FastMikie's Fun House is ever-so-slowly advancing toward completion!  The new floors have been installed, and as you can see, they are outrageously awesome.  The walls are painted.  Nice!  And, soon the pool table will be re-installed.  Happy Days!

If I ever stop shooting pool, I'm going to convert the space into a yoga studio:  FastMikie's Seaside Downward Dog Yoga Emporium. Imagine the possibilities...


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fun House Do-Over

For the past 6 weeks, the Fun House has been torn apart and completely remodeled, because, well, why not, right?  It's not every day you get a chance to reinvent where you live, and in honor of my coming 70th year on this planet I decided to do just that: reinvent just about everything about myself.

Some things will stay, including the pool table, of course, but the floor upon which it rests will be completely replaced with "Royal Mahogany" (see above photo) which I think will look great with the Gold Crown IV table. 

This wood sort of reminds me of the wood floors at Allinger's pool hall in downtown Philly (now long gone).  It was a second-floor establishment, a long walk up a wide staircase, usually littered with homeless, panhandlers, and all manner of humanity.  But the pool hall itself was pure pool, an artifact from the Depression era pool halls, where the "No Gambling" sign was merely a decoration, one of very few.  I remember that when you wanted a new rack of balls, you banged your stick on the floor and over would come a young black girl, who would rack them for tips.  That's just the way it was back then, in the Fifties.  

I remember the sound of those floors, and the crack of the balls on the break, and every once in a while the sound of a ball rolling along those floors, sent aloft and on its way by some overenthusiastic ball-banger.  Not me, of course; even in those early years I had great respect for the game.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Mark Twain Gets Hustled

Mark Twain, known as "America's Favorite Author" as well as a skilled cueist, related this story about how he was once hustled at billiards:

The game of billiards has destroyed my naturally sweet disposition. Once, when I was an underpaid reporter in Virginia City, whenever I wished to play billiards I went out to look for an easy mark. One day a stranger came to town and opened a billiard parlor. I looked him over casually. When he proposed a game, I answered, “All right.”

“Just knock the balls around a little so that I can get your gait,” he said; and when I had done so, he remarked: “I will be perfectly fair with you. I'll play you left-handed.” I felt hurt, for he was cross-eyed, freckled, and had red hair, and I determined to teach him a lesson. He won first shot, ran out, took my half-dollar, and all I got was the opportunity to chalk my cue.

“If you can play like that with your left hand,” I said, “I’d like to see you play with your right.”

“I can’t,” he said. “I’m left-handed."


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Willie Mosconi Video

While researching the details on the auction of Mosconi's cue (previous post), I found this video of Willie giving a running commentary while he runs racks.

He also answers the question of whether he missed, or just quit, on his record 526-ball run.

Check out the video!


Willie's Cue is for sale

News comes this morning that Willie Mosconi's personal cue, made for him by the legendary Balabushka, will be auctioned off to the highest bidder by Willie's son.  (Click for story)

This is so wrong, on so many levels, and yet... I want that cue!  Yes, it's a stupid thing to want to own something so expensive only because someone famous once owned it.  

What is the best use of this cue?  To allow people to buy a few moments with the cue, to hold it and even use it in a game.  To rent it out by the minute, by the hour?  What would that be worth, $100 per hour?  One thousand dollars to use the cue for a weekend tournament?  

That sure beats having it stuck in a case in some collector's home, or some museum, or the Brunswick corporate archives.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kamui Chalk Review - How much?

When I did the first look at the new Kamui chalk product (see the post below this one), I was unaware of the price.  Now I have heard that the price is $25 per cube.  Yikes!  

Okay, now that I'm over sticker shock, and have been able to shoot some more racks with the chalk, I can put the price into perspective.  Here's my take on it:

I practice with the cheap stuff, 
but when I want to Win,
I use Kamui chalk.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kamui Chalk Review - First Reports by FastMikie

Today is the first day in the life of Kamui Chalk in the USA and I have been honored to receive the first cube for review purposes:

The chalk cube was individually hermetically sealed in a foil package, with what looks like a retail hang tag...

The paper label on the cube seems to be an early prototype of what would be available in production runs because it wasn't aligned very straight, nor was it very tight, but of course that wouldn't have anything to do with how the chalk plays...

The first impression I had was that the color was a very pale blue, quite different from the dark blue I have been used to.  But as you can see from the photo below, after the first brush with the cue tip, the color changes to a darker, but still light, blue.  The second impression was that the chalk seemed to be inconsistent in composition because there appeared spots, flecks, etc in the surface of the chalk.  I was surprised again when I actually chalked my cue to find that the consistency is almost powder-like in smoothness.  Very impressive feel to it.

My third first impression (?) was that the cube seemed a bit small, so I compared it with Master and Blue Diamond, and sure enough, there's a bit less of it.  

But chalk isn't about quantity, it's all about quality, so the real test is how it plays...  To test it properly, I used my Ulti-mate tip tool to remove all of the Blue Diamond chalk from my tip (Kamui soft), and then lightly rechalked with the new Kamui chalk.  The photo below doesn't seem to do it justice photographically, but the feel of the chalk as it is being applied is something completely different for me.  It's amazingly smooth, almost silky, almost powdery.  The feel is calming, and you can't have enough calm when you need to make a tricky shot to win the game/match/money!

I shot a few racks with this new Kamui chalk, and I can absolutely report that even this great product can not make up for a lack of practice!  But with this chalk I get the feeling that I want to spend more time with it, and more time at the table means better pool, and isn't that what it's all about?

The price of the chalk is still unknown at this time, but price to me is not an issue, especially for something that is so integral to every shot.  Master chalk is around 25 cents a cube.  Blue Diamond is around 3 bucks a cube.  Either way, the cost per use is almost negligible, so if you are serious about your game, why would you not use the best chalk, regardless of price?

Even at 5 bucks a cube I would still choose Kamui chalk.  I rate it 5-star!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Optimum Practice

About 7 years ago I decided to get as good as I can at billiards. And I got pretty darn good.

I could get a lot better if I practiced more, but I'm lazy, so I try to get by with the least possible amount of effort.

That's not a winning attitude, of course, so I decided to develop the Optimum Practice routine that would give me the maximum results with the minimum effort.

I had been building this Optimum Practice routine for about 4 years, and it was been working very well.  You might call it the Lazy Man's Path to Success.

In May of 2007 I decided that a key element in this Optimum Practice routine must be a Practice Assistant.  Over the next 9 months I developed the concept of a Practice Assistant and set out to find and train such a person.

That lead me to Dave, the world's first Billiards Practice Assistant, and he started to work at FastMikie's Fun House.
To get better at anything, practice is essential.  But, there is ordinary practice, the way you are doing it now, and then there is Optimum Practice.

Results of Optimum Practice should be double or triple what ordinary practice will bring, at a minimum. The best part is that these results begin immediately.

One of the primary goals of practice is to increase muscle memory, and that requires going through the motions.

For a pool player, Optimum Practice delivers at least twice as many shots in the same amount of practice time. Therefore results are guaranteed to double.
Optimum Practice includes these elements, at a minimum: (what am I missing?)

                           Goals, with dates, written down and committed to
Written, detailed Plan to achieve the Goals
Keeping records of actions and results
Frequent Review & continuous improvement of the Plan
Lessons from a Master

Physical Practice
Video - record and review
Visualization, meditation
Self Hypnosis
Help - ask for it and give it
The notes above are part repost and part new material from an old blog I'm closing out.  To get the complete series of Optimum Practice posts, use the search box at the top left of this page, entering the words Optimum Practice.  

Or, click here.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Striking True

"Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, 
but by striking true." 

Honore de Balzac

I ran across this excellent quote this morning, and it reminded me of Johnny Archer's visit to FastMikie's Fun House, when he gave me a lesson on how to execute a proper 9-ball break.  Here's the video of that lesson:

Monday, February 07, 2011

New Cloth, New Rules

To celebrate the new year, I am treating myself to new cloth.  And with the new cloth comes new rules.  No more noisy break games like 8-9-10-ball.  Only quiet games like straight pool, or carom.  The neighbors complain about the noise.  Also, no jump shots, no masse' shots, no spitting, no cussing, no whistling, no singing, no children, no food or drinks on the table, no smoking, and no gum.  Most of all, as the sign over the table makes abundantly clear: "NO SNIVELING".  I hate it when they do that.


Simonis 760 Tournament Blue is on the table now.  I'm thinking of making a change, and I'm open to suggestions....


Notes: The shot, some important "points".

Imagine the shot in your mind.  See in advance the path of the cue ball after it hits the object ball(s), see the object ball move to and drop into the pocket.   See the cue ball move into your next intended position, the full path sometimes 3 cushions or more.  See it come to a stop.   If you imagine troubling results, then adjust your thoughts and re-imagine the shot coming out perfectly.  Proceed only if you see the shot.

Commit to the shot.  Confidence is essential.

Sense the shot in your body.  Sense how strong you need to stroke the shot.  Sense the sounds of the shot.  Sense the follow through.  See the path of the cue ball as you sense the shot.

Now move from the fantasy world to reality...

Now look for the line between the center of the pocket opening and the place on the object ball that is farthest from the center of the pocket.  

This line is a very fine line, thinner than a human hair, and therefore the point on the object ball will be very, very small.

The point where the line exits the back of the object ball is Point A. 
The more clearly you see Point A, the better the shot.
Stand directly in line with the object ball and the pocket.
See Point A on the object ball.

Keep your eyes on Point A.

Move to the table to approach the cue ball.

There is another point of interest, the point on the cue ball which is the only point that can touch Point A.  This is Point O.

You will need to change your focus away from Point A, to the cue ball to align where you will stroke through with the cue tip (Point T).  Your vision will switch from Point T to Point A as you take warm up strokes.

When the warm up strokes are complete, the focus returns to Point A.

Point A is where to focus prior to, during, and after releasing the stroke.  That is the ideal.  This consistent focus helps follow through.

Execute the shot so that points A and O meet with enough force to drive the object ball to the pocket and the cue ball to arrive at its intended destination.



The pocket opening is judged from the perspective of the object ball, not the widest point as measured at the pocket. 

Allowances must be made for any english applied.


Saturday, February 05, 2011

FastMikie's Fun House Video

As I was doing a little cleaning up of the sidebar ----->
I discovered this little video experiment among my YouTube videos.  I like the music (Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata); very restful.  It shows a typical "day in the life", including some favorite pool exercises, the sunsets, food, etc.  Enjoy...

Link here:


Friday, February 04, 2011

So, what's new, you ask?

Posts here have waned lately, and some have wondered what could possibly have eclipsed my obsession with pool, and why.  Well, here's the story, starting with a little background...

There was a time, long ago, 1983, that I was quite poor.  Bankrupt, in fact, the result of a business adventure that went poorly.  At that time I started on the long road back to building financial independence.  Of course, during the following 10 years there was no pool, no Frisbee, no real fun whatsoever; just total focus on recovering from destitute conditions, and on being a responsible member of society, paying my bills, and hopefully building a nest egg for my retirement.

It went well, and in '92 I was able to leave the world of business behind and basically go play and make up for all that I missed.  I might have overdone it, what with the airplanes and Ferraris and fantasy homes.  I'm like that, I have discovered; I tend toward excess.  Sometimes that's a great thing.  When it comes to spending money, I can hang with the best of them.  But I'm getting better at being a fiscal conservative.  Poverty is a good teacher.

The years since between 1992 - 2000 were filled with what could be called conspicuous consumption, and I gave a lot away to various good causes.  Around 2000 I started to slow it down, and live a more conservative lifestyle.  

About 2 years ago the thought occurred to me to do a spreadsheet to analyze how much longer my dwindling nest egg might last; just out of curiosity.  The short answer is that there is a distinct possibility that I may outlive my resources.  The good news being that I would die before the resources did, if you can call that good news.  The bad news is that I could live long enough to be poor again.

The spreadsheet showed me that there was no great urgency, but it also showed me that I needed a plan of action that would resolve the issue.

Based on this analysis, it seemed that spending a lot of time on pool practice would be akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burned.  I needed to get back to "Taking Care of Business".

Recently I went back to school.  UCSD is only a couple of miles away.  I'm taking a course called "New Business Ventures and the Entrepreneur".  It's a subject I know a lot about already, having started several businesses from scratch, but I wanted to learn what they are teaching nowadays.  And the best part is that it is being taught by a couple of Venture Capitalists.  VCs are the guys with the money to help entrepreneurs start businesses.  All my businesses have been started without VC money, but I'm thinking it might be easier/faster with VC help.

And I've been reading voraciously, everything about new technologies (my favorite business), VC blogs and books and videos.  I've even been getting out in public, attending networking meetings, seminars, and reconnecting with business contacts from long ago.  My inner hermit is giving way to my outer extrovert.

My business blog "The Art and Science of Success in Business" has transformed from intermittent to a much more frequent and focused endeavor and a growing resource for entrepreneurs.

Mentoring entrepreneurs has been a pastime for many years, but over the last two years it has taken on growing importance to me.  And, it seems that being more involved in helping others with their businesses has increased my interest in getting back into a business of my own.

Over the last year I finished a couple of book projects.  The story of my tour of Europe in an open-cockpit biplane in the summer of '97 is now available on (see for more information).  Another writing project was the republishing of my trademark poster "The Ten Commandments of Managing a Young, Growing Business" into a Pocket Guide for Entrepreneurs (see for more information.  

I even transitioned out of super-fast cars and traded the Corvette roadster for something much more practical, heck it even has two usable back seats (but still only 2 doors, of course!).  See my car blog "A Man and His Car".

FastMikie is becoming BizMikie, again.  Just as it was when I left my pool playing days in college in 1964, and entered the world of computers with IBM.  The more things change, the more they stay the same! 

I still shoot a little bit, but as you know, without a lot of focused practice, the fine edge wears down a bit.  That is unfortunate, but I gotta be taking care of business, for now.  

If I play this right, I should be able to add a zero to my nest egg and get back to shooting some sweet pool again in a couple of years.  Wish me luck, and watch this space for news as it develops...


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Secret of Success, from a tea bag

Patience gives the power to practice;

Practice gives the power that leads to perfection.

(from the tab on tonight's Yogi green tea)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Woody Allen Wins Pool Tournament

I had not been planning on entering it, and I felt rotten when I woke up the morning of the Big Quarterly 8-ball Tournament.  I didn't get much sleep at all.  I was listless, and unfocused, and when I tried to hit a few on my table, every shot missed by a mile.  My vision was fuzzy.  I figured there was no way I was going to win the tournament, so why even show up for it?

But, the deciding factor was that I kinda missed hanging with the guys who frequent the room; I hadn't competed in this tournament since I won it 9 months ago.  That was the second time I won it, so I have been staying away in order to not wear out my welcome.  

So, with my fuzzy vision, and well over 2 years of not practicing at all, this was a good opportunity to show up and let them beat up on me, and we can all have some good fun, and then the Next time I'll try for the 3-peat.  This was my humble plan.

Strangely, I won it anyway.  I wasn't happy with my game at all.  I missed some shots that were inexcusable, giving my opponents many opportunities.  I lost one match to "Lefty" Bob, who won it last quarter.  But somehow I just hung in there until the end.

So what can you learn from all this?  I guess it kinda proves what Woody Allen was saying: "80% of success is showing up".  Thanks, Woody!


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Pool Notes

I was going through an old computer that I used for recording some of my practice sessions and found a file called "Pool Notes".  It got me curious, so I opened it to find some thougths you may find interesting.  Here it is in its entirety:

Pool Notes:

Enjoy giving each shot your full, consistent Attention.

Practice the way you want to play.

Don’t pick up the cue unless you are going to give the shot your full Attention.

Pre-shot routine:
1.      Breathe – Oxygen: brain food
2.      Relax
3.      Self Talk:  Relax, Breathe, Confident stroke, follow through
4.      Walk around the table
5.      Plan 3 balls ahead
6.      Touch the position target
7.      See the shot
a.       See the shot, the stroke, the follow through
b.      See the ball go into the pocket
c.       See the cue ball go to the position spot 

            A.  The night before the match:
1.      Get fully rested.
2.      Equipment
a.       Tip maintenance
b.      Clean glove
            B.     The morning of the match
1.      Eat right
2.      stretch
3.      Visualization
i.                     See yourself winning
ii.                   See yourself being relaxed, smiling, breathing
4.      Affirmations:
1.      I am in the match for what I will learn from it.
2.      I have all the tools.
3.      I can make all the shots.
4.      I have the experience.
5.      I have the knowledge

5.      Self hypnosis

During the match
A.     Tunnel vision
a.       Focus only on the table
b.      Composure: Confident, Emotionless
c.       Continuous positive self talk
d.      No conversations.
e.       Bear down from the start.

Self talk
A.     Everything is going extremely well
B.     I am breathing easily
C.     I am remaining calm and relaxed

I use my high intelligence to play percentages, see opportunities, natural patterns.
I know how to win.  I have an excellent record of going undefeated.
I never give up.  Never. 
I have an excellent record of success in my Life.


A.       When there are only a few balls left on the table, and no easy runout:
DO NOT TAKE LOW %  shot.
Play a double shot strategy. 
Don’t give the opponent a shot.
i.        Push a ball in front of pocket
ii.    Push a ball in front of his
iii.   Push a ball for breaking cluster

   B.  Sharking:
Ignore it.  Do not reply.  Smile.  Let it go.
Only MY behavior is of importance.