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back :: 2009 BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships

Posted 05-30-2009 at 09:17 AM by omgwtf
Updated 06-10-2009 at 01:50 PM by omgwtf

2009 BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships
Riviera Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas, NV


This year, I knew I was going to enjoy Las Vegas.

This is because my jackhole boss of previous years has moved on to another establishment and my interim boss was much, much more reasonable about me taking vacation time (and not having to work while on vacation... because... you know... it's... vacation... even if pool is like a job sometimes).

Anyhow, let me see if I can come up with a coherent summary of my time in Vegas.



[1] : Thursday, May 9, 2009

On a sunny afternoon, I flew out from Los Angeles...



...and touched down just a tad over an hour later in the whole other world known as Las Vegas.

My first stop, after unceremoniously dropping my three tons of luggage at the hotel room, was this year's highly anticipated action arena, the TARBAR (brought to you by OB Cues, CueSports International, and the hardworking Diet-Coke and beer-swilling behemoths at The Action Report).

This is how the TARBAR's main action table (the one that was on the live stream most of the time) would look like if no one gave a damn about gambling...



...but of course, that was not the case. In fact, when I walked in at 10-ish in the evening, the room was well-packed with people watching yet another episode of Shane "South Dakota Kid" Van Boening vs Alex "A T-Shirt With A Tuxedo Print Is Still A Tuxedo" Pagulayan. They were actually carrying over from some sets they had played at Pool Sharks during the Darren "Dynamite" Appleton vs Dennis "Hatchet Man" Hatch $40,000 matchup earlier in the week.

Word on the street was that the Appleton vs Hatch match was a bit of a letdown for the first two days. When Mr. Van Boening matched up with Mr. Pagulayan on another table, the spectators eventually all drifted over to watch that match instead of the marquee match.



I watched a bit of this match and then went to go practice for the scotch doubles tournament, in which I was a last-minute substitute for someone who couldn't make it. My partner and I hadn't played scotch doubles before so it was going to be a challenge to figure out each other's styles in a short time. Nevertheless, we made a heroic effort in the hour or two that we played. We didn't play until late the next morning, which was a blessing.

On my way back to my room at the ever-luxurious Circus Circus, I passed by this:



Yes, dear reader, those are donuts. Krispy Kreme donuts. And this little stand is open 24 HOURS A DAY. I promptly bought two chocolate creme-filled donuts and trotted happily off. Half the fun of adulthood is having the authority to eat donuts in lieu of a complete meal -- or in lieu of ALL meals.

Mmm.



[2] : Friday, May 8, 2009

Unfortunately, I had to get up early today because in order to do a player substitution, you had to be at the registration desk when it opened -- at 8:00 a.m.

I actually got there too early, so I went over to kill time at the TARBAR. Chad "Big Nasty" Pollman was on guard duty since, for some reason, the doors wouldn't lock (or they couldn't find the key). He said he hadn't left the room in 24 hours. Brutal.



The first scotch doubles matches started at 9:00 a.m. My match didn't start until 11:00 as my team got a bye. I puttered around the tournament rooms and eventually found myself back at the TARBAR (this will be a motif, as you shall see). Hey, the TARBAR had pool tables, couches, and bad lighting. Just like a real pool hall. Just like a perfect place to take a nap.

I would have slept but I noticed this fellow preoccupied in a fun pastime -- counting money.



I was told that this man was named "Jimmy".

"Jimmy what?"

"Jimmy The Stakehorse."

"He doesn't have a last name?"

"Hell, he almost doesn't have a first name. He's just THE STAKEHORSE."

Well, Jimmy THE STAKEHORSE, was, specifically, Rodney "The Rocket" Morris' stakehorse. He's counting out the cash for Mr. Morris' upcoming match against Chris "It's Nautica Or Nothing" Bartram for $10,000 a man.

Offhandedly, I pointed out that there were twenty-dollar bills in the stake. Kind of neat, I thought, stakehorses use ATM money, too! Just like regular people!

Mr. Stakehorse immediately apologized for this violation of highroller gambling form and said he hadn't had time to change them out for hundreds at the cashier. He said it wouldn't happen again. :-)



My scotch doubles partner and I managed to muddle our way through our first match, but didn't stay tough in the second one, which we lost.

Our first loser's side match was quite brutal. Our opponents fired ahead to a 2-0 lead in the scathingly short, alternate-break race to three. They were running out the last game (we hadn't even shot yet, they were just running racks like tap water) and the guy set up his partner very well on the eight-ball. The fat lady was inhaling to sing...

Inexplicably, our opponent missed. Even the fat lady gets the occasional cough, I guess.

We ran out that rack and clawed our way back to the hill -- and then over it -- for the win.



We won four more matches before finally being eliminated.



In that final match, my partner and I could not seem to play at the right tempo or style. In the case game, we had no choice but to play several kicks on the eight-ball. One of the kicks I had was a fairly routine two-rail kick on the eight-ball into the side pocket. As some of you know, Diamond tables bank a little shorter than Brunswicks. I hadn't taken this into account and so I came up short on the kick.

In my final kick shot, our opponents had played a good safety. Although the eight-ball sat rather close to the upper right corner pocket, they had managed to stick me right next to an object ball and yet another object ball of theirs on the rail prevented me from making what would normally be a routine cross-side kick. I would have to masse into the side rail in order to prevent fouling. I thought about it for a long while as I actually don't know how to masse. I did know it was my only option.

I shot it and instantly knew I had hit it incorrectly. The minute the cue ball moved, I knew I had used the wrong side english and goddammit if I wasn't right about being wrong. I didn't hit the eight-ball at all, our opponents ran out, and we were out for good.



Knowledge is a wonderful thing. I just wish there was a way of acquiring it besides f---ing up (a.k.a. experience).

I set up the shot again after our opponents left and this time, I understood how to shoot it. Sucks, eh? I figured it out after I lost... Arrgh. I was simultaneously delighted ("Hey everybody! I can masse!!") and depressed ("WTF?! Couldn't I have figured that out before I had to shoot a masse?!"). As I stood there pondering the shot a familiar occurrence happened.

A person who had been watching my match approached the table. I knew instantly what was about to happen. It is such situations that are my waking nightmares, the banes of my existence, the only things that sometimes make playing pool unbearable. With as much self-control as I could muster, I looked the man STRAIGHT in the eye, and with as much murderous hatred as I could summon, I said, slowly, distinctly, and dangerously, "DO NOT SAY ANYTHING."

The man looked slightly baffled but stopped where he was. I stared at him warily for many long seconds. He remained where he was. I slowly turned back to the table and set up my masse kick again. I shot it, and made it.

In a flash, the man was across the table from me, moving balls and arranging them. "See, THIS is what you had. You could have done this... or this... You didn't have to kick like that. I think you should have done this." His hands were a blur of confident idiocy and he set the balls up again and again in a dizzying array of permutations.

Let's all say it together: OMG! WTF?

Did I NOT just tell him not to say anything? There was NO QUESTION as to what I had said, in perfect, unaccented American English. And yet here he was telling me how to play -- even though I had already figured out what I had done wrong, and in fact, mastered a shot I had never known before.

Dear readers, this is my life in pool.

And so shall it always be.

Losing in pool causes me great pain and during that time, I would very much like to be left alone. This is why if I'm sitting in a corner with my eyes glazed over looking out at nothing in particular, you should know that I AM NOT LOOKING FOR YOU. I am looking at an imaginary pool table and trying to figure out how to be a better pool player. I am not looking for company.

Leave rabid dogs alone, y'know?

Grr.


I smother and drown my sorrows in food and drink. In addition to more Krispy Kreme donuts, the wonderfully friendly Gil Castillo of Castillo Leather Goods offered me a shot of tequila. It has become somewhat of a tradition now that after every loss, I must take a shot of tequila at his booth out of one of his leatherworked shot glasses.

This is a good habit.



I went back to the TARBAR and I caught the last hour or so of the Bartram vs Morris match. After a full day of play, Mr. Bartram had been up 11 games in this 15-ahead set. In that final hour, Mr. Morris whittled away at that lead until Mr. Bartram only led by 3 games.

There was some controversy during the match as both parties had agreed, after the match got underway, that they would play call-shot. In at least two instances in this final hour, Mr. Bartram forgot to call his shot and Mr. Morris took full advantage.

This set the stage for what looked to be an exciting second day of play between these two.

Fully sedated with sugar and alcohol, I went to sleep. Tomorrow was the start of the Open Singles Division -- one of the greatest demons in my pool playing life.



[3] : Saturday, May 9, 2009

The pool gods saw it fit to bestow a 3:00 p.m. first match upon me and so I slept well. On my way to the Riviera, I once again picked up more Krispy Kreme donuts. All I had eaten and drunk since arriving in Las Vegas were Krispy Kreme donuts and tequila. Well, they were convenient and quick forms of energy...

I poked my head into the TARBAR and Mr. Bartram was there, bright and early, working on a way to take Mr. Morris' money.



My first match would start at the same time the Bartram vs Morris match would so I left to meander the rooms and hallways of this gigantic tournament. I watched some of the Grandmasters play... Of course, I had to take a picture of this guy shooting... a masse. (Spiff!)



I won my first match.


I won my second match.


I won my third match.

The memory of this match warms my cold, cold heart. It went hill-hill and in the last game, I had one ball left and my opponent had two. She played a safe and tried to hide the cue ball behind one of her object balls. She wasn't totally successful, but she had left me safe enough.

My last ball, the two-ball, was on the upper opposite side rail. Although I could see it, I could not cut it in. Even if I could have cut it, the cut was extremely steep. I could not bank it in either, as I needed to cut-bank the ball and the cue ball had no room, being stuck that close to my opponent's thirteen-ball. The cue ball and my two-ball were aligned perfectly straight so I could see the ball, but there was nowhere to make it. There was no safe left as my opponent's ball was hanging in a pocket. So, I did the only thing that you could do in that situation -- I massed the cue ball and it swerved beautifully around the thirteen-ball, swept up to the two-ball and cut it in as if it didn't know that 95-degree cuts on a railed object ball at hill-hill could be easily missed.

It was one of the best shots of my life if only because I had learned, quickly, from an earlier mistake in my scotch doubles match, and then applied that knowledge in a clutch situation. Moments like that keep me playing through all the losses and frustration.


I won my fourth match.

I was playing this match when the fight between a player and two referees broke out on the tournament floor. At that point, I was at hill-hill, running out, and facing a slightly tricky shot after being down 0-3. I did something that is very hard to do, but is very necessary: I sat down and waited until the fight was over, the people had dispersed, and things were relatively back to normal. I was so close to the finish line, but I refused to rush there. I had to give myself the best chance of winning and the best chance required patience -- something I am not born with.

Once they had handcuffed the fiery little cue-breaking, referee-punching Napoleon, I ran out the last two balls (the eight-ball skidded and gave me a heart attack -- but it still went in) and plodded across the finish line.


I won my fifth match.

I was done for the day.

As a reward for not f---ing up today, I was to receive tomorrow off.

Spiff.



In other news of the world, Mr. Bartram overcame Mr. Morris in their 15-ahead set and he was done for the day as well. Bummer that I didn't catch the second day's action at all. Oh well. Can't have it all.



[4] : Sunday, May 10, 2009

I finally got to eat "real" food (by "real" I mean neither donuts nor tequila) and I was sorely disappointed. No more low-quality almost-Asian almost-food at that place (Banana Leaf?) in the Riviera. I'm going back to sugar packets and the minibar.



After some low-energy loafing, I was recruited/guilt-tripped into going to the Le Bistro Bar for a drink or eight...

The lovely ladies of Southern California: Miss Vicki and WPBA professionals Melissa "Vodka Tonic" Herndon and Melissa "Washington Apple" Morris.



The eyes have it... or not...



Miss Teresa from Northern California looking like a Bond girl. Katy "Shady Katy" Moore and her more tolerant half...



This concession to wear bunny ears by Craig "TheOne" Riley to Ms. Herndon restored amiable relations between the United States and Britain. Hurrah.



During this international festival of billiards debauchery, someone told me I needed to "lighten up" and "don't be so serious" about pool.

Let me explain something: I am a highly driven pool player with very slightly above average skills. This means several things. I am not one of those with the financial luxury to treat this event that I have entered to play in as a vacation. I am also not of those with enough amazing playing ability to treat this event like it is an ATM.

I am one of those players in the highly frustrating position wherein we chase glory and hope to f---ing hell we break even because, goddammit, we could use the money.

That means pool is my job until I am out of the tournament. Before I even set foot in Las Vegas, I am, at a minimum, $600 in the red. And this is with the lowest cost of transportation and lodging that I could find. I have a chance to break even, and maybe even do well enough in this tournament to get a little bit on the plus side. To do so, I am going to have to focus as much as possible and play my little tar-covered heart out.

So, you'll have to excuse me if I'm going to wait until I'm kicked out of the tournament before I play for s---s and giggles. Priorities, you know.



[5] : Monday : May 11, 2009

Back to work.


I won my first match.

This was due to excessively lucky rolls. The table I played on was not level. My opponent tried slow-roll safeties a few times and she whiffed the ball completely at least twice in critical situations.

This was also an important match because losing this match would put me in the 17th-24th spot. The highest I have ever finished is 17th-24th. I've finished there quite often. It's a nice place to visit, but I don't want to live there, y'know?

A lot of people like to say I'm sandbagging to stay in the Open division and that is why I never seem to break into the top sixteen (which would then move me up to the Masters division). That has never been the case. It goes against my genetic blueprint to sandbag. If I were to sandbag, I'd probably get a stroke and die. Or lightning might come down and strike me. Or Democrats and Republicans will all join hands and sing "Kumbaya" and be Best Friends Forever. You get the picture.

You know how sometimes you cut yourself, but you don't notice and it only starts to hurt when you see blood? That is what I've deduced happens to me in tournaments. I don't get antsy until I see that I'm getting close to 17th place.

Well, this year, I said, "F--- YOU 17th Place. F--- all the numbers and all the finishes and whatever happens, happens."

And so, I am mildly happy and somewhat relieved to be able to say to everyone after this match: "I told you I wasn't sandbagging all those years -- I just play bad, that's all."


I lost my second match.

I did not focus in this match. I had my chances, but let them go. However, my opponent and I have played before and she has, and always will be, one of the nicest people you will ever play. As one of our mutual friends told me, my opponent is always at war with herself when she plays -- she wants you to win and play well as much as she wants to win and play well herself.

People like that make pool awesome.

:-)

I, however, had a fork stuck in me. For the day, at least.



[6] : Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today was the day of judgment -- the last day of the tournament. When I got up today, I felt rather tired, despite having slept plenty. Old age is catching up, I suppose.


I won my first match.


I lost my second and that was that.


When there's no pool left to play and only losses to contemplate upon, it's best to contemplate them on an empty stomach with a full all-you-can-eat buffet plate before you. My friends know me well and they quickly transported me (they would have used an ambulance if they could) to the highly therapeutic Bellagio buffet.

Here is a photographic record of my epicurean healing, redundant dishes omitted.

Chilean Sea Bass gave all the other fish dishes at least the Orange Crush.



Ahi Poke and Sunomono was rather disappointing -- I had them last August and they were GREAT. This time, you could have resoled a shoe with the tuna. The salmon mousse thingies were totally fab. I wish they came in bags like pretzels did so I could take them with me to my matches. And maybe they should also come with a portable silver tray to put them on. And a butler. They should definitely come with a butler.



Crab legs, butter, and lemon go together like Ronnie Wiseman, Detroit, and sarcasm.



Mini-desserts for mini-people with ginormous appetites.



Normally, I would have eaten much, much more than all this, but I had been so focused on pool for the last few days that I didn't eat much and my stomach probably shrank.





[7] : Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I think I was still in a haze of disappointment today.

I do remember Alex "Lying Under The Table" Pagulayan walking my the Mezz booth. He pointed at the demo pool table they had and said, "Did you keep my spot warm for me?"

Apparently, he had spent the evening sleeping under that very pool table.



Mr. Bartram, meanwhile, had not been so indolent.

After having beaten Mr. Morris, he had matched up with Dennis "Danged Filipinos" Orcullo for a $10,000 set. From what I heard (I didn't catch any of this match, unfortunately), Mr. Orcullo ran away with the money.

Undaunted, Mr. Bartram next lined up a match with John "I Only Wear Shorts" Schmidt. Mr. Bartram received the last two as a spot, and the best was -- surprise -- $10,000. The general consensus was that Mr. Schmidt had the advantage in this match.

Here is a photograph of the marquee table from the far side of the TARBAR. I spent a good amount of time in this corner since it was a good spot. I got to watch Mr. Van Boening practice (and took away some valuable observations about breaking) and the Bartram vs Schmidt match at the same time. The mirrors on the ceiling came in handy to see certain shots.





[8] : Thursday, May 14, 2009


I slept about 15 or 16 hours before waking up today. Since I didn't have a team this year, I had the rest of the BCA to loaf and wander.

Richard "Bucktooth" Cook made his appearance. He's wearing the same maroon argyle sweater that I have seen him wear for almost a decade. He's also using the same woofing lines. C'mon B.Tooth, get some new material.

Le Tooth was also hanging out with another rather obnoxious fellow known as "Buffalo". Buffalo was the harmony to B.Tooth's melody, the bass to his guitar, the pepper to his salt. Together, they formed a Dynamic Duo Of Woofery.

Anyone else notice that Buffalo looks like the singer Prince? Same size, same facial structure, same hair (although more mullet-like in Mr. Buffalo's incarnation), and they probably both look good in poet shirts and purple suede jackets.



I also traded some fun banter with Eric Crisp of Sugartree Custom Cues while observing the action. We were discussing the plight of people in the pool industry and were arguing about who had it worse: the players or the cuemakers?

"All I've got is sawdust," said Mr. Crisp.

"Oh yeah? Well all I got are dreams."

I win.



Enough rambling, let us move on to food.

By the time my friends and I had dinner, it was very late. Almost nothing was open, but I suggested The Cheesecake Factory at the Forum Shops because I knew they were open until 11:00 p.m. (it was 10:15 p.m. or so at the time).

Buddha, showing none of the peace, mercy, or restraint of his enlightened namesake, sped down the Strip weaving in and out of traffic with a deathgrip on the wheel. He sailed over speed bumps and barged over curbs. We all clung onto various parts of the car for dear life. Such is the power of hunger.

Thankfully, the Cheesecake Factory was still its reliable old self and didn't disappoint.

I tried a new beer recommended by one of our party, Alaskan Amber. It is quite good. I drink a lot of Newcastle and the Alaskan Amber was similar in taste with none of the bitterness. It went well with the calamari, which I had never had before, but was surprisingly good. It was breaded just right and tender, but not chewy.







continue this Vegas adventure at... http://massiveunderstatement.blogspo...9/05/back.html
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