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Playing with a Broomstick
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lfigueroa
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Playing with a Broomstick - 12-30-2009, 08:31 AM

In the "My thoughts on conventional vs low deflection shaft" thread, there was some back and forth over whether it was possible to play pool with a broomstick and actually make a few balls. I think "playing with a broomstick" is one of those borderline apocryphal stories we've all heard about, at one time or another, and I was wondering if any of you had played with a broomstick, or seen it done? I know I have a bit of history with the broomstick...

The following is a true story.

(insert flashback music)

It was a Friday night, back in the early 70's, at Town & Country Billiards, in Daly City, California. As was my wont, at that period in my callow youth, there I was, hitting balls, instead of being out on a date, or working on my term paper which was due the following week. But, it was Friday night, the week of school and work was over, I was 19 years old, playing pool, and life was good.

About 10 o'clock, Vince -- a well-known (and well-heeled) mark, walks in the front door of the establishment. Vince was always good for some $5 or $10 9ball, a game I actually played and was semi-proficient at, way back then. As soon as I saw him come in the door, I knew I'd have only a very limited window of opportunity to to put him under contract, before other, perhaps more enticing (but nonetheless unprofitable for Vince) offers were made by all the usual suspects. And so, with full knowledge that I'd only have one shot at this customer, I opened with what I thought would be a sure fire automatic deal-closer, "Hey Vince, come on. Let's play some 9ball. You got the eight." Vince didn't miss a beat and shot back, "I ain't playing you with no 8. I want the 6, 7, 8 from someone who shoots as straight as you." I instantly knew I had underestimated my man and grossly misplayed my opportunity and so I just weakly rejoined, "Hell! The 6, 7, 8?! I'd play someone with the broomstick with that kind of spot." And then, just like lighting, it came, and Vince barked back, "OK. You got the 6,7,8, for $20 a game."

Well, this was a totally unexpected turn of events. The hunter had somehow become the huntee and I was at a sudden loss as to what the appropriate move was. But then, Jerry and Devlin came to my rescue.

Jerry was my wing man on many an adventure. Devlin looked just like Cole Dickson and was just a straight shootin sum beeatch, about our age, who also hung around. "Play him -- you can win," Devlin said. I was totally not buying it, "What do you mean I can win?! Playing with a broomstick?!" Jerry says, "You can do it. Devlin did it against Dennis a few years ago. It's not that tough." Still, I had more than a few doubts. But somehow, their complete confidence in our side of the proposition swayed me and I said, "OK. Get the broomstick." I put the eight-point Gina back in its case for the night.

"Hey Stan. We need to borrow your broomstick."

Now for Stan Cleaner, owner and counter man, this request, came as no surprise or shock. He'd seen it all over the years and watched as his teenage charges had grown older, yet no wiser. This was just one more in a long string of inane, nonsensical, nutty things he'd heard and so, without much more than a shake of his head and a barely audible sigh, he continued reading his paper and said, "It's in the closet."

Stan's broom was standard issue (Made by the Blind). Maybe an 1 1/2" diameter blue wood handle, and the usual whisks in a tight natural colored fan pattern. The shape of the end of the handle was actually a pretty good approximation of a regular cue tip, except bigger. A lot bigger. "OK, look. You gotta keep it chalked, just like a regular pool cue. Just keep it chalked," Devlin instructed, as he sanded the blue enamel off the "tip." I looked at him dubiously.

Vince and I agreed to $20 a game (insert requisite: "that was pretty good action, back then.") Jerry, Devlin, and I quickly formed a consortium, pooling our monies for a grand total of $120. Six barrels. I'd have to come out of the starting blocks fast. The only thing that made this anything less than total lunacy was that Vince was a known go-off, and if somehow I could prevail, we'd all be on our way on a Vince sponsored excursion to Lake Tahoe, with its siren call of casinos, blackjack tables, and "free" beer, shortly after the conclusion of the match at hand.

We started and right off, I could tell: Jerry was right! It wasn't impossible. The hardest part was getting a decent grip on the whisks. And of course, you had to play with an open hand bridge. But Vince wasn't that good to begin with, and he had a little pooch in him, and I'm sure the potential stories that would circulate through the pool room -- about him losing to a guy playing with a broomstick -- were floating through his brain.

Vince jars an eight ball. Lou bumps the cue ball towards the eight and wins. Maybe this was not so tough after all...

After about two hours a serious problem began to emerge. It wasn't what was going on on the pool table. I was now getting the hang of it and was running three, and then four, and the occasional five balls at a time. I was even able to put a little stop shot action on the ball. And, we were now playing for $40 a game. Lou, Jerry, Devlin, Inc. was up almost $400. The problem was: gripping the broomstick by its whisks, the whisks had started to work their way up under my finger nails -- my fingers had begun to bleed and starting to hurt like hell. Jerry went running behind the counter to get the pool hall "Emergency Kit," which consisted entirely of a couple of old Band-Aids and an equally aging bottle of aspirin. We taped up all the fingers on my grip hand and I was good to go.

Well, to cut to the chase, we played into the night and I won just over $800 from Vince (not a bad score in those days). To this day, I don't know if the broomstick was conventional or low deflection. All I know is that you can play with a broom stick. But my recommendation is to wear a glove on your grip hand, if you're going to do it :-)

Lou Figueroa

Last edited by lfigueroa; 03-09-2010 at 06:41 AM.
  
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12-30-2009, 08:39 AM

That was a fun read haha
  
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12-30-2009, 08:47 AM

Nice score and thanks for the tips. I think I'm gonna go to a bunch of stores until I find the best hitting Balabroomska on the market.
  
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mop will do the trick , too.
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mop will do the trick , too. - 12-30-2009, 09:05 AM

a local room owner now has a three(or four or five) piece waynes holmes cue courtesy of his wife. she saw very little humor(unlike others) after he lost $400 to a guy shooting with a mop handle(custom??)
  
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12-30-2009, 09:24 AM

I don't quite have a story like the OP's, but Ive seen it done in my old fraternity basement and they actually made some balls... Naturally, we moved on to one handed pool with a broomstick.
  
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Two broom, two mops, one guy
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Two broom, two mops, one guy - 12-30-2009, 09:29 AM

Lou,

A great story! I'da been sucking air a second when he reversed things on me too. Glad you got it going. Those little lightweight plastic headed brooms or a sponge mop played best for me.

I've played several different guys with a broom way back when, mostly redneck country boys that had heard the story and had to try it. I have played with a sponge mop and a string mop, still a little wet from somebody mopping the floor with it too.

Steve was the one always ready for something different. On different nights we played with mops, brooms, and just a handle from a little broom. I found the sweet spot in the broom straw playing with a broom like Lou played with, not all the way to the end but where the straw was loose enough I could get my fingers all the way around a handful of it. Fortunately in all of my games both players were playing with something silly, usually the same broom or mop, so I did just fine. I learned anything that is rounded that you can get chalk to stick to will let you use a little spin, operative word being a little! I used to leave the chalk off until the money got right.

Now I am going to let readers in on the origin of SPF, the famous Set Pause Fire of some of the top instructors. It came about from playing with a wet string mop! With that wet mop head swinging back and forth, it would swap directions about halfway through your stroke when you pulled the mop back and fired pulling your stroke way off course. Inserting a long pause to let the strings stop swinging back and forth made the mop play much better. Some folks shot with a mop so much the pause got to be a habit. There you have it, the origin of SPF!

Hu
  
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12-30-2009, 09:51 AM

I've played pool with a broomstick just fooling around. At least I can't remember gambling using it. Now those bowling that used the shuffleboard pust is a different story. I could bowl a 300 game every time if I needed to. I made a LOT of money that way. Just can't remember what I did with all that money.

Great story from the OP by the way. Johnnyt
  
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12-30-2009, 10:50 AM

Good story. Sounds like I should get rid of my cue and learn to play with a broom. I can't do much worse. That way once I get beat I can sweep up and make some money for bus fare. LOL
  
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12-30-2009, 12:09 PM

There is a little sports bar in Virginia Beach that holds a tourney every Saturday night, but when they have their Halloween party, it is played with broomsticks.
  
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12-30-2009, 12:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by joninnorfolk View Post
There is a little sports bar in Virginia Beach that holds a tourney every Saturday night, but when they have their Halloween party, it is played with broomsticks.
HAHA, that would be a great time... hopefully they play short sets as I can imagine playing with a broomstick could take awhile to finish games (at least for me)
  
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[S]wiffer, [P]ushbroom, [F]eatherduster?
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Question [S]wiffer, [P]ushbroom, [F]eatherduster? - 12-30-2009, 01:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
Lou,

A great story! I'da been sucking air a second when he reversed things on me too. Glad you got it going. Those little lightweight plastic headed brooms or a sponge mop played best for me.

I've played several different guys with a broom way back when, mostly redneck country boys that had heard the story and had to try it. I have played with a sponge mop and a string mop, still a little wet from somebody mopping the floor with it too.

Steve was the one always ready for something different. On different nights we played with mops, brooms, and just a handle from a little broom. I found the sweet spot in the broom straw playing with a broom like Lou played with, not all the way to the end but where the straw was loose enough I could get my fingers all the way around a handful of it. Fortunately in all of my games both players were playing with something silly, usually the same broom or mop, so I did just fine. I learned anything that is rounded that you can get chalk to stick to will let you use a little spin, operative word being a little! I used to leave the chalk off until the money got right.

Now I am going to let readers in on the origin of SPF, the famous Set Pause Fire of some of the top instructors. It came about from playing with a wet string mop! With that wet mop head swinging back and forth, it would swap directions about halfway through your stroke when you pulled the mop back and fired pulling your stroke way off course. Inserting a long pause to let the strings stop swinging back and forth made the mop play much better. Some folks shot with a mop so much the pause got to be a habit. There you have it, the origin of SPF!

Hu
But Hu,

I thought SPF stood for:

[S]wiffer, [P]ushbroom, [F]eatherduster ...??



-Sean

EDIT: Swiffer would be the player, Pushbroom would be the breaker, and a stiff-handled Featherduster would be the jumper.


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Last edited by sfleinen; 12-30-2009 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Added "EDIT" to elaborate on the three types
  
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12-30-2009, 01:35 PM

In my late teens, before going off to the Navy, my Mom bought a pool room/cafe. One of my duties was to sweep the floor about three times a day with a big old push broom. When action on the tables was slow, I would offer to play someone a game of snooker using the handle from that broom. I had flattened the end opposite the threads and glued a piece of shoe leather on the thing. I could unscrew that handle and be ready in seconds!

More often than not, I won. My reference to shooting with a broomstick in the shaft thread was not without foundation.
  
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12-30-2009, 01:55 PM

I RECENTLY RAN OUT A NINE BALL RACK WITH A PLASTIC BROOMSTICK.. I PERFER WOOD
  
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newfangled meaning!
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newfangled meaning! - 12-30-2009, 02:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by sfleinen View Post
But Hu,

I thought SPF stood for:

[S]wiffer, [P]ushbroom, [F]eatherduster ...??



-Sean

EDIT: Swiffer would be the player, Pushbroom would be the breaker, and a stiff-handled Featherduster would be the jumper.
Sean,

Probably something else corrupted over the years, no Swiffer back then.

Hu
  
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12-30-2009, 02:04 PM

Made my first and only pool table when I was 7 years old:

Base was a 2 x 4 piece of plywood
Rails were pieces of baseboard nailed to the plywood, with holes in the right places for pockets
Golf balls were used for the pool balls
A towell was the felt
Broom stick handles were the cues

Country boys are low-tech creative

Like the story Lou, gracias for a good read....


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