I really envy all of you that are there. All in all, sounds like a fantastic time, and thanks for posting your experiences, I enjoy reading about them.
OK, so here's another from 2009.
(insert flashback music)
And so, I sent in my monies for the 1pocket, dropped off the wife at the airport at 6am on Sunday, so she could go see some friends and teach a class in Florida, and went on my merry, 250 mile way to the tune of the original Broadway recording of "Jersey Boys." (Not sure if "Big Girls Don't Cry," or "Walk Like a Man," is the appropriate musical background for this trip.) As an additional side note, given that my wife chose sunshine and 80 degree weather, and I chose the developing Ice Age in KY, there should never be a future discussion as to who, between us, is the smarter of the two.
I have to say that, overall, the tournament area is a big upgrade from the EW. Much swanker, as these things go -- with one problem: the tables in the main tournament room are right on top of each other. I mean -- it is *tight* quarters. The other various rooms, nooks and crannies on the second floor with additional tables, were about on about a par with the EW upstairs rooms, except that, other than the larger room over the tournament area entry, there was very little spectator space. If you were playing in the smaller rooms, or the 14.1 challenge room, or AZ room, you were playing to crickets and the endless string of Doorway Head Poppers, who would lean in for a second and then move on to greener pastures. The other thing about the upstairs rooms were the itty bitty lights. I mean: It Sucked to be playing under these undersized table lights (bar table size) on a 9' table.
That night Efren played SVB in the TAR Pit. There was so little spectator room it looked like VJ Day on Times Square, with people spilling out of the room, hanging off the light posts to get a view. (OK, OK, they didn't have any light posts, but there were people sitting on the portable bar station.)
I got lucky and that afternoon was called to play in the first flight of the first round and played Tom Teschner in an upstairs room. Tom shot straight and had me by the Brazilians but let me up. Lou wins 3-0. Time for multiple Coronas.
Around 1am, it was off to bed for moi.
And now a word about the rooms at the Horseshoe. They're OK. Nicely decorated, but a little worn, with linens that have been washed one time too many and are too small for the beds. The towels smell like kerosene. I asked for a "Non-smoking" room, and I have no doubt that the only time no one had smoked in that room, was while I was in it. It stunk of cigarette smoke. And, pray you have quiet neighbors because the walls are like tissue paper. Normally, I stay at nice paces and hotel noise is not an issue. But here, the walls must be made of tissue paper. Two Asian ladies on one side who decide to recite the phone book in Chinese; a couple on the other, who at 2am decide it was "the right time of the night."
"Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh." And so it went for a while.
The next day constituted one massive wait. I'm not sure, but I think this was the day that the computers for the draw melted, code was being written "as we speak," and they might have even called Bill Gates. At one point, it became a running joke among the players whenever the desk would announce a time for the draw.
My second round draw was against former road agent, Chris Szuter. He played great. I never got an ounce of air. Every thing rolled his way. Lou loses 3-0.
I decide to exercise my buy back option and drown my sorrow in Mexican beer and try the buffet. I suppose it wasn't too bad. Perhaps on par with what you'd expect at a shopping mall. But definitely not casino quality food.
JoeyA, sjm, and I sweated Souqet and Bustamonte playing 10-ball in front of us; Dan Louie playing Ike Runnels 1pocket to one side of us; and Gabe Owens giving Ronnie Wiseman 9-7 behind us. I would shortly need a chiropractor. At some point, for reasons completely unknown to me, Jose Parica hung out with us for like two hours, telling us war stories about his game, his history, the Philippines, Cialis (not kidding), how to tell who the best player in a sessions is and it was really pretty cool.
Some 24 hours later, I play my third round match. I'll leave this guy's name out. I didn't know him, but he played well, but really, really goofed by not moving the balls up table when he had me absolutely dead to rights. And so, Lou, who can run a couple of balls on a good day, especially if they're all down table, gets back into games he should not be in and wins 3-0. The guy is really down on himself and here's the thing: I have been there. We all have been there. And all he said, when I asked him if he was still in the tournament was, "Yeah. But all I want to do is get out of here and go home." I felt bad for him and like I said, we've all been there.
I check with the tournament desk around 2am and ask, "Who do I play tomorrow for round four?" and they say, "11am. Martin Rimlinger." And I say to meself, "Cool." Martin can play, but I have a shot. I won't check out of my room" (which was my plan, should I draw a world beater).
Tuesday morning, 11am, they call the fourth round and say, "Table #34, upstairs, Lou Figueroa and Ronnie Wiseman."
Now, what's with THAT?!
And frankly, this is what I don't like about this "black box" super-duper, algorithm based, totally random, computer generated, who knows what's inside, expensive, software assisted draw. Now, there is probably a very valid reason for why I went from a Martin Rimlinger to a Ronnie Wiseman in the space of 12 hours. But, I think it's bullsheeat, nonetheless. As a side note, it is my opinion (as well as that of numerous other players I spoke to), that this was the worst run DCC, draw-wise and waiting-wise, in recent memory. The cracks ran like, "Yeah, this is the first pool tournament ever run in the history of man." Or, "They've only had a year, since the last draw, to work things out. It's like they're still inventing the wheel."
Soo, I'm waiting around and no Wiseman. They start putting people on the clock, so I call the desk and say, "I got no Wiseman on 34." They say, "He just walked by the desk, he should be there any minute." Twenty minutes later, I got no Wiseman. So I call the desk again. They say give him another five minutes -- if he doesn't show, come down to the desk. Five minutes later, I got no Wiseman. Lou wins. It's too early for a Corona, so I go sweat some 14.1 challenge.
By now of course the ice storm outside is really getting going. During the walk to the hotel, through the windows you could see the snow and ice piling up. 75,000 people without power; trees and power lines down everywhere in the area; cell phone service spotty. By Wednesday, I believe several hundred Horseshoe employees couldn't get into work and, I am told, they started running out of Bud Light. By Wednesday night they only had the buffet open and reduced the price to $10 from their normal $16 because they had limited food available. But I must say that the Horseshoe employees that did show up (or stayed overnight in the hotel) were uniformedly bright, chipper, friendly and happy to do anything they could. It was really an impressive display of hospitality.
So now I'm there for round five. This is a money round, so I'm feeling pretty good until the draw and find out I have to play Glen Rodgers, otherwise known as Piggy Banks. Glen's a great guy and player. But actually, I beat him the one time we played before a few years ago up in a 1pocket tournament in Chicago. So I'm feeling like, maybe I can pull this off. We play in the main tournament room, fifty-yard line, and there are many Piggy supporters in the stands. Maybe two or three Lou supporters. But, Lou banks good and get off to a 2-0 lead. Piggy scratches and claws his way back to 2-2. And then, Lou breaks for the final game and eventually pulls off the win. Time for a Corona. (Actually, more than one.) I spring for the steak house again and thought the lobster bisque was OK but heavy on the sherry. And the Atlantic salmon was really pretty good. I get to bed for the first time all week before 3am. I am beat to death.
Wednesday evening, after more computer woes and delays and the arrival of a bazillion 9ball players, my draw for round six is Francisco Bustamonte. We lag and I win the lag and I break and look around the room and it's like Scott Frost on the left table, Jose Parica straight ahead on another, Shannon Daulton the table to the right, Efren just over there on the next row, and, well, me. And I fought really hard and played well, (except for one really goofed back cut to my pocket) and we played for almost two hours and I lose 3-0, but I feel pretty good about the way I played. Lou is out of the tournament and collects $275 for his finish, which I think might cover my beer tab at $4.50 a Corona.
Amongst all the regular suspects the last few days I saw Jack Cooney walking around. Ronnie Allen holding court every day at the same table, drink in hand, in front of the tournament room. George C. Scott's brother was there with an amazing looking blonde -- your legs and my legs put together would not be as long as her legs. (I would not bet on combined chest measurements either.) There was also a fellow that, I swear, looked exactly like the guy from Goodfellas, Paul Sorvino, walking around, cue case on shoulder.
I am beat, but had fun.
Maybe, in a year, I'll want to do this to myself again.