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View Full Version : My Story Of Pool (long)



nhp
01-21-2005, 04:57 AM
I've been playing pool seriously for about 8 years now. When I was 16, I developed a passion for the game that kept me at the local 24-hour poolhall from usually noon until 3 or 4am. All I did was practice, practice, practice, with help here and there from a local unknown hustler named John.

I didn't know a thing about fundamentals, all I did was watch the good players shoot, and try to emulate their styles, combining many different styles into my own. John would help me tweak my mechanics whenever I was having problems. The way he explained everything, so simple and precise to my malfunction, I rarely fell into a slump. All my game did was go upwards.

Around this time period, the poolhall I played at was formerly an action hotspot, but was starting to die out. All of the strong players flocked to another poolroom that was across the street from a police station. This place became THE action spot of California, it was a regular stop for top money players if they were in town.

The owner of the poolroom I practiced at took a liking to my ability, and let me play for free by myself as long as I wanted, and even let me stay there after 10pm when I was under 18. The one catch was, I had to bring action back to his room. He saw what was happening, little by little the regular house pros were leaving and going to this other poolroom, and he was losing business. I tried to help him, but to no avail. I didn't have any heart, I wasn't used to playing for more than $20, and all of the games I brought to his room were usually that amount. I played two different guys twice for $100 sets, the first time I dogged it badly, and the second time I squeaked by and won. I started to realize that my practice sessions were not paying off when I played for money. I would even get nervous playing for $5. No matter how good I played when I shot by myself, I couldn't play half as good for the cheese.

Little by little the action faded from the room, and the place became dead. There were a few regular customers, but only three of them, including me, were players, and we were all B players. Eventually, some Filipino players brought Santos Sambajon in, and the owner befriended him. Santos became the house pro, and was playing there nearly every day. He taught me on a regular basis for about 2 months, free of charge.

There was a big tournament at the Crystal Park Casino in LA, all the pros were there. Santos matched up with Roger Griffis, to play at our poolroom the following day of the tournament. Apparently Santos was a favorite to beat Roger, but Shannon Daulton showed up in his place, and beat Santos out of a couple thousand. The owner of the poolroom, who was staking Santos became infuriated, and I never saw Santos there again.

A few months after that, I was playing the best I had ever played at the time, what Santos showed me helped my game tremendously. My best friend, who had joined the Marines had finished training, and came to visit me. I didn't get a chance to play pool for about 2 weeks because of that, and when I came back to the game, I was playing horrible. Everything I had learned had gone out the window, even after 3 years of playing for hours and hours every day, just two measly weeks put me into a horrible slump that lasted for two months before I joined the Army. My stint in the Army lasted for a few months before I hurt my back and got sent home on a medical discharge. Now that I was home with free time on my hands, I wanted to start playing pool again, but my back hurt so bad that I couldn't play for about 6 months. Combining that with my stint in the Army, I took over a year off from the game.

When I came back, the poolhall near my house that I played at before was under new ownership. I started playing there again, and eventually got a job there, and struggled with my game for about 6 or 7 months, playing 5-8 hours daily until one day I found myself in dead punch while playing a weekly tournament. That type of play lasted me for a little under a year. By that type of play, I mean literally after warming up for about 15 minutes I would find myself in dead punch every day. At the time one of the new owners of the poolhall didn't want me going out to other poolhalls playing tournaments or anything, because he wanted to keep how I was playing on the hush. At that time I was playing the best pool of my life by far.

While I was working there I met a girl that I fell head-over-heels for, and I ended up quitting my job at the poolhall to go back to school. I cut back on playing drastically to spend more time with her, and as a result my game suffered dramatically. Ever since I fell into that slump I have been tweaking and changing my mechanics in desperate hopes to retrieve that 'lost ability' that is deep down inside of me hiding. After being together for 2 years, my relationship with the girl ended, and I got back into playing pool more often. The only problem is that I have yet to recover from my slump, which has lasted me over 2 years now. I've always thought the cause of my slump was in my mechanics, but recently I've discovered that it all comes down to how long I stay on the table. I don't have that desire (and the time) to practice all day anymore, I am more focused on getting good grades in school and getting a degree. I still love pool, and still wish to get better, but that is only secondary to my real goals. About a week ago I had the opportunity to play pool all day for about 2 days. I did so, and started getting that feeling in my stroking arm of complete control that I used to get when I was playing well. I realized that no matter how much you tweak your mechanics, you are not going to play good unless you really train your arm and your body by spending long hours on the table. You cannot reach your full potential unless you do so. You can have a set of text-book, perfectly sound fundamentals, i.e. stance, stroke, bridge, etc, but that is not going to make you play good. All that really is, is a basis that your ability relies on and is supported by. Your ability comes from countless hours of practice, a strong mentality from playing under pressure, and THEN your mechanics. So for those of you who are in a horrible slump, and are starting to change your mechanics around, stop, before you change something that doesn't need to be. If time permits, try to spend alot more time practicing by yourself and concentrating before you start putting your left foot here and your right shoulder there. Seeing a good instructor of course can speed up the learning process quite a bit. So this is where I'm at now, feeling silly realizing that over two years of struggling with my game could have been prevented, had I the time and the will to play for a few hours each day. Just thought I'd share my life story of pool, which really isn't anything since it's only been about 8 years. It would be great to hear everyone else's stories of their life playing pool and certain events, yada yada yada.

jjinfla
01-21-2005, 06:15 AM
Sounds like you were very fortunate. Anybody would envy your situation. First, to find a room where you can play for hours for free and then to find several pros who would instruct you for free.

Sounds like one of my dreams. But then I always wake up to face the real world.

Jake

Sid_Vicious
01-21-2005, 06:50 AM
This may be the wrong response desired Friend, but my experience after going through the pits of struggling to get back to "my game" is that I personally play better after I cut way back on my addiction of playing and practicing. Seriously, I truly feel that you can play too much pool, I do feel that way. You need a balance, and you need less pressure from yourself, and then your individual swing will happen. Great story, thanks...sid

9 Ball Girl
01-21-2005, 07:03 AM
You know Sid, I have to agree with you. I was just talking about the very same thing with nAz the other day. I, too, would leave and get back to the game and came back for good in 2000 (although I haven't been playing now for reasons way too long to post here).

Anyway, when I started up in 2000, I was playing looooong hours in the pool hall. It didn't matter that I had to go to work the next day. I had no kind of schedule. I was playing competitively at least 4 times a week and practicing every other time. Now, I'm not playing at all. I've not taken myself away from the game and I never will, but I was telling nAz that I know that if I had given myself a paced schedule for pool time, I would still be playing right now. The last time I played "competitively" was in September at the CCB Open and maybe I hooked up with nAz 3x after that to shoot some. I am definitely getting that inevitable "itch" again but in due time. If I go out there and start up again, I'll just throw myself into the cycle again and I'd rather pace myself and give pool the attention that it deserves from me.

Wendy<---still haven't gotten rid of the dark circles under my eyes that were created from '01-'03.

SpiderMan
01-21-2005, 09:39 AM
Good story. I now know you'll have to give me a spot /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

All kidding aside, though, if the two-year relationship brought a focus on education that's still there, it was worth whatever hiccup it caused in your pool game. Pool will be a great hobby for many of us, but a satisfactory life for very few. And what could be more important than the rest of your life?

SpiderMan

Popcorn
01-21-2005, 10:55 AM
You can maintain a current speed with a minimum of practice but to move to other levels you have to put in the extra. Endless hours may not be so good though if it just becomes mindless and non productive. You have to know your attention span for learning and quit when it just becomes banging balls around. I like to practice several times a day for not real long. I think, at least for me, that is better then one 5 or 6 hour session. You have to have the luxury though of having a table or working in a pool room. I may get the urge to play at 2 in the morning and when I go to the table may get plenty out of just one hour of practice because I am in the proper mood. I often hear guys at the pool room say something like, "Well I guess I have to hit some balls before I go home". I am not so sure this is practice, they don't even want to play, they just haven't played tonight so they want to get in some time on the table. Practice has to be productive, quality and not so much quantity does the trick. having said that though it does takes that extra to improve beyond just maintaining your current speed.

nhp
01-21-2005, 05:14 PM
To be honest, that was a positive thing that came out of that relationship. It took me a while to get over her, but after breaking up with her it gave me even more of a drive to continue at school and get good grades.

My pool game is not as bad as I might have made it seem, while I was at the middle of my slump I managed to win my first big tournament, took home $1,000, although I still wasn't satisfied with how I played.

I think that some of you may not be understanding me when I talk about being in stroke and dead punch. They are two different things. During my slump, there were times when I played pool substantially less than normal, but I would play a ball better than average during the slump. I believe that has to do with your muscles used for shooting pool being relaxed more often, and as a result, less tense, which is going to make you hit 'em better. When you stay on the table all day for months at a time, your game can transcend into something higher, you can reach your full potential. Basically you reach dead punch on a regular basis. That's what happened to me.

Stretch
01-21-2005, 05:22 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote 9 Ball Girl:</font><hr> You know Sid, I have to agree with you. I was just talking about the very same thing with nAz the other day. I, too, would leave and get back to the game and came back for good in 2000 (although I haven't been playing now for reasons way too long to post here).

Anyway, when I started up in 2000, I was playing looooong hours in the pool hall. It didn't matter that I had to go to work the next day. I had no kind of schedule. I was playing competitively at least 4 times a week and practicing every other time. Now, I'm not playing at all. I've not taken myself away from the game and I never will, but I was telling nAz that I know that if I had given myself a paced schedule for pool time, I would still be playing right now. The last time I played "competitively" was in September at the CCB Open and maybe I hooked up with nAz 3x after that to shoot some. I am definitely getting that inevitable "itch" again but in due time. If I go out there and start up again, I'll just throw myself into the cycle again and I'd rather pace myself and give pool the attention that it deserves from me.

Wendy&lt;---still haven't gotten rid of the dark circles under my eyes that were created from '01-'03. <hr /></blockquote>

Glad to see others pursuing the Ballenced Commitment formula. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut and burn out in it. Before it was all about table time and practice ONTOP of tournaments, leagues, matchups. That's just insane. Now unless i'm working on something "specific" my practice is very very mimimal. But i play different billiard games with a lot of different people every week. It's fun and inexpensive. That's what Winters are like up here haha. Now in the summer, i rarely "play". That's all family time and other activities completely foriegn to pool. I come back fresh every year. St