odds and ends

the 2011 u.s. open is in full swing.  unfortunately there is no free stream for this event, so if you want to watch it, accu-stats is offering pay-per-view streams for the event.  it’s roughly $10 a day, and if you buy a bunch of days you get a small discount.  they also have a finals-only option.  check it out if you want.

so i was practicing and watching people play a few weeks ago.  gained a couple of more insights.

i’ll talk about my first practice match with guppy.  i mentioned guppy a while back; he is a regular at my fave pool hall who typically favors garish outfits.  so guppy approached me and asked to practice.  i asked him what game he preferred to play, and he said one pocket.  now i play one pocket once every two years or so, but the way guppy said that he was a one pocket player made me want to try him out.  will he run right over me?  will i have a chance?  i wanted to find out.  (he should, since he’s a “one pocket player”.)  long story short, he didn’t do anything that i could call impressive.  maybe it’s all those d~* youtube one pocket videos i watched, but he didn’t look anything like a one pocket player to me.  the games i won, i basically just ran a bunch of balls and left him nervous.  i expected to see him fire back at me after i made my run, but that never happened.

we are pool players first and foremost.  no matter which pocket billiards game we prefer, we all have to master the same fundamentals–the stroke, the aim, a solid stance, the ability to pocket balls, banks, and kicks, etc.  then we learn different shots and shapes.  then we figure out the best strategies of each game and try to let our creativity flow, while applying all the basics in the meantime.  it’s one thing to specialize in one pocket (or straight pool or bank pool) because you’ve fallen in love with the enormous complexity of the game; it something else altogether when you play a game because it helps to disguise your shortcomings as a player.  although guppy does have an enormous amount of pride in his one pocket game, his basic problem is that he’s too eager to apply the label of “one pocket player” before he’s proficient at the basics.  that label is especially laughable, since we have these kind of stuff available online.

i’m sorry, guppy.  you’re not a one pocket player; you just prefer the game.  my lesson?  don’t be so quick to apply labels to myself.  keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open.

my other lesson came from someone i’ll call old pimpin’, or OP for short.  for some reason, OP has an enormous chip on his shoulder, especially when you consider his ability to play.  to illustrate, let’s lay down some preliminaries here.  playing 9-ball, OP can run 5-6 balls on a good day.  on a bad day, OP runs 2-3 balls.  the power of his stroke?  infant-like.  however, OP believes himself to be smarter than other people (or maybe most people), so he takes an enormous amount of pride (do you detect a repeating theme here?) in his ability to play the percentages.  i’m sure you’ll see streams of numbers literally flowing in his head if you were to peek inside.  is OP a smart guy?  could be, i’m not sure, but he certainly believes himself to be a genius at the table.  from time to time he has a habit of referring to other players “the rest of those idiots”.  so now we have some background to consider my analysis.

i may be wrong in this, but i think when you calculate the percentages excessively, you become focused on missing.  with a player who always plays the percentages, he or she is basically thinking about the percentage of missing a shot; if there is a chance of missing, the person will safety.  that’s all fine and good, but when a player becomes so engrossed with the possibility of missing, the person is basically playing on fear.  and when you play scared, you get tight and won’t succeed.  also, when a player is preoccupied with missing, he/she will miss more often.  (consider the classic “don’t think about an elephant” test.)

anyway, i watched OP practiced with this one guy.  (just practice, no gambling.)  OP did his percentages thing; since he rarely runs out a rack, his strategy was run and duck–run two balls then a safety.  the guy OP played had more firepower, so he just waited until he had some kind of bank shot, made it and ran out.  OP continued his run and duck play, and the other guy continued to run out.  at this point i was thinking how pointless OP’s strategy was.  safeties are great, sure, but OP couldn’t capitalize on the guy’s misses.  so OP’s safeties were like a cover to hide his inability to play.  for that, he considered himself to be a smart player.  what OP failed to calculate was that there are players out there who don’t give a f~* about his percentages; they’ll just outshoot him.  while OP preoccupied himself with percentages, other players are spending their time concentrating on making the shot.  when the time comes for OP to make a tough shot, he’d miss because he’s been ducking his whole pool life and could not come with a shot when he needed to.

another lesson courtesy of OP.  during his practice with the other guy, the guy was pondering over a shot.  after some time elapsed, OP went up and tried to give advice to the guy, thinking probably the other guy didn’t know what to do.  (yes, omg, you’re not alone.  guys get unsolicited advice too.  🙂 )  when the guy tried to politely decline, OP got offended and acted all pissy and s~*.  it was funny on two fronts.  first, the guy was beating OP’s brains out, but OP still presumed to be good enough to dole out pointers.  second, if you can only run 3-5 balls at a time, people tend not to take your advice seriously.

my lessons from OP?  percentages are important to know.  but i have to also focus on making the shot so when the time comes, i can drill a shot into the pocket, percentages be d~*ed.  also, if you make the assumption that a person needs advice and get turned away, don’t be mad at the other guy for not taking your advice.  be mad at yourself for assuming too much.

lessons learned.  cool.

all this pool made me hungry, so i snacked on these.

not enough.  need a few more.  🙂

♦     ♦     ♦

since i like words & expressions, i thought i’d dig around the intarwebs and find the origin of some phrases.  this week, we will look at “limey”.

limey is a slang term for the british folks.  a possible origin of the term is as follows: in the late 1800’s, many british sailors suffered from scurvy.  a doctor figured out that the sailors who ate citrus fruits had less problems with the condition.  since the british caribbean colonies produced lime, british sailors were given lime juice as a preventative measure.  and the nickname stuck.

that’s all folks!

4 comments on “odds and ends

  1. Your story gives me an idea. I should find two signs which says, “Ego Check-in” right before the entrance to our basement and another one “Ego Check-Out” on the other side of the entrance.

    Have you tried the Trader Joe’s spring rolls? Just stick in the oven for 20 minutes and viola, you have spring rolls. There are two flavors, we prefer the lemongrass one.

    Back to pool, safeties are important, but you always have to evaluate who you are playing. This OP guy seems to be playing more of a game hide and seek. If you know your opponent can get out of a lot of safeties, no point of playing safeties. But at the same time, it’s good practice to figure out how to play safe when you’re in a serious jam.

    • the sign idea is pretty cool. you can probably make them yourself.

      i’ve not tried tj’s eggrolls. with the proliferation of asian take-out joints & eateries, fresh eggrolls are very easy to find around the L.A. area. in the right neighborhood you can get lumpia by the dozens. 🙂

      i’ve nothing against safeties, but it’s kinda funny that OP would not try to hit a slightly tough shot at all in a practice game. i thought the whole point of practice is trying things you may be weak at so you can be better at it. for OP, winning the practice game seems more important than getting better. that makes no sense to me. besides, he’s not even going for the real tough safeties anyway, so his defensive game isn’t getting better. the kicker is that he firmly believes he can outsmart others on the table by running two balls & duck. no good.

  2. You are lucky that you can get food so easily. Here in the boonies (Boston), most joints closes at 9:30.

    Pool – ah… practice games changes things. Yes, the point of practice games are to try things out. Instead of hide and seek, I think what OP is playing is more like duck duck goose!

    • us L.A. denizens are definitely blessed in the food department, particularly ethnic foods.

      i think OP is playing a game called duck duck rack. 😛

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