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Thirty-One Tips: 30. Pro Tournaments

Posted on 30. Jan, 2011 by .

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Go to see a professional event in person. If you can, compete in it too.

I think the first professional event I ever played in was the 2000 US Open 9-Ball Championships. Barry Behrman’s annual event is one of the holy grails of the pro circuit. That event was memorable for me because I played the great Ralf Souquet. I was even ahead 2-1 before I folded up like the cheap suit I was wearing. Final score was 11-2. It was early in the event and there weren’t many other big names playing in that round. Souquet and I weren’t on the TV table, but we were on table 2 which offered a decent amount of bleacher seating. It was a corner table with plenty of spectators flanking our battleground on two sides. I had never played against a world class player in such a high profile event in front of such a large crowd. The lessons I learned during that match and from watching the rest of the event were priceless.

  1. How a professional should behave
  2. What it feels like to play under the spotlight and pressures I’d never felt before
  3. How to quell the burning embarrassment of making a silly mistake in a crucial situation
  4. How to play in uncomfortable clothing and shoes
  5. Grasping the idea of intensity and focus pros exhibit every single shot
  6. Seeing firsthand how high these players skills rise to meet the occasion

Playing and watching pro events put smaller weekly or regional events in perspective. Getting used to tournament pressure is about becoming comfortable and confident in your game when it really matters. Butting heads with the best in the world can make a player not feel so overwhelmed in a smaller venue for smaller stakes against a regular player.

The entertainment and education one can get at an event like The Derby City Classic can be valuable. This year, I missed the 2011 DCC and am sick about it. It’s the first one I’ve missed in many years. I would have loved to see Alex Pagulayan win the Banks, Dennis Orcollo win the 9-Ball, and Shane Van Boening win the One-Pocket and All-Around title. I’ve told many friends and students that seeing this event in person is completely different than watching the Accu-Stats DVD’s and streams by TAR and Accu-Stats. They only capture a fraction of the pool played. Looking back, some of my favorite matches were not on the TV table.  Matlock vs. Reyes, Deuel vs. Daulton, Reyes vs. Putnum, and Parica vs. Frost were all amazing 1-Pocket matches that weren’t caught by any cameras. Seeing these types of clashes in person, I can hardly explain the stratospheric heights the execution and drama reach.

Please do yourself a favor, get to a pro event and play if you can.

Mike

Note:  In the ’90’s, I attended many of the of the WPBA, Camel Pro Billiards Tour, MPBA, PBT and PCA events around the Midwest to watch the pros play. The first really high profile event I went to was the WPA 9-Ball World Championships in Arlington Heights, IL in 1997 where Johnny Archer and Allison Fisher won.

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Updates from the U.S. Open

Posted on 02. May, 2008 by .

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I’m currently at the 2007 US Open 9 Ball Championships in Chesapeake, Virginia where the room is chilly but the pool is HOT!

Even though the tournament room is kept so cold you can almost see your breath, the weather outside has been in the gorgeous high 70s and the pool is smokin’!

It’s Day 5 at the event and the long hours have kept me from posting sooner.

I’ve been busy taking tons of photos for Inside Pool and helping out on the set of the Inside Pool Xtreme Press Box where they’re reporting live twice a day.

Here are some highlighted photos I’ve taken so far. The rest of my work can be found at the Inside Pool Magazine Photo Gallery.
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USOpenDay2_162.jpgUSOpenDay2_149.jpgUSOpenDay2_066.jpgUSOpenDay1_193.jpgUSOpenDay1_146.jpgUSOpenDay1_76.jpg
My own results were not as thrilling as I’d hoped. I lost hill-hill to a very solid Canadian player, Tyler Edey (who still happens to be on the winner’s side). I played steady and neither one of us made very many mistakes. When it was 9-9 we each missed the 9-ball. He gave me a shot after the break on the 1 ball and I ran the rack. In the last game of the match, I failed to make a ball on the break and Tyler maneuvered through nicely for the win.

My second match was against Charlie Williams on the TV Table. I’ve never experienced that kind of heat or pressure before. Due to the actual heat from all the lights, the table played extremely tough. The pressure of being on center court made the pockets play even tighter.

Even though the match was earlier in the day and the stands were fairly empty, it was still just as pressure packed.

The most memorable out of that match came when Charlie played a safety on the 8 ball while down 9-8. I shot a jump bank with my full cue leaving me a tough back cut on the 9 ball in side, which I made to tie it up 9-9.

I felt I could’ve won that match had it not been my first time playing on the TV Table. A couple mental errors and a few tight strokes due to the pressure were all that stood between me and winning that match.

Not that I’m done with the competing part of the tournament my main focus has been on taking tons of photographs as well as filming some instructional segments with Samm. These finished products will include a series of several two to three minute instructional snippets called Xtreme Instruction and can be found on InsidePoolMag.com.

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