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PoolSynergy: Picking up the cue again

Posted on 15. Jul, 2011 by .


6 Things You Should Know Before Coming Back to the Game of Pool

So you’re thinking of making a comeback, huh? Do yourself a favor and read up before you enter the shark’s den. Brushing up on this knowledge can make your return to the ring much easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful. For PoolBum’s introduction to this topic and for links to all the PoolSynergy writers, visit PoolBum’s blog here.

Review pool room etiquette. Don’t be the bad guy by unknowingly offending players. Review my past article about proper behavior here.

Please help keep our tables clean.

Read and know the current game rules. Things may have changed since you last picked up a cue. Last pocket 8-ball is a gambling gimmick. 1 and 15 in the side pockets is strictly for the old guys at the retirement home. Now there’s ball in hand anywhere and anytime. Racking rules (where certain balls must be placed in the triangle) are pervasive.

Check your equipment. Nowadays, 19 ounce and lighter are the standard. Especially for break cues. Faster cloth, livelier cushions and tighter pockets call for precision and touch. Those heavy hunks of lumber you used to push the balls around are antiques. It’d be like a reincarnated Bobby Jones trying to play a 7,500 yard US Open golf course with his Niblick, Mashie, and Spoon.

Gambling is more dangerous. Years ago if you played just a little bit, you’d have a good chance at winning several dollars in casual games for money at the pool room or bar. Today, if you gamble, you’d better be ready for a tough game! The level of play these days is miles ahead of the standard of 40 or 50 years ago. This is the most important thing I can tell you about gambling: Post Up! This means both players shall place take their wager and agree to put it on top of the light or have a houseman hold the dough. This is for everybody’s protection. The winner will get paid and hopefully sour feelings or words won’t get in the way of the debt being paid off. Much more could be written about matching up, but this will have to suffice for now.

Know if you’ll practice alone or want to play against someone else. The days of showing up and having many opponents to choose from are gone. Leagues might take up all the tables. Call a friend first. Call the pool room first and make sure you can get a pool table.

Don’t be forced into a game you don’t care for. Keep an open mind about playing various games, but remember that if you picked up pool for your love of One-Pocket, Banks, or Straight Pool by all means play those games. Younger guys will pester you to play 9-ball, 10-ball, or 8-ball. Give them a try if you like, but don’t be afraid to ask them to play your game. You may pick up some great ideas from their fresh approach to your classic game. Likewise, trying their game might teach you a few new shots.

Nearly four years ago, I wrote an article on this same topic. Check that old piece out for a couple of other ideas. The 2007 article is located here.

Welcome back and enjoy your time at the pool table. Consider them golden.

Enjoy pool and avoid Trouble.



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Happy Fourth of July!

Posted on 04. Jul, 2011 by .



Happy Fourth of July!

I’ve been taking a little time to focus on music after my month long road trip of pool playing. Winning another team championship was both invigorating and draining. Now I’m catching up on some household projects and finally beginning to learn how to play bass guitar. Family and friends call me a procrastinator, but dang it, I eventually get things done. I’ll detail my quest to hold down the bottom end in another blog post. Let’s just say that I’ve got a lot of work to do before the “Pool Playin’ Fools” hit the stage in October. By the way, we’ve yet to discuss the band’s name—I’m mostly referring to myself.

Setting the bass aside for now, here are a couple of patriotic music tidbits that I recommend highly.


I saw at the Guthrie in the Fall of 2008 and it was one of the best I’ve ever seen. The historical facts are unaltered, save timing for narrative purposes. It is my opinion that this story is so dramatic, improbable, and so utterly true it would be hard for an author to pen a work of fiction this compelling. The impact I felt prompted me to spend a few days in Philly after the Allen Hopkins SBE a few years ago. I toured Independence Hall and soaked up the American history. This is the OCR from 1969. The Ben Franklin is not my favorite like in the 1972 movie version.

Click to see details at Amazon.

The egg that England hatched.


Film version.

Howard Da Silva's buttery baritone Ben Franklin.

One Fourth of July, I spent at the BHS International Championships. I wish I could be in Kansas City this week for this year’s competition. I’ve already marked my calendar for 2017 when the competition is hosted by Minneapolis.

One of the highlights is the Star Spangled Banner sung by thousands of singers in the audience. I’ll never forget the feeling of being in the middle of an ocean of singers.

Finally, a few of my photos from past Independence Days.

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Pool Synergy: Tournament Directors Unboxed

Posted on 15. Jun, 2011 by .


I would like to ask all Tournament Directors to please step out of the box. The scary trend of plummeting tournament attendance requires some fresh thinking. Michael Page, owner of Fargo Billiards & Gastropub, has served up some super fresh twists on traditional tournaments. Maybe having the largest pool room in the western hemisphere and having it located in Fargo, North Dakota has motivated him to do whatever it takes to produce great pool tournaments. His next big event starts next week on June 25. I’ll be there.

Nothing beats a quality open tournament.  While handicapped and divisional tournaments have their places, playing in them is a little like fishing in a stocked pond.  The reason—the real reason—most of us throw our lines in the river is for the possibility, however remote, that a thirty-pound Channel Cat grabs the other end.  We’re all dreamers, and as pool players we’re lucky enough to be able to throw our lines into the water for the cost of a steak dinner and a bottle of wine. – Mike Page

For example, Mike Page at Fargo Billiards held a full field calcutta at 11am for his noon start event. 80 players or so were on the auction block. He announced a free breakfast being served buffet style at 10 am. This was such a nice perk for players and railbirds alike. The bonus is the attendance for the calcutta was huge and everyone was in a great mood and ready to spend a little money having been comped a delightful meal. The calcutta was record setting- over $10,000 in the pot. Every penny was paid back to the top 8 spots.

Another thing Page does in weekly tournaments is to have a bonus pot that one player from each tournament has a shot at winning. The challenge is called “Speed Rack.” A video is the best way to show this.

Of the many ways to enjoy competition in pool, I favor tournaments. Leagues, matching up, practicing with pals all have a soft spot in my heart, but tournaments get my adrenaline pumping more than any of them. We all know the pool world has been in a slump and quality tournaments are taking it on the chin. I feel that most players will try entering a tournament at least once in their pool career. Sometimes that experience will get them hooked or put them off of tournaments for life. In my dreams for a better pool world, I wish all tournaments were crafted to be an ideal experience for all involved. This would ensure growth of that event and others, since whole crops of tournament players would be grown.

Check out all of the Pool Synergy authors that have ideas for the ideal tournament on my summary page here.

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Home on the road

Posted on 18. May, 2011 by .


Two weeks ago I headed out for the tournaments in Las Vegas.  Time to clean the clothes.

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