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Great Shot-by-Shot Walk-Through By Mika

In this video, Mika Immonen runs a 10-ball rack and is “live commenting” on his thought process and position plans for each shot.  Love this type of stuff.  He describes the cue ball action he wants and the anticipated positions for every shot (“I’ll shoot the eight with outside hair draw…”) as he easily runs a 10-ball rack.

Watch Mika run a 10-ball rack with shot-by-shot commentary.

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New Pool Website Project

I’ve been fiddling with a new pool-related website lately and thought I’d give my loyal reader(s) (hi mom!) a sneak peek.  Actually, it’s been “public” for a week or so, but not much is going on there yet.  Mostly it’s a chance for me to mess around with Django and jQuery, and do something pool-related in the time I’m not actually playing pool.  A perfect combination for me.

Anyhow, here it is:

It started as a way for me to track my too-infrequent attempts at playing 14.1 Continuous, aka Straight Pool.  I was scoring my games on paper (I developed a score sheet that works well for me, which you can find at the site), then decided that a database would be oh so much better, and would allow me to keep historical stats on my play (high run, average run, etc. etc.).  I naturally decided to make a web-based interface, then it kind of grew into more 14.1 stuff, and I decided to register the domain  So the long range plan is to add a “live” scoring page there soon and some way for people other than myself to take advantage of it.

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Top o’ the Ladder with Dramatic Win!

I am now the #1 in the pool ladder at work!  I beat the #2 guy a week or so ago, and since the #1 guy is out of town for a while, I somehow ended up at #1.  It did not feel like I had really earned #1 yet though since I did not beat the #1 guy to get there (I had just lost to him a few days earlier, before he left town).  But today I was challenged by #2 and managed to hold my spot.  So now it’s official!

Started off rough.  I lost the first game handily.  I broke and made nothing.  My opponent shot and made a few balls, then missed and left me hooked deep in a corner pocket.  The only close ball for me to shoot at was blocked by the corner “horn” of the pocket, so I had to kick at another ball down table and missed.  So he had ball in hand and proceeded to clear the table for a quick win.  Next game he scratched shooting the 8 when I still had quite a few balls left, but he did not make the 8 on the shot so it was not a loss for him, and I had ball in hand.  I think I ran out after a few attempts, can’t remember, but ended up winning that game.  So down to the final game (we play best 2 out of 3), I broke…and ran out the table!  It’s the first time I’ve done that since one time many years ago on a bar table.  I played good position on all balls except screwed up on the 8 and sent the cue ball too far, going past the 8 and leaving a difficult cut on the 8 to get to the corner pocket.  I thought it was makeable, but a was a very steep cut and the cue ball had a good chance of scratching in the side pocket.  So I decided to carom the 8 off one of his balls, which reduced the cut angle and also eliminated the scratch possibility, and I made it for a dramatic win and the first table run in the pool ladder!  Approximate diagram of the shot on the 8 below:

8 ball carom into the corner pocket

8 ball carom into the corner pocket for the win!

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Ladder Position Defended

Was challenged by #5 yesterday (I’m at #3 currently).  I started off very badly–I broke, made something on the break, then attempted a long back cut on a ball with the hopes of just parking it near the corner pocket (there was nothing else good to shoot at), and on its way to the pocket, it hits the eight ball, which caroms off another ball and the eight drops into the pocket for the loss.  I lost the game on my first shot!

Next game I won after a decent runout at the end (I think 2 or 3 balls, which doesn’t sound like much, but is a good run for me!).  Final game was close.  My opponent had a decent shot on the eight to win, but missed it (was a shot into the side pocket, cue ball was kind of hanging in a corner pocket, so was somewhat tough).  But he left me with no shot on my two stripes–eight was blocking.  So I kicked at one of the stripes, ended up hiding the cue behind my stripes so he had no shot on the eight.  He kicked and missed, so I had ball in hand and ran out for the win.

So I successfully defended my spot in the ladder in spite of a horrible start.

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Nine Ball

Played my first ever games of 9-ball yesterday with a coworker.  It’s a bit strange that I had never played before.  9-ball is the king of pro competition games, very popular.  I had never played in the past because I thought it was too hard since you have only one specific ball to shoot at on each shot–you must pocket the balls in sequence (unlike 8-ball where there are several balls to choose from on most shots).  Overall it was fun.  It’s a very fast game.  Neither of us ran out from the break (we’re not that good yet), but I did have one nice seven ball runout after getting ball in hand.

Also had one cool win where I had ball in hand shooting the 2-ball (my opponent had scratched on the 1-ball) with the situation pictured below (other balls not shown).  I employed a technique learned in Byrne’s 350 shots book.  I placed the cue ball where shown, right in line with the three other balls, and hit a medium soft stop shot.  The 2 bumped the 9, which bumped the 8 into the pocket, then the 9 followed it in (for the win!), and then the 2 even trickled in.  I never would have known this was possible had I not read Byrne’s book.

9-ball layout

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Ladder Update

Won again yesterday, 2-0.  It was an empty victory somewhat though because my opponent scratched on the 8-ball in the first game, which he deserved to win.  I did not play too well overall, partly because I was using a different cue than normal.  I always try to grab the same cue from the four available here and have gotten used to it.  The one I used yesterday had a thicker shaft and did not feel right.  I think it threw me off a bit.

But, it’s a win!  So that win moved me into 3rd place.  I can now challenge second or first place.

Here’s my ladder stats to this point:

Games won/played: 14/16

Matches won/played: 8/8

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Pool Ladder/Layout Wreckage

Joined a pool ladder at work, which is pretty cool.  The match format is first to win 2 out of 3 games of 8-ball.  The way it works is you sign up at the bottom of the ladder.  Then you can challenge either the person above you or the person two rungs above you.  If you win, you move up to their spot and push them and all below them down a rung.  If you lose, nothing changes on the ladder (and you can’t challenge again for 1 day I think).

I think it’s a great idea.  Somewhat informal, but still gives you a taste of organized competition.  I have been thinking about joining a pool league, so this is actually a good baby step in that direction.  I’ll get to play several different players I would normally probably never play (although to be honest, the talent level at work is a bit low overall).

So, I won the first match 2-0, won the second match 2-1.  Both were against people I had never played (or met) before.  I played pretty poorly I thought in both.  Missed several shots I should have definitely made.  I also made an observation in these games.  I learned during the game that layouts can change dramatically after you miss.  It’s important to note that my opponents are not the most skilled players.  This is not to knock them, but it makes a difference because they are hitting the balls with some abandon, whereas a more skilled player would be less likely to move balls around so much.  In retrospect, this observation is obvious, but it was somehow surprising and a bit frustrating during the game to see my opponent wreck the layout and send balls flying all over the table.  So it’s vital to run out as many as you can during your initial attempt, because once you miss and your opponent has a turn, your plan is no longer valid.  One minute you are working through a juicy layout with a strategy in mind for most of the balls, then you miss…and the next thing you know, your balls are knocked all over the table and likely end up in clusters, etc.  This adds to the frustration of missing.

So, best advice, make the damn shots when you’re supposed to!

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Dia de los Billiards

Day of the Dead Billiards Table

Dia de los Billiards



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Dirty Balls

Billiard Ball CleanerI’m curious what it is like to play with nice sparkly clean shiny balls.  I am not sure I have ever experienced that.  Every pool table I’ve played on has been a pretty well worn table as far as I can recall.  In my earlier playing “career”, I never paid any attention to such things as dirty balls.  But now that I’m more interested in pool than ever, I’m watching tournaments on TV (when they are on, not often enough) and online, and am seeing all this beautiful equipment–nice shiny balls, Diamond tables with Simonis cloth, etc.  (eg, take a look a the gleaming balls in the header of this pool blog…nice!).  And I don’t think I’ve ever experienced playing on equipment like that.  Wondering how clean balls affect the game.  I understand that grimy balls will “throw” more, etc.  I’ve even contemplated taking the balls at work and heading off to the bathroom to try and scrub them down…

Surely there is a pool hall in Austin that has some decent equipment.  So far, the ones I have visited seem to have the traditional beat up equipment and the ashtray bouquet typical of pool halls.  There are such things as commercial ball cleaners, but I wonder how many local pool halls have them and use them with any regularity.

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