I’m never too tired to enjoy the sunrise, even when I’m on some janky bus.
Yet another weekend tournament, yet another Greyhound ride. This time, it was up the I-5 to the City by the Bay. Legendary road player Cole Dickson had passed earlier in the year and Family Billiards of San Francisco was hosting his memorial tournament.
I left Friday night and arrived Saturday morning. The ride up was pleasantly uneventful and I spent about half the time reading. I got off the bus, took a nap, and then went to the tournament.



I was astounded at the number of people who showed up to play this event. The $4,000 added prize fund, low entry fee ($50), lack of green fees (100% payout), and format (9-ball, races to 9W 7L) no doubt contributed to the great turnout. A total of 104 players were entered, necessitating a reduction in the race lengths to 7 games on both sides.


View during pre-tournament practice. You can see Daniel Busch of POV Pool adjusting his camera at the front of the room.


I passed up warming up in favor of more sleep. Most of the players were locals. Some came from as far north as Seattle. I think Los Angeles may have been the furthest south.

I played most of my matches in the back of the room. The large number of players and spectators crammed in together made play a little difficult although I think most people tried to make things work. Some did not. In my second match, two spectators sat down on the bench behind my table, effectively evicting me and my opponent from our own seats with their broad stance. If I really wanted to, I could squeeze in there with them, but I did not relish the idea of being smashed up next to people in this sweat-drenched environment. I chose to stand for the rest of the match. If I am a spectator, I will always give right of way to the players as they are the ones playing for something.


Panoramic views of the room from front and back.

You may click to embiggen.


For my third match, I was to play one of the spectators who had taken over the players’ seats at my last match. That spectator had come to my previous match to see who he was going to play, and to clock our speed. Well, sh#t. I lost, so that honor belonged to me. And let me tell you, once I saw who my opponent was, I was incredibly motivated to win.

As we played, I could tell my opponent was a good player. He kicked exceptionally well, and after he settled into the equipment, he did not miss often. I was hot, sweaty, and irritated — all solid, fabulous reasons for me to absolutely lose my sh#t and dog off this match. But, I did not, and that was thanks to my opponent. My opponent made it very clear at the beginning of the match that he hated hated hated the music being played through the room. He stopped me in the middle of a rack once to ask me about “this nonsense music”. I stopped to listen, noted the heavy thumping metal (“Down With The Sickness” by Disturbed) blaring from the speakers, and then said, “Well. I’m down with the sickness. It doesn’t bother me.”

The match stayed close, but it amused me this gentleman was bothered so much by the music. He complained to me, to spectators, and even to other players in their matches. I had always considered music to be like equipment — you just deal with it at tournaments because it’s there and part of the environment. I did wonder, briefly, why he did not throw some money in the jukebox and change things for the better. Whatever. In the end, I had the pleasure of being That Annoying Bastard in the hill-hill game, bopping along to Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” ([little kid voice]: “Goodwill! Poppin’ tags! Yeeeah!“), while running the last few balls out in the most incorrect of patterns.


Mary Rakin jumps a ball in her match against Jason Williams (seated, left) as her father Dante Rakin (seated, right) looks on.


Ultimately, I ran into a brick from that wall known as the Williams. There are three brothers and they all play very well. I drew one of them, and got one rattled nine-ball. He got the rest.


“Sweatahs and railbirdz wuz here.”
One of the highlights of this evening was watching my friend, a girl, defeat a Player of Known Ability on the loser’s side. It was an exciting match and her insane shotmaking skills obviously rattled him. If you were listening to the livestream and heard the cheering, that was all of us watching her fire in a difficult nine-ball (like it ain’t no thang!) for the win, and the cash.
The tournament finally ended around 1:30 or so in the morning. My little crew went to IHOP for dinner/breakfast. Then I went and slept the high-quality sleep only extreme hunger followed by pancake overload can bring.




I climbed these stairs and the trail to the summit in high heels.
It is said the coldest summers are in San Francisco. That may be, but the weather this weekend was surprisingly nice. I had planned to go watch more matches but changed my mind at the last minute, because even psycho bitches like me have family to visit.
After a fan-pho-king-tastic lunch complete with Vietnamese drip coffee so strong I could see through time after drinking it, I went roving around the city with my brother.
We saw a mountain (a small one) and decided to climb it.


View of San Francisco with the fog creeping in from the right.

You may click to embiggen.


After appreciating nature and ice cream from the legendary Mitchell’s of San Francisco, it was time to return to the game.

The pool room was less crowded today as the field had been whittled down to the final 24 players. Jason Williams wins Bad Beat Story of the tournament. As he was shooting the eight-ball in the hill-hill game to advance to the fourth place match, a gnat flew right into his eye. He missed the eight and lost the match.


Shoulda called the SWAT team.

I wish I could have taken a few swings at the flies with this racquet.


The number of small flying insects is just a feature of the pool room. I’m not sure where they come from, but, like the music being played, they are just part of the experience.


Gen’ki desu ne.
My last meal was at Genki Ramen, just down the street from Family Billiards. This was not the packaged ramen I gussy up to eat a regular basis, or the 10-for-$1 kind I eat when I need to dredge up a stake for gambling or tournaments. This was delicious, work-of-art ramen.
I stayed through the quarterfinal matches. After that, it was time for me to catch the bus back to the southland.


I had a Creepy Dude sit down next to me on the bus. After some passive-aggressive scuffling for personal space, I successfully stared him down and he moved seats. My next seatmate was a Normal. I arrived in Los Angeles a little ahead of schedule, which was nice. I dropped off my things, and then went happily to work, knowing there would be another big tournament the upcoming weekend…


random bits

keep the stream alive

Daniel Busch of POV Pool streamed this tournament. You may remember he streamed the Pots ‘N’ Pans Memorial 9-Ball Tournament from Las Vegas the previous week(!). If you watched and enjoyed the stream, or would like to help Mr. Busch in his venture to bring free pool streams from quality tournaments to the masses, please consider sending a small donation to help cover costs.


when I met Cole Dickson

Cole Dickson at the 1982 Caesars Tahoe Billiards Classic held in Lake Tahoe, NV.

Photographs by, and courtesy of, Robert Ross.

I met Cole Dickson during the first summer I played pool. The houseman of Family Billiards at the time, Glenn White, would occasionally have me take a break from my endless drills to play who I thought were random people. Mr. Dickson was to play me 9-ball and the spot was he would back-cut every shot. He broke, made a ball, and started to fire away. As he got closer to the nine, I sat up, because I figured I would finally get a shot. The nine was in the middle of the bottom rail and the cue ball was near the left side rail at the second diamond. The only possible shot here, I thought, was to cut the nine into the right corner pocket or bank it somewhere. A back-cut was impossible. The angle would not allow for it. Mr. Dickson saw me wound up like a live wire expecting to shoot. He smirked — and chopped the nine ball backwards along the rail into the left corner pocket. Unbelievable. I honestly did not think a shot like that was physically possible. That was the day I learned about spin and Mr. Dickson, in exchange for a beer, gave me my first significant English lesson. It was a beer well spent.


the top 8

1st Amar Kang $2,100
2nd Mark Tiu 1,450
3rd Danny Gokhul 1,000
4th Deo Alpajora 600
5th/6th Jason Williams 350
Marshall Williams 350
7th/8th Ike Runnels 250
Tommy Lipps 250



t h a n k s chill out
EMCA | Chris Williams, Katrina Lau, & Rack ‘N’ Roll Productions | Delbert Wong & Family Billiards of San Francisco | Robert Ross & Mary Kenniston for the pictures of Cole Dickson
first time hello & hello again
Mary, Deborah, Emilyn, Marina, Lindsay, Ed | Tom 🙂 | Mr. Silveira | Miss Grace!


and YET ANOTHER legend rides off into the sunset

8 Replies to “104”

  1. Love to hear about that backcut Cole loved to shoot that shot. Brings back fond memories of my old partner thanks for sharing.

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