I’ve procrastinated a good long time on the 2013 BCAPL National Championships post for the only reason that I ever have to procrastinate on major event posts… Regardless, here we are. Today’s post is Day 0, which most of you know as the day before the tournament. Day 1 will be posted tomorrow (or whenever I get around to it). Day 2 the day after. Even Stevie Wonder can see this pattern. I’m going to try and be good so you can have two solid weeks of daily-ish posts. There was too much action to fit into one big-ass post and small-ass posts are an easier way to go.
As always, there will be lots of swearing, not all of it censored. When I want to make a f#cking point, I make a FUCKING point. If stuff like that bothers you, don’t read. If it doesn’t bother you, get a beverage (preferably caffeinated, alcoholic, or — in my case — both), and come live my incredibly boring life through photographs, rants, and a fabulous assortment of animated gifs.
This was the first year the BCAPL National Championships, arguably one of the biggest pool tournaments in the world, was to be held at the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. After all those years at the lovably shabby Riviera Hotel and Casino, the Rio was to be a major upgrade.
|The only red carpet I’ll ever get to walk.|
|My most reliable mode of transportation was not included in this upgrade. I got to the bus station bright and very early with the usual Vegas Jitters.|
|We all piled into the bus on time and the benefit of taking a schedule this early was that most everyone had both seats to themselves. Of course, that’s not enough for some people. This dude shoved his feet across the aisle from his row to mine. Yeah. That sh#t don’t fly with me, ever. He got what was coming to him, but we will not discuss that here.|
After huffing and puffing through the desert and the city streets, I arrived at the fabulous Rio. The checkout line was thankfully short and I dragged my bags up to my room. I forgot to take pictures of my room, but it was very nice. Although my room was the most basic ones available, it was still bigger than my entire apartment. The vanity area alone was bigger than my kitchen (with nicer countertops, too). In comparison to the Riviera, this was at least the 4-out and the breaks better. At least. Maybe the 3-out.
After unloading, it was time to run — yes, literally run (I’m that lame) — down to see the tournament rooms.
Large posters of past and present champions as well as amateurs line the long hall down to the tournament rooms.
I heard from many that the walk from the rooms to the convention center was longer than at the Riviera. To that, I say, who cares — we’re not at the Riviera. Plus, there’s a Starbucks at the halfway mark.
|The mosaic of screens in the rotunda of the convention center show the professional events’ broadcast. You could also watch the broadcast in your room.|
|Since it was still early in the event (the first amateur 8-ball events did not start until the next day), there were no hordes nor herds of people. This suited me and my claustrophobic nature juuuust fine. As did the general roominess of the convention center.|
|I liked what I saw so far. The tournament this year was truly going to be A Swanktastic Affair. Amateur pool was going to be A Thing, now that we’d moved away from the low hallways and soul-crushingly ugly cabbage-rose carpets of the Riviera.|
The entrance to the main tournament room. You may click to embiggen.
The professional tournament area is at all the way at the back.
The main room had hosted the World Series of Poker just a few days prior. The table set up for the amateur events was pretty much the same it had been at the Riviera, but there were now WIDE aisles between the sections and I already knew this would be a fall-down-on-your-knees-and-and-cry joy for many of us.
In case you don’t remember, at the Riviera, the aisles between sections were often narrow enough so that there would be a traffic glut if ANYONE stopped to watch a match. That sh#t was like the goddam 405. Seriously. The world’s biggest parking lot — for sweaters and supporters.
And now, there was room.
No more darting dangerously under peoples’ grody armpits for me when I had to hustle to a match. Now, I could stick to my side of the lane and politely tip my hat as I passed. We were all going to be Mary Poppins proper and nice and sh#t now because THERE WAS ROOM. And chairs. Oh, the chairs. Chaaaaiiirrrs. <sighs with relief and sits down without starting war over stealing someone else’s seat>
Yup, you’re trippin’ on acid.
To say these balls were a surprise would be a massive understatement.
|Requisite photograph of pocket tightness.|
|I don’t think anyone saw this change coming. My first thoughts, along with many others, were: What the hell is UP with those colors?!|
|I get that a “TV” ball set was made so the colors of the balls would show up better on television against green cloth. Then fabric color was changed from traditional green to blue because the contrast was even better for television (green 6 on blue cloth = yesh).|
Daniel Busch of POV Pool streamed marquee matches for the amateur events.
David Alcaide shoots in the finals of the 9-Ball Challenge against Marc Vidal (not pictured).
This year also featured a new event, the U.S. Open 8-Ball Championships, in addition to the U.S. Open One Pocket and the U.S. Open 10-Ball. Another change to the tournaments was the abolishment of fees for watching the professional events. Prior to this year, you could buy passes to watch the day and/or evening sessions of the professional events. This year, admittance was free — the only charge was for VIP seating close to the tables.
One side of the professional arena.
Professionals played with the same acid-trip ball set.
|TAR monkeys Tim Wampler (dubiously cheerful) and Andy Chen (cheerful) manning the video for the professional arena.|
|The setup for professional match streaming was easier this year, I think, due to use of the stage in the room. The elevation and extra space counted for a lot, least of all for giving me a fabulous vantage point and dozing off between matches.|
The TV table bisected the professional tournament area.
Shane Van Boening shoots as Scott Frost watches during a match at the U.S. Open One Pocket Championships.
F#ck, I thought to myself, this is going to be a fan-f#cking-tastic trip!
And then, after all this beauty and wonder, some — things — happened.
For one, I did a full-on ass-over-teakettle-flying-cartoon-kung-fu-style slip in one of the convention center bathrooms and landed hard on my right side and smashed my elbow.
I got a nice bleeding memento on my arm that temporarily melded me to one of my many black zip-up jackets. I lay on the floor for a while and then limped over to my friends. Their first words after I related what happened: “OMG, why did you get up?! No, no! Never get up! Always call an ambulance. We could have owned half this casino by now!” Hustlers always be hustlin’. 😉
Next thing that happened was I got dragged into peoples’ interpersonal drama, and for real, that PISSED ME THE FUCK OFF. Dude, this is generally the only vacation I get all fucking year. Sad, but true. Such is the life of the mediocre pool player striving for measly glory. ALL I WANT TO DO IS PLAY POOL. I don’t care why you’re mad at each other and I never, EVER want to be used as some goddam pawn or babysitter in your bullshit. Fuck.
I wanted to shoot myself in the head before I died of a simultaneous heart attack and aneurysm from sheer frustration.
But, sometimes, that’s just how it goes.
Exhausted, sick, and pissed THE FUCK off means nothing to a pool tournament. Stressed to high-fucking-heaven means nothing to a pool tournament. Other people not getting their shit together means nothing to a pool tournament. That is the beauty of a pool tournament, and a lot of great things in life. They just don’t fucking care. Glory, money, happiness, etc. — they don’t wait for you.
It remained to me to gather the pieces of my sanity and trudge forward.