the twilight zone | subwoofage


As some of you know, the billiards world has an active community in the form of AZBilliards’ online forums. I used to be more active on the forums, but my reading and participation these days is rare. There is just too much information to sift through and not all of it is relevant to my interests. I have friends who do visit the forums and they will let me know if there is something they think I should see.

My finish at the Tampa tournament had not gone unnoticed. Forum user gxman asked,


“Could rhea play melinda even?”


I did not know who rhea was.


“I don’t know but I’m down to find out.”


For my readers who do not play pool, that exchange above is very common. The question and answer are two dry sticks rubbed together. Other people add their opinions and comments as kindling and before you know it, you have a campfire around which everyone is gathered. For my readers who do play pool, my apologies for telling you what you already know. I have a tedious preference for thoroughness and sharing insights into How Pool Works On The Internet.


My most endearing failing in billiards aside from writing this blog is my willingness to play matches with people I do not know. After some reading on the forums, I learned a little more about her. She was an aspiring roadplayer/hustler/world champion who documented her daily adventures on the road as the protege of Gene Albrecht, a billiards instructor. Very neat.

She responded with:


“There is no way she would agree to the weight I would need in order for a fair match she is light years ahead of my speed I cant even beat the 4 ball ghost yet.”


None of that gave me an idea of her speed so I asked (APA being the American Poolplayers Association, a league that rates the skill levels of its players and the host of the U.S. Amateur Championships in Tampa from which I had just returned):


what are you rated in the APA


Her response:


In VNEA I’m a 4, in BCA I’m a 4, in NAPA I’m a 5, in APA 8 ball I’m a 4, and in APA 9 Ball I’m a 5

But, don’t let my skill level scare you, I bet real high.


The only letters and numbers applicable to my situation were “APA 8 ball” and “4”. In APA 8-ball, I am a “7”. These numbers gave me a ballpark estimation of skill as ratings differ across the country and can be affect by many factors. According to these numbers, rhea was the lesser-skilled player.

Her last sentence was interesting. I did not get it.


what would me being scared of you have to do with you betting real high
wouldn’t you bet real high whether I was scared or not


In hindsight, I think she was trying to provoke me but used the wrong choice of words and confused me instead.


I had done a little more reading on rhea and realized that she was being modest when she told me she was an APA 4. In another thread, she had posted the following (emphasis mine):


Eric, I can interpret what you are getting at, but your estimate of my speed is pretty far off. I am only considered a C player in Indianapolis, everywhere else I have been to I have been at least a B- speed.

When I left the APA back in 2009 I was a 6 at that time.

When I was in OHIO going off like a rocket right before Gene met me I was playing around APA 7 speed.

And my game has improved drastically since then. In fact I strongly feel that the few people in OHIO that spotted me 1 ball could now get 1 ball from me and I would like it.

By the time I got to NC they had me playing as a skill level 8 in their tournament. And by the time I got to VA they had me rated as a B+.


I know I am not a B+ yet but I am at least a B speed, I can put together a 2 or 3 pack in 9 ball on a tight 9 footer, and I couldn’t do that a few months ago.


So there you have it that is where I stand now… which is why APA 4 or 5 is laughable and yes I would play an APA 5 for money and be the favorite in every city.


As Joan Didion would say about my ramblings, “Oh, wow.”


For you non-billiards readers, let me give you the lowdown. Rhea initially said she was a 4, meaning she was a less-skilled player than I was, and that she needed a handicap before she would play me. In the post that I found, she says she left the APA as a 6, played like a 7 earlier this year, and now plays even better than a 7. That means she plays better than me. The 800-pound gorilla of a cherry on the sundae, though, is her statement that she can put together two or three racks in a row on a nine-foot table (most APA matches are played on seven-foot tables; smaller tables are easier to play nine-ball on) with tight pockets. The area where I live has many tight pocketed tables. The only players I have seen run two to three racks in a row on these tables on a regular basis have been world, or at least American, champions.

She told me she was below my skill level in an attempt to get me to give her an unwarranted advantage while telling everyone else she was a champion.

That is not how hustling works.

But, that is how the internet works.


I am not a great player. I occasionally make a great shot or play a nice game, but in the grand scheme of things, I am extremely average. Knowing exactly where I stand is important if I want to correctly assess my game as it progresses or regresses. Because of this approach, I am a reasonable human being with realistic expectations. I answer with the following:


You can put together a 2 or 3 pack? In my lifetime, I have run one 2-pack in 9 ball on a loose 9 footer. You must be a very, very strong player. I do not understand why you would need weight from me if you play at that level. If anything, I would need weight.


She did not respond to this post.

The party did not end.

It moved somewhere else.


I should warn you now that, like many of my other multi-part series, this series is about events that led me to a better understanding of myself, the game, the people in the game, and the game’s subculture in which we all live and play. I hope as a reader you may take away something of value. If not, I apologize for taking your time.


<< part one part three >>

31 Replies to “the twilight zone | subwoofage”

  1. well after reading this I just realized I’m way further below average than I previously thought 🙂

  2. I strongly relate to this post. I used to think I was pretty darn good-ya know what I’m sayin’- just another big fish in a little pond- and then I swam out into the ocean… Love the game, fascinates the hell out of me in more ways than one. Great metaphor for living one’s life and learning profound life lessons. Boatdrinks to all of my fellow “average” players!

    1. especially when they’re chopsticks we just broke apart in anticipation of all-you-can-eat sushi 😉

  3. You gotta love the internet! I’ll tell you one thing, I think the internet has had the biggest impact on pool than anything else in the last…well, ever, I guess. You can’t shit a shitter when the whole world knows who you are and how you play. Especially when you broadcast it all over the place. LOL

    Now…let me join you in the celebration of being below average to average. LOL

  4. No apology for taking my time. This is why I am here.

    Regarding “I have run one 2-pack in 9 ball on a loose 9 footer.” I am guessing this is because you don’t regularly play 9 ball on 9 footers. I know you are better than that. I can recall two 2-packs on average 9 footers and I was only a 6 when I recently left APA 8 ball. I do regularly play on 9 footers though and also unfortunately have not been able to get to a consistently decent level of play. So sometimes I look like I know what I am doing and other times I play so bad you would swear I couldn’t be more than an APA 4. Sometimes I have to admit to myself “No good player would EVER do that”, and it is humbling and somewhat discouraging at the same time. And yet, after nights with those moments, I usually just to do a reset, refocus on the basics and come back for more. Speaking of which, for me anyway, it is sometimes good to get away from the game for a while. It can help to break bad habits and reestablish a decent stroke/stance/pre-shot routine.

    1. Ah, I wish I were better than that, but no. No 2-pack in competition ever after that. 🙂 But there are still many years before me in which to accomplish another 2-pack or even a 3-pack, if I dare dream so bold.

  5. I’ve been following the “Rhea” threads for a while now. As Homer would say, Grade A Bull Plop (but it’s a nice way to break up the CJ self promotion threads that typically take up 75% of the front page of the forums). Any time “Rhea” is asked any sort of direct question, she completely ignores it unless it serves her story. The latest with her having her Social Security card and all her possessions stolen by a friend but she doesn’t care enough to get her stuff back or file a police report? Come on.

    There are so many holes in her story that not even Ron Jeremy could fill them all.

  6. Im so good at being average one could say that I’m above average at being average.

    If you guys play, I hope you kick her teeth in. I hate her and Gene’s posts.

    1. She had a post after this exchange wherein she says she’s improving 1 ball every six weeks.

      If we ever play, she will need to spot me the rainbow with ball in hand, minimum.

      1. HAHAHA. So that’s like an APA SL26 by now right?

        Must be nice to never plateau.

        Even with her awesome improvement like that (lol), it’s still not enough of a selling point for me to rework my entire game for Perfect Aim or whatever the hell it is. Just wish I found out about it when I was a banger so I could go from hack to pro in 2 months.

  7. “in NAPA I’m a 5”

    This told me that she was just throwing out numbers. In NAPA, women without any other league experience start at 40. If you have an APA level, you start at APA * 10 + 10 so APA 5 starts at NAPA 60.

    To get down to a 5 means you never ever win. Ever.

    Great writing as usual.

    1. That’s very interesting. I didn’t know that was how NAPA handicapping worked.

      Her ideas of marketing herself are similar to those of The Mary Avina. Truly fascinating.

  8. Rhea got me banned from AZ for a while cause I wanted to know his/her gender. I want part 3. Since she’s a tight table expert and got me banned we should see what her and Geno would offer us and play those fools. Finish part 3 so I can read it!!!

    1. Ahhh sorry, part 3 is not about Rhea. 🙂

      If you can get the right weight for us, let’s play them.

  9. Another great perspective – thank you! I suspect you will dare be so bold – LOL!

    I have decided that I can only play to improve myself. There are so many fantastic players out there – I cannot worry about them, just play to better myself. If it works and I get more competitive versus highly skilled players – awesome, if not, I can still be better than I was last month/year! Or not, as the case may be… (the glorious plateau!!) in which case I must decide if the game remains enjoyable enough to continue putting time into it. So far (37 years and counting)I can’t let it go…

    P.S. Doesn’t average depend on the sample/peer group?

    P.P.S. I recently played on 9 foot diamonds with tight pockets. That certainly tells you if there are any kinks in your stroke! Running one table (of many, many attempts) was godlike enough for me (at present)!

    P.P.P.S. Looking forward to part 3. Great series!

    1. “Average” as a descriptor is definitely subjective. I will consider writing a future post on the idea of average.

    1. She’s a “hustler”, but I doubt (based on her current pattern of behavior) she would boycott the streaming table.

  10. OMGWTF just started reading your blog and must say I am pleasantly surprised

    As far as how you and Rhea would match up , I would most likely give you the edge being that I did catch the stream of your match with Jenny Lee

    Rhea I have never saw play but I don’t for a minute believe she can consistently run a 2 pack on a tight diamond any more than I buy she plays at only an APA 4 level. I hope I do get to see you match up in the future as it would most likely be a great match to sweat and bet a little side action on

    Keep up the great writing looking forward to reading more.

    See under the radar some where down the road

Comments are closed.