sundae tournament


I played in a tournament this past weekend.


A month and a half before this tournament, I discovered a bad habit in my stroke. I decided to correct it. My game went down, as expected, because that’s what happens when you make a change. I knew the change was for the better, so I was determined to stick to this new change, no matter how much my game sank. In the long run, I knew it would pay off, even if it was going to suck donkey balls in the short run.

Three weeks before this tournament, my tip began breaking down. I needed a new one. My usual cue repair guy was out of every tip I preferred. He put on a tip. I tried it, didn’t like it. He put on another one. Ditto results for the first. And the third. And the fourth. A week later, there still wasn’t a tip I liked. I didn’t want to have to play with a tip I didn’t intend to use in the tournament while I waited to mail-order one I did want (no locals had anything I wanted). Finally, I was able to get a tip that was close to the one I wanted, but not exact.

Two weeks before this tournament, I was playing some of the crappiest pool in recent memory. That’s what changing my stroke and unfamiliar equipment does to my game. Some people were all, “Oh, I play at the same level with any kind of equipment. I don’t understand how you could be so dedicated to one tip.” Yeah? That’s YOU. I like what I like, I play best with the equipment I am most familiar with, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Can I play with a house cue? Yes. Would I rather play with my own cue? F#CK YES. For me, playing with a different tip is like the difference between riding a bicycle and a unicycle. Concept is the same, but execution and technique are now slightly different. I might be able to ride a unicycle, but I certainly won’t be riding as well as if it were a bicycle.

A week before the tournament, I practiced nine hours in one day and spent the rest of the day watching and analyzing the technique of better players. I was still uncomfortable with everything, but I only had two options: wuss out of the tournament and get my entry fee back or play the tournament with the understanding that I might play the worst pool of my life in front of the most annoying railbirds in the country. Well, sh#t. If I gotta play bad, then I might as well go all the way and play bad in a big tournament in front of an audience. Why not. If you’re gonna have an ice cream sundae, might as well get the deluxe version with the ton of nuts and a f#cking radioactive fake-ass cherry on top.


I’m a believer in what I call the Crucible Method of improvement. The best way to break a bad habit is to use the new technique under the greatest pressure possible. If I don’t go insane from frustration, I should come out of this tournament playing better. “Stay in the fire until you’re fireproof,” I used to say. A friend of mine put it another way: “No pressure, no diamonds.”


The tournament was exactly the nightmare I thought it would be. I missed ball-in-hands, easy shots by a mile, and tough shots by a light year. Banks, which used to be a fairly reliable shot in my arsenal, failed me nine times out of ten. I hung balls so often you’d think I was decorating a Christmas tree. But, I knew this was what I signed up for, so I bore down and flailed forward.

I stuck to fixing my bad habits and forced myself to get under control. Every goddam shot was a struggle, both physically and mentally. F#ck. It all tired me so much, but I had a goal — if I wasn’t going to win this tournament, then I would take as many people down with me as possible. Yes, that is the F#CK YOU Method of Handling Tournament Pressure which I use on occasion. I might not be able to win it, but so help me pool gods, neither will you.


In the end, I finished better than I did last year, and that’s all that matters.


I mentioned ice cream sundaes earlier, didn’t I? Let me tell you about the f#cking radioactive fake-ass cherry that topped my tournament sundae.

Right after I was knocked out — I had just shaken my opponent’s hand (he’s a nice guy) — I put in my earphones and threw the balls out back on the table. I wanted to hit balls with no pressure. I wanted to actually relax for a moment with the game I loved, and maybe see if the changes to my mechanics would now feel more natural seeing as how I managed to survive this tournament with sanity more or less intact. I had JUST lined up on the one-ball — I hadn’t even gotten down to shoot it — when some curly headed mofo with a giant ugly saxophone-style cue case strutted up and said loudly, “YOU KNOW WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE ON THAT NINE-BALL…”

I stood up and immediately shot right back, NO! I don’t want to hear it! You weren’t the one shooting that ball in that match under that pressure — I DON’T F#CKING WANT TO HEAR IT!! This assclown had NO IDEA what I had gone through in preparation for this tournament and everything I had to go through in this tournament itself.

The aforementioned mofo then had the f#cking nerve to say, “Really?! Really? You’re going to say that — to me?”

“YES! I am! Now F#CK OFF!”

The aforementioned mofo then spent a good half-hour complaining to everyone who would listen that he couldn’t believe I didn’t want his advice and it was my loss. Yeah. He painted himself as the victim. F#cking assclown. He’s a victim all right, a victim of his own f#cking mediocrity, which I could have pity for if I was a more decent human being — but thank heavens I’m not.

Life would be too boring otherwise.



t h a n k s

EMCA | FWCCA | Eric Crisp of Sugartree Cues | Murray Tucker of Tucker Cue Works | Tad Kohara | Hard Times Billiards Bellflower | Sam, Marie, Mike, Fach, Ramin & everyone else who ran the tournament | everyone who bought fuzzy keychains from my Etsy store (that’s what paid for practice!)


Just send it!

17 Replies to “sundae tournament”

  1. “Stay in the fire until you’re fireproof,”

    Yet another gem from you. Sorry to hear you had a shitty tourney. You get things back into shape or better yet?

    1. Yes, my mechanics did improve. I shot some the next day and the corrected stroke was much more natural. Life is good. 🙂

  2. isn’t That how it always is. I got a new cue around the holidays prior to birt the birth of my daughters. I was shooting a lot and struggling trying to adjust. Jumped into a couple decent tournaments and shot miserably. I finally adjuste and started playing better then ever about a week after there birth. Haven’t been in a tourney since lol.

    Thats about to change though. Finally dropped league so that night out for pool will actually be a productive pool night rather then me just sitting around for 4 hours with chances of me shooting being slim thanks to the skill level given to me by a combination of a computer and a guy that has never seen me shoot. Holy run on sentence Batman!

  3. I’m just curious.
    What is your tip of choice? I’m just wondering if it is something unusual, because none of the repair guys had them.

    1. It’s nothing special; it’s not a silver bullet. It just so happened they were out.

      There will be a short post about it later.

  4. I love your stubbornness to stick to something you know will be better for you in the long run. I see a lot of people settle for what they have currently because they’re too afraid to look like a fool while they’re working on changing something. I like using the analogy of cleaning your house. You have a ton of crap that you don’t want, hidden in places people can’t see. In order for you to have the clean house you know you can have, you’re going to have to take out all that shit. While you do that, your house will look like crap. But if you keep at it.. you’ll eventually get your perfectly clean house. 🙂

    1. Dammit… now I have to go clean my house. Really. I practiced so hard for this tournament I have piles of laundry waiting. Arrgh.

      Good analogy — even if it makes me feel really lazy. 😀

  5. I was hoping your reply to the a$$hat was, “Do you see this face?? Do you see all the f#cks I give?”. Man, I need to witness one of these things in person. I want to slide across the floor on my knees like a Brazilian soccer player that just scored a point and yell, “GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL…” after you stick it to him.

    1. My last match was a high-profile match, which made this incident all the more WTFish. However, after it happened, one of the tournament directors was all, “Oh, THAT guy is from [particular pool room] and he just thinks he’s the best there is.” That particular pool room the guy was from is actually kind of well-known for having lots of people like him. But yes, plenty of people witnessed it and if you hang around me long enough, you’ll get to live the blog in person, hahaha!


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