super size me



t h a n k s

my future tournament wins thank you 🙂



this is how I roll
like an avalanche, yo

Two weeks ago, I entered in three small $20 tournaments. I split one tournament, got second in another, and won the third. I rolled over the winnings from these three small tournaments into the travel costs, entry fee, and calcutta payment for one medium-sized tournament the next weekend.



medium with fries
calcuttas, chicks, & dicks

Last Friday after work saw me doing a familiar routine — taking the bus to the Greyhound station with my little red backpack and little blue cue case in tow. It was time to go to another out-of-state tournament. This time, the tournament was in Las Vegas, which was practically next door. I got a seat on the 6:30 bus and, as expected, the bus was packed with people going to Sin City to try their luck for the weekend. My luck already ran out as an elderly gentleman sat down next to me and promptly fell asleep. He had a bad habit of leaning on me and I had to move him upright every couple of minutes. This would continue for the whole six hours of the trip.

While I was otherwise engaged in making sure Mr. Lean was not using me as an angry Asian pillow, I got a phone call from Sunny, a fellow tournament player and resident of Las Vegas. She was at the tournament venue, the Rum Runner, where they were currently having a Calcutta for our tournament.


STOP! Calcutta Time!

Just in case some of you are not familiar with Calcutta auctions, allow me (and Wikipedia) to enlighten you:

A Calcutta auction is an open auction held in conjunction with a golf tournament, horse race or similar contest with multiple entrants. Bidding for each contestant begins in random order, with only one contestant being bid upon at any time. Accordingly, participants (originally in Calcutta, India, from where this technique was first recorded by the Colonial British) bid among themselves to “buy” each of the contestants, with each contestant being assigned to the highest bidder.

Basically, people bid to buy which horses (players) they think will win the race (tournament).

It is generally accepted that the player is always given the option to buy half of himself or herself from whomever bought them in the Calcutta. Thus, the player has a half-ownership stake and any monies won in the Calcutta pot from his or her performance will be split between the player and the buyer. Sometimes, no one bids on a player except the player him/herself and if the player buys him/herself, he/she then has total ownership. Sometimes, the bid goes so high that the player cannot afford to buy his or her half (very common amongst bids on top seeds in a major tournaments) and if they do not purchase their half, the original buyer retains full ownership.

Calcuttas are not allowed in some states, my home state being one of them. They are very, very popular in other parts of the nation and it is NOT uncommon for the amount of money in the Calcutta pot to exceed the amount of money in the actual tournament prize fund. How much is paid out to how many top finishers in the Calcutta is determined by the organizer. In some cases, there can be more than one Calcutta for the same tournament. Due to all these variations, it is possible to win perhaps just $500 for first place in a tournament and then win $5,000 from the Calcutta(s).


Back to the Friday night Calcutta

Sunny had called me to tell me that, due to my ass being firmly planted in a Greyhound seat, I would not be allowed to buy my half of my bid. The reasoning of the Calcutta organizers (and I found out later that this is a “house rule” over there) was that, if you are not there IN PERSON to buy your half — you don’t get to buy your half and full ownership reverts to the person who bid on you.

Naturally, I declared shenanigans.

If non-locals are not allowed the chance to buy half of themselves in the Calcutta, why allow non-locals to play in the tournament at all?

Forgive me, but I am a full-time working hack and I could not get Friday off in order to be there for the Calcutta as I was busy attempting to make a living. HOWEVER, when I say I’m coming to a tournament, and I’m rolling in the unparalleled style provided by janky-ass Greyhound of all ways, YOU KNOW I AM COMING TO PLAY. Neither, Hell, highwater, nor death will stop me from showing up, I guarantee you.

I go through a lot to make it to tournaments and I’ll be damned if I’m not allowed to buy a stake in my own performance.

After a few discussions, Sunny called me back to tell me that the Calcutta organizers would make an exception for this tournament and allow absentee players to buy half of themselves.


I got into Vegas at about 1:00 in the morning and thanks to Sunny, I didn’t have to taxi it to my hotel or skip dinner. 🙂




The game was bar table nine-ball, rack-your-own, alternate-break, and making the nine on the break in the two bottom pockets wouldn’t count as a win. The tournament format was double-elimination and players were handicapped based on skill level. “A” players must win 6 games, “B” players must win 5, and “C” players must win 4. I was rated a 6 and would be going to 6 games, which was rather nice, if only because I would not be considered anywhere near being an “A” player where I’m from.

My first match was at 3:45 p.m. The venue only had four tables so the tournament directors were doing their best to schedule matches. Since I was at the bottom of the brackets, I played late in the day.

I won.

I won.

I was done for the day.




I’m not a weekend morning person and this, unfortunately, often transfers to my game.
I lost in grand style, winning only one game.

I won.

I won.

In the second game of this match, I scratched on the eight-ball. I went back to my seat. My opponent got up, collected the nine-ball, and began to rack. I said, “Ballsy!” I had given NO INDICATION that I had conceded the nine-ball. It’s well-known that I generally make everyone shoot everything. In some of the major tournaments I have played in, concession of the nine-ball is not allowed and to do so would cost you that game and another, thereby giving your opponent two games won instead of one. Now, my opponent had ball-in-hand on this nine-ball. That’s pretty much as good as a win, yes, but I still expected her to shoot it.

Remember what I said about assuming things? It makes an ASS out of U and ME.

Well, I was rather perturbed by my opponent’s assumption. However, I did the right thing, which was to go to the restroom to wash my hands and when I exited, I was cooler than a frozen cucumber.

I first went to the tournament director manning the desk. The other two tournament directors were currently in matches. One of those two currently in a match was MY opponent. I asked the lone director not involved in a match what the protocol was for my opponent assuming concession of the nine-ball and collecting it to rack when I had not given any indication that I had conceded it. The tournament director didn’t know what the ruling would be, but she said she would find out.

A few minutes later, she called me over to where the bar was. She said, “This is Jim, my business partner.” Business partner? I didn’t understand what he had to do with anything I was involved in. Jim, however, seemed to know exactly how he was involved.

“Young lady! Come over here!” This already boded ill. I was being talked to like a wayward thirteen-year-old. I took a deep breath and walked over.

Jim loomed over me, large man that he was, and fixing me with a distinctly disapproving gaze, asked me what happened. I said, I scratched on the eight and then went to sit down. My opponent stepped up, collected the nine-ball, and began to rack. I emphasized that I had not given any indication that I had conceded the nine-ball.

Jim, whose voice would increase in volume over the course of this scolding, fixated immediately upon the fact that I hadn’t said anything, “So you didn’t say anything when she went to get the nine-ball?”


“Now, could you have said something to her to stop her from picking up the nine-ball?”

“I guess, but I thought she was looking to see where she wanted to shoot it. It’s not my responsibility to tell her.”

“See, you assumed she would have shot it.”

“Of course. I didn’t say she didn’t have to shoot it. If I had conceded the nine, I would have poked it with my stick.”

“Well, you’re both wrong.”

“Wait a minute, we’re both wrong?”

“Yes. She’s wrong because she assumed you were giving her the nine, and you’re wrong because you assumed she’d shoot it.”

Now, I already knew that when I was going to bring up this rather controversial point that it was very possible that the ruling would go against me. I just wanted to know for my own edification and also because I knew that if I didn’t bring it up, I would be irritated at myself for being silent later. It’s always good to ask, even if the answer is not what you expected, or wanted, just so you know for future reference.

Jim’s voice had gotten louder and he was getting more and more in my face. If this was the person they chose to make the ruling, it was rather obvious that he wasn’t an impartial person. He was getting downright aggressive towards me. I can say, with absolute certainty, that I behaved in a polite manner. I did not raise my voice and I did not say anything rude. I merely asked for clarification.

I said, “If we are both wrong, why then am I the one being punished?” I felt this was a valid point. “Shouldn’t we both be equally punished?”

This logical stance apparently infuriated Jim because he said rather nastily, “Well, if you don’t like it, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE SCRATCHED ON THE EIGHT.”

I smiled.

This rudeness was not surprising. A bystander whispered to me apologetically that it was tough playing a home crowd. Home crowd or not, I didn’t give a f—. Fairness is fairness.

After this public scolding by Jim, I returned to my match. I was not angry about the ruling as it was more or less what I expected. I think I was hoping my own expectations would be proved wrong. I began to play, but I was very distracted. My opponent began to shoot well and I began to make extremely, extremely stupid unforced errors, going so far as to entirely miss a hanging eight-ball. I was soon down by a good-sized margin of three or four games.

I had to stop this hemorrhage and I had to stop it immediately. After I whiffed the eight ball, thereby giving my opponent ball-in-hand and another game, I went up to two random people in the crowd and said, “I know I’m already crazy, but I’d like to know that I’m not getting crazier: in any other tournament, someone picking up the nine-ball like that with no indication of me conceding it — that’s a loss of game, right?”

They agreed and apologized for the unfairness of the ruling. I thanked them. There was nothing to apologize for — sometimes, this is how the game goes. I did not believe Jim was the right choice for making such a ruling. However, the tournament director chose him to make the ruling and her choice, as a tournament director, stood. Hell, even referees make bad calls and their calls still stand. This was not the first time I was ruled against and it would not be the last. This was not the first time I was ruled against because someone personally disliked me or had a stake in seeing me lose — and it would not be the last.

Knowing this, I returned to the match clear-headed. My play improved instantly and I did not miss a ball for the next three or four racks.

I won.


When asked later how I managed to instantly turn my game around, I said simply, “I don’t like being yelled at.”

“So, basically, don’t piss you off?”

“That’s pretty much it. When I get angry, I play better.”



I won.

I won.

This was the first set of the true double-elimination finals.
I won.

This was the second set of the finals.
I lost this match hill-hill with a scratch on the eight.
I poked the nine-ball to indicate I conceded it.

Right as the cue ball had dropped in the pocket after I made the eight, a lady sitting at the bar began laughing and clapping enthusiastically. Everyone in the tournament turned to look. I looked around and said, “Now, WHO is THAT?!” No one seemed to know. She was just a barfly, apparently, and not a pool player. Barfly or not, this s— don’t fly with me.

I walked up to this woman and said pleasantly, “Hi. I’d like to know: why were you clapping when I scratched?”

Through her rather unfocused gaze and Rudolphian nose, she said, “Uh, because everyone else was clapping, too! Yeah! Everyone else was cheering when you scratched, too!” The man sitting behind this woman snorted in disbelief.

“Actually,” I said, “no one cheered. Everyone was dead silent. Except for you. That’s why I’m here now, asking you this question.”

“Well,” she said defensively, “you’re not a… a… a good sportsmanship.”

I’m not “a good sportsmanship”?

“Really. And, you ARE?” I looked at her steadily. “Tell me, why do you applaud other peoples’ misfortune?”

She sniffled blearily and looked me up and down. Intrigued, I did the same to her. I saw a woman who could have been Paula Deen’s heavier older sister with a Prince Valiant pageboy haircut. However, she was without the benefit of Paula Deen’s multimillion-dollar butter and chicken-frying empire. Here she was, cigarettes in hand, wearing a dingy polyester shirt, and getting s—faced alone at a bar late on a Sunday night.

I understood. I patted her on the shoulder and said, “You know what? We’re cool. Have a nice life.”


So ended another tournament and a couple of hours later, I was back on the Greyhound heading home. The bus arrived late into my city, it was raining, and I headed straight to work with all my gear. Two of the buses I rode to work broke down. I spent the next eight hours smelling of mildew and cigarettes. After work, I went to practice some more, since I very much needed it.

All in all, it was not a bad tournament. I played extremely well at times and extremely poorly at others. I learned much, as always, about the game and myself. In the end, I didn’t care about finishing second because I won enough money from the tournament and the calcutta to pay for entry into three major upcoming tournaments.

I’ll take a large, with fries…


Maybe one day, I’ll play well enough to roll my winnings over into a super size tournament.