Pool Junkie – UPA Pro Tour Championships Calcutta & Banquet

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ham & cheese sandwich
I made it myself

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I need food

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Sea Urchin vs. Jellyfish & WIN A FREE SHIRT!

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UPA Pro Tour Championships

It’s Spring and chalk dust is in the air.

I crashed both the United Poolplayers Association (UPA) Pro Tour Championships Calcutta & Pro-Am and the UPA Pro Tour Championships Banquet & Player’s Meeting.

How did I get in? Easy. I found an older Asian person both times and gave them $10 to pretend I was their whiny/unruly kid. Works for movies, pool halls, and Pro Tour Championships every time.

Calcutta & Pro-Am : Flips vs. Euros

Monday night’s festivities included a player auction (calcuttas are not legal in California if the calcutta is performed at the venue of competition), pro-am, and professional exhibition featuring Francisco “Django” Bustamante [PHI], Efren “The Magician” Reyes [PHI], Thorsten “Hitman” Hohmann [GER], and Mika “Iceman” Immonen [FIN].


All-in-all, it was a tame night of pool, although Charlie “The Korean Dragon” Williams [USA] reference to Mr. Immonen as the player with the “fine buttocks” as a selling point during the Challenge-A-Pro caused a mildy uncomfortable silence and more than a few spectators to shrink away from their neighbors.

By the way, Mr. Williams, when your staff dresses to the nines for an event you’re putting on, perhaps you should do the same. Your combination of white sneakers, old jeans, and a suit coat with your tendency to MC like you were addressing a class of first-graders on a field trip to their local arboretum on a rainy day (“Look, kids! Plants! Does anyone here like plants? Yes, we all love plants, don’t we? If you like plants, say ‘HOLLA!'”) made me want to start a petition protesting Hard Times’s lack of alcoholic beverages. Luckily, the staff saw my distress and was kind enough to provide me with an old chocolate protein bar containing sufficient levels of botulism to paralyze the pain.

Another source of horror is this man to whom I shall refer to as Announcer Dude [USA].

Announcer Dude, I feel that your motives are well-intentioned, and your efforts are sincere.

However, you suck as an announcer.

You should, perhaps, practice the terminology of the sport you are commentating beforehand. You should also, perhaps, check the score before announcing it.

The Boxing-Ring-Announcer voice and antics were a). cringe- and seizure-inducing b). particularly embarassing when your voice cracked like a teenager’s c). full of awkward pauses and d). out of place at a straight pool match, which I tend to associate more with golf’s elegant 40-decibel applause and appreciative quiet commentary of a delighted audience.

Announcer Dude, maybe you picked up your skills from Mr. Williams, who also sucks as an MC, but, unlike Mr. Williams, it is possible for you to be un-Charlie-like. Work on it and I promise there will be results.

A final suggestion: leave the Regis Philbin look (tone-on-tone shiny tie and shirt) to Regis Philbin. And even Regis Philbin doesn’t do that look with baby-duck yellow.

Ever notice that Filipino players born and raised in the Philippines share a common a fashion technique regardless of the event’s level of formality?

This technique is the Perfectly Tucked-In Top.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a red Chanel t-shirt, sparkly dress shirt, polo shirt, tank top, sweater or parka–it’s always tucked in. Check it out for yourself sometime, and you’ll see what I mean.

Casual. Business casual.

Mr. Reyes, Casual Filipino.

Mr. Reyes’ shirt is an odd one. It’s a pastel yellow and green plaid with glittery silver threads running along the vertical and horizontal.

I usually see vertically interwoven metallic threads in men’s trendy clubbing dark-stripe dress shirts, but I have never seen it on a short-sleeve shirt more likely to be found on a dude-ranch cowboy.

This was a puzzling shirt.

I asked the Hard Times staff for more spoiled granola bars after pondering it.

Mr. Bustamante, Business-Casual Filipino.

Despite his nickname (meaning “gypsy”, I believe), Mr. Bustamante has come a long way, going from flip-flops to Ferragamo and cheroots to Cartier.

Mr. Sparkle?

Mr. Sparkle

Mr. Reyes , watching Mr. Hohmann’s run during the straight-pool exhibition.

Click on the photo for a larger version, where you can clearly see the sparkles in his shirt.

Best Dressed

Out of the professionals at the exhibition, the suddenly-slimmer Thorsten “Hitman” Hohmann is hereby declared to be Best Dressed.

He was perfectly tailored (no dragging pant hems or hand-eating sleeves) and nicely accessorized.

I am not, however, a fan of the goatee (there’s plenty of time to look older in your lifetime–like when you are actually old) or his shoes (cowboy-elf style), but even professionals are allowed to miss once in a while.

Just not while I’m watching. 😉

Needs a pageant sash, tiara, & bouquet of roses. Totally spiff.

Fine German engineering.

Mr. Hohmann strikes a pose worthy of GQ (the magazine, not the Arizona player who gave himself that nickname).

The light blue pinstriped French cuffs and collar provide a refreshingly modern contrast to the solid black shirt.

Gold cufflinks provide a spot of shine.

“I’m ready for my close-up now.”

Monogramming on the cuffs! It’s like breaking in the money ball on the hill enroute to skunking your opponent–just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, BAM!

The shoes, while probably expensive, were ever-so-slightly bizarre. The toes were pointed, and very, very elongated. Unless you have a plate-sized rodeo buckle, clods of manure stuck to the soles of these babies, and/or clusters of bells on the toes, leave them at home next time.

Banquet & Player’s Meeting

While the attendees were enraptured (yet again) by Announcer Dude and his more-skilled cohorts Scott “The Shot” Smith and Jay “What Toupee?” Helfert, I snuck up to the appetizer buffet and stole some goodies. Overall, the food was not bad. I don’t believe anyone noticed that I kidnapped the gallon-bowl of Shrimp Ceviche and its sibling, the pint-bowl of Cocktail Sauce.

As the painful-yet-strangely-entertaining Pro-Am kept the attention of everyone there (including security, waitresses, and cooks) with the hypnotic tragedy of a car accident, I slunk back to assess the quality of the hot appetizers. I was intrigued by a chafing dish filled with chunks of unidentifiable mystery meat simmering in what seemed like a quart or two of red mud. Using my trusty LED penlight, I found the engraved card that proudly proclaimed the elegant dish to be–BBQ Hotdogs.

I opted not to try the BBQ Hotdogs, and instead, stealthily spirited away an entire platter of Imitation California Rolls.


Tournament room.
Yep, there’s only (4) four tables.

Stevie Moore [USA], counting calories with fellow professionals.
Tang “Texas Hold ‘Em” Hoa [USA] showing off his “Alpine Gangsta” outfit. Go ahead, yodel. You know you want to. Charles “Hillbilly” Bryant [USA] and his iconic flames shirt. It makes me think of beer and NASCAR. I’d like to see him sponsored by Wonderbread a la Ricky Bobby. Then, I’ll think of sandwiches when I see him. Mmm mmm good.

Interesting Fellow [USA].

His shirt is perplexing. It seems actually to be more of a sweater with a strangely knit patter.

The stripes are like little railroad tracks and then right plunk in the middle of the chest is a random squiggle of lines.

Of course, I’m sure Interesting Fellow chose this shirt to accentuate the half-ton of jewelry he had on, but I don’t think that gold cross needed any more accentuating in the same way that Pam Anderson doesn’t need a third breast–the goods are in your face already, adding more is just plain creepy.

A closer look.

The lighting was quite poor, but you can still revel in the glory of Interesting Fellow’s Interesting Garb.

Best Dressed

I hereby declare Mr. Ernesto Dominguez and his son, Oscar, as Best Dressed.

In addition to a double display of spiffiness, both these gentlemen are known as exemplary players and fine sportsmen.

Oh, and for those who don’t know (and you’d have to be pretty out of it in the pool world), Mr. Dominguez the Elder is, quite possibly, the finest table mechanic in America.

(L to R) Ernesto Dominguez, Oscar Dominguez, Dave Hemmah (honorary Dominguez)

Mr. Dominguez the Elder’s dress shirt, slacks and coat are all the same neutral color. This is a very difficult look to pull off without looking redundant and washed-out, but he does it with great aplomb by accenting his ensemble with a bold patterned tie that harmonizes with the existing palette while breaking up any possible monotony.

Mr. Dominguez the Younger has learned well from his father and echoes the same technique in charcoal grey. I must resist the urge to woof at him to play for his tie.

Honorary Dominguez Dave “Big Wave Dave” Hemmah [USA] looks casually cool in his beige shirt and faded jeans before heading to the nearest country-western karaoke bar.

In Parting

What? You thought that was it?
Stay tuned.
There shall be more fun to come, if the players are willing to provide it…

In the meantime, please enjoy these Fun Links during the commercial break…

I sh*t you not. They’re made in China. Sweet.

Funky-looking jellyfish!

North Dakota is bored.

Here is a funny animated short (3 minutes and 30 seconds) about love between a rabbit and a cat. It’s been around awhile, but it’s always good to see it again.