t h a n k s
Previously, on “Chinks” In Your Armor, an altercation occured during the team match and certain racials slurs were said by the opposing team and those words inspired my teammates to play some of the best pool I’ve ever seen them play, leading to victory and the next round.
It’s Monday, so get your coffee and Twinkies and let’s power on…
26 | Thursday
After some discussion, my team came to the conclusion that, as a SL7 in eight-ball, I was the best person to keep score. Also, I was rather useless otherwise, having been unable to play due to being raised at the last minute before the event started.
I had been looking forward to playing more mini-tournaments (having finally won a couple after many losses) seeing as how I was useless in team play, but, the team comes first. So, I waved a wistful farewell to mini-tournaments and the promise of breaking even and concentrated on doing my job as scorekeeper/waterboy/coughdrop dealer.
Our opponents the next match all wore football jerseys.
We started off with two BAD losses. Neither of our players won a game: they were outscored 9-0. Ouch.
We won the next two matches and now, it was hill-hill. Ah, the thrill of the hill. The hill match for all the jellybeans would be two ladies, our SL3 vs their SL3, and the race would be to 2. Nerve-wracking!
A little background:
My team captain, after yesterday’s hilariously spectacular match, had been raised from a SL3 to an SL4. The other two players who had also played exceptionally well had “W” next to their name, indicating that an Observer needed to watch their match. An observer was present at those two matches and the observer also stayed for the last hill-hill match.
In the first game, the opposing player nearly ran out — she only missed on the eight-ball. She was a very good shotmaker. I would say that, on a bar table, her shotmaking was probably equal to mine. I could probably outmove her, but I might not outshoot her. She was most likely their trump card/secret weapon and the played a good strategy by saving her for the hill match. By contrast, our SL3 was our weakest player, with the least amount of tournament experience. Still, our player had been practicing and anyone could win a race to 2.
Our player made a rather low-percentage shot and didn’t get the best position. She was left with a long shot with some angle. After that shot, she would have the eight, probably down the same rail. She reached over the table to find the contact point on the object ball.
“FOUL!” This was the opposing team’s player. Our player didn’t understand where the foul was and, frankly, neither did the rest of us. Our player hadn’t touched the object ball with her cue — she had only reached over with the tip of the cue to line up a contact point. “You touched the cue ball. Your shirt touched the cue ball! That’s a foul!”
Dear readers, by this time, I was so numb to the experience that is APAssery that I merely looked on with no expression. As expected, questions, words, accusations flew back and forth. The opposing team’s player was CERTAIN that our player’s shirt had touched the cue ball, EVEN THOUGH SHE COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE SEEN IT FROM WHERE SHE WAS SITTING, which was directly behind our player. A referee was summoned to make the ruling. I reminded my players that this issue was between the referee and the two players. Although we were teammates, we were not directly involved in the match, and were not to be involved in the ruling.
The opposing player immediately went up to the referee and said, “Her shirt touched the cue ball, that’s a foul.” The referee initially said it wasn’t a foul, but the opposing player continued to say it was, so he rescinded his ruling and said he would check. As he went to ask his supervisor about the issue, we questioned the other team as to how their player could have seen the foul since, unless she had x-ray vision, she could not see through the body of our player. The other team, who had been very pleasant until this point in the match, had a variety of answers but it all boiled down to one fact for both teams: none of us really knew if it had happened or not.
The referee returned and said, “I’m sorry but if a shirt does touch the cue ball, it’s a foul. Did your shirt touch the cue ball?”
“I SAW it, it DID.”
This was the moment of truth. You see, the opposing team’s player was a large woman with a large, forceful personality to match. She was FIRM in her conviction that our player had fouled. Now, if a ruling can’t be made, it goes to the shooter. The referee did not see the situation so he had nothing to go off of except the testimony of the two players. However, it had been established that a shirt touching a cue ball was a foul — which meant whether or not it had happened, it would be in the interest of the opposing player to say it had.
Our player, being new and inexperienced, did not know how to handle the situation. “I don’t think I did. I mean, she said I did, but I don’t think I touched the cue ball–“
“Oh, you DID. I saw it.”
In my heart, all I could do was pray that our player would stand her ground, that she would notice and point out that from where the opposing player was sitting, she could not have seen if her shirt touched the ball or not.
“I don’t know–“ I could see her resolve begin to crack under the onslaught of the opposing player’s accusations.
“Did your shirt touch the cue ball?”
“I don’t know, I guess it might have–“
“She just said it did, she admitted to it!” The referee awarded ball in hand to the opposing player and she made the eight-ball in the side. She was now on the hill and we were one more game closer to being eliminated.
I could see our player was on the verge of tears. She had been so close to winning that last game — and lost it on a questionable technicality. She had given her opponent ball-in-hand on the eight-ball. That was incredibly demoralizing, I knew. I did something I rarely did which was to go up while she was racking and give her a peptalk. I’m not very good at peptalks so the gist of what I said was this: don’t let the opposing player bully you, the match isn’t over, the best revenge is to kick her ass.
The second game started and the opposing player was playing even better. I could see she was toying with our player. She played a series of excellent two way shots which moved her ball closer to pockets and safed our player. However, as is often the case with lower-rated players, each time she let our player back to the table, our player would attempt a shot (she had not yet grasped the concept of safety play), and whether she made a ball or not, the layout would be changed. The result was, clusters began to form and instead of a nice open table that could easily be run, it became a mild clusterf— resembling the 405 at rush hour.
Finally, with two balls left to go, the opposing player nailed down a very, very nice safety: she broke up the cluster of her last two remaining stripes while hiding the cue ball from our player’s last object ball, the one-ball. It was a solid-ass safety, Alcatraz would be proud. The one-ball sat on the rail at the first diamond by the lower left corner pocket. The cue ball was in the middle of the table. The last two stripes for the opposing player lay between the cue ball and the one-ball. Our player, even if she hit the one-ball, would sell out. The eight-ball sat near the upper left corner pocket and would be easy to make. Our player began to measure a kick and we could already see that she didn’t have the right angle. She would hit the kick wide and miss the whole ball. Arrgh.
As I watched her line it up, I said, “She’s going to make it.” My team disagreed, but I knew she had a good chance, even though the chances were slimmer than Stevie Moore on a vegan diet.
She measured the angle one more time, tentatively, and all but tiptoed into position. Then, she fired the cue ball. The cue ball hit the rail at a hundred miles an hour, cut in the one-ball, spun to the side rail, died off the dead rail, and left her straight-in on the eight-ball.
The shot brought the house down.
How did she make it? Because 1). the only speed she knew to hit the cue ball was HARD, 2). even though she thought she knew follow and draw, her fundamentals were a little funky and she pretty much always hit center ball, and 3). dead rails. She had hit, for her, a one-in-a-thousand shot because all the elements came together perfectly.
Hold on a second while I stop blogging to laugh hysterically again, the same way I did when I saw that shot made. It’s got to be one of the greatest shots I’ve ever seen. At least on par with Efren Reyes’ z-kick against Earl Strickland at the Sands Regency. Had she hit that shot with less speed or more speed, or with a hair more top, bottom, or side English — she would not have made it and gotten perfect position.
Made wary by this amazing shot, the opposing player reverted to safeties in the last game. The game came down to the final two balls and our player’s inexperience with safeties, clusters, and pressure cost her the game and the match win. We were now out. She broke down in tears and all she could think about was the first game where she gave up ball-in-hand. All we could tell her was, every loss is a learning experience. Now that you know, you have to stand your ground on rulings — we can’t do that for you. I told her the girl she played was a very, very good player. I told her I had always heard of sandbagging but never understood it until now. I would have trouble playing the girl she played and that she shot well enough to scare her had already surprised more than a few people.
The other team and some male spectators tried to tell her, “Oh it’s not that bad! Don’t cry over it!”
Just SHUT THE F*CK UP.
If it wasn’t “so bad” she wouldn’t cry over it, you know?!
After a long, long session of tears and depression, we did what any team of Asians and Mexicans would do — we went to go eat.
We went to the M Resort in Henderson for their very reasonably priced buffet, which included beer and wine. Here is a photographic journey of what I ate (the stars measure tastiness — more stars mean more yum). Unfortunately, we got there late so we only had an hour to indulge ourselves. Also, seafood was only available on Fridays and weekends. Double bummer.
I ended up eating my food, and the food of my teammates after the buffet staff began to close up the stations.
Coconut gelato… Almost all is right with the world.
10:00 PM Aug 26th
Afterwards, we debated what to do. We were now free on parole and had no tournament to play. We elected to go back to the Riviera and figure things out while we digested.
|While we walked slowly and luxuriously through the casino back to the parking lot, I got a text message from another pool player inviting me and some friends to the opening night party of Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club.Hmm.Interesting.
A strip club? The girls on my team wanted to go out to a club, but I wasn’t sure if they had a strip club in mind.
“There will be free alcohol.”
After an incredibly long time of “getting ready” we set out…
…and stayed out late into the wee small hours.
27 | Friday
A pleasant time was had by all and although I have incriminating photographs and videos…
Friend threw up on my hair & I carried her back to her room.
Think I’ve earned enough credit for the hands I did not shake this tournament.
3:52 AM Aug 27th
Four drunk peeps sleeping in one queen bed.
I’ve got the rollaway bed to myself.
Rollaway bed = best roll of the tournament so far.
5:01 AM Aug 27th
…I’ve been well-paid with food to keep them off the internet. 😉
I slept in. It was the day before the last day of the event and I knew I could (and should) play more mini-tournaments now that my team had been eliminated, but I didn’t feel like it.
I ran into one of the players from our last team match in the hallway and he wanted to play. I asked, “For how much?”
“Aww no, not for money! I heard about you, we’re not going to play for money!”
“You guys knocked us out so I have to break even somehow. Besides, all I’ve done this year is lose.”
“Naw, that ain’t what I heard! You some sort of professional and s—!”
“Yes, a professional amateur.”
After defeating us, that team, with the very, very good SL3, had lost the next match.
Here is the arena for the Ultimate Trick Shot Championships. I watched a few shots and then continued moving along.
Dinner was gourmet and magnificent…
Circus Circus looks as tired of Vegas as I am…
The friends I drove up with didn’t plan to leave Las Vegas until Sunday so I had a whole extra day to bum around.
28 | Saturday
My friends were nice enough to get me a room at the MGM where they were staying and now, I could bum around in style.
Here’s the wall art in the room. Looks like Swiss cheese. I wonder if this art is in every room on this floor.
I went down to the pool and got my yearly dose of radiation. It was very nice. I hadn’t had a chance to relax all year and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting around, drinking, and reading French literature. I went back, took a nap, flicked on the television and — tada! — The Matrix was on. I fell asleep watching it and woke up for a late dinner of the best corned beef sandwich on rye I’d ever had.
I’d lost my earphones sometime during the event so I decided I’d walk to the closest Apple store, at the Forum Shops a mile away, to get new ones. I passed by Aria Resort and the Louis Vuitton store’s light-show facade which showcased animated, dancing motifs from their designs. On the right is the facade of the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, slated to open on December 15, 2010.
I got my earphones and wandered the fake-sky halls of the Forum Shops. Then, I caught the last fountain show at the Bellagio which featured the “Star Spangled Banner”. 🙂
By now it was…
29 | Sunday
I stopped by the Aria to get some gifts for my coworkers. Unfortunately, World Pastry Champion Jean-Philippe Maury’s shop, the Jean-Philippe Patisserie was closed so I could only ogle these three-foot tall chocolate daisies in the window. Upon returning to the hotel, I sat down at a bar to make use of the complimentary drink coupon I had been given. I started with a White Russian. Tasty!
The bartender was quite nice and made a lot of nice drinks, until his bar closed. Then, he went and got me more drinks from a 24-hour bar. He was interesting to talk to, but at one point, this exchange took place:
“Now, I know you’ll give me an honest answer. So, I want to ask you a question.”
“Do you find me attractive?”
As you might imagine, drinks ended soon after that.
I went back to my super-nice room to enjoy the last bits of a fluffy comforter, a nice buzz, a bag of potato chips, and, most importantly — CABLE TV!!
And, that was my trip to Vegas.
Out of the many, many people I met and interacted with, only a rare few decided to exercise their douchebaggery.
I met far, FAR more nice people, some of which I have listed below. If I have forgotten you, I apologize, and you may email me to be added to the list. 🙂
rthomas | cycopath | vagabond | pool minnow | mike feiman of Pool Dawg | Toasti & Hunter “What Are You Sinking About?” Lombardo | Caroline “CaPao!” Pao & Sarah “I’m A Damn Fine Athelete” Rousey of Mezz Cues | Jason “Golf Clap” Klatt of Rouseyville | Robert of Billiard Life | Justin “Will Kick Midgets For Alcohol” Collett of The Action Report (TAR) | Mark Griffin, Holly Ryan, & Bill Stock of the BCAPL | Royce Bunnell of OB Cues | Gilbert Castillo of Castillo Leather Goods
- 2010 American Poolplayers Association (APA) National Team Championships : Part 1
- 2010 American Poolplayers Association (APA) National Team Championships : Part 2
- 2010 American Poolplayers Association (APA) National Team Championships : Part 3
- 2009 American Poolplayers Association (APA) National Team Championships
- 2008 American Poolplayers Association (APA) National Team Championships
- 2007 American Poolplayers Association (APA) National Team Championships
wait, there’s more
A long, long time ago, in a city far, far away (from some of you), my childhood friend and I were in front of her TV. I was lying around on the couch, bored. She was lying on the floor in front of the TV, bored. I forget what it is we were watching because we were bored. I got a text message inviting me out to a party.
And with those words, we started an insane schedule of going out EVERY night to a variety of clubs, bars, parties and the like, often staying out until just before sunrise. We slept between zero and four hours a night, and somehow, we managed to make it to work every day, too. I even made it to a couple of tournaments and did all right.
This lasted something like six or seven months.
One evening, we were back in front of her TV, dressed up to go out. We never bothered to schedule or RSVP to anything — we were guaranteed a call to go out every night. I got a text message telling us about a party that night.
“Cool. I think I’m tired.”
“But we should do something. We did dress up.”
We ended up at a grungy dive bar whose only claim to fame was that Brad Pitt visited, once, while wearing a plaid fedora. The faded picture behind the counter was the center of this cracked red-vinyl universe. We sat in a booth near the front, bored.
A bunch of noisy people walked in, dressed in uniforms decorated with dirt and bits of grass. It was an intramural softball team. They went to the back of the bar where the largest booths were, and spared us their loud hooliganism. I was bored.
I thought I’d hit some balls around. I put quarters into the bar table and idly batted the balls around. Soon, one of the loudest hooligans from the softball group came over to challenge me. I beat him. Then I beat him again. And again. And then I gave him a spot. And beat him some more. I have him a bigger spot. I beat him again. It wasn’t long before the entire team came over to watch, mostly because they enjoyed watching that one guy get beat. One of the hooligans, a nice one, sat down next to my bored friend.
There were some pleasant people in that group and at the end of the evening, we all went down the street to have chili burgers.
It’s been a couple of years since that day we decided being bored was a good thing. While I was in Vegas, my bored friend got engaged to the softball hooligan (the nice one). He surprised her with a ring as they stood atop a castle in Poland. 🙂
Putting quarters in that bar table is, without a doubt, the single greatest accomplishment of my pool career.
This news was enough to offset all the jackassery and asshattery of my time playing pool in Vegas.
Congrats, you two, and y’all live happily, ever after, now, y’hear?