255 // cinque six sept huit neuf dix

 

 

 

Somewhere back there I lost a day. That’s not hard to do when you’re in Vegas and drinking… Or when you’re not in Vegas, but still drinking. Luckily, this is a blog and I wield absolute power over blog space-time.

 

 

 

Tada!

Back in line.

Moving on…

 

I wanted to oversleep because I knew I deserved to, but my internal tournament alarm clock woke me up even before my alarm went off. Hilarious, sad, and annoying all at once.

The team we were playing in this first round of eight-ball… was the same team we had eliminated from the nine-ball tournament the evening before. Hell of a coincidence. We were shaky this morning, having played so much nine-ball the day before we forgot how to play eight-ball. The match went hill-hill. I got to play this last game. I broke, scratched, and my opponent very deliberately and carefully ran out all her balls before hooking herself on the eight. She kicked and hit the eight (“Lovely kick, lovely. Absolutely perfect. Beautiful. Just beautiful.”) but did not make it. I ran out and we won.

We won the next match.

The match after that, we lost on the hill. I had a chance to win, got awkward position and did not get out. My opponent (who also has a blog) played extremely well, and did get out.

 

kind of neat to see it on paper

 

We were retired for the day and would play again the next evening.

 

 

 

We had just one match today/tonight. You’d think we’d like that, but when we’re in competition, having that much free time around a match actually kind of sucks.

 

 

You can’t eat or drink everything you want until after the match, for fear your performance might be affected. All you think about is when you’re going to play (not who you’re going to play — that doesn’t matter).

 

still thinking about the match

 

When the match finally rolled around (late evening for us), my team had spent all day in irritable anticipation. Oftentimes, the toughest match is the first one of the day and so it was with this one.

The match went hill-hill (of course it did).

I didn’t dog it (hooray) and we won.

 

As it was very late, my teammate and I were going to eat a quick dinner at one of the restaurants and then go to sleep. While we were waiting to order, Francisco Bustamante, who is good friends with my teammate, passed by and asked what we were doing. We said we were going to eat, and then sleep. He waved our plan off and insisted we come up for some homecooked Filipino food.

 

Dudes, it was awesome.

 

After a great meal and some road stories, Mr. Bustamante gave us some fruit to take back with us. He said, “You guys have to eat good, keep winning. How far you now?”

“We’re on the one-loss in the eight-ball,” said my teammate. “But we’re in the finals for the nine-ball.”

“Oh, you already in finals? That’s good.”

“We’re guaranteed second.”

“Yes, winning is good. I come watch you play.” He paused for the briefest of seconds before closing the door. “But if you lose, I DON’T PUCKING KNOW YOU! HAHAHA!”

 

 

 

Our first match this morning sucked before we even got started. We had to play a team from San Francisco. The girls on the team might have been short and surlier than me (is that even possible?), but they were very strong players. Of all the teams we had to play, we really, really did not want to play them. Ideally, we would all have met in the finals and then skipped off into the sunset (or nearest bar) and drank all of our combined winnings away. However, we were both on the loser’s side so the ideal situation did not apply. :-/

We went hill-hill (really, we need to stop that) and the last game was easily the most difficult, most interesting, and nervewracking one I had played in years. It lasted almost an hour because neither of us would sell out. The nittiest, grittiest one pocket players would have appreciated our play. I eked out the win and we lived to play another round.

 

We won the next one. We were not playing well, but the ship was still sailing. It seemed only half our team was ever on its game and those two players would have to carry the other two.

We won two more before crashing and burning out in 9th-12th.

Ugh.

 

chocolate to soothe the savage 9th-12th beast

 

I was relieved the team eight-ball was over for us. Our team was a good team, but to have a solid chance of winning the whole thing, we all needed to play at least one level higher than we did. We needed consistency in performance. There was no match where all four of us were “on” our games, and any team is only as strong as they are on their worst day.

Whatever.

Three events were a bust for me, but there was still one more left.

 

 

 

I woke up well-rested, and very, very ready for all this to end. I was Vegas’d OUT. And so was everyone else, apparently. Everyone was checking out of the hotel today. Every elevator that stopped on my floor was full to capacity. After thirty minutes, I gave up waiting for an elevator and decided to take the stairs.

 

use the GPS dammit — oh wait, no reception

 

Of course “taking the stairs” was not as simple as it sounded. The stairs led to tunnels which led to more tunnels which led to outside which led to me having to walk all the way back to the convention center for the match.

Well, at least I got there. On time, too.

My team was in fine form. True to his word, Bustamante showed up and gave us crap while we were playing. We won the first set. Then we won the second set. Then we were done.

Ye$h.

 

Champions of today and champions of tomorrow.

 

After a long nap, I cashed my check and went in search of dinner. I ended up at a pool hall (of course) before going off to eat all-you-can eat sushi.

 

John Schmidt shoots against Ivica Putnik playing one-ball one-pocket on the big table.

 

this trip was extremely profitable

 

 

 

And today, just to make my life that much better after winning the team title, I did not have to take the bus home. 😀 I hitched a ride back to the Southland with my teammate and some other players.

 

a storm was brewing, but we hoped it wouldn’t get bad enough to cause accidents
rain in the distance
the rain caught up with us (or we caught up with it)
eventually, we returned to the usual sunshine and unusual sights
they ran out of energy before they ran out of road stories to tell us

 

This was another nice Vegas trip. I met a TON of people, so many that I cannot possibly list you all. It was especially nice to see people from the other side of the Mississippi.

The Rio is a good venue. It’s better than the Riviera (although that is admittedly a low bar). The power outage sucked but the tournament staff did a pretty good job of keeping the whole insane show running.

 

I DO WISH THERE WAS MORE ROOM IN BETWEEN TABLES.

At one of my team matches, my opponent and I had to sit down and wait for the men next to us to finish their game first because they simply did not notice (or did not care) we existed. We would make way for one of them, and then after he was done shooting, we would get ready to shoot ourselves only to be bumped aside.

Yeah, I fucking get it — you’re all waaaay into your matches cuz they be world-shakin’, galaxy-spinnin’ levels of important. And perhaps you don’t think women’s pool is as important as men’s pool. Well, shit. We all want to win. Every last fucking one of us in this goddamn tournament. That is why we are all here and that is why we are all equals. My skill level may not be equal to yours, the prize fund in my division may not be equal to yours, but I guaran-damn-tee you my fucking drive to win is at least equal to yours.

If none of that rings true to you, then let me assure you my psychosis likely FAR exceeds yours. And were it not for my team, I might have stuck a stamp on everything and gone postal.

 

See you all next year.

 

 

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