the twilight zone | subwoofage


As some of you know, the billiards world has an active community in the form of AZBilliards’ online forums. I used to be more active on the forums, but my reading and participation these days is rare. There is just too much information to sift through and not all of it is relevant to my interests. I have friends who do visit the forums and they will let me know if there is something they think I should see.

My finish at the Tampa tournament had not gone unnoticed. Forum user gxman asked,


“Could rhea play melinda even?”


I did not know who rhea was.


“I don’t know but I’m down to find out.”


For my readers who do not play pool, that exchange above is very common. The question and answer are two dry sticks rubbed together. Other people add their opinions and comments as kindling and before you know it, you have a campfire around which everyone is gathered. For my readers who do play pool, my apologies for telling you what you already know. I have a tedious preference for thoroughness and sharing insights into How Pool Works On The Internet.


My most endearing failing in billiards aside from writing this blog is my willingness to play matches with people I do not know. After some reading on the forums, I learned a little more about her. She was an aspiring roadplayer/hustler/world champion who documented her daily adventures on the road as the protege of Gene Albrecht, a billiards instructor. Very neat.

She responded with:


“There is no way she would agree to the weight I would need in order for a fair match she is light years ahead of my speed I cant even beat the 4 ball ghost yet.”


None of that gave me an idea of her speed so I asked (APA being the American Poolplayers Association, a league that rates the skill levels of its players and the host of the U.S. Amateur Championships in Tampa from which I had just returned):


what are you rated in the APA


Her response:


In VNEA I’m a 4, in BCA I’m a 4, in NAPA I’m a 5, in APA 8 ball I’m a 4, and in APA 9 Ball I’m a 5

But, don’t let my skill level scare you, I bet real high.


The only letters and numbers applicable to my situation were “APA 8 ball” and “4”. In APA 8-ball, I am a “7”. These numbers gave me a ballpark estimation of skill as ratings differ across the country and can be affect by many factors. According to these numbers, rhea was the lesser-skilled player.

Her last sentence was interesting. I did not get it.


what would me being scared of you have to do with you betting real high
wouldn’t you bet real high whether I was scared or not


In hindsight, I think she was trying to provoke me but used the wrong choice of words and confused me instead.


I had done a little more reading on rhea and realized that she was being modest when she told me she was an APA 4. In another thread, she had posted the following (emphasis mine):


Eric, I can interpret what you are getting at, but your estimate of my speed is pretty far off. I am only considered a C player in Indianapolis, everywhere else I have been to I have been at least a B- speed.

When I left the APA back in 2009 I was a 6 at that time.

When I was in OHIO going off like a rocket right before Gene met me I was playing around APA 7 speed.

And my game has improved drastically since then. In fact I strongly feel that the few people in OHIO that spotted me 1 ball could now get 1 ball from me and I would like it.

By the time I got to NC they had me playing as a skill level 8 in their tournament. And by the time I got to VA they had me rated as a B+.


I know I am not a B+ yet but I am at least a B speed, I can put together a 2 or 3 pack in 9 ball on a tight 9 footer, and I couldn’t do that a few months ago.


So there you have it that is where I stand now… which is why APA 4 or 5 is laughable and yes I would play an APA 5 for money and be the favorite in every city.


As Joan Didion would say about my ramblings, “Oh, wow.”


For you non-billiards readers, let me give you the lowdown. Rhea initially said she was a 4, meaning she was a less-skilled player than I was, and that she needed a handicap before she would play me. In the post that I found, she says she left the APA as a 6, played like a 7 earlier this year, and now plays even better than a 7. That means she plays better than me. The 800-pound gorilla of a cherry on the sundae, though, is her statement that she can put together two or three racks in a row on a nine-foot table (most APA matches are played on seven-foot tables; smaller tables are easier to play nine-ball on) with tight pockets. The area where I live has many tight pocketed tables. The only players I have seen run two to three racks in a row on these tables on a regular basis have been world, or at least American, champions.

She told me she was below my skill level in an attempt to get me to give her an unwarranted advantage while telling everyone else she was a champion.

That is not how hustling works.

But, that is how the internet works.


I am not a great player. I occasionally make a great shot or play a nice game, but in the grand scheme of things, I am extremely average. Knowing exactly where I stand is important if I want to correctly assess my game as it progresses or regresses. Because of this approach, I am a reasonable human being with realistic expectations. I answer with the following:


You can put together a 2 or 3 pack? In my lifetime, I have run one 2-pack in 9 ball on a loose 9 footer. You must be a very, very strong player. I do not understand why you would need weight from me if you play at that level. If anything, I would need weight.


She did not respond to this post.

The party did not end.

It moved somewhere else.


I should warn you now that, like many of my other multi-part series, this series is about events that led me to a better understanding of myself, the game, the people in the game, and the game’s subculture in which we all live and play. I hope as a reader you may take away something of value. If not, I apologize for taking your time.


<< part one part three >>