Day 31: Wheat Ridge, CO

Yesterday afternoon I drove out to Table Steaks South,
to check out the tables and hit some balls.
What a palace the place is!
Frank Burgess, the owner, spent some serious coin
on making this the best pool hall I have been in, ever.

The tables are triple shimmed, and tighter than
anything I have experienced.
Shots I could have sworn were IN,
just rattled and laughed at me.
Playing on a table like this could definitely
sharpen the eyes.
Note to self:
Consider triple-shimming my Gold Crown IV.
Last night was, um, interesting.

The manager Mike ("Kermit") O'Connell treated me right.
And knows some San Diego players, and wanted me to
give big-ups to Tina Pawloski (sp?) who he met when
he was in the area for the WPBA Viejas tournment (March?).
Says he was a good shooter but prefers poker,
where there is less practice required and more money!
Can't argue that point.

So I shot a couple of hours,
then back to the hotel for some rest before the tournament.
Eight ball, double elimination, race to 4 on the winner's side,
race to 3 on the loser's side. Ball in hand.
No 3-foul rule.

Samm told me that this tournament draws the best players,
and that there are NO easy draws.
But I had no problem in the first round.
I made it through the first round without missing a shot.
That's because I got a bye.

But Samm was right, of course.
My first match was with the guy who came in second.
I got two games from him, but he ruled.
My second matchup was about the same story,
but I was not shooting my best.
I felt a bit off, distracted, and the
triple-shimmed pockets weren't helping any either.

After my 0-2 barbeque, I stuck around to sweat the action.
It was great people-watching, for sure.
The most noticeable was a guy I called Twitchy.
By far the most hyperactive player I've ever seen.
Could not be still for a second.
Probably twenty warm-up strokes,
raced around the table, up/down/up/down on the shot,
and talking to himself and anyone else constantly,
acting out his displeasure every time he missed,
pointing to where he should have left the cue ball.
I guess we have all seen players like this.
Maybe they think they can get over on the opponent
with all the hystrionics, but they are all bluff.
He made it to the semi-finals, but was bumped
by a guy I call The Fat Man.

The Fat Man was a consumate player, in my book.
He was quiet, composed, and never rattled.
He glided around the table just like Jackie Gleason
in the movie The Hustler, and his gut was just as big.
Watching The Fat Man and Twitchy go at it was
a study in contrasts.
I couldn't have been more pleased when The Fat Man won!

Jackie was another quiet player.
She won a spot on the IPT tour.
I mentioned Samm's name and she smiled and we talked.
I asked her why not WPBA and she says she feels
that men and women should compete on an even level.
I totally agree, of course.
She seemed to be suffering from a head cold,
and didn't make it all the way through.
She was put out of the tournament by The Kid.

The Kid seemed to be no more than 19 years old,
and had one of those side-arm strokes like
Keith McCready.
Real quiet type, but he could sure shoot pool.
In fact, he eliminated the owner Frank Burgess.

In the semi-final matchup of The Fat Man and The Kid,
it was the age-old story of Experience vs. Youth.
Experience won, giving me reassurance for my own game.
But it was close!

The finals were between The Fat Man and The Mouth.
The Mouth could not shut up.
There was nothing he, or his opponent, did that
did not get some comment.
If he wasn't talking about something in the game,
he was complaining about his bad back or knees.
The match went hill-hill, and when The Fat Man
racked the balls for The Mouth to break,
The Mouth complained that the balls were
not racked properly according to BCA rules.
They went back and forth about this for 5 minutes,
The Fat Man refusing to re-rack.
Finally the deadlock was broken when The Mouth
banged the rack with his stick, and then
of course a re-rack was mandatory,
The Fat Man relented and the final game was on.

All during the match, both players were doing soft breaks.
This set up a chess match of safeties
so the games lasted forever,
until someone saw the light of day and went for the run.
It was really good pool to watch,
and of course I was rooting for The Fat Man.
The Mouth missed his runout, leaving The Fat Man
partially hidden behind a ball for a long shot on the 8.
He took his time, considered his options for safety play,
walked around the table, decided the only option was to
go for it, knowing he would have to juice the cue ball,
and without any fanfare, and not a word, got down,
lined up, fired at the 8 ball, and...
I wish I didn't have to say it,
but it rattled!

The Mouth ran his remaining 3 balls for an easy out,
and the win.
This was not a night for the good guys.
Including me.

Samm text-messaged me this morning,
asking if I had fun.
My reply was "Does the mouse have fun with the cat?"
Maybe you catch my drift.

Tonight is a 9-ball tournament in Wheat Ridge,
with more top players...


Samm said...

I've known Kermit for 10 years and never know what his first name was, not to mention his last. Yeah, he plays pretty sporty.

Is this "The Kid" you were referring to? (Tony Piazza, top left photo, Team Doom)

Samm said...

never "knew" rather