Monday, February 02, 2009

My DCC adventure

Once again I am at Chicago O’Hare Airport, but this time I am having three hours to kill waiting for my flight back home to Europe. I am just sitting here at the gate, putting my thoughts about the previous week down on paper.

One week ago, at this airport, I entered the United States of America for the first time. I was very excited, since I have always wanted to visit America. I didn’t have so many expectations, though, since I have been to lots of pool tournaments before, and I knew that I would probably not leave the hotel during my weekly stay. And I was almost correct. I went outside the hotel for 2 minutes, twice, to get some fresh air…

When I arrived at Chicago O’Hare I had to re-check in my luggage, and when talking to the guy at the desk he asked me what my purpose of the trip was, and I told him I was going to the worlds biggest pool tournament. His immediately response was that he watched women’s pool on ESPN all the time, and was wondering if this tournament would be broadcasted too. I said that I didn’t know if it would be broadcasted live or not, but that he could check AZBilliards.com for more information.

When walking into the terminal I was surprised that the first American I talked to watched pool on tv, and thought that the people posting on AZ saying that pool in America is dying slowly might not be correct. Where I come from I would probably think I was on “hidden camera” if someone told me that they watched pool on tv.

Anyway, I walked to Chili’s Bar to get a beer while waiting, and at the bar I met Jo. Just like I have expected from Americans, she started a friendly conversation. That never happens in Europe, Europeans seldom talk to strangers. She was quite surprised when I told her that I was going to Louisville to shoot pool, and she asked me if I was the new Minnesota Fats. She even forced me to write my autograph on a napkin, even though I tried to tell her that I was just an amateur using parts of my holiday trying my luck in a pro-tournament.

Well, Jo had to leave for her flight, and a new person sat down at the bar. I can’t remember his name, but just like Jo he started a friendly conversation. He was going to Louisville too, to promote his company who worked with laser-aiming on guns. When he heard that I was going to play in a pool tournament he asked me if that woman in black will play, you know, the woman on ESPN. He meant Jeanette Lee, and I told him that he should visit the Horseshoe Hotel & Casino if he wanted to see her play in person.

So, the first three regular Americans I talked to, they all knew something about pool. Perhaps having that women’s tour running on ESPN all the time might be worth something after all?

Anyway, in Louisville, the friendly taxi-driver Papa from Senegal talked about America and how excited he was, because soon he would get his American Citizenship. He had lived in America for 10 (or was it 12) years now, and he was looking forward to finally becoming an American Citizen.

When I entered the venue, Horseshoe Hotel & Casino, I was shocked with how huge it was. After walking around for an hour watching some bank-pool, saying hi to people in the Action Room and in the AZ-room, I was impressed with the setup, and was really looking forward to a great week with just pool.


AZ-room, One-Pocket Challenge and One-Pocket mini-tournament.


I spent a lot of time in the AZ-room the first couple of days, and even though the room was quite small it served my purpose. I used it to practice during the day, and to say hi to people, putting faces and real names on peoples screen-names from the online-forum. Unfortunately I am real bad on remembering names, so I won’t even try to mention all of the people I met. I can only say that I enjoyed meeting all of you, and would love to see you all again and hopefully also meet even more of the guys and girls posting here.

Some people I met deserve to be mentioned though, and I would start to thank SJM for his 14-1 lesson with me, and I would like to say that I wish I could have spent more time with both Williebetmore and John Henderson. Sir Williebetmore visited DCC late, and disappeared just as quickly, so we managed barely to say hi to each other. John Henderson is a kind man, with more classic lines than any other I have met. It would be fun to play some one-pocket with him, but unfortunately I asked him too late, and he was already hooked up with a guy playing 100-200 $ a game. “I haven’t known you long enough to spot you” is just one of many fine lines from John, and I certainly hope that I will get a chance to play him some one-pocket in the future.

I am real glad that Joey Aguzin changed his mind about not going to DCC 09. It was a pleasure meeting him, and he was just as friendly, funny and nice as I had thought. We had a lot of fun together, and sometimes it felt like we had been friends for years. I think that he doesn’t regret his decision about going to Derby, especially since he once again won the one-pocket mini-tournament at DCC.

We had been drinking some beers together with “pooladdict” and “T” when we remembered that it was the night of the one-pocket mini, and Joey wanted to not compete in the one-pocket mini-tournament because he had been drinking a few beers to many. Efren Reyes was out of the 9-ball tournament at this time, and I called him over to our table, and to Joey’s big surprise Efren agreed to take the spot in the mini.

We sweated most of Efren’s matches in the mini, and it was obvious to everyone that Efren really enjoyed playing that tournament. In between his matches he gambled with a guy, for $ 20 a game. I asked Efren what the handicap was, and Efren turned around to me and smiled with all his face when saying “the handicap is great”. Efren had only given up the break. Efren ran out from everywhere, putting up one hell of an exhibition for us to see. He made 300 $ in a very short time, but the guy that lost was more than happy just to play Efren, so it was a win-win for both.

I also got a chance to play a small set against Efren, and it was Efren who decided that we should play for $ 20, with our normal handicap. As I normally do when we play I lost, but when I tried to pay him he refused to accept my money. “No, no, you don’t pay. When we play in Philippines again, you can pay if you lose, but not here.” I was a little surprised that he didn’t want the winnings, and bought him a Budweiser instead. He seemed satisfied with that.

The mini lasted from midnight till almost 7:30 in the morning, so in between I also got a chance to play some friendly $ 20 a game of one-pocket with Freddie the Beard. I lost 8-4 in games, and learned some lessons from him. “You won’t get arrested if you play safe every now and then” was just one of the few sentences that I’ll try to remember.

After Efren won the tournament and the $ 800, the three of us, Joey, Efren and I, went for the breakfast buffet. A guy came to our table telling Efren that he thought it was so nice of Efren agreeing to play with his friend, and that the friend was already in the mainroom hitting some balls. Efren smiled and said no problem, and when the guy walked away Efren just laughed and told us that he had completely forgot about agreeing on playing a guy at 9 in the morning.

So when I went to my room to sleep, Efren went on to play a race to 10 for $ 200 with a fan…

Earlier that week I was in the AZ-room watching the One Pocket Challenge. Mika Immonen had just ran a 53, and Jay Helfert said that no one would beat that run. I then made a $ 50 bet with him that the winning run would be higher.

I then asked him if he had asked Efren to play, and he said that he had tried for 2 years, but Efren didn’t want to. I told him that I would back Efren, and went downstairs to talk to him. After a few minutes telling him about the $ 1000 added + that I have made a bet with Jay Helfert, I told him that I wanted to be his backer in the Challenge. ($ 50). He laughed and said ok, and the people in the AZ-room was thrilled to watch Efren entering the room to compete.

Darren Appleton had just ran a 42, but immediately gave up the table despite having one more try, and he sat down watching Efren play. Efren started out with a perfect 15 on his first try, then a 12, before he got some smaller runs. He ended on a 47 and a 44 in total, but he entertained the whole room with his jokes, laugths and just by being Efren playing pool and having fun.

Efren finished 4th in the Challenge, and Jay payed me $ 200. When I ran into Efren again, I gave him $ 150, and he then wanted to give me $ 75 back. I told him that I just wanted my entry back, and I had already taken it out of the price, and that the money was his. He told me that I was his backer, and we split 50/50, so he put $ 50 in my pocket. Then he said that I should have told him to try the Challenge one more time, because he said he was sure he could do better. I said why didn’t you just do it, but he then smiled and said he didn’t want to try without his backer approving, before saying “next year you back me also, then we will win. I think 61 I can do”.

Gotta love that guy! I am so thankful for being able to watch him play, and once again Efren Reyes has increased the quality of my life just by being himself. I enjoyed spending so much time with him here at the Derby City Classic, and it looked like he had some fun too.


The tournaments.

I played in the one-pocket and 9-ball tournament, and I started good with winning my first two matches in one-pocket. Then I played Tom Neil, a fellow AZ’er. I started out with running 7 on him, and winning 8 - -1 in the first game. After that I don’t think I got a chance to shoot at my pocket, and he told me after he won the match that after the first game he realised he needed to play tight to win. He simply outmoved me, and totally deserved the win.

In my fourth round match I got the privilege to play John Brumback, the newly crowned Bank Pool Champion at DCC 09. I started out real good, focused on playing real tight and not giving him a shot. When I finally got a chance, I played aggressive trying to run out. I dogged it the first game, had an open table, and had 4 balls to his -2, but failed to run out, and in the end I lost that game and the next.

At 2-0 I got 2 chances to run the balls I needed, and in the fourth rack I found a four ball combination in the pack. I think very few players would have tried that combination, but I went all-in, and hit it with solid draw. The 3-ball rolled very slowly heading for my pocket, with balls crossing its path in front of it, but none of them collided and the ball went down.

I then ran 8 and out on him, and racked the balls, getting ready for a hill-hill battle and my break. When finished racking, we both noticed that there was a coin next to my pocket, and we realized that I owed a ball and should have ran 9 balls. To make the story short, the tourmament director forfeited me since I had racked the balls before the game was finished… I wrote more about that in another thread, called “DCC sucks bigtime right now…”

In the 9-ball tournament I played terrible in my first match, and lost 7-4. In my next match I had to play Jeanette Lee, in front of many spectators in the mainroom. I managed to keep my head calm, and even though none of us played great, I had the necessary luck on my side and two terrible mistakes from Jeanette helped me seize the 7-6 victory which sent her out of the tournament.

In my next match I played Oscar Dominguez, and my first shot was an attempt on the 3-ball in rack 4. The ball skidded. My next attempt was at 4-0 to Oscar, and it was a two rail kick. I kicked the ball in and ran out that rack to make it 4-1. At 6-5 to Oscar he touched so badly when pocketing the 6-ball that the 9-ball moved 3 feet. Well, it’s cue ball fouls only at DCC, so I had to watch him run the remaining three balls for the 7-5 victory.

I was now out of both the 9-ball and one-pocket tournament, but I wasn’t too sad. It was a great experience, and I enjoyed playing in both events. Hopefully I will do better next time.

Gambling & The Action Room.

It’s not easy to travel half the world to join a pool tournament, especially not if you want to gamble also, not only play tournament matches. It was hard getting matches, because people thought I had to be real good since I travelled so far to compete at the DCC. They don’t believe you when saying that you are just an amateur on holiday.

I ended up playing some cheap one-pocket action with several people, most of them AZ’ers, and I also beat Sarah Rousey in 10-ball 2 sets. Sarah was obviously off her game, and we both wanted a rematch, but for some reason it didn’t happen. I am pretty sure we will meet in the future, so I’ll start practising for our rematch as soon as possible.

After calling JoeyA a nit for three days my strategy worked, and he finally agreed to play me a set of 9-ball. I managed to win the set, but neither of us was too proud of the game we brought to the table. Anyway, I managed to get some of my money back, after he had literally hustled me in one-pocket some days before.

I did a lot of sidebets during the tournament, and also some in the action room, and in total during the week I was in profit, till the last few hours. Then I decided to play Jason Klatt some 10-ball, and my poor performance in those two sets made me a $ 100 loser during the week on gambling and sidebets.

I spent some time in the Action Room the first couple of days, and it was fun meeting people like JCIN, Bignasty, Beav and Sarah Rousey. Sarah Rousey will perhaps be one of the very few American players that I will root for in the future, but only if she promises not to beat any Europeans.

Sarah and I were in the TAR-booth chatting a little, and after I had talked Sarah and Katrine Jensen, Niels Feijen’s girlfriend, into doing a 10-ball match together, I brought Niels into the booth so the 500 people watching Sarah and Kat also could chat together with Niels.

Niels really enjoyed doing a live-interview with the people on the chat, and he will perhaps also play some matches on TAR later. He is interested in playing all-around matches, and also straight pool matches only.

I would love to spend more time in the Action Room, but it was too filled with smoke there for me. I would have stayed there for the Efren-Shane match, but I went for a little nap and overslept and lost the whole match. Good for me, it saved me at least $ 200, since I would have been betting on The Magician.

Chris (pooladdict) and I walked to the lunch buffet one of the days, and when we were about to pay at the desk, a guy we had never seen before stopped us before we paid and told the girl in the counter that we were his guests. He was a big gambler at the Casino, and was allowed to bring guests for free for lunch. That’s another thing that would never happen in Europe. In Europe people don’t interact too much with strangers, but here we got a free lunch from an unknown guy. We offered to pay him instead, but he declined, and we invited him to join us at our table. As mentioned he was gambling high at the Casino, and he told us that last year he made $ 180 000 profit. I asked him about blackjack, and then he told us a funny story that happened to him just days before.

A guy wanted to play behind him on the blackjack table for $ 1000 a hand, and our guy asked what was in it for him. The player behind said that why should he give something away, since our guy was already betting several thousands per hand. Well, he turned around again facing the dealer, and on the very first hand the dealer gave him 20. Then he turned around facing the player playing behind on his hand, smiled, the player behind gave a smile in return, then he turned to the dealer again and said “hit me”, and the player behind screamed “no, what are you doing”. He said “hit me” again, and got one more card. Of course he didn’t get an Ace, and he lost the hand. It was the best hand he had ever lost in his whole life.

Summary

I really enjoyed my stay at the Derby City Classic. I met a lot of nice, friendly and funny people, and it was definitely worth going. It’s expensive to travel all the way from Norway just for a pool tournament, but I can’t figure out a better way to spend a holiday-week so I will probably join the DCC more than once in the future.

As for the organizing of the tournament I can’t understand why there are so many problems with scheduling matches, but I know they are working on it, so I will leave that for now. Another thing I do not understand is why the tournament director doesn’t provide the players and spectators information during the tournaments, like brackets and results.

If they had printed out the draw for each round, and the results, and put them up on a wall for everyone to see, that would probably have been one of the most visited places at the venue. Players and fans would love to check results.

For example, I watched Adam Smith warming up before one of his one-pocket matches and I really liked his attitude, way of behaving, shots etc, and I would love to be able to walk downstairs, look at the results from the previous rounds to see he whom he had played. Now I could only get that information by either asking him or ask the tournament director. That is bad service for the other players, and especially to the fans that pays money to watch this tournament. They should be able to get that information very easily.

Anyway, it was all a great experience for me, I loved being in America for the first time, and even though the Europeans failed to win the prestigious 9-ball title for the first time in 3 years, they put up a good fight. Shane Van Boening keeps on with impressing me with his game, and the scary part is that the best is probably yet to come from this young man.

Luckily the Team USA doesn’t consist of 5 Shane’s, but only 1, so I am not afraid that Team Europe will lose in the Mosconi Cup in 2009 either.

5 kommentarer:

Anonymous said...

Great post Roy!
I really enjoy reading your'e blog so keep it up buddy!
I may see you in dcc next year...

adhesive remover said...

Glad you had fun at DCC! It's quite the place to go for your first trip in America!

Hope to see you in the future sometime, if not at DCC, then maybe in Norway...

;-)

John Biddle said...

Roy, you tell the story of DCC so well I almost felt like I was there. If I can get there next year (as a spectator) maybe I can do a writeup half as good as yours. That would make it great.

I'm glad you stay in America was so enjoyable and that all the people you met were so friendly. I'm not surprised, but I am glad. Most of the people here are great, it's only the highbrows and the press that hate their own country and try to make us look bad. I guess they think that makes them look good in comparison, but to anyone who really knows America it just doesn't hold up.

Best of luck in your goal of becoming Norweigan champion, and thanks again for this great report. Keep on bloggin' brother.

Anonymous said...

Godt skreve :) Kult at Adam Smith spele biljard då. Han e jo helt fra før av og.

Sarah Rousey said...

I just got around to reading this post. I'm glad your first trip to America turned out well and I'm glad I could help fund it a bit! It was nice to meet you and I'll try to stay one of the Americans you root for, but I'm going to have to beat a few of the Europeans. Please forgive me :)

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