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Author Topic: GamingTrend Pool Players...  (Read 4772 times)
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PeteRock
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« on: February 22, 2008, 06:45:34 PM »

While in college I lived in a house with a group of graduate students who owned a beautiful 9' Olhausen tournament table.  For my final three years of college rather than having wild parties or spending excessive amounts of money in bars we instead pretty regularly had friends over and held weekly pool tournaments.  Everyone would put up $10 and first place took home the pot.  

I could "hold my own" for the most part, but I found that I was rather inconsistent.  And no matter how much I played or practiced I never really seemed to correct that inconsistency.  Some shots felt just "right" while others from the moment I shot them were off from the start.  I never really felt like I had a good "feel" of the game.

A few years after college I found a local pool hall near my house in the Philadelphia area and every Sunday they offered a flat-rate for the day, costing one hour whether you played for one hour or 12 hours.  Each and every Sunday a friend and I would play for four or five hours, and I still couldn't seem to develop any kind of consistency or a good "feel" for the game.  And I often found myself making a difficult shot only to follow it up by missing what most would consider a "gimme".  It was frustrating and I just didn't know what I was doing wrong or how to correct my problems.  And during this time I had always wanted to purchase my own cue, but I always feared that I would be viewed as some sort of "poser", breaking out my two-piece cue and then playing like garbage.  I also couldn't seem to justify the expense.

After moving to Arizona I didn't play any pool for over two years.  Until about a month and a half ago.  I went out with a group from the office for happy hour one Friday night, and the bar we chose had four coin-op tables.  We wound up playing pool for almost five hours, and I rediscovered that love of the game I had so many years ago.  But, I also rediscovered that same level of inconsistency and frustration.

Being the "nerd" that I am, I decided that I would have to learn how to correct some of my problems in order to better enjoy the game of pool, and applying one of the lessons of my college education, I determined that what better place to begin than books?  And so I picked up two books on pool fundamentals.  I read them both cover to cover in one day, and to my astonishment I learned a great deal of information.  I learned about the history of pool, proper stance, aiming techniques (such as aiming point versus contact point), cue selection, cue maintenance, why many follow a difficult shot by missing an "easy" shot, how aim, contact location, and ball trajectory are not necessarily intuitive (you don't aim the cueball for the contact point, but instead for the location where the cueball will have to be in order to connect at the contact point), and so many other aspects of the game.  I also learned that I was doing a number of things wrong and that my inconsistency and frustration stemmed from not having sound fundamentals or a firm understanding of how to play the game.

After learning so much about fundamentals, concepts, and techniques, I became extremely anxious to apply what I learned.  The very next day I went with a group of friends to a local pool hall to see if what I learned would really work.  But, being a little self conscious about where I learned about the game, I kept that little tidbit to myself.  And for four hours I didn't lose a single game.   :shock:  

I no longer feared the long expanse of green on shots at the other end of the table, I developed a better understanding of how to aim for bank shots, I made a number of cut shots I would have in the past considered rather difficult, but when applying appropriate aiming techniques I learned that they weren't so difficult after all, and most importantly, I shot with consistency.  I learned to take a moment after a tough shot to regain my composure and allow the adrenaline to subside, my stroke was much smoother and straighter, my shots were more accurate, and I started to gain a "feel" for the game.  My confidence also improved, which many say is an important part of playing good pool.  I was once again hooked on the game, and because of my new understanding of fundamentals and how to correctly play the game, I wasn't concerned that I would once again become frustrated and quit.

After a few weeks of playing well with house cues, I recently took the plunge and picked up my very first cue stick.  I went to a well-known billiard supply store in the area and spent over an hour with the salesman shopping for the right cue for me.  We tried different weights, different tapers, different grips, and different materials.  I walked out with a solid maple Wynn cue with no inlays (but some bad-ass graphics including a skeleton demon on a skeleton horse and a skull at the base) along with a hard case and basic maintenance tools (too keep the shaft clean and smooth and to scuff and shape the leather tip).  And I must say that playing with my new cue has blown my mind.  I at first wondered if having my own cue would make much of a difference, and I was shocked at just how much of a difference it made.  Better control, more confidence, better consistency from playing with the same cue all the time.  

I now play at least two nights during the week and again on weekends.  It has become an addiction.  I must play at least one night a week, and by Friday I can't go to a happy hour location unless they've got pool tables.  Sunday afternoon has become my practice time, working on fundamentals and running through drills at a local pool hall.  If I go more than two or three days I have to play again.  Learning how to correctly improve my game and remedy many of the problems I had in the past has help tremendously to improve not just my play but also my enjoyment of the game.  I've been really excited about my newfound appreciation of the game and just had to share with the group.  Of course, my improvement has made it a little more difficult to convince my friends to play as often as I'd like, but some have embraced the challenge and now really enjoy beating me when they're able to.  

I don't think I've ever really seen much of a discussion on pool here on the forums and I began wondering if there were other fans of the game in our little community.  Anyone else care to share?  And if any fans of the game live in the Phoenix area, let me know, as I'm always looking for someone new to play with.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2009, 05:52:48 PM by PeteRock » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2008, 07:17:25 PM »

Someone over at OO brought to my attention that it may have been helpful to actually include the two books I read in case others were interested in learning more about the game.

As silly as this first book may seem on the surface, I found it to be a great introduction to some of the more complex aspects of the game without being too overwhelming.  It is a fantastic introduction and provides a lot of extremely useful basics, and you can probably read it in an evening.  The concepts are introduced in a clear and concise way, the book is easy to understand, and I would consider it to be an "easy to swallow" starting point.  I would recommend this book as a great place to begin.

The Everything Pool & and Billiards Book: From Breaking to Bank Shots, All You Need to Master the Game

The second book I picked up takes a more "professional" approach and presents concepts in a much more detailed and technical way.  It is much longer than the "Everything..." book and is chock full of illustrations, but the concepts are presented in a less lighthearted and more complex manner.  If I would have started with the second book I might have been a little discouraged by its complexity and overwhelmed by the almost painful detail.  But, I think the "Everything..." book gave me a helpful and easy-to-understand foundation of the basics to work from and prepared me for the more complex "teachings" in the second book.

The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards

I would suggest the "Everything..." book if you're looking for a better understanding of fundamentals and basics, and I'd only suggest "The Illustrated Principles" if you were then looking to go into more detail and learn the more complex and challenging aspects of the game.  But I found both to be great resources and they continue to act as helpful references when I run into questions or want to refresh my memory on certain concepts.  "The Illustrated Principles" also includes links to video footage online, but I haven't looked into whether these links still exist.
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2008, 09:17:30 PM »

Heh, you said "keep the shaft clean and smooth and to scuff and shape the leather tip".

I played quite a bit of pool a long time ago. Last few times I played I didn't do too good. I found a much better bar game... Foosball. If you think pool is intricate and complex, you should play foos against a master level player.  icon_eek (If you ever want to play for free I have a foos table... BYOB).
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2008, 09:24:48 PM »

Quote from: happydog on February 22, 2008, 09:17:30 PM

Heh, you said "keep the shaft clean and smooth and to scuff and shape the leather tip".

I played quite a bit of pool a long time ago. Last few times I played I didn't do too good. I found a much better bar game... Foosball. If you think pool is intricate and complex, you should play foos against a master level player.  icon_eek (If you ever want to play for free I have a foos table... BYOB).

When I worked at my previous company's Philadelphia office we had a foosball table in the equipment/storage room.  We'd constantly be having tournaments, both singles tournaments and doubles tournaments.  I failed miserably playing singles because there were just too many handles to worry about and I couldn't get my placement right.  But in doubles when playing goalie and the first wave of players I was lethal.

I think my inability to play singles really ruined my enjoyment of foosball.  I just never could get the hang of it.  Plus it was just too fast and frantic for my taste.  When I'm drinking I'd rather do something a little more calm.  If you had a pool table I'd be there in a heartbeat with enough beer to keep us playing long into the night.  Unfortunately I never was much of a foosball player.     
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2008, 09:43:11 PM »

Quote from: PeteRock on February 22, 2008, 09:24:48 PM

Quote from: happydog on February 22, 2008, 09:17:30 PM

Heh, you said "keep the shaft clean and smooth and to scuff and shape the leather tip".

I played quite a bit of pool a long time ago. Last few times I played I didn't do too good. I found a much better bar game... Foosball. If you think pool is intricate and complex, you should play foos against a master level player.  icon_eek (If you ever want to play for free I have a foos table... BYOB).

When I worked at my previous company's Philadelphia office we had a foosball table in the equipment/storage room.  We'd constantly be having tournaments, both singles tournaments and doubles tournaments.  I failed miserably playing singles because there were just too many handles to worry about and I couldn't get my placement right.  But in doubles when playing goalie and the first wave of players I was lethal.

I think my inability to play singles really ruined my enjoyment of foosball.  I just never could get the hang of it.  Plus it was just too fast and frantic for my taste.  When I'm drinking I'd rather do something a little more calm.  If you had a pool table I'd be there in a heartbeat with enough beer to keep us playing long into the night.  Unfortunately I never was much of a foosball player.     

 icon_lol

Lethal my ass.  Lethal yes when I was your partner.  I kicked your butt all over the place.  Singles or doubles.  How can you even mention foosball and not bow in reverence to the 11 time Foosball Champion known as Starshifter (aka Soviet Union)!!!  I still have the Championship Beer Stein on my desk at work!

I think for fun I'm going to go and check out the stats from all those seasons of foosball.  I have them on my computer.  thumbsup
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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2008, 09:44:59 PM »

Maybe we should meet up at Clicks (40st and Thomas) one Sat night. They are doing the Foos tournaments there now.
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2008, 10:02:07 PM »

Quote from: Starshifter on February 22, 2008, 09:43:11 PM

Quote from: PeteRock on February 22, 2008, 09:24:48 PM

Quote from: happydog on February 22, 2008, 09:17:30 PM

Heh, you said "keep the shaft clean and smooth and to scuff and shape the leather tip".

I played quite a bit of pool a long time ago. Last few times I played I didn't do too good. I found a much better bar game... Foosball. If you think pool is intricate and complex, you should play foos against a master level player.  icon_eek (If you ever want to play for free I have a foos table... BYOB).

When I worked at my previous company's Philadelphia office we had a foosball table in the equipment/storage room.  We'd constantly be having tournaments, both singles tournaments and doubles tournaments.  I failed miserably playing singles because there were just too many handles to worry about and I couldn't get my placement right.  But in doubles when playing goalie and the first wave of players I was lethal.

I think my inability to play singles really ruined my enjoyment of foosball.  I just never could get the hang of it.  Plus it was just too fast and frantic for my taste.  When I'm drinking I'd rather do something a little more calm.  If you had a pool table I'd be there in a heartbeat with enough beer to keep us playing long into the night.  Unfortunately I never was much of a foosball player.     

 icon_lol

Lethal my ass.  Lethal yes when I was your partner.  I kicked your butt all over the place.  Singles or doubles.  How can you even mention foosball and not bow in reverence to the 11 time Foosball Champion known as Starshifter (aka Soviet Union)!!!  I still have the Championship Beer Stein on my desk at work!

I think for fun I'm going to go and check out the stats from all those seasons of foosball.  I have them on my computer.  thumbsup

You forget my unstoppable serve, averaging at least one ace per match, and my shots from the goalie that would leave a dent in the back of the goal box.  I didn't mean lethal as "victorious," more like lethal as in if you got in the way my shot would leave a 2-foot hole coming out.

Perhaps it wasn't my struggles at singles foosball, but Starshifter himself that ruinied the game for me.   icon_wink 
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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2008, 11:18:05 PM »

I used too play quite a bit if you guys want to get together I'm willing to play a good pool cue can really help anybody's game I have a nice Joss cue myself.
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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2008, 11:29:45 PM »

I was you, played a decent amount at bars, played once a week with friends, could never be as consistent as I wanted, some amazing shots, some bonehead gimme's blown.

Now I play worlds of warcraft, all the fun of pwning someone without the socialization, yay.
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2008, 12:24:52 AM »

i used to play at least a couple times every week when i was in college...pool hall at the student union was a great way to spend weekends on a tight budget.  i even took a Billiards class for one semester...actually got college credit for shooting pool for an hour three days a week.  we learned a lot about proper technique, strategy, official BCA rules for a lot of games, and got a ton of practice time.  when i was playing that often, i'd like to think i was pretty good.  unfortunately, i haven't had the time to play nearly as much in recent years, and my skills have slipped quite a bit.  hitting up the local pool hall is still something i love to do with a group of friends on the weekend though.  in fact, there's a place just a couple miles from my apartment that only charges $5/person to get a table and play all night...great deal that leaves plenty of money for junk food and beer icon_cool
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2008, 02:45:52 PM »

I used to play quite a bit.  After I graduated high school, my friends and I would hang out at a pool hall a lot.  I don't play much anymore, usually just at a bar.  I tend to get bored after a few games, and my playing suffers for it.  So mpw I usually only play until I get bored, and let someone else play.
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2008, 03:29:10 PM »

I haven't played in years.  When I did it was like most others, during the college years at bars.  I was never any good until after I had at least 3 beers in me, and then for some reason everything clicked.
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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2008, 04:27:52 PM »

An Evening of Pool - Starring Moliere and PeteRock

Due to an OO forum discussion about pool Moliere (from OO) and I discovered that we both live near each other and also share a mutual enjoyment of pool.  And so we made plans to play Friday night at a favorite local spot called Skip and Jan's.  It would be an opportunity for me to meet yet another forum member in person and also hopefully find a new pool friend and opponent.

Our plans were to meet around 8pm, but because I had put in a rather long week at the office, I had intentions of starting the night's festivities by joining my boss for happy hour(s) while passing the time waiting for Moliere's availability.

My boss and I arrived at Skip and Jan's around 4pm.  As we walked up to the counter we accidentally happened upon Jan (of Skip and Jan's), and because all of the servers were busy at the moment she very kindly took a second to set us up with a pool table.  While looking for her new box of chalk she asked how many were playing, and when we explained that a number of our friends would come and go throughout the night she said that she only would charge us for two people regardless of how many played.  She was incredibly nice and appreciated having our business, and little things like that are what keep me coming back to the place.

And so the pool and beer drinking marathon began.

My boss and I played for about two and a half hours while waiting for my wife to arrive, going through a fair bit of beer and half-price happy hour appetizers in the process.  My boss had to leave around 6:45, and then two of our friends and my wife showed up around seven.  That involved more pool, more appetizers, and of course, more beer (and in my wife's case, Jack and Coke).  My play was a little inconsistent with my boss, but I started to get a little more comfortable with my form as the night went on, and my consistency definitely got better the more we played.

A little after 8 Moliere arrived.  My wife is always a little apprehensive-but-curious when meeting forum members for the first time, and so she had planned to introduce herself to Moliere and then head home to check on her new saltwater fish.  But we all got along pretty well and she wound up sticking around to play a few games before heading home.  My wife and I played a lot of pool together during our "courting phase", and she obviously took a lot of what she learned with her, because she certainly managed to hold her own on the table.  She even managed to beat me, but it was on some kind of "odd technicality".  While she was shooting I excused myself to use the restroom, swearing that I was shooting "highs" before I left the table.  When I came back it was my shot and there was only one stripe left and then the eight ball.  I sank the 9-ball with ease and managed great position on the eight.  Then I sank the eight and made my way back to my beer while waiting for my next opponent to rack (Moliere).  But both he and my wife looked at me with complete confusion and asked why I shot at my wife's balls.    icon_confused

Apparently I was solids when I left the table and when I returned I assumed that the least balls on the table belonged to me.  Apparently not.    icon_redface   And so Moliere would be playing my wife, not me.   ninja

The three of us took turns playing winner for a little while longer, chatting about our careers, social hobbies, backgrounds, pets, interesting pool room social dynamics, etc, and then my wife headed home to make sure her new fish was doing okay, and also to take advantage of my being out for the evening to hang with the dogs and watch yet another season of Buffy or Angel (or both).  But she really enjoyed meeting Moliere and even invited him to join us for her upcoming birthday celebration.    icon_biggrin  It's pretty easy to tell whether you're going to get along with someone within minutes of meeting them, and there were no lulls in conversation, no uncomfortable pauses, no problems at all.  Which unfortunately wasn't the same experience meeting one of our friend's new boyfriend earlier in the evening, who was kind of a dick, not contributing to conversations, refusing to play pool (why the hell did you come to a pool hall), and more or less pouting in a corner.   icon_confused

And so my pool marathon with Moliere continued.  As did the continued additions to my bar tab.  I have to say that it was quite nice to play against someone who wanted to be there (rather than merely playing because I wanted to), who was pretty skilled at the game, and who didn't seem anxious to call it a night as time wore on.  Many of my friends inevitably start asking, "Want to make this our last game?"  And my answer is always, "No."  But for five straight hours Moliere never once asked "do you want to play again" or "still want to keep playing?"  After each and every game there wasn't even a pause.  Last ball falls, and the loser was already racking for the next round.  No questions about how much longer we were going to play, no suggestions of a final game, we were there to play and that was what we were going to do.  There were no "I have to get home to my wife/kid/dog/fish/cat/girlfriend/parents" comments, no significant other-imposed curfews, just a night of pool.  I certainly appreciated the change from what I'm used to.

For the most part Moliere and I were pretty evenly matched.  Actually, I shouldn't even say "for the most part."  Our matches were consistently competitive, each game usually came down to the final few shots, and you never knew who was going to win the next game.  Moliere would win a round or two (or sometimes three), and just as I started to feel like I was racking fairly often I'd come back with a few victories, and we traded victories back and forth throughout the night.  I might get a couple of wins under my belt, but then just as I was becoming comfortable with not having to rack for a while I'd leave Moliere with a number of opportunities and you just can't do that and expect to win. 

We both hit some great shots, we each took turns with three- and four-ball runs every so often, but we both are at a level where we make occasional mistakes and so the other is always right in the game.  And as the night wore on my game got better in spite of fatigue and a fair bit of drinking.  I stopped second-guessing shots, I became more confident in the softer shots knowing they'd travel a fair distance on the table even with the slightest touch, and my bank shots were falling pretty consistently.  I even finished one game with two back-to-back full-table-length banks from each end of the table.  icon_cool

Moliere played pool with me (and a little with my wife) for five hours.  And because I began the night playing pool with my boss right after work, my marathon clocked in at nine and a half hours.  Our final game was played around 1:30am, and it was actually a mutual decision to make it our last game of the night as it was pretty apparent that we were both getting a little tired.  Nine and a half hours, fifteen beers, a variety of fried bar food goodness, and a new pool friend.  I hit the pillow around 2am.

I'd say it was one hell of a successful and fun evening.  I had an absolute  blast and can't wait to play with Moliere again (assuming he'll be willing to look past my liberal use of profanity and appreciation of fermented beverages  :wink: ).  I really hope that we can start playing regularly together as I don't really have any friends interested in improving or putting as much time in, and it was nice to potentially make a new friend as part of my pool hobby.  Although I will say that I would rather not have gotten up at 7 this morning, but my body just refuses to sleep any later, regardless of how late I was out last night (or how much I had to drink).  Coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  Which reminds me.  I could use a refill.   

Thanks Moliere.  I'll see you on the felt.   biggrin
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2008, 05:55:20 PM »

wow pete I am always amazed at the length of your posts....LOL.....I used to play pool quite a bit.  Regular at one of our local pool halls until all of a sudden I stopped playing (who knows why....probably because it got expensive due to the beer and food)
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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2008, 07:58:19 PM »

Quote from: papasmurff on March 02, 2008, 05:55:20 PM

wow pete I am always amazed at the length of your posts....LOL.....

 ninja

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I used to play pool quite a bit.  Regular at one of our local pool halls until all of a sudden I stopped playing (who knows why....probably because it got expensive due to the beer and food)

Perhaps you'll have an opportunity to play when you and Jarrodhk finally decide to head west. 
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2009, 03:21:22 PM »

Congratz on your victory Saturday night!

Have fun picking out the new cue. You earned it.   thumbsup

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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2009, 05:39:46 PM »

Quote from: Moliere on January 26, 2009, 03:21:22 PM

Congratz on your victory Saturday night!

Have fun picking out the new cue. You earned it.   thumbsup





It has been a looooooooong time coming.  Following Saturday's competition I was excited, but I think I was mostly relieved.  It was like a weight was finally lifted. 

Ultimately I think it came down to my ability to finish games, not to mention a few "gimme" games.  I have consistently struggled with hitting that last difficult shot on the 8-ball.  If faced with a fair bit of green or a difficult cut, because it's the 8-ball and because I've wanted that win for so long I make mistakes either in form, in reading the angle, or in lining up straight shots with a lot of distance.  I can shoot well throughout a game, but it's near the end that I start to make costly mistakes and leave open opportunities for you to take away momentum.  And once you start to win a few games in a row I struggle to catch back up.  The more anxious I get the worse I play. 

I think in one game I even commented about one of the differences between us being your ability to make those long, not-quite-straight clutch shots with a lot of green and for once I proceeded to make that shot myself.  When I'm relaxed, chatting, and joking around I shoot far better than when we're quiet, focused, and intense.  Too much focus actually works against me as I tighten up, I overanalyze shots, and I make adjustments just prior to shooting that usually do more harm than good.

Thanks for the congratulations and I now look forward to broadening our games to include 9-ball as well.  And perhaps someday we can give straight pool a try.  I can't recall if it was here or at OO, but there are a number of forum members who have said that once you give straight pool a try few can go back to playing anything else.  I'll admit that after my win on Saturday I went home and watched The Hustler.   icon_redface   And now that I've finally got that always elusive series win under my belt I don't mind moving on to new games. 

Thanks for so many months of fierce yet friendly competition and I look forward to continuing our weekly games.  I just wish that more of my friends were as interested in the game so that we could get more of us together each week to alternate opponents, but most are only casual players and quickly grow tired of losing game after game, or others with more experience have too many other obligations to make any kind of regular commitment.  But I refuse to make any sort of alliance with Turkey Neck. 

Here's to many more years of friendly competition.  And it all started with a simple GamingTrend thread.

For lunch I may head over to G-Cue Billiards to begin browsing.  It doesn't help that Jaime was cut back to 32 hours a week at her company, but we'll see what I can muster.  This was a long-time coming and I'd hate to have this milestone postponed due to finances.  We'll have to see.

See you on the felt.

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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2009, 05:47:54 PM »

Can you two clue us in here as to what you're talking about? Some big one-on-one battle?
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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2009, 06:05:46 PM »

Quote from: Teggy on January 26, 2009, 05:47:54 PM

Can you two clue us in here as to what you're talking about? Some big one-on-one battle?
This original thread on OO will give you some of the background.
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« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2009, 06:13:41 PM »

Quote from: Teggy on January 26, 2009, 05:47:54 PM

Can you two clue us in here as to what you're talking about? Some big one-on-one battle?

In February of last year I started this thread here at GamingTrend and another at OctopusOverlords looking for any area forum members who would be interested in playing pool.  I learned that Moliere lives about an hour from Chandler and on March 1st last year we started shooting pool together.  We had never met before in person and the forums managed to bring us together.

We started out by playing every so often, but it eventually turned into a weekly thing.  Every Friday we get together at our favorite pool hall and shoot pool for a number of hours.  During the holidays we weren't able to play much, but for the most part we've been shooting pool together almost weekly since last March.  We track our wins each time we play and the person with the highest number of wins at the close of the night is crowned the winner.  And that has always been Moliere.

At first Moliere was a great deal better than me and rarely would I even come within 10 games of an evening series (I think the first time we played we finished the night 16 games to 2 or something like that).  Over time I slowly improved but he also got back into "playing shape" as well, so it became increasingly difficult for me to close that gap.  Eventually I decided to take lessons to determine what exactly was hindering my progress, and I learned that I had some issues with my fundamentals like stance, bridge, and stroke, and an instructor helped me to learn how to correct my fundamental problems as well as teach me more about english, draw, follow, etc.  I learned more in a few sessions of instruction than I had in my entire life of playing social pool, and it only deepened my love and appreciation for the game.  

Since that first time we played last March I have yet to finish an evening ahead.  Ever.  Moliere has always been a better and much more experienced pool player, having played in leagues and grown up with a father who also shared a love of the game.  I, on the other hand, played a fair bit in college, but only when drinking and just for fun, never really learning proper fundamentals, and so I never really improving beyond a passable level.  Last year I started to get back into the game after a long hiatus, but I wanted to play more as a sport than just a reason to go out with friends to have a few drinks.

Having started playing with Moliere on a regular basis, I really developed a love of the game outside of just social gatherings.  I started wanting to play more often, to learn how to improve, and to really develop a better understanding of the game.  In the past I'd play pool while drinking, and once I was unable to break I knew it was time to quit for the night.  But playing Moliere got me to take the game more seriously, and so now when we play I'll sip a few beers, but I always make sure not to allow it to impact my game as I feel it would be a disservice to Moliere to not take our friendly competition seriously.  What started as a random encounter has become an ongoing rivalry that has spanned almost an entire year.

For the past 10 months I've played Moliere each week always to fall short of winning an evening series.  Whether we play for 10 hours or only 4, I always have fallen short.  I could be up 5 games to 1, and then inevitably Moliere would go on a 4-game streak and eventually win the tie-breaker for the night.  More recently our evenings have pretty consistently ended with a tie-breaker (actually, they happen almost every time we play), so our skill levels are much closer than they were when we first started playing together.  But I could never seem to finish victorious.  For a number of months I've been hoping to pick up a new cue, but I vowed that I would not purchase a new cue until I finally earned that series win against Moliere.  Not sure why I made that pact with myself, but I have honored it since, refusing to even consider a new cue until I earn that first series win.  I made that pact so many months ago (probably last spring), and it has driven me ever since.

And this past Saturday I finally won a series against Moliere.  8 games to 6.  And so I have now earned the right to treat myself to a new cue as a reward for a long and hard-fought series against one of the best pool players I know (actually, probably the best pool player I know outside of Turkey Neck and my instructor).  I'd feel like a poser to pick up a nice cue only to play bad pool, but over the past year I feel I have improved enough to justify playing with something better than my current cue, and as I've honored my pact not to purchase a new cue until I earn that series win, it really feels like I've finally earned that reward I've pursued for oh long.

But more importantly Moliere and I met through the forum and have a similar love of the game of pool, and because of that we've become good friends with a friendly rivalry that will probably go on as long as we live close enough to each other to continue to play.  He may have ruined my ability to play with other friends as they rarely get to win a game, but because Moliere and I are so evenly matched (outside of my inability to win a series in almost a year - but, in my defense, most of our evenings end with a difference of just one game, always in Moliere's favor), our pool evenings are always competitive, fun, and it's something I look forward to each and every week.  Perhaps 20 years from now we'll be those two old guys we see a few tables down who seem to have a similar rivalry that spans decades rather than a year.      
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« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2009, 06:52:37 PM »

Great story. I really wish I could take the time to raise my game to the next level. I have an 8 foot table in my house, but 99% of the time it's holding kid toys and jackets. It does make for a kickass fort for my son. slywink
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« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2009, 09:38:56 PM »

Well, after 10 winless months of friendly competition, and steadfastly adhering to my vow not to purchase a new, higher quality cue until I finally earn a series victory against Moliere, I spent my lunch hour (more like hours) shopping at a nearby cue store run by a league player and regular at our favorite pool hall.

Upon walking in I quickly learned how inferior my prior shopping excursion had been that resulted in my first cue, a basic Wynn cue for about $200.  For starters, I purchased my first cue from a billiard table store.  The manager was so focused on selling tables that after indicating that I was shopping for a cue he merely pointed to the back and left me to choose a cue on my own.  I received no direction, no input, and no help.  And so I chose a cue based upon design and feel, but most importantly price. 

Today before I had even made it all the way in the door the local store owner greeted me, listened to my price range criteria, and then said that he had one important question for me.  My name.  We shook hands and began our journey to find the "perfect cue."  The store had hundreds of cues to choose from, and so I really depended upon the owner's expertise to narrow down the search.  And instead of shopping first by price and then by design, he instead wanted me to select a cue based upon how it played.  Seems logical, but not when I've been left to shop solo in any other local stores.  But this owner took pride in helping people to find that "perfect" cue for their style of play, and his aim is to reintroduce service into what should normally be a service-oriented industry.

The store's owner first walked around and chose a variety of cues that fit within my price range, each varying in terms of impact feel and transmission of impact energy to the butt, ranging from the softest cue on the market to one of the firmest.  Joints varried from wood to composite plastics to steel, each offering a firmer feel than the last.  Some had shafts with a 12.5mm taper, others had a 13mm taper.  And each cue also had slightly different balance aspects based upon inlays and weight distribution.

Brands varied from Viking to Schon to McDermott to true Balabushka replicas manufactured with the family's approval by the Adam Cue Company.  He first had me hit the cue ball to the opposite rail five or six times with each cue to see how they differed in feel.  Some were so soft that you barely felt the impact with the cue ball, while others were so firm that they had that telltale "ting" sound and felt very rigid like my current cue.  The softer cues were so quiet that it was almost unsettling.  And the firmer cues were like hitting the cue ball with an aluminum stick.  I was looking for something with the appropriate level of softness so that it didn't make that "ting" sound and made impacts feel comfortable without transferring all that energy right through the butt to my arm, but I still wanted some firmness as feeling some of the impact makes me more comfortable with "feeling" if I hit a shot right or not.  The really soft cues were easy to eliminate because I just didn't fell comfortable with not feeling much of the impact at all.  And the super-firm cues were also easy to eliminate because I wanted something more in between.  But it didn't take long to really appreciate the feel of the softer cues (especially when compared to my Wynn).

Eventually after shooting with about 10 cues I narrowed my choices down to four.  When we got to that point I then started taking actual shots because when just shooting the cue ball you really focus on the cue, and I wanted to see which cue felt best when shooting an actual game of pool.  It didn't take long to narrow the remaining four down to two.  When you go through your usual pre-shot routine, line up the shot, and then follow through, you can just tell which cues feel like an object in your hands and which feel like an actual extension of you.  The remaining two were a replica Balabushka and one other brand (the name is slipping my mind at the moment, one I wasn't familiar with but of very high quality). 

But, no matter how many shots I took, no matter how many cues I tried, I just kept coming back to the Balabushka.  It just simply felt "right".  I liked the wider shaft taper, the shaft itself was smoothed to perfection, the butt had a balance that just felt natural in my hands, and the more I shot with the Balabushka the more accurate my shots and the more control I felt I had over the cue ball.  My pre-shot routine felt natural, lining up became seamless, and the cue itself just felt like an extension of me.  Instead of feeling like an alien object in my hands, it felt like it was supposed to be there.  After narrowing down my search no matter how many times I hit the cue ball to the opposite rail it came back perfectly straight each and every time.  And as pool is predominantly mental, I play far better when comfortable.  That cue just felt right each and every time I picked it up, each and every time I lined up a shot, and each and every time I sank a ball.  Plus the Balabushka had that perfect balance between being soft enough that a good portion of the impact energy was absorbed, but just enough firmness for me to still retain that "comfort blanket" of feeling whether I hit a shot well or not.  And there was no "ting", just a silent impact that sounded solid but almost "refined."  It's hard to explain, but after spending an hour or two shooting with different cues, I just kept coming back to the same one, and as I got comfortable it just felt more and more "right".  I quickly learned how cues differ in construction, workmanship, and materials.  And each and every cue felt different in some way.  When I narrowed things down the final few were all pretty similar, but one stood out from the rest.

And so I have found my "dream cue" which has taken close to 10 months to "earn."  Obviously it isn't a "true" Balabushka as there are only a few thousand in the world selling for $10,000 or more, but it's made by the Adam Cue Company with permission from the Balabushka family to the high standards associated with the Balabushka name.  And in true Balabushka fashion, the colors are very classic and reserved, the inlays are subtle but of very high craftmanship, and the overall package, while understated in typical Balabushka fashion, those familiar with the name will quickly recognize a cue of this level of quality.  And you can feel it the moment you take that first shot.  I couldn't help to smile throughout the entire process, but mostly at the end when the owner helped me narrow down the search from a few hundred cues to that one perfect cue for me.

Some might think the understated style of the cue is atypical for PeteRock, but I've started leaning toward more subtle designs as loud cues just don't seem to fit the game.  And there's just something about the Balabushka name.  The design is meant to be understated and subtle, and the cue's craftmanship is what should truly matter.  The look is classic Balabushka with minimal inlays, an ebony butt, typical star designs in pearl, a 13mm taper, "Bushka" rod rings at both ends of the ebony butt and above the wrap, and a light-colored linen wrap with green accents.  I just hope to have it in my possession in time for this week's game with Moliere.

Here she is:

 

It figures that I'd just have to have a Balabushka.  Yes, it's a replica, but still an amazing cue.       
« Last Edit: January 26, 2009, 09:41:08 PM by PeteRock » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2009, 09:57:33 PM »

Is that the one with a Phoenix feather in the core?   icon_wink
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« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2009, 09:59:56 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on January 26, 2009, 09:57:33 PM

Is that the one with a Phoenix feather in the core?   icon_wink
Eagles feather.

Quote from: PeteRock on January 26, 2009, 09:38:56 PM

I just hope to have it in my possession in time for this week's game with Moliere.
Does that mean I win the bet?   icon_wink

Did you get a vadge adapter?
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« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2009, 10:03:21 PM »

This thread is bringing back memories of my childhood. My dad was in a pool league and I would go with him almost every Sunday and Monday night when they played at the local Elks lodge. There were two pool rooms upstairs, and i would go to whichever room they weren't using and play a game of 8-ball against myself. Sometimes one of the adults would walk by and give me pointers, or even play a game. It felt good beating adults who were in a league when I was 10 years old, using just the cues off the wall. I think I have only played a handful of games in the past 5 years, with the last time being about 2 years ago. I might have to go find a pool hall and get back into the game.
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« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2009, 10:24:02 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on January 26, 2009, 09:57:33 PM

Is that the one with a Phoenix feather in the core?   icon_wink

What is really funny about your comment is that someone here at the office asked the same question, as if I had just visited the wand maker.   icon_lol

Quote from: Moliere on January 26, 2009, 09:59:56 PM

Quote from: Isgrimnur on January 26, 2009, 09:57:33 PM

Is that the one with a Phoenix feather in the core?   icon_wink
Eagles feather.

 icon_lol

Quote

Quote from: PeteRock on January 26, 2009, 09:38:56 PM

I just hope to have it in my possession in time for this week's game with Moliere.
Does that mean I win the bet?   icon_wink

Only if I can get this past the purchasing department.  It took every ounce of self control to walk out of that place empty-handed so that I could follow the appropriate procedures and not upset Jaime with an impulse-purchase of such magnitude.  I plan to chat with her tonight about it and hopefully in the next day or so I'll be able to pick up the new cue and not have to worry about how she'll react.  Although asking for forgiveness is always easier than asking for permission.   ninja

Ultimately, yes you win the "bet". 

Quote
Did you get a vadge adapter?

 saywhat

Edit:  Oops.  I had forgotten about our struggles in finding the vadge stick.  I didn't pick one up yet, but I figured I'd get everything during the same shopping trip.  I'll also probably grab a "claw" for holding my cues as they seem to do a better job than the shallow grooves in the drink bars.

Fortunately the Balabushka comes with joint protectors included with the cue, and I found a few reasonably-priced bags to carry two butts and up to four shafts plus the usual accompanying gear (beer coozie, extra chalk, baby powder, cleaning tools, shaping tools, etc).  I'll have to remember to add the vadge adaptor to my list so that we no longer will have to scour the building just to find one bridge.  My old Wynn can act as my break cue as well as our vadge stick.   
« Last Edit: January 26, 2009, 10:53:53 PM by PeteRock » Logged

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« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2009, 12:59:31 PM »

Quote from: Starshifter on February 22, 2008, 09:43:11 PM

Quote from: PeteRock on February 22, 2008, 09:24:48 PM

Quote from: happydog on February 22, 2008, 09:17:30 PM

Heh, you said "keep the shaft clean and smooth and to scuff and shape the leather tip".

I played quite a bit of pool a long time ago. Last few times I played I didn't do too good. I found a much better bar game... Foosball. If you think pool is intricate and complex, you should play foos against a master level player.  icon_eek (If you ever want to play for free I have a foos table... BYOB).

When I worked at my previous company's Philadelphia office we had a foosball table in the equipment/storage room.  We'd constantly be having tournaments, both singles tournaments and doubles tournaments.  I failed miserably playing singles because there were just too many handles to worry about and I couldn't get my placement right.  But in doubles when playing goalie and the first wave of players I was lethal.

I think my inability to play singles really ruined my enjoyment of foosball.  I just never could get the hang of it.  Plus it was just too fast and frantic for my taste.  When I'm drinking I'd rather do something a little more calm.  If you had a pool table I'd be there in a heartbeat with enough beer to keep us playing long into the night.  Unfortunately I never was much of a foosball player.     

 icon_lol

Lethal my ass.  Lethal yes when I was your partner.  I kicked your butt all over the place.  Singles or doubles.  How can you even mention foosball and not bow in reverence to the 11 time Foosball Champion known as Starshifter (aka Soviet Union)!!!  I still have the Championship Beer Stein on my desk at work!

I think for fun I'm going to go and check out the stats from all those seasons of foosball.  I have them on my computer.  thumbsup

 eek

Starshifter is the almighty Soviet Union foosball powerhouse?!? How's it going man? (as for who I am...think Liechtenstein....)
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« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2009, 01:44:09 PM »

Quote from: BEEFHAMMA on January 27, 2009, 12:59:31 PM

eek

Starshifter is the almighty Soviet Union foosball powerhouse?!? How's it going man? (as for who I am...think Liechtenstein....)

Holy crap!  Beef!  No way.  This is you?!  The minor league expansion Liechtensteinians!  How the hell are you man!  I'm surprised Pete did not tell me it was you.  Bad Pete!  mad   I've been here at GT for years and I actually convinced Pete to join here.

PM me and we can catch up.

The Championship Beer Stein is sitting right here on my desk!  The eternal foosball champion!

And don't believe what people say about me and gaming - Bullet Witch was one hell of a fun game.  nod
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« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2009, 09:30:38 PM »

"My Precioussssssssss" is mine.   icon_eek

I'm still a bit nauseous about the total cost of everything, and I have a lot of bathroom cleaning in my future to continue to appease the wife, but I expect to get a good 10 to 15 years out of this baby.  And I don't see myself ever really wanting a replacement as it simply feels "right" in my hands.  It took an entire afternoon to narrow down my choices, all entirely based on feel and play, and I couldn't be happier with how natural this cue feels in my hands.  I walked out with the cue, a new 2x4 bag (room for 2 butts and four shafts, plus space for a jump cue butt), free joint protectors, cue papers, tip pick, powder bag, Q-claw portable cue holder, and a vadge attachment for my demoted "break cue." 

I paid a total of what the cue by itself retails for and still walked out with all of the additional schwag, so I at least have that going for me. 

And yet........... puke

The cost anxiety will all be forgotten after a full night of play.  Don't get me wrong, I'm as giddy as a school girl, simply with a distinctly lighter wallet.  Cost anxiety is inevitable after making such a sizable purchase, but damn will it be nice to play with "my preciousssss."   icon_biggrin   
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« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2009, 09:42:49 PM »

Quote
a new 2x4 bag (room for 2 butts and four shafts, plus space for a jump cue butt), free joint protectors, cue papers, tip pick, powder bag, Q-claw portable cue holder, and a vadge attachment for my demoted "break cue." 

Did you say you walked out of the cue store, or the porn shop? I don't think I've heard a more potentially dirty-sounding sentence in weeks.  "Room for 2 butts and four shafts"...heh heh heh.
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« Reply #30 on: February 06, 2009, 09:50:21 PM »

Quote from: Chaz on February 06, 2009, 09:42:49 PM

Quote
a new 2x4 bag (room for 2 butts and four shafts, plus space for a jump cue butt), free joint protectors, cue papers, tip pick, powder bag, Q-claw portable cue holder, and a vadge attachment for my demoted "break cue." 

Did you say you walked out of the cue store, or the porn shop? I don't think I've heard a more potentially dirty-sounding sentence in weeks.  "Room for 2 butts and four shafts"...heh heh heh.

One of my technicians found it impossible to keep from laughing when I showed my new cue to a friend at the office and suggested that he "touch the shaft just to feel how smooth it is."   

You people and your dirty minds.   Roll Eyes

 icon_wink
 
The cue papers are used for rubbing the shaft to maintain its smoothness, and the powder bag is to keep your hands nice and dry so that the shaft slides nice and smoothly through your hand.  It helps in playing with the balls. 

'Scuse me, I'll be in my bunk.
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« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2009, 10:12:23 PM »

So when you screw the shaft into the butt, do you prefer to twist it in there as tight as you can, or do you prefer it a little more loose?  Also, you mentioned having room for multiple shafts.  Do you frequently use multiple shafts in the same session? Do you have separate shafts for each butt, or is there a preferred pairing of shaft and butt. 

I could go on like this for hours.  Now I know what the phrase "dirty pool" means.
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« Reply #32 on: February 06, 2009, 10:41:39 PM »

You aren't going to break with the Balabushka? 
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« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2009, 10:45:31 PM »

Quote from: McNutt on February 06, 2009, 10:41:39 PM

You aren't going to break with the Balabushka? 

Absolutely not.  I'll use my old Wynn for that.  It'll work as my break cue and my bridge cue (or the "vadge adaptor" as we like to call it).  I may eventually pick up a dedicated break cue (you can get a decent break cue for around $150), but for now the Wynn is just fine.
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« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2009, 10:52:06 PM »

I'm not a serious player, but I do have a McDermott pool cue that has been used, even for breaking, for over twenty years now.  Do sticks seem to crack from breaking?  I've never seen a good one do it, so I was wondering if it's common for people to swap sticks for breaking.  Plus, didn't Cruise break with his Balabushka in The Color of Money?   icon_biggrin 
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« Reply #35 on: February 07, 2009, 04:26:52 AM »

Quote from: McNutt on February 06, 2009, 10:52:06 PM

I'm not a serious player, but I do have a McDermott pool cue that has been used, even for breaking, for over twenty years now.  Do sticks seem to crack from breaking?  I've never seen a good one do it, so I was wondering if it's common for people to swap sticks for breaking. 
Its not that the stick will crack as much as people are concerned about the tip getting damaged from breaking.
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« Reply #36 on: February 07, 2009, 04:33:17 AM »

Quote from: McNutt on February 06, 2009, 10:52:06 PM

I'm not a serious player, but I do have a McDermott pool cue that has been used, even for breaking, for over twenty years now.  Do sticks seem to crack from breaking?  I've never seen a good one do it, so I was wondering if it's common for people to swap sticks for breaking.   

Ultimately breaking with your primary cue isn't that big a deal, at least depending on how you break.  Many follow through by lifting the cue from the table after impact and standing up, which won't really do much to the shaft of your cue.

The way I break is by hitting just a hair below center on the cue ball, following straight through without standing up, and because I am hitting at a very, very slight downward angle, this places the tip of my cue hard against the table and I get a little flex in the shaft of my cue at the end of the shot.  Over time this puts side pressure on the shaft as well as the cue's joint, and so you can get some cracking around the joint plus that side pressure on the shaft impacts it's rigidity and straightness and just isn't good for your cue's longevity.

Also, when you break the cue tip gets a flat spot and you constantly have to keep rounding your tip to keep from getting flat areas.  You can rough it up with a tip pick (shapers take too much leather off of your tip if you do it too often), but you keep having to do it with the flat spots you get from breaking.  Inevitably your tip wears out faster, and when you have a medium to medium-soft tip it wears out that much more rapidly.  Sometimes the ferrule can crack or take a little bit of a beating as well.

For some it isn't really necessary to have a break cue.  For me, in order to keep from putting unnecessary side pressure on my Balabushka, I prefer to use a break cue.  And, since I already have an old cue to break with, it only makes sense to continue to use my old cue, both for breaking and as a bridge.  Also, when you really get into the finer details of the game and pay more attention to various cue technologies (the higher-end the cue, the better the technology, and yes, different price tiers impact the type of technology used in manufacturing), manufacturers make actual "break cues" which are specifically designed just for breaking.  As you have special clubs in golf, and various types of drivers with improved technologies, the same applies to cues.  I've heard some players absolutely rave about certain break cues.  At this point in my game I'm just going to use my old cue, but perhaps eventually I may pick up a cue designed for breaking.  But that day is quite a ways away.

Quote
Plus, didn't Cruise break with his Balabushka in The Color of Money?   icon_biggrin

Actually, the "Balabushka" featured in Color of Money was not only not a true real-life Balabushka as there are only about 2000 in the entire world, but it was actually a Joss cue designed to look like a Balabushka.  It wasn't even a replica Balabushka, but a cue made by another manufacturer altogether.  So, technically he broke with a Joss cue.   icon_wink
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« Reply #37 on: February 07, 2009, 04:59:24 AM »

Got a good 4 1/2 hours of pool in tonight with Moliere.  I absolutely love my new cue.  The shaft is like glass, the thicker shaft diameter is a welcomed change from my old 12.5mm shaft, the balance just feels "right", and the soft feel following cue ball contact is just exquisite.  There's no "tink", no "clank", just a quiet, smooth contact with minimal impact felt through the cue.  It's just unbelievable how different it feels to play with the Balabushka when compared to my Wynn.  It's like night and day.  While it may sound odd, especially to those who don't play the game that often, my new Balabushka just feels amazing.  My longer shots are straighter, my follow-through has become more consistent, I'm able to control the cue ball much better, the sound during impact is just beautiful, the feel has a little firmness so that I can slightly feel my shot, but it's soft enough that it's just a wonderfully comfortable feeling, and while all of this isn't just due to a new cue, the cue itself has definitely impacted my game to some extent. 

I'd certainly not suggest dropping so much green on a cue like this if you're just a casual once-in-a-while player, but if you play regularly and seriously enough to justify such a purchase, I have nothing but rave reviews and positive feedback on the Balabushka made by The Adam Cue Company.  I F-ing love this cue.  And having narrowed down my selection from 25 or so cues to this very one, not by looks, price, brand, or style, but by how I play the game and what feels most natural to me, I couldn't be happier.  The help I got in selecting my cue was priceless in finding the right one for me.
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pingwrx
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« Reply #38 on: February 10, 2009, 12:45:53 AM »

So how much did yo spend on this cue?
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PeteRock
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« Reply #39 on: February 10, 2009, 03:35:46 AM »

Quote from: pingwrx on February 10, 2009, 12:45:53 AM

So how much did yo spend on this cue?

Retail is $700 for just the cue.

The store I purchased from doesn't charge sales tax and his costs are competitive with various billiard discount sites on the internet.  I did a little research to see just how competitive he was and his costs were less than every site I checked online.  He also had mistakenly quoted me a price lower than what he had intended to charge and he honored his initial quote despite the discrepancy.  He also spent a good two hours during my last visit to his store helping me find the right cue for me.  That kind of help and expertise is priceless.  As I described above, we started with over 20 cues and narrowed it down to just one by performing various tests on his store table.

I paid $545 for the cue (which came with joint protectors), and I picked up cue papers (I am amazed just how well they work), a powder bag to replace basic baby powder, a Q-Claw, a bridge attachment, a tip pick for roughing up the tip without grinding down too much of the leather, and a new ProSeries 2x4 cue case.  The grand total for everything when I walked out of the store was $700.18. 

It was well worth it as I probably won't need to purchase a new cue for over a decade.  It just plays so well and it feels perfect in my hands.  Plus it's just an absolutely gorgeous cue.  I can be proud of it every time I take it out of my case.  It was earned by finally defeating Moliere, and it has such a timeless, classic style. 

Moliere and I have merely had to adopt a new rule for our weekly games in that only one can go to the restroom at a time, and our area can never be left unattended.  For obvious reasons.  But I enjoy playing with the cue so much that I spend a good portion of the week just looking forward to another game of pool.  Along with my weekly game every Friday with Moliere, a friend at work is hoping to start a weekly game on Tuesday nights with me, and with the occasional fun game every so often with friends who play casually I try to get in about 8 to 10 hours of pool each week.  Those hours are only improved with "my precious."   icon_wink 
« Last Edit: February 10, 2009, 03:42:51 AM by PeteRock » Logged

Beauty is only skin deep.  Which is why I take very good care of my skin.
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