Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Southern California Fun Trip

Well I went to visit a good friend of mine Jay Smith, sounds like a made up name considering it is one of the most popular names in the country but I assure you its real, haha. I needed a break from the Arizona heat so I packed a bag and hit the road headed for Long Beach.

It was an uneventful journey along the I-10 West, the scenery is just wide open desert until you see the wind power generators in Palm Springs along with the mountains there. I did enjoy the time along just driving listening to The Doors and some Nine Inch Nails along the way.

I make it to my friend Jays place which is the guest house at his aunt's home in Long Beach, a fairly big place close to the ocean. We went out for some cook your own Korean BBQ which was interesting, I ate some octopus for the first time and it was a good albeit a bit chewy.

We went out later that night for some pool and brews on 1st street hitting up some pubs and ended up at a place called the Reno Room. To our surprise there was two Diamond bar tables in there with quarters lined up and people having good times. We got our quarters down and could not be beat the whole night, playing for drinks and having a blast. We won a few drinks at the previous bar but this place was bigger and more people so usually that is more fun too. We left that night being owed drinks so we might go back and collect one day.

I realized pool is more than gambling and the pressure of tournaments, the social fun aspect is great in the game. For myself this is what drew me into pool in the first place, the friendly social competition with strangers who you make fast friends with. Its really what the game has been for so long and will be for as long as we are alive, a game we all can enjoy.

We went the next day to Huntington Beach and just relaxed, a good day in the sun. My dream is to one day live by the ocean with a big pool table and a nice view. Imagine hitting the balls around and watching the waves roll in, that is a pool players paradise.

I am heading out on a road trip cross country soon, and no its not the road trip your thinking of with pool gambling, its the see the country type road trip. I think it will be fun to just head out and drive, seeing places I have heard, read about or saw on TV. I will try and keep people informed on my times in these places and hopefully I can find some hidden treasures like the Reno Room. Here is a picture of me and my good friend Jay at the Reno Room from that night. Later and be well my friends.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Latest Updates - Lenny Has Been Busy

Well it has been a bit as usual and I have been slacking on the blog. So for the past few months what is there to say, its been busy. I have been streaming twice a month doing the one pocket and a little over a week ago I did a 5 day stream from California Billiard Club in Mountain View with many top players such as Bustamante, Sambajon, Ulrich, Deuel, Frost, Parica and many others for the $4000 Added one pocket and $10,000 Added 10 ball events.

I am glad the owner Chris Swart had me out once again and hope to return again next year. It really kicked my butt though streaming 12 plus hours a day for 5 days but it was worth it and the viewership was around 30,000 people for the days I streamed total. I have been working on making some improvements on the stream, going to get a new laptop soon and try to stream going through and HDMI box, hopefully it works because the cost is going to be a bit pricey. I know people enjoy the streams so I soldier on with it, seeing where it may lead. I have no delusions though, its a hobby and I love the game, its my way of giving back. I am lucky to have fan support because that is what really keeps the ball rolling is the contributions I have gotten to help with cost and equipment upgrades, if I had to dig into my pocket for it all it would be a tough deal.

I was thinking of going to Vegas for the US Open One Pocket like I did last year but its not in the cards or budget so I will just take the days and get some good practice. I have been hitting the balls well in practice but for some reason my competition game is not so hot, just been so busy with everything else so maybe just keep practicing and take a break from tournaments and gambling for a bit. One thing I realized is a good couple weeks out of the hot seat can be helpful and I always come back better than ever. As of late I have been practicing at Skip and Jans which is closer to me as opposed to Kolbys, a month pass at Skips is only $50 to play until you drop so that is the best bargain for playing pool in Arizona I think along with the good equipment and staff there.

Scott Frost and I have been talking about doing a second DVD, Power One Pocket Part 2 or something. Might be worthwhile, the last one was pretty successful and well received so its possible that we will give it a go. I know this time it will be much better than the first one since I have better equipment and knowledge now to create a better product. At the moment I am working on some match DVDs from the CBC events where I recorded some stuff, they are so time consuming though, taking a good full day for one DVD. The funny thing is the match DVDs do not sell well so they are almost pointless to an extent but people do enjoy them and its good to just get things out there.

On another note my daughter Alexis just turned 3 years old, how the time has flown by, I remember her just being born and how great of an experience that was. I thank the Lord that I have her in my life along with my son, sometime I lose sight of things and my children put it all into perspective. I love pool but in reality family is more important and if its not for you then you got some problems, haha. Well time for me get back to working on some stuff. Will try and keep this updated as I can with different things. Here is a link to Angelina Paglia's recent appearance on Road Warriors from CNN, she did a great job.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It Has Been Awhile Since Posting in the Blog

It has been a bit since I have posted in here but figured I would take a few minutes to post some updates on the past 6-7 months, time flies when your busy with life and pool. I have been playing regularly and pretty well, finished 1st twice and 2nd once in the past 4-5 months in the monthly one pocket tournaments and was one out of the money this past weekend.

I also cashed in my first two 9 ball tournaments of 2012, trying to play a bit more 9 ball as its a game that I have really not dedicated myself too. It does not really hold my attention like one pocket does and I just do not stay focused and that game sure does take a good deal of it. I did buy a break jump cue, all purple heart wood which is great for break cues, even the shaft is purple heart and its all dyed black, Samsara tip and G-10 pin, it breaks well and that is one thing I need to keep working on to play better 9 ball.

I did also play 2 challenge matches for the King of 8s and won both without losing a set which was nice but I really do not have the desire to play these challenges anymore. IMO I would rather just play tournaments, gamble or practice, the challenges were a fun thing to do but recently a guy I was supposed to play got a little too serious about it and I am not interested in playing big ego people. I am playing pretty good as of now but I am still not satisfied with where my game is, but then again most people are not, we all are trying to reach that high place and have the respect of the other guys we are playing out there.

As of late my daughter has not been well and we were in and out of the hospital around the holidays but thankfully at the moment things are better but boy can it be scary and put things into perspective also. I have been trying to give my family a bit more attention and have that healthy balance between, pool, family, life and work, its better that way. I also have been working out more and believe its helping my pool game, it cannot hurt IMO to be in good shape.

Well let me get going and get back to work, thanks for stopping by my friends and hope to see you at during our live stream on the 28th from Kolby's in Tempe AZ.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My AZ One Pocket State Championship Experience

Well its been 2 weeks since that great tournament went off at Kolby's but figured while I am on vacation right now I would take the time to do a little write up on it. It was a good run and a good deal of fun too.

I went out the night before the tournament with my girlfriend and a buddy of mine named Mike. We went out and had drinks and a good time on Mill Ave. in Tempe. It was a blast of a night and we were about to leave when we were walking down the street just laughing and hooting/hollering a bit when all of a sudden I am attacked!, yes I said attacked. The guy pushes and swings at me and I am kind of in awe because this is totally out of of left field.

I am with my girl and a buddy of mine who is not a fighter but I myself boxed for a couple years when I was younger but as you get older you move on to different things along with a bad car accident that really cooled my jets around 10 years back. I just felt I had to protect myself and my girl and friend so I fought back, the guys girlfriend or some girl tries to stop this lunatic and she ends up getting hit by him so all hell breaks loose.

The guy gets jumped by numerous other drunks who are not liking this women beater and his antics but then the cops arrive just in time and spray some pepper to disperse the crowd which they do except for me. The horse, yes I said a horse with a policeman on it falls slipping on the pepper spray that has drenched the sidewalk. I am stunned as the horse came out of nowhere and is like 2 feet from me and scrambling to get up but the lunatic is on his feet and I am unsure why but I go at the guy.

Here I am having a great night until this guy comes along, he hits a girl after coming after me and causes all this trouble along with the horse falling and I just had enough so I proceed to give him some combinations and down he falls out cold. How stupid can I be though to do this in front of the police, I should have just let them handle it. I get a good dose of pepper spray and a few hits with a baton as a toll for my poor judgement and my girl and friend lead me away.

I must have taken a half dozen showers and rubbed my face like a moron so the pepper spray got deep into my skins and over 2 weeks later I still have some chemical burns on my face. Well now lets get to the good stuff, the one pocket tournament.

It was 32 players who showed up at Kolbys for the One Pocket State Championships and this is the place to prove yourself, to step up and play the best guys in the state and some of the best in the world with Scott Frost and Jose Parica also playing in it. My goal is to beat one good player in the tournament, that is always my goal in open play where your playing even with top guys.

My first match is against AZ State Champion One Pocket player Mike Pankoff who I believe won it the year before. I am thinking I am toast especially after he is up 2-0 in a race to 3 but I have a good break and keep control winning my first game. Great for me as I wont be getting a donut to eat, I then grind hard for moving and moving trying to frustrate Mike, not leaving too much. I win another game and its hill-hill and I am breaking so I have a real chance now and the room is watching.

Me and Mike really have a great game with Mike needing 1 ball and myself needing 2 and he leaves me as diagrammed below. I shoot the striped ball and end up on the 1 ball for a bank, not near perfect but bankable with a touch of inside and a firm hit. I win the game and everyone is clapping and congratulating me on a great shot and match. Mission accomplished and it was great to beat someone like Mike, he is a great guy and shakes my hand saying great match. I really look up to guys like Mike who are gentleman and play so well, I was a huge underdog but got there after digging deep.

My next match was another very tough opponent who plays with Mike quite regularly and I also get to spar with him getting some weight, his name is Bernie Pettipiece who I really respect and enjoy playing against. We have a very good match and I played well winning 3-1, I also finished that match with a very nice two ball out. I am on cloud nine at this point because my great play is not a fluke, I am just digging deep and playing my best and boy is that a great feeling and confidence booster also.

I end up having to face Bobby Emmons as my 3rd opponent, he is a very good young player and has a good deal of confidence, almost comes off as cocky but you need to be positive thinking to win and bring your best game. Bobby chats it up that the window is open to the rail and why not, he is the big favorite as were the other players I had just played before him. I win the first game and am running out in the 2nd game where the old me pops in to say hello and I miss a simple shot which causes me to lose that game and ultimately the match as Bobby comes with the firepower and wins 3-1. I am not out of it yet as its double elimination.

I end up facing Pete Lohtka on the losers side and its the end of the night, a long day of one pocket, me and Pete go the distance in a hill to hill match, I think we were down to the last couple of balls also so it was a true sweaters delight. Pete is a very good player who shows up at the state tournaments but other then that is not around Phoenix too often. I was lucky to beat him, but you need a little luck and not always skill in this game.

So I end up beating 3 very good players who were big favorites over me, in day 2 I have to play Scott Frost and its no fairy tale match, I get beat 3 to donut I do believe. Bobby who beat me goes on to face Jose Parica in the finals of the event and loses but still played very well in that tough tournament. I hope next year to do well and beat some good players, I think this performance has given me some confidence to step it up and with some hard work, table time and drills a ball or 2 improvement before next year should not be out of the question.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My US Open One Pocket Road Trip

My Road Trip to the US Open One Pocket

Well I have to say I did not know what to expect as this was the first one for me as this past year was my first Derby. Lucky for me I was in good company on this trip with the legendary San Jose Dick McMorran. I met up with Dick at his place
early in the morning so we could beat any traffic, we loaded up the car with a bunch of his pool cases and cues he wanted to unload in Vegas but its funny because that is where they stayed since we were too busy to ever move them when we got there.
I might list them online for him so look out for them.

Dick took the wheel of his big Buick and drove us up, we wanted to stop off for breakfast at an old road stop where he used to go on one of his 100 trips towards Vegas but it was 7am or so and they were closed, we would have to wait until Kingman. We got to Kingman and hit up a good spot called the Road Runner Cafe that served a good home style breakfast. I discovered some books at our table for us to preview and purchase if we liked, I could think of a few people on the forums and in real life who could have used those books as the titles were classic. The books were by
Ben Goode and titled, "How to Make People Think your Normal", "The Joys of Being Broke" and "How to Stay Humble when Your Smarter than Everybody Else".

On the road to Vegas, its about a 5 hour drive and Dick is good company with many stories from his old road days. I have to say that you fellas here on the net are missing out on these gems and I tried to get him to do some on camera for your enjoyment but to no avail, he is just too humble. Maybe if enough of you get on him he will write them or let me swing by and have him tell you them, its just pricesless stuff or a time that is long gone. I would love to tell the stories myself but I am not the best storyteller and do not want to ruin them.

We end up in Vegas and head to the Riviera where there are thousands of pool players who love the game as we do, if you have not been there then your missing out on something special. Whether you like bar table or big table games you will have stuff to watch or play, its all there, one pocket, 14.1 challenge, 10 ball, and so many bar table events I cannot name them all. I have only ever been to Vegas for pool, not really into the other things Vegas has to offer for the most part.

Dick and I get ready for our dinner at Kristoffer's with some of the members of the website, we are in good company as John Brumback, John Henderson, Steve Booth, Lou Figeroua, Roy Steffensen, Bernie Pettipiece and his friend Ramses. We have some pre dinner drinks (i love drinks)and BS a little bit, Mark Griffin swings by and its always a pleasure to talk to him and let him speak of his new ideas and ways of improving things in the industry and his events. We almost get our dinner crashed by Earl, a part of me would have been happy for him to join us but then we all might have ate our dinners a little quicker and not been able to have some good conversation amongst one another that we did. I enjoyed the dinner and hope we can do it again next year, its a shame though that there are not better places to eat in the Riv, Kristoffer's is way overrated but still convenient for what we were doing. Thanks Lou for putting it all together though, for a minute me and Lou
thought half the people might not show but they all did which was very cool.

I have to say my days were a bit of a blur as I had barely any sleep, from the morning at 9 am til around midnight or so I did the live scoring for the first day, I was spent and decided I could only do the first shift of the live scoring from 9am to 4pm from then on for the rest of the one pocket event. I was either half in the bag most of the time and sleep was not on the agenda. I did get to meet some forum members though and that is always a joy to me and pretty cool to shoot the shit with them, its too bad I am bad with names but never forget a face so if we met dont be bashful and jump in this thread.

I did not get to play much, a 3-4 hour practice session with Bernie Pettipiece before the first day of matches. I felt I played well especially since Bernie is a much better player than I, I held my own a bit and was pleased with how I played trading games back and forth. I think the warm up was good for Bernie too as he did well in the tournament and even beat Gabe Owen 3-0 and nearly beat Rafael Martinez also. Well done Bernie and I look forward to more practice sessions. My only action on the table was $50 sets of 8 ball and banks, I am not a banks player and never really have gambled on it but put together two 4's back to back which was cool, winning all four sets we played, I will leave the victims name out of it.

Lots of sidebetting for me though which was fun and after all the days of one pocket I think I finished a couple dollars down, the one that set me back was the match with Alex and Frost, Alex I felt was lucky to win that match when Scott needed 1 and he needed 3, Scott would have been up 2-0. I have never seen Scott miss as many off angle combinations which he is usually great at making as he has in the past 2 one pocket tournaments, it really cost him matches and possibly winning the tournies. He made a ball on his break hill-hill and has an off angle combo with not much distance but misses it and sells out, he did the same thing at California Billiard Club against Alex and it cost him the rack and possibly the match there too. I feel he is playing a ball under his speed a year ago which really shows up among the other top guys.

I was really impressed by a Canadian player named Brian Butler, he beat some top guys such as Jeremy Jones, Rafael Martinez and was running out hill-hill on Frost when he got tied up in the balls with them all open and he needing only 3 for the win. He was a dark horse for sure and does not miss too many shots, I would watch out for him in the future for sure.

I have a had some players who are into the gambling aspect make reference that the internet does not benefit the players, I have to differ and thinks its a very naive statement. Perhaps you cant sneek up and hustle anymore but these big events work on numbers especially for sponsors and promoters, the internet brings in big numbers and is obviously the way to spread the word for events and other happenings. Hopefully someone will let them know this and one of the reasons why tournaments and other events are successful is because of the internet and its something we all need to embrace because there is no going back.

Me and Dick were on a funky drinking, food and sleep schedule. Room service seemed to be the best bet, we would pitch quarters for it at around 5-6am, I think we were pretty even on them for the most part. If your ever at The Riv, my advice is to skip the buffet there as its not very good and no selection at all, I heard Circus-Circus across the way has a good buffet though. Sorry if I take a strong position about food but I love to eat and drink. Dick rented a scooter as he was not in for those long walks around the event especially being 2 1/2 times my age, he did not get pulled over or any tickets for scootering while intoxicated. I did tell him a funny story of a guy being drunk and riding one of them down the stairs one year.

The live scoring is a complete bore fest but the good things is I get to sweat a good deal of one pocket, more hours than mostly anyone I think. I saw some upsets and great outs, Earl raking the balls when Frost needed 5. If you guys missed out on Efren and Deuel, that was a nail biter especially for me giving up 2-1 on the money taking Efren when he was up 3-2 and then all of a sudden Corey is hill-hill needing 1 ball. I hope TAR gets that one out quick because its just an epic match. TAR has an awesome set up and it was just excellent being able to watch in the room, casino or on one of the huge projection screens in the tournament arena, one of these days I hope to get in the booth for Justin.

The Riv has to be on borrowed time I felt, its an aging casino that has seen better days. When I was there I guess they shut the doors on the Sahara too, with the overbuilding of Vegas and plenty of newer places to blow your dough its just a matter of time before the old horses get put down. I am not sure where the tournament goes if the Riv closes down, perhaps South Point would be a good place, nice clean affordable rooms and plenty of space nut the only downside is when your walk out of the casino there is not much around being on the far south end of the strip. I did enjoy seeing the Crazy Girls preview by the blackjack tables, its a nice touch when your playing some cards to have a nice view, probably the best thing about The Riviera. Here is a little video someone took to give you an idea of what you were missing out on.

I did finally get to meet the great Artie Bodendorfer and really enjoyed speaking with him, very cool guy and sharp too. I watched him watching one pocket and my thought was this, he does not sweat one pocket like you and I do. Your probably thinking what does that mean?, well he seems to watch every little subtle thing and analyzing the play for mistakes, he probably knows how many mistakes are made each match and where it all went wrong or right. It was a pleasure to meet Artie and I look forward to the next time I see him.

The 6 days in Vegas went by fast and it was time for me and Dick to take off, I had next to no sleep as usual. We hit the road and take a detour to Laughlin which is my first time there, was glad we did too because I needed the rest. Dick played some blackjack and I got a room and slept for about 14 hours or so. The place is pretty cool at the Riverside Casino and the story of Don Laughlin is impressive to say the least. We got some good food at the buffet there and Dick was not lying that it gave most places in Vegas the orange crush. I guess Laughlin is like how Vegas used to be, if that is the case then its too bad Vegas is not like that any longer because its on a smaller scale, not all Disney like and overbuilt with too much to take in.

In closing I would just like to say that we are lucky to have people in the industry like Mark Griffin, he is really doing something special for pool and we are all in debt to him, I hope each year it grows and gets even better. If I had to choose between the events I have been too such as Derby, BCA or Valley Forge then I would be in Vegas with no question at all. Perhaps next year I might even play in it but I have much practice to do if I want to make a run like Henderson did in it, good job John, you earned it! Thanks to Steve Booth with also for all he has done for one pocket and I really hope more people get signed up on his site, if you love one pocket then its a great place to be.

My Trip to California Billiard Club

Well I am home and trying to get caught up on stuff, I figured I would drop a few lines here to all of you out there who supported the stream and I want to say thanks for chipping in to the cause. I hope the next stream I do will be even better, sorry for the poor audio.

I dogged it as I was using a new set up and thought nothing of using some old mics I had laying around instead of the usual Shure mics I use. I appreciate Kentucky Bill and Alex Bradley for helping me out in the booth, it is rough being in the box for 12-16 hours a day I assure you of that. With the players being right in front of us and the mic set up it made it tough for them to give it their best but I still was happy to have them help me out. See you guys down the road I hope, both are good guys.

Without Chris at California Billiard Club it would have never happened as he got me out there and put me up so those who enjoyed the stream owe him a big thanks. I really love that room, I have been to quite a few and its one of the best in many ways, no complaints besides cutting me off at 2am, haha. People do not realize what it takes to do what Chris did, to get everyone in place to make the whole event what it was, a packed house and full fields, a success.

The place has lots of tables, snooker, billiard table, lots of tvs and space around the table, great staff, sweet menu, and the list goes on and on. If your ever close to Mountain View then check it out, some good action there too. I hope this becomes an annual event and I get out there to do it again and bring all of you some great one pocket, it will be even better next time!

P.S. I will be listing the matches I recorded later and others might be available that were recorded to my hard drive with no commentary, just great one pocket. Will take some time though, really busy right now after being away for a week. If you have an order with me then its going out tomorrow? If I owe you any money for betting then send me a PM if you were not paid yet and I will get it out right away, if you owe me money then ship it , haha , thanks.

Friday, February 18, 2011

An After Derby Update

Well its been over a month since my last blog. I forgot how much I enjoy writing on here but I have been super busy. Things have been going fairly well besides my pool game at the moment which is kind of in a slump.

Power One Pocket has been doing well and I deem it a success. We sold out the 125 copies we brought to the Derby City Classic. We promoted it well with posters all over the place and it being announced on the TV table by Ken Shuman. The next big venue for the DVD will be the Super Billiards Expo in Valley Forge which I have not been to in many years, it was about 5 or more years ago since I went there with my friend who passed, Joe Sabia. I have about 100 DVDs in the hands of some vendors who will be there as I am not sure if I will make it in person but if I do then I will bring another 100 because this is the place where people are buying. The Derby is good but there was not a good deal of vendors, around 20 maybe, SBE has hundreds.

So my pool game and gambling have not been doing so hot, been in a bit of slump and have been losing some games I should win or have a shot at. I also have not been doing too hot on my side betting, already losing about the same amount I since the beginning of the year as I have in the whole year of 2010! The past 2 years I have been about 80%+ winner gambling which is great, I am okay with being even but right now I am couple hundred short of being even gambling so that is not good but the plus side is the year is early so we shall see.

I plan on practicing hard and coming back stronger which I usually do after a slump. I have been making breakthroughs and playing fairly well. At the Derby I finished higher then any Arizona player besides Scott Frost obviously, I made it to the 4th round but had a chance to make it to the 5th but I was leaving the next morning and I was just not into it knowing I was leaving even if I won but then I heard 5th round was money so I felt a little stupid.

I found a great cue to play with, nothing wrong with my Crown but its wrapless and I prefer a leather wrap. I got a cue from Joel Dadivas and its a bad mofo, anyone who has hit with it thinks its one of the best they have hit with and are amazed by it. I had to ship it back though as Joel is replacing the shafts due to some issues and I cannot wait for it to get back. I am playing with my Crown as of now and booked a good winner the other night with it playing some one pocket and did well in a 9 ball tournament so I will be just fine.

We did release another DVD recently, Scott Frost vs Cliff Joyner, it is 15 of the best racks from there match in Mobile Alabama last year. It really is some good one pocket and people have been enjoying it.

I plan on getting into shape also, been putting it off for a while, healthy body and mind will improve anyone's game, just a free tip. I might get back into the boxing gym because its great for conditioning and stamina. I am going to check out one tonight that is not too far from me.

Well time to get off of here and do some work, thanks for all the support fans of OTR, by the way the newsletter is back up so sign up for it if you have not at , its in the top right corner. Enjoy this pic of my Joel Dadivas JD cue.