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 www.onepocket.org 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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTQp3iePNQ8
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 www.onepocket.org 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.