I just got back from Reno where I competed in the US Bar Table Championships for the first time. It was a great tournament with some pretty stiff competition. Due to my work schedule I was only able to play in the eight ball bracket which was the biggest event with 189 players. I took 49th place and won my $100 entry fee back.
My first match was against a pro named Chris Gentile who took second place to Efrin Reyes last year in the One Pocket Open. I lost 5-2 but I shot well and the whole set felt a lot closer than the final score. Both of my wins were table runs and I had another couple of opportunities to do some damage. Chris played very strong offense and made two really amazing runs to close out the set.
Later that day, I got to play my second match, this time on the loser's side. The guy was shooting really well during his warmup, but I was able to take command of the game from the start and went up 3-0 before he knew what hit him. Around this time he switched to playing safe and I made a nice masse on my last ball and then kicked the eight into the side. Once I was up 4-0, I ended up feeling a little bad for the guy which may have messed up my last run. I'm going to need to work on my killer instinct. I quickly recovered and ended up winning 5-1.
The next morning I did pretty much the same thing to my next opponent and won 5-1 again. I then got to watch a winner's side match where I'd be playing the loser as soon as it was over. By this time I was really wishing I could run up to the hotel room for a nap, but I didn't figure that I'd have the time. The match that I was watching went hill/hill and ended with one guy playing a super thin cut on the eight into the corner. He had to hit it so hard to make the eight that the cue ball whipped around three rails and ended up rattling the same pocket that the eight dropped into. So now I knew that I'd be playing the other guy and that he'd probably still be miffed about that last shot. I went over to the table that we were scheduled to play on and two ladies were playing there, tied at 2-2 in their race to four. It took them around 45 minutes to complete that fifth game as my energy was draining. After a while, I ended up hearing my name on the PA and that my match was moved to a different table, yes!
As predicted, my next opponent came into our match with a negative attitude. He started off with a sour comment about which side of the table he wanted before the first game was even racked. Then during the first game, he played a safe where I could just barely not see a 13-15 combo into the side. Both of my stripes were close to each other and to the side pocket so I decided to try a masse. I've already successfully swerved a few shots into the pocket during the previous matches so I stepped up and fired away. I missed the shot, but clipped the 13 and sent the eight toward a far corner pocket, luckily it didn't have enough steam. My opponent called a foul saying that I hit the eight first and I of course protested. He claimed that I "had" to have hit the eight first due to where it was before the shot. I think that he really believed this, probably due to having a bad angle from his preferred seat. He ended up relenting saying that he should have called for a ref. I took the first couple games and then put myself into one ball hell in the third. He played me safe and I attempted to thin his five ball into a cluster of three other solids. I missed it completely and he got BIH. He played me safe again and this time I successfully parked the five right into the cluster. He played another safe and warned me I was on two fouls. I completely forgot about the three foul rule, woops! The eight was just on the other side of his clump of solids and I had to do a two rail kick. I missed the eight so I lost that game due to the three foul rule. He took a bathroom break smack dab in the middle of the next game but I didn't let it affect me. I ended up winning the set 5-3 and couldn't wait for that short nap that I'd been wanting to take. [Edit: there is no three foul rule in 8ball! Great reminder to read the rules beforehand. I'm pissed at myself, but at least I won the set.]
When I went to the board to see what time I'd have to return by for my next match, I was surprised to see that it was a half hour in the past! I had just finished the previous match so I knew I was safe, but I really didn't want to jump into another battle just yet. I went up to the desk and found my way to the table where I'd be playing. I won the first and third games for a 2-1 lead and my opponent pulled a page out of the last guy's book and went to the can. I don't really think that it affected me this time either, but I ended up losing 5-3. I shot well the whole set, no bad misses, no missed safeties. I just didn't have the winning edge that time.
All in all, I ended up making it to the first round of the money, which is better than I had expected. I had a great time, bought a hoodie and a jump cue, played a lot of pool with my girl, and got to take my dogs on a long road trip. I'm planning on doing it all again next year