Saturday, September 03, 2005

Tourney Play

Thursday night I made way back to Charles Billiard in Glendale to get in on a regular 8 Ball tournament that's held there. It's not even sponsored by the house, it's just hosted there, run by some dude who also manages another tournament in Pasadena. I left work early to fight traffic but there was surprisingly little so I had plenty of time to practice. There were a few guys there early too, and as soon as they found out I was waiting for the tournament, they invited me to get in a game.

They were nice guys as I got to talking to them, but I knew I was being sized up, it was kind of funny. As more people showed up I realized they all knew each other pretty well and I stood out as the only new face. There I was, the unknown, tho I could hardly be considered a threat to almost any of these clearly frequent players. ( Ball was the warm up game of choice, which was good, because when it comes down to it 9 Ball is anybody's game. I was able to get to the table, make a few runs, and basically let folks know I had some idea how to play the game.

Eventually the tournament started, maybe 20 or so people were in. The buy in was $15, and that also let you play all night long evean afterwards, so that's a pretty good deal. I got assigned to the tree and had my first games with a Brit named Clive on table 23-- my lucky number, for about 10 minutes! On the first game I made quick work of the table one ball shy of the 8, Clive had missed a couple early on but with all my balls clear he ran out on me. The second game Clive cleaned up on his third turn and left me with 5 up. Just to show I wasn't a chump I went back to the table anyways and cleared those 5 balls like it was my game anyway. I didn't know if I could do that but I did and it earned me some credit and a laugh or two. Clive went on to the next round and I moved one bracket down-- that's what sucked about this tournament, it was best two out of three to move on. Two games down and it's time to move on.

It only got worse cause in the second bracket you only get one game, so it's do or die! I lost that game when my opponent got down to the eight on his first turn, I had one turn up but there was no way I was suddenly gonna run 7 balls, so after my miss he took it and I was out for the night. We played another game just for fun which I did win, so at least in my mind I wasn't being totally snarked.

The thing I noticed most about this crowd was the side action, guys were playing 9 Ball for money through the practice time, and then taking bets on the bracket games. I wasn't into taking any bets not knowing anyone but it's good to know the score. There was this one Indian dude, he had some monster cue and was playing pretty slick, but he kept going to all the tables looking for crazy bets. He spoke with a thick accent and really fast, crazy shit like "One hundred dollars you can't run out! Come on, run out, one hundred dollars! Here, I put one hundred dollars, you put twenty, that's a good bet! You lose you pay me twenty dollars, you win I pay one hundred!" Nuts, man, nuts.

I stuck around for a bit and played a few pickup games, flirted with the cocktail waitress, then called it a night. I might go back a few more times but I don't think I can make it a regular date. For one thing it's a bit out of the way, but mainly I don't really dig on the house, or at least I haven't warmed up to it. One huge reason is that the damn place is on a slope. I mean, that's insane. The tables are all leveled out but on half of them you're standing tall for the brake and then you've got your ass in the air at the spot. There are some level floored tables in the corner and there are a few tables in an upstairs section, but for as fancy as the joint is, that's a huge drawback. It's a quirk I can tolerate, but sure as hell nothing I want to get used to.

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