CSI Photo“Great win Gail! People of all levels will go their whole lives without winning a 400+ player tournament. Something you can always look back on to feel good about your game and help you when you struggle.” ~R.Pole

Ginky, “Gail, a win in that size a field is something to be really proud of.  I’ve never won a tournament with that many players!  Really, that’s spectacular!”


So I know I’m supposed to have this great big write up about Vegas and winning and all.  I’ve sat down to write it like 10 times for 2 weeks and felt uncomfortable.

Last year was different.  Last year, it was a team so the spotlight is shared.  That’s a lot easier for me.  Rather than diving into a new post, I decided to go back and read some of my old ones.  I read a post I wrote a while back called “Go Big or Go Home” It made me think about a lot of my conversations with Tony and Emily in Vegas this year, both who constantly reminded me of how far I’d come and how talented a player I am.

See, when someone talks positively about my game, there’s this little silencer button I seem to unconsciously hit that dulls their voice and turns on my bullshit-0-meter.  No matter how logical the acknowledgements are, they still seem to drown in my disbelief.  I’m not sure if that makes any sense.  I watch some of my other girls and they just seem to know how to handle this all.  They smile with pride, breathe it all in and really enjoy it.  Me?  I’m not enjoying it as much as I’m scared of it.  I think I get this from my mom.  She seems to shy away from attention too.

I’m not saying the compliments don’t feel good or aren’t nice to hear.  Hmmm…See, I have a family member that takes “patting himself on the back” to a WHOLE new level.  He’s got many good and bad qualities and I’ve tried to become someone that harnesses the good qualities and vehemently rebel against the bad ones.  I wonder if my desperation to not be an ego maniac, is making me put my ego in check too much?  Am I delaying my rise to success in fear of being arrogant?  Is my fear of arrogance inadvertently pushing away confidence too?    Oh, the fine line of arrogance and confidence I yo-yo with.

Enough psychobabble.

Olhausen Billiards Signs KODIn a nut shell, I was a different person in Vegas during the singles event.  I was calm.  I was rested.  I was at peace.  Tony mentioned my sleep was a huge factor.  When I got to Vegas, I slept more than I was awake the first 2 days.  I didn’t realize how tired I was till the first two nights we slept 12 hours each night.

My body was begging for a break, physically and mentally.

While I think the sleep did help, following Tony around in the Grand Master event was, I believe, the best PREP I could have done for my own tournament.  I watched Tony play Beau Runningen first round.  Beau, btw, a GREAT player who obviously plays ALOT of 8-ball.

Ok, so here’s the thing.  These two Open/Pro players…yay, their first rack took 40 MINUTES!!!  HUH?  Not kidding!!  One rack!

That one rack taught me, what I believe is the most important thing in bar-box 8-ball. Patience is a Virtue.

tr1 These guys, both who could try (and often succeed) a run out, a break out and hope for the best, bank, kick, carom, etc.  They did NONE OF THIS.  They played safe, safe, safe.  The table wasn’t open, so instead of going for the wild stuff, they kept strategically placing one of their balls near the cluster.  Then the opponent would play an intentional foul and pocket that breaking ball.  It was wild!  They were making more of EACH OTHER’s balls, then their own balls.

I was lucky enough to sit next to Stu Mattana watching one of these matches and he told me a great quote by Danny Diliberto that basically said,

The game of 8-ball is like a war.  The table is your battlefield.  Every one of your balls, stripes or solids, is like a solider on a battlefield. Don’t remove any of those soldiers from the battlefield unless doing so offers a path to winning the war.

Danny’s meaning here was that far too many players lose racks of 8-ball by pocketing some of their balls prematurely.  I watched opponents and friends time and time again try to run out impossible racks, then get stuck and now find they are VERY behind in the rack.  I won a lot of racks not so much by breaking and running, but more by waiting for my opponent to get stuck.

What to Do?In truth, I don’t remember a whole lot about the actual racks, ball positions, etc.  I’m particularly amnestic about Tuesday when I played the Hot Seat match against Tara Williams (lost 4-3), the semi-finals with Dana Aft (won 4-3), then Tara again for two sets in the finals (Won the first 4-3, won the second 4-2).

People recall shots I took, shots I made, shots I missed, and times I should have played safe and aside from the last 2 racks in the final set, I don’t remember any of them.  I was in this strange coma when I played.  I stopped worrying about everything else but myself and the table that lay before me.  I did exactly what I wanted to do.  I took my time, thought everything through.  I stopped caring about the world around me and gave the moment it’s respect.  I finally gave myself and my needs as a player, some respect.

I do remember laughing at myself A LOT.  I remember calling myself donkey and jackass A LOT. I remember talking to myself & rolling my eyes a lot.  I remember looking to Tony after a miss and he’d give me the look of DEATH, HOPE, HURT & mouth,

Um, why didn’t you play SAFE, UGH!”

Willy WillLOL – It helped that I really didn’t get down on myself… I took the whole experience in strides if I messed up, I accepted it.  I believe this light-hearted attitude gave my heart room to feel good and my head room to think clearly. It helped that I got good rolls too.  I never saw anyone win a tournament that didn’t have a good roll or two come there way.  It’s part of the game.

Tony was my strength.  He was there so proud, so honored, so incredibly happy for me.  I put him through hell for three days, torturing him with suspense, amateurish patterns, premature offense and delinquent defense.  He felt every miss I think more than I did.  He internalized this tournament with his whole heart and soul.  He was TRULY, TRULY the only person in the world that really believed I could win, particularly when I didn’t even believe it myself.

In the finals, I was a different player than the rest of the tournament.  All the other matches, I had nerves, doubt and apprehension.  In the finals, something took over me.  It’s like I pulled from all my experiences and grew up for that moment.  I finally had an unwavering belief in myself.  I didn’t think, I just reacted. Everything around me was foggy, but the table, the balls, pattern and out, were all crystal clear.  Everything slowed down.  It was like that moment in the Matrix when Neo sees the code.  It’s hard to fully put into words the feeling but I finally WANTED to win.

I think I was finally READY to win.

After the FinalsAt the final, it felt so good hearing people behind me.  So many New Yorkers I didn’t even expect to come, did.  Having support is so comforting and helpful in any match, but in the finals, it can make or break you.  This game can be pretty lonely at times.  You can often question who is really your friend, who’s not, and sing a little Rodney King “Why can’t we all just get along?”   I know who came, and who didn’t.  I guess I should thank both.  Those who came helped fuel me with cheers, love, gratitude and strength.  Those who didn’t … perhaps you helped me see that sometimes, people will let you down.  Don’t let that scapegoat excuse you from winning.  I found the fighter inside of me anyway.

The 8-ball below, is the one to win it all.  (Thank you Naldo for filming this!)  I’m getting emotional just writing this….when I saw I had one ball to shoot, a flood of memories came to me, the most vivid was the 8-ball from Vegas 2 years ago with KOD. ( Recap?  Click here. ) I remember saying to myself,

“Gail, just one more ball.  You can do it.  This time, you’ll make it.”

All those heartaches, all the losses, all the tournaments  & tears; all the emotions, they are the reason you are here right now, cause you never gave up on yourself.

Thank you Naldo!

You’ll never know how close you are to victory unless you continue to go forward. Remember that baby. ~TR


~ by g2 on June 1, 2010.

3 Responses to “402”

  1. I remember what you were saying about what your drive was for the last two/three sets you had before your win… I went something like “I had about three four people in my corner and she had what seemed like the entire state of Texas in hers given the situation i was in, I was driven and determined to play my best without thinking I was dominating, but instead play my best with a bit humbleness and a bit of humility”. Something like that…

  2. If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.

    – Sir Issac Newton

  3. Sweet win, Gail. Memory for a lifetime!

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