I began playing pool at the age of 5 or 6. My dad frequented a local bar regularly and they had a 7-foot pool table then I begged him to let me play on finally the owner pulled up a milk crate, turned it upside down and I began standing on and playing from that milk crate.
I played all through college until one weekend at a nightclub in Peoria, IL. I was chased by a car full of linebacker types for 20 miles before they finally gave up, 5 miles from my front door. The bet had been $100 on one game.
We both held our respective tables all night and this guy came over and said "Well I guess we ought to play" just as they were announcing last call. I told him "I don't play for money", but three of my buddies got $100 together and handed it over to the guy holding the money.
I said "Are you sure you just wanna play one game for $100" he immediately replied "Yeah are you afraid?" I tried to flip for the break but he said "No you go ahead and break" I checked again if he was sure about that... And as fate often has it on a pool table, I snapped the eight on the break!
We took the money and headed for the door and they immediately followed us, when they realized they weren't going to get us before we got to our car they turned and headed for the car and the chase began. I was so freaked out about what it happened that's the night I quit playing pool. I didn't touch a pool cue again for 15 years.
At age 35 living in south St. Louis city I walked into a little coffee house or they had two 6 foot valley tables. I started playing with what appeared to be a bunch of really good players, and I did OK. I fell in love with the game all over again and played every day for about 10 months. I became the second-best player in there but I could not beat Rich, the owner of the coffee house.
So I asked him "why can't I beat you then", and he began explaining all about ball control, English, tangent line, basic stance setup, and stroke. A week later he offered to teach me everything he knew and I jumped at the opportunity. One day Rich took me aside and said "If I could make balls like you do, I would never lose a game".
I beat Rich for the first time 6 months later. I became a league player in St Louis and eventually ended up going to APA Nationals in Las Vegas four times in four different events, finishing as high as 33rd.
Mark straightened me out on all the things that I had gotten wrong when I first learned them, primarily understanding the importance of where the cue tip hits the cue ball, about a slow methodical stroke, and not using so much English, or using it nearly as often.
I'm now considered a pretty tough player in an area (Decatur, Illinois) that is full of top-notch players. Over the course of years that I've lived here in Decatur, I fell in love with the game of one pocket. In my mind if you become a good one pocket player, you can play any game with anyone.
Hi Bill, just wanted to say Im happy for you having a new bride. Hope all is going well and you are safe. I also wanted to say I very much miss your input on the site, particularly when it comes to handicapping and evaluating risk/reward situations. Please ask Mrs Incardona to free you up a few additional minutes a day so you can be more active here. Stay Safe. Keith/Sappo