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Planning for the BIG SHOW

BCA in Las Vegas

The BCA North American Championships in Las Vegas is one of the three big SHOWs for amateur pool players. The others are the VNEA and the APA (Bud) tournaments. The VNEA is played right after the BCA tournament and is at the same location.

Well, "right after" means with a week’s spacing to allow the tournament-worker-bees to lay by the pool, have a cool one or nine and have the bags under their eyes surgically removed before putting up with the second wave of maniacal amateur pool players.

In fact, many players just stay in Las Vegas and lay by the pool themselves. I think darn near all of the Canadian pool players move to Las Vegas for the month of May.  If you want to hustle pool in Canada, May is a good month to try.  You may not find many gamblers but you won’t back your butt into a buzz saw, either.

Even though Las Vegas is a big, big town with thousands of rooms, not all of the rooms are well situated for those who are there to play in the BCA. Staying at the Riviera is the best, for your longest walk to the game rooms isn’t too bad unless you are on a sprained ankle or worse.

The immediately adjoining hotels are OK, but not as convenient.  If you are willing to rent a car then the range of available hotels increases dramatically.  However it is rather nice to wander up to your room between matches or to attend to minor matters like splintering your cue, slitting your wrists or throwing up in the privacy of your own room.

So when is a good time to make your plans for May BCA in Las Vegas?

Well, if you are reading this in April you are so late it is beyond pathetic and approaching the insanely suicidal level of lateness.

Many players make hotel reservations in December and airline reservations in January or early February. If you can plan that far ahead, have slack in your credit cards to pay for a night’s room and all of your airfares, then you can have it all pretty well wired by March 1.

Many teams have not even decided if they are going to be able to muster a battle group to send into the fracas. 

For example:  Bubba is not sure if he can get off.  Mikey is having marital difficulties.  Joey is in love with a budding lounge singer and might be sitting front row at her first gig at the Dew Drop Inn in Piddlefritz, Montana.  Sam is thinking of moving to Nashville and becoming a C&W Star and Charlie has surgery scheduled for his terminal case of hemorrhoids.

As BCA Las Vegas gets closer though, suddenly Bubba’s vacation is approved, Mikey makes up, Joey’s squeeze finds a new squeezer, Sam listens to himself sing and Charlie finds out his problem was that he has been wearing his underwear backwards, and lo and behold, you have a team!

So how are you going to get everyone to LV without it costing an arm, leg and a gonad?  Well, air transportation is out.  Most airlines will want a grand to get you there at late notice.  One year I was going to go and made up my mind at the last moment to go.   GAG! A $G to fly?   So much for that.

Sometimes airfare deals can be had but you have to exhaust all possibilities, include roundabout paths or pool-player-specific deals.  If 6 players kick in and rent or borrow a van they can cruise out there on the cheap, albeit with many hours stuck in a van.

Now what about the rooms?   Across the street is the Westward Ho.   They have some back apartments that have three beds.   With a roll-up bed or two a team can be housed in one apartment for about $100 a night.   Believe me, $100 for 5 guys is lower than dirt cheap.  Now don’t expect the Taj Mahal.   In fact, one time I was stuck for a room and took one of these rooms.  

I made the mistake of having some friends over to check out the joint.   Now Bobbi wanted to say something nice and all she could muster was that there was "uh, uh, uh, lots of closet space."

Manny, on the other hand, went for my throat.  Spying a hole in the window and two corresponding holes in a table he bumped the table into alignment with his leg.  Then he commented that "The bullet must have come from that apartment over there, come through the window, and cut through the table.  Hmmm, I hope those carpet stains aren’t blood.  Probably a .38."

Thanks, buddy.   The next night I rented a car and moved to the other end of The Strip and stayed at the Luxor.   What are a few bucks to avoid ingesting .38 slugs?

Now if you are a High Roller and have intentions of pressing your lips up against Lady Luck’s toushy, come on down, make a call to the Casino, establish your credit limit, and you will probably get all or part of your room comp’d.  This might mean that you gamble away $4000 to get $600 worth of room rent waived.  Shrewd bargaining, I'd say.

But then again, if Lady Luck LIKES the feel of your lips on her bottom, she just might toss you a few $K, kick in a few free meals, and make Ze Loooooove moves on you, and pay for your room!  Cool, Huh? 

Beware, though, for many a Man has gone down the big flusher in the sky trying to deflower Lady Luck.  She is more fickle than a Danish swimsuit model when the Pacific Fleet steams into San Diego.

So you have delivered the team to Las Vegas, stuffed all of your tired butts into a single room and are trying to get a decent night’s sleep before your team matches start early in the AM.

Little did you know that Bubba prays to the spirits in his sleep.  Or that the reason Mikey had wifey problems was because he snores like two freight trains on a collision course and she has not slept in two years.  Joey is crying in his sleep for his "Widdle Wovey Poo" and Sam sings falsetto when he is in LaLa Land.  Charlie’s crack problems really stem from terminal flatulence after staying up until 4 AM at the, tee hee hee, Craps table.

(Reveille played here.)

WOW!  What a bunch of grumpy bastards in the morning! 

Oops, Charlie forgot his shirt and has to wear the spare shirt.  But the spare shirt is an M while Charlie is a XL.  Mikey is an L with an L shirt but refuses to stuff himself into an M so Charlie could be stuffed into an L because "why should I suffer and ruin my game because Charlie forgot his shirt?"  So Charlie wears a T-shirt, and slits the spare shirt up both armpits to wear over the T.  Not pretty, but legal.  I bet I've seen it 20 times.

At the end of the first day, two wins one loss.  No play until tomorrow, so off to the lounge for a cool one or two.  Six hours later, here is the scorecard.  Sam forgot his money and the ATM machine laughs and giggles when he even gets close to it with his ATM Card.  Bubba lost his pool cue to some funny looking guy who never missed, while Joey has spent every spare moment on the phone talking to some Hussy in Piddlefritz.  Sam insists on jumping on stage and begging the band to let him sing a medley of "Feelings; You Light Up My Life; Yellow Ribbon" and he promises to close with an up-tempo "Feelings."  The drummer keeps motioning to Security.  Mikey is blasted and sitting with his face in a sand ashtray claiming to be on a beach in Maui.

Everybody sleeps like a baby, even the ones who can’t find the room.

The Sun arrives before it left and the team is up and in good spirits.  The reason they are in good spirits is because they are still a bit loopy from last night’s suds.  They are finally down to only 0.10.

Breakfast consists of 4 eggs, 8 bacons, 5 toasts, and 2 coffees, 1 milk, and 3 Buds.  That is for each teammate.

The next match is ready to start at the appointed hour of 9:00am and the opponents show up with a cart of iced beer and welcomes your hands into their beer.  THEY have been up all night and are ready to rumble!  Their buzz is complete and yours is freshly renewed.  You win.  They don’t care; they are ready for bed.  One guy falls asleep on the cart under the beer and is rolled away to rue the day.

The next match, however, is with a fresh bunch that actually shaved and combed their hair!  It is a close match, but your team’s Hammer can’t remember if he is stripes or solids during the hill-hill game and fires the wrong ball in on a sweet-sweet bank.  Fun, and a great shot, just that it was the wrong ball.

Ball in hand and some funny looking guy with his newly acquired "Bubba" cue drills the case 8 and the team's life is over for this BCA. 

Now during the course of this match everyone manufactured millions of BTUs of brain gas but the hill-hill faux pas is THE memorable game screw-up.

Everyone forgot that Sam dropped the cue ball into the middle of a cluster while he had ball in hand.  Bubba followed the 8 into the same pocket from way out in the the middle of the table.  Joey miscued and pocketed the 8 when the table was still open.  Mikey sunk the 8 and stopped the rolling cue ball with his hand for an instant loss.  Charlie snoozed calling a foul on what should have been a Stevie Wonder run-out for him.

But NOOOOOOOO!  Everyone is going to remember the time YOU, the Captain, fired the opponent’s ball in on a sweet-sweet bank and lost the whole tournament!  The WHOLE tournament! 

So the vote is taken to save a night’s rent, bail out, drive 30 hours home, and leave immediately.  Because you lost the WHOLE tournament, you are elected to drive the first shift which lasts about 30 hours.  They all go to sleep before the Riv is gone from the rear view mirror.

And all of this happened because you failed to encourage your team to make early reservations, to get cheap airfare, and to book individual rooms.  Remember that next year.  Plan ahead.  Be bright.  Have vision.  Do your homework.

For once tasted, Las Vegas is in their blood.  They can’t live without it.  They’ll all be there.  Trust me on this one.  Maybe even Mikey’s wife.


Nobody paid me any money to put these links here, I just thought they deserved it.  Tell them Carlo sent you, maybe they'll buy me a beer.

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