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Carlo's Table

Practice, Practice, and Practice.

Or at least get a better lawyer.

 The first thing I ask when about to play someone new outside of a tournament venue is "What rules?"  Hell, I even ask at tournaments.  You never know.  But one-on-one matches, I always ask newcomers. 

"What rules?" responds my opponent candidate.

"Yes, what rules do you want to apply to the games we are considering playing?"  I watch closely as they form their response.  If they have a significant delay, or question marks are written all over their face and they begin to stutter a bit, then I know I have a "situation" on my hands.

"Wahl, 'round here we play by regggggular rules."

"Oh, hell, here we go again" I think to myself.  "Well, the words 'regular rules' don't quite pin them down like BCA rules, or the Valley National rules, or the APA rules, or the World Standardized rules, or the Billiard Congress of America's rules, or the American Poolplayers Association rules or the VNEA rules."  "Then there is the Southwest Eightball league rules or the SWEL league rules or Texas Express."

Now the brighter of you will pick up on the fact that many of the rules were mentioned twice.  The brighter of the brighter will pick up that all the rules are essentially the same with the exception of what happens on certain conditions on the break and marking pockets for the 8-ball.

The next response occurs with almost 100% certainty. 

"HUH?  We play Regular Rules.  You know, like real gennelmen."  Right.

Well, just like traffic rules and tax rules, I'd kinda of like to have them written down somewhere, just to avoid the type of misunderstanding that results in an animated difference of opinion between males of non-insignificant strength whence motivated by the potential for monetary gain or loss.


I'd rather have good rules so we don't beat each other's brains out over a $10 wager.


If you have your rules written down, we can play by those, otherwise we should use these (pulling out a small booklet of rules) to avoid difficulty.  If you don't know the rules, then maybe we should play for a drink or I should acquaint you with the REAL rules, the kind that strangers should know when starting play.

Do you know that 7,000 to 10,000 players show up for the Billiard Congress of America's North American 8-ball Championships and all of them play by the same rules?  It is the same for VNEA a week later.

Yeah, yeah, there are always some that don't quite know the rules, so they have referees around to take up the slack.  It keeps arguments to a minimum, especially when a decision can be worth many 1,000s of greenbacks.

I remembered a memorable evening when I watched play on a single table at a local watering hole.  I had been going in there for years but had never stepped to the table for there was no competition and even fewer who knew the rules. 

Each game was a comedy of execution errors and a comedy of rules errors.  Toss in the frequent spilled drink, common lack of chalk or even cue tips, and a well placed obstacle post and I had no interest in playing in the place.  But the drinks were cheap and I avoided bad traffic by killing an hour there. 

Except on one Wednesday of each month.  Then this group of 20-30 attractive females would take over the back of the place and have exactly 2 after-work drinks, play pool and talk non-stop for two hours.  Then the hen event was over and the 20 females would pay their tab, bolt for the door and terrorize the highways during their trips home.

Now and then they would drag a male co-worker or two along, emasculate them with joyful glee, and boogie on.  I stayed far away.

I'd watch the game and the numerous wonderful variations of rules these women would establish to solve their table-based social difficulties.  The offering of "Overs" or "Try that again" were only exceeded by their inability to remember who shot next. 

Flat out - they didn't care if a ball EVER went in a pocket.

That evening I had played somewhere else first, was in dead punch, and still showed up in time to watch these prancing damsels encircle the pool table. 

The only revelation I remember about their meetings is that females have just as dirty of minds as men which is a comforting thought except when you include the fact that my daughter is out there someplace in the World with a female mind. 

But whoa be it to the man who would try to invade that Amazon group without an invitation!

So prancing in the door comes "Studly DoRight" or should I call him Studless DoWrong," for this guy was clueless.  About everything.

It turns out he has charmed one of the women from this Wednesday Night Amazon Prancing Pool and Prattle Party into a date, but only after the group broke up for the evening.  He was already second fiddle to the WNAPPAPP.

So he is a fringe invitee to the group at a fragile invitation from one of the group whose first date has yet to happen.  He, obviously, is a masochist.

Studless had already been elsewhere of a beverage persuasion, and spotting the pool table he slammed quarters down on the table to wait his turn.  Time transpired and the game was over and he approached to play his game.

Forgetting that his date is NOT the one he is about to play, he pops off with this most memorable request to wager on the up-coming pool game:  "Hey baby, I only play this game for money, whiskey or sex.  What'll it be?  You pick, honey."

Ignored by the opponent who happens to be the most athletic, competitive and sports minded woman of the group (a high school coach,) she is still caught off-guard by the comment.  So Studless repeats the Money, Whiskey or Sex challenge.

Giving him the Evil Eye, she got my added attention when she called "corner pocket" while facing the full unbroken rack of balls.  I thought I might learn something special.

She laid her cue on the table, stepped forward and making a wide cup of her hands proceeds to shove then entire rack into the corner.  Bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap go the balls as they flooded down the corner pocket.

The 8-ball, in a crowd of balls being squeezed on two sides by hands and the other two sides by rails decided to pop out, cross the rail and land on the floor.  After she finished jamming 14 of the 15 balls in the corner pocket, she retrieved the 8-ball, and brushing it in Studless' face, said "8-ball in the corner!" and proceeded to slam dunk the ball in the pocket.  WHAM!

19 women and Carlo fell apart in tears of laughter.  So Studless, his ego somewhat bruised, and not wanting to attack another female turns to me and challenges me to play.  "What's so funny?  You wanna play?"  So I told him that we should play for the sex.  20 women laughed and, I think, immediately adopted me into their group.

$20 a game.  OK.  What rules?  Regular rules.  OK, I have Studless who is also clueless.  This should be fun.

$100 later and Studless is fuming and the ladies are loving it.  "Play for a $100?" says Studless.  Sounds good says I, but we should post the money.  Now I have shamed and insulted him and he is furious.

We each post $100 bill.  I roll it and clip it and put it under a glass on an empty table with Studless watching closely.

Studless wins the flip, breaks and makes a few balls and misses.  I run down to the 8-ball, but his ball is half blocking a pocket, so (playing bar rules) I call the 8-ball in a firm voice, drawing the shot with my fingers, as "rail - your ball - and in."  I state "Rail, your ball, in the corner." 

I shoot and execute perfectly.

Studless says "you didn't call it off the 10 ball."  I responded that it was the only ball there, I pointed at it, said it, and I even drew the shot ricocheting off that ball.  "Yeah, but you didn't say 'THE 10 BALL' so you called it wrong and I win!" and with that he snatched the posted bet and ran out the door.

The women were ready to organize a lynching party and I just stood there smiling.  They could not understand why.

Well, Ladies, knowing how unscrupulous he was, I anticipated a situation.  I was prepared and substituted two $1 bills, so he just stole $2, not $200.  I expect him back any moment, madder than 200 wet hens. 

If he won legitimately I would have picked up the $2, handed him $200 and been done.  I wasn't worried.  He was pool-clueless.  His bridge and back hand would slide back and forth together and pump-handle.  He must have thought that was cool but it told me he was a pool idiot.

Studless comes busting back into the place carrying the only weapon he apparently could find.  He had one of the early portable phones, in a bag, and was carrying it like a club.  He was screaming about having the bet stolen.  "You stole the money!"

I said "You saw me post the $200.  Then I won the game.  Then YOU stole the post and walked out the door.  Now you back come in here and say it was $2 and want me to give you ANOTHER $200?  Heck, you owe ME $200 - the bet you just took out the door."  With that, he cocked back the phone-club as if ready to strike. 

Hey Studless, if you try to hit me with that phone, I promise to internally install that phone so that whenever anybody calls you, you will have a very funny feeling.  Well, not my exact words, but you get the drift.

20 women, a dozen bar patrons, the bartender and two waitresses are awash with laughter.  Studless abandoned hope and fled the premises.

At a recent team tournament, playing for the championship, we jumped on the winner of the loser's side 8-2 going to 13.  They are 5 games from being eliminated.  They stopped the match for an hour trying to see if there was some error in our lineup or some rule that might disqualify us.  13-3 was the finals.  Hah.  If you can't beat someone, check to see if there is a RULE that you can hang onto for a win!  When losing, look for a rule! 

So I turn to my prospective opponent, the one who wants to play Regular Rules, whatever they are, and I ask him if he is an attorney.  "NO!" he responds, and "WHY?" he retorts.

"So when the arguments start, I know whether or not you are going to start legal proceedings or come out swinging.  Some players, rather than learning the rules or getting better at the game want to win by changing the rules or making up rules."

I could see puzzlement in his eyes.  We'd better just play for a beer he said.  I responded "Sorry, buddy, I only play for money, whiskey or sex.  How about the sex?"  He went to the bathroom and didn't come back.

You know, if I could get Johnny Cochran and F. Lee Baily back together again to make up pool rules for me, I bet I could whup up on Strickland!


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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