Saturday, April 16, 2011

What are the Odds ?

I enjoy playing pool (or billiards  for my friends with British accents!)

Not my actual table
(but this one is similar)
I have a pool table in my basement, that I got from my brother's father-in-law's family for an excellent price (I really should thank them again or at least invite them over to play pool if they ever want to!)  The felt is a little worn and will need to be replaced in the next year or two (but I'll probably wait until the kids are a little older just like we're doing with the carpet upstairs!)

I don't play all that often, but it is a nice tool for relaxation if I ever need to blow off steam or just enjoy a little "me time."  I love playing with friends or family members, mostly because very few people have pool tables so I know it is a bit of a "treat" for them.  If you're ever at my house and want to play, don't hesitate to ask!  I may not suggest it (because I know it isn't my wife's favorite thing for me to disappear downstairs to my man cave) but trust me when I say I'm always up for a few games!  I'm usually a pretty gracious host when playing, especially if my opponent is much less skilled than me (not as rare as you might think, but I'm barely "okay" compared to anyone who really knows how to play).

My personal favorite game is straight up 8-ball. All 15 balls on the table.  Stripes versus Solids.  Just the basic version of rules for that on my table -- you have to call the 8-ball at the end, but almost anything else is okay (slop shots are allowed if they are ridiculous or cool enough!)  I have actually sunk the 8-ball off the break one time on this pool table.  Depending on which rules you follow that is eaither an automatic win (that's how my table counts it!) or an automatic loss.  Either way, that shot is a rarity, even among very skilled players.

I also love to play Cutthroat, which is a three-player game that is especially fun when you don't want to make one person sit out every other game.  If you've never played, the premise is very simple.  Each person gets 5 of the numbered balls (1-5, 6-10, 11-15) and your goal is to knock in the opponent's balls.  Last player with a ball on the table is the winner.  Against my wife and son I usually just take 3 balls and they each get 6.  That evens things out fairly well.

This past Thursday, my best friend from high school, Craig Shaw, came over to hang out.  He was in town with his boys on their Spring Break and it was nice to spend some time catching up with him.  We played some 8-ball and even when I switched to left-handed shooting (very hard to do since I am a righty!) the competition was about as fair as when he plays against me in Ping Pong (he is very much the master of the two of us in table tennis!)  That day, the poor guy just couldn't catch a break.  So we switched to 9-ball ...

And that was when it happened!

9-ball rules are very simple.  You play with only the 1-9 balls, alternating turns and only knocking the next numbered ball in (in order from smallest to largest).  The first person to sink the 9-ball wins.

My left hand was tired from several games of shooting backwards so I told Craig I was going to switch back to playing right-handed.  He wanted me to break first so I set up my shot.  He joked and said "Let's see how the pros do it with their right hand!"  And then I shot the cue ball toward the pile ...

CRACK !!! ... wait for it ... w a i t    f o r    i t  . . .

The 9-ball went in the left corner pocket!

Automatic win for Josh.  Devastation for Craig.  All in attendance were in awe!

This is not such a rare feat on the professional circuit, but I have never seen it done before in person.  It was the coolest shot I have ever made playing pool.  I joked with Craig and laughed about how it just wasn't his day.  I racked the balls again and we played the next game with Craig breaking.  It was close but I pulled out the win at the end.  And then it was my turn again to break.  The balls were racked and I set the cue ball.  I joked that I didn't want to break again because it was never going to get better than the last break!  Craig almost said something, but didn't ... and I struck the cue ball toward the pile ...

CRACK !!! ... wait for it ... w a i t     f o r     i t  . . .


The 9-ball went in the left corner pocket AGAIN !!!

Automatic win for Josh.  Utter shock and dismay for Craig.
The rest of the crowd was silenced.

Not only had I made the most incredible shot of my life but I had done it TWICE ... in a row!  We played a few more rounds and my game was all downhill from there, but it was the most fun I have ever had playing pool!  I'll probably never do that again and certainly not twice in a row, or even the same day for that matter.

I was mostly just glad to have my good friend Craig there to witness the event and cheer me on.  Thanks buddy!  Like Johnny in the song "Devil Went Down to Georgia" I say to my pal Craig ... "I told you once, you sonofagun I'm the best they's ever been!"

Not really, but in that moment it sure felt like it!  :)



  1. Awesome post!! I loved reading about your two amazing automatic wins against Craig! And you even incorporated one of my favorite country songs (The Devil Went Down To Georgia)! Brilliant!

  2. Thanks for this post, Josh. I needed some comic relief! :)

  3. I love to play pool even though I am awful. And after hearing your exploits, I don't think I would dare to play you. ;)

  4. I don't believe you... I think you made the whole thing up :)