Growing up, I had an Uncle that was a little eccentric. Actually, he was a Great Uncle (my Father’s Uncle). He was a Vietnam Vet, a retired Philly Cop, and he owned a bar in Fishtown. My Uncle was the type of guy that spoke his mind and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought of him. At times he struck me as a bit odd, and a little crazy, but I loved spending time with him at his bar.
In the summer, and many weekends throughout the school year, I would work for my Uncle by cleaning his bar. It wasn’t hard work. All you really had to do was wipe everything down real well, sweep and mop the floors, and re-stock the booze.
Since my Uncle always offered to give me a ride home after I was done working, I would get to hang out until the bartender came in and opened up for business. I liked to pass the time by playing pool. Between my Uncle and the patrons that came in early in the day, I learned a lot about the game.
Years later, when my family moved out of Philly, my Father went out and bought a table for the house. For years we shot on that table several times per week. When the weekends rolled around we often played through the night. At one point in time we were pretty good at the game. If someone missed an easy shot, there was a good possibility the other person would run the table and end the game.
Eventually life got busy and neither one of us played as often as we used to (it wasn’t the same playing pool alone). Like anything in life, the longer I spent away from the game, the more my skills deteriorated.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that I picked up a pool cue again. As a member of the Sir Stogies Private Lounge (my local cigar shop) I have free rein on the pool table in the back. Several of the other members play and it has been a lot of fun.
A few weeks ago I pitched the idea of doing a Sir Stogies Pool Tournament. We would do two-man teams (blind draw) and charge a $5 buy in. Each matchup would be a race to 5 games and the winning team would move on. The team that won the tournament would split the pot in the form of a store gift card.
Arranging the match-ups has been difficult but we had five teams sign up to shoot right away. Just as I had hoped, the blind draw made for teams that were evenly matched and the games are not only fun to shoot but also fun to watch.
My first game took place two weeks ago and my partner and I had our work cut out for us. Fortunately, the strong shooter on the opposing team struggled a bit and I was on fire. I was executing tight shots with ease and running several balls each turn. We won the match-up five games to two (one of those losses was due to my partner making an incredible shot that defied all the odds and somehow scratched as the 8-ball dropped).
Our second game took place on Friday. This time we were going up against an underdog team. They pulled off an impressive win over a favorite in the tournament and were riding high. When we lost the first two games in the series, I began to worry (I made a great shot on the 8-ball but misjudged the location of the cue ball after the shot and scratched).
I struggled with a number of shots that I should have made but my partner was on point. We came together as a team and were able to turn it around and get the momentum moving in our direction. Being down 2 games to 0, we rallied back and won 5 straight games to advance.
The last match-up takes place today and the winner will play my partner and I in the finals. It really could go either way. One team shoots consistently well together. The other team has one impressive shooter and on shooter that shoots either very well or very poorly.
Regardless of the outcome of todays match, my partner and I will have our work cut out for us next week. As long as we play smart and work together as a team (which we’ve done very well so far), I think we have a good shot at winning it all.
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