I Lost $150 Dollars On That 9-Ball Shot

I grew up with a pool table in our home. I can say it was a family past time. Often my friends would come over and we would stay up all night watching Kung Fu movies, drinking soda pop, and shooting pool downstairs in our basement. As long as I can remember the sound of billiard balls caroming off one other was part of the soundtrack of my life. Not to mention the sound of thunderbolt breaks and balls flying off the table pretending to be basketballs on our concrete floor. Despite being born with one hand I shot a very good game of “stick.” I actually started to make a little bit of money as a pool player as I got older. In High School I would often find myself gambling with some of the other students at this seedy pool hall in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana. I suppose the idea of a “one-handed player” made me seem like easy prey. Little did they know I was the pool shark. But it was not until college I took a deeper step into the world of pocket billiards. Blog #23 of “40 Blogs in 40 Days about 40 Podcasts” shares the scenario of when I lost $150 on a 9-Ball shot gambling at pocket billiards.

pool table, billiards, 9-Ball, gambling, storytelling, blog, disability

AlejAndro grew up with a pool table in his home and spent much of his childhood shooting pool.

I found a job at the Indiana University Student Union bowling alley and pool hall. I mostly worked the bowling side as a “pin setting.” However, I did spend a lot of time working the desk on the pool hall side. The main reason why I sought the job to support my love of pocket billiards. The great job perk was getting all my pool time for free. I think in my first two years of college I majored in the “Science of Pocket Billiards” with a minor in gambling. I spent more time shooting pool then studying. It was at those years I started to take professional billiard lessons. As a result my pool shooting skills truly started to deepen. While at Indiana University I was ranked top 20 in the nation at colligate pocket billiards. I made a lot of money as a one-handed pool shark. I hustled a lot, went to a lot of competitions, and did a lot of traveling “looking for action” and gambling.

pool table, billiards, 9-Ball, gambling, storytelling, blog, disability

9-Ball is a fast paced gambler’s game of mostly skill with some occasional luck on the pool table.

All that aside, I just love to shoot pool. I so deeply enjoyed the art and science of pocket billiards. One Pocket and Straight Pool were my favorite games to play. The game of 9-Ball was always a fast paced, high action money game. But I loved them all, 8-ball, snooker and 3-cushion included. If it had balls, cushions, sticks and a table I was all about it. I just loved to play with friends relaxing and drinking beer. And sometimes I would gamble with them. In college I reconnected with a high school friend and we grew closer as both friends and rivals on the pool table.

His name was Maximillian but we all just called him Max. He loved to shoot pool and gamble. We always had such a great time playing pool together. But when we started to play for money the intensity and the volume would increase. And this time it drew a crowd. We had people watching, rooting, and cheering. The match was tied 6-to-6 in a race to seven in the game of 9-Ball with $75 on the line. Now most of the time I usually beat Max. But today this guy was on fire and shooting a fine game of 9-Ball. He was giving me a run for my money. The steaks were high and the intensity was a special kind of thick. I just knew that if I got to the table I needed to “run out” and sink the 9-ball for victory. I did not want to lose money to Max and certainly not in front of this crowd. At some point before the final break shot Max asked, “double or nothing?!” Knowing I was the better player I took him up on his request.

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AlejAndro gets to break in the final game in a race to seven with big money on the line.

Being the superior player is always a good place to be as long as you are the one at the table shooting. I took the break shot and sank a ball. I then started on the 1-ball then off to the 2-ball. Not leaving myself in a good position I was unable to pocket the 3-ball. I sat down and Max got to the table. He looked liked he was glowing with a shine of confidence. I had a not-so-good outlook on the situation as I sensed Max was feeling the mojo. With the swagger of a champion he approached the table, addressed the cue ball, then immediately sank the 3-Ball. He started to run and looked as if would never stop. Next was a crazy lucky bank shot on the 4-Ball that kept him running the rack. Then two very difficult shots that on most days Max would of missed, but not today. This guy was unstoppable!! He was excited and feeling confident with the momentum of this high energy crazy lucky game seven. Somehow he made the 8-Ball and lined straight in on a long winning 9-ball shot.

pool table, billiards, 9-Ball, gambling, storytelling, blog, disability

“Straight in on the 9-Ball!” Sometimes the hardest shot can be the easiest looking shot. Especially if there is money on the line.

Without breaking his stride he chalked his pool stick and set up for his final shot. Things we almost moving in slow motion for me. The sound of the pool hall and the people watching slipped in a dull hum of background noise. As Max was lining up the shot and taking his practice strokes I saw his back hand tremor and shake a bit as he completed his backswing. For a moment I had a glimmer of hope in his ever so small telegraphed sign of nervousness. For the tiniest moment, time seemed to stop. Just then Max released his final stroke like a catapult. What happened next is probably the most unbelievably lucky and absolutely insane 9-Ball shot I have ever seen live and in person. With my jaw on the floor, people cheering and screaming, and Max smiling ear-to-ear I had to accept defeat. Though it was worth it to see it live, that one shot cost me $150 dollars.

To listen to the story of this winning 9-Ball shot I invite you to click and listen to my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS031. Please feel free to share this blog or my podcast and I ask you to offer a comment with your opinion and feedback! Thanks!

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