Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pool, Poker and Pain is Coming!

Blair's concept of bringing pool, poker and MMA into a single reality show just moved one step closer to reality.  Blair now was two Emmy-award-winning producers on his team, working feverishly to make this show a reality.  Based on the format, it makes you wonder if a super strong pool player with OK poker and OK fighting skills will win, or if an OK pool player (who is a card wizard) with moderate fighting skills will win--- or will a moderate pool player slop in a few 9's, suck-out in a few hands and then MOW OVER their out-of-shape opponents in the ring? 

In a world full of Storage Wars, American Pickers, and Ice Road Truckers one thing is for sure:  PPP is a breath of fresh air when it comes to excitement and getting pool on television for once.

Before the uber-conservative traditionalists start chirping about how this is the worst thing ever to associate pool with two billion-dollar industries such as poker and MMA, let me tell you this:  pool hasn't been on TV for decades.  Pool has no chance of EVER getting on TV and there's no relief in sight otherwise.  I think a few of us might come around after seeing some loud mouth short-stop get his teeth knocked so far down his throat they have to pick them out of his liver.

In a sport polluted with fat-ass APA-7s who can't walk around a table without huffing and puffing, PPP is sure to raise the excitement bar in terms of running out, managing your chips and putting-up or shutting-up.

Here's the press release in case you guys haven't seen....


Emmy Award Winning Host Jay Adams Joins the Cast of Pool, Poker and Pain

Tampa, FL – August 14, 2012 – Blair Thein, a veteran pool player, has brought together three of the hottest sports around — Pool, Poker and MMA — and is developing a reality TV show around it called Pool, Poker & Pain (PPP).  Thein announced today that Emmy Award winning Jordan “Jay” Adams will join the cast of PPP. Adams has been appointed as Host and Executive Producer of the MMA portion of the show.

Adams has over 25 years of hosting and production experience and currently hosts two popular combat sports television shows, United Fight Alliance and Jay’s Brawl Call. He is a passionate television pro who has received two Emmy Nominations and an Emmy win.  Throughout his career Adam’s has worked with some of the top companies in the world, including FOX Sports Network, ABC-Miami, Disney, and CNBC.

 “This is a very exciting opportunity,” stated Adams.  “Blair has clearly worked very hard to bring Pool, Poker and Pain to where it is today. With the right push in a few key areas, PPP will be a huge success in a short amount of time.”

According to Thein, “Jay Adams was the missing link to Pool, Poker & Pain. We are thrilled to have him on the team leading the MMA portion of the show. PPP is a very unique reality show concept and we have stellar team in place to make it a reality. PPP is going to make sports and entertainment history.”

While Thein has been working for nearly a decade to make the show a reality, he recently made inroads within the various industries “I have been working on PPP for eight years. In addition to bringing Adams on board, I also recently partnered with two-time Emmy award winner Doug Stanley from Deadliest Catch,” Thein stated. The concept of PPP is simple: contestants will compete in all three sports, but to be crowned the winner they will have to thrive in each discipline. Sixteen contestants will travel from Florida to Las Vegas while competing in games of high-stakes poker and pool, and going head-to-head in the MMA ring. Along the way, coaches from each discipline will tutor the contestants. Take a bad beat in a poker hand? No problem, just take them on in the “Circle of Truth” — a 32-foot fighting cage. PPP contestants will be trained by world-class pool, poker, and MMA coaches to bring credibility to the show.

It has been a long and arduous development process for PPP, and there is still a long way to go, but according to Thein he is getting close. "We all see the market for an exciting, gambling reality show given TV has no real gambling shows except for poker. I do believe I am very close to having PPP in a media explosion and my goal is to drive a network, sponsors, and investors to this show.”

For more on Pool, Poker & Pain, be sure to visit their website (http://www.poolpokerandpain). You can also like them on Facebook.

About UFA and Brawl Call

United Fight Alliance, a one hour MMA television program, is an affiliation of MMA promotions working together to bring you the best MMA from around the world and to build awareness for the sport.  UFA is an integrated sports, media and entertainment company.  Watch as some of the biggest names in MMA fight toe to toe in the cage and you’ll see exclusive footage, interviews and fighter profiles.  United Fight Alliance features top ranked fighters, women’s fights, intense action and more.

Brawl Call is a half hour MMA talk show and entertainment program.  Join host Jay Adams as he breaks down all the action in the world of MMA.  Brawl Call features exclusive interviews, news, highlights, and everything else MMA.  Brawl Call is the first ever total cross-promotion, Combat Sports Television Show where you can get the inside track on fighters and go behind the scenes with the best athletes and promotions from around the world.

Jay Adams is an Emmy award winning TV host and producer.  He has worked in TV in the Combat Sports industry for over seven years.  As a business owner, executive, syndicator, distributor, producer and host he brings decades of TV experience to every project he undertakes.  For more information on Jay Adams, please click on the following link to view his demo reel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afi9xxxG9eA

Brawl Call and UFA are now broadcast to over 88 million homes, airing on ROOT SPORTS (10 million), Comcast Sports Net – Chicago (8.5 million) Tuff TV (30 million) and nationally (39 million) on DIRECTV, Dish Network and ATT U-Verse. You can also find us at your favorite sports bars throughout the nation.  Check your local listings for ROOT SPORTS and TUFF TV.  Tune in on DIRECTV to channel 658, 683 or 687, on Dish Network to channel 414, 426 or 428 and on ATT U-Verse to channel 1730, 1760 or 1764.

See some highlights of our shows at http://www.youtube.com/BrawlCallTV. For more information, please email info@brawlcall.com or visit us on Facebook.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ball Pocketing Using Reflections

I see the question coming up once every 6 months or so:  "How do I aim/bank using light reflections?"  I seem to be posting the same stuff over and over so I thought I'd make a blog post (man, it's been a LONG time since my last post!).

The main thing is knowing how to determine the shape of your reflection (since all lights have a different shape and configuration/location, etc).  The image above shows multiple bulbs.

Fluorescent lighting will create a crescent(s) on the balls.  Something like this:

So, depending on the shot/bank, you have to do one of the following:

[*]Align the edge of the CB shape to the edge of the OB shape
[*]Align the edge of the CB shape to the center of the OB shape
[*]Align the edge of the CB shape to the opposite edge of the OB shape

Now, which edge of the CB shape to which edge/center of the OB shape depends on the shot.  This only really works if there is one single light source and it should be centered over the table.  I used to think it didn't matter if the lights were centered until I played on a table where the lights REALLY weren't centered--- and then you can see the difference big time in results.

When you're aligning the CB shape to the OB shape, you have to do so on the same vertical plane... something like this:

I think if you're on a particular table / equipment where this works well, I think you can swear by it.  Coming from someone who has put a TON of time into this system, I can say it "works" really well --- but only under certain conditions.  Therefore, I've come to the conclusion:  "Why base your game on a technique that can't be used ANYWHERE/ANYTIME?"

Banking w/ reflections is a great baseline for your body alignment.  If you're not using a systematic psr method for aligning shots and/or banks, this is worth exploring.  There are, however, much stronger systems/methods such as CTE, Pro1, 90/90 or SEE that work under any lighting conditions.

In conclusion, this is great information to have and another tool in your toolbox.  You can also use the shadows under the balls--- and that's an entirely different method.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pivoting with Center-to-edge (CTE)


The shot circle is the exact arc for your pivot. If you think of each shot in pool as being a circle – with your bridge being the center of the circle and the OB being the edge of the circle – you must pivot along the arc of that circle in order for your shot to go.

While pivoting along the shot arc, stop the pivot when your tip reaches the center of the CB. This is the solution to pocket your shot.

You’ll see that if you pivot/rotate the cue from where the shaft touches your bridge (as if there was a nail through the shaft at that point), you will rotate the cue with too strong of an arc (bridge circle = bad).

Another reason why the hip pivot is so strong is that it prevents you from rotating the cue around your bridge. Always pivot along the shot arc with your stopping point (pinnacle of the pivot) being the center of the CB.

A bridge length of 10-12" gives the player the best length in order to arc to the proper shot distance for 90% of all shots. If the CB/OB distance is shorter than 10-12", you must shorten your bridge to a distance closer than the CB/OB separation. For very close shots, it's easier to "air pivot" and then slide into the CB at a "post-pivot" position.

BASIC CTE PIVOTS (as taught by Hal Houle):

For thick cuts: Your cue is parallel to the CTEL with your tip pointing at the outside edge of the CB (the edge of the CB that’s farthest from the pocket). You then pivot your tip towards the pocket until it reaches CB center.

For thin cuts: Your cue is parallel to the CTEL with your tip pointing at the inside edge of the CB (the side of the CB that’s closest to the pocket). You then pivot your tip away from the pocket until it reaches CB center.

If you’re not sure which side to pivot from, only one will work. One will look right – the other will not.

For straight-ins: It doesn’t matter which side of the CB you address, just make sure you perform a thick-cut pivot. Many people wonder why use a system for straight-in shots? Hal once told me, “How do you KNOW it’s straight and not a 3 degree cut?

If you were successful in identifying the outermost-edge correctly, this will result in a perfect 1 1/8" offset in-line with the center of the pocket.

Pivoting with English:

Let me begin by saying whenever you stray off the center axis with CTE, all bets are off as far as the system goes. Meaning, CTE does not have an automatic mechanism to auto-compensate for deflection/squirt/etc. Although there are different methods of applying English with CTE, I’m only going to cover one: using backhand English from the pivot point of your cue once you initially pivot to center ball.

Therefore, you make two pivots. I know many might think that’s overkill; however, it only takes 2 seconds. Once you pivot along the shot arc to the center of the CB, a slight turn on your back-hand will give you the best results. An aiming pivot and backhand-english (BHE) pivot are two different types of pivots. An aiming pivot is always done along the shot circle and a backhand-english pivot is done along the bridge circle.

If you don’t know where the pivot point of your cue is, I highly recommend searching for Colin Colenso’s video on backhand English on Youtube. Colin covers the topic perfectly.

I’ve heard of some people pivoting directly to their English position; however, I haven’t been as successful with this method (and I don’t think it’s possible).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Center-to-edge (CTE) aiming and ball pocketing has become one of the hottest (and hotly contested) subjects in recent pool history. Although CTE as a system is likely over 40 years old, the fact remains that most pool players either aren’t aware of the technique or know very little about it. As with most good information, those “in the know” weren’t necessarily tripping over themselves to enlighten their friends and opponents. Internet pool forums have brought this technique into the spotlight, which has not only captivated the readers, but has also created Internet battles of epic proportion.

Although pivoting and pivot-aiming have been around since the very beginning of pool history (going back hundreds of years), one man is recognized as the inventor of the modern day CTE technique: Hal Houle. Being 85 years young, Hal has lived through pool’s golden age, having not only rubbed shoulders with past champions such as Willie Mosconi, but also travelled the country with Ralph Greenleaf – one of the most decorated champions of all time. Talking to Hal is like hopping into a time machine into an era that has long passed. Hearing his anecdotes about sending Greenleaf into action, looking for Greenleaf after one of his many disappearances, or even playing Leon Yonders (an “idiot savant” as Hal fondly remembers him) pulls the listener into his world – a world of “Hustler-esque” pool halls and 14.1 action.

Beyond the countless stories that are tailor-made for a Martin Scorsese movie exists a man and his ball pocketing systems (thirty-something, if I recall). For many, it would be easy to call Hal Houle a “student of the game” save the fact he might know more ways to pocket a ball than anyone else alive. “Innovator” might be a better descriptor for Hal. After all, his wife Sonny says her husband spent the better part of a decade in the garage working on diagrams and other pool-related drawings. When she’d ask Hal what he was doing he’d reply, “Nothing, nothing important, nothing that would interest you” as he would gather his loose papers and put them away. Within his thousands of pages that consisted of “nothing important” wasn’t one of his previous masterpieces such as “The Piece” or “Shish-kebob,” but a system so powerful it could help a shooter use a single sighting reference to pocket nearly every common shot found on the pool table. Center-to-edge is born.

I've spent countless hours with Hal Houle over the years so I thought I'd make this blog a reference for much of his information. Over time, I hope to also include many of the wonderful stories told by Hal. Running around with Ralph Greenleaf over the years has certainly provided tons of ENTERTAINING vignettes -- days of pool that are likely forever gone. The only thing that many of us can do now is read "copies of copies" or stories passed from him by a third person, such as myself.

Center-to-edge (CTE) is an aiming, alignment and pre-shot routine system that is pretty much the foundation for general center-ball (vertical axis) pocketing. The first thing to know before moving forward is that (as Hal would say) there are no such things as "contact points" in pool. I know many of you just raised an eyebrow thinking, "What the #*$& is this guy talking about?" If that's the first time you've heard that comment-- you're probably thinking that. I know I did. When I asked Hal what he meant by that comment, he said the following (paraphrased):

"Contact points are invisible. You can't see them. Even if you COULD see them, not only would they be tiny, but you wouldn't aim at them anyways - so what's the point. That's why people play their entire lives and never get better. They're shooting at invisible points but without really shooting directly AT them - make sense, kid?"

I recall this conversation with Hal very well. He spoke with such conviction and as he was telling me this, all I could think of was he's right. How I played on any given day was in direct proportion to how my "feel" was working.

Hal continued....

"Ya know... there's only one shot in pool. Did you know that?
(of course he knew I didn't know that)

Yes... you just 'center-to-edge' and the ball goes in the hole. Everything's center-to-edge. Every shot is the same. There aren't an infinity number of shots... there's only one.... over and over and over again."

Although on a technical level, he wasn't correct in saying "There's only one shot;" rather, there's only one procedure. The actual offset from the center-to-edge line (CTEL) changes based on shot angle. What Hal was getting at is to get you to think of pool as being FINITE -- not INFINITE.

One thing that caught my attention was how cleanly the balls would fall - center hole. How on earth does this work? Why do those really hard shots go center-hole-Joel? I would ask, "Hal--- how on earth does this work?"

Hal's brow would tighten-up and he'd huff his chest up with a little impatience for my ignorance. He'd say, "Look -- did the ball go in the hole?"


"OK then.... stop asking stupid questions."

That was my first lesson with Hal. A lot of.... "Did the ball go? OK then--- the system knows so you don't have to."

If you're reading this blog, you're obviously aware of the non-stop debates on the pool forums regarding CTE. Rightly so, in all fairness. On a table diagram, this stuff doesn't come CLOSE to working out geometrically. After I felt I knew Hal well enough to confront him on this, I went to his house to ask him. He explained (BRIEFLY because he didn't want me to worry about things that didn't matter when it came to actually PLAYING pool) that it was a 3D proof, involving perspective. It was impossible to figure on a 2D layout. I've been working on CTE for about 6 years (non-stop) trying to figure the "Why." One thing I can say is that the "Why" is very, very complicated. There are so many variables, perspective shifts, OB sizes (perspective-wise) --- it'll make your head spin.

Hal told me it was a "perfect system" and I believe him. Many in the forums insist there are too many gaps geometrically and the shooter uses "subconscious adjustment" in order to pocket balls. Although i believe every player on earth uses subconscious adjustment to some degree, I think that's because of the variation in our setups. I do know that when I am VERY exacting in my setup and pivot, the ball goes-- as Hal always says. Therefore, we're missing something in our observations.

In conclusion, I will continue to make posts in this blog detailing my knowledge with CTE and diagrams that will help the average player reach a level of proficiency with the information. I hope you enjoy the blog.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

90/90 Sighting

I know there's been a lot of talk about eye placement, dominant eyes, etc, when it comes to pocketing balls. How does all of that apply to pivot aimers? Short answer: It's EVERYTHING.

Let's use Ron Vitello's 90/90 system as an example. We all know that the 90-position is exactly 1-tip within the inside edge of the cue ball or object ball (where the edge of your shaft is equal with the inside edge of the cue ball). Some people who learn Ron's 90/90 system call it "life changing" while others scratch their heads because they can't get it to work. It all comes down to perception.

When I first learned the 90/90 system, I wouldn't make all of the shots within the 90/90 range.

Ron Vitello would stand on the other side of the table and say, "Dave, your cue isn't even on the 90/90 alignment line!"

"Bullshit," I would think. "I'm staring straight down the line. What the hell is he talking about?!"

My face was at the inside edge of the cue ball looking straight to the inside edge of the object ball - or so I thought. What I later discovered was that Ron's 90/90 system WAS center-to-edge; it was just a different beginning reference (a different starting point, if you would). Ron also has a different pivot philosophy (hip pivoting all the time versus adjusting the pivot arc with the length of the shot). What this means was there was no way I was sighting the shot from the proper reference point.

Your head/eyes must switch from one side of the center-to-edge line (CTEL) to the other for proper sighting. For all shots that fall within the 90/90 range, your head/eyes must be on the OUTSIDE of the CTEL while determining your cue alignment. The moment the cut angle falls within 90/half or 90/reverse-90, your head/eyes must move to the INSIDE of the CTEL.

This follows basic center-to-edge methodology. All pivot systems with a 1/2 ball pivot such as CTE, Pro1, 90/90--- they're all the same core system. You can't change your perspective and keep everything else the same from one system to the other and expect to make the ball with the same frequency.

Anyways, I thought I'd throw that out there. For those who are knowledgeable with 90/90 and CTE - this might be an "Ah yeah?!" moment. For those who tried 90/90 and got tired of missing the 90/90 shots (the easy shots) and quit--- make this sighting adjustment and re-evaluate.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Welcome to Spidey's Place!

Well, everyone seems to have their own blog nowadays, so I thought I was missing-out by not sharing my private life with everyone. I thought long and hard about what I wanted this blog to be. After much thought, I came to the conclusion that I could care less if this blog turns out to be anything more than my personal uncensored ramblings about pool and life in general.

Over the years, I've been BLESSED by meeting some of the smartest minds in pool. Unlike some others, I've never taken the traditional path in improving my pool game. The "hit a million balls" theory sucks and it's horseshit. Sadly, hitting a million balls may not make you a player unless you have the visual acuity and coordination to apply the knowledge that each missed shot provides. If hitting a million balls would get you there, we'd have TENS OF THOUSANDS of pro-tour caliber players. We don't. Ain't that something?

One day, after smoking a cigarette and wondering why I wasn't getting to the next level after fifteen years of solid playing --- it came to me. Some days I "felt" the shot going in and some days I didn't. I realized that my perception of shots shifted from one day to the next. With this, I also found that when I aligned my body and aimed - it was an educated guess (albeit a good one). Sometimes it was good enough to pocket the ball and run out, and sometimes it wasn't.

I watched guys like Francisco Bustamante and wondered, "Why the hell does this guy address the cue ball to the left on every shot instead of CENTER!?" Logically speaking, why would anyone
NOT address the cue ball at center? Yet, the guy almost never misses. I then realized there's a lot more to this game than what I knew and more existed than what was being told.

Some people like to be spoon-fed information while others go and find it. Fortunately for me, I'm one who gets the info - even if it takes me a year to get it. This blog will hopefully shed some light on alternative ways of playing pool. I'll stop short of saying "this stuff is the only way to play pool" - because it's not. It's the best way, for sure. But, not the only way :)

Over time, I'm going to post information about pivot aiming. Forget aiming as being a linear process. In my opinion, aiming the cue ball down a line to a "contact point" might be the most ridiculous things ever taught in pool. In fact, I like to call it "bad information" because there are far too many variables to ever master (for most normal people). The secret to improvement is
gross simplification - and that's what this blog is about.