Friday, April 03, 2020

My Coronavirus Lockdown

Capone's Table 9

It's been a month since I played pool, maybe six weeks. I miss my daily trips to the poolroom and my practice sessions which on average lasted about 40 minutes. I would work on this and work on that, always playing by myself. When I first started playing in Florida, twenty years ago, I soon discovered that the old folks who occupied the tables in the afternoon didn't have any gamble in them, so I gave up asking if they wanted to play and got into the habit of practicing alone.

Where I grew up, everybody played for something, giving and receiving spots as the situation dictated. The only exception was when you played your sister. Then, you would just bang the balls around meaninglessly, which is what would happen if I got into a social game playing for nothing with one of the resident nits.

So, I practice by myself, still hoping to regain the skills of my youth when I would spot guys 25 to 50 in straight pool for a few bucks and the time. If you've never played straight pool, take my word for it – that's a tough game to win. I was a kid of 16 or 17, playing guys in there 20's who were out in the world working for a living. Of course, time is working against me – I'll be 73 in June; and, my vision keeps getting worse (cataracts); as do my tremors which at times shake my hands like an earthquake.

Nevertheless, I keep thinking I can get better. Now, I'm not altogether awful – I've dropped from a 7 to a 6 in APA and I think I'm a 5 in TAP – and I do have occasional flashes of brilliance, yet it's still disheartening to lose to players you know would have once ran and hid at the thought of playing you. Recently, displeased with my execution of long straight in shots, I adopted a new stance, more in line with that of snooker players who I enjoy watching on the internet. Same goes for my hold on the cue. I think that helped. But, not playing for what now seems like forever, is going to take a toll if I ever do find my way back to the poolroom. Right now, that seems doubtful.

I was one of the first, if not the first, to stop playing in our local leagues because to the coronavirus. Many league players bought the President's line that cries of alarm were a hoax, a leftest plot. They bitched about the league shut down and about quarantines. They're probably still bitching.

A couple weeks after I stopped playing, the leagues shut down. My preexisting conditions, diabetes and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, put me in real jeopardy. So, I've been pretty much holed up ever since then. So far, I'm okay.

Returning to the poolroom seems far away. I miss the game. I miss the people. But, I want to live and I don't know when or if I'll ever feel safe there again.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Double Hit Cue Ball Fouls

Rule 1: If you're a league player, when you sense that a cue ball foul is imminent, call time and request a hit watch by a knowledgeable third party. (doesn't pertain to bar leagues - bar league players don't generally care about double-hit fouls. They just bang away.)

I play in two leagues a week, one APA and one TAP, and situations where a possible double hit on the cue ball come up often. If it's my turn, I usually turn to my opponent at these times and ask if wants someone to watch the hit. I leave it up to them. Often they say no need we can watch ourselves. I've learned this is a mistake and won't go along with this self-policing any more. Though often a double hit is easy to detect, sometimes, it's just too hard to determine. Get a third party.

I was playing a guy last week in the TAP league who thought he was slick. I was thinking to myself, if he plays that 7 ball which was about a quarter inch from the cue ball, I'm going  to call for a hit watch. But before I could stop him, he took the shot without calling the ball - he just banged away. Well, I called the foul on him myself and took ball-in-hand. Of course, this nit said it was a good hit and that he shot at an angle. I said bullshit. The angle was about 3 degrees and the whitey flew around the table like no legal hit would allow. Besides, I saw and heard the double hit clear as day. Anyway, though it's against protocol, I wasn't going to let this guy get away with this shit. So, I called the foul myself.

Of course, old slicky was already on my list of dickheads from a couple weeks earlier. I was playing one of his teammates in APA while he was watching from the rail. I drilled his buddy 5-0 but after the 4th game while I was emptying the pockets and rolling them to the foot of the table, my opponent says, "The 3 ball moved." Well, the 8 ball was a wide open shot with no ball within 6 inches. So, I said, "What are you talkin' about?" He replies, "I'm not callin' you on it." And I reiterate, "What the fuck are you talkin' about. My shot on the 8?" Then he admits that he wasn't really paying attention but his friend, old slicky, had said something to him from the rail. So, like I said, I already had a low opinion of mr. slick.

Anyway, Dr. Dave has a video that explains pretty well the double hitting process. Watch it for your viewing pleasure:

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Pool Tales & Poems and Other Stories by Ace Toscano

I've spent a lot of time in pool halls, in fact I grew up in one, and along with my penchant for writing things down, this has led me to write more than a couple pool stories as well as several poems. Selfishly, good or bad, I didn't want them to disappear once I was gone, so I decided to combine them, along with several non-pool-related stories, into a single kindle ebook. Hopefully, they will find a lasting home in cyber space.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Season 1 - The Hustlers: A Review

Take some hot chicks who also shoot a pretty decent game of pool, make a reality show about them and it would seem you have a recipe for a hit show, at least a cult classic, and a show that could give the grand old game of pocket billiards a much needed shot in the arm. But, then you add some representatives of the male gender, representatives whose behavior should not be condoned in any pool room and certainly should not be broadcast on television where it might influence the behavior of people just getting into the game. Loud mouths, bullshitters and whiners who make unsportsmanlike conduct, sharking and downright cheating an everyday part of their games - that's just what we need more of. Knowing the popularity of the show among local pool players, I know it's only a matter of time before these yahoos start mimicking Gary, Ross and Finn. Oy vey!

Is this really doing the game of pool any good? I don't think so.

The only participants who manage to escape Season 1 with their honor in tact are Jennifer Barretta, Mike Dechaine and, though up to now she's played only a minor role in the show, Yomaylin Sanchez.

Amusingly, the season finale ended with Emily Duddy proclaiming that maybe now the other players would start taking her seriously. Why, because she won a couple matches after being spotted 5 games on the wire, plus the five ball? Sorry, maybe not that seriously, yet.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Charley Kutz - A New Guy in Town Replacing Cue Tips

For years, whenever anyone asked me who I'd recommend to replace their cue tip, I'd suggest they travel north to Capone's in Spring Hill and ask for Roger. But, now, for those who live in Pasco County and think Capone's is too far away, there's a new guy in town and his name is Charley Kutz. Charley's been working on cues for years for himself and friends, but he's only just now making his skills available to the public. Charley's a friend of mine and I'd trust him with my most precious stick. You should, too.

CK-CUE SERVICE (New Port Richey, FL) - Replace Cue Tips; Clean and Seal Shafts; Remove Dings; Straighten Warped Shafts. Call Charley Kutz between 12PM and 6PM

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

John Bender Cues: Having a Little Fun with Boxes

Checking in with my friend, John Bender of, he sent along some pics of his latest creations. You won't be too surprised by the beauty and quality of John's work when you remember that prior to striking out on his own he had worked with Hall of Fame cuemaker Richard Black.

 In regards to his current work he says "Just having a little fun with boxes that go around corners. Black buffalo horn joint and cap. .015 nickel silver rings at the handle, cap, and joint." I like those boxes a lot.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Top Ten Pool Posters of 2013

Updated 10/26/2017. As of today, these are the best-selling pool and billiards posters of 2017:

1. Hustler by Arthur Sarnoff

2. Legal Action by Chris Consani

3. Game of Fate by Chris Consani

4. The Night Café by Vincent van Gogh

5. Change for a Dollar by Frank Morrison

6. Behind the 8 Ball

7. Pool Shark

8. Hey! One Leg On The Floor by Arthur Sarnoff

9. Billiards by Mollie B.

10. Billiards Patent Art Prints