My pool team, the Crown Champions, recently made the trip to the 2013 BCAPL National Championships. We did OK, but didn’t make it to the money. That’s OK, though; it’s not just about trying to win. It’s about immersing yourself in pool, and Vegas, and fun. And we did plenty of that! Here is my take on all of it, from the Event, to the new Cyclop balls, to the Rio itself.
I loved it. I thought it was much better put together than the Riviera, by far, with the exception of no green room. The tables were all free, all of the time, and if a table was empty, you could practice on it. I didn’t see very much action, but that may be because of the lack of a green room. I wasn’t looking for action, so it didn’t affect me much.
Watching the pros was cool, and free. VIP seating cost $40 for the finals match, but as it has been mentioned, the general seating was much better because it was on a 2-foot high stage that allowed you to see the table better. My gal and I got there early Saturday morning to watch Biado/Cheng, getting a great front row GA seat. We camped there until 2pm to watch Biado/SVB, and was not disappointed. Both were fantastic matches. The support for the Billiard Education Foundation was amazing. The kids got to play amongst the pros, on the 9-foot pro tables, and the fan support for them was a joy to behold. It has moved me to be an active part of the BEF going forward. Rest assured I will be updating you on this as it progresses!
The Cyclop balls were… interesting. I loved that they were all new, so there was very little skid happening. The colors threw me off a bit at first, but you get used to it. I did get confused between the 6 (lime green) and 7 (light blue) as well as the 14/15, but I played 8-ball, so it was a non-issue. The cue-ball was different. I am not sure about its composition, but the surface seemed to be somewhat translucent. While this gave it an interesting “pearl” effect, the Cyclop logo seemed to float “above” the ball if the light hit it just right, causing a shadow inside the ball. I don’t know if it really affected my play much, but my thought on that is that no matter how the table and/or balls are, you and your opponent are using the same equipment. No bitching allowed. The tables were ALL Diamonds, and they played very well. After a few days it was difficult to get a tight rack, but that’s par for the course. They rolled fast and true, and that’s what truly matters. No complaints here about the tables.
Vendors / Pros
The pros were very accessible. Every pro I met (including SVB) was gracious and patient. They truly seemed to appreciate the fans there. I was able to get a ton of signatures for my Cue case (it’s getting quite full now), but was disappointed that I missed getting Earl’s signature. This year, I got Tony Robles, SVB, Oscar and Ernesto Dominguez, Jennifer Barretta, and Ralf Souquet’s signatures. I met Mike Massey and Stefano Pelinga again (already had their sigs), and was pleasantly surprised that Stefano remembered me (We shot a really cool trick shot together a couple of years ago). I played 3 challenge matches. I beat Jennifer Barretta in a game of 8-ball, and Mike Massey beat me at 8-ball on a run after my dry break. My proudest moment was beating Ralf Souquet 3-0 in a race to 3 (8-ball), winning a very limited-edition rosewood Gator Grip worth $150.
I got lots of cool stuff (and spent a ton of money — yikes!), including: Kamui #1.21b chalk (played with it, and I LOVE it), the above-mentioned Gator Grip, Cuetec thread protectors (which for some reason were very hard to find), way too many shirts (some for my gal, which look amazing on her… no, sweetheart, that shirt’s not too small 😉 ), and other trinkets.
The Rio did it right. In my opinion, it was so much better than the Riviera’s events in the past. I even got to watch matches in my room on channel 19, much to her chagrin delight. 24/7 pool… the only way to do it. The hotel itself is very clean, although we had a problem with the room — asked for non-smoking, and got a smoker’s room. Getting hold of staff on the in-house phone was a pain in the ass, and we didn’t get the room fixed. We bought a candle, though, and it made it bearable. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the room. The floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window overlooking the strip was quite spectacular, however.
We ate in many of Rio’s restaurants, including Martorano’s, Voodoo Steak, The All American Grille, and Sao Paulo. All were fantastic. Martorano’s claims to have the world’s best meatball. It was good, but not world’s best. Voodoo was absolutely fantastic, with an amazing view. After dinner there, we went upstairs to the rooftop Voodoo Lounge. The view of the strip was amazing, and the music rocked. That was a very fun night (sorry, the rest of the night stays in Vegas!).
We really enjoyed our stay, and the event was very well done. It was especially a joy to see the juniors playing, and the Billiard Education Foundation obviously does some very fine work. Look for my Table Talk article on this aspect of the event in the next The Break (or Stroke or Rackem, depending on your region) Magazine next month. I can’t wait until next year’s event — hopefully, I’ll be able to be there for the full 2 weeks!