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Archive for March 15th, 2010

Monday, March 15th, 2010

What can we do for pool ?


What can we do for Pool? How can we help it to become more popular? Is gambling bad?What is running wrong with it? What should we change? What can we change?


I had a lot of conversations about this topic and I often changed my mind from one conversation to the next.


Dresscode ?

For a long time I was thinking we should go like the snooker guys. Strict dress code, very silent and a lot of discipline. If it looks like a more serious sport we would be more accepted on TV, in the world of sport and make it maybe to the Olympics. This would move us away from our current Image (Bars, smoking, hustling, alcohol)


But after talking with the German head Coach Andreas Huber I changed my mind about that. He told me his thoughts and I think he is right:Pool is what it is and we like it how it is. It must become more popular without major changes.



By the way, there are already tournaments with a similar dress code like snooker. Just watch the last World Games.


Table size ? 

I was talking to Ralph Eckert about this topic and he believes that 10 foot tables (instead of 9 foot)would be a step in the right direction.(Also Earl Strickland thinks that)… I think that this is also an interesting thought.
(I played on a 10 foot pool table and just to stand in front of this big beast is stunning)


All the non-pool playing people out there see a big 12 foot snooker table and immediately think that the real pros play on these big tables with the tight pockets and the small balls.They get their confirmation When they play on such a big table for the first time they see how difficult it is to pocket a ball.On a pool table they can easily pocket the balls and most do not even know that normally you have to call a pocket.That is another point why the real “heroes” play Snooker.So if Pool was be played on a 10 foot table they would have similar experiences.


But how about explaining to the world the main differences between pool and snooker?


Ok, I’ll try it:


Playing safe is much easier in snooker then in pool. On the snooker table you just put a big distance between the balls and it is safe. In pool you get either a re-safe or you opponent pockets the ball and runs out.
In snooker you can just roll the cue ball to the object ball and it is safe. In Pool this would be a foul, because one ball has to touch a cushion. A successful safe in pool means that your opponent is not able to jump the ball and has no opportunity to kick the object ball. (Try to three foul Efren!)


In pool we have many different disciplines, like 14.1, 8Ball, 9Ball, 10Ball, one pocket, Bank Pool or rotation to name the most popular.Pool is not just rolling balls; it’s so much more.


My final thought on this is:

Pool, with all its different disciplines and rules, is very complicated for a newbie to understand.We have to find a way to explain it, so it can be more easily understood. Then there would be a greater chance that people might get interested in it. I think Jeanette did a great job here:


Gambling, is it good or bad for pool ?

A lot of pros do not hustle because they are pros and some of them even turn down “gambling” sponsors (casino websites and so on) because they see pool as a sport and a sport has nothing to do with action.
Although I agree with that, I think hustling is exciting and I think it could bring good quotes on TV if it is done professionally.
When you see a pro playing against a nobody for $30,000 (not to mention the side bets of $80,000), you will see how exciting this can be (at least that’s how it was for me at the Derby City Classic).



But if it is done officially on TV with a lot of advertising and with a good commentator who explains everything. I think many people would like watch it to see the emotions and the pressure.

Here’s a real example of this working:
There is a show on German television called “Schlag Den Raab” (Beat Raab). In this show a contestant challenges Stefan Raab, a very popular German television presenter, in different games (these include physical and mental rounds, including tennis, motorcross, golf, general knowledge).At the end of the show if the contestant beats Raab they win €500,000. If they lose, the prize money is rolled over to the next show where €1,000,000 is now at stake. Last year after Raab had won five shows in a row there was €3,000,000 at stake! After all the games they were even, so there was a an extra game to find a winner – and guess what, they chose an 8 Ball race to 1.
I am not kidding – they played one game of 8 Ball for a prize of €3,000,000. Millions and millions of people were watching this game. Both guys were beginners but it was still exciting. And at the end the contestant won (although he nearly scratched on the 8!).
Here the link to the video of this show (wait to 1:35)
We have hustling also in all the other sports, but the most do not know that. For Pool hustling is a cliché (Just think about the movies “The Hustler” or “Color of Money”).
Don’t change it, do it the professional way.



The next thing we should think about is alcohol, smoking and drugs.



We try to be a sport and in a sport everybody has idols:

What should think a little boy (and his parents) who wants to become a pro in pool when he sees all the good players (his ideals) with cigarettes and beer on the table?
Here in Austria it is not allowed to smoke in the tournament area, also alcohol is not allowed in the tournament area.
It is a start, but often they smoke in the area and drink some beer outside….
Just imagine the press get by chance lost in one of this tournaments and sees a guy with a cig in one hand and a beer in the other one…..


I think you know what I want say with that.



I started with shooting pictures and sharing them on my website to support our sport.So anybody can see that pool has to do with emotions and not only with rolling Balls. But there is one thing that makes me very sad, nobody is willed to pay for the pictures.For web they can have my pics for free and now they expect to get also pics for the media for free. Sorry guys, I can’t do that. Somehow I have to get my money back I lost the last years.
I paid every trip and every piece of my gear with my own money.(And we are talking here about much more then 15000 Euro and I don’t want to think about how much time I spent for that)
I took 10 days off from work to shoot for free on the WTC and I shared my pics to all the websites all over the world for free. And I did that to support our sport.
If I do not sell the pictures, I get no money and if I give the originals (or any other size for the press) away for free I get also no money.
So please explain to me why I should give the originals away for free ?
And by the way I gave some originals for free the last years.


But now I am on a point where I have to sell some of my cues to pay my rents and to go on with my work or everything will stop and I have to sell my equipment.



To all the guys out there who wants pics for free:
If you want to support the sport, you must also support the guys who try to support the sport.


I can not live from Pool and I don’t want to live from it. I love what I am doing and I am the last one who will beg for money but I just want be able to go on with my work and this is not possible without money. Sorry it is like that.


Here I have to say thank you to all the federations, companies and magazines who supported me.
To all the others; Think about it ! Or don’t think about it and go on with using low quality amateur pictures in the media, so everybody can see we are all amateurs.


And here starts my next view why Pool (here in Europe) is not that much popular.


Because everything is for free (or very cheap).
For example the live stream @ the WTC was $15 for the whole week. That is super cheap from my point of view. But still a lot of players did not want to pay that, because they want it for free. I paid much more a day for the Derby City live stream. And I saved money because if you like to go there, you have to pay much more 😉


What I am saying is if pool will not get more money we will stuck where we are. If everybody is willed to pay entry fees or online streams we would be able to make bigger steps forward.


Silent sport ?
Often we try to be a ”silent sport” and this may scare ”normal”(average) people. I saw the difference at the WTC. There was the loud background noise of Harleys motorcycles. Because of the background noise everybody was talking normal and you should hear how the crowd was cheering….wow. Just like at the Mosconi Cup but with more people. I think we need this kind of encouragement and freedom to talk and make noise to attract more people to our sport.


Posted by Markus | Filed in PoolSynergy | 1 Comment »