Just got back from Las Vegas from the 2017 Poolplayers Championship. Overall, I tied for 33rd place. Not too bad consider it was my first trip and first tournament at the national level.
Anyways, I wanted to use this space to highlight what goes on during the Poolplayers Championship. I don’t think there are many resources out there and I hope this piece will allow others to adequately prepare for future trips.
So… let’s just jump into it.
What is the APA Poolplayers Championship?
The Poolplayers Championships tournament is actually several main events over the course of a week. It consists of the 8-Ball Classic, 9-Ball Shootout, and open 8-Ball and 9-Ball Doubles. Unlike the 8-Ball and 9-Ball team events offered at August’s World Pool Championships, the 8-Ball Classic and 9-Ball Shootout are singles events.
To qualify for the 8-Ball Classic and 9-Ball Shootout, one would first need to sign-up and win a local singles board. Singles Board are mini-tournaments usually with 4 or 8 players in them. There’s no limit on how many attempts you may have to enter and win them. Winners of singles board would feed into the regional qualifiers held both in October and in March. Winners of the regional qualifiers will qualify to their respective 8-Ball Classic or 9-Ball Shootout tournament in Las Vegas. As part of the qualification package, qualifiers will also receive hotel accommodations and money for travel assistance.
My Road to Las Vegas
My road to Las Vegas began Summer 2016. I can’t remember the exact month, but I remember it to be during LTCs or MVPs or something along that line. The first step to qualifying for the Poolplayers Championships was to win a Singles Board. Being new to the APA, I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing. I actually signed up so that the singles board would meet the minimum number of participants; and I wanted to play some 9-ball. I would eventually win that singles board and in turn qualify for the regional qualifier that was held October 2016 at my local pool room, California Billiards.
Northern California Regional Qualifier
In October, the Northern California Regional Qualifier was held. As a 9-Ball Skill Level 5, I was placed in the White Tier Bracket (SL 4-5). Those who were skill level 1-3 were placed in the Green Tier bracket. Skill level 6-9 were in the Black Tier. The format was modified single elimination guaranteeing everyone at least 2 chances to play. I ended up winning 5 straight matches over two days to win my bracket and qualify for the 9-Ball Shootout in Las Vegas! After winning the tournament, I was also notified that my skill level was raised to a 6 and that I would be competing in the Black Tier (SL 6-9) at Las Vegas.
9-Ball Shootout – Las Vegas, NV
Arrival in Las Vegas (Tuesday)
Let it be known that I am not a morning person. It’s not uncommon for me to sleep through alarms and phone calls. Ask my autocross friends. They know that all too well. Getting out of bed is a real battle. As the 9-Ball Shootout started on Wednesday afternoon, I opted to fly in the night before to avoid the morning hassle. The early arrival would also allow me to get settled and get plenty of rest before the next day’s competition.
Day 1 (Wednesday)
Angel warming up on the practice table the morning of the first day of competition.
Day 1 was mostly formalities for the 9-Ball Shootout tournament. Registration and check-in opened at 3 PM. I had all morning free and I decided to use it to practice and warm up. I ended up meeting up with my league mate, Angel, first thing in the morning and spending an hour to 90 minutes practicing and warming up. As the tournament hadn’t started yet, there were plenty of practice tables available to play on. After practice, we met up with another league mate, Raoul, and made our way to brunch at The Peppermill Restaurant.
Kevin and Raoul at Breakfast at The Peppermill Restaurant. Picture by Angel Napitan.
Come 3:00, the 9-Ball Shootout registration/check-in opened. This is where you go to pick up your tournament package (Action 2×2 pool cue case, APA blanket, personal coin dispenser, travel assistance/prize money, and tournament paper work). Just for qualifying and showing up, all competitors received $100 cash and a commemorative cue case. In addition, if your skill level has gone up prior to the tournament, you would also need to re-certify yourself at the new skill level. If your skill level changed to a different tier, you would be moved to the new tier as well.
9-Ball Shootout Players Meeting
Next up was the players meeting at 8:30 PM. The players meeting is a short meeting highlighting the agenda of tournament and the rules associated with higher level play. Decorum and sportsmanship was emphasized, and frequently asked questions were discussed and answered. Immediately after the player’s meeting, the first round matches began.
I was paired up against TBA (To Be Announced). In the bracket pairings, TBA spots were set aside for players were re-certifying themselves from the White tier to the Black tier. Come match time, no opponent was announced and my TBA opponent became a bye.
Round 1: Kevin Bui vs. Bye
After all of our matches ended, the gang and I decided to wash up reconvene for dinner. The plan was to pick another league mate, Brian, from the airport then make our way over to Hash House-a-Go-Go for some a late night meal.
Kevin and Brian at Hash House-a-Go-Go. Picture by Angel Napitan
After dinner, we decided to call it a night as we all had an 8am match the next morning.
Round 2: Kevin Bui vs. Josh Bushey
Day 2 was the first real day of competition for me. My first match was 8 AM against Josh Bushley from Massachusetts. I ended up waking up early so that I would have enough time to practice and warm up for my match. Out of bed at 5:30 AM. Showered and out of the room by 5:55 AM. At the tournament room by 6:00 AM. Only problem… the room wasn’t open until 7:00 AM. -_-
I end up hanging out at the SuperBook until the practice room finally opened at 7.
My first match went really well. Josh and I were running neck and neck until he hit a rough patch. For whatever reason, he just couldn’t seem to pocket the 9-ball. I eventually was able to pull away and won the match 46 to 28-29.
Round 3: Kevin Bui vs. Harshit Kedia
My second match was at 10 AM against Harshit Kedia from Maryland. I was able to jump ahead pretty early. At one point, I was ahead 30-something to 12 or 14. Harshit, being behind, gathered himself and charged back with a run-out on a table where I broke, pocketed 3 balls, and scratched, only to follow that up with a break and run! The rally was a bit late as I won 46 to 35ish. During this run, I also received my first 9-Ball Break and Run in several years, as well as a 9-On-the-Snap. Too bad there weren’t any Mini-Slam patches available!
Kevin Bui vs. Harshit Kedia. Referee judging a questionable shot.
9-Ball Break and Run and 9-On-the-Snap patches
As I won my 10AM match, my next match was at 4PM. The reason why my next match started at 4 was because my next opponent would be someone who won on the loser side of the bracket and re-entered the winner side. My opponent would eventually be Jake Johnson.
Round 4 vs. Jake Johnson. Loser settles for 33rd place and winner advances on.
The game started out with me a little behind. I ended up breaking well and sinking two or three balls only to pocket the cue ball as well. Jake being a very skilled shooter was able to run out on the remaining 6 or 7 balls. I was behind quite a bit early on. Something along the lines of 20 to 5. Toward the end of the match, I got as close as 34-32, but a little too late. Jake eventually won the match 46-35.
All and all, a pretty good tournament. Out of a field of 180 or something, I tied for 33rd. Not too bad at all. I was kind of bummed that I couldn’t see more into the tournament, but that’s okay. All and all, a great experience.
Challenged Mike Massey at the Meucci booth for a chance to win a bunch of raffle tickets!
But wait! That’s not all. Even though I was knocked out of the main event, the trip wasn’t over. The guys
Reserved for future update.