Hard Times in Sacramento
Welcome back to American billiard radio today is Thursday, April fourth for this episode. We have a conversation with the new owner of hard times billiards in Sacramento, California. Oscar Dominquez Oscar says that ends of April fifteenth he'll be taking over ownership of the room. I do want to send a thank you out to hope. I don't butcher this. Michael Rangel, salmon, Mike, sent me a note suggesting Oscar for an interview and Oscar was of course, very willing to sit down and donate some time to us before we get to Oscar though, we've got some results we've got some champions. David al-qaeda won his second world pool. Masters title. It seemed like everybody was watching the stream on Facebook. And I do I did see a story today that metro put out that talked about the kind of numbers they saw four. Or streaming of the event they they had quite an audience. The files were crazy David's opponent, Alex Kazakhs five zero lead. Eight five lead race to nine al-qaeda fought back to eight and Kazakh has had the match in hand failed to get shaped from the eight to the nine. I mean for the couple people left on the planet who haven't seen it Katie came with an amazing shot. Not really like you had any alternative feet kind of had to come with the shot that he did. But you gotta feel for Kazakhs had a great tournament. He's been so close in a couple of different events recently. And of course, with his talent, we know that he's not going to continue to be on the doorstep for long. He's he's going to get back to his winning ways. It wouldn't be American billiard radio, though, if I didn't speak out on something that I feel strongly about and hey, it's my show. So I can. One of the players in the twenty four player field at the world pool. Masters was girl Strickland. Now, I've talked about Earl before and my feeling is that URL is like that. I hesitate to say crazy uncle in the family because Earls not crazy Earl is outspoken. He's opinionated. And you know, we all have that member of the family who people say, you know, he he says what he feels and he comes right out. And you know, exactly where he's coming from. You doesn't keep anything hidden. Well, that's a real look rose. A great player. He's he's champion. He he's Earl I mean, the only other player that that you can say something like that about his Efren. You know, you don't have to describe him any better than than just saying. He's efren. So Earl is Earl all of his titles everything. He's not going to win the world pool masters. I'm sorry. The the kind of talent they have out there. He's not going to win it. So it seems to me that when he's invited to that tournament. He's not being invited. Because he's a threat to win the tournament. He's being invited. Because he's going to give you a sound bite. He's going to say controversial things. Can we give that arrest? The guys on multi time world champion multi time. US open champion. Sure. He's opinionated. But come on. We don't need this. We're trying to make the game better. This does not make the game better. I don't believe that. There is anyone who is not a pool fan who is going to read the comments he made or see the comments he made on video and thank. Wow. That's amazing. I've got to go watch pool right now. It's not going to happen. So what are we accomplishing by poking fun one? We set him up for it. I mean. If you set somebody up to make comments, you're not accomplishing anything by making fun of him when he does. So I I would just like to see. And then again, this is my personal opinion and nothing to take away from the event. The event was great. I've been to. Event after event that matching puts on and no one produces a tournament. Like they do. They are absolutely the top tournament promoters out there, and they do more for professional pool than quite a few. You could go so far as to say they do more for professional pool than any other company in the game. So I know it sounds like a bash on them. But. I just I just don't see what we're accomplishing by continuing to bash Earl so all right hug it off my soapbox. Another big tournament that took place over the weekend was the super billiards expo that was a Roy's basement showcase two of the players that play for Roy's basement. That's aerial Francisco. James Arandas won the diamond ten ball pro Players Championship and Christina Koch won the women's nine ball pro Players Championship Christina played Karen core in the finals, which is no big surprise. It was also great to see Sarah rouse e in the field. Sarah finished in third at loved see Sarah get back into the game. It's it's not as we will talk about with Oscar. We're not at a point in the game right now where it makes financial sense for a player who has stepped away from the game to come rushing back into it. But again pope flea that will change. As usual at the super billiards expo there were a number of other events. Jonathan Pentagon won the pro embar box championship. Phil Davis won the amateur open. Bobby Connor won the open seniors event for players fifty on above fifty and above is open seniors. Oh my God. I mean, I could play on that Ed Mattis shown IQ, I hope I got that. Right. Won the super seniors division, which is sixty five and over. No, I can't plan that one just yet. Rachel Lang defeated Michelle's Jiang in the amateur ladies event and the twelve hundred juniors Peter Jack coop. Zach positive I got that wrong defeated Kyle Ye in the finals and in the fourteen and under Nathan children's defeated Ivo Lincoln in the finals. Other big news, which I guess you can say, it's big news. I kind of think it's in the category of meanwhile, water is wet. They announced that Shane van boning and Schuyler woodwork as well as as coach Johan we'll be back for the Mosconi Cup as if anyone questioned that Shane and Schuyler Johann would be back for the Mosconi Cup. But it's official out there now. So we know two of the five players. One of those five players is probably not going to be my guest from this show, not because of any lack of talent. But just because of him having other priorities, I give you the new owner of hard times billiards, Oscar Dominquez. Very proud to be joined all the way from California. Oscar mingka's Oscar how you doing? Mike. How are you? I'm good. You had a good trip to super billiards expo. Yeah. I did pretty good one almost a perfect trip. But not quite. All right. I I do have to ask you've ran quite a few tournaments in your life and you've participated in quite a few tournaments in your life. Is that the strangest tournament format you've ever seen? I seen more unique situations, but for prevent this is probably the most unique not redrawing in the final sixteen. In some form punishes, the people in the winter side, in my opinion. But yeah, I mean, I feel like if they were just a redraw they can't nobody will complain about anything right now. There's just too many variables and I feel. You're kind of setting yourself up for trouble. And for those who aren't familiar with the format out there you play down to eight players on the winner's side eight players on the one loss side. And then you play those two brackets out to one player and they face each other. So you could theoretically lose right before the final eight on the one loss side have to play one loss opponents all the way to the finals which. Yeah. You're right. It kind of punishes the player on the winner's side. Have have you talked to either Allen or Frank about that and found out exactly what it is? They're trying to accomplish. You know, what I haven't really I'm not the type of person to ever complain. I knew the rules coming into the tournament. So I bought it by them. Now. It was funny. You say that if you lose before the final aids you can technically play losers, which is exactly what happened to me last year, and this year, the exact scenario happened unintentionally now, I know, you know, the famous Roy's basement ROY was joking with me. It's like, hey, it looks like you found the loophole here. Triple smart, and this and that. I would have had to play Ralph's. Okay. On the winter side. Versus playing. Who today play? Why it's a play a Turkish gentleman who played really well who ended up beating Tyler style like first round. So obviously the guy played well, but I think whoever it was I can't think of right now. But it was definitely a. On paper weaker player than Ross. Okay. So yeah, look like a genius when it works out. And but it was not my intention. I have faith in myself to beat Ralph. Yeah. I can see why people would be a little set about it. Because in essence, it does punish the winter site for staying on the winter side, in my opinion. The loser size should redrawing to the winter side. But I can see the fact of not redrawing the winter side matches. But I think you can just reach all the winter side matches again into different brackets or if they happen to fall in the same bracket. Oh, well, then redraw lose your sight into them, in my opinion, that would make more sense and to clarify. We're not in any way saying that the final eight of the one loss side is a cakewalk. No, no, it's not. So, you know, while on paper as somebody on the out, you know, real birds. You can look at it and say, oh, will you know, you just know when to lose, and then you got all easier eight it's not that simple. You know, I had to play Thorson home in, you know, like, I I don't know. I mean, he could have been on the winter side chis- easily, you know. But whatever I mean, it's one of those things where. It is a unique format I think eventually Allen world change it and Frank. I I would see them changing it in the very near future. Oh, I would suggest it to them that they do change. It just a mate any controversy. Alan. I mean, you know, Alan, he's he's his own guy. I don't think he backs away from controversy. I don't even think he pays any attention. No. He doesn't. We're certainly going to get into the reason that you made this post on Facebook. But you had said something prior to the tournament in a post on Facebook that I I don't remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of this was your last major before the word wasn't retirement. But but what was it? I believe the last major before it became a small business owner. Okay that works. So. So you're not people who are reading into that that Oscar Dominguez is not going out and playing majors anymore. They're they're confused. They are confused to a certain extent as far as myself going to let's say the China open or. The all Japan stuff like that probably not going to be able to do that anymore. At least not for the first two years to my wife, and I just arch is going to be too busy. Makes sense and for people who again aren't aware which I think maybe there's one or two left on the planet. You are the new owner of hard times billiards in Sacramento, not to be confused with the Los Angeles on. How did that whole? Transaction come about. I mean, I don't care about details wise, but you know, what got you the idea of running a pool room. A lot of people don't know this. But the reason why started playing pool in the first place was because my father bought a pool room in Northridge, California called billiard connection, and this was in two thousand seven yes. Two thousand seven and. I just started working there during the summer when I was in high school and off on on the weekends, and we sort of having Wednesday night tournaments, and you know, for twenty dollar entry fee. My dad would add five dollars for a player. No limits. So on Wednesday night, we'd get sixty seventy players single donation, and I price would be paying four five hundred dollars. It was a pretty sweet tournament for one day Wednesday night tournament. And of course, the competitor me. So I wanna play and that's how he started playing pool. How we came across this poor room was is that I always wanted to have a poor knows always my ultimate goals become a business owner, the current owners have been telling me for maybe about six seven years that they wanted to sell to my father. And I and we were never ready, and then, you know, my older brother's got involved. My older brothers town me, you know, why don't we do this together? And so actually the poor on papers. My wife, and my brothers are minority shareholders in the business as well. My dad's gonna be coming up here to help me, but he's still going to be doing his pool. Table business on the side. So you mean to tell me that your dad owned and ran a pool room? And when you suggested that you do it. He didn't tell you to run away as fast as you could. No, he didn't. He he did it for two years, but he had a bad partner. So that kind of you know, bad taste. In our mouths and the whole family because we all suffered from that that situation, but you know, what it's it's different over in Los Angeles. We didn't have a beer and wine license. We didn't have food here. I have thirty three tables thirteen thousand square feet s-. I have eighteen employee's. It's a much larger operation. So. I mean, obviously, there's more sacrifice, but I'm hopefully, God willing that the will ward. Is there a little bit more than what I was doing in the past? You you talk about having wanted to run a pool room for so long. I mean, this isn't just running Peru. I mean, this is this is a major poor room. We have this is a big operation. I was really nervous at first. I was kind of. I was thinking to myself. I hope I know what I'm getting myself into here. So for the past three months I've been living in Sacramento, actually or in April. So four months now. I've been living in Sacramento, and just, you know, shadowing the current owners, the Marcus family, and we've been essentially doing the day-to-day operations with them. And we seem to be doing just fine there at first I know they were little nervous. But they told us that we're doing great, and we have their approval and we actually start a fishery April fifteenth. Well, that's coming right up. Yeah. It's coming right up. That's the target date. It could be plus or minus a few days. But that's our April fifteenth is target. So yeah, I mean, it's right around the corner and I'm super excited to. Hopefully, you know, build up the sport on a different level desert. I've been like really focusing lot of energy on the mess west tour. And now that we have an actual facility to do what we need to do. And do what we want to do. It's gonna be a lot nicer. I think that leads into the question what what are your short term and long term goals for the room? Short term is definitely to prove the level of play in general in northern California. So what I feel like is. You know, I'm planning on doing free lessons in clinics and doing the increase in the membership more participation there. I just really want improve the level of play up here that way, we I guess what's the word. I'm looking for. I guess. Just I guess create more more people who who love the game more addicts more fans of the game and expose them to, you know, great players having nice events here. Long term. I would love to have, you know, hard times be known as one of the premier rooms in the country. It is now, but I feel like there's still too much competition. I wanna be able to separate ourselves from everyone else. There's definitely a handful of major rooms in California. There is namely, California, billiards and Fremont, California, which is San Jose area. We have hard times bellflower. Which I honestly would not consider one of the premier rooms anymore because it's kind of been let go I guess in recent times, which is a shame because the potential to be amazing room. Is there? And then you have San Diego on Q great room, Fresno, a very small. It's a smaller room, but it is high-quality. So yeah, I mean, I have a lot of ideas, you know, my wife, and I we've been all over the world together now, and he's seen so many pool rooms, and there's a lot of ideas that I have in my mind that I like from different pools on across the growth, and there's a lot of things that I don't like. So I'm trying to. I guess use that information that that experience to my advantage. Those owning the room change anything with the MS tour. It does in some way. It does. I'm no longer running the tour in terms of my wife and are not going to be doing the operations. It's actually Vilmos folders and his girlfriend who run who runs the tournaments out in Vegas. Good friend of ours abou-, so they're going to be in charge of running the tournament. But it's still all tour. We are doing the scheduling I'm doing the sponsorship and actions and all that good stuff all the behind the scenes stuff. My wife and are still handling Vilmos and his girlfriend are essentially just running events. Okay. So they're gonna travel the west coast, they'll come out to California and run events there. Yes. Exactly. Just because I don't wanna make the commitment because weekends are essentially a bread and butter for the pool, and for me, it's more important to to maintain this business than it is the mas- west or it seems at and when I say this it's from the experience that I have in the Zona area. It seems like a room opens or a room gets bought, and it's the shiny thing. And all the players come out and support it for a period of time. And then something else become shiny. And then there's the struggle. How do you? How do you make sure something like that doesn't happen? Well, the great thing I have going from us that this poem has been here for twenty one years, it's become a staple sensually among Sacramento youth. I mean, I there's a lot of younger crowd here. It's it's a younger person's game on this area. So it's I think the most important thing for me is always constantly try to do something new always trying to improve some aspect of the business. Whether it's getting new toilet seats or new table tops anything that I can do. It's just a constantly improve the business. Keep building it up. That's my alternate goal. Really? I'm not very I'm not a complacent person. I've always been my wife, and I have always been. Very in business. I guess is the word. So like, we said that like I mentioned earlier that we do wanna make this the premium room in the United States. And I have a lot of competition. I have a lot of things to improve on I feel but little by little I do plan to try to get there. And and maintain it there seems like a lot of people in the billiards industry where multiple hats you've been a top level player playing all around the world. You've ran tournaments now running a room. I mean what else is there? I'm a dad. That's that's really my my number one job. In the sensually. Honestly, my that's why I'm doing this. I wasn't Jakarta. Maybe four months ago was playing cash games out there. And my daughter took her for step via FaceTime. In. It was really honestly at that moment that I knew this, you know, playing pool and for me, I just. I didn't want to see my daughter grow through FaceTime. Well, and you've got a pretty good role model there in the dad department. Thanks. I do very bus. I guess the question has to be asked. And I don't want this to be taken too much the wrong way. But you could put a team together right now of you Dennis hatch. Mike, Shayne Donnie mills. And Jeremy soci- that'd be a pretty strong team. And all of you have pardon my language jobs. Do you think that's a a statement on professional pool right now? Or do you think it's more of a unique thing where you had an opportunity, and you ran with it. That's good question. I think. What's the word? I'm looking for. I think the level of American polls behind without insulting fulltime players. I mean, I I say this with all due respect to the full-time players. We need to step our game up when you have working guys like Dennis hatch. Jeremy saucy myself beating you. You're not doing too good. It's just jobs on his truth. I. now. In my mind. I'm pretty strong individual like in my mind when I play somebody I feel like I should beat them because I know what I'm capable of. And I've know who I've been in the past and what I can do. So I'm not saying that I should never beat a top player. But if I beat you, you're probably not. At the elite level if you're doing it for a living does that make sense? Maybe two degree. I think maybe you're. And you would know this, of course, a whole lot better than I would. But I mean, you still got all that talent. I mean you've been playing the game for your entire life. So not being able to practice eight hours a day doesn't mean that you're a shortstop now. That's true. Well, the thing is just there's no money to be made, Mike. I mean, I play some of the biggest cash games in in the world. I'm in a very blessed situation. You know, I've done very well for myself as a pool player support my family. You know, we live in a nice place. And I have a nice car. I have nice things. I have things to show for what I've done in my career so far. But even then if I were to depend solely on playing pool, I wouldn't make it like I wouldn't live comfortably. So it. It just goes to show you how difficult it is in the states to do it to to to play full-time without. Some type of. Income or sources of income if unless you're like giving lessons and maybe gambling high-stakes you playing playing tournaments you're gonna go bussing every single time. Unless you're seeing them boning wins. You know, seventy percent of the events. He plays them. And. I worry when I asked this question that we could go down a rabbit hole and end up talking for hours. But what what is it from your standpoint that can be done different to elevate? The game. As a business owner as a player booth. Probably as a business owner to elevate the game. I think is sharing the wealth of knowledge, I'm not trying to stroke my ego. But I do know a lot about the game. I do know a lot about equipment differences. I do know a lot about. You know, different techniques systems, you know, for me to go in here. Like for example, last week. I gave the Sacramento state university kids free clinics and free table time. Just to work with them. You know, I started teaching them, you know, how to follow through and do different stuff as a player. Probably. What you can do is stivers Safai everything. I mean, you have to give lessons you have to, you know, sell Bill, your products do things like that, you know, exploiting what you know. Probably when the most pivotal moments of my life. I was in college, and I had told one of my professors that is there any way can take an exam early or whatever. 'cause I was pointing tournament the US open it it was at the time. So, you know, showed him tournament that I play professionally whatever, then, you know, the next day comes in class, and he comes up to me says do you mind staying after class, and he talked to me, and he says what are you doing in school? I don't understand. And he says what the hell are you doing in school? Why are you wasting your time here is like you should be exploiting? You're you're I guess you're fan base. Your knowledge do something you love. He's like don't go to school in like, I wasn't expecting that. From my. For my business administration. Professor ideas, far the best advice, I can give to not to not go to school. But to export what you know is supposed player you can make a living playing for. I did it. I'm not the most intelligent guy in the world. I'm not the most gifted or skilled. But if you pick your spots and treat people, right? You know, good things happen. That's pretty amazing. When you think that he gave you the exact opposite advice from what most people in the industry think should be the the right advice. You know? Right. I mean, I was personally I would tell everybody, you know, get a degree stained store, that's one piece of ice. I would always give the younger generations get that degree have some type of security in your life. 'cause things change, you know, if you have kids, especially or you get married, etc. Etc. So many things that can happen in your life. I just think gambling on risking it on on a pool tournaments. Probably not the best way to go before. I let you go back to getting ready to open the room, which by the way, you said April fifteenth was the date does then that's like a week before US open. You're still gonna play. You aren't you. Oh, that's a good question. I just sent an Email maybe about twenty minutes before you called to Nick of match them, regrettably, saying, I'm not gonna play the US open. Because I don't want to. Leave that burden you know, with my wife and leave my daughter behind and it's just too much on her. It's not fair and. I just need to have my head. Right. I'm not I don't want to go to the US open with. With me worrying about the business. I just want. I have everything the way I like it. Then. Probably next year. So this your unfortunately going to have to pass. That couldn't have been an easy decision. The player in me, the degenerated me once place so bad. But I, you know, I played pool for money. I it's it's a job end of the day. It's a source of income for me. I do it to support my family. In the story. That's what it's become to me. I love the sports being good to me. But the end of the day it is a job. And if I can make guaranteed income. You know in that week. I can. You know, easily cash in the pool sentiment about when that rolls. I'm gonna take it. And it would be very foolish of me. Not to. So I'm going to become a businessman for of player. Second. Okay. That seems fair. You mentioned that you've got, you know, you've got your family behind you. You've got desharnais behind you. You've also you've had the same sponsors for quite some time. And from what I saw online, it looks like predators taking good care of you. I mean, you've got real good relationships along those lines. You know what I do? I've been very blessed. I switch from as to predator wasn't an easy transition. But with a revolt shaft, I mean, I just found him up with the Rio and then predator, and I have been working together we do plan on working more in the future in terms of poll tournaments successor cetera. And they actually sent me the. The first generation pool. Balls one of five forums in the world that have them and the feedback has been incredible here. Everybody loves the way, they love. Everyone loves the way they play. I just I have a lot of our regular play all day, not a single skid, the balls very nicely. They resist chalk and dirt. So it seems like predators onto something really. Really nice here seems they're always onto something. Nice. They they really kind of push the envelope. Yeah. They do a great job. And I'm very proud to represent them. All right. Well, I will let you get back to getting ready to run your own pool room. And I'm still I still think you'll be in Vegas. No, I can't tell my wife that. All right. If you say, so I'll still be looking for you. Sounds good. All right. Thanks for your time. We will talk to you soon as our thank you. Okay. That was Oscar glad to see him moving into another part of the game. It sounds like he's not looking at this. As a I can't make living for my family. So I'm going to do my number two option. It it's not that kind of a move. I like that. He still looks for what he can do to better the game. And you know, honestly, no matter what we do whether it's play professional pool. Run a tour run a pool room. Make a podcast that some people think sucks. You know? It's it all comes down to what we can do for the game. And. It might be a pollyanna way of looking at things. But I still believe that if we all do whatever we can to make the game greater that the game has chance to really be great again. That's just me. Okay. That's American billiard radio for this week. And we will have another episode for you just as soon as I can get one done. Thanks, everybody. And Dave we're still thinking about you.