As many have found out by now, I recently moved to Las Vegas, NV. In theory, this sounds great for my pool career. Smoking and gambling are prevalent here, which are two activities most pool players engage in (unfortunately, not myself), so there should be a large built in audience. There are quite a few pool halls in the area supporting the assumption that the number of pool players is high. In addition, most of the national leagues hold there championships here throughout the year which only adds to the number of pool players here. Finally, Las Vegas is a destination town with plenty of parties, so there should be more opportunities for gigs.
Admittedly, I haven't leveraged my position here to its full potential, but there are other factors in play. First of all, there are actually a number of trick shots artists in the area including Ken 'Sarge' Aylesworth, Stefano Pelinga, and Jamison Neu. Recently, Jason Kane also moved here. Not to mention, many pros are moving here at least semi-permanently with the advent of Bonus Ball. This obviously increases the competition on my end.
What's perhaps most aggravating at this point is that I live near Fremont Street Experience with poor practice options within walking distance. This limits my practice time and quality of practice, which definitely showed during the 2013 Masters Trick Shot Championship.
First off is Drink and Drag. I don't mind that it sells itself as a gay bar or that it's staffed by drag queens. At least this place has 9-ft tables and Brunswick's at that. Pool's $1/hr up until 9pm too! That's about where all of the advantages end though. The cloth on the tables is super slow and some of the rails play funky, not quite dead, but not true either. Being a club, it doesn't open until 6pm and they like to keep the lights low. Even the table lights aren't super bright. Making it worse is that there are disco lights above which flash bright spots intermittently on the table while you're shooting which is a huge distraction. Even when I go when it opens and there's no one else there, it's tough to see anything.
Around the time I moved here, Backstage Bar and Billiards opened up about a block away from my apartment. The big plus is they have Diamond tables with Simonis cloth. They are 7-fters though and they still charge $10/hr, which is probably a more typical rate among pool halls. But, also being a club, they don't open until 6pm, the lighting sucks (the lights over the table are blue), and it's super loud.
Just this past weekend, the Gold Spike held a grand re-opening, repositioning itself as a bar/lounge instead of a casino. They put in two 7-ft, coin-operated pool tables. I didn't even bother checking the brand. At least the lighting was decent and the place will be open 24/7.
While downtown Las Vegas may be undergoing a revival, they missed out on the pool scene. It's too bad I have to get out of the neighborhood to find a good place to practice because it's otherwise pretty nice here. I just hope I can get enough practice in to make a good showing at the 2013 WPA World Artistic Pool Championships.