46 years old Cuck Puleo was more or less completely unknown when he qualified in 2018 after three wins on the CDC Circuit as the highest ranked American player for the PDC World Championship 2019. With Dimitri van den Bergh he was drawn against a tough opponent and lost his first round match. Puleo took part without success in the PDC Qualifying School 2019 but was nominated as partner for the American Team of the PDC World Cup 2019.
Out of a long and interesting conversation the following interview arose.
Chuck, you won 2018 three of the CDC events and qualified for the PDC World Championship as top ranked American player ...
For me it was a dream come true. It was only my second complete CDC Tour.
To what do you refer that successful CDC season?
I feel winning is always a reward for working hard. I really worked hard for it, I played well in the CDC and I was rewarded with a place in the PDC World Championship. When you work really hard you can achieve almost everything.
I promised my mother when she died last year in February I would live my dream and concentrate on darts. So I stopped working and focused on my darts.
How could you afford not to work?
You see I have got everything I need - a house, a great family. We don't need much for living. We don't need luxury to be happy - and we don't need to look for happiness somewhere else. But I will of course look for a job again. As I've got a bachelor and a master degree I am sure I will find one.
Did you look forward to the experience or do you feel a little bit apprehensive?
Well, I never ever before played on stage so I had no idea whether I would be able to maintain my composure on stage...before it started I didn't feel nervous thinking of the match. The attitude of course plays an important part.
You never ever before played on stage?
Other than the PDC event I don't know of any tournament in the USA with is played on stage. I never played on stage before.
Were you on your own in England or are you accompanied by someone?
My brothers accompanied me to England. We all have never been here before and have done a lot of sightseeing already, visited all the museums and the sights during the day and came to the darts in the evening.
How important is the support for you?
It is very important for me. Family helps me to relax and to keep everything fairly normal.
For how long do you already play darts?
I play for already 28 years now.
Originally I come from Boston and Boston has got probably one of the biggest steel-dart leagues of the world. My brother took me with him as they needed another player. I took a break when we moved to Arizona.
What was the reason for the break?
I took some time to settle down there with another job and the family. And when I wanted to start again I found out there's more or less only soft-darts in Arizona. A problem was that I had no connections at all.
Don't you like soft-darts?
Not really, I prefer steel-dart. Bull Shooter is quite okay, I like the board. Dartslive I don't like at all - all this blinking and the sounds. But you can earn good money in soft-darts.
Do you use the same darts for soft-dart and steel-darts?
Yes - for both I use old Simon Whitlock darts. For soft-darts in 20 g and for steel-darts in 24 g.
Do you feel it's difficult to switch between soft-dart and steel-dart?
I feel there is a difference in the throw - I have to throw much harder in soft-darts so that the dart sticks in the board or triggers the display.
But you found your way back to steel-darts?
Oh yes, I met David Fatum somewhere and he told me about the CDC circuit. He supported me a lot! He told me perhaps I should try Qualifying School as well.
The CDC offers top players in North America a big chance to play more often against one another - did it help you to improve?
It helped me and it is really great for the players in North America. I am still learning all the time and I always watch what other players do. I try to find out what they do right - that's what I try to adopt. You really can learn a lot!!! I watch all the players here during the World Championship as well.
Do you play ADO events as well?
I never played those, they don't really appeal to me. There is only a small amount of price money and I feel the format is too short.
How much and what do you practice?
I try to practice every day - at least one session in the morning and up to three during the day with some breaks. Most of all I practice the finishes, but I practice the big singles as well. I have often enough seen that players don't manage to hit them.
Do you prefer practicing alone or have you got a practice partner?
Most of the time I practice alone. Sometimes with others but it is difficult for find players I can learn from. Most of the time they learn from me.
How do you react to defeat?
Well, I try to find out what I did wrong. I don't believe in "unlucky" defeats. Of course sometimes the external circumstances can cause a defeat. And of course you will lose when your opponent is just better. But very often you make mistakes and you can learn from those.
Are you intimidated by big names?
Not really. Outer appearances don't impress me.my attitude is that outer appearances don't make a better person - you stay what you originally are - money, a big car, a big house, a big name etc. cannot change it. So I judge my opponent more from behavior and manners.
Do you do something for your fitness?
In the past I didn't a lot of heavy weight lifting to reduce my weight. Today I only do it to increase my pulse. But I still go to the gym every day.
How about a healthy life style?
I drink no alcohol only water and live on a healthy diet. As that is difficult in darts tournaments I always bring my own food and drinks with me. Among them energy bars and similar things.
Are you interested in other sports?
Oh yes. In the past I did a lot of other sports. I never liked baseball much; I thought it a little bit boring. But I love American football. Today I am no longer active; I can feel I am no longer young...
Have you got a sponsor?
My only sponsor is Jester's Billiard. That is a pub. I play with fit flight and love it but I wouldn't like to be sponsored by an Asian company. I think would I've been sponsored by an Asian company they would expect me to travel around Asia and that I wouldn't like. My dream of course would be to be sponsored by Target or a similar company.
What do you think is your special strength?
I am very good in focusing and concentrating. Most of the time it is easy for me to blend everything out.
What do you like best in darts?
The competition! I always was and still am a very competitive person.