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View Full Version : Great Earl Strickland road story (rags to riches gambling when he was 20 years-old)


arnaldo
11-28-2012, 01:21 PM
Just read this great story about Earl when he was about 20 years-old that someone posted on rec.gambling.poker a couple days ago:

================================================== =====

I was playing 10-ball with an acquaintance today. A discussion came up
about a 10-ball rule and I explained that it wasn't a WPA rule, he only
thought it was because Earl Strickland had required it on a one-off basis
in a match he had with Shane Van Boehning a while back. I won't go into
the rule but he said it would give a greater advantage to whoever was the
higher runout threat which was true in this match because it was on a 10'
table with 4 1/8" corner pockets. I think Shane is at a disadvantage there
because of less experience with smaller pockets.

In any case, my occasional pool partner used to own a pool hall in
Florida. In about 1981 he had played Earl there and said that anytime Earl
was left a shot the table would get cleared.

About twenty minutes later a couple of guys walked in and sat at the bar.
I couldn't see them well because of the glare at the door but a short
while later I heard a familiar voice and took a closer look. It was Earl.
I told the guy I was playing with and he went over and asked if he
remembered him. He didn't by sight but after mentioning the name of his
pool room Earl did remember quite well. He had been stranded in town with
almost no money and left about two months later with more than $30,000. My
friend later confirmed that is exactly what happened. However Earl then
related how this came about which my friend wasn't aware of.

Earl had gone on the road, looking for action, with his girlfriend. There
was a long spell when he just couldn't find any sizeable action and their
bankroll had dwindled. They were driving through town, arguing, and Earl
finally said I've had enough, pull over the car, I'll take twenty dollars
and you can have the car and the rest of the money.

That's what happened. He took his little overnight suitcase with two
changes of clothing in it and twenty dollars. He went to a phone booth,
looked up the pool halls, found my friend's pool hall, asked some
directions and started walking there to save money.

Before he got there he came across a bar that he saw had a pool table in
it so he went in to take a look. He started getting some games for $1 - $2
and ended up playing a guy named Roy who was fairly good. Eventually Roy
told him he was the best pool player he had ever seen. Earl said that he
could beat anyone in that town and probably anyone in the state. They
agreed that Roy would stake him and take him around to the rooms. Earl
ended up staying at his house for a couple of months.

The first place they went was my friend's room and eventually a local pool
playing attorney challenged him to 9-ball, $500 a game, Earl to spot him
the 7, 8, and the break. Earl turned him down. My friend took him aside
and told him he thought he could win.

Earl went back and agreed to the game. The guy then says, "I have $5,000
on me now. If I lose more than that I'll have to settle tomorrow at 3 PM."
Earl looked at my friend, my friend said he was good for it and the game
began. Earl beat him for $20,000 and he showed up at 3 PM sharp the next
day as agreed with the $15,000 debit balance. Earl eventually won another
$10,000 or more from other players in town before he hit the road again.
Within a couple of years Earl started winning every tournament in sight.

===================================

Arnaldo

RobertaAgnor
11-28-2012, 01:35 PM
What a great story!


Just read this great story about Earl when he was about 20 years-old that someone posted on rec.gambling.poker a couple days ago:

================================================== =====

I was playing 10-ball with an acquaintance today. A discussion came up
about a 10-ball rule and I explained that it wasn't a WPA rule, he only
thought it was because Earl Strickland had required it on a one-off basis
in a match he had with Shane Van Boehning a while back. I won't go into
the rule but he said it would give a greater advantage to whoever was the
higher runout threat which was true in this match because it was on a 10'
table with 4 1/8" corner pockets. I think Shane is at a disadvantage there
because of less experience with smaller pockets.

In any case, my occasional pool partner used to own a pool hall in
Florida. In about 1981 he had played Earl there and said that anytime Earl
was left a shot the table would get cleared.

About twenty minutes later a couple of guys walked in and sat at the bar.
I couldn't see them well because of the glare at the door but a short
while later I heard a familiar voice and took a closer look. It was Earl.
I told the guy I was playing with and he went over and asked if he
remembered him. He didn't by sight but after mentioning the name of his
pool room Earl did remember quite well. He had been stranded in town with
almost no money and left about two months later with more than $30,000. My
friend later confirmed that is exactly what happened. However Earl then
related how this came about which my friend wasn't aware of.

Earl had gone on the road, looking for action, with his girlfriend. There
was a long spell when he just couldn't find any sizeable action and their
bankroll had dwindled. They were driving through town, arguing, and Earl
finally said I've had enough, pull over the car, I'll take twenty dollars
and you can have the car and the rest of the money.

That's what happened. He took his little overnight suitcase with two
changes of clothing in it and twenty dollars. He went to a phone booth,
looked up the pool halls, found my friend's pool hall, asked some
directions and started walking there to save money.

Before he got there he came across a bar that he saw had a pool table in
it so he went in to take a look. He started getting some games for $1 - $2
and ended up playing a guy named Roy who was fairly good. Eventually Roy
told him he was the best pool player he had ever seen. Earl said that he
could beat anyone in that town and probably anyone in the state. They
agreed that Roy would stake him and take him around to the rooms. Earl
ended up staying at his house for a couple of months.

The first place they went was my friend's room and eventually a local pool
playing attorney challenged him to 9-ball, $500 a game, Earl to spot him
the 7, 8, and the break. Earl turned him down. My friend took him aside
and told him he thought he could win.

Earl went back and agreed to the game. The guy then says, "I have $5,000
on me now. If I lose more than that I'll have to settle tomorrow at 3 PM."
Earl looked at my friend, my friend said he was good for it and the game
began. Earl beat him for $20,000 and he showed up at 3 PM sharp the next
day as agreed with the $15,000 debit balance. Earl eventually won another
$10,000 or more from other players in town before he hit the road again.
Within a couple of years Earl started winning every tournament in sight.

===================================

Arnaldo

Pushout
11-28-2012, 01:49 PM
Great story, love it!!

Black-Balled
11-28-2012, 02:00 PM
Earl only beat me once!:embarrassed2:

tduncan
11-28-2012, 04:21 PM
Earllllllllllllllllllllllllll.

alstl
11-28-2012, 04:37 PM
What happened to the girlfriend?

evanlockhart
11-28-2012, 04:48 PM
Earl is such a beast.

Shane's my favorite player, but on a 10-footer with tight pockets, my money is on Earl.

Most people don't even comprehend his kind of ability unless you're trying to be a solid player yourself. His perfection in pool is only matched by a couple of the world's greatest ever.

Scaramouche
11-28-2012, 04:49 PM
Earl only beat me once!:embarrassed2:

So ....
Against you he is batting 1.000?
:D

trustyrusty
11-28-2012, 04:50 PM
I wanna hire a lawyer who's not bright enough to pull up BEFORE he's down 20 GRRRRR playing 5 hundo a game. :eek:

Jive
11-28-2012, 05:19 PM
That's a really cool story!!! Wish there was more.

arnaldo
11-28-2012, 05:50 PM
Seems to me in retrospect that this material would be an excellent thing for CJ Wiley to have Earl describe in colorful detail during an on-camera interview (for inclusion in CJ's upcoming documentary on Earl's life and pool world accomplishments).

For a documentarian it would definitely benefit any pool biography as a very explicit and dramatic metaphor for life on the road. Young gun-slinger comes to town early in his straight-shooting career -- the locals clearly no match for his unearthly talents.

Arnaldo

huckster
11-28-2012, 06:03 PM
great story, people forget before the cuetec years earl was unstoppable gambling he just ran out and ran out. He wasnt always the best gamemaker but he sure could outrun the nuts when earl has the confidence he played lights out

seven_7days
11-28-2012, 06:08 PM
Earl has never beaten me even one time.








i just ran out of money.

smoooothstroke
11-28-2012, 06:10 PM
Oh goody.I love story time.

**sits down and crosses his legs**

richiebalto
11-28-2012, 06:16 PM
Just read this great story about Earl when he was about 20 years-old that someone posted on rec.gambling.poker a couple days ago:

================================================== =====

I was playing 10-ball with an acquaintance today. A discussion came up
about a 10-ball rule and I explained that it wasn't a WPA rule, he only
thought it was because Earl Strickland had required it on a one-off basis
in a match he had with Shane Van Boehning a while back. I won't go into
the rule but he said it would give a greater advantage to whoever was the
higher runout threat which was true in this match because it was on a 10'
table with 4 1/8" corner pockets. I think Shane is at a disadvantage there
because of less experience with smaller pockets.

In any case, my occasional pool partner used to own a pool hall in
Florida. In about 1981 he had played Earl there and said that anytime Earl
was left a shot the table would get cleared.

About twenty minutes later a couple of guys walked in and sat at the bar.
I couldn't see them well because of the glare at the door but a short
while later I heard a familiar voice and took a closer look. It was Earl.
I told the guy I was playing with and he went over and asked if he
remembered him. He didn't by sight but after mentioning the name of his
pool room Earl did remember quite well. He had been stranded in town with
almost no money and left about two months later with more than $30,000. My
friend later confirmed that is exactly what happened. However Earl then
related how this came about which my friend wasn't aware of.

Earl had gone on the road, looking for action, with his girlfriend. There
was a long spell when he just couldn't find any sizeable action and their
bankroll had dwindled. They were driving through town, arguing, and Earl
finally said I've had enough, pull over the car, I'll take twenty dollars
and you can have the car and the rest of the money.

That's what happened. He took his little overnight suitcase with two
changes of clothing in it and twenty dollars. He went to a phone booth,
looked up the pool halls, found my friend's pool hall, asked some
directions and started walking there to save money.

Before he got there he came across a bar that he saw had a pool table in
it so he went in to take a look. He started getting some games for $1 - $2
and ended up playing a guy named Roy who was fairly good. Eventually Roy
told him he was the best pool player he had ever seen. Earl said that he
could beat anyone in that town and probably anyone in the state. They
agreed that Roy would stake him and take him around to the rooms. Earl
ended up staying at his house for a couple of months.

The first place they went was my friend's room and eventually a local pool
playing attorney challenged him to 9-ball, $500 a game, Earl to spot him
the 7, 8, and the break. Earl turned him down. My friend took him aside
and told him he thought he could win.

Earl went back and agreed to the game. The guy then says, "I have $5,000
on me now. If I lose more than that I'll have to settle tomorrow at 3 PM."
Earl looked at my friend, my friend said he was good for it and the game
began. Earl beat him for $20,000 and he showed up at 3 PM sharp the next
day as agreed with the $15,000 debit balance. Earl eventually won another
$10,000 or more from other players in town before he hit the road again.
Within a couple of years Earl started winning every tournament in sight.

===================================

Arnaldo

Thanks for the great story (like the one before me said) hope you have more!

Black-Balled
11-28-2012, 06:32 PM
So ....
Against you he is batting 1.000?
:D
he sure is...

arnaldo
12-04-2012, 11:21 AM
That's a really cool story!!! Wish there was more.
------------------------------------------------------------

For exceptional additional reading pleasure, here's a hugely entertaining billiards article by a gifted sports writer that originally appeared in a 1970 magazine. It has joined the dozens of memorable articles about great and colorful players in the long history of pool -- road players and tournament champions alike -- that are freely available on Freddie B’s remarkable website:

http://bankingwiththebeard.com/?p=76#1970PlayboyArticleonJohnstonCity

It's factual and actually even a bit exciting eye-witness coverage of the Johnston City, Illinois, hustler tournaments that were held during the '60s by the Jansco brothers. There's even a fine prose character sketch of the P.T. Barnum of the pool world -- "Minnesota Fats," the sport's quintessential grifter/con man.

Plenty of other gambler "portraits" are contained within the long article. It’s an insightful overview of intra-hustler behavior and the hustler culture in general during the Depression years and through to the late 1960s.

You'll recognize the names of many of the players -- the best and deadliest in the country at the time.

Arnaldo

wahcheck
12-04-2012, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the story; another gambling story that impressed me was a match Earl had with Morro Paez (was it back in the 70's or 80's?) where he spotted Morro the 8 ball in a 9 ball match for $20K and it is said he won going away.
I also heard he quit gambling after being on the tournament circuit for some time; I wonder if anybody knows why?

arnaldo
12-04-2012, 06:10 PM
Thanks for the story; another gambling story that impressed me was a match Earl had with Morro Paez (was it back in the 70's or 80's?) where he spotted Morro the 8 ball in a 9 ball match for $20K and it is said he won going away.
I also heard he quit gambling after being on the tournament circuit for some time; I wonder if anybody knows why?
-----------------------------------------------------
Can't personally say what event (or cumulative events) in his life turned him away from gambling (for along period anyway), but I once spoke to Earl about a variety of pool-related subjects for about 45 minutes at the 1992 L.A. 9-ball Open held in Burbank and featuring most of the top players. Earl would get red in the face with anger as he railed against the evils of any players gambling on pool. People nearby seemed alternately startled, then amused at his intensity on the subject. He kept going on about how gambling had ruined professional pool.

An hour later, I sat behind him during his match there against a very straight-shooting and relaxed CJ Wiley, and whenever seated, Earl kept turning back to the crowd saying things like "Most of you have bet a lot of money that Wiley's gonna beat me. Get ready for a big surprise."

There was an enormous guy (pro bodybuilder or fullback-sized guy) seated two rows in back of Earl's player chair, and every time Earl missed, the big guy would cheer and clap so loud it really rattled Earl. The guy would give him a leering grin of pleasure and keep clapping as Earl returned to his chair.

Earl got the guy moved, (or removed) by security and told the crowd that the guy's hands were "like two big shovels banging together."

I think Earl was absolutely right to complain about the guy.

In later years however, it did become obvious that Earl, at every tournament he entered had increasingly become (and remains) equally as knowingly disruptive (to most of his opponents) in his peculiar and inimitable fashion.

Arnaldo

gregcantrall
12-04-2012, 10:30 PM
I came across this on the OnePocket.org Forums.

Originally Posted by Professor
Shorty, yes, the tournament you are in reference to was, I think, the first "$50,000 Challenge of Champions". It took place somewhere around 1991, could have been 1990 or 1992. I will tell you what I know.

There were eight players that were to play in the match; supposedly eight of the best players there were at that time. The casino(s), I believe out of Vegas but, I dont recall exactly which one(s), were sponsoring it. It was a $50,000 winner take all tournament. I dont remember the eight players, but two of them were Buddy Hall and Mike LeBron. I truly wish I could name the other six players.

Anyway, one player that was obviously absent from the list was Earl Strickland, player of the year and current world champion. The reason given that Earl could not be there was that he was scheduled to be out of the country and would not be able to play. Now, you need to realize that the conversation I am about to recount to you happened BEFORE the tournament. And, whatever you may think of Earl for whatever reason, the following shot my stock in him through the roof.

I mentioned to Strickland that I hated hearing that he would not be able to compete in the $50,000 Challenge of Champions due to being out of the country. He kind of chuckled in the way that he does and said something to the effect that yea, he would be out of the country but, they had scheduled it that way because they didnt want him to play in it. At that point, I was thinking Earl may have a little too high an opinion of him self. Then what he told me I found totally incredulous. He told me that they planned to split the money ($50,000) up equally among them! Furthermore, the long shot in the tournament (even odds would be 7 to one against) was LeBron, and that the house odds on him were 20 to 1. The idea was that the players could then bet the money back on LeBron. Earl said he would have nothing to do with fixing the match! He said he told them he would play, but that if he did he would be playing to win, and would not agree to any split agreements.

Now, I think you would admit, that was really an unbelievable story. I left that conversation with my first doubts about things Earl says. Well to this day I owe him an apology for having doubted what he said.

The Challenge took place. Now, this was a big thing. I mean in my mind that event was one of the best things that had ever happened to pool. Not only did we have a sponsor behind the event for 50 large, which was great, but, they were also making lines on the event! Now, people may approve or disapprove of gambling, I will not judge others individual beliefs; personally for some people I think it is wrong for them to gamble, and for others I dont. However, I do believe that one of the best things that can happen to a sport, it terms of making it popular, is the ability of the public to wager on it. Bingo! With this event we had two of the best things that could ever happen to pool taking place; a sponsor putting money behind the game and lines were being made legally! Damn, people it dont get any better!

Then I saw the finals of the match! Time and time again I watched the last two innings between Buddy Hall and Mike LeBron, I could NOT believe what I was seeing. It has been a decade or more since I saw it, but I remember it well. They made it look good. The problem was they made it look too good. Here is what happened, the best I can recall.

The finals match came down to Buddy and Mike at hill/hill. Some how Mike, trying to win, left Buddy Hall an easy shot on the eight. I mean the eight was somewhere a around the spot, the nine was setting a few inches below it. The cue ball was over by the side pocket and off the side rail, so that the shot on the eight was almost perfect. Just shoot the eight in and draw back for an easy shot on the nine. Any, I mean ANY decent 9-ball player is going to get out here. I mean hell, I would even let you bet what you like, and I would bet I could get out from there even to day, and I dont really play anymore.

But, to my shock and chagrin, Buddy Hall missed the shot and sends the eight, the nine, and the cue ball all rolling around the table. Now get this, when the balls stop, the best I remember, LeBron is left safe on the eight, he may have even been hooked. Like I say it has been over a decade, but the best I remember, by sheer luck Buddy had left Mike snookered on the eight. Mike makes a good hit on the eight but, leaves Buddy again with an easy shot on the eight into a corner pocket, where the cue and the eight are both over by the side rail, and getting shape on the nine is nothing.

You know how the cameramen will shoot over the pocket toward the ball that is to be pocketed. Well, that was the view given, and the shoot was such a slight cut that you could also see the cue ball in the frame. This was where I sat there watching the video in total disbelief! You could tell from the angle of the camera shot, that as Buddy lined up on the shot, not only was he going to miss another gime, the shot was so easy, he was actually was cutting the eight away from the pocket! Again, one of the best there was missed, another easy shot. I appeared more that obvious to me that he tried to miss. But, in his defense, we, and even the best have missed easy shots, but for one of the best in the world, and one of the best money players ever known, to do it back to back with 50 large on the line, get real. Remember, second got nothing (supposedly), it was a winner take all.

Then, just like Earl had told me would happen, Mike LeBron won!

If you think I may have judged the situation to harshly, get a copy of the tape of the final match and watch it for your self, I think you will agree with me. Furthermore, if you purchase the tape with the expectation of watching two good pool player play the best they can for the cash, you will have been cheated! They were playing for the cash alright, and it was wrong. Now, before any of you want to jump my case for condemning these players, I am not condemning them, just their actions. As individuals, the true measure is what they will do, rather than what the might have done. We all change. The greatest wrong is not in the mistakes we make, but if we fail to learn from them.

Again, we had met the enemy and it was us! Yes, we had a sponsor putting considerable money behind the sport, and they were making lines on the game; and in the typical self interests motivated logic of pool players, we tried to get the best of them. My God, will we ever learn.

My understanding is that the $50,000 Challenge of Champions has been continued by a different group, the Mohegan Sun I think. However, I have been told that there were some little problems in Vegas after this first event. The end result was that they no longer make lines on pool games and some people were asked to leave and never return, and last but not least, this group left with a bad taste in their mouth with respect to sponsoring pool. The take I got on it was, had this happened a few decades earlier, we would still be asking, What ever happen to .. ?

We often want to compare pool to other sports that have considerable public appeal. One such other sport is baseball. Now most would agree that the worst single event that ever happened to baseball was the Blacksox of 1919. In my opinion, the group that played in that first $50,000 Challenge of Champions are our Blacksox.


Postscript: Not that the topic is Earl, but there was one other comment he made to me during that same conversation, it which it was evident he was not in favor of agreements to split up the money from tournaments. It was around that time that he had won the U.S. Open, playing Nick Varner in the finals. He told me that when they were getting ready to lag for the break, Nick turned to him and said, Split? The which Earl said he replied, Nick, you just lost !

Professor,
Quantum ego meditatio, quantum fortunatus ego acquiro
Good on Earl!

gunzby
12-05-2012, 02:09 AM
I wanna hire a lawyer who's not bright enough to pull up BEFORE he's down 20 GRRRRR playing 5 hundo a game. :eek:

Depends on what ya need him for. He's obviously dead set on winning so that might not be a bad thing.

CJ Wiley
12-05-2012, 06:26 AM
Seems to me in retrospect that this material would be an excellent thing for CJ Wiley to have Earl describe in colorful detail during an on-camera interview (for inclusion in CJ's upcoming documentary on Earl's life and pool world accomplishments).

For a documentarian it would definitely benefit any pool biography as a very explicit and dramatic metaphor for life on the road. Young gun-slinger comes to town early in his straight-shooting career -- the locals clearly no match for his unearthly talents.

Arnaldo

That is a great story. Earl gave us a very colorful 2 hour interview for the upcoming documentary that has a few of these "nuggets".

There are a lot of great stories from that "era" of pool history. I'm glad I got to see it firsthand and I still think the stories in some way are the key to the future.

It makes the game entertaining and that's what the most important thing is no matter how we generate it. Only then will the game "catch on" to a new demographic again. IMHO

El-ahrairah
12-05-2012, 06:44 AM
I wish Earl would've left his hair long. His 70's look was was unbelievably fitting imho.

Black-Balled
12-05-2012, 06:59 AM
I though Earl stopped gambling mainly as a result of his relationship with Cutetec. Prob glad/ nice to get a salary as a compromise for not having to deal with the hassles of $play.

And I believe there is a similar tale of Mizerak and a broken down car and him winning a large chunk where said car broke down. Bueller? Bueller?

edd
12-05-2012, 08:45 AM
My man, Earl! Great story.

RunoutJJ
12-05-2012, 09:23 AM
Got to love the Pearl!!! True Living Legend!!!

david(tx)
12-05-2012, 09:48 AM
-----------------------------------------------------
Can't personally say what event (or cumulative events) in his life turned him away from gambling (for along period anyway), but I once spoke to Earl about a variety of pool-related subjects for about 45 minutes at the 1992 L.A. 9-ball Open held in Burbank and featuring most of the top players. Earl would get red in the face with anger as he railed against the evils of any players gambling on pool. People nearby seemed alternately startled, then amused at his intensity on the subject. He kept going on about how gambling had ruined professional pool.

An hour later, I sat behind him during his match there against a very straight-shooting and relaxed CJ Wiley, and whenever seated, Earl kept turning back to the crowd saying things like "Most of you have bet a lot of money that Wiley's gonna beat me. Get ready for a big surprise."

There was an enormous guy (pro bodybuilder or fullback-sized guy) seated two rows in back of Earl's player chair, and every time Earl missed, the big guy would cheer and clap so loud it really rattled Earl. The guy would give him a leering grin of pleasure and keep clapping as Earl returned to his chair.

Earl got the guy moved, (or removed) by security and told the crowd that the guy's hands were "like two big shovels banging together."

I think Earl was absolutely right to complain about the guy.

In later years however, it did become obvious that Earl, at every tournament he entered had increasingly become (and remains) equally as knowingly disruptive (to most of his opponents) in his peculiar and inimitable fashion.

Arnaldo



There was an enormous guy (pro bodybuilder or fullback-sized guy) seated two rows in back of Earl's player chair, and every time Earl missed, the big guy would cheer and clap so loud it really rattled Earl. The guy would give him a leering grin of pleasure and keep clapping as Earl returned to his chair.

Earl got the guy moved, (or removed) by security and told the crowd that the guy's hands were "like two big shovels banging together."




:lmao::lmao:

Hungarian
12-05-2012, 10:13 AM
Very well worded Sir.

Seems to me in retrospect that this material would be an excellent thing for CJ Wiley to have Earl describe in colorful detail during an on-camera interview (for inclusion in CJ's upcoming documentary on Earl's life and pool world accomplishments).

For a documentarian it would definitely benefit any pool biography as a very explicit and dramatic metaphor for life on the road. Young gun-slinger comes to town early in his straight-shooting career -- the locals clearly no match for his unearthly talents.

Arnaldo