great can be in a very small circle!
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great can be in a very small circle! - 08-22-2019, 04:10 PM

I was working five days a week about a hundred and twenty-five miles from home. The area was dry, no liquor, no beer, no pool. I was staying at an old boarding house in town where the biggest excitement of an evening was sitting in rocking chairs on the porch and swatting flies. When Friday evening rolled around I had worked up a powerful thirst. Twenty miles to the first convenience store that sold beer, another thirty to a bar/honky tonk a few miles down a side highway.

When I hit that convenience store I bought a case of beer and in the next thirty miles I poured beer down my throat like water on a hot day on an otherwise empty stomach. The band hadn't started but the friday evening crowd was starting to build in the old bar. There was an old terribly ratty nine footer in there. The cushions were broken down in many places, the cloth was ripped and torn, hard to tell it had ever been green except the underside of the cushions gave the original color away.

There was a young man there about six and a half feet tall, shoulder length hair, and a pool player. When we got on that table there were about thirty rail birds all fairly loudly pulling for my opponent. He was a king in his palace and his court fully knew it. That first time I had drank about a dozen beers in that thirty miles and in the hour I allowed myself before heading down the road he was clearly ahead. Smarted a bit, I wasn't used to losing to anyone in a backwater.

The next week I only drank three or four beers plus what I drank playing but with the crowd cheering him on he won again. He wasn't playing the speed I usually could play but he knew every roll and bounce of that ratty old table and he fed off of the crowd idolizing him. They though he was the best anywhere.

When I left smarting more from the crowd comments than the small losses I was determined to come back and stay long enough to bust the guy. Then I thought about it. I had taken two shots and fell short. I could keep coming, beat him, and never be seen again. It was purely for my own ego. Was it really fair to keep coming back? I was getting a handle on the old table and there was a good chance the third time would have been the charm, especially if I stayed a few hours instead of sticking with my self imposed one hour of play.

He was the king. He was great in his own little kingdom. None of us would have considered him great had he played a tough road player on a half-decent table but he was great in his small world. In truth almost all of the pool players we respect and admire are the same. 99% of people have never heard of them but they are great in our small world. Ask people who even Efren is in the average bar or on the street. Only a small percentage of those that play pool will know, very very few that don't play pool.

Where somebody's home is has a lot to do with greatness if they are a stay at home player. A player that sits in one of the major hubs, New York, Chicago, LA, Vegas, other cities the best work their way through, can certainly be great without leaving home. When you beat the best it doesn't matter a lot if they came to you or you went to them.

Hu
  
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08-22-2019, 08:57 PM

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Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
I was working five days a week about a hundred and twenty-five miles from home. The area was dry, no liquor, no beer, no pool. I was staying at an old boarding house in town where the biggest excitement of an evening was sitting in rocking chairs on the porch and swatting flies. When Friday evening rolled around I had worked up a powerful thirst. Twenty miles to the first convenience store that sold beer, another thirty to a bar/honky tonk a few miles down a side highway.

When I hit that convenience store I bought a case of beer and in the next thirty miles I poured beer down my throat like water on a hot day on an otherwise empty stomach. The band hadn't started but the friday evening crowd was starting to build in the old bar. There was an old terribly ratty nine footer in there. The cushions were broken down in many places, the cloth was ripped and torn, hard to tell it had ever been green except the underside of the cushions gave the original color away.

There was a young man there about six and a half feet tall, shoulder length hair, and a pool player. When we got on that table there were about thirty rail birds all fairly loudly pulling for my opponent. He was a king in his palace and his court fully knew it. That first time I had drank about a dozen beers in that thirty miles and in the hour I allowed myself before heading down the road he was clearly ahead. Smarted a bit, I wasn't used to losing to anyone in a backwater.

The next week I only drank three or four beers plus what I drank playing but with the crowd cheering him on he won again. He wasn't playing the speed I usually could play but he knew every roll and bounce of that ratty old table and he fed off of the crowd idolizing him. They though he was the best anywhere.

When I left smarting more from the crowd comments than the small losses I was determined to come back and stay long enough to bust the guy. Then I thought about it. I had taken two shots and fell short. I could keep coming, beat him, and never be seen again. It was purely for my own ego. Was it really fair to keep coming back? I was getting a handle on the old table and there was a good chance the third time would have been the charm, especially if I stayed a few hours instead of sticking with my self imposed one hour of play.

He was the king. He was great in his own little kingdom. None of us would have considered him great had he played a tough road player on a half-decent table but he was great in his small world. In truth almost all of the pool players we respect and admire are the same. 99% of people have never heard of them but they are great in our small world. Ask people who even Efren is in the average bar or on the street. Only a small percentage of those that play pool will know, very very few that don't play pool.

Where somebody's home is has a lot to do with greatness if they are a stay at home player. A player that sits in one of the major hubs, New York, Chicago, LA, Vegas, other cities the best work their way through, can certainly be great without leaving home. When you beat the best it doesn't matter a lot if they came to you or you went to them.

Hu
Great story Hu. I can relate. I played on a lot of tables (almost always bar tables) like that and the challenge was always to figure out how it played; the rails, the rolls, the places where an obstruction was in your way (like a pole). Even some of the balls might be different and often some of them were chipped. The big cue balls tended to vary a lot from place to place as well. It was really hard to draw those big balls, so you just had to roll your ball most of the time. Even a stop shot took some stroke!

In the old days places like that were often where the best games and easiest money was. That appealed to me. I could handle the bad conditions if I stood a chance of making forty or fifty bucks. Unlike some players I liked soft action wherever it could be found. I only played good players when I went to foreign poolrooms. My weakness was that I played anyone (I didn't know) and once in a while ran into a better player. But not that often, believe it or not. I found that coming in as a stranger and offering to play anyone gave me a little psychological advantage. I'm sure I beat a couple of guys who were my equal or slightly better for that reason. I could feel their hesitation about playing me and I capitalized on it.

This is one reason I liked playing in the Philippines when I first went over there. I suspect I may have played in more hole-in-the-wall poolrooms (with really funky tables) then any other foreign player. I loved the fact that as soon as you walked in someone asked you to play (like the old days in the U.S). Usually the stakes were cheap by our standards, maybe $1-5 a game. A $20 game (1,000P) was big money over there. I almost always played Rotation and found it to be an excellent game. Once I discovered all the points were on top, I figured out how to win. I never tried to run out until maybe we got to the nine ball. Early in the game I would ride the big balls with my shots and try to luck something in. If I could get a few rolling a lot of the time something fell in.

MY girl friend and daughter lived in Pasay City and ten years ago they had a lot of little poolrooms there (mostly gone now). I played in every one of them! Pretty soon cab drivers and trike guys started calling me "The billiard guy" because they had all given me rides to a poolroom. It was fun while it lasted. I loved playing a good player over there and betting maybe 500P or 1,000P a game. A crowd would gather and encircle the table and that brought out the best in me. They would all cheer when you made a good shot and I was pretty creative. It was the last time I played a lot of pool and got in decent stroke. The last five or six years I hardly pick up a cue anymore.


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I played both ways - 08-22-2019, 11:16 PM

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Originally Posted by jay helfert View Post
Great story Hu. I can relate. I played on a lot of tables (almost always bar tables) like that and the challenge was always to figure out how it played; the rails, the rolls, the places where an obstruction was in your way (like a pole). Even some of the balls might be different and often some of them were chipped. The big cue balls tended to vary a lot from place to place as well. It was really hard to draw those big balls, so you just had to roll your ball most of the time. Even a stop shot took some stroke!

In the old days places like that were often where the best games and easiest money was. That appealed to me. I could handle the bad conditions if I stood a chance of making forty or fifty bucks. Unlike some players I liked soft action wherever it could be found. I only played good players when I went to foreign poolrooms. My weakness was that I played anyone (I didn't know) and once in a while ran into a better player. But not that often, believe it or not. I found that coming in as a stranger and offering to play anyone gave me a little psychological advantage. I'm sure I beat a couple of guys who were my equal or slightly better for that reason. I could feel their hesitation about playing me and I capitalized on it.

This is one reason I liked playing in the Philippines when I first went over there. I suspect I may have played in more hole-in-the-wall poolrooms (with really funky tables) then any other foreign player. I loved the fact that as soon as you walked in someone asked you to play (like the old days in the U.S). Usually the stakes were cheap by our standards, maybe $1-5 a game. A $20 game (1,000P) was big money over there. I almost always played Rotation and found it to be an excellent game. Once I discovered all the points were on top, I figured out how to win. I never tried to run out until maybe we got to the nine ball. Early in the game I would ride the big balls with my shots and try to luck something in. If I could get a few rolling a lot of the time something fell in.

MY girl friend and daughter lived in Pasay City and ten years ago they had a lot of little poolrooms there (mostly gone now). I played in every one of them! Pretty soon cab drivers and trike guys started calling me "The billiard guy" because they had all given me rides to a poolroom. It was fun while it lasted. I loved playing a good player over there and betting maybe 500P or 1,000P a game. A crowd would gather and encircle the table and that brought out the best in me. They would all cheer when you made a good shot and I was pretty creative. It was the last time I played a lot of pool and got in decent stroke. The last five or six years I hardly pick up a cue anymore.

Jay,

I really liked tough competition but when trying to pay bills and two mortgages soft action got it done. Usually small time would be hustlers and cowboys. In over ten years in those dives I ran into tough action three times, this guy and Scotty Townsend twice. I ended up in the book for awhile and tough action came to me but that was a different story. Nobody had to like coming into my backyard to play me especially with the mud ball on a seven footer.

I don't know why but there were dozens if not hundreds of nine foot tables put in the country stores and bars soon after WWII. Just one table each place. The last care for most of them was when they were installed other than the beer coaster leveling jobs, usually installed on wooden floors. By the sixties and seventies these tables were in terrible shape but usually good for a few dollars. You didn't even want to think about what were some of those stains on the tables. Pool cloth is brutal on knees and that is all I have to say about that.

It was fun going into a place and taking on the best and it usually worked out. Makes me remember the times it didn't! I went in black bars, biker bars, whatever. Never had any trouble anywhere when people realized I was there to gamble and was a gentleman win or lose.

The good old days when times were rotten! I do miss them and the younger me that would wade into any situation and try to find the cheese.

Hu
  
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08-23-2019, 07:12 PM

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Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
Jay,

I really liked tough competition but when trying to pay bills and two mortgages soft action got it done. Usually small time would be hustlers and cowboys. In over ten years in those dives I ran into tough action three times, this guy and Scotty Townsend twice. I ended up in the book for awhile and tough action came to me but that was a different story. Nobody had to like coming into my backyard to play me especially with the mud ball on a seven footer.

I don't know why but there were dozens if not hundreds of nine foot tables put in the country stores and bars soon after WWII. Just one table each place. The last care for most of them was when they were installed other than the beer coaster leveling jobs, usually installed on wooden floors. By the sixties and seventies these tables were in terrible shape but usually good for a few dollars. You didn't even want to think about what were some of those stains on the tables. Pool cloth is brutal on knees and that is all I have to say about that.

It was fun going into a place and taking on the best and it usually worked out. Makes me remember the times it didn't! I went in black bars, biker bars, whatever. Never had any trouble anywhere when people realized I was there to gamble and was a gentleman win or lose.

The good old days when times were rotten! I do miss them and the younger me that would wade into any situation and try to find the cheese.

Hu
Ha Ha, I played Scotty once (in Mobile). Got my ass kicked by an underage kid! That was enough for me. I also played in all-black poolrooms (never had a problem) and in biker bars (only once did I get scared when I beat the President of the biker club for his Harley! ).

Like you I never hustled, just tried to win the best way I could. No one could call me a hustler. If they did (once or twice) I just said I played my best every game and never hustled anybody. That was usually enough to shut them up.

I look back on my life in my 20's and can't believe some of the places I played in and some of the spots I put myself in (all alone) just to make a few bucks. If someone told me about a spot where they were gambling I automatically went there next. I had a way of getting people on my side and always tried to befriend the biggest guy in the joint.

What I noticed was sometimes the local players were glad to see someone beat the local champ who had been robbing them for a long time.

P.S. When I had my first poolroom in Bakersfield I was in every roadman's Black Book. I would play anyone who walked through the door and was good for a few hundred if you beat me. I played a LOT of good players on my front table and won some and lost some. If I saw I couldn't win at 9-Ball I switched to One Pocket. Some very good 9-Ball players couldn't spell One Pocket! My game of last resort was Banks. I played a full speed above my other games in Banks. I'm just another has-been now, can't beat Tom Thumb.


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went that route sometimes . . .
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went that route sometimes . . . - 08-23-2019, 10:01 PM

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Ha Ha, I played Scotty once (in Mobile). Got my ass kicked by an underage kid! That was enough for me. I also played in all-black poolrooms (never had a problem) and in biker bars (only once did I get scared when I beat the President of the biker club for his Harley! ).

Like you I never hustled, just tried to win the best way I could. No one could call me a hustler. If they did (once or twice) I just said I played my best every game and never hustled anybody. That was usually enough to shut them up.

I look back on my life in my 20's and can't believe some of the places I played in and some of the spots I put myself in (all alone) just to make a few bucks. If someone told me about a spot where they were gambling I automatically went there next. I had a way of getting people on my side and always tried to befriend the biggest guy in the joint.

What I noticed was sometimes the local players were glad to see someone beat the local champ who had been robbing them for a long time.

P.S. When I had my first poolroom in Bakersfield I was in every roadman's Black Book. I would play anyone who walked through the door and was good for a few hundred if you beat me. I played a LOT of good players on my front table and won some and lost some. If I saw I couldn't win at 9-Ball I switched to One Pocket. Some very good 9-Ball players couldn't spell One Pocket! My game of last resort was Banks. I played a full speed above my other games in Banks. I'm just another has-been now, can't beat Tom Thumb.

Jay,

Yeah, if they gambled I figured I had to hit a place at least once! After I smoothed out my act a little it wasn't a big deal almost anywhere. A few times I got deep enough into bayou country that english was the second language. Tough action, hard hard for a young man to stay focused with cajun babes everywhere! Never made it out of this country so I can't comment about the Philippines and other countries but the only place that I have been that the girls could hang with those in South Louisiana was Hawaii. Didn't much care for Hawaii, they still wanted to fight race wars in the early seventies but wowser were there some good looking gals!

Hu
  
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08-24-2019, 03:30 AM

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Jay,

Yeah, if they gambled I figured I had to hit a place at least once! After I smoothed out my act a little it wasn't a big deal almost anywhere. A few times I got deep enough into bayou country that english was the second language. Tough action, hard hard for a young man to stay focused with cajun babes everywhere! Never made it out of this country so I can't comment about the Philippines and other countries but the only place that I have been that the girls could hang with those in South Louisiana was Hawaii. Didn't much care for Hawaii, they still wanted to fight race wars in the early seventies but wowser were there some good looking gals!

Hu
The only gals I met worked in topless bars (with pool tables of course). Enough said.
There are MANY drop dead gorgeous women in the Philippines. I married one.


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