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Nyt: Pool playing in new york comes alive (briefly)
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Nyt: Pool playing in new york comes alive (briefly) - 05-03-2019, 06:41 AM

The Golden Cue that I remember was in Queens, did it start out in Staten Island as stated in this article?

New York Times, POOL PLAYING IN NEW YORK COMES ALIVE (BRIEFLY)
By PAUL L. MONTGOMERY, AUG. 13, 1981

https://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/13/n...e-briefly.html

Only the most intrepid of the city's surviving hustlers are sidling up to strangers in poolrooms this week to ask if they'd like to shoot some nine-ball.

The reason, as any adherent of the subculture knows, is that this is the week of the annual Professional Pool Players Association world championships at the Roosevelt Hotel, and any seemingly awed stranger could well be a participant. Nearly 100 of the world's best, men and women, are keeping the tables in the hotel's Grand Ballroom alive with break shots and caroms from 11 A.M. until well after 2 in the morning, and they are not above looking for some outside action in off hours.

''This was always a tough town to win in anyway,'' said one of the visitors, who ekes out a living hoodwinking the unwary but has had little success in the few remaining New York poolrooms this week. ''You beat somebody here and they won't play again, but somebody beats you, they want to play all night. Down South, when people lose, they'll want to come back. You can get them for a few hundred before they catch on.''

Sport Is Declining

Local entrepreneurs hope that events like the tournament, and increasing television attention to the sport, can reverse pool's declining fortunes in the city. Where there were hundreds of poolrooms in the five boroughs 50 years ago, there are only a handful now, and each year a few more close. High rents, competing pastimes, a disorderly clientele and the popularity of home tables are among the reasons usually cited.

''It's tough in the city,'' said Peter Margo, a top player and the owner of the Golden Cue Lounge on Staten Island. ''It's the kind of people that come in. They're always harassing the new customers who just stop by to have fun. Out West, the industry is flourishing. They're allowed to sell beer, and they've got music and everything, sheer entertainment. They won't let a hustler in the place.''

The center of gravity of the sport has indeed shifted west. New York players used to be the most feared, and there are still many heavy hitters here, but hometowns like Las Vegas, Nev., and Billings, Mont., frequently show up in the winners columns these days.

An exemplar of the new model player-businessman is Nick Varner of Owensboro, Ky., last year's men's champion and one of the favorites again. He was twice intercollegiate champion when he was at Purdue, and he runs a 24-hour poolroom in his hometown with his father and brother. His main source of income in lecturing at colleges, with an occasional high-stakes game as a supplement. Fearless Pool in Kentucky

''In Owensboro we've got industrial leagues, women's leagues, anything you want to name,'' Mr. Varner said. ''Nobody's afraid to walk in there at night. Now Manhattan, that's entirely different. I don't think I've ever been in another place like this.''

Irving Crane of Rochester, who won his first world's championship in 1942, his last in 1972 and is still playing at the age of 68, says pool's reputation for attracting grifters, layabouts and other unsavory characters is the cause of its decline here. ''It always seems like there are people trying to hustle you out of your $2 or your $4,'' said Mr. Crane, who has never had that problem himself. ''In my opinion it will never be a clean sport. It's too bad.''

Mr. Crane recalled that when he first played in New York in 1937, there were six large poolrooms in Times Square alone. The only one remaining is the Magic Cue at 43d Street and Broadway. It was opened last year by Vincent Sbarbati, a former commodity broker and threecushion billiards adept.

''We're doing O.K., I guess,'' he said, ''but it's a tough neighborhood to try and control.'' His 38 tables are clean and well-lighted, and he employs a staff of heavyweights to eject the unruly. ''If we see somebody taking advantage of somebody else, we'll stop it,'' Mr. Sbarbati said. He added that he was thinking of opening a commodities brokerage in the back to supplement his income, and said wistfully that he thought the future of the game was in the suburbs.

The Bronx Days Recalled
Some spoke with nostalgia of the poolrooms of the past. ''They were all dives,'' said Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion known as the Bronx Bull, who was a spectator at the tournament. ''The only home you had was the poolroom. What else you had to do in the Bronx?''

''After we came back from work, we always went there,'' the 60-year-old Bull recalled of his youth. ''By 'work' I mean stealing. Not that we stole anything, just stuff beginning with A - a truck, a car, a bike.''

Billie Billing of Brooklyn, one of the best female players, said she thought that the limited participation of women in poolroom gambling had held back their progress in the game. ''You get better when you're playing for money, but not many women gamble,'' she said. ''I know for myself, I don't want to gamble. I got punched three times already over money, once for $18. What am I gonna do, bring a gorilla with me everytime I play?''

The best known visitor to the tournament, and probably the best known player, was Rudolph Wanderone, better recognized as Minnesota Fats. His fame is as a hustler. He is not generally considered skilled enough at the game to compete at the tournament level - ''He played in one tournament, and he got barbecued,'' said Peter Margo - but his nonstop talk and diamond pinky ring enlivened the proceedings.

''Pool is the greatest game in the world, this is the greatest city in the world and I'm the greatest player in the world,'' he said at the start of the competition. ''I've made zillions from it, and I been all over the world with my cue. I been to Samoa and the North Pole and every place on earth. I played the Terrible Turk in Istanbul and then Fatima danced for me in the sultan's palace. That was 60 years ago. Let me tell you, it's a wonderful game.''


My ego is writing checks that my stroke can't cash.

Last edited by ctyhntr; 05-03-2019 at 06:42 AM. Reason: editing for spelling, typos
  
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05-03-2019, 07:29 AM

I didn't click on the link, but where does it say that Pete Margo's Golden Cue, a room in which I played a couple of times during the 1980's, came first? I'm not sure of it, but I thought the room in Queens, where I played most of my pool back then, came first. These rooms existed at the same time.

Last edited by sjm; 05-03-2019 at 07:32 AM.
  
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05-03-2019, 07:32 AM

I copied the entire article, it's in my post. I wasn't aware Pete owned the Golden Cue back then.

''It's tough in the city,'' said Peter Margo, a top player and the owner of the Golden Cue Lounge on Staten Island.

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Originally Posted by sjm View Post
I didn't click on the link, but where does it say that Pete Margo's Golden Cue, a room in which I played a couple of times during the 1980's, came first? I'm not sure of it, but I thought the room in Queens, where I played most of my pool back then, came first.


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05-03-2019, 07:36 AM

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Originally Posted by ctyhntr View Post
I copied the entire article, it's in my post. I wasn't aware Pete owned the Golden Cue back then.

''It's tough in the city,'' said Peter Margo, a top player and the owner of the Golden Cue Lounge on Staten Island.
Yes, Pete owned the Golden Cue in Staten Island, but not the one in Queens. His last name escapes me, but I believe the owner of the Queens room was called Bruce.

Last edited by sjm; 05-03-2019 at 07:48 AM.
  
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05-03-2019, 10:49 AM

there were pool rooms all over the city and the surrounding states. the ones that were famous were the ones that attracted the top players and or gamblers. which in many cases moved to different locations as the action moved. the queens golden cue lasted a bunch of years as the top straight pool players hung out there as well as george balabushka. margo, euphemia, mizerak, hopkins, martin, etc. were there regularly. so the action followed and it became on the famous list.
7,11 or paddys, was the ultimate hangout for the gamblers and crooks.
  
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05-03-2019, 10:58 AM

There's plenty of Golden Cues-Jim Marino owned one just outside of Pittsburgh.
  
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