Great Pool Room Owners

jrhendy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
In all the years I have played pool and all of the places I have played, I think these guys have stood out as the very best pool room owners I have had the good fortune to know, be friends with and play in their rooms. Hopefully some of you will have more stories about them or some of the owners you know.

?Indian Joe? Monzingo, The Golden Cue, Rosemead, CA

Joe & his son in law Bob opened the Golden Cue in the late 60?s I believe. There was always something going on. Close to downtown Los Angeles, the Mexican players were in there quite a bit, and since Archie The Greek hung out in there, some kind of action was always going on. They had four domino tables that they also played cards on. You paid time just like a pool table, and we played pinochle, gin, hearts and sometimes poker. You could shoot dice with Joe?s old friend Curly off the board in the back room, but you couldn?t win. Joe went in with me when pool action showed up & we played anyone who came through the door. I was in the insurance business in an office a few miles away and came in daily. We booked winners and losers but were always in action. I ran a 9 ball tournament on Weds. nights and my old friend Frank The Barber and I spent many a Weds. night next door at the Silver Mug after the tournament with some of the tournament players. Some of the players I hooked up with over the years there were the who?s who of road players, but I always ground out enough $$ from the regulars to take a decent shot at them. When St. Louie Louie came in (we didn?t know who he was) I won the first set, a race to five for $200, and Joe yelled ?Bet Four Hundred?. That was a mistake that cost us a thousand. A day or two later there was an article on the front page of the LA Times sports section about St. Louie Louie Roberts giving a pool exhibition at the LA Elks Club. Wish it would have come out a day or two earlier. They moved the room to So. El Monte in the 80?s and Joe & Bob finally sold it and it is still going strong as far as I know.

Verne Peterson, The Billiard Palace, Bellflower, Ca

Every pool player who hit the West Coast came here in the 60?s & 70?s. Verne put together an action room that was open 24 hours. Pay Ball games on the snooker table with five or six champions in the game. Grady hung out here before he left for Colorado. Verne was too good for me to play anything with and was pretty careful about matching up. Verne remodeled the 6 x 12 with the tight pockets that they call Big Bertha and still play on in Hard Times, Bellflower. Butch Van Syoc and his dad Brian bought the place from Verne, and it still was full of action for many years. Bertha was such a tough table that a stranger had almost no chance in the liability snooker games we played there. Over the years, Denny Searcy and Jose Parica were the best players on the table, and I?d have to say Searcy was the best of the two. He used to drink a bottle of whiskey, stall and still rob the game. Butch & I used to gamble at pool & cards, and you could bite him or his dad if you went empty in the snooker game. You would have to leave Verne your cue IF you could get anything.

Chuck & Mike Markulis, Hard Times Bellflower & Sacramento

They built and ran two of the most successful pool rooms for players on the West Coast. When they put together Hard Times in Bellflower, I was living in San Diego, managing a Mortgage Co. I started spending every weekend in Bellflower because of the action on Big Bertha and the tournaments. I finally resigned to come back to the Orange County office just so I could be near the room. We would play liability snooker sessions for 20/30 hours and no one was barred. Chuck would keep it open as long as there was action. The game got up as high as $50 a point, and they even flew in a Canadian to play in the game one time. Parica was the man on the table when he was here, but so many players were in and out of the game, taking a shot at it, that there was plenty of money to go around and I got my share.

I still play at their room in Sacramento. It is mostly tournaments with some small action from time to time, but it is a great room for the players. Chuck is still recovering from an accident and we hope to see him back soon.

Wayne Isiri, The Great American, Sacramento (Hard Times, Sacramento now)


?Wayno? has to be one of the greatest pool room owners that ever lived. He has a twin brother named Walt, and they are identical twins and they are midgets. They both have as much gamble as anyone you have ever met. Players moved to Sacramento just to be around him and the room. Warren ?Monk? Costanza, Diamond Bill Cress and Dave Piona lived there for a while. He played pool, he staked and went in with players and he played cards. I met him at First Street Bowl in San Jose. Wayno offered to stake me in some one pocket against a guy I knew I couldn?t beat and I told him so. I don?t care, he said, I just want to see some action. In the early 90?s I was doing commercial mtg. loans and was in Sacramento on business with my boss. We went to the pool room for lunch and I introduced my boss to Wayno. My boss asked him if I really was a good pool player. Wayno looked at him, looked at me and the back at him. ?Can?t make a ****ing ball? he said. That was Wayno and I expected nothing less.

I understand Wayno and his brother are both in poor health now and wish them both the best. John Henderson
 

CocoboloCowboy

Cowboys are my heros.
Silver Member
 

Williebetmore

Member, .25% Club
Silver Member
I wonder if you've ever been to any of Mark Griffin's rooms (when he was operating them). Friends of mine who have played all over the country and world; rate his Anchorage Billiard Palace as the nicest and best run pool hall ever. I hear his College Billiards in San Diego was also a fabulous place to play.
 

jrhendy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Williebetmore said:
I wonder if you've ever been to any of Mark Griffin's rooms (when he was operating them). Friends of mine who have played all over the country and world; rate his Anchorage Billiard Palace as the nicest and best run pool hall ever. I hear his College Billiards in San Diego was also a fabulous place to play.

I played quite a bit at College Billiards in the late 80's. I don't know if Mark had it then, but it was the only place to play in San Diego at that time that was worth going to. I heard that the room in Alaska was a good one. Most of my experience & all the rooms I hung around at for any lenght of time were in California. John
 

StevenPWaldon

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I've always been a fan of Jeff Bey, Hollywood Billiards (Hollywood, CA). He's a funny guy with a great Szamboti. How many pool room owners gave up their career to manage a pool room? It shows a lot of passion, and he always greets me with a smile when I walk in, even when I haven't been in the joint for over a year and come to LA to visit during the holidays.

He also has the Dominguez crew (and only them) do the tables. So whether you're a pro, a road player, a league player or a banger you know you're playing on top-notch tables (even if the triple shims frustrate the hell out of you).
 

junksecret

Certified Fish
Silver Member
jrhendy said:
I still play at their room in Sacramento. It is mostly tournaments with some small action from time to time, but it is a great room for the players. Chuck is still recovering from an accident and we hope to see him back soon.

Wayne Isiri, The Great American, Sacramento (Hard Times, Sacramento now)

I grew up in the 70's playing in Sacramento, including The Jointed Cue on Fruitridge Road. Terry Stoner was the owner and a GREAT guy. He had a beautiful tourney setup in the back room, complete with stadium seating.

I was told he and the room were still there, is it no longer the spot in Sacto? There was no Hard Times there in my youth.

Joe
 

jrhendy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
junksecret said:
I grew up in the 70's playing in Sacramento, including The Jointed Cue on Fruitridge Road. Terry Stoner was the owner and a GREAT guy. He had a beautiful tourney setup in the back room, complete with stadium seating.

I was told he and the room were still there, is it no longer the spot in Sacto? There was no Hard Times there in my youth.

Joe

Terry certainly should be considered one of the great pool room owners. I used to drive up from So. Cal to play in his tournaments almost 30 years ago. I did not include him on my list because I never hung around the Jointed Cue much, just came for the tournaments and a little action sometimes.

Terry passed away a few years ago and the tournament is a Memorial Tournament now, run very efficiently by his son David, who has the pool room now. The 2008 tournament just went off the 29th/30th of March and drew 100 plus players again like it does every year. Ted Ito, Eddie Clark and some of the other oldtimers are still there, but like most places, it is not the same as the old days. John Henderson
 

hilla_hilla

I'd rather be foosing it!
Silver Member
Williebetmore said:
I wonder if you've ever been to any of Mark Griffin's rooms (when he was operating them). Friends of mine who have played all over the country and world; rate his Anchorage Billiard Palace as the nicest and best run pool hall ever. I hear his College Billiards in San Diego was also a fabulous place to play.

Mark used to own 3 rooms in San Diego, College Billiards, La Mesa Billiards and Gaslamp Billiards. College Billiards was where most of the, "players" played. Swannee used to be a regular there. When Mark owned it I went there frequently but now most of the players moved over to Rian Greenberg's room, On Cue Billiards in La Mesa.

La Mesa Billiards is now Jolt n Joes. I like the set up there because it had 3 floors and you could look down to watch matches. Gaslamp Billiards was plush. It was more of a place to go for a date or fun. When Mark owned both of those rooms he had a GREAT deal at both Gaslamp and La Mesa where you could play pool for $5 all day on Sundays (parking costs 4x that downtown where Gaslamp billiards is).

I think Gaslamp Billiards has also been rerenovated and also bought out by Jolt n Joes. All the tables on the bottom floor were sold but they still have most of the upstair tables and they still have a Sunday deal where pool is still only $8 for the night (or at least they did the last time I was there, but it's been a LONG while).

Mark does a lot for pool and took care of every pool room that he owned:) .
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
Gold Member
Silver Member
Jessie Mills?

Best old time owner I knew, Jessie Mills I believe. Had a ratty old pool room on Plank Road in Baton Rouge. Serious place but he also had time for kids that were serious about the game. Lady named Sue I believe managed the place before he bought it, also a great person.

Today Buffalo at Buffalo Billiards in Metairie(New Orleans) is the only owner I know personally with the old time style. A player, a player's hall owner, a savvy and all around good guy. Just a rumor but I hear that we just lost Jerry in Ponchatoula recently. A very good guy but his place was more a bar with tables.

Finally I can't close without mentioning Billy Incardona and his partners. Diamond Billiards in Dallas was a player's dream. Wish they could have kept it going.

Hu
 

junksecret

Certified Fish
Silver Member
jrhendy said:
Terry certainly should be considered one of the great pool room owners. I used to drive up from So. Cal to play in his tournaments almost 30 years ago. I did not include him on my list because I never hung around the Jointed Cue much, just came for the tournaments and a little action sometimes.

Terry passed away a few years ago and the tournament is a Memorial Tournament now, run very efficiently by his son David, who has the pool room now. The 2008 tournament just went off the 29th/30th of March and drew 100 plus players again like it does every year. Ted Ito, Eddie Clark and some of the other oldtimers are still there, but like most places, it is not the same as the old days. John Henderson

Wow!!! Ted was a fixture, an old guy and one of the toughest guys to get through when I played there in the EARLY 70's. Eddie was one of my mentors and haven't seen or heard from him in over 35 years! If you add Gene Ahola to the mix you have my adolescent trifecta!.

I guess I gotta go next year, thanks for the great update and sad news about Terry....:(

Joe
 
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ironman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
ShootingArts said:
Best old time owner I knew, Jessie Mills I believe. Had a ratty old pool room on Plank Road in Baton Rouge. Serious place but he also had time for kids that were serious about the game. Lady named Sue I believe managed the place before he bought it, also a great person.

Today Buffalo at Buffalo Billiards in Metairie(New Orleans) is the only owner I know personally with the old time style. A player, a player's hall owner, a savvy and all around good guy. Just a rumor but I hear that we just lost Jerry in Ponchatoula recently. A very good guy but his place was more a bar with tables.

Finally I can't close without mentioning Billy Incardona and his partners. Diamond Billiards in Dallas was a player's dream. Wish they could have kept it going.

Hu

It was a Players room indeed. I miss it.
 

jrhendy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
junksecret said:
Wow!!! Ted was a fixture, an old guy and one of the toughest guys to get through when I played there in the EARLY 70's. Eddie was one of my mentors and haven't seen or heard from him in over 35 years! If you add Gene Ahola to the mix you have my adolescent trifecta!.

I guess I gotta go next year, thanks for the great update and sad news about Terry....:(

Joe

Gene is still around & plays at Hard Times, Sacramento & I see him every week. He won a big Handicap Tournament there last spring. Eddie still plays pretty good & finished in the money at the Jointed Cue Tournament in March. The Jointed Cue has not changed since the 70's except they changed the seating in the tournament room and added one more Gold Crown table & there are three billiard tables up front now. John
 

Drawman623

Box Cue lover
Silver Member
Rhode Island Billiards

Phyllis and Tony Costanzo.
God bless them both for running Rhode Island Billiards so well. I grew up in their room and met many fine people there; they are deeply missed.

Dottie Starcher
She and her sons ran that great tournament in the 80's, the Akron Open from Starchers. I drove 800 miles every year to watch that action.
 

JCIN

TheActionReport.com
Gold Member
Dan Tull, Shooters in Olathe. Great room, great staff and outstanding equipment. One of the last REAL pool rooms I know of. Best part is, he is still going strong.
 

Scott Lee

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Although it was forced to close recently, due to outrageous rent increases, Blackbird Billiards, in Kalamazoo, Michigan was a real players room. Even though it was only open a couple of years, the owner, Tim White, has been around pool forever, and did everything right to make his room a GREAT place to play, teach, or gamble in! Hopefully he will reopen somewhere else in K'zoo next fall! :D

Scott Lee
www.poolknowledge.com
 

!Smorgass Bored

Hump ? What HUMP ?
Gold Member
And Baker's In Tampa,FL.

ShootingArts said:
Best old time owner I knew, Jessie Mills I believe. Had a ratty old pool room on Plank Road in Baton Rouge. Serious place but he also had time for kids that were serious about the game. Lady named Sue I believe managed the place before he bought it, also a great person.

Today Buffalo at Buffalo Billiards in Metairie(New Orleans) is the only owner I know personally with the old time style. A player, a player's hall owner, a savvy and all around good guy. Just a rumor but I hear that we just lost Jerry in Ponchatoula recently. A very good guy but his place was more a bar with tables.

Finally I can't close without mentioning Billy Incardona and his partners. Diamond Billiards in Dallas was a player's dream. Wish they could have kept it going.

Hu

It's hard to mention New Orleans without mentioning 50 years of The Sports Palace.
Doug


.
 

frankncali

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Here are a couple more

Andy Grubbs -- Starcade Billiards Ft Walton Beach Fl.... Anyone that ever visited left a friend.
A better man then most I have known.
Always had tournaments and gave back to the players. Always fair and thats all you can really ask for.


Herman Love -- Herman and Ann's Dothan AL
Tables always in good condiditon and spaced well. Catered to bangers and to the players without many riffs between the two. He didnt put up with much crap and got respect from everyone.
Each year he had great events and would stay open 24/7 for the action.
Staked action and always seemed to get things going.
He used to get big turnouts every year for his events and the players always had great things to say.
 

metallicane

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
John Carter at Johnny C's (formerly the Texas Cue Lounge) in Cockeysville Maryland. Great guy. Mike Sigel used to shoot in this room when he lived in Maryland.
 

rikdee

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Let's not forget Joe Farhat's Velvet Rail in Lansing Michigan. Many great players could be seen there during the 1970s. Joe Balsis, Irving Crane, Dallas West, Mike Carella, and the young 14.1 master Mark Bielfuss just to mention a few.
 
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