Have you any good stories about underworld characters you met in Pool Rooms?

cubswin

Just call me Joe...
Silver Member
Playing in about 1989 girl and a guy come in the back door and drop a duffel bag under a table and then out the front door. Cops come in a few minutes later looking for them. Bag had cash and a fully loaded Mac-10. One of the cops started waving it around asking who the fucking machine gun belonged to.

Had a guy that I beat out of about 500 playing 11 and tonk (card games) come looking for me with a shotgun the next day. All the drug dealers, thieves, and just all around felons I've hung out with makes me wonder how I didn't turn out to be one of them.
 

mikemosconi

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
"Omaha John" and I went in a small town Kentucky pool room to get some action. Back then they didn't even hesitate and agreed to play both of us.

We went out to get our cues and discovered that John had accidently locked the keys in the car. We went back in and said "can someone call a locksmith, we locked our keys in the car".

Six guys jumped up at the same time and said "I'll get it open for ya," pulling slim-jims out of their pockets. One of them got to the door first and preceded to get our car open as fast with his slim-jim as we could with the key.

We didn't waste a minute and won a couple thousand in 4-5 hours.* Later that year we saw the front page of a newspaper said "ONE OF THE BIGGEST CAR THEFT RINGS IN THE COUNTRY BUSTED IN CORBIN KENTUCKY"........The article said they all hung out at a local pool room across from the original Kentucky Fried Chicken!

Suddenly it all made sense.....John and I joked about that for several days!
I guess then , you know where the " couple of thousand " you won in a few hours came from- stolen cars? Easy for folks to give up money they never earned.
So the fact that you walked into a strange room without cues- the two of you- then made a game with someone- THEN went out to your car to get custom cues DID NOT raise alarms for the folks that you beat out of several thousand! Idiots like that deserved to lose their money.

I have not been so lucky to meet people so dumb with their money or so blind to an obvious poor betting situation - I mean- in the 1961 movie the Hustler- even Fast Eddie only produced his custom cue and case against one guy- the guy considered the best in the country. Even the railbirds saw his cue case on the cig machine and refused to play him based on that - while Eddie had a house cue in his hands.

As for underworld characters in pool halls- yes they were there all the time, but none of them were real players of the game- the great John Ervolino would sometimes travel up into Derby Ct in the 60s from NYC with a couple of cars full of "characters and dames" - he was betting one pocket against John Vivas- one time Johnston City one pocket champ - Ervolino and his crew would ride back into NYC in the wee hours- cash and dames in hand!
 
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u12armresl

One Pocket back cutter
Silver Member
Playing in about 1989 girl and a guy come in the back door and drop a duffel bag under a table and then out the front door. Cops come in a few minutes later looking for them. Bag had cash and a fully loaded Mac-10. One of the cops started waving it around asking who the fucking machine gun belonged to.

Had a guy that I beat out of about 500 playing 11 and tonk (card games) come looking for me with a shotgun the next day. All the drug dealers, thieves, and just all around felons I've hung out with makes me wonder how I didn't turn out to be one of them.
No one plays Tonk LOL 3, holding a pair of aces and shit grinning.
 

CJ Wiley

ESPN WORLD OPEN CHAMPION
Gold Member
Silver Member
I guess then , you know where the " couple of thousand " you won in a few hours came from- stolen cars? Easy for folks to give up money they never earned.
So the fact that you walked into a strange room without cues- the two of you- then made a game with someone- THEN went out to your car to get custom cues DID NOT raise alarms for the folks that you beat out of several thousand! Idiots like that deserved to lose their money.

I have not been so lucky to meet people so dumb with their money or so blind to an obvious poor betting situation - I mean- in the 1961 movie the Hustler- even Fast Eddie only produced his custom cue and case against one guy- the guy considered the best in the country. Even the railbirds saw his cue case on the cig machine and refused to play him based on that - while Eddie had a house cue in his hands.

As for underworld characters in pool halls- yes they were there all the time, but none of them were real players of the game- the great John Ervolino would sometimes travel up into Derby Ct in the 60s from NYC with a couple of cars full of "characters and dames" - he was betting one pocket against John Vivas- one time Johnston City one pocket champ - Ervolino and his crew would ride back into NYC in the wee hours- cash and dames in hand!
These men were far from idiots, they just had the courage to gamble, back then men had heart, these days it's much different. One of those men ended up becoming a good friend of mine and he steered me all over Kentucky for 20%. I made him over the $4000 the first two weeks we partnered up. Another one was a big stake horse that used to gamble a lot against Monroe in Lexington when Clyde Childress was still alive. They bet really high and played at another good friend of mine's pool room Danny's All Star Billiards, he also ran big professional tournaments at the Continental Inn. I went to one of his tournaments that Varner won and gambled for several hours with Jimmy Wetch, there was so much action there it wouldn't be comprehensible by today's standards. Those were definitely the golden days of pool, where men had courage and wouldn't back down.....and to beat them you had to be ready to go the extra mile or they'd get in stroke and surprise even the advanced road warriors!
 

CJ Wiley

ESPN WORLD OPEN CHAMPION
Gold Member
Silver Member
I met you in the mid 80's. That count?
Absolutely, I definitely was an underworld character back then! Anyone that was playing pool in the 80s were blessed, especially after the Color of Money came out in 86. Several of my road partners also traveled with Keith McCready who was one of the toughest gamblers in the country, the first time I saw him he had a shirt on that said "The World has got the Last Two" or something to that effect. Clinton Iowa was the location of that tournament, I remember Dallas West ran 10 racks in a row in the semi finals, then had to play Buddy Hall. Buddy was smart enough to move him off that table and ended up beating him in the finals. Great times, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to see it all with my own eyes!
 

TxOnePocket

i'm ur huckleberry
Silver Member
Yes I have lots, Raytown Rec was a great but scary place for a kid to grow up. I'd guess the Jay Swanson story would be the best for around here but CJ knows it and tells a much better story so I yield to the mullet.
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Later that evening we found out they were both in Las Vegas working on a movie called 'CASINO'. The Vegas opinion at the Mirage was the movie should do "pretty well" at the Box Office.....and so it did!
Dug Goodfellas as well. If only he had said something like, "Hee ya go. Doan eat it all in one place."
 

cueman

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
A young friend of mine and I were playing a tournament at the Wagon Wheel in Atlanta back in the late 80s. My friend was playing a man named Dean who kept talking to the crowd about how young guys have no heart and can't win. He kept bragging about being in prison and it was sharking my young friend. Dean got my friend down 6 to 1 in a race to 7. My friend started playing one safe after another and beat Dean 7 to 6. Everyone gave a long applause and I started talking loud enough for Dean to
hear me saying my young friend must have some heart to make a come back like that. A man tugged on my arm and got me to sit down and told me I better be careful about making Dean mad, and let me know he was a dangerous man. That was my introduction to Mean Dean. He well lived up to that reputation over the next three decades and was feared or at least respected by all the top players in the area. Few wanted to bet against Deans players as they always suspected it was fixed. He was known to back both players a get people running around taking all side bets. The win depended on how the side bets went.
 

CJ Wiley

ESPN WORLD OPEN CHAMPION
Gold Member
Silver Member
A young friend of mine and I were playing a tournament at the Wagon Wheel in Atlanta back in the late 80s. My friend was playing a man named Dean who kept talking to the crowd about how young guys have no heart and can't win. He kept bragging about being in prison and it was sharking my young friend. Dean got my friend down 6 to 1 in a race to 7. My friend started playing one safe after another and beat Dean 7 to 6. Everyone gave a long applause and I started talking loud enough for Dean to
hear me saying my young friend must have some heart to make a come back like that. A man tugged on my arm and got me to sit down and told me I better be careful about making Dean mad, and let me know he was a dangerous man. That was my introduction to Mean Dean. He well lived up to that reputation over the next three decades and was feared or at least respected by all the top players in the area. Few wanted to bet against Deans players as they always suspected it was fixed. He was known to back both players a get people running around taking all side bets. The win depended on how the side bets went.
I played several of Dean's players like Paul Turner and he also backed Eugene Browning against me at BJ's if you remember that place. I played at the Wagon Wheel and also beat Jackie Mann out of several thousand in a small bar outside of Atlanta, Earl Strickland did as well. I'm sure you're aware of these names and places.
 

cueman

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I played several of Dean's players like Paul Turner and he also backed Eugene Browning against me at BJ's if you remember that place. I played at the Wagon Wheel and also beat Jackie Mann out of several thousand in a small bar outside of Atlanta, Earl Strickland did as well. I'm sure you're aware of these names and places.
Yes I knew those people and places. Paul passed away a few years ago. Eugene is still around and playing a little.
 

VarmintKong

Cannonball comin’!
CJ Wiley: These men were far from idiots, they just had the courage to gamble, back then men had heart, these days it's much different.

That’s some funny stuff right there.

So what, it’s hard to get a good money game these days? If a man is willing to risk a dishonest dollar, he’s a warrior?

What an enlightened view. Please, teach me how to flow like water, Oh Great Funky Buddha.

Heart, PFFT!
 

mikemosconi

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
CJ Wiley: These men were far from idiots, they just had the courage to gamble, back then men had heart, these days it's much different.

That’s some funny stuff right there.

So what, it’s hard to get a good money game these days? If a man is willing to risk a dishonest dollar, he’s a warrior?

What an enlightened view. Please, teach me how to flow like water, Oh Great Funky Buddha.

Heart, PFFT!
Remember the "Bronx Tale Movie- " It's the working man who is the REAL tough guy" Why does the number 25 ranked guy in golf still make $1Million a year- Just because pool made way too much out of the stuff CJ is talking about. Yes gambling existed and still does in golf - but too many people in pool "worshipped" the betting game and the whole lifestyle associated with it- to the point that corporate America and the TV world eventually ran for the hills away from the game. Pool had its opportunity 1961 to 65 and again 86 to 94 and both times they blew it.

Brunswick and a few other companies did their best, but I think their approach was too "immediate profit " motivated. They, perhaps should have done more to create pool schools and draw in the youth of America into the game in the correct venues. Yes, they did try the "Family" pool room approach- but it was far too limited. Their approach was to sell tables and the like to the masses; without really helping building back the game from the ground up- I understand the forces of profit vs. education.

Far too may people drawn to the game in the 60s and 80s walked into pool rooms feeling they were in a shark tank instead of a true recreational venue. Yes, it was "cool", it was "macho" , but in the end, as I reflect on my own young days in pool rooms in the 60s and again in the 80s- early 90s - entering a pool room was all about survival and status - most of the young teens hanging out in pool rooms were the same punks you tried to avoid in the school yard- and the room owners did little to discourage this. You had to learn to meet the challenge with your cue stick on the table instead of your fists - but most just left the venue totally intimidated- few returned.

Pool could be sharing the sports pages and TV time with other sports today, I firmly believe this; but the forces that were in charge missed/ignored/ Chose/ NOT to rebuild a grand game- but to just profit from it as quickly as possible- we are all to blame- sadly.
 
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CJ Wiley

ESPN WORLD OPEN CHAMPION
Gold Member
Silver Member
Remember the "Bronx Tale Movie- " It's the working man who is the REAL tough guy" Why does the number 25 ranked guy in golf still make $1Million a year- Just because pool made way too much out of the stuff CJ is talking about. Yes gambling existed and still does in golf - but too many people in pool "worshipped" the betting game and the whole lifestyle associated with it- to the point that corporate America and the TV world eventually ran for the hills away from the game. Pool had its opportunity 1961 to 65 and again 86 to 94 and both times they blew it.

Brunswick and a few other companies did their best, but I think their approach was too "immediate profit " motivated. They, perhaps should have done more to create pool schools and draw in the youth of America into the game in the correct venues. Yes, they did try the "Family" pool room approach- but it was far too limited. Their approach was to sell tables and the like to the masses; without really helping building back the game from the ground up- I understand the forces of profit vs. education.

Far too may people drawn to the game in the 60s and 80s walked into pool rooms feeling they were in a shark tank instead of a true recreational venue. Yes, it was "cool", it was "macho" , but in the end, as I reflect on my own young days in pool rooms in the 60s and again in the 80s- early 90s - entering a pool room was all about survival and status - most of the young teens hanging out in pool rooms were the same punks you tried to avoid in the school yard- and the room owners did little to discourage this. You had to learn to meet the challenge with your cue stick on the table instead of your fists - but most just left the venue totally intimidated- few returned.

Pool could be sharing the sports pages and TV time with other sports today, I firmly believe this; but the forces that were in charge missed/ignored/ Chose/ NOT to rebuild a grand game- but to just profit from it as quickly as possible- we are all to blame- sadly.
Yes, the reason pool isn't popular is because of the actual way we play the game. Back in the times I speak of we played "Two Shot Shoot Out" which was a game 10 times (or probably more) better than the Texas Express One Foul rules.

What I've done is put the game into a balance sheet, identifying the strengths and weaknesses (assets and liabilities) of the game and I changed things and changed things until I got all the weaknesses on the strength side. Even the appropriate time for banter between the players. My professional poker friend Daniel Negreanu urged me to make sure that was included and how it's made poker more popular.

I'm getting ready to go to Kentucky to start the project, hopefully with some good moves and fortune it will help the game get what it needs.
 

maha

from way back when
Silver Member
without characters that are interesting and debateable to excite people pool will continue to go down hill. mostly because it is not an exciting sport to watch so tv isnt going to pay much for it to happen.

cj is right. long ago it was fun to just hang out in a pool room. not so anymore as nothing is going on to watch in the majority of them.
 

CJ Wiley

ESPN WORLD OPEN CHAMPION
Gold Member
Silver Member
without characters that are interesting and debateable to excite people pool will continue to go down hill. mostly because it is not an exciting sport to watch so tv isnt going to pay much for it to happen.

cj is right. long ago it was fun to just hang out in a pool room. not so anymore as nothing is going on to watch in the majority of them.
I went to Daniel Negreanu's house to play pool with him he agreed with you. He said Poker got to be so big, so fast for 2 main reasons, first they started showing the hole cards on TV and 2, they made the characters colorful....by design.

The group of pool players from the 70s and 80s were entertaining, like Jimmy "Pretty Boy Floyd", Steve Mizerak, and many others. They also dressed the part, I went to a bar table tournament in Clinton Iowa in the 80s and just about all the players were in dress cloths, several in suits.

There is a formula to make pool follow in the model of poker, and pool has some HUGE advantages, especially the fact it can be gambled on by the public LIVE. I look forward to the opportunity to see pool change in the ways it needs to and accomplish it's destiny, to be the #1 indoor, nighttime game in the world!
 
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