Pool shark in hunt – city’s top shooter is aiming to pocket his first title


RIP Kelly
Silver Member

By Kirsten Danis April 14, 1999 | 4:00am

About 2,000 people are expected at the competition, including Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Sorvino and Jerry Orbach.

WITH a nickname like “Ginky,” he’d better be good.Luckily, George SanSouci is the best player of his sport in New York City – a natural talent, methodical workhorse and fierce competitor.

“He has the uncanny ability to play every ball as if his life depended on it,” says fan and fellow player Steve Lipsky.

So why hasn’t anyone heard of him?

SanSouci, 27, plays pool, a game linked more to drinking and hustling than Olympic glory.

“I would love to be well-recognized,” says SanSouci, taking a break from league night at the Amsterdam Billiard Club. “But pool doesn’t get the respect it should.”

Tomorrow, some of the world’s best players – including SanSouci – will start competing in the Straight Pool National Championship at the billiard club’s outpost on the Upper East Side.

Straight pool is considered a better test of skill than other games because players sink balls until they miss, often running through rack after rack.

About 2,000 people are expected, including celebrities Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Sorvino and Jerry Orbach.

Efren Reyes, the Filipino man considered by many to be the best player ever, is making his first trip to New York for the tournament.

But it won’t be televised.

“No one really does know about it,” says Greg Hunt, co-owner of the club. “On the amateur level, pool has become so upscale – and yet at the professional level it’s still a throwback to the mean and nasty lowlife days.”

SanSouci says he wants to change that.

He wears labels like Barneys and Banana Republic, owns two Rolexes – one “from a very good friend” – and gets regular manicures.

He said he no longer gambles, usually drinks soda and lives in Forest Hills with his level-headed girlfriend, Casey Ruhnke, 24.

But before SanSouci can reform the sport, he needs to dominate it.

“I want to be the best in the world,” he says.

It’s hard to tell if he’ll get that far. SanSouci has been hampered by a herniated disk in his neck that keeps him in near-constant pain.

Though it won’t keep him out of this week’s tournament, his ailing neck has prevented him from participating in sport’s top competition, the Camel Pro Billiards Series.

In 1997, SanSouci was named Camel’s Rookie of the Year. He came in ninth last year.

“He has the potential to be a top player,” said Rolando Aravena, the house professional at the Amsterdam Billiard Club. “But until he’s thrown into a tour on a regular basis, it’s only just conjecture.”

SanSouci, called “Ginky” because he says it was the first word he uttered, never picked up a cue stick until 10 years ago, when he walked into a Chelsea pool hall after a night of club hopping.

“I just took it up as a hobby,” the Yorkville native says. “But I love to win. In everything I ever did I was very competitive.”

A year later, no one in the hall could beat him.

He practiced and hustled until going pro in 1997, when two city lawyers began to back him with money for traveling and tournaments.

Two short years and one neck injury later, he’s confident he has a shot at greatness.

“I have so much time in front of me,” SanSouci says. “I could see myself doing this for the next 100 years.”

Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member
“I have so much time in front of me,” SanSouci says. “I could see myself doing this for the next 100 years.”