The Ten Greatest Players Of All Time

WildWing

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Agreed that comparing someone like Mizerak to Shane is a difficult task, but Mizerak was about the scariest opponent you could draw in the straight pool era (post Mosconi/Greenleaf/Crane, of course), and that's including Sigel. Steve owned Sigel early in their careers, but Mike's game eventually passed Steve's. That said, Steve won four consecutive US Open 14.1 events, each of which probably had almost twenty future hall of famers in the field, and that's among the greatest accomplishments in the history of our sport.

Good post, and here, I think we run into records, rather than who may be the scariest opponent. No doubt, I'm a Mizerak fan, and am aware that he won four consecutive U.S. Opens.

On U.S. Opens, or if you want to call one a World Open straight pool, I believe Mike Sigel has at least three.

Then, there is the overall record. I'm pretty sure Sigel has well over one hundred tournament wins, whereas I think Mizerak's is more like a dozen. Not to take away from the Miz, but he has nowhere near the record of Sigel. Mizerak's was more a popularity thing, especially since he was so marketable with the Bud Lite commercials, and therefore, exhibitions and the like. But those don't count on who belongs on the list. If MIzerak's record is much bigger, that would be great to know.

Not drawing a conclusion, just pointing out a couple things.

All the best,
WW
 

westcoast

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Pretty close to my list, Jay.

1. Efren Reyes
2. Willie Mosconi
3. Ralph Greenleaf
4. Mike Sigel
5. Luther Lassiter
6. Nick Varner
7. Irving Crane
8. Steve Mizerak
9. Earl Strickland
10. Ralf Souquet

I just don't know enough about guys like Harold Worst and Eddie Kelly, but I know they merit consideration. Also, so many old timers, including the great Eddie Taylor, said that Rags Fitzpatrick was the best they ever saw.
Ralf Souquet has definitely been an elite pro for decades, but there is no way he is better than SVB
 

Tin Man

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makes sense

Shane was my #11 and Alex Pagulayan my #12. I think the players of the recent past are still putting their career resumes together and some of them may qualify for this list very soon. Shane may crack the top 5 before he's hung up his cue.

Agreed that comparing someone like Mizerak to Shane is a difficult task, but Mizerak was about the scariest opponent you could draw in the straight pool era (post Mosconi/Greenleaf/Crane, of course), and that's including Sigel. Steve owned Sigel early in their careers, but Mike's game eventually passed Steve's. That said, Steve won four consecutive US Open 14.1 events, each of which probably had almost twenty future hall of famers in the field, and that's among the greatest accomplishments in the history of our sport.

Of course, how you size it all up is arguable. It's no secret in my case that I don't weigh action matches in evidence when it comes to polls like these, otherwise, like Jay, I put Jose Parica on my list. Jose, at his best, was, in my opinion, even more feared than Shane as an action player, but if action counts, they both belong in the top 10. To me, however, greatness is measured in titles.

The difficulty of comparing players across eras is something we often touch upon on the forum, and this kind of thread highlights the difficulty. Finally, I don't think the matter of whether players as a group have improved is relevant here. A player's greatness can only be measured by his performance against his peers/contemporaries.

Thanks Stu. Makes total sense to me.

The only thing that makes me hesitate is your last comment. It's an interesting idea, to measure greatness by domination of peers versus quality of play. It sounds good, but it isn't always a fair measuring stick.

For one thing I do believe the field improving makes it harder for todays greats to dominate. Not only do they face more skilled opponents who can flat out beat them, but they don't get to feel as confident going in because they know what they are up against. Mike Sigel was very confident based on a resume he wouldn't have had facing today's players.

The other thing is the game changes. The players from the 80s and 90s played longer races usually, 13-17, only going to 11 at the US Open around 1990. They played with slower cloth and triangle racks. Today we use fast rails, new simonis cloth, and template racks. And the races seem to get shorter. The US Open is still race to 11 but now that's gone to single elimination in the final 16. The other tournaments are often 9 and 7.

Dominance over peers can still make sense as a measure, but it doesn't translate across eras. Playing an easier game in a smaller race against tougher opponents it's pretty hard to rack up 100 major title wins.
 

iusedtoberich

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...snip...

Mike Sigel was very confident based on a resume he wouldn't have had facing today's players.

...snip...

On this one point, I think Sigel would have thought he was the favorite if he was playing 20 of himself in a row;)
 

sjm

Sweating it at Derby City
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Ralf Souquet has definitely been an elite pro for decades, but there is no way he is better than SVB

Ralf has been a superstar of pool for 30 years now.

I predict Shane's resume will pass Ralf, but don't overlook that the always underrated Souquet has achieved some things that Shane hasn't.

Ralf has major straight pool titles on his resume, including the 2000 US Open 14.1 event. He has won a sanctioned World 9-ball title, which Shane hasn't. He also has a sanctioned World 8-ball title, and Shane doesn't.

Ralf has also won his share on foreign soil, including three Derby City 9-ball titles, the All Japan Championships, two BCA Open 9-ball Championships, and the US Open 9-ball. Ralf has also won the World Pool Masters six times He also won both the World Cup of Pool and the International Challenge of Champions.

Finally, he is the greatest player in the history of the European Championships, which draw extremely elite fields every single year. Ralf won three consecutive European Straight Pool Championships, nine European 8-ball Championships including five straight, and four European 9-ball Championships.

In this era of pool, just about nobody has had a game that travelled better than that of Ralf Souquet, and thirty years of sustained excellence puts him in very rarefied air in my books.
 

westcoast

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Ralf has been a superstar of pool for 30 years now.

I predict Shane's resume will pass Ralf, but don't overlook that the always underrated Souquet has achieved some things that Shane hasn't.

Ralf has major straight pool titles on his resume, including the 2000 US Open 14.1 event. He has won a sanctioned World 9-ball title, which Shane hasn't. He also has a sanctioned World 8-ball title, and Shane doesn't.

Ralf has also won his share on foreign soil, including three Derby City 9-ball titles, the All Japan Championships, two BCA Open 9-ball Championships, and the US Open 9-ball. Ralf has also won the World Pool Masters six times He also won both the World Cup of Pool and the International Challenge of Champions.

Finally, he is the greatest player in the history of the European Championships, which draw extremely elite fields every single year. Ralf won three consecutive European Straight Pool Championships, nine European 8-ball Championships including five straight, and four European 9-ball Championships.

In this era of pool, just about nobody has had a game that travelled better than that of Ralf Souquet, and thirty years of sustained excellence puts him in very rarefied air in my books.
I agree- he is very accomplished.

However, Shane has won 5 US Open 9 balls (against some of the strongest US Open fields ever), a huge array of other US Opens, and nobody has been favored against him in a long race for well over a decade.

Also, there are hardly any genuine world titles to really contest any more- so it makes Shane look bad in some ways.

It should also matter that almost nobody would favor Ralf over Shane in a race longer than 20 in 8, 9, or 10 ball.

Again, I'm not the biggest fan of Shane, but his dominance over the past 13 years has to put him in the top 10. It would be difficult to find anybody who dominated the scene for such an extended period of time in any era.
 

Jimbojim

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Is this about their resume or raw talent?

If we're talking about pure talent, it's hard not to include Wiktor Zielinski and Xiaohuai Zheng
 

sjm

Sweating it at Derby City
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Is this about their resume or raw talent?

If we're talking about pure talent, it's hard not to include Wiktor Zielinski and Xiaohuai Zheng

Yes, the future looks bright for these two rising stars. It will be fun to watch them over the coming years.
 

Poolhall60561

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I love Ronnie but the only top ten he belongs in is One Pocket. I like how the author spelled his name Ronnie Ellen. ;)

Fats may have been the most famous pool player of his era but he was certainly not the best. He was only the best talker!

Here's my top eleven of all time in no particular order. Expanded to twelve now.

Efren Reyes
Willie Mosconi
Ralph Greenleaf
Harold Worst
Luther Lassiter
Jose Parica
Rags Fitzpatrick
Mike Sigel
Earl Strickland
Steve Mizerak
Buddy Hall
Nick Varner
Nice list Jay, I’m sure there are other good candidates but these are the players I grew up watching and reading about.
 
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Tin Man

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I wonder if Jeremy Jones posts on AZB. Maybe Chris Robinson would make the top 10...

:)
 

WildWing

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Well, then, de Oro should be near the top of the list. A much better record than Mizerak, Parica and Sigel, for example.

I'll go along with you on that.

De Oro has more wins than Sigel? Tournaments, not friendly matches.

All the best,
WW
 

worktheknight

AzB Silver Member
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Found this post from PoolBum posted in 2011. It's Billiards Digest 50 Greatest Players of the Century,
what great list. Not my list, but, at the time, Efren Reyes was rated # 29. He certainly has leap frogged a few.

50. Jersey Red
49. Allen Gilbert
48. Jeanette Lee
47. Jimmy Moore
46. Dorothy Wise
45. Otto Reiselt
44. Babe Cranfield
43. Lou Butera
42. John Horgan
41. Cisero Murphy
40. Jerome Keogh
39. Allen Hopkins
38. Dallas West
37. Jim Rempe
36. George Sutton
35. Charlie Peterson
34. Robert Cannefax
33. Bennie Allen
32. Ray Martin
31. Ruth McGinnis
30. Johnny Archer
29. Efren Reyes
28. Loree Jon Jones
27. Buddy Hall
26. Larry Johnson (Boston Shorty)
25. Eddie Taylor
24. Jake Shaefer
23. Thomas Hueston
22. Andrew Ponzi
21. Welker Cochran
20. Erwin Rudolph
19. Harold Worst
18. Allison Fisher
17. Earl Strickland
16. Joe Balsis
15. Jean Balukas
14. Nick Varner
13. Johnny Layton
12. Jake Shaefer Jr.
11. Sang Lee
10. Jimmy Caras
9. Luther Lassiter
8. Irving Crane
7. Frank Taberski
6. Steve Mizerak
5. Mike Sigel
4. Alfredo De Oro
3. Ralph Greenleaf
2. Willie Mosconi
1. Willie Hoppe
 

Bob Jewett

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I'll go along with you on that.

De Oro has more wins than Sigel? Tournaments, not friendly matches.

All the best,
WW
From McGoorty's stories of how de Oro behaved at the table, I suspect none of his matches were friendly. From his HOF citation:

CropperCapture[151].jpg

Other sources list more pool championships, but it is important to note that challenge matches were included in the championship victories.
 

AtLarge

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... Steve won four consecutive US Open 14.1 events, each of which probably had almost twenty future hall of famers in the field ...

That sounded a bit high to me. So I took a look at US Open programs for 3 of the years Steve won. If I counted correctly, the players in the 32-man fields, other than Steve, who are now in the BCA Hall of Fame numbered 8 in 1971, 10 in 1972, and 10 in 1973.

[And if we count the Straight Pool Hall of Fame in addition to the BCA Hall of Fame, add 2 to each of those counts.]

I expect that the number of players who played in some of the US Open 9-Ball events that Shane won, and who are already in the Hall of Fame, is similar to the numbers mentioned above from Steve's events. And that number will grow in the years ahead as more of Shane's opponents become eligible [Of course, the pool of top-level players is larger overall today than in the early 1970's.]
 

Bob Jewett

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Found this post from PoolBum posted in 2011. It's Billiards Digest 50 Greatest Players of the Century,
what great list. Not my list, but, at the time, Efren Reyes was rated # 29. He certainly has leap frogged a few.

50. Jersey Red
49. Allen Gilbert
48. Jeanette Lee
47. Jimmy Moore
...
Not my list either. How can any list have Allen Gilbert and not Raymond Ceulemans? There must have been some strange conditions for inclusion.
 

Marc

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Amazing Souquet, I agree.
Maybe a hair over SVB in International events

I think SVB is the better player though

Very few europeans in this list... I think Appleton did unbelievable for a decade or so, and if you talk tournament play, Mika was absolutely untouchable in tournaments for 2 years and then a good spam of 6-8 years great results

I think it is important to distinguish between All-Around play and 9-10Ball or 14.1

It puzzles me that no one mention any taiwanese champs.

They can play as good as anyone on those lists 14.1, 8-Ball, 9-Ball, 10-Ball and if they were to pick One Pocket or Banks they would be great at those games as well.

There are at least 10 taiwanese greats that are on par or better with most mentioned

If we talk skill alone, a top 10 list cannot be put

If we talk tournament that would be easier, but not easy. Many of todays and a few decades before today's players didn't even get the opportunity to compete in the most prestigious events (again this was the case of many taiwanese players)

If you talk money games, tournaments and skill, it's easier to make a list
And SVB, Orcollo, Bustamante, Chang, Wu, Yang, Reyes, Archer, Pagulayan, would need to be on that list for sure

The Mosconis, Greenleaf and all them crew to me is hard. Never saw them live and most stories talk about them being great at one game only (14.1)

I'm in the opinion these great champs from the 50's 60's could not beat them he above modern champions playing any other game
and I think that if those Orcollos and Reyes wanted to be great at 14.1 they could play as good or better than Mosconis etc, simply because when it comes to mental toughness, shotmaking, it's not close and these two qualities in a pool player, in my opinion go along way


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Marc

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Maybe Mosconi or Greenleaf had better cue balls than the champions of today; better patterns in the game of 14.1, but take the other aspects of the game and the current legends of the game do them better


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