PoolRoom

‘Rocket’, ‘Belle’ Enter BCA Hall of Fame

For smooth-stroking lefty “Rocket” Rodney Morris, the call informing him of his election into the Greatest Player wing of the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame came as both a shock and a relief. “I want to cry,” Morris said after getting the news. “It’s validation and recognition of all the years and hard work I’ve put into this game. [It is] especially gratifying because I came from a broken home, was raised on the streets and made just about every mistake you can make. But I persevered, which proves that everyone can do something great if they dedicated themselves to it.”

Morris, 46, will be joined in the Hall of Fame by “The Texas Belle,” Belinda Calhoun, who was elected in the Veteran Players category. The United Billiard Media Association announced the results in a release, July 19.

Born in Anaheim, Calif., but raised in Hawaii, Morris scored his biggest win in 1996, topping the legendary Efren Reyes in the final of the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships. The 26-year-old Morris still considers his title-match win the highlight of his illustrious career.

“Efren was at the top of his game,” Morris recalled. “When I used to practice, I always visualized playing Efren in my mind. That’s how I trained myself. Then, to beat him in the U.S. Open final was unbelievable. Now, to be able to say I’m in the Hall of Fame with him is even bigger.” Just when Morris was hitting his competitive stride, though, he was convicted on federal drug charges and spent nearly four years in jail. Remorseful and recommitted, Morris returned to the pro tour in 2001 and promptly won the Sands Regency Classic. Over the next six years, Morris added the UPA Pro Tour Championship, the World Pool League crown and the World Cup of Pool title. In 2006, Morris suffered his biggest heartbreak in competition, falling to Reyes in the final of the ill-fated International Pool Tour World 8-Ball Championship in Reno. Reyes earned $500,000 for the title, while Morris had to settle for $150,000.

“Efren was my biggest win, and my biggest loss!” Morris said. Morris also made eight appearances representing Team USA in the Mosconi Cup, earning MVP honors in 2004. Still active, Morris has added titles at the Turning Stone Classic and the U.S. Open 10-Ball Championships in recent years. Calhoun, 63, was born in Austin, Texas. As Belinda Campos, she became one of the Women’s Professional Billiards Associations biggest starts in the ’80s, winning a pair of BCA National 8-Ball Championships titles, the Texas River City Open crown and the NPCA Classic Cup. Calhoun was dominant in 1985, winning the Women’s World 14.1 title, the WPBA National 9-Ball Championship and the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship. Calhoun’s big year earned her Billiards Digest Player of the Year honors.

“I had resolved myself to the idea that [getting into the BCA Hall of Fame] wasn’t going to happen,” said Calhoun, who had been moved into the Veteran Player category after failing to earn election in the Greatest Player category before turning 60. “This is a wonderful surprise. I’m honored. I had always thought my career was deserving.” In extremely tight voting, Morris edged WPBA champions Gerda Hofstatter and Vivian Villarreal by a single vote. Kim Davenport, Shannon Daulton and Jeremy Jones were also on the ballot.

Corner Bank 10-Ball Series Postponed

For the second time in less than two months, pool fans and players in Canada have had the rug pulled out from beneath them. First, the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) announced in March that the 2016 World 8-Ball Championship would be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in August. A group of investors working with The Corner Bank billiard club and sports bar promised a $250,000 prize fund.

A month later, the group announced its decision to pull out of its involvement in the tournament. The WPA, according to Corner Bank owner Jim Wych, was apparently also dealing with a Chinese promoter for the rights to the World 8-Ball Championship. The Chinese promoter allegedly promised a five-year commitment to produce both men’s and women’s championships, with $300,000 prize funds for each division. (The WPA’s deal with the Chinese promoters is slated to be signed in July.) In late May, The Corner Pocket announced a six-event 10-ball series, with $25,000-added events scheduled for September, October, November, January and February. The series would conclude with a $100,000-added Grand Championship in April. A June 15 follow-up press release defined the playing format, prize fund breakdown and stated that all six events would carry Mosconi Cup points for American and European players.

Just five days later, however, Wych issued yet another statement, this time announcing the cancellation of the 10-ball series.

“It is with a great sense of disappointment,” the press release read, “that the owners of The Corner Bank in Toronto must announce that their plans for The Corner Bank 10-Ball Series are now on hiatus. Quite simply, our guarantee of funding evaporated over the weekend and has made our plans for beginning a series this September unrealistic.”

The press release added that efforts would be made to “re-engage” the financial supporters of the series. “I’m terribly disappointed,” Wych said in a telephone interview shortly after the announcement went public on AZBilliards.com. “This is a huge opportunity missed for a lot of us. There was such enthusiasm building for this series.”

Without casting blame on the WPA, Wych acknowledged that the investment group that had promised to back him may have looked at anything less than a sanctioned world championship as not impactful enough.

“A big part of the draw for the investors was the event’s draw with Asian players,” Wych said. “There is a big Asian community here. The fact that so many of the top players are Asian, and that they would likely come to Toronto was important to them. Perhaps they didn’t think the series would give them the same punch.”

Wych said he had yet to speak formally with the investors, but maintains hope that the funding is not gone forever. “When we first discussed bringing a big pool event to Toronto,” Wych said, “the response was, ‘What can we do?’ I didn’t think it hinged completely on a world championship. Bottom line is I didn’t go to contract with them to lock in the funding. I probably didn’t stay on top of it as well as I should have.” Wych added that he planned to continue his efforts to bring major tournament pool to Toronto.

“I hope to get everything back on track soon,” he said. “It’s possible we will have to reconsider going back to a single big international tournament. We’ll see.”

Behrman dead at 70

Behrman-DeadBARRY BEHRMAN, the colorful founder and promoter of the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships and longtime owner of Q Master Billiards, died April 23, in Norfolk, Va. He was 70.

Behrman contracted a bacterial infection in late February and spent the remainder of his days at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, in and out of intensive care. According to Behrman’s son, Brady, the infection led to septic shock, which causes a dramatic drop in blood pressure. Brady said doctors were never able to stabilize his father’s blood pressure, which caused many of his organs to eventually fail.

“They did everything they could to try to get his blood pressure up,” said Brady. “But he was never really able to be off the machines keeping him alive. Eventually, his internal organs began to fail. Mentally, he was pretty sharp and alert, but physically he was never going to get back to normal.” Brady said that his father was removed from life-supporting systems on April 22, and passed away peacefully around noon on the following day. “We were all there,” said Brady, who was joined by his sister, Shannon Behrman Paschall. “My dad was frustrated and tired near the end, because he knew he was never going to be normal again. He didn’t want to live that way.”

The family celebrated Behrman’s 70th birthday April 1 with a small party at the hospital.

Behrman opened his first incarnation of Q Master in 1971 at the age of 25. Inspired by tournaments such as the events run by Bill ‘Weanie Beanie” Staton at Jack and Jill Billiards in Arlington, Va., and the then-annual Billiard Congress of America U.S. Open 14.1 Championships in Chicago, Behrman staged the first U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship at his Norfolk poolroom in 1976. The event was won by future Hall of Famer Mike Sigel. As Behrman’s poolroom business flourished, the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships also grew. The tournament quickly became the most prestigious and one of the most lucrative events in the country. Fields swelled to 64 players in the ’80s, 128 players in the ’90s and more than 200 players in the 2000s.

The 2000s also saw Behrman’s reputation tarnished by several prize fund shortfalls and an eight-month stint in jail, the result of hosting illegal casino nights at his home and failure to pay back taxes on his poolroom. To his credit, Behrman took his punishment without excuses and eventually righted his prize money issues. In recent years, the promoter agreed to allow a players’ representative to oversee prize fund collection and distribution, and in 2015 turned over the collection and disbursement of prize monies to Accu-Stats Video Productions President Pat Fleming.

In fact, Behrman announced his retirement as U.S. Open promoter following the successful 2015 tournament, turning over the hands-on running of the event to Fleming. He had also announced his intentions to sell Q Master, with 72 tables the largest billiard room in the country. Former champions expressed their condolences on social media. “The billiard community lost a great asset, but heaven gained a special man,” wrote 1999 U.S. Open champion Johnny Archer. “Even though we had our differences, Mr. Behrman was a good friend of mine. I have not missed a U.S. Open since 1985. It won’t be the same without Mr. U.S. Open.” “RIP, my friend,” wrote four-time champion Shane Van Boening. “This guy had a lot of heart for professional pool players. I’m sad that he’s gone.” “So sad,” wrote two-time champion Darren Appleton. “We had our ups and downs, but he was good to me when I was champion. He phoned me virtually every day for two years. Barry gave his heart and soul to the U.S. Open. Incredible achievement.

“Will always remember the traditional car ride in his sports car from the venue to the poolroom for the after party!”

Prior to his death, the Berhmans finalized arrangements with Fleming to assume full control of the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships.

“The dates for the 2016 U.S. Open (Oct. 16-22) are secure with the Norfolk Sheraton Waterside and the WPA (World Pool-Billiard Association),” Fleming said recently.

Berhman is survived by his son, Brady, daughter, Shannon (Paschall), and two sisters.

Behrman Hospitalized

(Editor’s Note: Behrman is scheduled to be moved out of ICU and into a rehab facility Tues., March 1)

Feb. 25 — Longtime promoter and poolroom owner Barry Behrman remains in serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, Va., three weeks after being found unresponsive on the floor of his Virginia Beach, Va., home.

According to Behrman’s son, Brady, the Q Master Billiards owner and U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships founder is battling the effects of MRSA-based pneumonia, which caused septic shock. (MRSA is dangerous bacterial infection that can be resistant to antibiotics. The infection can affect internal organs and can cause dangerously low blood pressure and abnormalities in cells.) The younger Behrman is unsure exactly when his father was stricken. “I got a few text messages from him around 7 p.m. on Feb. 3,” Brady said. “The next day he didn’t show up for work at the poolroom. A few employees went to his house around 2 p.m. and found him on the floor.”

According to Brady, the elder Behrman was somewhat lucid after being admitted to the hospital, but his condition quickly deteriorated.

“He was talking a little the first day,” said Brady. “But he went downhill quickly. All his organs were affected. His heart was in AFib [Atrial Fibrillation – irregular heartbeat]. They had him on medication to control his blood pressure. There was very little communication from him for the next two weeks. I think he recognized me, but he couldn’t speak or make gestures.” Behrman was on a ventilator for more than two weeks.

“They were basically just keeping him alive for the first two weeks while they tried to narrow down what the main issue was and how to treat it,” Brady Behrman said. Fortunately, MRI and CAT scans were clear, said Behrman, signifying that his father had not suffered a stroke. Two weeks in, Behrman was alert and beginning to follow commands. Brady posted a video on his Facebook page in which his father uttered a phrase he is known for sharing, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

“He’s a fighter,” Brady said. “The doctors can tell he’s fighting this. He was a wrestler. Went undefeated in 1965.” Behrman said that there is no prognosis on his father’s recovery, but that the doctors seem more comfortable with the direction in which the elder Behrman is headed.

“He’s doing better,” said Brady. “But every day is different. It’s three steps forward and one step back. Or one step forward and three steps back. It’s a long road ahead. It’s been very emotional for us.” In the elder Behrman’s absence, Brady and his sister, Shannon Paschall, have been handling the operations at Q Master Billiards. Both had worked at the billiard room in the past, although Brady now runs his own technology company in Charlottesville, Va., and Shannon is in real estate. “We’re doing everything we can to handle operations and clean up the business,” he said. “Dad has been wanting to sell the room and we’re doing everything we can to get it ready. The room is his legacy. “Shannon and I were in his office,” Brady continued. “And he has 100 photos up in this little 16 by 10-foot office. And most of them are family photos, which is cool. I told him when he gets through this he’s going off to some retirement community to relax and enjoy himself.”

Behrman opened the original Q Master Billiards in 1971, and has been in his current Virgina Beach location for more than 25 years. The club currently boasts 72 tables, making it the largest room in the U.S. Behrman began hosting the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships in 1976, and celebrated the 40th anniversary of the event in October 2015.

The Best Pool Rooms in Las Vegas

Going to Las Vegas can mean only one thing: having an awesome time by playing various games! Why would you go to Vegas if not to have some fun at casinos or pool rooms? You want to watch the scenery and the city? Go to Los Angeles or some other big city. Vegas is for games!

Casinos in Vegas are easy to find. Just follow the big streams of people entering the tall, beautiful hotels with fancy waterworks in front of them and the flashiest signs. But, you can’t play pool at casinos in Las Vegas, which is why pool rooms exist separately from casinos. You can’t even play pool at online casinos such as those at BlackDiamondCasino.co.za, the best ones for players from South Africa. You can find there lots of reviews and online casino bonuses. So, if you happen to find yourself in Las Vegas, these are the best pool rooms to visit.

Mickey’s Cues & Brews

This is one of the most inexpensive places to enjoy some pool action in Las Vegas. The tables are cheap, the drinks are cheap and there is a jukebox that you can use to play some pool with your favorite tunes in the background. It’s a great place for doing something fun after dinner with your friends or spouse. There are a lot of tables. The beer prices are especially right and the staff are really friendly. The only problem is that it can get really smoky after several cigarettes. But, if you are a smoker you will be happy to inhale all of that smoke due to the poor air circulation.

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Gorilla Café

Gorilla Café is a pricey place, but it’s great to chill. There is even an internet café section with blazing fast internet connection with lots of today’s popular eSports games installed. You can even play PlayStation. Unlike most pool places, at Gorilla Café the staff seems to know what they are doing. Four of you can play for one hour for just $9 at very nice tables. You are even allowed to bring your own stick. Gorilla Café hosts regular tournaments and in such situations it can get very smoky too. Nevertheless, the place is very clean and great to hangout.

Cue-D’s Billiards

Cheap beer, jukebox, great for hangouts, lots of secondhand smoke, no table wait times, friendly workers, cheap hourly rates, just like a pool place should be. The genuine atmosphere is what visitors like the most with Cue-D’s Billiards and all of that at an affordable price. You will love the jukebox and the fact that it has virtually any music genre in it!

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Good Timez Billiards

Good Timez Billiards is probably the best place to play pool in Las Vegas. It’s another inexpensive place with a nice full bar area unlike other pool places, clean tables occasionally with professional pool players so that you can learn a trick or two, and weekly tournaments. The owners are awesome to hang out with, and there are no people bothering you around. There are big and small tables, and there is a snooker table if you feel up to it. The best part unlike the other rooms in this article is that no smoking is allowed, which is why smokers will probably avoid it.

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Destiny’s Child

Fulfilling the promise of his vast potential, Taiwan’s Pin Yi Ko wins the World 9-Ball Championship, dashing Shane Van Boening’s hopes of bringing the title back to the U.S.

By Mike Panozzo

Photos by Richard Walker

There is little argument that the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World 9-Ball Championship is the toughest tournament in the world to win. Unlike the sporadically staged WPA World 10-Ball and World 8-Ball championships, the World 9-Ball Championship has been staged every year since 1990, with the exception of 2008 and 2009, when the event failed to secure sponsorship. Among the game’s elite, it is the title revered above all others, and every nation’s champion players fight for the opportunity to wedge themselves into the talent-laden 128-player field.

“With some dazzling shot-making (and a few fortunate rolls), Ko jumped into the record books.”

And as if the sheer depth of talent isn’t enough, the fickle and unpredictable game of 9-ball itself makes the task of advancing through the treacherous group stage gauntlet and winning six single-elimination matches even more daunting. One only need look at the unlikely finalists in recent years to realize the degree of difficulty the annual WPA championship provides. For every Darren Appleton, Niels Feijen and Thorsten Hohmann that have reached the title match, the 9-ball world championship has seen its share of Albin Ouschans, Yukio Akagariyamas and Ronnie Alcanos — all world-class players, but hardly perennial international champions. No, the WPA World 9-Ball Championship is not often kind to predetermined favorites.

In 2015, however, the World 9-Ball Championship delivered perhaps the perfect title match — heavyweights from opposite ends of the globe, each seemingly predestined to win the coveted world championship at some point in their careers.If there are players more devoted to the game or more obsessed with practice and perfection than Taiwan’s Pin Yi Ko and America’s Shane Van Boening, they’ve yet to be discovered. The 26-year-old Ko, a wunderkind since winning back-to-back WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships, has finally met the pool world’s lofty expectations with wins at the CSI 10-Ball Championship and, more recently, the WPA World 10-Ball Championship in late February. Van Boening, arguably America’s best player since three-time world champion Earl Strickland, has dominated U.S.-based tournaments for nearly a decade, and has shed his reputation for underachieving on foreign soil with back-to-back World Pool Masters titles.

“Van Boening appeared headed to his first world title, having thrashed his first five opponents in the final bracket by a margin of 55-15.”

All of which made the pair’s epic battle in Doha, Qatar such a delicious treat for the thousands of pool fans from around the globe who hung on every shot while viewing the match on a live stream from the mostly empty Al-Arabi Sport Club. And when Ko pounced on an errant Van Boening safety attempt to secure the title, 13-11, in a nail-biting finale, the overwhelming sentiment was that the finalists had not seen the last of one another on pool’s biggest stage.The win made Ko, who battled through several close calls but never wavered in his resolve, the first player to claim two WPA world titles in the same year. For Van Boening, who had authored several otherworldly performances en route to the title match in hopes of becoming the first American player to win the World 9-Ball Championship since Strickland’s 2002 triumph, the loss was bitterly disappointing, although it further dismissed any notion that he can’t stand up to top-flight international competition.The long road to the World 9-Ball final began with a play-in stage for 13 open spots, a stage of uninvited hopefuls that included former World 9-Ball champions Akagariyama and Fong Pang Chao (both of whom advanced). That was followed by the double-elimination group stage, which produced four players from each of 16 eight-player groups who advanced to the 64-player single-elimination rounds. Despite spreading the top-ranked players through the groups, upsets traditionally abound in the opening stages of the tournament and 2015 proved to be no different. No fewer than five former world champions booked early flights home during the topsy-turvy group stage, the most stunning of which was defending World 9-Ball champion Feijen. After winning his opening match, the normally consistent Dutchman suffered through back-to-back 9-8 losses, first to Alexander Kazakis of Greece, then to unheralded South Korean, Ryu Seang Woo. The 30-year-old Woo overcame deficits of 5-1 and 8-5 to stun Feijen and advance to the knockout stages. Feijen had company on his return trip to Holland, as his World Cup of Pool teammate and Euro Tour Player of the Year Nick van den Berg also failed to survive Stage Two.

“Time and again in the finale, Van Boening found himself on the wrong end of Ko’s unintentional safeties.”

A pair of Brit former champions also got to share in one another’s misery on flights back to the United Kingdom, as Karl Boyes (2010 World 8-Ball) and Daryl Peach (2007) failed to advance. Boyes dropped successive matches to Lo Ho, 9-5, and the resurgent Chao, 9-7, while Peach’s elimination at the hands of Mishel Turkey, 9-4, gave the host country its first-ever player in the final 64.

To complete an unusual trend, two former champions from Germany also departed Qatar on what is now deemed “Judgment Day.” Oliver Ortmann (1995) and two-time winner Thorsten Hohmann (2003 and 2013). Not surprisingly, the always-lethal contingent of players from the Philippines led the finals bracket with nine players while Taiwan (7) and China (6) were close behind. What was a surprise, however, was Van Boening being joined by two other Americans (Mike Dechaine and Hunter Lombardo) in the single-elimination stage. Young Canadian challengers John Morra and Jason Klatt joined the fray as well.

One by one, however, the mighty Filipinos were sent packing, with eventual champion Ko, who opened with an easy 11-7 win over Australia’s Justin Campbell, dispatching Carlo Biado (11-4) and Warren Kiamco (11-9). In fact, the only Filipino player to reach the quarterfinals was the nation’s top player, Dennis Orcollo.

Ko advanced to the semifinals with an 11-6 win over Morra, who had displayed plenty of nerve with back-to-back come-from-behind wins over England’s Mark Gray (11-10) and former champion Mika Immonen (11-8). Morra won the final seven games in his win over Immonen.

Tracking Ko to the semis was Jia Qing Wu of China. A decade ago, Wu, then called Chia Chung Wu and hailing from Taiwan, shocked the pool world by winning the World 9-Ball Championship at the tender young age of 16. The baby-faced lefty appeared to have regained that form in Qatar, rolling past world No. 1 Ouschan of Austria, 11-6, countryman Wang Can, 11-9, and surprising Aloisius Yapp of Singapore, 11-7.

“When the opportunity arose, Ko delivered the knockout punch.”

America’s hopes rested on the other side of the 64-player bracket, where Van Boening was starting to find a groove. Painstaking preparation has long been the South Dakota native’s calling card, and Van Boening spent hours on the practice tables in Qatar fine-tuning his break shot. The results were staggering, as Van Boening blasted through four consecutive opponents (Poland’s Tomasz Kaplan, Spain’s Francisco Diaz-Pizzaro, Taiwan’s Yu Chang and Orcollo) by a combined score of 44-14. Particularly impressive was Van Boening’s beatdown of Orcollo. The Filipino (losing finalist to Van Boening in the last two U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships) came into the match on a roll of his own, having demolished Turkey, 11-1, Lombardo, 11-7, and 2012 champion Appleton, 11-2.

But Van Boening ran from the break on virtually every opportunity in the alternate-break format and pounced on every Orcollo mistake to seize a 10-0 lead before winning, 11-1.

Dechaine, arguably America’s second-best player, performed admirably in his first foray overseas. The East Coaster showed plenty of nerve in winning back-to-back 11-10 matches against Taiwan’s Chang Yu and Estonia’s Denis Grabe. In the round of 16, Dechaine battled Pin Chung Ko, the 20-year-old brother of Pin Yi Ko, 9-9. Trailing, 10-9, but en route to forcing a case game, Dechaine jawed the 9 ball. The younger Ko, winner of the 2014 CSI 8-Ball Championship, advanced to the semifinals with a convincing 11-5 win over Poland’s Wojceich Szweczyk.

“It was an incredible experience,” said Dechaine, who will partner with Van Boening for Team USA in the World Cup of Pool. “I learned some things here. I need to stay calm. I also need to figure out my sleeping pattern. But I’m really looking forward to traveling to more of the international events.”

The semifinals offered a number of juicy storylines, with the possibility of the Ko brothers meeting for the title at the top of the list. Having split the 2014 CSI titles, with Pin Yi topping Pin Chung for the 10-ball title and Pin Chung topping Van Boening for the 8-ball crown, the brothers threaten to dominate pool for years to come. Some observers go so far as to contend that the younger Ko is the better player and simply needs more seasoning. Regardless, the duo figures to be dynamic in international events.

Of course, the storyline in the U.S. was the chance for Van Boening to reclaim the title that was won by American players six times between 1990 and 2003. And in the semifinal between Van Boening and Pin Chung Ko, that potential result looked increasingly possible. Continuing his incredible success on the break, Van Boening streaked to a 5-0 lead before Ko scratched out a game. Undaunted, Van Boening simply raced through the next six racks for a startling 11-1 win and a place in the final.

Meanwhile, the elder Ko and Wu were engaged in a tense battle of wills. Wu bolted to an early 6-2 lead, but Ko chipped away and forged a tie at 7-7 when Wu botched an easy safety. The miscue turned the tide in Ko’s favor, and the Taiwanese star edged ahead, regaining the break advantage he had earned by winning the lag. The match was tied at 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10, but Wu could only watch helplessly in the case game, as Ko broke and ran out for the win. The title match was close throughout, due in large part to some good fortune in Ko’s favor. At 4-4, Ko scratched and missed in the same rack, only to leave Van Boening stymied both times. Ko eventually won that rack, then, at 5-5, and botched a 2-9 combination, only to see the 9 carom across the table and into the side pocket for a 6-5 lead.

Van Boening maintained pressure, eventually forging an 8-6 lead that easily could have been 10-4. Ko fought back to tie the match, 8-8, but another scratch handed Van Boening a 9-8 lead in the extended race to 13. Van Boening appeared to be headed to another two-game advantage when a positional error left him hooked on the 7 ball. His jump attempt railed and Ko again tied the match, regaining his serve.

The combatants battled nerves and tough run-outs to 10-10 and 11-11. Ko broke and ran out to reach the hill, 12-11.

As it had several times during the match, Van Boening’s break yielded a pocketed ball, but no open shot. He pushed out to a tricky kick attempt, which Ko quickly handed back. Van Boening’s kick was thick and the 2 ball was left in the open. The unflappable Ko calmly picked his way through the rack, pumping his first at the drop of the final 9 for the 13-11 victory. “I definitely didn’t play perfect in the final,” admitted the elated Ko. “But it is the final of the World 9-Ball Championship and you know so many things can happen. I think we both played good and both made some mistakes. I feel that I got a few lucky rolls to help me win the match. But at the end of the match, I played good. I was able to stay patient.”

“He got a lot of fortunate rolls and got lucky to hook me a couple of times after misses,” said Van Boening. “But I also made mistakes that I should never have made. He played great. I think I made more mistakes than he did and that is what cost me. My break wasn’t working, but that’s the way the game plays.

“It’s an honor to play in the world championship final,” Van Boening added. “I know I can’t win every tournament. I’ll be back.”

“When I won the World 10-Ball Championship, that was great,” said Ko, $30,000 wealthier for the win, “But winning the World 9-Ball Championship is unbelievable. I’m really happy.”

Orcollo Undefeated at Carom Room Fall Classic

dennisorcolloEarly on, it looked as though one way or another, it was going to be over quickly.

Dennis Orcollo and Johnny Archer met up in the finals of the $10,000-added Carom Room Fall Classic up in Benoit, WI, a 10-ball, bar table event held on the weekend of August 28-30. They broke and ran their way through the first five games of that final matchup, until, ahead by one, Orcollo jumped on Archer’s first dry break of the match to take a lead he’d never relinquish. The event, streamed live, by Ray “Big Truck” Hansen and his crew at PoolActionTV, drew 96 entrants to The Carom Room in Beloit, WI.

They’d met first in the hot seat match. Archer had just sent Josh Roberts to the loss side. Orcollo sent Jason Klatt over. Archer broke dry five times in the hot seat match that sent him to the semifinals 9-5.

Still playing on the loss side when the first money rounds came around were (among others) Shane Van Boening, Skyler Woodward, John Morra, and Tony Chohan. Billy Thorpe was still playing, too. He’d sent Van Boening to the loss side, and they were both working their way to a potential head-to-head rematch in the quarterfinals. Working on that loss side, Thorpe got by Chohan and Morra to pick up Klatt. Van Boening had defeated Jesse Bowman and Skyler Woodward to draw Roberts.

Roberts spoiled the Thorpe/Van Boening re-match by eliminating Van Boening, while Thorpe took Klatt out. Roberts then defeated Thorpe in the quarterfinals 9-6.

Roberts then ran into the buzz saw of Johnny Archer smelling the finish line. Mindful of his break problems in the hot seat match, Archer had spent much of the intervening time between the hot seat match and semifinal (during the quarterfinal match) practicing that break and it paid off. Roberts broke to get things underway, but Johnny took the first game and then, sunk three on his subsequent break to jump start his way to taking the second. On the third rack, Roberts broke dry, but left Archer a long, rail-first shot at the 1-ball, nestled against the 10-ball, pointed right at a 6-ball, sitting just off-center of the side pocket. Acting as though he did this sort of thing every day, Archer stroked the ball and sure enough – rail first, cue hit the 1-ball, 10 slid over, nudged the 6-ball out of the way and dropped into the side pocket.
3-0, Archer. He won six more to shut Roberts out and the re-match versus Orcullo was on.

Though Orcollo would win by four racks, he and Archer both were handed and squandered numerous opportunities. Immediately after Archer broke dry to give Orcullo the 4-2 lead, Orcollo broke dry to hand Archer his third rack. Archer then broke dry a second time, and for the second time, Orcollo made him pay. It was 5-3.

The 9th rack created a problem that was, much to Archer’s chagrine, solved by allowing Orcollo to break rack # 9 a second time. Within a shot or two of Orcollo’s initial break that saw three balls go down, the 1-ball was locked up in a tight pack of balls and could not, without foul, be touched. Archer and Orcollo took turns giving each other ball in hand, by shooting at a ball that either tied up the 1-ball even further or just moved a different ball, away from the pack, in some random direction. The game and match came to a halt, before it was determined, by TD David Coles, that the game was a stalemate, and that, by rule, Orcollo (the original breaker) would be allowed to break again.

Orcollo did so, made two balls and was looking at a decent table for a run when he put himself out of position, shooting at the 5-ball and gave the table to Archer. Archer, in much the same way, gave it right back and Orcollo finished it – 6-3.

Archer broke dry for the third straight time, but Orcollo chalked up another unforced error, missing a ball completely to give Archer ball-in-hand, and eventually, the game. It was 6-4 and still looking interesting.

A quick break-and-run for Orcollo moved him back out in front by three (7-4), before Archer broke dry for the fourth straight time. Again, Orcollo failed to capitalize, and when he turned the table over to Archer, Archer jumped on it to complete what proved to be his final winning rack.

Orcollo broke rack # 13, sinking two balls, and though he’d make a tricky 1-8 combination, the position result was not what he’d hoped for. He played a safety that left Archer snookered, and went on to reach the hill first at 8-5.

Archer broke the final game, and though he did sink a ball, he was left with a difficult shot on the 1-ball that he missed. Orcollo stepped to the table and completed his undefeated run to claim the Carom Room’s Fall Classic title.

Ortmann, Ursitti Elected to BCA Hall of Fame

Oliver OrtmannJust as Jose Parica is credited with leading the Filipino invasion of professional pool in the United States, Germany’s Oliver Ortmann did the same for European players. Ortmann, whose stunning upset over Steve Mizerak in the Billiard Congress of America U.S. Open 14.1 Championship finale in 1989 spirited the rise of European challengers to American pool dominance, will be honored for his incredible international career when his is formally inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame in October.

Ortmann, 48, was the top vote-getter among eligible players in the Greatest Players category on the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot, according to the United States Billiard Media Association. Joining the German pool legend in the BCA Hall of Fame class of 2015 is longtime promoter and billiard historian, Charles Ursitti, who was elected in the Meritorious Service category.

Appearances by European players at tournaments in the U.S. were sporadic before Ortmann, then just 22 years old, outlasted America’s best straight pool players to capture the coveted U.S. Open title. Ortmann went on to win a second BCA U.S. Open crown, as well as three World Pool-Billiard Association world championships — two in straight pool (2007 and 2010) and the 1993 World 9-Ball Championship. He was also a Mosconi Cup staple on Team Europe during the 1990s, playing times and captaining his squad to victory in 2002

Ursitti, 68, began his career as a billiard promoter in 1978, when he teamed with New York production company Big Fights, Inc., to produce the first-ever meeting of pool legends Willie Mosconi and “Minnesota Fats,” an event that drew more than 10 million television viewers. Ursitti and Big Fights went on to produce hundreds of hours of pool programming on ABC Wide World of Sports, CBS Sports Spectacular and ESPN in the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s, featuring dozens of the top professional players of the day and legends of the game.

Ortmann and Ursitti will be formally inducted during ceremonies Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterfront in Norfolk, Va. The event will be held during the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships.

All Systems Go for U.S. Open

The start of the 40th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships is almost three months away, and the full $75,000 in added money has been accounted for, according to Accu-Stats Video Productions owner Pat Fleming. In a July 27 release, Fleming added that the World Pool-Billiards Association (WPA) is satisfied that the event has met the requirements for WPA sanctioning as a “Tier 2” tournament.

U.S. Open promoter Barry Behrman has viewed the WPA sanctioning, which awards valuable world ranking points to participants, as critical in drawing international players to the tournament. In an effort to appease the WPA and quell the concerns of players, Behrman turned over the collection of added monies and entry fees for the 2015 U.S. Open to Accu-Stats. Behrman’s event has been beset with prize money shortfalls throughout the past 10 years. This year, however, all added monies and entry fees are being collected by Accu-Stats, and are being deposited into an escrow account. Accu-Stats will be in charge of paying all prize monies from the escrow account at the end of the tournament.

The U.S. Open field will be limited to 128 players, with a $1,000 entry fee.

BCA Hall of Famer Butera Dead

buteraFast-shooting former world champion and Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer “Machine Gun” Lou Butera passed away June 25 in Los Angeles. Butera, 78, had been battling Parkinson’s disease for several years. Born in Pittson, Pa., Butera learned to play in a poolroom owned by his father. A devoted family man, Butera played in professional tournaments only sporadically, opting instead to work in both billiard rooms and billiard retail stores as a means to fend for his wife, Caroline (who died in 2012), and seven children. Butera was 35 when he won his only world title, wresting the crown from Irving Crane in 1973. His rapid-fire shooting style made Butera a fan-favorite.

Living in L.A., Butera was often called upon to serve as technical advisor for pool scenes in films and television shows, and even appeared on film several times.

Butera is survived by his seven children and many grandchildren.