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.

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.

BD Live Chat with Barry Behrman

Behrman (l.) with 2003 Open runner-up Jose Parica.

Behrman (l.) with 2003 Open runner-up Jose Parica.

Here’s your chance to chew the fat with one of pool’s most celebrated and controversial figures — U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship promoter Barry Behrman.

Behrman will make himself available for a live online chat beginning at 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Sept. 14, right here on the BD Web site. Just click the live chat icon on Wednesday for access.

Creator and promoter of the longest running major championship event in pool, Behrman has a unique and authoritative perspective on the history of the game and its current state. Among other topics, Behrman will hold forth on his special plans for the 30th annual U.S. Open, which will kick off Sept. 19; the upstart International Pool Tour, financed by controversial informercial magnate Kevin Trudeau; and perhaps even how Behrman is rehabilitating his image after legal troubles and skirmishes with the UPA men’s player association earlier in the decade.

Behrman’s always candid and eloquent, so don’t miss this chance to learn more about one of pool’s most fascinating figures. And with BD’s Player of the Year award entirely up for grabs this year, the Open could be 2005’s most important event. Don’t miss out.

Bustamante Blows Away Masters

Filipino star Francisco Bustamante went undefeated though a field of 45 to win the 2005 Masters 9-Ball Championship at Barry Behrman’s Q-Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, Va., July 26-31.

Bustamante beat a mixture of big names and no-names as he charged to the final. Notable matches included a 9-5 win over Santos Sambajon.

In the final, Bustamante faced Robert Ray, and Ray unexpectedly leapt to a 5-1 lead in the race-to-11 match. Bustamante, unfazed, won the next 10 games and won, 11-5.

Bustamante won $5,000 for first place; Ray took home $2,500. Eric Moore and Santos Sambajon took third and fourth, respectively.

For more in-depth coverage of this event, check the Tournaments section of September’s Billiards Digest magazine.

Deuel is U.S. Open Champ

Corey Deuel blanked reigning WPA World Champion Mika Immonen in Chesapeake, Va., Sunday, Sept. 16, to take the 26th U.S. Open title over a field of 217 players.

Deuel collected a reported $30,000 at the end of a controversial tournament that forged ahead despite the terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center on Tuesday, and promoter Barry Behrman’s mid-tournament prize-fund reduction.

See the November issue of Billiards Digest for full coverage.

More Trouble for Behrman

Chesapeake, Va. – Whether its natural disasters or continued trouble with the law, embattled U.S. Open promoter Barry Behrman just can’t seem to right his ship.

On Oct. 10, a judge found Behrman guilty of violating probation a second time since his conviction last year on illegal gambling charges, according to a report in The Virginian-Pilot.

Behrman was sentenced to six months in jail, but will receive credit for the 72 days he has served since his arrest in July.

“Mr. Behrman abused the court,” Circuit Judge Bruce H. Kushner said during the Oct. 10 hearing. “He took advantage of the court assisting him in making a living. He thinks he can hustle the world.”

Last month, Kushner allowed Behrman to leave jail temporarily so that he could direct the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships at the Chesapeake Conference Center. Behrman returned to jail the day after the tournament ended.

It was an eventful week for Behrman to say the least, as Hurricane Isabel rammed the Virginia coast and forced a one-day suspension in play. According to The Virginian-Pilot, Behrman told the court that he lost $50,000 on the Open.

Behrman also failed court-ordered drug testing during the tournament and thus violated his probation. Behrman, who has failed several drug tests in the past, had told his probation officer that he had used prescription drugs.

Behrman will be on probation again when he is released, and if he fails a drug test, Kushner said, he will be sent to prison to serve about six years that were suspended when he was convicted last year of running an illegal gambling operation, illegally selling alcohol and
failing to file a certificate for a business license.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, Behrman also told Kushner that he has had to sell his $625,000 home and is in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, apparently for unpaid taxes in connection with his business, Q-Master Billiards in Virginia Beach.

Isabel Delays, But Does Not Stop, U.S. Open

Hurricane Isabel has hit land, with the eye of the storm centered just south of Ocracoke Island, N.C., and about 70 miles southeast of Chesapeake, Va., the site of the currently-delayed U.S. Open. While the Chesapeake Conference Center, where the event is being held, has closed for the day, their outgoing phone message predicts that they will be open by tomorrow. Over 300,000 homes are without power across Virginia and North Carolina, but the Open’s official hotel, the nearby Holiday Inn, still has phone services and power. They’ve taped the windows, but haven’t seen the need to board them, and they have yet to see any serious flooding in the immediate area. The representative who answered the phone at the Holiday Inn sounded optimistic: “Everything’s supposed to be cleared up by tomorrow. Tomorrow’s the clean-up day, and then we’re supposed to have a beautiful weekend.”

U.S. Open promoter Barry Behrman’s room, Q-Master Billiards, where there were tentative plans for a party today, is much closer to the coast, in Chesapeake Bay. CCN.com is reporting that the 16th street pier in Chesapeake Bay has been pulled into the sea by the rising storm surge. Q-Master Billiards had no electricity as of 1:30 EST, but the phones were working and the employee answering the phone was in good spirits. Asked about the conditions, he laughed, “Oh, it’s wet.” The poolroom’s windows are taped, but not boarded, and the power outage has prevented them from holding any get-togethers. “[Q-Master’s] would be packed if the power was on right now. All we can do is wait at this point,” Behrman said.

When it comes to the main event, Behrman is sticking to the plan: “[The U.S. Open is] closed today, but we’ll re-open tomorrow … We’ll be there at 10am at the Conference Center tomorrow morning.”

Behrman Philosophical As Hurricane Isabele Threatens U.S. Open

WITH WHAT U.S. Open promoter Barry Behrman has been through in the past three years, the threat of a hurricane must seem like a minor nuisance.

Nonetheless, Hurricane Isabele, which is expected to rattle the eastern seaboard in the next two days, will cause the 28th running of the U.S. Open to shut down for at least a day. The City of Chesapeake has ordered all public facilities, including the Chesapeake Convention Center, which is hosting the U.S. Open, closed by 11:00 p.m. Wednesday evening, and not to be re-opened before Friday morning.

“We fully expect to be back up and running Friday morning,” said Behrman, who received a two-week release from prison, where he is awaiting a probation violation hearing, to conduct his annual tournament. “The forecast is for the winds to die down by the time it hits the Norfolk area.”

Behrman added that his 24-hour poolroom, Q-Master Billiards, will remain open on Thursday and will be the site of a daylong “Pool Party” for the players and spectators.

Should he receive the go-ahead to resume play Friday morning, Behrman said the tournament will conclude Sunday evening, as planned.

“Hey!” said the 57-year-old promoter. “I’ve got to be back in the pokey Monday, so we’ve got to be finished!”

In Behrman’s favor is the fact that the 2003 Open field closed with 154 players, 60 shy of 2002’s number. With 16 tables set up for usage, Behrman contends that one extra afternoon session, and one extra evening session on Friday and Saturday will keep the tournament on track for a Sunday night finale.

Behrman, whose 2001 tournament suffered mightily from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., also insisted that there will be no prize fund adjustments in 2003.

“We’re still addding $52,000,” said Behrman. “First place will still be $30,000, and everyone will be paid off at the conclusion of the tournament. Guaranteed.”

Meanwhile, Behrman, who was convicted in 2002 of a pair of felonies stemming from illegal gambling parties at his Chesapeake home, and reportedly has twice tested positive for illegal drugs while on probation, was philosophical about his attendance at the Open.

“I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to be here at the tournament,” said Behrman, who could still be sentenced to as much as six years in jail at this Oct. 10 hearing. “The thought of being in jail during this week was heartbreaking. I will never chance it again. After being in jail the past 58 days, believe me, I do not want to spend another two years behind bars.

“This is the most inspirational week of my life.”

Behrman Free To Oversee U.S. Open

IT’S UNLIKELY that the Chesapeake Convention Center, site of the upcoming U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, will ever look better to pool promoter Barry Behrman than it will look when the 28th running of American pool’s premier tournament kicks off next Monday, Sept. 15th.

Behrman, who has spent the past 58 days in a Chesapeake, Va., jail for a probation violation, received a two-week release today at a bond hearing before Circuit Court Judge Bruce H. Kushner. Judge Kushner released Behrman to allow the 57-year-old owner of Q-Master Billiards to run his annual tournament. Judge Kushner also mandated that Behrman return to prison by 6 p.m. on Sept. 22, the day after the U.S. Open is completed, where he will remain until his Oct. 10 trial date. Behrman, who was released on a $3,000 surety bond, will still have to report to his probation officer daily.

Behrman was convicted in 2002 of a pair of felonies stemming from illegal gambling parties at his Chesapeake home. He was jailed in July following his second probation violation, and could face as much as a six-year prison senctence. With his trial continued from its original Sept. 8 date to Oct. 10, Behrman’s attornies sought a bond hearing in an effort to gain his release in time for the Open.