View Full Version : NYC's Robles takes his cue

09-29-2004, 07:23 AM
NYC's Robles takes his cue

Tony Robles, the Silent Assassin out of Amsterdam Billiards, lines up shot at big time in preparation for the World Summit of Pool at Grand Central Terminal this weekend.

The Silent Assassin asks if I'd like a coffee, tea, soda, anything at all, and I'm thinking I better say yes, absolutely, coffee, tea, soda, anything and everything, because this is, after all, the Silent Assassin. A funny thing, though, he doesn't look it.
Mr. Assassin is the nom de 9-ball of Tony Robles, who can be found, day or night, moving from table to table at Amsterdam Billiards, 76th and Amsterdam. He's the house pro, living the life he always wanted. In that space on the income tax return where they ask your occupation, the genial 38-year-old Robles writes in the words "Professional Pool Player." He's available for lessons and exhibitions. And sometimes, when the phone rings, he's asked to show off his trick shots at corporate events and bar mitzvahs.

But don't look for him Thursday, or through the weekend. He'll be in the deep end of the pool, one of the favorites in the World Summit of Pool, a quality field of 64, at Grand Central Terminal. The pot is $50,000, with $15,000 going to the winner. It's about what A-Rod spends on dry cleaning, what jockeys can take home in less than two minutes, but it's the top of the world for people like Tony. He's 38, grew up in Brooklyn, went to Eastern District HS and doesn't live too far from his tables. This weekend is about a lot more than $15,000. "I'm proud of what I do and I'm excited about the tournament," he tells you. "It's my hometown. I've got a big following."

It helps that this one is on ESPN. And since Robles won his first national tournament in Las Vegas earlier this year - another $15,000 score - the TV line under his name will describe him as a champion. The nickname, which makes him sound like the nasty half of a tag team, was never his idea.

He won a one-sided match in a North Carolina tournament a decade ago, and a spectator told him, "You killed him but you don't say a word." The promoter's girlfriend overheard the comment, and when Robles approached the table for his next match, the promoter introduced the crowd to the Silent Assassin. ("I don't look it, right?")

The Amsterdam is nothing like the pool halls Robles and I remember. Mine was in the Bronx, on East 170th St., and we used to call it the library. ("I'm going to the library, Mom." Which always earned me a "That's nice.")

Robles' father, Tony Sr., was the first pool player in the family. His kid tagged along to the Soler Billiard room in Bushwick, "a real old-school type room, dark, smoky," Robles says. He was handed an instruction book, "and the next day I was putting spin on the ball." He was 12 years old, a natural.

His resume, after high school, is nothing to get excited about. He was a security guard for three weeks and waited tables at a pizzeria for three months. Most of the time, he was at the pool room, taking postgraduate courses.

"I had a girl chasing me and I totally ignored her," he said. "I'd practice 12 hours a day, sixdays a week. I found out the best way to improve was by gambling. I did it for five, six years, but not for the money. For the experience. When I got enough experience, I quit.

'After that, I decided I'd play pool and teach for the rest of my life." One more thing he wants to make clear. "I'm doing something I truly love. I never hustled. Twenty-five years, and I never hustled anyone."

And I believe him. You don't argue with the Silent Assassin.

Originally published on September 29, 2004

09-29-2004, 07:47 AM
Thanks for posting the article on Tony. It was a good read. I really like to watch Tony play, he is always a humble winner. I am happy everything has worked out for him so well!

9 Ball Girl
09-29-2004, 02:03 PM
Oh yeah I forgot about that interview. He did it over the phone while we were in VA. Good for him! I'll be at the World Summit helping out on Saturday and Sunday. Anyone else going?