View Full Version : Owen makes mark on pool circuit

01-05-2005, 09:19 PM
Owen makes mark on pool circuit

Throughout his career as a professional pool player, Gabe Owen, originally of Wichita, has gambled to make money.

But the biggest gamble of all came when he decided to drop out of Campus High School in the 10th grade to play pool full time.

From that point on, pool became a daily 13-hour obsession that would eventually lead him to the 2004 U.S. Open Nine-ball Championship earlier this year.

Owen is a son of Kathy Townsend, who lives west of Atlanta. He spent Christmas at his family’s rural Cowley County home — having just achieved top-tier national status in the pool world.

Owen just returned from Amsterdam, Holland, where he and five other top-ranked U.S. pool players won the Mosconi Cup against Europe, 12-9, Dec. 19.

The Mosconi Cup is pool’s version of the Ryder Cup in golf. The cups pit countries from two continents against one another for world supremacy in a particular sport. The pool version occurs every year.

The 2004 U.S. team consisted of the sport’s biggest names: Johnny Archer, Rodney Morris, Tony Robles, Earl Strickland and Charlie Williams. Owen was the team’s newest member — having earned the honor to play after his championship performance in the U.S. Open.

At 27, Owen has arrived at the big time. Flip on an ESPN2 nine-ball tournament feature, and one might see Owen shooting pool.

His love for the sport has never wavered since he first picked up a pool stick 13 years ago.

At 14, Owen started playing eight-ball at a Wichita business called "The Family Game Room.”

“I wasn't very good,” Owen said, “but I loved the game.”

So much so that he’d wake up and start shooting pool at 11 a.m. and never leave until 2 a.m.

His obsession with the game led him to make a controversial decision — to quit school in the 10th grade.

“I really had mixed feelings at the time,” said his mother, Kathy. “Of course, I wanted him to get an education. But I also felt this is what he was meant to do. I didn’t want to stand in the way of his dreams.”

Owen has long since earned his General Equivalency Degree, while never giving up his favorite sport.

He played two years in Wichita and was in every pool league imaginable. It became apparent after he beat Junior Brown, considered at the time the top dog in the Wichita pool community, that Owen was ready for bigger and better things.

He decided to move to Tulsa which is considered a hotbed for pool activity.

Still not making enough for a decent living, he was lucky to have relatives to shelter him in Tulsa.

“Nothing against Wichita, but the best pool tables are in pool halls,” Owen said. “I needed a place where pool was the most important thing — not the drinking.”

Owen said he never drinks alcohol while playing pool. For him, it’s a job, much like going to Cessna.

“Pool hall owners started to resent me because all I would ever order was water,” Owen said.

In Tulsa, Owen started making money through gambling, and he eventually started to travel the country.

But throughout the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Owen’s talents were becoming too well known. Pool players were refusing to play him for fear of losing money.

Owen then took another gamble: he began playing professionally full-time in 2003.

He had done it once before in 1998 and failed.

This time would be different, Owen was convinced.

He said his big weakness in pool is playing in front of large groups of people, but five years of maturity has helped.

“I still don’t like it,” Owen said. “But I’m able to deal with it. I would much rather just play an individual one-on-one.”

After turning pro a second time, Owen’s route to headliner status came quickly — Sept. 12, to be precise, when he signed up to play in the U.S. Open Nine-Ball Championships in Chesapeake, Va.

In a field of 191 of the greatest players around the world, Owen got on a roll and eliminated one competitor after another — most more famous and higher ranked than he.

His family in Atlanta watched his progress through an Internet site.

“He called me on the telephone about three or four rounds from the championship and told me, ‘Mama, I’m going to win this thing,’” Kathy said. “I thought at the time that was a crazy thing to say because there were some awfully good pool players in front of him.”

Owen eventually played Thorsten Hohmann of Germany in the championship, winning 11-3.

Suddenly, Owen had celebrity status and graced the covers of such national publications as Pool & Billiard, and Billiard Digest. He also took home a $30,000 paycheck.

The win put Owen in the Mosconi Open.

The open is determined on the number of teammate victories. Owen was signed up to play yet another German, Thomas Engert. Again Owen came out with a 5-2 victory to help the U.S. to a 12-9 win.

Owen has continued touring. He's in Los Angeles now, competing in the U.S. Pro Tour Championship. Eventually, he’ll find his way to Taiwan to play in the Taiwan Open.

Owen doesn’t think he’ll ever leave the game.

“After all, the seniors tour pays more than the main tour,” Owen laughed. “If I end up not being able to play pool, I’ll try to work in pool in some capacity.”

Owen now drives a white Durango and travels worldwide. One pool ranking has him listed as the No. 34 rated pool player in the world. Life is good.

But he doesn’t worry about his status or if his sudden fame is fleeting.

“I’ll just continue to play the best pool I can play, and let everything else take care of itself.”

Scott Lee
01-05-2005, 09:46 PM
Holy cow Nick! What do you do...scan every newspaper in the country for pool stories...EVERY DAY??? LOL


01-05-2005, 11:21 PM
I use Google Alerts. Sign up with a certain Keyword and everytime a news article apears with that word you will be notified via email.

I use "billiards" and my last name in case a relative wins the lottery /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif.

now you know the rest of the story ... good day ... Paul Harvey /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

01-06-2005, 06:56 AM
Now Google will be flooded with Alerts. LOL

Next time put the link on top. It was easier to read,


9 Ball Girl
01-06-2005, 07:27 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote PQQLK9:</font><hr> But the biggest gamble of all came when he decided to drop out of Campus High School in the 10th grade to play pool full time.<hr /></blockquote>Not impressed. My parents would've beaten my a$$ if the thought even ocurred to me to do that.