View Full Version : Poolhalls in Chicago area?

09-17-2002, 08:19 AM
I'll be in the Chicago area tomorrow night and Thursday night (Sept. 18 & 19). I'm looking for a poolhall or two that I can visit while I'm there. I'd like to hit up a 9-ball tournament if possible. I'll be in the area of the O'Hare Airport, so something in that vicinity would be ideal, but not necessary. I'd like to stay away from poolhalls that are mostly catered to social players.

Thanks in advance!


09-17-2002, 08:45 AM
There is a great pool hall in Villa Park, IL. I'ts called Palace Billiards at 106 W. Roosevelt Rd. I'ts about 30 min. from O'hare. They have 8 and 9 ball leagues all week. Also has a full service bar, pro shop and cafe. Call them for directions at 630.941.3500 Hopefully you get this info on time.

09-17-2002, 09:17 AM
Listed by distance from ORD

http://yp.yahoo.com/py/ypResults.py?&&addr=ORD&city=Chicago&state=IL&coun try=us&slt=41.980099&sln=-87.894302&cs=10&stp=y&stx=8105011

Chris Cass
09-17-2002, 09:27 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Anonymous:</font><hr> There is a great pool hall in Villa Park, IL. I'ts called Palace Billiards at 106 W. Roosevelt Rd. I'ts about 30 min. from O'hare. They have 8 and 9 ball leagues all week. Also has a full service bar, pro shop and cafe. Call them for directions at 630.941.3500 Hopefully you get this info on time. <hr></blockquote>

Tell John Abbrozzo, Chris Cass said hello. He's the owner and soon is moving the ph. Get this, about across the street to a mall. hahaha

John will treat you nice and may even help you find a player to hit some with. He loves ice cream and that reminds me, I owe him one.



09-17-2002, 10:36 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Wally_in_Cincy:</font><hr>
Listed by distance from ORD

<a target="_blank" href=http://yp.yahoo.com/py/ypResults.py?&amp;&amp;addr=ORD&amp;city=Chicago&amp;state=IL&amp;coun try=us&amp;slt=41.980099&amp;sln=-87.894302&amp;cs=10&amp;stp=y&amp;stx=8105011>http://yp.yahoo.com/py/ypResults.py?&amp;&amp;addr=ORD&amp;city=Chicago&amp;state=IL&amp;coun try=us&amp;slt=41.980099&amp;sln=-87.894302&amp;cs=10&amp;stp=y&amp;stx=8105011</a> <hr></blockquote>

Thanks for the info. I had already checked out yp.yahoo.com for the same info, but since I don't know what each pool hall is like, I figured I'd ask here first for suggestions instead of driving from pool hall to pool hall wasting valuable pool-playing time searching for the right pool hall. /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif


09-17-2002, 10:46 AM
Do be sure to check out Chris's on N. Milwaukee (listed in the link Wally was kind enough to provide). It's not too far from the airport; just a quick run down I90. I haven't been there in many years but I understand the place is still a classic in the true sense of the word.
Hopefully this is okay. I just happened to find this the other day on R.S.B. According to the article they have 9-ball tourneys on Wednesdays.

Home of the great ones:
The best players show up on cue at Chris's Billiards

by Barbara Vitello Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted on Friday, June 28, 2002

The phones rang and the regulars buzzed last
Wednesday at Chris's Billiards as word spread a
big match was in the works.

Marco, the local pro and house favorite, and Piggy,
his South Side counterpart, were set to square off
that afternoon at the Jefferson Park pool hall in the
city. Competition between a couple of masters
always draws a crowd, and the regulars were
angling for a spot.

"Word gets around," says Chris's co-owner Eric
Rosen. "Marco is the best in the city, probably the
best in the state."

The impromptu game had the makings of an event,
but Chris's regulars are accustomed to that. For
decades, pros from around the country have
crossed cues at this Milwaukee Avenue pool parlor
so authentic, Martin Scorsese filmed scenes from his
1986 film "The Color of Money" here.

"This is a place where all the great ones passed
through," says Rosen, citing legends such as the late
Willie Mosconi, the child prodigy who won 15 titles
in 17 years; Lou Butera, nicknamed "machine gun"
for his quickness; world snooker and 9-ball
champion Allison Fisher; and Jeanette Lee, winner
of 15 Women's Professional Billiard Association

But matches like the one between Marco and Piggy
don't just entertain, they instruct.

That's the real legacy of an old-time pool hall like
this. It's not just the ambience, or the characters
who call it home. What makes this place special are
the lessons players learn here.

And Chris's may have no better instructor than Joe
Diaz, master of three-cushion billiards, who traces
his career back to the days of the legendary Willie
Hoppe, a former opponent and winner of the
three-cushion title 11 times between 1936 and

"In the old days, pool was considered grammar
school, snooker was considered high school and
three-cushion billiards was called college," says
Diaz, a long-time patron whose accomplishments
prompted former owner Donald Crisman to name a
tournament in his honor. "Those (pool and snooker)
are dull compared to this."

Unlike pool, three-cushion billiards is played with
only three balls, on a table without pockets. To win
a point, the player must hit the cue ball so that it
contacts the two other balls and at least three rails.

Three-cushion poses such a challenge, that "one out
of a thousand people gets to be good at it," says

With more than 50 years and countless tournaments
under his belt, Diaz is among the select few who
play it well. Even though he has the equivalent of a
Ph.D. in billiards, he says he's still learning.

"The game does not change, but the skill levels of
the players keeps rising," he says. "It's like learning
how to dance. You know all the steps, now you
want to romance the movements."

First a player has to master the fundamentals, and
that means learning the angles and how to play
them. But there's more to the game than geometry,
cautions Susie Levinberg, another regular. Physics
also plays a part. The spin a player puts on the ball
matters as much as banking it off a rail and into a
pocket. And blocking a shot can be as crucial as
making one.

"Defense is a huge part," says Levinberg, 33. "I've
beaten people who shoot better than I do because
my game is stronger. I don't leave them a shot."

But that wasn't always the case.

"Initially I was horrible," says Levinberg, but after
banging balls around in small tournaments for a
couple of years, she began taking the game

She studied, her play improved and she earned third
place in several tournaments. Hooked, the special
education teacher now runs tournaments and writes
for "Chalk Talk" newsletter in her spare time.

But like Diaz, Levinberg knows she has a lot more
to learn.

"I have to work at it," she says. Lucky for her, men
willingly offer advice to neophytes, especially

"They all want to help the new girl," she says with a
knowing smile, "especially the guys who don't know
what they're talking about."

But most people who frequent Chris's know the
game. One way to tell the good players from the
dabblers is by their cue stick.

"If you own your own stick, you're serious about the
game," says Rosen.

Chris's caters to both hardcore and recreational
players and did so long before co-owners Ron and
Barry Nemerow, Richard Herbert and Rosen took
over. The partners pursued Crisman, their
immediate predecessor and the pool hall's
namesake, for four years before he agreed to sell
the billiards parlor that has reportedly operated
since 1937.

Aside from some cosmetic changes, the current
owners kept things pretty much the same when they
took over about four years ago.

"That's what people like about it," says Rosen.

The no-frills decor suits the patrons, and while no
one would describe the place as glitzy, the owners
outfitted the hall with first-rate equipment. In
addition to 41 Brunswick Gold Crowns, "the best
money can buy," says Rosen proudly, Chris's has
five Verhoeven billiard tables ("$14,000 a piece
from Belgium," he says), a snooker table,
concession stand and a small pro shop.

Located above an Urban Outfitters store, Chris's
consists of three rooms filled with rows of pool
tables, surrounded by chairs that allow plenty of
room for the players to maneuver. Photos of
national and local champions and newspaper articles
yellowed with age hang on the painted brick walls
alongside posters from "The Color of Money" and
black-and-white publicity stills autographed by Paul
Newman and Tom Cruise.

"This place is history," says Pat Johnson, 54. "It
feels like pool has always felt.

"I wouldn't play regularly at any other room," he
says. Other pool halls may attract quality players,
"but you don't see the breadth of talent as regularly
as you do in this room."

"The caliber of players is probably higher here
during the day than any other room in Chicago,"
says the Evanston resident. "I like that there are
guys in their 80s playing three-cushion billiards and
young adults filling up the back rooms on the

Johnson points to the Verhoeven billiard tables,
"find me another room in Chicago with even one,"
he says. "Most of these three-cushion tables get
used every day. The snooker table gets used every

"It's not about date night," adds Johnson. "This
room is all about pool."

Most of the attention centers on table #9, the
"action table," where all-stars like Marco Marquez
routinely conduct seminars on how to play the

But according to Marquez, who learned to play
from his grandfather in his native Mexico, some of
his most important lessons came from losing, which
happened last week when he played Piggy.

"Playing people who are better than you, you learn
moves," says Marquez, who left college at 21 to
take up pool professionally.

But you don't always have to play to improve.

"You can pick up a lot of moves just by watching,"
says Levinberg, who improved her stroke by
noticing that Marquez keeps his arm at a 90-degree

Now 38, Marquez still practices at least four or five
hours a day, and up to 12 or 13 hours a day before
a tournament. Like Diaz, he knows a player is never
too old to learn.

"You never get to the top," he says.

But that doesn't stop him, or any other player, from
trying. Like Diaz says, "champions can be beat."
That's a lesson that isn't lost on any of them.

But there's another lesson players learn here, and it
extends beyond the game of pool.

"You have to be a good sport," says Marquez.

A true sportsman accepts defeat as graciously as he
accepts victory. And at a school of tough breaks ,
that may be the most important lesson of all.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Name: Chris's Billiards

Location: 4637 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.
(773) 286-4714

Parking: On the street

Directions: I-90 to Chicago; Lawrence Avenue exit;
sharp right onto Lawrence to Milwaukee Avenue;
south on Milwaukee to the billiard parlor

Area: Jefferson Park

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Prices: Pool: two players before 6 p.m. $5.95, after
6 p.m. $7.25 per hour; one player before 6 p.m.
$2.55, after 6 p.m. $2.95 per hour; each additional
player $1.80 per hour. Verhoeven billiards and
snooker: one player $4 per hour; two players $7.75
per hour

Libations: Soft drinks, coffee and assorted
beverages, 55 cents to $2

Edibles: Burgers, hot dogs, subs, Italian beef,
Polish, meatball sandwiches $1.50 to $3.50; pork
chops and chicken $3 to $3.50; pizza $6; candy,
chips and ice cream 70 cents to $1.25

Music: Juke box

The crowd: Pros and amateurs; old-timers and
newcomers; people 18 and older who love the

When to go: Anytime, but some nights the waiting
list for a table can be up to 10 names long

What to wear: Casual

Specials: Chris's hosts the Illinois State 3-Cushion
Billiards Championship beginning Saturday and
concluding Sunday. 11 a.m. sign-up, noon start.
Champion Roberto Rojas presents artistic billiards
exhibitions at 8 p.m. both days. The billiard parlor
hosts 9-ball tournaments on Sundays and
Wednesdays and a women's league on Tuesday.

09-17-2002, 11:18 AM
I was in Chicago a month ago and did my research beforehand as to what pool hall to go to. I went to Chris's (as the other posters suggested) and I was not disappointed. They have three rooms, with the front room being where the action is. Be sure you go to the Chris's on Milwalkee Avenue since this is the orginial.

09-17-2002, 11:31 AM
Sounds like Chris's is the place. And only 7 mi. from ORD. In a recent column George Fels mentioned that he is in there a lot. If you see him tell him hi from the CCBers.

09-17-2002, 11:51 AM
Wow. Thanks. This is exactly what I was looking for. I'll have to check that place out.