View Full Version : Nice tournament memory

04-13-2003, 11:13 AM
The other day I made a post where I made a comment regarding how poorly many pool tournaments are run. It got me thinking about some of the tournaments I have played in and what they did well and what they did not so well. In thinking about it a tournament came to mind I played in years ago. I have played in a lot of tournaments both big and small but this one really sticks out in my mind. In the early 70s I was running around in a van playing pool. I would often get a line on a tournament in an area I was in and go check it out. In those days few tournaments had much in the way of prize funds. A majority of the tournaments were little more of an excuse for players to get together and match up, the tournament was secondary. This was even the case with Johnston City and some of the bigger tournaments run at Weenie Beanies place.
This tournament I am going to tell you about was a small tournament in northern Florida. I was in a place one night and heard some guys talking about it, I got the information and the next day decided to go there. It was only about 30 miles and the tournament started on Saturday, only two days away. I got there on Friday morning. The place was a free standing building that had overhead doors on one end, it looked like it may have been a place to store farm equipment at one time. The parking lot was just grass that surrounded the building. A few windows and one sign saying "Family Pool" was the only thing that would lead you to believe there was a business going on here. I doubt the place would meet any of today's codes, maybe they did not even meet them back then, who know if they even had a license, it was kind of in the middle of nowhere. I go in and was surprised to see how nice it was, there was a drop ceiling and wood paneling on the walls and a nice snack bar and desk at one end. They had 10 or 12 Gold Crown tables in the room with drop lights over each table, except for small lights at the desk and snack bar the room was fairly dark with a real pool room atmosphere. I paid my entry fee to a lady at the desk and was surprised to see the 32 player field was almost filled and would be in the next few hours. I hung out there for the day and they told me I could park my van outside for the next few days, no one would bother me, just let them know if I needed anything. That night there was non stop action, with every table going, matching up, ring games, pill pool and so on, I was glad I had come.
The next day I woke up and the parking area was already filled with cars. I got cleaned up and went into the room, the drawing was to be at noon. I could not believe it when I walked in. The room had changed, there were four tables now in the middle and two at the end of the room as practice tables. The rest had been moved against the far wall out of the way and covered. On three sides of the center tables there were bleachers set up, I found out later were loaned from the local high school. The play got started about 1 o'clock with a full field of players. Every match had a referees although you racked your own balls. The playing conditions could not have been better. The admission was $3.00. The place stayed open around the clock for the tournament and was filled the whole weekend. The fans were some of the best I have ever seen, reacting to every match with applause and respect, sweating the after hours action, it was great. Before the semi final, the owner made a little speech thanking all the players and fans. Two of the tables were moved away and the bleachers were moved in a little. For the final the lights were off in the room except for a few small lights by the snack bar and rest rooms. All the focus was on the center tables and is was standing room only. The final was myself and a guy called One eye Tony Howard. I was on the winners side but ended up losing the two sets and coming in second, Tony by the way played perfect. This could not have been a better final, if we were playing in a world championship in the elegant grand ballroom of Sheridan Chicago.
The next day I came in and things were getting back to normal, they were leveling up the tables that had been moved, and cleaning up the place. I stayed there another day and got to know the owners a little. They had a nice day to day business going there. They did not sell alcohol, but had a few other things going for them. For one thing they had a milkshake machine and made the best milkshakes you ever had with real milk and creme plus fresh fruit, they were amazing. The menu was very limited, only sandwiches no cooking. The specialty was tuna and egg salad. You can't believe how good these sandwiches were, They were an inch thick, it was a recipe by the owners wife and they sold tubs of the stuff everyday. From what I was told, they sold hundreds on a daily basis, and as many milkshakes. Even without alcohol this place made a lot of money. The owners were not really pool players at all, just a nice old couple who somehow ended up in the pool room business. I am sure they are both long since gone, as is the building. I passed there a some years later, it was off route 100, and it was not there. The property was being developed in to residential housing. It was one of the nicer little small town pool rooms I was ever in and certainly one of the better tournaments I ever played in. I don't think you have to be a genius to run a nice tournament or pool room, just use a little common sense.

04-13-2003, 11:28 AM

Nice post.. I love these types of good stories. Poolrooms that have all the character you would ever want.

You must consider youself lucky.. I do.

04-13-2003, 12:00 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr>
....I am sure they are both long since gone, as is the building. I passed there a some years later, it was off route 100, and it was not there. The property was being developed in to residential housing....

<font color="blue">Wow I'm surprised you were able to find the spot. With all the development going on and the way they change the names of the roads I can't find half of the spots I used to visit /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif </font color>

It was one of the nicer little small town pool rooms I was ever in and certainly one of the better tournaments I ever played in. I don't think you have to be a genius to run a nice tournament or pool room, just use a little common sense.

<font color="blue">Yep. And show some respect to the customers who are, after all, paying the owner's salary.

<font color="red">Thanks a lot for the story. That was cool. </font color>

</font color>

<hr /></blockquote>

Scott Lee
04-13-2003, 12:02 PM
Popcorn...Wow! What a great story! To me, these are the kinds of stories that make this board worth coming to (along with the wealth of actual playing and equipment information). If Larry could confine himself to stories like this, he be quite a popular fellow here! LOL Sure is amazing what one little old couple could do with what appeared to be a crummy old building, out in the middle of nowhere! I can remember stories like that too, but not too often where I was in the finals! LOL Nice job! VERY enjoyable reading!

Scott Lee

04-13-2003, 02:32 PM
It is funny by contrast, I was in a room in up state NY. I went in the day time, sat around for a while and had a coffee (terrible by the way). I asked the guy at the desk if any players came around. He made some rude comment I don't even remember, but I got the idea I was not welcome. There was not a person in the place. On the way out I saw a sign on the wall I will never forget. It said "If you have nothing to do, don't do it here." Can you imagine, no wonder they had no customers. How do these people get into the pool room business? Another night I went into a place and felt like practicing for a while, It was late. I get the balls and go to a table, the guy comes over and tells me I can't play there because he just cleaned it and does not feel like cleaning it again tonight. I have to play on one of the dirty tables he has not cleaned yet. Where do these guys come from, I gave him back the balls and left? I could give you a million stories like these but I won't. I would rather talk about nice people who know what they are doing and not dwell on the negative.

Scott Lee
04-13-2003, 10:59 PM


04-14-2003, 07:42 AM
This is sad but true. It seems many places don't want your business and do nothing to make the game enjoyable for anyone. Then, they complain that an area won't support a pool hall! I see many young "bangers" in a pool hall and, if they are young, the house guy spends his whole night warning them about stuff that seems pretty petty. Within reason, they need to be encouraged and left to have fun with the game. The serious players need to feel welcome as well. I think you can feel the welcome mat is in or out in most places. It's sad many nice places will go out of business because the operators just don't 'get it'.

04-14-2003, 12:52 PM
Well thats a pretty good story and I enjoyed reading it.I've been in rooms,that treat you real nice,even if your a stranger.I walked out of one place because the tables were filthy.The counter man looked at me, when I brought the balls right back he said whats wrong!Several people I know that have played in 14-1 tournaments around the NY-NJ area
the last few years always complain about poor table conditions and the match schedules times.

04-15-2003, 03:13 AM
Great story Popcorn, i enjoyed it. Its a shame a lot of places, not just pool halls dont follow the credo of the customer is the main thing. Well i guess when they go under maybe a light bulb goes on, maybe but i doubt it.
Anyway, why did pill pool die out ? I never played it but my pop played a lot of it in the 40,s and 50,s. Seems like something that would be good for a group to play. He told me they used to play it for some decent money back then.
All you have to do is make the ball whose number you pull, right ? I can see some money changing hands there real easy.
Why did it die out ? Any thoughts ?

Steve Lipsky
04-15-2003, 04:15 AM
Hi Hopster. I don't know if pill pool has really died out, but one reason it may have lost some popularity is that the good players realized they have a much bigger advantage playing other games.

I think Chicago has remained popular as a ring game (and pill pool has not) because every rack is the same. In other words, when something happens, you know it's either good for you or bad for you. In pill pool, since each person's pill is hidden, there is a certain lack of control about the goings-on.

- Steve

04-15-2003, 08:37 AM
When I was a kid, I was hooked on pill pool, like a kid today on a video game. I would play every Saturday in a 25 cent pill game called crazy-8. I was only about 13 or 14 but they let me play anyway, I was one of the guys. I would play from 10 am to 2 am every Saturday and until about 8 PM on Sunday plus a few times during the week. This pill game went on seven days a week all day on table 7 in the bowling alley for years, till the place was sold and torn down. The strange thing was, after the bowling alley was gone so was the game. The players drifted to the other pool rooms but it was never the same.

04-15-2003, 03:05 PM
Im going to get a pill set. Sounds like a lot of fun with 4-5 people.

04-15-2003, 03:28 PM
There are many different games you can play with the pills. Pill pool is what was called a house game. At a time when pool was $.60 an hour per player, a regular running pill game could produce $30. or $40. a day. same with a good golf game. In those days that may cover the whole nut for the place. Places would promote the games along with ring games, they were real money makers.

04-15-2003, 04:29 PM
The only game that i ever heard of that could play was you made your ball and you won the pot. If you made a ball that belonged to someone else, he was out. What else is there ?