View Full Version : I Played Pool Once

04-13-2002, 09:06 PM
I was ten when I stroke my first cue stick. I learned the game fast. I became the master of a two-table establishment within a year of playing on the same non-descript underground pool hall. During this time I met an old fellow, he took notice of my game and we quickly became friends. He mentioned that I had potential and he can make me realize it. He said all good players could make balls but only a few can become great because they can create shots. I didn't know what he was talking about then but I was able to grasp all the nifty tricks he tried to show me. This teacher and student thing went on for a year and then the business establishment was busted and shut down.

He then took me to his home and there we continued the lessons for four more years. It took me 3 years before I was able to beat the old man consistently. He was only the only person I played during those time since playing on pool halls was expensive and my father warned me not to be on one.

I was now 16 and moved on to the city for college. Life was tough and money was real tight. I got news from my small town that the old man had died. I became really depressed at the time and decided to take my emotions out by playing in one of the pool halls in the area. By luck or faith, I met another guy who happens to be one of my classmates. We played a few games and we traded stories.

I found out that he was supporting himself in college by playing pool for money. We became friends quickly. He introduced me to the other side of pool. We spent countless hours traveling from pool hall to pool hall just to find some money games. Although I never played pool for money, money was easy as asking my friend for some. He was the ultimate hustler. His game was tailored to be as good as anyone until it was time for the big kill. He is a master of human behaviors. He knows how to setup an opponent, build their confidence to the peak, and break it down without hesitation.

It was now fall and I received a letter from my folks that they won’t be able to send the money needed for the semester. School already started and I have a couple of days to come up with my tuition. My friend told me that we could come up with the money if we played some serious money game. With such a short amount of time and the reputation my friend is getting within the college community, finding an opponent with enough money to lose was impossible. Then by luck or faith again, something came up.

My friend got a tip that some bloke from the other side of the city was willing to play anyone for big money. The biggest news was this bloke would give the 15 ball against anyone he doesn’t know. In rotation, this would mean that an opponent only has to sink the 15 ball or any combination of total balls to win. On the other hand, he has to run out all the balls to win. Our hopes and confidence was at it’s peak when we heard the news.

We went to an upscale pool hall and our attention was quickly drawn to the center table where almost all the people are gathered around. We squeaked our way all the way in and managed to get a glimpse of the bloke. The guy was wearing an old white shirt with a faded and tattered pair of blue jeans. He looks like some farmer who just got off his field for a break. But we also noticed the beeline of people next to the table waiting to take a chance to play this guy. It was 1:00 in the afternoon and we spent the next couple of hours watching the guy play. It didn’t take long for us to realize that this player is for real. This toothless wonder didn’t waste time eliminating his opponents. We were awestruck by the amount of money being transferred to the pocket of this one guy. This short guy will take all the bets placed against the toothless wonder. The toothless guy only needed one open shot to beat his opponent. He pocketed balls and made the cue ball dance on the table like its on remote control. Every so often, he’ll make some impossible shot out of nowhere and smile to the crowd.

It is now 4:00 and we are still mulling on the idea if were going to play this guy. The guy took a break and left his cue on the table and I was instantly drawn to this cue with a split in the middle and some fancy layout on the bottom half. The next thing I know was my friend is getting ready to break for the next game.

My friend took the first 3 games like lightning. It was unbelievable. He broke and made a ball and few more balls and the game was ours. 2 more games and where up by five bets. It only took 30 minutes for us to win some serious money and then the short guy who takes all the bets came up to us and wanted to adjust the weight. Our confidence was still at it’s peak and we consented. This time, we have to make 29 points instead of 15. So that means the last two balls for us.

The game suddenly became serious; the toothless wonder is not smiling as often as he use to. They traded games and this went on for several hours. It’s now 7:00 and we are down by 3 bets. The short guy came to us again and suggested that he and his toothless wonder is quitting unless we raised the bet. My friend asked for the 15 ball again on double or nothing. The toothless guy didn’t even hesitate and quickly nodded to his short partner. 4 games later we are down by 12 bets. The toothless wonder ran all 15 balls off the break on three occasions.

At this time, I felt that we became the victim of the same hustle my friend use to do. I was really nervous because all the money I had, which I gave to my friend was lost already. It’s now 8:00 and the crowds are all gone. My friend was ready to quit and I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. My friend drags me to the restroom and told me that I should play the guy. He boosted my morale by saying that its time for me to finally step up and rise to the occasion. Next thing I know, I was holding a cue stick.

I never got to shoot until my second game. I was left with a safety and all I could do was a 3 rail kick shot. I managed to hit it but I left an opening and my opponent run out. Several more losing games and I noticed that I was getting more chances on the table, although I’m still not getting any open shots. My friend kept on whispering that I’m playing good even though we are losing.

Its now past nine and we are down 18 bets. Our opponent is ready to quit and they want us to settle up and pay already. The manager of the pool hall is closing down and want’s us out already. Then … it began…
My friend started talking loud and ranted about us being hustled by money pros and he won’t settle up unless we play some more. The pool hall manager said that he couldn’t allow us to continue unless we play for substantial money. Toothless wonder and his short friend were already eager to go, seeing they already amassed everybody else cash.

My friend took out his two shoes and pulls a wad of money from each shoe. He pulls another wad from each of his side pocket and pulls my few bills of money I gave him from his wallet. He said, “Lets play some serious pool”. The match was race to 15 and the weight is all gone. I’m playing the best pool player I have ever seen and played straight up. This was at the insistence of my friend. I thought he has gone mental. It was the hustle of two hustlers’ from two different worlds. The toothless guy could only shake his head and grin. Now the game begins…

I lost the coin toss and consequently the first break. While he was on his way to running out the first rack, I was staring on one dark corner and the image of the old man started to visualize on my head. His voice seems to transcend on my whole body sending that message of being great is not by making shots but by creating one. I finally realize that pool at its ultimate level is about creating shots. It’s now on the second rack and I finally got to shoot. It was again a safety, but with all the enlightenment my nervousness was gone and I became at ease with myself. The table suddenly became a grid with mapped out patterns of all the shots I learned from the old man. I made seemingly endless number of shots after shots. It was beautiful. Everything was perfect. I was playing pool at a level I thought was never possible. The next thing I know , the score was 12-7 my favor. And then the restroom break…

My opponent requested for a break and I quickly followed him on the restroom. On the way, he complemented my game. He quickly joked about how my uniform looks all blue and chalky, that it wouldn’t impress any girls. I also joked about how he looks and maybe buy some new cloths with he’s newfound wealth. Then he told me that he would retire me by showing what he can do on the table.

I broke and didn’t make any balls. My conversation with my opponent was still fresh on my mind and somehow that perfect feeling was gone. Now all I could think about was the conversation, specially the reminder of him showing what he can do on the table. Then the next five games became a prelude to a show of what greatness is all about in pool. He made me realize that no safety can stop him from forcing his way to win.

It’s now 12-12 and I can sense that both my friend and the short guy never expected such display of pool. The game is evenly matched and at the moment no one has the upper edge. The last three games was like forever. Every chance I got on the table was a safety and all I could do was hit the object ball and safety it back. Every shot became a test of will. Somehow, he managed to will the most critical shot of each game and eventually winning the match. 12-15 Game over…

In one match of pool, I made my friend mental, lost all my money, lost all my friend’s money and lost my hope of ever staying in college. I was at the lowest point of my young life and I was looking for answers.

I was on the restroom for a long time, still looking for answers when… My opponent came up and asked me how does it feel to lose. At first, I thought about starting a fight against him but all my mouth could sarcastically say was “What do you know?”. He asked me if I was playing pool because of money. I broke like a child and sobbingly told my entire story. He then gave all the money we lost and said, “stay in school kid and don’t play pool again”. Why? I asked him. “Do you want to be like me?”

Today... My friend and I are now career professionals who keep reliving the pool story to each other every time we meet. I decided at the time to give back all the money to my friend and he decided to cover my tuition for the semester. We never played pool again for money. I never had the chance to ask the name of my opponent. To this day, I still call him the toothless wonder.

Setting: Manila, Philippines (1990)

04-13-2002, 10:57 PM
Anybody buy that crap?

04-14-2002, 02:41 AM
I have one question. What does those #'s mean? I may be a little slow, but what is #8217 #8220 #8230 refer to?
I saw this before on one of your posts. Also I haven't a clue who this magic man could have been! I've never been to the Philippines, so no clue here. Wait just a minute, I did practice with a guy from the Philippines on the old pro tour
and he didn't miss very much. I got to rack a lot and I thought he got lucky on some of his leaves. He quit after about 1/2 hour and said when I took the balls back that they come from Efren. If the guy your talking about could beat him, he must have been real good. I did play for a while with Rafel,sp? Martinez and I got a lot more shots. He and this guy Efren did have to rack for me!

04-14-2002, 01:02 PM
I bought it all except the last part, where the guy gives the money back.

04-14-2002, 03:09 PM
When you paste text from another place to here, you get those numbers instead of '.


04-15-2002, 09:08 AM
Nope, I don't buy it... if I understand the story correctly, the toothless guy is spotting people 46 points in rotation??? Against people he doesn't know??

Where can I find these people?

- Steve

04-16-2002, 11:44 AM
Is the guy supposed to be Efren? Isn't he a toothless rotation monster?

04-16-2002, 12:02 PM
wow. all i can say is wow.

john bastian in pa