Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pearl mounts comeback, SVB takes cheese

SVB with his big checks for winning the DCC

Earl Strickland had a great run during this year's Derby City Classic. He placed high in the nine-ball field, and only fell a few balls short of winning the One-Pocket division outright. He beat Shannon "The Cannon" Daulton in the semi-finals (3-2 in a close match), and then narrowly lost to Shane Van Boening in the finals 2-3.  The Pearl expresses a few choice words after his One-Pocket defeat in the video above.

Van Boening went on to place second in the nine-ball division and took the Master of the Table award.  Dennis Orcollo won the nine-ball division (check out the video in the blog post below). Alex Pagulayan won the Nine-Ball Banks division, and placed second in the Straight Pool Challenge.  The Straight Pool Challenge went to Darren Appleton.  Rodney "The Rocket" Morris won the Fatboy 10-ball challenge, beating out Appleton in the final.

If you're trying to keep up, here's the list:

Derby City Classic, 2011

Master of the Table: Shane Van Boening

Nine-Ball: Dennis Orcollo (Second: Shane Van Boening)

One-Pocket: Shane Van Boening (Second: Earl Strickland)

Nine-Ball Banks: Alex Pagulayan

Fatboy 10-Ball Challenge: Rodney Morris (Second: Darren Appleton)

Straight Pool Challenge: Darren Appleton (Second Niels Feijen)

-- R.A. Dyer

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Orcollo's final 9-Ball Run-Out at Derby City

Dennis Orcollo, left, and Lee Van Corteza
Dennis Orcollo was nearly unstoppable in nine-ball at Derby City this year. His only defeat during the entire event was to fellow Filipino Warren Kiamco -- and even then Orcollo shined. Kiamco had Orcollo way down and Kiamco was on the hill when Orcollo came roaring back to within one game of victory. Orcollo also ran over Mika Immonen and, as you can see in the video above, the great Shane Van Boening. Orcollo beat SVB in the nine-ball final 7-1. The video above shows Orcollo's last run-out. Fantastically, Orcollo jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the match after Shane left a shot in the first game. Orcollo finished that rack and then broke and ran four more.  I also saw Orcollo in action at Derby City giving Chris Bartram the 8 and the 10, playing 10-ball in a race to 30. I think they were wagering $3,000. Bartram, one of the nation's great road players, got the worst of it. The exchange made a believer out of me about Dennis Orcollo.

-- R.A. Dyer

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Boston Shorty versus Harold Worst

Boston Shorty won the Johnston City One-Pocket competition four times. He is remembered today as one of the greatest one-pocket players ever. Harold Worst won the 1965 event outright, as well as that year's Stardust Open. He was nearly unstoppable when he was at the top of his game. Worst could have been remembered as the most dominant player of the 1960s if not for his premature death (at age 37) from cancer.

You can watch the two legendary players battling it out in the video above. I really love the groovy jazz music. Very atmospheric. And if you want to learn more, there's also Hustler Days. The book includes information about the famous Johnston City  tournaments, Worst's dominant play in 1965, and a reference to Jersey Red's travels with Boston Shorty. Freddy "The Beard" Bentivegna also has a link to a Jim McKay interview with Worst, which you can find here.

-- R.A. Dyer

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PoolSynergy 14: The Holiday Gift Guide

Put Danny McGoorty in your stocking
There’s a reason why Robert Byrne is the best-selling author in pool. His books are really, really good. My favorites are his New Standard Book on Pool and Billiards, his Advanced Technique in Pool & Billiards, and his biography of Danny McGoorty.

Our PoolSynergy mission this month was to recommend a single book or video. But this was a task that was beyond me. I simply could not decide. So consider this part of first annual holiday gift-buying guide courtesy PoolSynergy, and the blog. I recommend several of Bryne books, plus two others from different authors. All pool players should have these on their shelves.

McGoorty, A Pool Room Hustler.
This book is hilarious. Danny McGoorty was a poolroom hustler, ladies’ man, and drunk. Bryne recorded McGoorty’s life's story, and then used it to craft one of the most delightful biographies ever written about an American cueist. This book also includes fun anecdotes about some of the most important players of the last century, including Mosconi, Fats, Cochran and even Alfredo De Oro.

Byrne’s New Standard Book on Pool & Billiards
This is the first instructional book that I ever purchased. Who knew that a collection of table drawings and shot descriptions could be so funny?  A friend of mine had lent me a copy many many years ago. After reading only about 10 pages of it, I marched out and bought my own. You should too. (And while you’re at it, pick up Bryne’s second instructional book Advanced Technique  in Pool & Billiards.)

The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards.
Ever wonder how many possible ball arrangements there are in a straight-pool rack? Wonder no more. Mike Shamos, in this wonderful collection of the trivial and the historic, tells us. Here, you can learn about Kelly Pool, the Lambert Trophy, and the origin of the slang "weight." There’s plenty of pictures. As a hardback, it makes a perfect addition to any coffee table.

The Hustler
There is no more important novel related to American pool as The Hustler, by Walter  Tevis. Although not based on the life of Rudolf Wanderone, it nonetheless made success of his career. (Wanderone was the hustler who appropriated the Minnesota Fats name). The book also led to the 20th Century Fox movie, which led to a great renaissance for our sport during the 1960s. You also can read all about The Hustler, Minnesota Fats, the 1960s renaissance -- and the interrelation between the the three -- in my own book Hustler Days.

If you don’t feel like reading, here are a couple of video recommendations:

Anything from Accu-Stats. Call Pat Flemming over at Accu-Stats HQ and he'll recommend a good one. He's never steered me wrong once. Here's his number:  1-800-828-0397. You can also check out the website at

The Hustler (DVD release)
This film is awesome, one of my all-time favorites. The scenes between Paul Newman, as Fast Eddy, and Jackie Gleason, as Fats, are inspirational. The two-disk collector's edition also includes several extra documentaries, including one entitled “Swimming with Sharks” with commentary from Max Eberle and myself. So there’s that.

About PoolSynergy
Pool Synergy is an online collaborative effort by pool and billiard bloggers, in which each agrees to write about a single theme. PoolSynergy submissions are published simultaneously by each of the participating blogs on the 15th of every month. To read a list of the other fine contributions this month, check out the Pool Is A Journey blog, which you can find here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mosconi and Greenleaf -- TOGETHER

Billiard Champs Entertain The Troops

Will the wonders of the Internet never cease? I just came across this very cool footage of legends Willie Mosconi and Ralph Greenleaf sharing an exhibition stage.  (Click here to see it.) Willie appears to be at the peak of his abilities.  Greenleaf looks hung over. The footage, from a website called British Pathe, was shot during a performance for injured troops at Gardner General Hospital, in Chicago. I suspect this footage was taken in January 1944, as it was in that month that Mosconi and Greenleaf went on a four-city tour together. Two months later Mosconi would be inducted into the army. Six years later, Greenleaf would be dead.

The two also reportedly joined together for a tour in 1934, shortly after Mosconi's debut in world competition.  Willie told biographer Stanley Cohen that Greenleaf was drunk for much of it. But even still, Greenleaf's staggering ability seemed undiminished. "I don't know how he did it," Willie said. "Even on long shots he seemed to be able to feel a ball right into the pocket, to shoot it just hard enough without banging away. It was like watching a virtuoso playing a violin, just beautiful."

You can also read about Greenleaf and Mosconi in The Hustler & The Champ. There's also more at the separate Greenleaf and Mosconi blogs at

-- R.A. Dyer

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2010 U.S. Open: Post Script sets new viewership records

Video from

That's Samm Diep's final AZbilliards report (above) from the 2010 U.S. Open, which concluded on Saturday in Virginia. reports more than 3 million page views and more than 1 million unique visitors during the tournament, a new record for the website. Such viewership should come as heartening news for those who fret about the future of our sport. Obviously, there's worldwide interest. Through social media, we can get the word out to our friends.

Besides the excellent video reports from my friend Samm (founder of, AZbilliards also delivered both real-time scoring and updated brackets during the U.S. Open. The website was essential viewing for pool fans. AZbilliards counted with the support of Simonis Cloth, the TAP leagues and Lucasi Hybrid Cues to finance its coverage.

Accu-Stats, Billy Incardona and Danny DiLiberto
Also be sure to support Accu-Stats Video Productions, founded by Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Pat FlemingIf you didn't catch the tournament live through Accu-Stats pay-per-view service, you can order the DVDs from their website.  I particularly love it when professional pool curmudgeons Bill Incardona and Danny DiLiberto commentate the matches. They consistently deliver some of the most knowledgeable and funny play-by-play reports that you're likely to hear in pool -- or really in any sport.

-- R.A. Dyer

2010 U.S. Open: Day 7

Dreams of 3-peat dashed for Immonen

Video from

England's Darren "Dynamite" Appleton became the newest U.S. Open 9-Ball champion Saturday after sending pool titan Mika Immonen to the one-loss side and then prevailing during a see-saw tactical battle with American Corey Deuel in the finals.

The 32-year-old native of Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England was the only competitor to go undefeated during the week-long tournament, arguably the most prestigious in pool. The U.S. Open this year drew the biggest names in the sport from more than 30 countries. For the first time ever, women also competed along with the men.

Much of the suspense during the late stages centered on Immonen, ranked by many as the world's best. The Finish player had won the previous two Opens in 2009 and 2008 and appeared poised for a three-peat this year. On the final day of competition Immonen and Appleton were the only two undefeated players in the event. Immonen also was favored to win his hot-seat match against the Englishman.

But it was not to be. Immonen trailed by a small margin for much of the contest, but had a chance to tie it up at 10-10 in the 20th rack.  But then Immonen jawed a steep cut shot along the short rail, leaving a quick three-ball run out for Appleton.  Final score: Appleton 11, Immonen 9.

Immonen then joined the two other remaining players on the loser's side,  the Philippines' Warren Kiamco and 2001 U.S. Open champ Deuel. First Kiamco and Deuel would play, and then the winner of that game would meet Immonen for a chance to meet Appleton in the finals. Deuel beat Kiamco in the first match, but only barely. In fact, if not for a new rule this year requiring competitors in the semi-finals and finals to win by a two-game margin, Kiamco would have won. The Filipino was leading Deuel 11-10, but ended up falling to the Ohio player 14-12.

Deuel then met Immonen in the one-loss finals. The inventor of the soft-break had blanked Immonen during the U.S. Open finals nine years ago, and looked to runover the Iceman again this year. Immonen kept it close during the early going, but then Deuel began to pile on games. Deuel punished the Iceman for every mistake and then broke and ran the final three. The final score Saturday: 11-3

With his dreams dashed of becoming the only man to win three consecutive U.S. Opens, a clearly dejected Immonen pledged now to seek another record:  Earl Strickland's five U.S. Open victories.  Deuel, for his part, said he felt fortunate to have come so far. "I just think I played my best match at the right time," he told Nick Leider of Billiards Digest, moments after the victory Saturday. 

With the Iceman's third-place finish, what would be remembered as an epic U.S. Open showdown was set up between Deuel and Appleton. The Englishman pulled out to a quick lead, but then Deuel fought his way back from an 11-9 deficit to get to the hill, 12-11.  If Deuel would have taken the next game, the U.S. Open would have been his. But a dry break allowed Appleton to tie it up at 12-12.

Appleton then broke and ran the next game, bringing the score to 13-12. Deuel fought back, tying the match yet again. But the American handed the next game to Appleton after a scratch. Appleton then broke and ran the next game, winning the championship 15-13.

The final run out was a relatively simple affair,  if such a thing is possible during the final game of America's most prestigious pool tournament. I've posted a video (above) of the run-out, from  "At that point, the only way I was going to miss was if my hand fell off," said Appleton, quoted in Billiards Digest.

Appleton is the first English player to win the U.S. Open. Besides winning the World 10-Ball Championship in 2008, Appleton also won the World Pool Masters title in 2009.  Asked how this title compared to the others, and Appleton responded: "I think I'll enjoy this one more."

Video highlights
Check out the coverage of the Friday's action, in the video report from Samm Diep and AZbilliards, just below. You can also review the video highlights of the previous day's actions in my earlier blog posts.

-- R.A. Dyer

Video from