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Melvin 'Strawberry' Brooks Memorial One Pocket

“It’s an epidemic and there ain’t no cure”

December 20, 2010 

Strawberry's Black Boar cue

The late 'Strawberry' Brooks custom Black Boar cue


Straw's son Melvin Brooks presents the winner's trophy

Click here for a Strawberry's One Pocket Hall of Fame page


Illir Jaho, formerly of Albania now living in the Washington D.C. area wins Memorial event. Illir is small in stature but has a big heart, big gamble, aggressive playing style, and plenty of cash for One Pocket related gaming activities. The tournament was a true double elimination race to 4, race to 3 on the one loss side.


The finals found local Richard Banks in the Cat Bird seat, having knocked Illir to the one loss side with strong moves that were as good as you will see, and plenty of them. Illir was moved into situations, in his first loss to Richard Banks, referred to as do or die situations, where the probability of a safety is little to none and the probability of pocketing a ball is about the same – yet you could win if you could just pocket a ball! On one occasion “Nellie’s Room” was executed. This is a particularly nasty time shot safety, with the cue ball played off an object ball and sent precisely into an opening in the stack or cluster that is just big enough for the cue ball to fit, whereupon one of the struck object balls is timed to find its way back to close the door by freezing itself to the cue ball which is left buried in the cluster or stack. The shot is a visually beautiful thing to watch unfold and it is extremely effective. Nellie’s Room has no windows and no doors. *smile*

Because this was true double elimination, in the final Illir would have to win twice. He rose to the occasion shooting out of several do or die situations, in one game with a three rail bank and in another with a short rail z-bank with two balls deep in his opponent’s pocket. He also consistently removed balls from deep in his opponent’s pocket often reversing the game. Illir won the first race 4 to 3 and the second 3 to 1 for a hard earned victory. This was great One Pocket and the contrast of styles, mover versus shooter, made it even more interesting.


Kim Jones & Richard Banks


Illir had earlier defeated Dennis Thompson, who got third place. Illir got a scar in his first match, when he narrowly escaped with a hill-hill win over Mike Wilson. Local ‘Tic’ Jones finished fourth and played great. Forty’ (Mr. Hart), the owner of Ball Busters of Philadelphia was a pre-tournament favorite but seemed to have trouble adjusting to the tight equipment, although he still had some great run outs. Kim Jones was the only female participant, and although she does not consider herself a One Pocket player, she was honored to participate in the Memorial and was sponsored by a local businessman.       


The tournament was limited to sixteen players and held at Larry ‘Moto’ Steele’s Quball 1 Billiards located in Capitol Heights, Maryland near the Redskins Fed-X Field. This is a nine table room with super equipment -- Brunswick Gold Crowns and Anniversary models with extended rails on most, not shims, making them tight (4.5’’ or less) and true. Table man John Burns, the owner of Classic Billiards Services, does the tables and is regarded as one of the best in the Country.


Larry ‘Moto’ Steele and Melvin Brooks (Straw’s son and sponsor) stated that “this is something they would like to make a yearly event with a major sponsor.” ‘Moto’ has been a patron of the game since childhood and enjoys playing. He stated that, “I realized I would be the first out of the event. I may not play very strong but I generally put pressure on a man by betting high. I am at a big disadvantage in a pool tournament.”  Moto makes sure a visiting player can get action and Sterling is a regular.



Quball 1 Billiards in Capitol Heights, Maryland, hosted the event


'Forty' -- the owner of Ball Busters in Philadelphia


Some of the distinguished guests

Final payouts ($675 added):

1st:  Illir Jaho $1000

2nd:   Richard Banks  $500

3rd:  Dennis Thompson  $250

4th:  Tic Jones  $125




Larry Moto Steele, of Quball 1 Billiards

Quball 1 owner Larry 'Moto' Steele at his "Anniversary" table


The tournament chart, along with Strawberry's Hall of Fame plaque & tournament poster


Results and article courtesy Dennis Wilson

All content ©2010 Steve Booth All rights reserved.


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