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Tom Ferry 'OldHasBeen'

2005 Missouri State 9-Ball title

Whit Efner has very kindly lent a series of photos he took at the 2005 Missouri State 9-Ball tournament, which Tom Ferry won. Apparently Tom won the same title 25 years earlier!

Click here for a second page

of Whit's photos of Tom from that tournament, plus Tom's own comments

on the experience.


Tom Ferry is congratulated for taking first place in the 2005 Missouri State 9-Ball tournament

Photo courtesy Whit Efner all rights reserved

April12, 2006

Tom Ferry, known on both the and AZBilliard

message boards as 'OldHasBeen' died today at the age of 60. He was a successful journeyman pool hustler for many years, before retiring to start an advertising business in 1991.

Tom was very generous with the internet community in sharing his tales of the road with the likes of Buddy Hall, Louis Roberts, and many other legends of the game.

The following is just a selection of 'OldHasBeen' posts over the last year. To read more, simply go to either his or AZBilliards User Name (OldHasBeen) and select "Find all posts by OldHasBeen"

Thank you Tom; rest in peace.



Tom Ferry watches Larry Nevel in the AZ-1P room at Derby City, 2006;

Tom played a key early role in organizing the room.

Steve Booth photo -- all rights reserved



I'm Tom Ferry from St. Louis. 60 years old now. I used Tom Martin for years (IRS) and avoided any nicknames like the plague. I usually was an Ad Salesman looking for a little pool action. You still probably won't remember me, as most don't. I was never trying to be memorable, just profitable. As Buddy says - I was all about the Hustle & Cash. I would have much rather busted a fat backer than a good player.



Buddy wasn't too shabby either.

Buddy's first REAL road trip was with me. The first stop was Gringo's Lounge in Tulsa. He played One-Eyed Tony (w/ the big ball) for 3 days on & off for hours and that is when he officially SNAPPED.

When we had just left Johnston City & then KY we figured we were only about the 8 or last 2 apart - But after those days in Tulsa, He never looked back. He played so good; even he couldn't believe what was happening. Tony OR I sure couldn't believe it either.

Buddy & I went on to Phoenix and then to Denver & the rest is history.



Robert - Remember that NutCase that hung around with Louie.

Roger Reel - Ever see or hear of him? He is from St. Louis also and since Louie's gone, he hasn't been back except once. Still frightened to death of a backer who had his cash stolen out of the glovebox in front of RA's poolroom. Thinks this touch-hog is still looking to get him. I've talked to the guy a couple of time about Roger and he says - Hell, that was too long ago. I MIGHT SLAP him but I sure wouldn't do any more than that. I ain't going away for again for that asshole.

Roger & Louie were like Abbott & Costello "On THe Road". Could keep a poolroom in stitches for hours telling Road Stories. A local fellow (and good old friend of Sonny's - Vernon) always says - Louie & Roger could be telling a story about sleeping (BROKE) on a bus station bench and they made it sound like so much fun that you kinda wish you would have been with them.



The Hawk's Nest & Billy The Kid's

The Hawks Nest was owned by Bernie Schwartz. He was a hellava player and won the world nine ball in Vegas one year. Also won big in Johnston City. For a couple of years, he was THE MAN in pool. At the same time he had The Hawk's Nest, Billy Cardone had Billy The Kid's poolroom there in Pittsburgh. Bernie played better than Billy ever did. Both had great action and the players went back and forth. I was "On The Road" at the time and spent about 4 months there. Got all the action I wanted as long as I refused to play (and stayed away from) Billy or Bernie.

I'll never forget a traffic cop they had in downtown Pittsburgh. He was a celeberty. People (me included) would watch him and his antics for hours. He was actually a tourist attraction. He was featured on a TV show. Very funny man.

I also remember having my first REAL Philly Steak Sandwich there from a REAL East Coast Deli. Became addicted and I still am.


Yes, I knew Jimmy Marino pretty well from Johnston City. Very good player. No, I never matched up with really good players who were looking for partners or steak horses. Once you play them (win or lose) no one else wants to play you. I found that if you refuse a game, it is almost like losing at it. If someone offers you the 7 and you turn it down, it is like they think they won at it.

Steve Mizerak once offered me the 5, 7 & the breaks to play nineball for $20 a game in NJ. I refused. The next day, I played his backer for $200 a game.

After 3 days of playing him, Steve says " Man, you play good, why didn't you play me with the 5, 7 & breaks? I really don't think he ever understood.



Junior & I hustled pretty much alike.

I don't think Junior really cared much about being ranked at all. I know I never did. It was (and still is) all about the cash. Flying under the radar was the whole objective. Being famous might have been nice around the girls but consistent gambling wins came from not being ranked or known.

I would like to share a story that Junior told me. He said he was traveling, playing. And ended up in some town playing a guy and was winning. The guy told Junior that he felt like he knew Junior from somewhere. They played on and Junior kept winning. Several more times the guy stated that he felt like he knew Junior. Junior assured him that he did not know the guy. The last time the guy was saying that he knew Junior from somewhere, Junior happened to notice a photograph of himself from a tournament on the wall!! Junior laughed heartily then, stating, "Here was this guy saying he knew me from somewhere, and there my picture hung on the wall of his own pool hall!"

We have something in common there also. I'll bet Junior gets a kick out of this one!

I was hustling up in Cedar Rapids, IA and beat a fellow pretty bad. He went out every time he ran out of cash and came back in 20 min with a fresh bankroll. I won over $3K when it was all over.

2 years later (after I had lost 140 lbs), I went back and everyone said he was still in jail for cashing bad checks to lose money to a Road Player. That was me. They said he should be out in about 3 months. The first time I was kinda like a fat hippy. Now I was a slender businessman driving a new Seville.

I go back in 5 months and here he is - the same guy. He doesn’t even recognize me at all. We start playing for $50 and I'm about $1,200 ahead when all of a sudden he jumps out of his chair and starts yelling at me "I'm The One Who Sent Him To Jail"

You will never guess what gave me away - MY STROKE. I have since realized that it is almost like a fingerprint to another player.

Luckily, he wasn't much of a threat so I reasoned with him. I told him that I didn't send him to jail; the judge did - for cashing bad checks. All I did was do what he would, if he could. He had to agree and I went on my way.



George Balabushka Said.........

Phyllis - ??? I am going by what George himself told me ???.

I talked to him pretty much about other cues & shafts he made for me over those years and I remember him being pretty upset when Paradise started making cues like ours.

Paradise made many, many of them and MAYBE, MAYBE Cicero's was one of them. As far as I know, it has never been authenticated.

I only ran into Fez once in NM. I was with Gordon Guy (Gracie from D.C.) and he beat Fez at One Pocket. Fez had the cue then.

My name is Tom Ferry but I used my middle name (Martin) for years. I never had or wanted a nickname and I was never very well known. As a matter of fact, I really never played top-notch, like Junior or some of the other real good players back then. I never had to - I was a Hustler after the Ca$h.

As Buddy says (On the St. Louie, Louie-OHB Poster), "It is amazing how many players Tom defeated and never got a reputation".

"Tom was the real deal - He was all about the Hustle & the Cash".

The one time Junior & I played in a bar, it was some small town in Northern Alabama. As I said, I had been beating all the locals and they called in Junior. I was in dead stroke and that made Junior open up. Once I saw his A game and we were even, I was looking for the door.



When the top 150 Pool Players Can............

When the top 150 or 200 Pool Players Can go from one tourney to another (like golf, bowling & tennis) THAT PAYS OUT LIKE THE IPT just did, the gambling will go way down for these 150 players. But gambling at pool will never go entirely away or should it. There is also a lot of gambling still going on in golf, bowling & tennis but you don't hear about it that much. All the attention is directed to the tourneys with the sponsors.

There is only one good way for a novice player to improve at any game of skill. And that is to play with better players. That has always been done by gambling and it will always continue that way.

Gambling is one of pool's biggest assets. It is the color that will eventually sell the game and we have more of it than any other game. We just have to figure a good way to market it for the general TV audience. KT might already have something planned for this in the future.



I feel compelled and obligated to respond....(way too long)......

Jerry - First & foremost, I respect your right to your opinion and to view it here - BUT - I feel (like many who feel the same way) aren't looking at the entire picture or person. - SO - (a big and way too long, (IMO).

I think I can safely say I knew Louie longer & better than anyone in the pool world other than a fellow named Roger Reel. I've known Louie since he was 15 and hadn't even gone into a poolroom or the U.S. Air Force yet. He had learned to play on a 4 X 8 in his Father's Rathskeller and alcohol was always prevalent. At 16 he came onto the St. Louis pool scene by beating a decent straight pool player named Frank Tullous.

He went into the Air Force a year later and when he got out he played even better. His ability rapidly grew & grew. He teamed up with Roger and they were good friends and road companions for years. This all started in the early 70's.

Buddy was the best 9-Ball player on earth and Louie became fixated on beating him. It cost him dearly but he never gave up. He spent years building a bankroll On The Road and loosing it to Buddy. But he got better & better every time and at some point decided to dedicate his life to playing pool forever.

Now you have to remember this was now the mid to late '70's and drugs were everywhere especially in the pool world. The players would be introduced to the uppers and play longer and better so many, many of them began to rely and depend on them. With the road life Louie was leading, I can easily understand, not condone.

My personal belief is that we don't have complete control over our drug or alcohol dependency as our genes and environment predetermine it.

I personally have tried uppers, downers, cocaine, and marijuana. All of these, I had one time and one time only. Just never liked the idea of not being in complete control so never did any of them again except uppers and that was only to drive long distances when absolutely necessary (like having to drive straight from Miami to Albuquerque to take off a $7K score).

Louie had a lot going for him - and Louie had a lot going against him.

Louie was one of the best-looking men I've ever known. I always thought he looked somewhat like Elvis only better. I say this because he had many female admirers and they always kept his ego inflated. He played so well and was such a great shot-maker that backers and bystanders fed his ego as well or more. Many don't know what a great gymnast Louie was. He could stand flat-footed along side a Gold Crown and jump straight up and come down on the top rail on his hands. Then walk on his hands completely around the table. His tumbling acrobats were phenomenal and he had a personality to match all of this. I have always felt Louie could have made a fortune in sales, BUT.

Louie & I had many serious conversations while hanging around the poolroom late at night. I'm guessing this was all around 1980. He was starting to see where he was going and also seeing where I was going. He kind of hinted a couple of times that he would like to go on the road with me. I always said, "Louie, we aren't after the same things so I don't think it could work out". One day I go over to pick him up from his house and go to Columbia, Mo State 9-Ball Championship. His Mom (a wonderful lady) mentioned to me (while Louie was in the other room) that Louie had said that maybe him & me may go on the road together and she was so happy to think that may happen.

Well that sealed the deal for me but Louie didn't know it. I began to lay the groundwork and strategy for the day we might hit the road. When he approached me again a couple of weeks later, I said OK, BUT - Here is the ONLY way it can happen. 1st - I hold and control all $. 2nd - NO DRUGS. 3rd - When either of us match up, we are allowed to lose only 10 games of 9-Ball, 5 games of 8-Ball or One Pocket without CHANGING SOMETHING. Either the game, table or quit and come back later. IF - Either of us decides to keep playing after that - the other one of us is out on any further loses BUT in on any winnings from that point forward. I KNEW LOUIE PRETTY WELL.

Naturally Louie was broke but he did have a nice diamond ring that he had bought for $2K and was worth about & 7 or 8 hundred. I agreed to lend him $500 on it but only if we left it with my Father (a ST. Louis Policeman). He fought this idea and said what if I go out and win $2K tomorrow and want my ring back. I stood by my decision and said he has known My Dad long enough to know he isn't going anywhere with it and this was the only way we were going anywhere. I knew this leash had to be tight and un-breakable. I had told Louie I was bringing only $2K (really I had $5K).

The first decision was where to go. Buddy was in either Oklahoma or Shreveport so I decided we would go east. To make a too long of story a little shorter, we did well and returned in 6 weeks with a $4,500 profit apiece. The stories and games on this trip could fill at least 5 pages and the memories are some of my fondest of Louie and what he COULD have become.

I forget the exact time frame but it wasn't too much longer that Louie won that big tourney in Bend, OR. And his game had finally reached its peek. It had also propelled him into the spotlight and notoriety that he had always sought.

Now I don't know where or when Louie first tried cocaine or any of the other hard drugs that were the beginning of the end for him. I only know that when I saw it taking him over, I kind of divorced myself from him. I have some personal family knowledge of alcohol & drug dependency and tried my best to get him help. I was told by a top professional that he would be only too happy to step in and help Louie BUT Louie had to call him. He wouldn't call Louie. Louie would never call and you know why? He had decided to see a psychiatrist instead. After about three visits the shrink tells Louie that he can lead a normal and productive life - IF - he never enters a poolroom again for the rest of his life. We talked not too long after that and Louie had made up his mind. He believed this quack and naturally decided to choose a life of pool (with all that it included at the time) instead of the thought of punching a time clock with all the square Johns (Louie's words, not mine).

Louie & I remained friends but he also decided that he wanted to beat me. We only played about 5 or 6 times and I always won. Believe me it wasn't because I was better or even close, it was simply because I out managed him and it was always on my terms, table and game of my choosing when Louie was ready to go off. I made a lot of money over the years betting on and against Louie. I honestly could predict when he was going off and when he was going to take it off. I remember betting against Louie playing Efren at tournament I think was in the quad cities. Louie lost the first 5 sets getting the 8 and never came close. All his money and all available backers money was gone. I was rail betting against Louie every set. Louie goes out to the car and comes back with a nice cue (not one of the 100's of Muecie's he always lost). He got someone to give him $800 and played another set. I knew this was his last shot and reversed my bet. He won and pressed every set for 4 straight sets in a row. It was one of the best I had ever seen him shoot. I was naturally happy with the outcome and went to bed only to find out the next day that Louie never got out of the poolroom with a dime.

Somehow, somewhere, sometime, Louie spiraled down into the world of hard drugs and that became the driving force in his life even more than pool. Many others and me saw it coming but there was really nothing that anyone could do.

Jerry - If you have read this far, I would like to say that the only real objection I have with your original post is when you stated - "Using junkies names". It kind of stuck in my craw while labeling Louie to someone only really related to what he had become - NOT WHAT HE WAS AS A PERSON OR PLAYER.



The times have changed and so have the rules.

Like "The Beard" said - It used to be a death sentence to wake up a player involved in a $ game as to anything.

Even if you’re betting, you’re not "IN" the game.

It used to be that a sleeper slept, was a sleeper kept.

Now however, many are trying to figure where and when to spot a sleeper that some idiot woke up the dead about. I have seen a player who knows he owes a ball but doesn’t want to spot it now and just figures it will be better to spot it later. He knows someone eventually will want to show how smart he is by telling the player but it will be better than right now.

To me - Playing sleepers was the right thing to do. It is definite and fair for both. No different than a player forgetting to chalk up and then miscuing.




(FYI) - My Match With Alex!

A lot of "First" for this OHB playing "Alex The Lion".

First - We played on the TV table.

Second - We played with the measles cue ball.

Third - We used the Sardo Rack.

The first game set the tone for the match.

Alex won the break flip and I played excellent safety’s to get the score to me +2 & Alex -2 after about 8 innings. I was off on a safety shot by about ¼ inch and Alex ran 10 & out.

Second game - After 9 innings Alex owed 1 and I had 1. Alex kicked 3 rails and made a dead combo in the stack and ran 9 & out.

Third game - He just ran 8 & out from the second shot after the break.

Wow - At one time I actually felt like I was playing Louie back in the '70's. He goes straight for the jugular and shows no mercy. If he does play a safety it is still about 80% offence. This Alex is really a very nice & funny guy to play with.

I was glad to be able to play on the TV table and enjoyed the entire experience.

Now that I'm "In The Money", I hope I draw Efren next. I think I now have these Philippino’s figured out. All I have to do is play perfect, don't miss anything, and hope they are off a little bit.

Now, On To Action, OHB



My Take On 9-Ball vs One Pocket...........

I played and hustled 9-ball (for a living) for over 25 years "On The Road". It (9-ball) was out of necessity, not choice. I traveled with some great One Pocket players over the years - but - they only got to play about 10% of the games I played. Everyone, everywhere was playing 9-ball. Poolrooms, bars, etc. It was easy to get a game - BUT - I now realize the problem with 9-Ball is that "They see the train-a-comin".

Unless you are playing a complete novice, it is hard to hide your skill level at 9-ball, so I relied on "The Hustle". Most of my scores where while I was playing at about 75 or 80%. The people I was playing were convinced that they were playing a traveling salesman and not a pool player. This brought out their larceny for easy money and after they were stuck, they kept playing to get even.


Not only have I given up playing 9-ball, I also have given up Hustling.

The ONLY game I am interested in playing is One Pocket. It has so many different skill levels and tactics that it almost makes 9-ball seem like a "Slam, Bam, Thank You Mam" type game.

Of course stamina has a lot to do with it as I am convinced that 9-ball is a young persons game. There is no way I could run around a table playing 9-ball with some 20 something year old and keep up. I can, do & will play a short race but always announce, one race only.

Until I started to concentrate on One Pocket, I never really knew just how much I knew about it from watching all the great players over the years. I think the most valuable aspect of One Pocket I have learned and appreciate lately is - No matter how bad it looks, there is always a way out of trouble if you can find (or know) it.

All of this being said - I would hate the thought of relying on just One Pocket to Hustle On The Road. You would be playing in mostly poolrooms and playing players who knew what you were doing.



What is your take on Efren's One Pocket Game?

Freddie - Just how well do you think Efren is playing One Pocket? Have you ever seen anyone play it as good as he is playing it right now? I, like you have seen the best of the past and I don't think I have seen anyone play it as well as him. His cue ball control is amazing.

As I played Alex on the TV table (my last One Pocket match), I thought he might have a chance against Efren and then Efren just BBQed him. I mean it wasn't even close IMO.

As with any great pool player, Efren seems to make it look easy & simple. No effort. When Buddy played 9-ball in the late '70's - it looked easy. When Bugs played banks in the early '80's, it looked easy.

I've seen Ronnie (and all the rest) play One Pocket in Johnston City and I think Efren is playing a better any of them ever did.

Maybe I'm just a little too much in awe - or do you agree?



I saw it live and...........

I saw this years match between Alex & Efren but I also saw the (gambling) match last year between Efren & Cliff. Cliff was getting a ball I think. It was on the TV Table so it may have been taped. It lasted for over 4 hours and IMO it was an even better display of Efren's talent. Cliff was not ever really in the game because Efren wouldn't let him.

IMO when playing Efren, you KNOW you only get maybe one mistake and that makes it almost impossible to play your regular game.

I was glad to hear Freddie's opinion of Efren as I was worried that I might just be awe struck at what I was seeing. Efren is playing the BEST One Pocket ever right now!



What a good man and gentleman.

I have known Beenie since Johnston City. Had many good times with him in Vegas and Detroit. We had a nice dinner at the '05 DCC. I could tell the stroke had taken its toll on him and he wasn't as sharp as usual. I don't remember anyone ever having anything bad to say about him and he was always very well liked and generous.

When Louie & I were in Arlington (@ Guys & Dolls), everyone knew Louie but no one knew me. Beenie never said a word to anyone (including his partner) about how I played. Beenie was not a fan of Louie's to say the least.

He put me on a couple of good scores in Detroit and wouldn't take a dime.

I have a great photo of him, Eddie Taylor & Jersey Red hanging in the poolroom by the One Pocket table.

He also knew how to make money in pool and business.

Every time I eat a street vendors hotdog, I think of him.

My condolences to his family and can only hope he had a peaceful death.



Great story of Eddie Kelly & me.

I forget the exact date but I can tell you it was the night that Circus-Circus had it's grand opening in Vegas, It was broadcast (live) on the Ed Sullivan show. I was having a phenomenal run of luck at black jack and naturally a pit boss came up to me to find out what exactly I was doing and maybe to distract me a little. I was only about 22 years old or so and as green as could be. When I mentioned that I was a professional pool hustler from St. Louis (super stupid) his eyes lit up. The truth was that when there was a great high wire act or trapeze act going on right above me - I cut my bet way down to watch it. Nothing going on and I was betting like I was cheating. I had just hustled my way from St. Louis to Vegas and had been on the road for over 6 weeks. Had a cheap motel room downtown. I was now about $3K winners at that black jack table. MAJOR SCORE BACK THEN! Especially after playing $3 - $5 pool for all that time on the road.

When they changed dealers - Who do you think it was? - Ed Kelly himself!

I had just seen him play at Johnson City - with Ronnie & Ritchie Florence. They were kind of like the California contingent of pool.

Well Ed Kelly said he heard I liked to play pool for money. DUH!

I said I also like to bowl for money - but I ain't lookin for Ray Bluth.

Naturally he didn't remember a kid with a $500 bankroll from the previous Johnston City tourney - But we still had a good laugh.

For many years I have fond memories of Ed Kelly playing some top-notch pool with that Gina cue he played with. He was never afraid to Bet His Own & All Of It. Nice man also.




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