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Gary Spaeth

Legends of Bank Pool

Page two

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Freddy Bentivegna congratulates Gary's family on his induction

at the One Pocket Hall of Fame banquet January, 2006

Steve Booth photo


Cue maker Sherm Adamson speaking on Gary's behalf at the banquet.

Steve Booth photo



Continued from previous page

...he made a game with Glen "Piggy Banks" Rogers giving him 8-7 banks. As you're probably aware, bank pool is about the hardest game to spot some one at. 8-7 in banks is a much bigger spot than 8-7 in one pocket! I know it doesn't sound logical but bank pool players will agree with this! It's because in one pocket you may bank a ball and start a run but you'll shoot most of the balls straight in. Anyway Piggy had a good stake-horse and we were in action for $100 a game.

Gary was in dead punch! Maybe as good as he ever played! He beat piggy 9 games in a row for $100. Honestly, 8-7 with Piggy was a tough game and I didn't expect it to be so easy. Piggy's stake-horse pulled up at 9 games and Piggy pleaded with him. He said, "Man, I'm telling you I can win at this game! He cannot give me 8-7! He's just SPELL BANKING!" Piggy's stake horse said "You know I actually believe you! I agree, he can't give you 8-7 and beat you like this! He must be SPELL BANKING! Problem is, we just don't know how long this SPELL is going to last!" The only saving grace is that the stake-horse could tell that there was no "business" involved, Gary just played beyond comprehension!

The next two days Gary went through the tournament like "shit through a goose"! He played Freddy in the finals and Freddy slowed him down enough to make it a little closer than any of the other races to 23. The tournament format was using a 14.1 continuous full rack format, race to 23 balls. Freddy was the consummate shark and used any thing he could to win. He's unabashed about this! Ha-ha.

Just as the tournament was ending, Bugs showed up! There was a buzz in the room as soon as he walked in! There was bound to be a showdown between Gary and Bugs! Gary wanted to play, but he didn't want to risk his tournament winnings. Like I said he had a lot more confidence and played better on MY money than when he risked his own! I didn't mind because he really needed the money more than I. Well after we chopped our winnings and took out expenses I had a little over $1500 to gamble with. Not really enough to tackle Bugs when he had his suitcase stake-horse.


Gary's father Joey Spaeth in a 1970's publicity photo

for the Stardust tournaments

Photo courtesy Mark Griffin


Greg Sullivan, who'd been a friend of Gary’s and mine for quite a while, asked if he could get a piece of the action. He had a grand to bet. We let Greg in and the race was on! They played a race to 4 for $1000 the first set! Bugs played pretty good, but Gary was fresh off a tournament win and was still in dead stroke. He beat Bugs 4-1 the first set! Bugs' stake-horse came over with his suitcase (looked like one of those old doctors bags) full of money! He paid off and told Bugs not to worry. Even if we could out play him, we could not out bet him! That kind of pumped Bugs up a little! He wanted to double the bet!

I said no! Greg said wait! Sure! We had a powwow and I explained that we should not raise the bet yet! We now had 3 barrels at $1000 a game. If we lost the next set we were still in action! If we raised the bet, then, to $2000, and lost we'd have to quit, because you can't lower the bet once you've raised it! Just don't work that way! Greg argued that we had an opportunity to make a BIG score and had to take the shot! I still felt it was poor money management and we should play one more set at $1000 first! Well Greg had already shown his willingness and a bunch of the people were woofing! I finally gave in and let them play for $2000.

The second set came to hill-hill and to the very last ball. Safety's were played back and forth ‘til Bugs decided to take a flyer! Gary had him froze, cue ball on one end rail and object ball on the opposite end rail. Bugs made one of the best "straight back" banks I've ever seen for the cheese! And as I feared, we were out of barrels! Over the 2 sets, Gary was way ahead in games and balls banked, but we were stuck $1000! This was a good lesson in money management though! I never made that mistake again!

I'm really looking forward to the Derby and especially the banquet! This has given me reason to think a lot about my old buddy lately! I really miss
him! We spent a good part of 25 years either on the road or planning another trip! He was my closest friend and I'm so glad he's getting the
recognition he deserves! Unfortunately as we used to joke, "It's a bitch to be the best in the world at something and can't earn a living." There was
less money in bank pool than any other game, especially after you've won every major bank tournament in about 5 or 6 years.

-- Sherm Adamson 12-29-05

Gary with fellow Bank Pool HOF inductee 'Bugs' Rucker,and

another real good Chicago banker, 'Howard the Coward' behind them.

photo courtesy Sherm Adamson


Hanging with friends at a tournament...

photo courtesy Sherm Adamson


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