Legends of Bank Pool
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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
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
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
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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