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A few words about a Houston legend...

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  • A few words about a Houston legend...

    Once upon a time there was a player who routinely played for 5 or 6 days.... and nights!!!! Without any sleep, without any rest, without even a break for food... Greg Stevens literally inhaled his food, whatever it was, a cheeseburger was gone in three bites, a hot dog in two, he ate when it was your shot...

    Greg was like a non-stop freight train, going at full speed and few could stop "The Train" when it got rolling. I never knew the story behind his nickname, or how he got it, perhaps Rodney does, but Greg "Big Train" Stevens was an amazing player to watch, when he was eating, or when he was playing pool... Grady once said, "Greg could give me the 7/8/9 playing 9 ball, 8/7 playing one pocket, and spot me 2 hot dogs in a race to 3...

    Greg would come to the pool room ( LeCue ) in the morning, usually early, and always broke...he would get some balls from Eddie Stinson ( RIP pal ) and go to the table closest to the counter.. He would order breakfast, scatter the balls out and bang em around until breakfast was ready...This was the only time I ever saw Greg practice and the only time he ever sat down to eat... He had no money, he was not in action, and nobody had come up the elevator that he could bite... Even then, Greg could not eat at a normal pace... The eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausage, toast and coffee were all gone within 30 seconds... He ate exactly like he played all pool games... All out, full throttle, & wide ass open...

    Usually by 10:00 or so in the morning, somebody would come up to sweat the action... Whoever it was, got bit... Greg would never miss biting the 1st person who walked in... Didn't matter who it was, Greg got at least a sawbuck from him...

    Armed with at least $10.00, Greg was ready for the lunch bunch guys that came up every day about 11:00 to eat and play $2.00 insurance or golf on the snooker table... They would let Greg play because he was a celebrity, he was larger than life in LeCue and those guys felt honored to donate a few bucks to his cause just to bask in his light for awhile... Greg never seemed to care about the amount he played for, when he was pumped up, he would still play $2.00 one pocket if it was the only action available, or he'd bet it all if some high roller came to gamble... When Greg came to the pool room he got action, didn't matter if he had to give up the total nuts to get a game, if it was the only action available, he'd do it... He once told me the best way to make a big score in the pool room was to give a guy who had plenty of money the cold-blooded nuts, and then outrun em...

    Greg was funny about money, in that he would never loan it out, and would never pay back what he got from you... If you asked him for that $20.00 you gave him, he'd say, "I ain't payin it, you shoulda never gave it to me." You'd think someone woulda got mad about that, they never did that I saw... People just worshipped him...

    Greg would go flat broke on the 5th or 6th day without sleep, seems the mind & body can only handle so much abuse no matter the amount of drugs you ingest... Hustlers would try to time his fall and plan his demise according to the calendar... Greg would usually pump up a good amount of cash over the 1st 4 days of playing and the locals all knew he was a through ticket and would lose it all when the drugs were no longer working, so on the 5th day of steady action, lots of buzzards were in the sky circling poor Greg....

    He was the straightest shooter I had ever seen and could cut balls in that looked impossible... He brought many a good player to their bended knees with his uncanny and remarkable shooting skills... He was a true legend at LeCue in Houston...

    Greg passed quite a few years ago, I heard he moved back home ( Wichita I believe) and opened a family pool room... No Gambling Allowed... I heard he never gambled again, and wouldn't allow it in his pool room... If he caught you, you got barred.. He went from one extreme to another extreme... Greg was one of a kind...

    Greg comes to mind when I watch players like SVB and Dennis Orcullo pocket balls.. I wonder, would he have been able to beat these guys playing 9 ball or 10 ball... I really couldn't say for sure, but it woulda been a hell of a lot of fun if they would have played a race to 300, straight through to the finish....

    RIP. Greg "Big Train" Stevens

  • #2
    More Greg "Big Train" Stevens

    The only time I went on the road with Greg, we went to Memphis to play a certain player there who shall remain anonymous... He knew Greg, so Greg was out, but he had never seen me before, so Billy Jordan, Greg Stevens and I headed out to Memphis...

    I didn't know the guy I was supposed to play, but both Billy and Greg said he played pretty good, but that I would beat him and that he would lose a bunch of money...

    So we get there, and it's a bar, and they send me in alone to see if the guy is there and does he wanna play some $20.00 nine ball... Well, he's there and yes, he wants to play.. So I go around the block to where Billy and Greg are sitting in the car and tell them the game is on... They tell me not to stall, just play my speed and he will raise the bet, the more he gets stuck the higher he wants to play...He won't quit until he runs out of money... They tell me they will get a motel and come back in an hour to let you know where we are staying and give me the phone # so I can call them to come pick me up when it's over... So, I get my cue and head back into the bar...

    We start playing about 7:00 in the evening and I think the joint closes at 2:00 in the morning if memory serves me, so I got some time to beat the guy...We play fairly close for an hour or so, and he keeps asking if I want to raise the bet... I excuse myself and go check to see if they are around the block and they are and I get the name of the motel and the phone number from them... They ask how's it going and I tell them we are about even but he wants to raise it to $30.00 a game.. They asked how I felt about the game and I told them I could beat the guy... They said, then raise it and beat him...

    When I got back he said wanna raise it to $30 a game... I said ok, and in the next hour I musta beat the guy 10 or 12 games and he's screaming to raise it to $50.00 a game.. I said ok it's a bet and I pounded on him even worse over the next hour... Now he's stuck $800 or so and it's about 10:00 and I'm thinking he's gonna quit, but he asks to raise it again, so I say ok, let's play for $100.00

    Now he catches a little gear on me and wins $500.00 back and wants to play for $200.00 a game... Well I've seen the guy play for over 4 hours now, and I know he can't win.. So I tell him it's a bet... Over the next 3 hours, I blister this guy, but he ain't quitting... He just keeps paying off in hundreds and wants to raise it to $300.oo a game... It about 1:00 am and I'm in this joint all alone and I'm thinking I'm close to $6000.00 up on this guy... Im tired, and I'm wanting to quit and come back tomorrow and play the guy for $300.00 a game, but with some company in the room that's on my side...

    So I tell the guy that it's late, and I gotta get home but I can be back tomorrow to play at 4:00 in the afternoon if he wants... The guy says, "You ain't quitting!"
    They are closing the bar at 2:00, but the owner will leave me the keys and I'll lock up, and we can play all night...right then, I got this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach... So, I tell the guy, I'll play for $300.00 a game, but I gotta go at closing time... He didn't say anything, he just racked em up and I broke em... Now I am stalling, just trying to break even until 2:00 and my buddies arrive...

    They musta knew there might be something wrong, cause in strolled Gregand Billy at 1:45, just before closing... Now I feel relieved, so I'm about where I was, somewhere around 6 dimes winner and I unjoint my cue and tell the guy I'll see you tomorrow about 4:00...

    He says the same thing, "You ain't quitting". Only this time he shows a pistol to make his point... I said again, I'm done for the night fella, I'll play you some tomorrow...then he said OK, you can leave, but the money stays! You can pick it up tomorrow after you beat me...

    Right then Greg stood up and said to me, "Don't give that S.O.B. a nickel of my end!" I told Greg, sit the **** down, he's not aiming the gun at you...

    I must admit, I did a little fast thinking on my feet because I called the guy every kind of chickenshit asshole S O B I could think of before throwing a big wad of money at him as hard as I could.. I told Billy and Greg to come on let's get out of this shithole and we split before he could count what I had thrown in his direction... It was a lot of 10's and 20's and a few 50's and even fewer 100's in the bunch, but it stopped him from shooting any of us...

    We ended up splitting $4200.00 three ways, with Greg whining the whole time about how he wouldn't have given the guy shit... And ya know something, he wouldn't have, he was one crazy S.O.B. about parting with his money... Me, I just wanted to survive the night...

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    • #3
      Greg's cue

      Now the cue Greg Stevens played was a Palmer I believe, not a real fancy model, I think it had four points and some ebony and mother of pearl inlay work... The strange thing about the cue was the silk thread wrap on the butt...it was no longer recognizable as a silk thread...

      You see, Greg played with a monster slip stroke, and all that slipping on the handle over years of play had burnished the silk wrap into a solid glaze... The only place on the butt that the thread was actually still visible was at the very top of the butt, nearest the joint, and there were only a few revolutions left that was recognizable as thread...

      Greg had played so much pool that portions of his right hand and fingers ( he was right handed ) was heavily calloused from the friction the cue caused using that big slip stroke on every shot... One of Greg's nasty little habits in the pool room was picking, and biting at the callouses and peeling the dead skin off and dropping it on the floor when he wasn't shooting... He would always stand in the same place when not at the table, and over long sessions, the dead skin would pile up and become quite visible... Made the rug look like it had a bad case of dandruff...

      I can only imagine the number of times he must have slipped back and forth on that handle to cause that wrap to fuse into a solid glaze.... Never saw, or heard of anyone else doing that to a cue stick...Just another way Greg was unique...

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