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Sitting on the Rail at the Carolinas Open

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  • Sitting on the Rail at the Carolinas Open

    I left Fast Eddie’s in Goldsboro, NC, at 3:00 a.m. this morning about a couple of hours after the conclusion of the 9-ball event. The tournament flier for the Carolinas Open advertised 32 players for the one-pocket tourney and 64 players for the 9-ball tourney, but when the players arrived, they expanded the one-pocket tournament and allowed 56 players, and 121 pool players competed in the 9-ball tournament.

    Fast Eddies, the tournament venue, has thirteen 9-foot Gold Crown III’s, and 10 of these assorted black and brown tables were used for tournament play. The staff couldn’t have been more accommodating, and the waitresses miraculously handled the large crowd, always with a smile and, of course, with that good old-fashioned Southern hospitality. Outside in the parking lot, the same locals as last year provided barbecued delicacies consisting of country fried chicken, pork chops, shredded pork sandwiches, fried fish, Italian sausages, hot dogs, hush puppies, and more. One evening, there was a free buffet to all provided by one of the many tournament sponsors, B’s Barbecue located on the corner of Highway 43 and B’s Barbecue Road. I have never been to a tournament where the host pool room provided free meals, and an all-you-can-eat buffet to boot. It was a pleasant surprise and really appreciated by all.

    I got a chance to see some one-pocket players I hadn’t seen before, Silver from Texas, Brian Jones from Tulsa Oklahoma, Josh from Orlando, Houston 9-Ball champion David Guiterrez, and many more. Dennis Hatch, new to the tournament trail after a 3-year hiatus, played well and cashed in both tournaments. Virginia’s Young Gun Pookie showed up, but he didn’t play in either tournament. However, he stayed in action non-stop. After Scott Frost won the one-pocket tournament, he got into a little action game with Pookie, spotting him 10 to 7, and Pookie pocketed 5 large for his efforts. Hall of Famer Buddy Hall played textbook one-pocket and thrilled the crowd with his maneuvering of balls and expert shot-making skills. The way he was hitting ‘em, I thought he was going to win the one-pocket tourney.

    Last year, the tournament ran smoothly and provided designated times for the players. Because of the expansion of the fields, one never knew when they were going to play in a match, reminding me of the Derby City Classic. As an example, on Friday evening, the first day of the 9-ball tournament, the TD told everyone that the losers’ bracket players needed to arrive at the pool room at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, and the winners’ bracket players needed to arrive at 11:00 a.m. Keith, usually not a morning kind of person, arrived at 10:00 a.m., and none of the losers’ brackets were played. The winners’ brackets were held. The TD told Keith to be ready at 1:00 p.m. to play. His match didn’t start until 4:00 p.m, resulting in an excruciating 6-hour wait on one's feet because of the lack of seating. You couldn't leave the pool room and rest because you never knew when your match would be called. Because of the nightmare of uncertain match times due to the huge turnout, there were several forfeits, which created some major controversy.

    Normally, I don’t mind hanging out in any tournament venue. This one, however, was not sufficient to handle this large a crowd. In the pit, there were approximately 30 padded high chairs reserved for tournament sponsors. The swarm of the 300-plus spectators made it difficult to enjoy matches, and standing on one’s feet for 18 to 20 hours in a day was difficult and made it darn near impossible to view a match in its entirety. There is an excellent ventilation system in this pool room, and smoke was never a problem. Because of the huge crowd of spectators without sufficient seating -- I'd surmise one seat per every 20 spectators -- and the hot and humid weather, it was difficult to keep the room cool. Kid Delicious stated he couldn’t play well because of the humidity and heat.

    One of the highlights of the 5-day event was seeing Rachel Abblink and Larry Nevel get into a little 9-ball action with, again, Pookie. He spotted Rachel the 6 and the 8, all the breaks with Larry breaking the balls only, and the first shot after the break. It wasn’t pretty for Pookie, and Rachel cleaned up. She was a delight to watch and was the only girl to play in 9-ball tourney.

    The 9-ball play was stupendous. This was a winners-rack tournament. I saw Jeremy Jones slap an 8-pack on Ryan “The Genie Man” McCreesh. Every time he broke, the side ball went in the corner pocket. A few of us were talking to Buddy Hall, and he stated he’d like to see a tournament run with the format of the loser breaks as opposed to winner breaks. His thought is that one would have a chance to win on their shot-making skills as opposed to one’s racking and breaking skills. I think I agree with him, but have to give it more thought.

    It's always great running into Earl Strickland on the tournament trail. We got a chance to chat on several occasions, and Earl says he'd like to see them bring back straight pool and had a tournament concept for it which sounded promising. He thinks straight pool on TV would provide a more interesting viewing experience for pocket billiards. He always comes to his tournament matches with three pool cases, like a golfer (LOL), and he was wearing those finger thingies when in tournament play.

    I got a chance to talk to Tony Crosby. What a nice guy, and smart, too. He won’t be playing in the Open this year because he’s taking his wife and newborn baby to England, where he is originally from, to visit with his family. He knocked Keith out of the 9-ball tournament, but not without a fight (LOL). He ran a 4-pack, but Keith fought back and got the score 7 to 6. Tony, however, has a powerful break and made balls and ran out, leaving Keith benched for most of this match. I won't publish Keith's comments after the match when he collected his 75 bucks for his tournament efforts (LOL).

    Diana Hoppe provided some great coverage for AzBilliards, and her pictures are online. The last day of the tournament, she was shooting photos of players and fans and printed them immediately, so they could be autographed.

    All in all, it was a very successful tournament, probably a bigger turnout than they had anticipated. I'm sure they didn't want to turn anybody away, traveling all that distance. They are talking about getting some bleachers in for next year which will be great. There were some tournament mishaps, though, a fight that occurred after an action game resulting in a swift removal by the muscular bouncers, many unfair forfeits because of the uncertain tournament scheduling, a disqualification of one player who was accused of unsportsmanlike conduct (don't ask). My feet and ankles began to swell after the third day from standing, walking through endless crowds, and hopelessly looking for a seat while strolling the perimeter of the pool room like a refugee. 121 players in the 9-ball tourney and only 10 tables for tournament play created difficulties for the TD (IMO).

    Johnny Archer is on top of his game and continues to book winners, but be on the lookout for Jeremy Jones. Even with his continuous wiping of the towel, dap of powder, swig of water, and an occasional puff on a cigarette between shots, he is a wizard on the pool table and I was amazed and thrilled to see him play. Keith played against Jeremy in the one-pocket tournament in an exciting hill-hill match. Keith was in the lead every single game, but Jeremy’s patience and defense allowed him to win the match (IMO).

    Ray Martin knocked Keith in the losers’ bracket first round of the 9-ball tournament and also knocked Earl Strickland in the tub. I was told he is an excellent straight pool shooter. It is my understanding that Ray Martin is a straight-pool player, has several champion titles, and is author of a top-selling pocket billiards book.

    Would love to hear from others who attended the Carolinas Open about their tournament experience, which matches they enjoyed. And here are a few pictures of the event STANDING on the rail at the Carolinas Open (LOL):

    2004 Carolinas Open pictures

    Last edited by JAM; 08-23-2004, 09:13 PM. Reason: pictures and tweaking

  • #2
    Thanks for the great report -- along with your earlier posts! Sounds like they had a HUGE turnout compared to last year, man I'm kicking myself for not going! Seems like there are so many One Pocket events this year -- 4 or 5 pretty good regional events (or more) plus Grady's Gulfport event in Dec, plus the revived US Open One Pocket in November, plus of course the ever-growing Derby City Classic -- wow. I cannot personally keep up, that's for sure...
    "One Pocket, it's an epidemic and there ain't no cure."
    -- Strawberry Brooks


    • #3
      Need verification

      Steve, Bobby Pickle was telling me about an upcoming one-pocket tournament in Memphis, Tennessee, August 27-29, 2004

      As reported on AzBilliards Tournament Listings:

      $15,000.00 Memphis Classic ll
      Super Nine Ball
      Memphis TN

      It is currently being advertised in a pool newspaper called Professor Q-Ball, which I do not have a copy. Pickle said they would be having a one-pocket tourney, too.

      Could be another one-pocket tournament for the record books!

      Last edited by JAM; 08-23-2004, 08:53 PM. Reason: felt like it


      • #4
        I found this flyer on the Highpockets website:
        And this:
        Special One Pocket Tournament
        5099 OLD SUMMER ROAD
        MEMPHIS, TN 38122-4404

        Monday, August 30th, 2004

        Following MEMPHIS CLASSIC II
        $4,000 GUARANTEED*
        *(guarantee based on 32 players)

        Players Meeting & Calcutta at 6 p.m.
        Tournament starts immediately after Calcutta

        For more information, contact Bob Prater


        ps I notice it says "No jump cues"
        Last edited by NH Steve; 08-23-2004, 09:36 PM.
        "One Pocket, it's an epidemic and there ain't no cure."
        -- Strawberry Brooks


        • #5
          High Pockets use to be my old hangout (locker#11).

          I had wonderful times there. Saw a lot of great local players and player reps for Meucci Originals (back in the late 70s and early 80s)

          Louis (St Louis Louie) Roberts was the house pro there for awhile.

          I use to play One Pocket with an old fat biker dude, that use to say "I can beat anyone that kicks at a ball" he left when they raised the rates to $1.20 an hour.

          James Strickland was a great pool room proprietor. Kept the facility very clean and had hanging plants all over the place.

          Great grill and cold beer.

          All the tables were kept in great shape.

          That was in 1987, I am sure times have changed. I hope for all the Memphis pool players, times are better.
          Been practicing more and more... still need a consistant stroke and glasses