US One Pocket Players Only- 70's to Present

Jeff sparks

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there are hundreds that are only a ball or so apart.
so ill pick a few that are/were the most fun to watch, not who might be the best.

ronnie allen of course
minnesota fats
jersey red jack breitkoff
cole dickson
weenie beenie billy staton
norm webber
detroit whitey ed beauchene
bustamonte
efren
tony
bucktooth

thats 11. i dont take orders well.
Beatle,
I noticed you used Red’s real last name, before he changed it to “Breit”
Not many of us alive that would remember that....
Now do you happen to know why he dropped the Koff?
 

Jeff sparks

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Harold died in 1965 so does not quite fit the op's question but from what I heard I totally agree - he was one of the all-time greats. Here's a memory of Harold shared by Jay Helfert on the AZB forum, in case some of you do not frequent there:


There's so many that stand out for me. The last one for now was about a gambling scam that a hustler named Briar brought to Johnston City every year. He would rack 21 balls on the table (a regular rack of fifteen and add a back row of six more balls). The object was to break and then make all the balls in one corner pocket, like playing the One Pocket ghost. Briar would assign each player a number to shoot at, with a real good player shooting at 150 or maybe 160. You would then shake a pill bottle with peas numbered one to twenty one and shake out three peas. Whatever the three peas added up to was deducted from your number. So if you rolled a eight, ten and fifteen, that would add up to 33 and you would deduct that from 150, if that was your number.

Now you had to run 117 points of balls in your pocket to win the game. Naturally Briar put all the low number balls on the corner of the rack you were breaking for. So you might need to run fifteen or sixteen balls to win. The gimmick was that if you did it he would pay you 10-1 on your bet. So if you bet $100, you would win $1,000. Year after year Briar brought that prop game to Johnston City and no one ever won, even once! That is, until Harold Worst took on the Briar and had Weenie Beenie coaching him. You have to understand how hard it was to run balls like this because the table was so crowded. Balls got all tied up and impossible to make. Harold was burdened with the number 180, higher than anyone else, higher even then Ronnie Allen, Eddie Taylor or Ed Kelly.

He bet 100 and lost. He bet another 100 and lost again. Harold looked determined to beat this total hustle game. On the third try he pulled some big numbers out of the pill bottle but still needed over 100 points to win. This time he did it! Briar paid him off $1,000. On the next game he needed even more points (over 120) and he did it again, with some excellent coaching by Beenie. Briar paid him but told him now he had to go to 200! Beenie said quit but Harold wanted more. He lost the next game, but ponied up his 100 to play another. He needed some ungodly number of balls to win the next game, but somehow he picked them off with the most amazing display of shotmaking and cue ball control I had ever seen, before or since! On shot after shot he had to break balls out and then have a shot afterwards. He combo'd, he kicked and he cut balls in! He needed to make just about every ball to win, maybe nineteen of them.

Somehow, some way, Harold and Beenie prevailed again. The packed crowd in the back room went crazy. A disgusted Briar paid them off and packed up his game and never came back to Johnston City after that. Beenie and Harold had busted the proposition game once and for all!
Nice recollection, very nice... enjoyed reading it...
 

gulfportdoc

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you should have given him a lesson on his poke stroke and threw him off a bit.
...
Interesting that you mentioned Hopkin's stroke. It's characterized by many as a poke or a jab. But when you study it, you notice that he has a significant follow-through. It's just that he uses a short, fast backswing, and fast forward swing. When one thinks about it, he couldn't have been such a top player for so long by jabbing at the CB. As you know, he was a deadly accurate shooter.
 

gulfportdoc

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Beatle,
I noticed you used Red’s real last name, before he changed it to “Breit”
Not many of us alive that would remember that....
Now do you happen to know why he dropped the Koff?
I never knew Red, nor did I know his family name was Breitkoff. He or his family may have Americanized the surname because it sounded too Jewish, Russian, or foreign. During WWII and after it was common for folks to Americanize their names to avoid any possible ethnic bias.

E.g. my surname is Tripp, but it was changed from Mulligatawany...😄
 

baby huey

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I am going to say Hawaiian Brian has to be an honorable mention to this list. When I got back into pool in the late seventies, Brian took me on a short road trip. He played Grady three times getting 9/8 and drilled him. Varner too including nine ball. He played all the top players with that 9/8 spot. Brian was a monster that many have heard of but few seldom have seen play in person. His One Pocket game was pretty sporty. He used to tell me "Jer, the best move is eight and out." He didn't bank well, he didn't move great but he shot the numbers off the balls. Bugs got sick of Brians eight and outs and tried all kind of moves from tight pocket to loose pocket tables. The last time he played Grady in Los Angeles around 1980, Grady got pissed off and refused to give up that 9/8 and Brian just held his ground later telling Grady he'd play even up if Grady played even up nine ball. When we needed cash, Brian would say, let's look San Gabriel John. No offense to our own John Henderson but John kept us in gas and cigarette money.
 

Dennis "Whitey" Young

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I am going to say Hawaiian Brian has to be an honorable mention to this list. When I got back into pool in the late seventies, Brian took me on a short road trip. He played Grady three times getting 9/8 and drilled him. Varner too including nine ball. He played all the top players with that 9/8 spot. Brian was a monster that many have heard of but few seldom have seen play in person. His One Pocket game was pretty sporty. He used to tell me "Jer, the best move is eight and out." He didn't bank well, he didn't move great but he shot the numbers off the balls. Bugs got sick of Brians eight and outs and tried all kind of moves from tight pocket to loose pocket tables. The last time he played Grady in Los Angeles around 1980, Grady got pissed off and refused to give up that 9/8 and Brian just held his ground later telling Grady he'd play even up if Grady played even up nine ball. When we needed cash, Brian would say, let's look San Gabriel John. No offense to our own John Henderson but John kept us in gas and cigarette money.
I seen him play at the Bellflower Palace quite a few times (early 70's). He always came in and played a pre-arranged match, and it was always 10 ball. I never seen him lose. Whitey
 

beatle

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yea jeff. many italians and jews and polish would change or shorten their names to make it simpler and less likely to be ostracized because of nationality. back when red was in new york and much younger i remember him talking something about it having to do with identification and things.
some when they came over at ellis island, the person who issued papers would arbitrarily shorten their names as well. and their papers would reflect that.
 

baby huey

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Looking at this post again, I think we all forgot to mention how well Steve Cook played. He was so quiet and unassuming that maybe that led to his exclusion. I really liked his very solid game and lack of flash. I played him even, (what a dummy I was) though I didn't know who he was. We started for $20 a game and he got me betting $50 a game. I was able to back off after losing about $250. He just kept me in the game for awhile then would finish me off. This was around 1973 about the time I quit pool for the first time. If any of our members have any Steve Cook stories please share them.
 

Billy Jackets

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Please list your top 5 or 10. While we can all agree that Alex, Dennis, Busty, and Filler are all great players, I ask you to please limit this thread to US players only. Does your list lean toward today's aggressive one pocket style? Are there any elite ball strikers listed or any grinders? One pocket info has been readily available thru Accustats, One Pocket.org, books, you tube videos, as well as wwyd threads. Have a gr8 Memorial Day.
I don't know if he played much One Pocket, but I was told by a great player, that
Rags Fitzpatrick was the best at every pocket billiards game until Efren . Who I think everyone agrees, that knows one pocket, was the goat.
Then you have Cliff, lost with a ball to Efren, but beat everybody else to death usually giving them 3 or 4 balls .
Eugene "Clem" Metz, he beat tournament winners out of their prizes.
Eddie Taylor, most think "goat" banker, not sure he specialised in one pocket either but most great bankers play the game great.
Ronnie Allen maybe the best of them all, he took the game to another level.
I never played any of them so I don't know who was best, this is just 5 at the top , there are many others like Jack Breit I can't speak to because I never saw him hit a ball.
 

keoneyo

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I am going to say Hawaiian Brian has to be an honorable mention to this list. When I got back into pool in the late seventies, Brian took me on a short road trip. He played Grady three times getting 9/8 and drilled him. Varner too including nine ball. He played all the top players with that 9/8 spot. Brian was a monster that many have heard of but few seldom have seen play in person. His One Pocket game was pretty sporty. He used to tell me "Jer, the best move is eight and out." He didn't bank well, he didn't move great but he shot the numbers off the balls. Bugs got sick of Brians eight and outs and tried all kind of moves from tight pocket to loose pocket tables. The last time he played Grady in Los Angeles around 1980, Grady got pissed off and refused to give up that 9/8 and Brian just held his ground later telling Grady he'd play even up if Grady played even up nine ball. When we needed cash, Brian would say, let's look San Gabriel John. No offense to our own John Henderson but John kept us in gas and cigarette money.
The thing about Brian was he was never afraid to bet it up. The more the better. In Hawaii we didnt call him Hawaiian Brian. That would be ludicrous since we all were from Hawaii and we wouldnt know which Brian you were talking about. His nickname in Hawaii was "Gage". I dont know how that came about. There were a lot of bars in downtown Honolulu and lot of bar table action with servicemen stopping over on their way to Asia. Gage used to take it down there.
I think in the honorable mention department I think One Pocket Rich, Rich Grenier, should get a mention. He played all the top players and had a good record. He was a working man though and had a family and that was his first priority. But he had a fantastic game. I saw him beat Dennis one late night. But that was early on and Dennis was adjusting his one pocket game. I think he did learn some playing Rich. Several years back Efren refused to spot him anything. That might have been a personal thing I dont know..
 

Billy Jackets

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Looking at this post again, I think we all forgot to mention how well Steve Cook played. He was so quiet and unassuming that maybe that led to his exclusion. I really liked his very solid game and lack of flash. I played him even, (what a dummy I was) though I didn't know who he was. We started for $20 a game and he got me betting $50 a game. I was able to back off after losing about $250. He just kept me in the game for awhile then would finish me off. This was around 1973 about the time I quit pool for the first time. If any of our members have any Steve Cook stories please share them.
Not sure this is what you are looking for , but it's my Steve Cook story.
I knew one of the best card mechanics in the US back in the 60s and 70s and he had a brother who played pretty good pool. He tells me this story one day
His brother calls, and says he's almost lost all his money playing pool , can his brother come and get the guy at cards, to win it back.
He is in in a different room so he grabs a couple of half sharp shills ,and goes to the pool room and spread a fake poker game and his brother stalls around losing the last game, so Steve can get a good look at the poker game. Of course everyones betting like madmen and at the end show a pair of 5's or bluffing and take down huge pots.
The pool games over and Steve watches a while longer then asks if he can get in , 1 guy says hell no, this is a private game , no pool hustlers allowed. The other 2 say sure let him play he's all right.
Steve sits down, and gets cold decked the first hand , and loses everything he has. He starts complaining, and the pool playing brother says, I never whined when you robbed me, now take a hike.
He grumbled out the door and never came back , fast forward 25 years .
I am in Dayton Ohio and I get introduced to Steve by a mutual friend and when the guy tells Steve I am from Columbus Steve gets this funny look and goes off on a 5 minute tirade about getting cheated at cards in Columbus , and if he ever sees those guys he's going to lalala, lalala, Steve couldn't whip eggs but he was still a hot sucker about that game . Anyway he says, I'd like to get hold of that guy, I'd yada yada yada and It was all I could do not to say ,want me to call him?
 

baby huey

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Keoneyo: Hawaiian Jay who grew up with Brian told me that Brian's nickname was "pedik" that's my spelling anyway. Jay said it was something Hawaiian which meant little water bug or something like that. Brian didn't like that nickname as I found out later. My name for him was always Pineapple when it was just the two of us. Before Brian's time there was a good player from Hawaii named Pineapple Joe who made it to the mainland in the 50's and early 60's. Probably just a good shortstop.

Billy Jackets: That's a good poker story about Steve Cook. Very few pool players could master poker and many have tried including me.
 

gulfportdoc

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The thing about Brian was he was never afraid to bet it up. The more the better. In Hawaii we didnt call him Hawaiian Brian. That would be ludicrous since we all were from Hawaii and we wouldnt know which Brian you were talking about. His nickname in Hawaii was "Gage". I dont know how that came about. There were a lot of bars in downtown Honolulu and lot of bar table action with servicemen stopping over on their way to Asia. Gage used to take it down there.
...
Gage, or gauge, used to be a slang name for marijuana. Don't know if Brian partook or not...:cautious:
 

keoneyo

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Keoneyo: Hawaiian Jay who grew up with Brian told me that Brian's nickname was "pedik" that's my spelling anyway. Jay said it was something Hawaiian which meant little water bug or something like that. Brian didn't like that nickname as I found out later. My name for him was always Pineapple when it was just the two of us. Before Brian's time there was a good player from Hawaii named Pineapple Joe who made it to the mainland in the 50's and early 60's. Probably just a good shortstop.

Billy Jackets: That's a good poker story about Steve Cook. Very few pool players could master poker and many have tried including me.
Jerry it was probably "petot" or some derivative. Thats what we would call a little kid or baby. Its Pidgin' slang.
Everybody who was from Hawaii back in the 60's was called Pineapple when we came to the mainland.
. I was too when I came here in 1966. Thats what they called the Hawaii boys from the 442cnd regiment. The most decorated unit in WWII and it stuck.
I dont know why the local boys downtown called Brian, GAGE but this was before he came to the Mainland.
 

Dennis "Whitey" Young

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I wanted to ask Frank the Barber if he knew of a player that I had known as 'Flowers'. We matched up a few times in early 70's @ the Bellflower Palace, and I was out of pool in '73. I was researching some other players and it lead me to Jay 'Swanee' Swanson. His picture looked like a dead ringer for the player I knew as 'Flowers'. I just wondered if they are one an the same. Any info! thanks, Whitey

I believe I have answered my own question, they are one in the same, just used a different name. I am glad to know he continued on playing and was held in such high regards!
Update; I just found a listing of L.A. players of 70's and there is listed a Steve Flowers. So any info. would be appreciated, but to me Steve and Jay look one and the same. Whitey
 
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Miller

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I've got another one.....

Any of our older members ever run across Artkie Williams?

He had legendary status in the area I went to high school at with all the old timers who are long gone now. I don't know this for sure, but cannot imagine he would not have been around some of the early Jansco tournaments. Played rummy, straight pool, and snooker (and probably anything else) - and by all accounts was the real deal.

The character Bama Dillert in the James Jones novel "Some Came Running" was based upon him (he obviously left an impression on a young Jones). Was played by Dean Martin in the movie based upon the novel.
 

Jeff sparks

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Looking at this post again, I think we all forgot to mention how well Steve Cook played. He was so quiet and unassuming that maybe that led to his exclusion. I really liked his very solid game and lack of flash. I played him even, (what a dummy I was) though I didn't know who he was. We started for $20 a game and he got me betting $50 a game. I was able to back off after losing about $250. He just kept me in the game for awhile then would finish me off. This was around 1973 about the time I quit pool for the first time. If any of our members have any Steve Cook stories please share them.
Ok Jerry
He stopped at Le Cue in Houston...Recollections are around 69’ or 70’. He was a complete unknown to most of us and as was done in those days, he was steered... He knew the order in which to play everyone, and he played us all like a Stradivarius!!! I don’t know who steered him, but whoever it was, had the order clocked perfectly... He never lost a match, he never showed his speed, he played only one pocket and just good enough to get the cash... He only stayed a couple of weeks, but as you noted, he was not a flashy player and in Houston in those days, there were plenty of medium & fairly good one pocket players to play with, and he got action everyday... He entirely avoided Red ( of course ) and saved Danny Jones and Greg Stevens for last... He beat us all, and when he left, he was no longer an unknown... He was a great player... 👍👍👍
 
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