October, 2011 -- the 50th anniversary of the first Johnston City Tournament
Johnston City: One Pocket's Debut in Tournament Pool
October 25th, 1961 the world of pool in America woke up to a remarkable new kind of tournament that shook the pool establishment out of a deep slumber. It was an unusual event on several fronts; one being the unlikely location for a major national pool tournament, deep in rural southern Illinois. Second, it was a game, One Pocket, not recognized by the established sanctioning body of pool in America at that time, the Billiard Congress of America. Third, the tournament boldly featured a number of known hustler pool players who had not participated in the few sanctioned events of the mid-century -- whether by their own choice, or because they were not invited due to their reputations. And finally, the promoter was a total newcomer to pool tournament promotions, a fellow who had his roots more in the gambling side of pool than the establishment side of pool, the remarkable George Jansco. So who were the Jansco Brothers, and what made them think a small town in southern Illinois could become the “Billiard Capitol of the World”?
Click here for more of the story about the Jansco's legendary Johnston City tournaments
Game of Corners:
cousin to One Pocket, played on special tables with only two
reading some old rec.sport.billiards posts and found one entitled,
"Special One Pocket Table", from Jan, 1997. John
Walkup asked if anyone had ever made a special one pocket
table, one with only 2 pockets. Ron Kilby answered with 2
posts : "I have played
on a 1-pocket table with only two pockets, and am told that
such tables were common in the 1920's. The table I played
on was a 1924 Brunswick Regency, and the rails were obviously
original. I LIKED the game!"
I can give you a
little history on this subject...
on the next page -- click here to read the rest of The Game
A Good Game Down
One-Pocket have a mysterious 90-year gap in its history?
by Mike Shamos
is one of the most acquired of tastes. An intense, cerebral
contest, it is closer in spirit to chess than to pool. When
watched and appreciated by knowledgeable fans, it is one of
the most exciting and satisfying of cue games. Unfortunately,
most spectators get fed up and leave when no one sinks a ball
for 20 minutes. So this beautiful game is doomed to have much
the same crowd appeal as curling — a small group of
enthusiastic railbirds amidst an audience of largely confused
patrons wondering what all the fuss is about.
And on top of that
the game is highly regional. Growing up in New York in the
1960s, I never saw a rack of one-pocket. The Apple was a straight-pool
town, and in that game the idea is to sink balls, not huddle
them near the mouth of pocket. But in present-day Philadelphia,
90 highway miles to the south, the serious money game is one-pocket...
on the next page -- click here to read the rest of Keeping
a Good Game Down
Grady Mathews has created a slide show of old photos of pool
players as part of the exhibition show he puts on, which I
recently had the pleasure of attending. As you can imagine,
he has a great selection of old photos, as well as some original
tournament and exhibition posters, plus he has the stories
to go along with them! It was very entertaining to hear Grady
tell many first-hand stories along with those old photos,
really making those great old players come to life.
His collection is a pretty complete who's who of One Pocket
from the 50's on out - including youthful shots of players
like Hall, Varner, Sigel, Ronnie Allen, Danny D, Eddie Taylor
and on and on - plus old-timers like Titanic Thompson, Fats,
Cannonball Chapman and more! He has graciously lent
a sampling of those photos to OnePocket.org, along with his
1991 History of One Pocket article for On The Snap
Click the captions to enlarge
any of the photos!
History of One
Pocket began in Oklahoma in the 30's, if I'm not mistaken.
Hayden Lingo was the first great One Pocket player.
He was followed by "Big Nose" Roberts, Glen "Eufaula
Kid" Womack, Marshall "Squirrel" Carpenter, "Clem", Ronnie
Allen, "Jersey Red", Eddie "The Knoxville Bear" Taylor, Johnny
Vevis, and Johnny "Irish".
was said "to have kicked like a mule," while Eddie Taylor
rarely missed a bank and was, in fact, the undisputed bank
pool champion of the world for many years. "Irish"
was probably the best pool player that ever lived.
He made a habit of beating very good players using a cue with
no tip on it. I don't think anyone ever beat Lingo
playing even at One Pocket.
came the Ronnie Allen era, beginning around 1961. In
1962 Ronnie won the One Pocket Championship as Cochran's in
San Francisco, defeating Eddie Taylor in the finals.
The tournament, incidentally, was played on five by ten tables
with clay balls. Clem and Jersey Red were the only
players at that time, in my opinion, in Ronnie's class.
Ronnie Allen brought "power One Pocket" into existence.
Jersey Red was and still is one of the most innovative players
to ever perform at One Pocket. Matches between Ronnie
and Red were among the finest pool games I and many others
Rucker, Chicago, became the best bank pool player after Eddie
Taylor retired and he learned one Pocket along the way.
An interesting man, he would often go without playing for
a year, and then go down to the pool room and defeat some
great champion. He usually arrived with an entourage.
Bugs, without a doubt, was and is one of the most colorful
and exciting players in the world.
hustlers preferred One Pocket because the element of luck
is much less than at 9-ball. The best player generally
wins. It is also worth mentioning that One Pocket players
traditionally have played for more money by the game than
9-ball players have by the session. In Detroit,
during that city's infamous gambling heyday, it wasn't at
all unusual to see One Pocket games in the five figures, by
originally published in On The Snap magazine,
reprinted here with
the permission of Grady Mathews
any of the photos for a larger view!
here for Grady's exhibition 'flyer'
Jones, 'Cornbread', Grady, 'Fats'
Margo, Bill Staton, Steve Mizerak
Bentivegna waits; Ronnie Allen & Grady sweat
Hall, Grady & 'The Miz'
Varner & the late Larry Lisciotti