Born in Elizabeth, NJ, in November, 1951, Allen Hopkins was one of those child prodigies that surface now and then in pool – even carrying the moniker “Young Hoppe” for a while — except unlike many of the flash and burn careers of other young talents, Hopkins proved to have staying power. Growing up first as an orphan and then as a foster child, Allen stayed with the same family from the age of 4 and was adopted officially by them when he was 12.
He got his start playing pool on a 3×6 bar table that his father had brought home, complete with the usual over-sized cue ball. As a result, Allen always had a strong bar table game – something you might not expect for a legend of Straight Pool and One Pocket. In fact, one of Allen’s strengths over the course of his career was that he adapted well to all kinds of different tables. It should also be mentioned that Allen eventually made one of the biggest scores in his career playing One Pocket on a snooker table at “The Rack” in Detroit – talk about hitting for the cycle!
While he was still a junior player, he logged wins over some of 14.1’s all time legends, like Mizerak and Caras, and it wasn’t long before Allen was the NJ State Straight Pool champion. In those days, that was like winning a national championship, given all the great straight pool legends in the area.
He was first introduced to One Pocket by a local Johnston City veteran, Tom ‘Doc’ Holiday. As Allen recalls it, that first day Holiday beat him at the game, but by the second day, Allen was holding his own and from then on he never looked back.
At the age of 17 Allen hit the road and played pretty much everyone, everywhere over the next twenty years, often taking on the top players in the game on their own home courts. One of the best ever at running balls in One Pocket, Hopkins was known for winning proposition bets against the “One Pocket Ghost” – playing solo against the table, betting he could run a certain number of balls into his pocket without a miss. Nobody did that better than Hopkins. He remembers once running 15 balls three racks in a row at this proposition.
Allen captured Grady Mathews’ very first Legends of One Pocket tournament, topping Steve Cook in the finals.