Gentleman One Pocket legend Bill ‘Weenie Beenie’ Staton was part of the inaugural first class of inductees into the One Pocket Hall of Fame. Our interview took place at the 2005 Derby City Classic. Weenie Beenie’s old friend and trick-shot icon Willie Jopling sat in on the interview, and here and there he chipped in a question or comment as well.
OnePocket.org: So Bill, how did a gentleman like you get started with gambling at pool?
Bill Staton: Well the town that I grew up in did not have a poolroom anywhere. It did not allow them and they also did not allow beer, wine and whiskey. There were no bars, no nothing, and I had never played any pool until I was 23 years old. I had this little hot dog stand and it only took like one or two people to run it, but whenever one of my cooks did not show up I had to go in myself. One of the guys that worked for me called me up at 11:00 one night and said, ‘Buddy didn’t show up.’ Now Buddy had been telling me stories about the poolroom in Alexandria, Virginia, so I said, well, ‘I will go find him so I don’t have to come to work.’ So anyway, I went down to the poolroom, walked in, and there he is involved in a straight pool game, which I knew nothing at all about. He said it would take him about 15-20 minutes to finish.
In the meantime, I sat down and a guy walked over to me and asked me if I wanted to play a game. It sounded innocent enough. I knew how to chalk up, but I had not really played at all. The guy’s name was Woodbridge. He was from Woodbridge, Virginia. So, I played him a few games for two dollars a game and three dollars; then we raised it to five, while I was waiting for my cook. Well I lost the entire $55.00 in my pocket. After this is over and I got my cook to go to work, I said, ‘I am going to get even with this guy.’ I went home and I bought a brand new Brunswick Anniversary table. I paid $1,052.00 for it; this was in 1953. So anyway, I practiced up and practiced up and went back and he beat me again. Then I did the same identical thing again and he beat me again. But finally I did get even with him.
OnePocket.org: What attracted you to the game of One Pocket?
Bill Staton: It took several years before I got acquainted with One Pocket. One Pocket was not a very popular game at that time; it was mostly straight pool and nine ball. But, I liked the game. I like any game that is not a road map, and 9-ball is a road map; you shoot the one then the two then the three. I didn’t like somebody else making my mind up for me. I like One Pocket because it’s very innovative. You can come up with all kinds of shots; it really interested me.
Most of the players that came to town, sooner or later they asked me if I wanted to play One Pocket, but they tricked me at first. As I played I got better and better, but I paid my dues. I got my account serviced during those Alexandria years by all the road players as they found out that I liked to play and I would play. But as they came through I learned a little bit from each one of them. After a while, I learned how to turn this on them because I learned how to play and it got so I won a lot of times.
I lost to all the road players as they gave me certain games like 8-4 or 8-5; I could not play at all at first. Then I started to improve, and I heard about all these players meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was like a get-together, and I heard about all this action so I decided to go out there myself. A friend of mine and I drove out there and before I started playing One Pocket with these guys, like Squirrel (Marshall Carpenter) and Eddie Taylor, I asked them, ‘Are you going to play me the same way you played me in Alexandria?’ They all said, ‘Sure baby,’ you know, because they had beat me bad; but I had improved, so I just started servicing their accounts. I stayed out there about a month and I won about $30,000.00.
I’ll tell you how I turned that into a million dollar score. I took the $30,000.00 and went back home to Alexandria. I went to my lawyer and he said, ‘You have got to file this money on your income tax.’ So I paid my taxes up front and then I built another hot dog stand. That hot dog stand still stands today. It is only about 15 by 30, and nobody comes inside. It is incredible that it has lasted, but it is still there and it has been going on for fifty years even. 1955 until now and it is still doing really well.
So let me clarify how I made the million dollars. I rent that hot dog stand and I have been renting it for 50 years and it has brought in a total rent of over a million dollars.
OnePocket.org: So that’s how you won a million!
Bill Staton: Yeah. It has just been fantastic for me. It afforded me a nice living. The hot dog stands then allowed me to open a poolroom in Arlington, Virginia. It was called Jack and Jill’s and was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for fourteen years without ever closing the door. Sometimes there would be waiting lines at like 3 or 4 in the morning.
I ran those hot dog stands until 1963 when I had about a half dozen of them going at one time. It was just too much for me. I could not play pool and take care of the hot dog stands so I leased them out. I took my two best employees and gave them each a shop and you know to this day, one of them is still with me. He is still running the place and he is doing well and he has never been late on the rent check.
OnePocket.org: Do you recall any particular match-ups from that first big trip out to Little Rock?
Bill Staton: There was one guy, a real action man, and his name was Cleo Vaughn. He was a player and a bookmaker. He had heard a lot about me; other players had told him how I played. So I asked him if he wanted to play and he said yes. So, I just started playing him and we played and played and played for about two weeks and I won most of the time. One time we played, it is going to be hard to believe, we played sixty-one consecutive hours. And, I was on a high you wouldn’t believe; my adrenaline was really flowing. After he quit I said, ‘Who’s next?’
OnePocket.org: After 61 hours, you were ready for more?
Bill Staton: Yeah. Then I played the guy from Kansas, a good road player (later recalled as Greg Stevens). Well, anyway, I played him for another five hours for something like $20.00 a game, right after playing for like $2,000.00 a game!
OnePocket.org: Wow, that’s some stamina!
Bill Staton: I mean I just wanted to play and I beat him out of like $200.00.
OnePocket.org: So, after you learned how to play pool, and you got acquainted with One Pocket, was Rags (John Fitzpatrick) the guy that you kind of really learned how to play One Pocket from?
Bill Staton: Yeah. Rags lived in the Washington, D.C. area and there were a couple more really good players that I was fortunate to learn from, but they charged my account! But I turned it to my advantage along the way. Rags Fitzpatrick was a very nice person. I was telling you about that score I made in Arkansas?
Bill Staton: Well I went home with that thirty thousand, and I wanted to tell Rags about how I had taken some of these things that I had learned from him and turned it into a winning proposition, but the day I got back, he had died.
OnePocket.org: Oh, really?
Bill Staton: Yeah. So I never did get to tell him.
OnePocket.org: Do you know why he died so young?
Bill Staton: I honestly do not know. I heard something the other day; the first time I have ever heard it and I would rather not repeat it. A guy said he might have died from a drug overdose of amphetamines.
OnePocket.org: Oh, that is too bad.
Bill Staton: I had never heard that and I do not want to blacken his name. The guy called me just getting some information on him. I had never heard that at all, so I do not think that it is true. Now, what is true is that he played long sessions.
OnePocket.org: What kind of player was Rags?
Bill Staton: Rags was an all-around good player; all three games, but One Pocket was his specialty. At that time, during his day, he was the best player. Eddie Taylor was right there with him and so were maybe two or three other guys.
OnePocket.org: Eddie Taylor said he learned a lot of One Pocket from being around Earl Shriver, but Earl Shriver was only a few years older than Eddie. When I asked Eddie where he thought Earl Shriver learned how to play he was not sure. Do you suppose that Earl Shriver learned from Rags as well?
Bill Staton: He would have learned some, yes. Earl Shriver went all around the country all the time. He was my nemesis.
OnePocket.org: Your nemesis?
Bill Staton: He would bring a player down and he would say, ‘Bill, I think you can play this guy and give him the 5 and 9.’ Well, I had learned how to become a hustler and I said I will give him the 6 and 9. Earl serviced my account so many times — both himself and the other players he brought in.
Willie Jopling: One of the guys that worked for Beenie once told me it got so when Earl came to town, Beenie would go in the house and lock the door!
Bill Staton: Yeah, and I should have stayed in there!
OnePocket.org: That’s pretty funny.
OnePocket.org: Where do you suppose Rags learned to play One Pocket?
Bill Staton: That, I do not know, but he was a good player. At that time, I think he was the best player. He and Eddie Taylor were the two best One Pocket players that I knew. And Hayden Lingo; I never came into contact with him but once, but he was a very good player.
OnePocket.org: So, I know around Chicago, they talk about the Chicago-style of One Pocket where you had Artie (Bodendorfer) and people like that, and Clem (Eugene Metz); that just do not leave you a shot. Then there were other players, like you and Fats, who I have heard played a little bit more aggressive style of One Pocket. What was Rags’ style like?
Bill Staton: Rags was really fun to watch. He did not stall when he played and he just knew the game real well. He would find the right shot in a hurry. Some players do not adjust well to various games, but he just was naturally good at it. And, he looked good doing it.
OnePocket.org: So they called him Rags but he was actually quite dapper in the way that he dressed. Did you learn that from him too, Bill?
Bill Staton: Not really, my dress was patterned after Donald Trump. I used to work for Donald Trump.
OnePocket.org: Isn’t Trump younger than you, though? Maybe he’s patterned after you! Where did you work for him?
Bill Staton: At Resorts International Hotel and Casino.
OnePocket.org: Oh, in Atlantic City?
Bill Staton: Yes, Atlantic City. I had the most cushy job you could ever imagine. The guy that hired me was Jack Johnston. Jack was a CEO of the hotel and he knew me, and he liked to play pool. He had worked in Las Vegas and when Resorts International Hotels opened up in Atlantic City, they hired Jack Johnston’s boss to come and run the hotel in Atlantic City. Then he got Jack Johnston to come and work for him. When Jack got there, he offered me a job.
They knew I knew a lot of high-rollers and people that liked to play, so Jack Johnston came to me and said, ‘Bill, I am going to give you a job that you cannot refuse. I will give you $50,000.00 a year and the pencil.’ By the pencil, he meant an expense account. I did not even have to report for duty; I just had to send them a customer now and then.
I remember something very funny. One time I was traveling, my wife and I had been gone about a month and I called up Jack Johnston; I was in Italy somewhere. I called up Jack Johnston just to check in to see what’s happening. He said, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I’m in Italy.’ and then he said, ‘It must be nice to have a job like that.’ That’s what he said to me! So, anyway, I worked for them for about five years. Donald Trump didn’t own the hotel when I started, but he bought it during that time. Then he fired Jack Johnston; well he didn’t fire him, he just let him go.
OnePocket.org: I guess he is known for that…
Bill Staton: I will tell you a story about a pool tournament I promoted in Atlantic City when I was working for them. This is the only really hard work that I ever did for them other than just sending some customers up there, or making a phone call or two. But, Jack Johnston, my boss, said, ‘Bill, let’s have a pool tournament.’ He loved pool. So I said ‘Okay.’ He said, ‘Well you run it; you take care of it.’
We made up a format for this tournament, with a $100.00 entry fee and we put in enough tables to accommodate maybe 256 players. But players just kept showing up, showing up, and showing up, and we got up past the 256; we got to 300. I said, ‘Jack, we do not have enough time to put this tournament on the tables that we have.’ So he says, ‘Take them all.’ So, I kept doing it. We signed up 356 male players and 36 women players for a total of 392 players.
Now, we have got to finish this thing because ESPN is coming in and televising the finals.
We did not have enough time on the tables that we had, so we had to start playing around the clock. My wife came up and helped me and we really worked; it was the hardest I have ever worked in my life. We ran games around the clock just to get the thing ready for Thursday for ESPN to come in and televise the finals.
OnePocket.org: At that time, that was the biggest nine-ball tournament ever, wasn’t it?
Bill Staton: It was big. I have forgotten exactly the prize money but it was pretty healthy prize money for the players. And, if I am not mistaken, Mike Sigel won. I remember telling Mike Sigel, after he had played until about 4 or 5 in the morning, that we had made an appointment down the street for him to get fitted for a tuxedo for the finals; we already had the tuxedo rented. And Mike said, ‘I can’t do that; I’m going to call it a night.’ I told him, ‘If you want to play, you better show up in a tuxedo.’ And his wife said, ‘I will get it for him,’ and she did.
Well, we played the event and it was really a great event with 392 players, including the women. Jean Balukas won the ladies’ event. Of course she was the prohibitive favorite against anybody at that time. And then the men, I believe it was Mike Sigel that won. My wife worked the hardest she has ever worked in her life, putting this event on. She was doing everything I couldn’t do, which was quite a lot! But it turned out pretty good. It was Jack Johnston’s way of saying, ‘Last call for nine-ball.’
OnePocket.org: Bill, I wanted to ask you about your own One Pocket style; how would you describe the Weenie Beenie style of One Pocket?
Bill Staton: Well, my style of One Pocket is fairly aggressive. I can pick out the shots early and I can pick out a lot of innovative stuff. I never did like to stall or any of those Mickey Mouse things and take a long time to play the tournament game.
OnePocket.org: It sounds like one of the things that attracted you to the game in the first place is that there is a lot of thinking, and you are a thinking kind of guy.
Bill Staton: I was very good with the stack, meaning the rack, the balls that are clustered on the table in play. I could pick out a lot of dead balls that other players could not see. I mean they might come out of nowhere and I was able to win a lot of games by doing that.
OnePocket.org: It sounds like it helped that you had a background in straight pool.
Bill Staton: I wasn’t a top player, but I liked to play. It is a good game and you learn how to pick out dead shots. But in One Pocket, you do not have to pick out dead ones, particularly. It is enough just to be able to strike the ball and send two or three of them over next to your pocket and you hide the cue ball.
OnePocket.org: One thing I have learned about One Pocket, it might be the only game where sometimes it is a stronger shot to miss a ball than to make it.
Bill Staton: I love to play kiss shots, you know, kiss off of one ball and two or three balls roll over next to your pocket and you hide them. You do not necessarily need to make them; you will have a good chance the next shot that you get.
OnePocket.org: Johnston City in 1961 was the first One Pocket tournament, but before that you guys used to get together and play at different places and of course Johnston City was one of the places, and you also mentioned Little Rock and Hot Springs. What was it like at Hot Springs?
Bill Staton: The reason Hot Springs was a popular place was all the players used to congregate when they had the horse races out there. Everyone would meet out there; all the gamblers and high rollers would meet there in Hot Springs. For like a month, you could come and go whenever you wanted to. It was kind of a meeting place for action, action, action. I met a guy there named AC Thomas, Titanic Thompson.
He was the one that brought Greg Stevens there to Hot Springs and that is the one that after I played Cleo for 61 consecutive hours and, said, ‘Who is next?’ and Greg Stevens jumped up and said I’ll play you some for 20 a game or something like that. I said, ‘Come on,’ and he and I played for 5 more hours.
OnePocket.org: I guess Greg went on to become pretty well known for playing long sessions too…
Bill Staton: Yes he would. He was the right hand man of Titanic Thompson. The reason he got the name ‘Titanic’ was he was always sinking his opponents, so they called him Titanic. He was a fun guy to be around.
OnePocket.org: It’s too bad Rags died so young; he missed out completely on Johnston City.
Bill Staton: He was just 41.
OnePocket.org: Wow. And that Hot Springs get together was in the mid-50’s?
Bill Staton: The late 50’s.
OnePocket.org: After you guys were gathering there for a few years, in the late 50’s, one of the other places you started to go to get together was at George Jansco’s place in Johnston City, before they started the tournaments. What was it like there in the beginning?
Bill Staton: It was not a tournament or anything but Minnesota Fats called me and said there was going to be action out in Johnston City. And so, I decided to go. He talked me into coming. I flew out there, got a taxi; they pulled me up in front of a motel on the outside of town in the middle of nowhere. I cannot even think of the name of the motel.
OnePocket.org: Do you mean the Show Bar?
Bill Staton: No, this place was a little motel with seven rooms in it and that is where all the action was. They had one pool table out in the back. There was an old garage that was converted into a one table poolroom. They had a couch that was elevated so you could sit there and watch the action. Minnesota Fats, Eddie Taylor, Squirrel, Squirrel came like a year or so later. Earl Schriver was there. Not many people know how to spell his name correctly. It’s S-C-H-R-I-V-E-R. He was always where the action was.
OnePocket.org: I guess I’ve been spelling it wrong because I thought it was SHR too.
Bill Staton: I am not 100 percent sure but I think it was Schriver.
OnePocket.org: So, when you guys first started gambling there, it was in that little building behind the motel, not behind the Show Bar?
Bill Staton: It was not the Show Bar. The Show Bar was on the other side of town a few miles away. This was a little place that George ran, and Paulie ran the Show Bar.
Bill Staton: It was a little one-story garage and that is where we started playing and that is where we talked George into having a One Pocket tournament. They built a little building out behind the Show Bar, which was on the other side of town, and they put one table in and some elevated seats. They didn’t even have a practice room that first year. They added a practice room the second year I think when they enlarged the Show Bar.
This was a hit and the tournament lasted for 23 days. I went to every one of them and the only one I missed, or any part I missed, was when it got raided by the authorities (1972) . I had lost early so I went to a golf tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Then I called to find out who won the tournament, because I left before it ended, and I called out there and talked to Paulie and I said, ‘Well, who won the tournament?’ He said, ‘Everybody is in jail, the authorities won.’
OnePocket.org: They sure did.
Bill Staton: But, anyway, I dodged that. I missed that. They came in and cased the place and I was out in the middle of the floor with Ronnie Allen saying, ‘Who wants to bet this; who wants to bet?’ So all these agents came in the night of the raid and they were going to sit behind everybody that they wanted to grab, but I had left and I was in Myrtle Beach having a good time.
OnePocket.org: You were lucky again.
Bill Staton: I was lucky everywhere. Anyway, Johnston City just grew and grew and grew. Everybody looked forward to going to Johnston City. Most people do not know how to spell Johnston City. It’s J-O-H-N-S-T-O-N. And you can take that to the bank.
OnePocket.org: I have to confess the first time I spelled it I left out the “T” like everybody else does. Fortunately Grady was quick to straighten me out.
Bill Staton: So, anyway, I was really disappointed that it stopped because it was quite a song and dance; we all enjoyed it. George Jansco built a golf course right across the street from the Show Bar. He had a daughter named Joanne Jansco and she was running the golf course. We would play golf everyday, and play pool every night.
OnePocket.org: That sounds like the good life.
Bill Staton: It was the fun life, I will tell you that. There was something going on all the time.
OnePocket.org: Yeah. I have heard that even when it was only one pool table, there was a lot of action on that one pool table!
Bill Staton: There was something going on all the time.
Willie Jopling: Where was the pit; in the building in the back or in the Show Bar?
Bill Staton: We talked Paulie and George Jansco into adding on to the Show Bar and we got him to put the pit in because the best way to view a pool table is from above. So, they built this pit down there where they put two tables or three tables, I cannot remember. Just picture the room three sides for seats and then they had the fourth side, the official’s side, where they talked about the game to the public. So, anyway, this went over real well, and I like to take a little credit for some of the ideas that I gave him. I liked the pit and everything.
OnePocket.org: Weren’t you one of the players that suggested they ought to have a tournament in the first place?
Bill Staton: Yeah. Between all those players there was Minnesota Fats, Daddy Warbucks, Eddie Taylor. Earl Schriver was there, and Squirrel.
OnePocket.org: So it was you, Fats, Squirrel and Schriver that were there ahead of time that suggested the idea of doing the tournament?
Bill Staton: Yes, it was.
OnePocket.org: Well that was a great idea. Was it you that suggested the rule that three fouls is loss of game; or did they come up with that on their own?
Bill Staton: I do not know where that came about but I know it’s a good rule. Another thing that would help One Pocket is to have a shot clock.
I played a match in a tournament in Louisiana one time, against Nick Varner, it was a race to four and I got ahead of him two games to one and he went into, I hate to say it, one of the worst stalls I have ever seen. Can you imagine, a race to four in One Pocket, and it lasted 4 hours and 56 minutes! How can you keep people occupied and interested like that?
That started to happen in Atlantic City. In the first T.V. match the guy’s were stalling, so the producer of ESPN came to me and said, ‘Bill, you have got to speed this thing up somehow.’ So, I implemented a shot clock, 30 seconds. Of course this was nine-ball, but the tournament just ran good.
OnePocket.org: Yeah, I have heard other ideas for speeding up the game, but it is a great game and you do not want to change it too much to risk ruining it.
Bill Staton: Well, I say if you are going to try to entertain the public, you have got to speed it up, even though it might please the players themselves to have those long games. I hate to say this, but there are some players out of Texas and the Southwest that seem to be very slow.
OnePocket.org: I’ve heard that ‘Bananas’ Rodriguez played slow – I wonder if he influenced some of the younger players out that way…
Bill Staton: Who was that who won the U.S. Open the year before last? Let me tell you, this player was slow. He would shoot the shot, then walk back over to his chair…
OnePocket.org: Oh, Jeremy Jones.
Bill Staton: Well not just him, but he and Ralph Souquet and Nick Varner and some others. If you took those players, and put them all together and let them take all the time that they want, the tournament might never get over!
OnePocket.org: I do not see any harm in a shot clock whatsoever. And, you could even have it so that if it was something like a 60 second shot, but a couple of times in each rack they could get an extension.
Bill Staton: Like the girls. The girls at least have got enough sense to put in a shot clock. It was the year before last that Jeremy Jones won the U.S. Open and I was sitting in the audience and he started into this routine, he shoots the shot, then he takes the towel and wipes his stick off. He chalks up, then he looks around at everything before he finally gets down on the next shot. I left and went out to Barry Berhman’s poolroom because I got tired of watching this. It was about 10 or 12 miles away and I stayed a half hour, forty-five minutes and then I went back to the tournament and he was still not finished!
OnePocket.org: Yeah, I heard that was painful.
Bill Staton: I mean, it is okay if you are playing without spectators, but if you are trying to entertain the public, you cannot do that. If the guys were playing for money, let them take all the time they want. But it has become like a sharking tactic. I do not mind the guys taking a little bit of time but when you just use it as a tool to shark your opponent, I do not like it.
OnePocket.org: Yeah, and it loses spectators too.
Bill Staton: That is right. Well if you want to promote One Pocket, you wouldn’t want too many guys that play like Gabe Owen, Jeremy Jones, Ralf Soquet, and a couple more I can’t remember. They’re just too slow.
OnePocket.org: It would help to have a shot clock.
Bill Staton: You have to have a shot clock and give them two or three time-outs per game. If you do not, people will use stalling as a sharking tool.
OnePocket.org: Who would you say your favorite player to compete against was?
Bill Staton: All the players that I beat! My favorite player, I have most enjoyed or a big rivalry? I have enjoyed playing against Jimmy Fusco.
Willie Jopling: Did you come up with the one ball One Pocket playing him?
Bill Staton: I think I kind of invented it. The reason that I invented it was I wanted to speed up the game. It’s as if you both take seven balls each, then you put one ball in place on the table, where it is not very pocket-able, and then you play; who ever makes the ball wins the game.
OnePocket.org: Where did you set up the ball to start that game? I have seen this started different ways…
Bill Staton: Well, if this is the table, you just take the one ball and put it on the rail.
OnePocket.org: On the middle of the rail down at the bottom?
Bill Staton: Yeah. With different people we would start different ways.
Willie Jopling: I can tell you how you and Fusco started. If this was your pocket and he was going to shoot first, you put it right here and he would kick it away.
Bill Staton: In other words, you start off with a safety play and you take it from there and it is a good game. You speed up the game because you’ve only got to make one ball and it is over. And, you can take this ball and maneuver it around the table, two rails, three rails, four rails.
OnePocket.org: If you scratch, you put another ball up?
Bill Staton: Yes. You had to make two then; you put another ball on the spot. Sometimes, you might scratch a couple of times. There might be two or three balls on the table. But, I have always liked the game because it’s fast; it is quick.
Willie Jopling: You ought to tell him about when you got involved in some of that big action out in Detroit…
Bill Staton: I went out there and played Jew Paul (Brusloff) and I beat him and I won a little money.
Willie Jopling: Did you ever see him bringing in a paper bag full of money, sitting it down on the table?
Bill Staton: All I know is that he played high, high, high. Lee Angel was out there with me. I was playing him for, I do not recall exactly what we were playing for, but he lost $160,000.00. Not total of it to me.
OnePocket.org: Some of it on the side?
Bill Staton: Yeah side betting. You got two thousand here, three thousand there and five there. It was an unbelievable amount of money that changed hands out there. I am surprised I was never robbed out there, but we took a lot of precautions. It was a very tough place. We would have another guy that was trustworthy hold the money, or we would settle up at the hotel the next day. Like if I’m going to play you a $10,000 or $20,000 session, we would put up the money with somebody away from The Rack, and then we would settle up the next day at the hotel. So we never had any problems with the money because we were careful, except of course all the money I lost playing!
I won going out there the first time but when I went back I got beat real bad. This was the worst loss I have ever had. I played Romberg.
OnePocket.org: Kenny Romberg? (Kenny ‘Romberg’ Remus)
Bill Staton: Kenny Romberg. And he beat me and beat me and beat me. It was the worst beating I’ve ever had in my life and we were playing even. I lost a lot of money. I lost my car. We were playing real high. We were playing for like $20,000.00, a race to four.
Bill Staton: And he beat me bad. Well, this is exactly what happened. He beat me two sets the first day. The second day he beat me three sets. The third day, we played and I did not have enough money to play the second set, so I put my car in. I lost and lost and lost so I called my wife and I said, ‘Honey, you have got to bring me some more money and drive the car up. I’m going to be here for a while it looks like.’ And she had flown back home. So, I negotiated, and negotiated, and negotiated with these guys but they would not change the game. They knew that I’d been beaten and even though they had won a lot of money, they would not change the game. I offered to take nine to eight on just his break. Big deal. In fact, he probably would have beat me again!
Then they took a trip to New York. There was a fight in New York they wanted to go see, so they flew to New York and left me sitting in Detroit in the middle of December or late November. I am waiting on them to come back so I’m practicing up, practicing up. When they came back they still would not change the game whatsoever. They probably did me a favor because I would have lost more money!
Finally I said the heck with it; I left them. My car was in hock. I went home and Larry Lisciotti called me from Miami. He said, ‘Bill, come down here. This guy down here will not play me but he will play you. He’s got plenty of money.’ So I went down there and I won pretty good. My daughter was going to the University of Miami on a scholarship. It was just before Christmas, and she was getting out for Christmas holiday, so I said, ‘Vicky, they still have my car in Detroit; would you fly out there and drive it home for Christmas? I will give you a thousand dollars.’ She said, ‘Yeah, daddy.’ She was an 18-year-old college kid. My car was in hock for $7,500.00. So, she flew out there with the money and picked up my car and drove it home, and I haven’t been back to Detroit since.
But it taught me one lesson, never to change the game. They had me broke down. If you can get somebody, if you can beat them like that even, then you can give them nine to eight on your break. Not every game; just give them nine to eight on your own break. I tell you what a lesson it taught me; I haven’t lost hardly but once since that time, and that was in 1975!
Bill Staton: I learned not to change the game if you have somebody on the ropes.
OnePocket.org: How do you suppose it developed that there was so much action in that one room in Detroit? I mean there are other cities around where they’ve got pool players and they have got gamblers, but I have never heard of betting so high, so consistently for so long as there at The Rack.
Bill Staton: It just happened. There were a lot of people with money; a lot of people that had a lot of cash. There was drug money, bookmakers, people like that that hung around.
OnePocket.org: Did Cornbread help stir that up?
Bill Staton: He was right there, in the middle of it.
OnePocket.org: Well, Bill, it has been a pleasure and an honor to meet you and I really enjoyed talking to you.
Bill Staton: Well I’ve enjoyed talking to you and I am just very happy that you chose One Pocket.