|Huidji “Hooch” See is the 2011 World Ten Ball Champion. The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) withdrew sanctioning from the 2012 World Ten Ball Championships. Thus, Mr. See remains the defending champion going into the 2013 event scheduled for June in Oslo. I asked Mr. See a few questions about what it is like to be a professional pool player in his home country, the Netherlands.|
In your home country, what defines who is an amateur and who is a professional player?
In my opinion, if you can pay all your bills from playing pool, you are a professional. But, our government doesn’t have any official guidelines.
Is it possible for a professional player to return to amateur status?
I think so, once a professional decides he or she does not want to make a living with pool anymore and for instance decides to have a job.
Does your country have an organization or an individual that determines who is a professional and who is an amateur in cuesports?
No, we don’t have that. We go through the EPBF [European Pocket Billiard Federation], the governing body of Europe. They use rankings to determine who goes to the World Championship.
What professional tour(s) do you currently play in?
I play as many tournaments as I can which are profitable in my opinion. But I think you are referring to the tour like the Eurotour. That is probably the only tour I always play.
What is one feature you would change on the tour(s) you play in, aside from increasing the prize money?
I would like to get the rules and the format standardized! We pool players play different rules over the world and that just does not make sense.
How does the government of your country help you as a professional athlete?
Yes the government helps top athletes very much in my country! They help financially and also try to make our lives easier. For instance they help us in arranging things like where you can find the best places to visit the gym or how you should handle your nutritions for your sport and they will even help you out with coaches and mental coaches.
What kind of financial aid do you receive from your government?
The government sponsors me to play in the European Championships. If I win a medallion [first through third places receive gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively], I get an additional bonus in the form of a stipend. The stipend is good for a year and the government gives me the money directly.
What kind of image does pool have in the Netherlands? Is it considered a respectable sport/game?
It is still considered a “bar” game.
Did you get a lot of media attention (newspapers, TV, etc.) when you won the World 10-Ball Championships?
I got some media attention [in the Netherlands], but actually got more attention in Asia.
How does one correctly pronounce your name?
[Not “wee-jee” like “Ouija” board, which is how most people seem to say it.]
How did you get your nickname, “Hooch”?
No idea. It’s just my name in one syllable.