Another week another ten-ball tournament… This time, it was closer to home and I didn’t have to take Greyhound’s overnight service.
|2nd Annual Hard Times 10-Ball Open|
|Hard Times Billiards • Bellflower, CA|
Last year, Mezz sponsored this event while The Action Report provided the streaming. This year, the event was independently produced by Hard Times Bellflower and the streaming was provided by Andy “AndyofLA” Chen. The field was lighter this year than last year, most likely due to other major tournaments being scheduled the same weekend. The quality of the field more than made up for the smaller number.
The tournament room freshly opened for player practice in the morning, a.k.a. Heaven.
I am now going to shamelessly add filler to this blog post by listing all the players, along with flippant and frivolous commentary (if I have any).
|Abe Lim||dude behind the Laser Rack and Slug-Doctor Tight Rack System|
|Alex Pagulayan||wears big hair and small shirts|
|Amar Kang||Hustlin clothing spokesmodel, plays great|
|Arturo Rivera||looks like Moses, plays with Biblical slowness|
|Bill Dunsmore||hello, I played you before, a long, long time ago (three years?) in a galaxy far, far away (Arizona)|
|Brandon Shuff||wears the fauxhawk well|
|Brittany Bryant||WPBA professional, had a birthday over the weekend|
|Butch Barba||dude I dropped the f-bombs on during last year’s stream — he still gets my name wrong after a decade|
|Chris Bartram||Nautica clothing spokesmodel, plays great|
|Chris Wedekind||short-sleeve, plaid, button down shirts — forever|
|Corey Harper||C³ Sports Marketing|
|Curtis Johnson||refined fellow with a dry wit|
|Dave Hemmah||house pro of Hard Times Billiards|
|Deo Alpajora||“Day-O” like Harry Belafonte, not “Dee-O” like Black Sabbath|
|Eddie Cohen||seriously serious this hog is famously famous|
|Efren Reyes||like I need to write anything about THIS guy|
|Ernesto Dominguez||stop making us all feel lazy with your 20-hour days and 800-pound slates|
|Greg Harada||bye bye skinny jeans|
|James Burt||he wore a shirt almost identical to Damian Alishan’s one day|
|Jeff Carter||was that a linen suit on Sunday?|
|Jenny Lee||“Mother’s Day? He gave me a bear, some flowers — and drove me to this tournament.”|
|Jesse Engel||the next Shane Van Boening?|
|Joey Chin||blond Asian with a big break|
|Jonathan Demet||“Johnny D” beat “Efren R” on the winner’s side|
|Jose Garcia||this name is incognito to all but those who know him|
|Jose Parica||dude has looked exactly the same for the past 10 years|
|Jun Almoite||“Vain May Hater” [anagram] 😉|
|Keith Durgin||hello, nice to meet you|
|Kenichi Uchigaki||gen’ki desu|
|Kevin May||has an accent|
|Larry Bohn||Hard Times regular|
|Lorry Deleon||Hard Times regular|
|Louis Ulrich||grrr 🙂|
|Mark Whitehead||grrr (from last week) 🙂|
|Mike Davis||only player to see eye to eye with Corey Harper, literally|
|Mike Dechaine||“Two hot chicks told me I had to buy these shoes.” (So he did, of course.)|
|Mitch Ellerman||winner of the Seminole Pro Tour in Mountain View, champion of one-liners|
|“Nestor”||such a Hard Times regular he doesn’t need to use a last name, he’s reached “Cher” status|
|Nick Spano||still buttons the top button of his polo shirt — keeps him looking young 🙂|
|Oscar Dominguez||nice to know your dad’s work ethic guilt trips you as well|
|Phong Ha||hello, met you before|
|Rafael Martinez||yup, he’s still alive|
|Ramin Bakhtiari||grrr 🙂|
|Ramon Mistica||someone described his voice as “Filipino Joe Pesci” — totally SPOT ON|
|Robert Laurie||local tournament promoter|
|Rodney Morris||got the George Clooney distinguished grey hair going on — very nice|
|Sal Butera||Son of Lou “Machine Gun” Butera|
|Santos Sambajon||now sporting the backwards baseball cap regularly|
|Scott Frost||Tim Curry in gangsta form|
|Scott White||looks like he could be Louis’ brother|
|Stan Tourangeau||the Man with the Hair from the Country Up There|
|Steve Chaplin||Virtual Pool creator|
|Steve Leistikow||tournament director|
|“Twig”||such a Hard Times regular he doesn’t need to use a last name OR his real name, he’s reached “The Rock” status|
|Tyler Van Wulven||almost got him into a bad game|
|Wei Ni||“Way Knee” not “Weenie” or “Way Nigh”|
And now, back to the seriously serious business of the tournament.
Tournament room at the height of its sweaty railbird glory.
There were a respectable amount of spectators through the event. I had the best seat in the house, for which I am very grateful, as it allowed me to watch matches up close and occasionally I had the benefit of an elite player providing commentary on the match.
Efren “The Magician” Reyes was definitely a favorite to win this tournament (is he ever not a favorite?). He spent a good amount of his time playing chess (for money, of course) with challengers and from what I hear, he didn’t do too bad.
“My God, they just LOVE giving me money!”
On the last day, I arrived early and ran into Mr. Reyes stretched out in the manager’s spectator chair. He waved hello and went right back to sleep.
Efren “The Manager” Reyes
For the final day of the tournament, official tournament referee and all-around legend (and fabulous match commentator), Frank “The Barber” Almanza brought in a scorekeeper he had constructed. You can change the score using a remote control. His first version of this scorekeeper was made for TAR XVI: John Morra vs Oscar Dominguez back in 2009. This iteration is sleeker, sexier, and comes in an aluminum case, which, depending on your imagination, either looks like the suitcases on Deal or No Deal or a bomb.
It was inevitable that in this tournament, with its concentrated amounts of elite players, we should have clashes of titans. As they fell one by one, some of them found action in other areas while the tournament room was still being used for the surviving players.
In particular, three-cushion billiards was very fashionable.
I think Amar Kang looks very distinguished here. I want to put a bowtie on him.
The current owner of Hard Times is a three-cushion enthusiast. After he bought the room from the previous owners, he brought in additional billiard tables.
At one point, there were more people watching the three-cushion tables than in the tournament room. A possible reason? Well, you could watch the three-cushion action (with the likes of wagering professionals Scott Frost, Brandon Shuff, Ernesto and Oscar Dominguez, Jesse Engel, Amar Kang, Mike Dechaine, Rodney Morris, and Rafael Martinez) for free. That’s more than a half-dozen high-caliber players in one place. Meanwhile, the tournament was winding down and so, you might only catch two or four professionals at a time in the tournament room.
The format of the tournament was ten-ball, races to nine, winner breaks. Early players of note included Chris “Smooth Criminal” Bartram forging a comeback win against Mike “Iron Mike” Davis and racking up a 9-4 win over Rodney “The Rocket” Morris. But, the pixie to beat was Alex “The Lion” Pagulayan. He started off the tournament well and as it progressed, he played better. This may or may not be due to the fact that Hard Times does not serve alcohol.
Kenichi Uchigaki, who is relatively unknown here but an established professional back in Japan, was the most buzzed-about player, taking down well-known players (Sal Butera, Santos Sambajon, Jose Parica) on his way to the hotseat match against Pagulayan.
In the hotseat match, Pagulayan defeated Uchigaki 9-6. On the left side of the bracket, Uchigaki then booted Parica out for a rematch with the Killer Pixie.
Alex Pagulayan & hairdo.
The finals were just GREAT. It was everything a final should be (to me, as a spectator who is not in contention for titles, money, or heart attacks) with close scores in the beginning, surges by both players, mistakes, recoveries, fantastically creative shots, amazingly mundane bricks, and a final rack that might have outdone the entire rollercoaster ride of a match.
If you want to watch it, I’ve included a link to it at the end of this post.
I’m always fascinated by how professionals break, so I’ve taken some videos of both Pagulayan and Uchigaki breaking. Uchigaki had three break and runs in the finals, Pagulayan had none.
|Alex Pagulayan||Kenichi Uchigaki|
There were two notable forfeits in this tournament.
Ernesto Dominguez vs Oscar Dominguez
Ernesto forfeited in favor of his son going forward.
Santos Sambajon vs Efren Reyes
Santos forfeited in favor of going to watch the Pacquiao-Mosley fight with Efren.
Originally, I was told Santos and Efren were postponing their Saturday night elimination match so they could watch the Pacquiao-Mosley fight. There was some minor uproar over this as the other three matches on the elimination side for the evening had to stay to play. It reeked of favoritism. After a while, I was given word that Santos forfeited the match to Efren instead.
Discuss your thoughts (if any) on these forfeits in the comments section.
This was a great event. Personally, I loved playing this tournament. I went 1-2, which was better than last year’s 0-2, so I’m — content — with my finish. There were no shenanigans, probably because I knew my opponents, more or less, and the one opponent I didn’t know was very nice.
Life is good for a girl when pool is pool and nothing else.
tournament results & payout
t h a n k s
EMCA | FWCCA | Eddie Arreguin & Hard Times Billiards | tournament directors Steve Leistikow & Marie Lim | live stream peeps Andy Chen & Daniel Busch
in no particular order
Jay “No More Toupee” Helfert (he’s starting on a second book) & Brooklyn Butch | John Bertone of Kamui (thank you for the chalk, I shall defend it with my life) | poolist | the lil green cho | & congratulations to Alex Pagulayan and Kenichi Uchigaki for a helluva tournament
if I missed you in this list, I apologize — when I have ceviche in front of me and no sleep from watching too much world-class pool, my memory occasionally falters (email me if you feel left out and I’ll add you to this list)
- watch recorded matches at AndyofLA’s Ustream event channel
consider sending him jelly if you enjoyed his FREE live stream of the event
Paypal a donation to him at hang10ac23 [at] hotmail [dot] com
- West Coast Pool Players
- Hard Times Billiards in Bellflower, CA