8-ball Junkie – IPT at The Venetian, Las Vegas

With the emergence of the International Pool Tour, billiards has a realistic chance of becoming a sport like golf or tennis, with class, broad social appeal, and large payouts. That’s right, 8-ball, which heretofore, has brought up images of smoky bars and gritty hustling in the eyes of the uneducated masses, is going into rehab, cleaning up its act, and getting a lucrative Hollywood role. Which brings me to the point of today’s feature. What is Hollywood without fashion? And what is fashion without sniping?

Today, I bring three of my life-loves together: pool, fashion, and my assholic nature.

Disclaimer: All the bunk written here is solely my opinion, meant in humor, and for your amusement. All players mentioned play f—ing GREAT, so don’t think I wrote all this because I was jealous or unaware of their pool playing prowess. I’ll post crap like this on my blog after every major tournament I attend. And now, on to the circus.

Yes, darlings, that IS a drug reference. Now that we have that particular item out of the way, on to the circus. For real this time.


As some of you may remember, George “Ginky” SanSouci was the height of the pool scene a few years back, kicking asses and taking names all over the East Coast. He then took his paddle nationwide and left his mark upon the rest of America. Around the time I juuust started getting sucked into this game that would be the joy as well as the bane of my existence, Ginky was at the top of his game AND a bona fide hottie. He was trim, handsome, and a f—king badass pool player. And he looked good in a suit. HOT. Ginky eventually faded from the national and international pool scene.

I noticed that he was one of the players on the IPT roster, so I made a mental note to keep watch for him. It took me a while to figure out which player was him.

Ginky, why did you have a keg belly and why were you wearing a pastel purple shirt? Gone was dark and handsome. Gone was the sharp-dressed man. He had been swallowed by a lavender marshmallow. Sigh. Now you’re only cute in an Easter Peep sort of way.

Regardless, Ginky, it’s nice to see you back in the main ring.

Guys, if you’re barrel-shaped, do not wear feminine pastel colors. Or, if you do, make sure you get a crazily-patterned shirt. Then, you can be an Easter egg.

Now to Evgeny Stalev, also known simply as “The Russian“. He is my brother’s favorite player, and mine as well. Yes, I have a brother. No, he does not play pool. Well, not seriously. He is 18 months older than me and lives in San Francisco. He’s a normal person with a house and good job doing IT support. Yes, he’s my brother. Yes, I’m sure. No, he’s not adopted. No, I’m not adopted. Oh, shut up, already.

Back to The Russian. I often name him as my favorite player, but I am surprised more people don’t know about him. He is well-known in Russia and dominates the billiard scene there, which revolves around a game pretty much specific to Russia, pyramids. It would take me too long to describe the game in detail, but here’s a quick overview of the equipment. The game is played on a table which is like a 5-by-10 snooker table—with pockets cut fairly tight—and the balls used in the game are at least as large, if not larger, than standard carom balls. You’ve got to have a hell of a stroke to play this game well.

Hell of a stroke or no, Stalev, you need some variety in your wardrobe. Stop wearing all black. You’re plenty skinny and wearing black makes you EVEN MORE skinny. Dude, you look like a light bulb on toothpicks. Did they base those stereotypical big-headed large-eyed Area 51 aliens on you? May I suggest a Bowflex? Get ripped, and then you can beat the living daylights out of bored gossip columnists such as myself. In the meantime, you are still my favorite player, and please continue to play fabulously. Although perhaps you want to get rid of that weird cue condom you have over the butt-end of your stick. It’s sending out ambiguous messages, and not in a good way.

Congratulations on making the final group at the IPT and I know more Americans will now take note of your game. And please bring me a furry military hat from Russia. I think those are waaaaay cool.

Gary Abood has finally come out of the closet. No, not THAT closet! I meant the closet we pool players know as The Road. After going from town to town and state to state for over a decade while managing to keep his name and face from common knowledge and the internet, Mr. Abood has cut off the dreadlocks/cornrows/afro he normally sports, tossed out the too-big-basketball-jersey/pseudo-gangsta/homie-with-a-do-rag look, and gone preppy. F—ing hilarious.

Gary, you look great. Welcome to the spotlight. Thank you, also, for shoving cold, hard, reality down the throats of those drunk APA players sitting next to me when you broke and ran five racks to close out the set against Allison Fisher. (Yes, sirs, I *really* think Mr. Abood “has a chance of a snowball in hell” against Ms. Fisher, and yes, I *would* like to bet some money on that. I am aware that you are a Skill Level 7. It does not change my opinion. Can you wait a moment while I pawn everything I own? I will wait while you do the same.)

I’ll give you your cut of the bet the next time I see you. I don’t have to? No, really, I will. It’s to make up for that time my friend and I left you to take a nap in the hot Vegas sun—and didn’t wake you. Even after we noticed you still had that do-rag on. Even after we thought, “Hmm, he’ll probably have a hell of a tan line if we don’t wake him up.” Yeah. Thank God we didn’t see you for a while afterwards. We figured after three years, you wouldn’t be mad at us anymore—and your sunburn (and tan line) would have stopped peeling. Don’t hurt us! Your extremely funny and pretty girlfriend, Taruko, has our back!

Jeff Beckley, I heard Banana Republic heisted you for several hundred before you even shot a ball in the tournament. Who knew pool players could be robbed by businesses in Vegas other than casinos? Thanks, Beckley, you make me feel better about my own shopping sprees. By the way, your tan shirt on Tuesday was totally wrinkled in the back. I didn’t want to tell you because I know that would have sharked you worse than anything else in this Universe. I didn’t want to take you out of your zone as you ran four racks in your match against Allison Fisher. Thanks for shoving more cold, hard, reality down the throats of the same APA players mentioned previously who were watching next to me. I think they wanted to cry.

Allison Fisher, despite your losses, you are still awesome. My brother thinks you’re super-cute and that you look like Meg Ryan.

Speaking of Ms. Fisher, Kelly Fisher continued to sport her signature Goth look at the IPT. Black tank top, black pants, spiked black hair, heavy black eyeliner, and a black, metal-studded belt. In addition to being a very slimming look, Kelly pulls off black in a way Jeanette Lee never could—with a very glamorous rock-star edge. Kudos to you, Kelly, for looking stylishly intimidating. I would totally get a belt like yours, except that if I wore it, I would not look anywhere as cool as you. I would look like a chihuahua wearing a spike collar, and be even more ridiculous-looking than I am now.

Corey Deuel, as good as you play, and as tan as you are, you DO NOT look good in a bright, tomato-red shirt. If you decide to continue with this look, please wait until the December event at the Wynn. Then, I will spike your drink, and while you are out cold, I will super-glue cotton balls to your face and say yes, there is a pool Santa, and it’s not Kevin Trudeau.

Oliver Ortmann, you showed incredible class when you played against pink-shirted Sandor Tot, who was yelling and behaving like a toddler on a sugar high. I am sorry that you lost, and that you had to fill out the paperwork for both you and Sandor, because Sandor didn’t know how to do it. You were totally acting like the Irritated-But-Patient Dad. By the way, I’ve seen that exact same black vest on you for years—is it really a vest or a tattoo? Please note that your fans would LOVE to see you sporting a metallic baby blue vest sometime. We think the Vegas lounge act look would do wonders for your popularity and spice up your German-robot look.

There was a proliferation of pink shirts among the male players at the IPT. I counted at least seven pink-shirted male players on Tuesday. Remember, the best look for a light/pastel pink (the only acceptable shade of pink) shirt on a straight manly-man is to pair it with GREY pants. Any other color of pants will make you look gay. Yes, even black. Repeat after me: grey, not gay. UK young gun Karl Boyes wins the award for Best-Looking In A Pink Shirt. Thanks, Karl, for getting rid of the mullet you sported earlier in the year. The clean-cut, Boy Scout look suits you much better than MGD-toting, IROC-Z souper-upper.

And, finally, what is Vegas without Elvis?

To The IPT Dude Dressed Up As Metallic Elvis, thanks for the hilarity. Please, please, PLEASE, dress up in white, gold, rhinestones, AND A CAPE next time. Or, if you’re just into costumes, can you dress up as the Pope? The Pope of Pool. Has a nice, elegant ring, doesn’t it? Thanks to you, I had a great trip, even though there was no LSD involved.


Mike “The Mouth” Sigel, you are a great player. You are a legend. Yes, I know you got none of the rolls, even though you won your match by a huge margin. Now shut the f— up.

Sarah Ellerby, you had a great tournament. I don’t know you at all, but since you were wearing my favorite shade of green, I’ll just assume you’re a nice person as well as a good player.

Gerda “G-Force” Hofstatter, I heard you went to the salon and asked to be made a Sharon Stone light caramel blonde, and they made you an Annie Lennox platinum blonde. It looks good. They’re definitely going to card you at the bar.

Earl “The Pearl” Strickland, you are a great player. You are a legend. You are a fashion freak. Now shut the f— up.

Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer, you make me feel fat.

Danny “Kid Delicious” Basavich, you make me feel not-as-fat.

Austin Murphy, that was a heartbreaker hill-hill loss to Basavich. Please tell Hustlin clothing to come up with a better logo. I never want to pay for a design I could draw on a shirt with a Sharpie.

Mark Tadd/Tademy, you owe me $100. Women can’t play in the Men’s U.S. Open. I’ll let you off the hook if you dress in drag and play in a qualifier for the Women’s U.S. Open. Do well, now that you’re back in the game. And stay away from the Absolut.

To All IPT Players Worth Their Salt

Thanks, guys and gals, for playing great pool. Just when I thought I was cured of this pool addiction, y’all caused me to f—ing fall off the wagon. Excuse me now while I go spend all my hard-earned wages on table time and chasing the impossible dream.