Corey Deuel Wins Nineball’s Gold Crown in the Tri-State Series Invitational

On April 22nd & 23rd at Gold Crown Billiards in Erie PA, some of the continents top professional pool players arrived to battle it out in the 4th Annual Spring Tri-State Invitational Nine-Ball Tournament. Players included Canada’s John Morra, former Mosconi Cup players Dennis Hatch, Shawn Putnam, Mike Dechaine (now well known for his role on Tru-TV’s reality show “The Hustlers”) and eventual tournament champion Corey Deuel. Morra was coming off his win at the Pro Ten-Ball Tournament at the Super Billiards Expo, the country’s largest billiard extravaganza. The pros faced top regional amateur players including former World’s Jr. Bar-Table Champion, Buddy Skrutsky, former Pennsylvania Amateur Eight-Ball State Champion, Shayne Morrow, and Toledo’s Shane Winters who won the 1000 player Super Billiards Expo Amateur Tournament in April.  Tournament director and Gold Crown Billiards owner Paul Schofield goe on to say, “This tournament is fast becoming one of the premier pool events in the region, drawing in the kinds of players the average person might only catch on ESPN.”


There was a $100 entry fee for the tournament.  $5000 was added by sponsors including Coca-Cola, Simonis Cloth, Presque Isle Downs, Erie Beer, and Cue & Case.  The tournament was assisted by 29 local pool enthusiasts who volunteered to help maintain the chart, score-keep, and tend to the equipment.  In addition to the prize money there was a $10,000 sponsor-player auction.


The tournament ran Friday evening through Saturday night.  The 32 man field was structured using a four loss bracket system designed and implemented by Gold Crown’s owner Paul Schofield who says, “I’ve run over two hundred tournaments here, big and small, using this system.  It guarantees a player doesn’t have to concern himself with driving hundreds of miles only to get a “tough draw” then get knocked into the sudden death losers bracket.  This system rewards consistent play over an entire day.”  Canadian Professional Erik Hjorleifson adds “The main advantage of the quadruple elimination qualifying rounds is that if you lose once it does not devastate you for the rest of the tournament. It also keeps players playing throughout the weekend. Those entering get in a lot of play and by doing so, gain experience.”    The system qualifies a quarter of the field to compete in a single-elimination championship bracket. The championship-bracket is comprised of no-loss, one-loss; two-loss, and three-loss bracket winners.  These seeded finalists are paired high to low:  No-loss bracket winners vs. three-loss bracket winners, one-loss bracket winners vs. two-loss bracket winners.  The tournament also utilized the “No Conflict Rules for Racking & Breaking”:


– Players lag for the opening break.
– Players alternate breaks.
– The Random Racking Process is used for Nine and Ten-Ball.
– Breaker racks his own and then breaks the balls.
– The opponent has no rack approval rights.
– Object balls must break the center string vertical plane.*
   (2 balls in Nine-Ball, 3 balls in Ten-Ball, 4 balls in Eight-Ball)
– The “game-ball” (8, 9, or 10-ball) made on the break is spotted.
– Breaker shoots after a legal break.


In addition, there were no short games; no three-foul rule and no early 9’s.


During the tournament the talented amateurs fell one by one leaving the pros to dominant the final eight bracket: Erik Hjorleifson vs. Billy Thorpe, John Morra vs. Danny Smith, Shawn Putnam vs. Mike Dechaine, and Corey Deuel vs. Dennis Hatch.   The semi-finals saw Corey Deuel defeat John Morra 8 games to 5, and Shawn Putnam defeat Thorpe 8 to 5.   The final match between Deuel and Putnam was a match of ebbs and flows.  As he had done all day, Deuel utilized the controlled break to perfection, consistently keeping the cue ball in the center of the table and placing the one ball down toward the corner pocket. Corey pulled out early and looked to take the match mid-way when he turned a lock down safety into a run out to take the lead at 6 to 4.  But  Shawn came back to tie the match at 6 to 6 before Deuel pulled out two close games with precise position play to win 8 to 6.  For winning the tournament, Deuel received $2500.   Putnam received $1700 for runner up.  Thorpe and Morra received $1000 for 3rd/4th.   Erik Hjorleifson, Mike Dechaine, Dennis Hatch and Danny Smith received $500 for 5th/8th.


Gold Crown Billiards is located at 3866 Peach Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.   For more information on our tournaments please contact Gold Crown Billiards at  814-866-2035 or visit our website at