Florian Kohler Player Interview

Florian Kohler

With the lack of events to report on at the moment, we are teaming with the Supr Charged Agency to feature interviews with various European and American players. Hopefully this will give all of the readers a chance to get to know these players better.

This time, we get to know “Venom” Florian Kohler
Name (and nickname): Florian ‘Venom’ Kohler
Birth year: 1988
City of residence and birth city:  Las Vegas, US  – Born in Mulhouse, France

We want to kick this off with how Florian began his career, so let’s start with the opening bio from his website.
Venom first picked up a pool cue and began “fooling around” at the age of 18, when he received a mini-pool table for his birthday. He learned his first trick shots from videos on the Internet, watching and imitating what he saw.

Not satisfied, Venom quickly moved on to inventing his own, modern version of old trick shots. Within two years, Venom was competing against trick shot pool pros that had been playing since before he was born. He hasn’t looked back since.

Who was your inspiration when you first started?
My first inspiration was a guy online named Ppooler. Then it was Semih Sayginer, followed by Mike Massey and Tom Rossman.

You are known as very creative and often come up with new and amazing shots. What is the process like when you work on a new shot? 
This is pretty hard to explain. I would say it is a little bit of everything. From watching other sports to literally coming up with it on the spot, it is very varied. Sometimes I have nothing, but then the next day, out of the blue, I’ll have 2 or 3 crazy new shots. I wish I could ‘control’ this better but it really is an artistic process and like artists, inspiration can come from very different things.

About how long does it take you, from the original idea stage, to have a shot “complete” and part of your show?
That also depends very much. Sometimes one shot can be integrated in the show in 15 minutes if it’s a new but easy one. But if it’s a hard one, I would say it takes me weeks to decide if it is worth it live or not.

How did you come up with the idea of bringing your Diamond table to the desert, Valley of Fire, for your latest video?
This was an old dream of mine. I always thought pool in the pool halls was very stereotyped, so I always wanted to get it out of the pool halls for my videos. On top of that, the landscape in my opinion adds an element of extreme sport that really matches my trick shots.

Your wife became a part of your videos a couple of years ago. How did that come together?
That was a very natural process. Part of the joy in pool is to teach your knowledge, so she learned a few tricks and really enjoyed it. After a while, it became obvious we had to do tandem videos. For the modeling part same as well. During practice, I often used her to ‘crash test’ some shots because she is actually fearless, so it really helped to determine which shot would be worth including in a full production. We really enjoy doing those together as a couple, lots of fun!

Are you a God-given talent, or is it a mix of talent and hard work?
I would say the creativity is definitely something I cannot explain, but the rest is just practice practice and practice!

Do you feel the pressure from up and coming artistic cueists?
I was recently talking about that with Mike Massey and to be honest, not really. I actually kind of miss it. There are a few players here and there that are technically very good and will win tournaments, but so far nobody has my creativity and to me copying something that already exists is very different than creating it.

What are your greatest accomplishments? Tell us about the feeling of achieving those.
It is hard to pick but I always thought my tournament accomplishments were never quite as important as the ones outside the pool industry. If I were to choose my first Guinness World Record, the 1 billion views I have online and reaching 1M subscribers on Facebook and soon youtube! No cueist ever reached that YouTube Gold Button, so that will be something truly special!

How often did you practice early on, and how often now?
I practice less and less now with all my other ventures, but when I started and for the next 7 years I was putting more hours in than I could count. I had no issue doing a week practicing 10 hours a day until my fingers were bleeding!

What should newcomers in this discipline practice most?
Definitely finding new shots and discovering their own style. I believe with the evolution of the cues, we can push the sport further and further.

You are also a great 9-ball player. How would you rate yourself in terms of the APA rating system?
Since I own the league in Vegas, I can tell you I would definitely be a 7-9 . I do have a high run of 73 in straight pool and 5 break and runs in 9 ball, all on 9 foot tables.

Do you ever get tempted to participate in local events?
I do very rarely. Not because I do not want to, but mainly because I am simply too busy. Trick shots are my job and normal pool is my hobby, so I am treating it like this, always trying to get shows on a weekend, rather than playing a tournament.

Is it true that you also hold a black belt in Judo, and do you still practice it? 
Yes that is correct. I unfortunately sort of stopped when my pool career started to take off in order, to avoid injuries.

How important is the equipment for an artistic cueist?
Very important! While you can do most shots with simple equipment, the key for us is for the cues to last and be solid/reliable. I can do 70% of my masses with a standard playing cue, however after 50 tries on that cue I would guarantee I would break the ferrule or something!

When did you realize that you could actually make a living from this?
It sort of happened gradually. I decided to really take a chance when my first viral video hit and had a few sponsors that would allow me to survive.

How many travel days do you have per year?
Not sure how many days, but I can tell you last year I took nearly 120 flights!

You have almost 1 million subscribers on YouTube. 
What, in your opinion, is required to be a great ambassador/sponsored player?
Love of the game first. You cannot just do it for the money or for the titles. This is a crazy game and as soon as you think you control it, something will happen. I just try to enjoy the game and truly love every kind of cue sport which naturally translates during my shows and other interactions.

What should the billiard industry do, in general, to get more recognition outside the industry? 
I think, break off the cliches, be more professional and consider ourselves as such. After all, pool is one of the most played sports in the world, so with the right structures, nothing should stop us from reaching our legitimate status!

Thoughts on Matchroom and their efforts to make pool great?
Fantastic! Any effort like this will be beneficial for everyone. Even for the players not selected, such an effort will ripple and enhance the professionalization of our beloved sport!
You were involved in the “Billiards 2024” project. Your goal was to get the sport accepted for the 2024 Olympic Games.
Were you surprised that the Olympic committee decided to not accept billiards, but chose breakdancing, skateboarding, surfing and climbing?

In my opinion this was the best effort billiard has made in a long time. Brands and disciplines working together, past their differences, all towards a common goal. Yes, the result didn’t reflect our efforts, but I truly believe something ‘clicked’ and in the future this will serve the industry greatly! As far as the other disciplines, to me it was simply a lobbying/marketing issue that unfortunately we could not do anything against…

What are your goals for 2020?
Hard to say at this point. My goal was to grow the pool league and go back to traveling a bit less for trick shots but really with the covid19, it’s hard to say what economical landscape we will all wake up to in a month…  I am still hoping to continue promoting the game through my shows and especially appeal to the younger generation!
Can we expect more world records from you in the next 2 years?
Absolutely. As a matter of fact I had an event planned for next month that unfortunately is cancelled due to the pandemic. I am thinking about potentially doing it live now but hard to say if we can meet Guinness requirements during those times… I will certainly keep everyone posted!!

Your thoughts on the Covid-19 situation and what should pool players do? 
These are going to be hard times for us, just when everything was starting to be better. Obviously, we cannot participate in tournaments and travel, so all we can do is share the love for the game online and practice as much as possible!!