Hopkins and Strickland celebrate Great Slates grand opening

Allen Hopkins & Earl Strickland face off

Saturday night was the night for billiards and the lucky people of Cambridge, Maryland.

Great Slates brought to you by John Moody opened its doors to 1000 people throughout the day and night and there were over 400 attending the opening ceremonies of the grandest "eatertainment" facility of them all.

The pool side is $6,000 square feet with 14 Gabriels Vector tables and 4 Gabriels bar tables. This area is seperated into two rooms. The back room has 6 tables, an elevated viewing area for spectators, and booths for dining as well.

For those of you that are familiar with tables, the Gabriel Vector is the bomb. All I can say is that this table is an engineering feat. It looks to me like every complaint ever brought up, has been addressed by this table. It is truly a great table.

The day started off with Earl Strickand, unprecedented 5 time US Open winner, current World Champion and winner of two of that coveted title and Allen Hopkins, US Open Champion Champion times two, and US Open Straight Pool Champion, numerous other titles and ambassador of the game starting out with a nice reportoire of trick shots.

Next on the agenda was Allens favorite game, straight pool! They played a game to a hundred points. With Earl leading at 25-20, he scratched and Allen ran 80 and out. Nice game. They went on to do challenge matches for the Make-a-wish foundation. Attendees coughed up $10 each to have a chance at beating these two great players, myself included. I got pounded a few times, and that was that. The day session brought in $400 for the charity event.

At six o'clock, we broke for a dinner break in the "eatertainment" side of this fabulous facility, capable of seating over 300, with 10,000 sq feet dedicated for dining, dancing, and live music The crab dishes were superb, and if your tastes vary, there is something for everyone from appetizers to full entree, even a filet, and the Bailey's Chocolate eclair was big enough to make a hungry group happy. It was literally a foot long! This area also has a custom stage built for handling the sounds of the best bands the East Coast has to offer. There are also 5 Gabriels bar tables on this side.

At seven o'clock, the focus switched back to the exhibition. Allen and Earl played 9-ball race to 11, with the final score being Earl over Allen 11-8. Needless to say, it was some great entertainment. Then we went back to the charity challenge matches. The total brought in for the Make-a-wish Foundation was $1100. Earl and Allen offered videos, pictures and autographs to all the die hard pool fans, and a great time was had by all.

To top all this off, adjoining Great Slates is the Cambridge Turf Club, a 10,000 sq off-track betting facility, with two 100 foot long tv's, featuring the Meadowlands and any other facility that is running races. To make it convenient, the two facilities are connected by and a convenient passageway back and forth.

When asked about the opening ceremonies, the owner John Moody said "I was thrilled to have Allen and Earl part of the opening. I found it uplifting and stimulating, and it was fantastic that the fans showed up by the hundreds today to support pool. I would like to thank everyone, and am looking forward to my 10th anniversary of my pool rooms and having the US Open warmup here at Great Slates. This facility is everything anyone would want to have a great tournament and have a great time. Having the Hyatt Regency next door, along with the 18-hole PGA golf course on the Choptank River, only enhances your entertainment experience."

After the exhibition/challenge matches, the play went on with Allen Hopkins playing in a friendly ring game with John Moody and some of the locals, with Earl Strickland and myself playing a race to 9. Naturally, it was another pounding. I would like to add that after travelling coast-to-coast, Canada to Mexico, Great Slates is the finest billiard establishment I have ever experienced.

Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe