Johnny Archer Wins 2007 Texas Hold Em Billiards

Jeff Keck (Springfield Improvement Business District) with Johnny Archer

“This tournament takes the sport to a whole new level,” said an elated Johnny Archer moments after capturing the 2007 TEXAS HOLD ‘EM BILLIARDS® CHAMPIONSHIP. The pressure packed event was held at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. on February 10. Archer, the 2006 International Champion of Champions, defeated John Schmidt, the 2006 U.S. Open Champion, for $25,000 first prize in the final match, and was crowned the new “Texas Hold ‘Em Billiards® Champion.” The two semifinals and the Championship match were taped by ESPN for telecast on April 12 from 7 PM to 10 PM.

“The pressure is just incredible,” said Archer “There's no margin for error from start to finish. One shot missed and you can lose $25,000! Your nerves are off the wall during the entire tournament.”

Indeed, of the eight champions in the event, Archer had to fight his way to the title. Texas Hold ‘Em Billiards® duplicates the format of Texas Hold 'Em Poker with players required to make huge bets and often forced to go “All-In!” The game is a mirror image of poker and the format requires the competitors to put it all on the line. A match consists of 16 games, with 4 games to a round, and game values increase every round. Each player must ‘ante” that amount and the winner of the game receives that amount from the other 3 players in a bracket A player with less than the dollar amount required for a game must go “All-In” and if he does not win that game, he is eliminated. Only one player is left standing in the Championship match!

The semfinal and final matches pit four players in a modified round robin. To level the playing field, each player starts a semifinal round with the same amount of money, $125,000 in chips. The four players in each match are required to ante ever-increasing wagers through sixteen games of play. The wagers escalate from $20,000 to $40,000 in games 1 – 12 and short stack players are forced to go “All In” in games 13 – 16. The two top money winners from each semifinal advanced to the Championship match.

George Breedlove and John Schmidt advanced from the first semifinal, eliminating Rodney Morris, 2006 Pro Championship Champion, and Jennifer Barretta, 2006 Empress Cup Champion. In the other semifinal, Archer and 2006 Mosconi Cup Champion Corey Deuel eliminated World Games Gold Medalist Jeanette Lee and 2006 International Speed Pool Champion Luc Salvas. As the Championship match began, Deuel had $500,000 in chips, Breedlove $335,000, Schmidt $165,000 and Archer $100,000. Archer was clearly the dark horse to win the title.

Schmidt won the first game and Deuel the second, but from there the flow of the match rapidly began to change. Breedlove busted out in game 12 and Deuel, forced to go “All In”, was eliminated in game 14. Archer and Schmidt then went heads-up, and the match seesawed as the advantage shifted back and forth every game. Archer had $920,000 in chips at one point, only to lose the game and put Schmidt back in the match. In overtime game 18, Schmidt scratched on the break and Archer cleaned the table to emerge victorious.

Much like televised poker, the chip count was used to keep score for the ultimate $80,000 prize purse. Schmidt took home $12,000 as runner-up, Corey Deuel $10,000 as third, George Breedlove $8,000 as fourth, Jeanette Lee and Jennifer Barretaa $7,000 each in a tie for fifth/sixth, Luc Salvas $6,000 as seventh and Rodney Morris $5,000 as eighth.

Johnny Archer was the one player left standing and the crowd gave him a rousing ovation when he won the Championship match. He raised his arms in victory and then accepted the $25,000 winner's purse. The trophy and the check were presented by Springfield civic leaders and Olhausen Billiards, and Viking Cues presented a one-of-a-kind cue inscribed “2007 Texas Hold ‘Em Billiards Champion.” The presentation brought another round of cheers from the audience.

In addition to the fine tournament site at the Basketball Hall of Fame, the event was sponsored by Olhausen Billiards, Viking Cues, Aramith Super Pro Balls, Simonis Cloth, Chameleon Rack, Liguria International, Original Italian Slate, Ozone Billiards, Silver Cup Chalk, Hilton Garden Inn, Springfield Business Improvement District, Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley and . The event was produced by Matt Braun and Bettiane Braun of Billiards International, Ltd. in association with Allen Hopkins.

Photo courtesy of Seth Kaye