Mighty Max takes T.O.P. prize in Northridge

Max Eberle

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if every player in a tournament had to face the exact same table lay-out? Have you ever thought to yourself that it would be great if there was no opponent to miss a shot and accidentally leave you safe? If so, then welcome to T.O.P. - Total Offense Pool.

T.O.P. - created by John Bryant and Joe Porper - held their inaugural tournament this weekend at Billiard Connection in Northridge, CA. The prospect of an exciting new format drew such notables as Ernesto Dominguez, Morro Paez, Mike Massey, Max Eberle and Dave Hemmah. Also in attendance were many of the top local players, such as Francisco Galindo and Gerardo Jamito.

In the T.O.P. tournament, players did not have to face an opponent. Every player played the exact same pre-defined table layouts of 10 precisely positioned balls per table. If a player ran out perfectly without missing a ball, he scored a 10….1 point for every ball made. If he missed, then 1 point would be added for every miss….so if he missed once, then he scored an 11, if he missed twice, then he scored a 12, and so on. One point would also be added for any scratches made. (See below for a complete list of rules).

Saturday started with a buzz of excitement because none of the players knew exactly what to expect. All ten tables were set-up with different lay-outs, but none of the players knew exactly what was in store for them. Gerardo Jamito started off the first-round with a perfect 10, drawing applause from the spectators and other players, but faltered on some of the later racks….scoring a couple of 13's and 14's. Dave Hemmah had a great day, scoring 2 perfect 10's. Max Eberle finished in 1st place for the day, scoring one perfect 10 and several close-to-perfect 11's. When everyone had finished every table on Saturday, the tournament director, Ron Wishnack tallied the total scores and the top half of the field was invited back on Sunday to play another 10 tables to determine the final placements/payout.

The Sunday round saw the return of all the top players, plus some local players who deserve a quick mention. Congratulations to Derek Kim, Amir Shoshan, John Fields and Steve Chaplain for hanging in with the big guns and making the cut!

Max Eberle once again played a near flawless game all day, and continuing his run of high tournament finishes, won the first ever T.O.P. event. With only 2 tables left to play, it looked like Dave Hemmah would be the runner-up in this event, but Dave's last 2 racks didn't go as smoothly as hoped, and his total score ended him in 3rd place, propelling Gerardo Jamito into 2nd place. Morro Paez and Ernesto Dominguez rounded out the top 5.

John Bryant created T.O.P. with the idea in mind of gearing it specifically for television. He believes that this format will be easily understood by the general public since every player has to face the exact same challenge…..just like in golf. He feels that this event was a success even though it did not draw as many players as hoped. All the players expressed their enjoyment of the new format and plan to participate in future events.

John Bryant and Joe Porper would like to express thanks to everyone who helped bring this tournament to fruition: Laura Friedman, Dave Belgium, Ron Wishnack, Mark Yamato of Billiard Connection and all the sponsors and players.

For information on future T.O.P. events, of if you have questions about T.O.P. in general, please call John Bryant at 661.478.2171.

1st Max Eberle $1400
2nd Gerardo Jamito $900
3rd Dave Hemmah $600
4th Morro Paez $450
5th Ernesto Dominguez $375
6th Billy Palmer $350
7th Mike Massey $325
8th Arturo Rivera $300
9th Francisco Galindo $275
10th John Fields $250
11th Amir Shoshan $225
12th Derek Kim $200
13th Steve Chaplain $100


  1. Players do not play against an opponent.
  2. Every player will play the exact same pre-defined layouts of 10 precisely positioned balls per table.
  3. Top half of the field will play ten additional tables on Sunday for payout positions - scores from both days will determine final payouts.
  4. The balls must be shot in order from the lowest to the highest numbered ball.
  5. A player, may pocket any ball as long as he or she hits the lowest numbered ball first.
  6. The number of innings (balls pocketed without a miss) for each player to pocket all the balls on the table determines that player's score for the round.
  7. An 'Ace' is whan a player pockets two or more balls in one shot - making an ace improves a player's score.
  8. However if a player makes two or more balls but scratches, it will mollify the ace and for each ball made an additional scratch will be added to that player's score.
  9. If a player scratches, the cue ball will go either on the head string line or rack line, which ever is farthest from the next ball to be played.
  10. If a player is shooting at the lowest numbered ball and misses that ball, but hits another, it will count as one stroke. But if a player is shooting at the lowest numbered ball and does not hit that ball, but makes another ball, that will be a two stroke penalty.
  11. If a ball jumps off the table that ball will go into the pocket and the player will get a two stroke penalty.
  12. There are no "safties" - players must attempt to pocket every shot no matter how difficult.
  13. If a player intentionally roles out or up to a ball to get a better shot he or she will be penalized five strokes.
  14. The player who clears all of his/her tables in the least number of innings will be declared the tournament winner - the TOP DOG.

Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe