Paul Frankel, America’s Provocateur of 3-Cushion Billiards

Paul Frankel, Publisher of the Professor Q-Ball Magazine as well as Owner/Editor of, is America's leading proponent of 3-cushion billiards, often known internationally as Caroms.

Paul did not start out as a carom player, his youth was spent on pocket billiards. But when he was 16 years old he went to his local poolroom in Brooklyn, NY, and found a waiting list for pool tables. A lone gentleman was on the one Billiard table in the place, shooting with one arm and using a bridge to steady the shaft of his cue. He asked Paul to pass some time with him playing 3C. Paul at first declined, but as the wait for his pool table grew longer the man asked him again and Paul relented and played his first game of 3C.

He was hooked. From that day on Paul was an advocate of the pocketless rails. When he moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1989 he found himself in a 3C desert. Not a table to found anywhere. He had to resort to buying a table for his home and his days of haunting the pool halls were over. It became just he and the four rails and his passion grew in the quiet of his home in Memphis.

Then Paul discovered the artistry of the great Sang Lee. At that time Sang Lee lived in Flushing, Queens, only about 20 miles from where Paul had begun his love of 3C. He had, unfortunately, just moved all the way down to Memphis when he first heard of the talents of Lee. He did, however, get to meet Sang Lee when he went back to New York to visit family. At that time the biggest Billiard room was the Carom Cafe and it was here that the two men first met.

At about this time Paul first heard of the USBA, America's Governing Body of 3C. This was from a friend as there was such a dearth of news about Billiards in the pool publications that information was at a premium. That vacuum was one that Mr. Frankel was destined to fill. In 1998 he put an ad in a local bar-flyer newspaper. This was to promote his first event. After the event he had a lot of photos and he thought it would be good if he could put those up where people could see themselves. Conveniently, the editor of the bar-flyer found his attention needed elsewhere and asked Paul to take over the paper. Professor Q-Ball was born.

He grew the publication by going to the BCA Trade Show and soliciting support. His dedication to the game has now garnered him loyal advertisers and more discover him every year. With this under his belt Paul began to travel to major events. He went to the World Cup when Bob Jewett was President of the USBA and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Work and pleasure all at once. Paul became familiar with the players and supporters of 3C across America.

In 2005 Paul and the USBA agreed to put the USBA newsletter inside of Professor Q-Ball. That was the first national opportunity for the word to spread about 3C in the States. Soon he donned the Promoter hat and teamed with Mark Griffin of CSI to do a promotion at the BCAPL National Championships where pool players could come and play a race to 3 against Billiard Great Mazin Shooni. Anyone who bested Shooni would get a free cuestick donated by Sterling Gaming. Out of 340 matches Paul only had to give away 20 cuesticks. But the players came back each year for another shot at Mazin and a new cadre of players began to appreciate the complexity of the collisions.

In 2006 Greg Sullivan of Diamond Billiard Products came to Paul and said: "Let's do something with 3-Cushion at the Derby". (Derby City Classic, the yearly affair promoted by Diamond Billiards.) So they did a qualifier there for the USBA National Championships and it was very well received. By the third year the event had outgrown the space provided by the Executive Inn West and so Greg and Paul moved the event across the street to the Executive Inn East. Greg would give him the entire hotel for his use.

So Paul partnered with Tom Rossman, better known as Dr. Cue, and together they filled that hotel with players and fans of 3C and Trick Shots. Rossman had his Artistic Pool event and Frankel ran the Billiards competition. But this year it was not a Qualifier. This was the first time the USBA Nationals had been moved out of a pool room and into a prestigous hotel setting. There were divisions for both the men and the ladies and seats were difficult to find. (This reporter had to stand in the doorway one day to catch the action.)

Then the Executive Inn in Louisville was sold to Holiday Inn and their renovations removed the ballrooms where all of the Derby City events were conducted. A new site was found at Harrahs but there was less space and the 3-C event found itself without a home. But by putting Greg Sullivan in touch with Thierry Gabriel of Gabriel tables a new site was found for the Nationals at the Tropicana in Las Vegas and Paul was back promoting again. The latest edition of the USBA NAtionals was held this year at Allen Hopkins Super Billiard Expo. 

Paul is not only a Publisher and Promoter, he is also the Representative for Gabriel Tables here in the USA. And in 2011 and 2012 he also promoted the 3-Cushion Champion of Champions event at Hopkin's Super Billiard Expo. This event was open only to those competitors who had won the USBA Championships in the past twelve years. This was yet another hit with fans and created another opportunity for pool fans to see the best at this discipline.

Paul is also well-known for his annual USBA Qualifiers held at the exclusive Pendennis Club in Louisville. This almost never happened. When he first contacted the club they turned him down, explaining that the club was exclusive to their membership and not open to the public. But a 3C player who Paul knew was a member of the Board of Directors of the club and with his influence an annual tradition was born in 2008. "This is such a beautiful venue. The club has been there since the 1800's and it is gorgeous. Very elegant. Now it is a tradition to hold the event there."

Paul Frankel's goal is to make a difference. "I just want to make a difference in American Caroms. I want to leave it better than I found it." Most would say he reached that goal long ago.

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