Piazza Double Dips While Strickland and Schmidt Double Team

Gabe Owen, Ruben Silva, Tommy Tokoph, Tony Piazza

On August 21-22, Table Steaks South (soon to be known as Billiards Ink) in Englewood, Colorado hosted a $1,000 added bar table 8-ball tournament, the second in a series of big money added events this summer. The tournament was held in conjunction with a Team CSI exhibition featuring Earl Strickland and John Schmidt, led by team manager Mark Cantrill.

This weekend's festivities drew a field of 57 top players from across the state, including cameo appearances from 2004 U.S. Open Champion, Gabe Owen and Albuquerque's favorite, Tommy Tokoph. Owen went undefeated in the finals to await his opponent, while Tokoph worked his way through the left side of the field after his third round loss to Colorado Springs' Ruben Silva. Tokoph eliminated a handful of tough players before meeting up with 8-ball expert, Tony Piazza. Tokoph would have to settle for fourth while Piazza went on to face Silva, who was just sent West by Owen.

It was an ACUI face off. Silva, 2004 ACUI champ, and Piazza, two-time ACUI champ, put on an 8-ball clinic for the room full of spectators. The gentlemen exchanged racks until the score was tied 3-3. In the final game, piazza broke the balls wide open and weaved through a sophisticated run out to face Owen in the finals. “I got fourth last time and third this time so I should get at least second next time,” jokingly said Silva.

With two savvy bar table 8-ball players in the finals, the crowd knew they were in for a treat. Very few errors were made in the first set. It was run out after run out. When, in the final rack at 4-4, Owen made a critical error. He scratched on the break allowing Piazza to run that rack and take the first set. The theme would continue into the second set except this time, Owen seemed to lose some focus. Now, only a race to 4, every little mistake would count. While up 3-2, Piazza finally gave up on his second ball break and blasted the rack wide open to run out.

Team CSI, the Earl Strickland and John Schmidt Show

At 7 o'clock on Saturday, tournament players gladly took a break for a unique talent show. With Owen in the building, this visit meant three former U.S. Open Champions under one roof, a rare treat for Denver. The exhibition kicked off with the Strickland Comedy Hour which kept the full attention of the packed house with each trick  and stroke shot, sprinkled with classic Strickland-isms like, “I ain't afraid to die broke,” “That's what makes the great players great,” or “This is a players' table,” if he would miss.

Strickland was in true form. He referenced his temper at his own expense and shared numerous crowd-pleasing road stories, including the tale of the $15,000 in fines he accrued one season when he refused to stop telling his opponent, “You're cheating me!” when they pulled out their jump cue. Strickland closed the show with a full cue table-length jump-draw shot, six consecutive high speed wing shots and some classic trick shots.

Fans were then treated to a race-to-seven match between Schmidt and “ATM” Andy Pettinger. Pettinger got two games on the wire but it wasn't nearly enough to hang with Schmidt, who wowed fans with his impressive jump skills, smooth stroke, and cue ball control. In the end, a couple lucky winners received an opportunity to play scotch doubles with Strickland and Schmidt before they left.

“It was a real pleasure having John, Earl, and Mark come out for us. They did a great job and everybody had a good time. We were really pleased with the turn out in spectators and tournament players. The tournament went smoothly and we look forward to having them return when they can,” said Billiards Ink co-owner, Antoinette Wharton.

Upcoming Events

Midwest 9-Ball Tour
$3,000 added
September 25-26
$50 entry
Open Division & Ladies Division

For more info, call 303.789.0651 or visit www.mw9balltour.com