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Bergman stops loss side run by Woodward to go undefeated in Carom Room Classic

They've been dancing around each other all year; the two young guns, Justin Bergman and Skyler Woodward. Woodward won the 2014 Big Tyme Classic Main event in March in Texas, in which Bergman finished in the tie for fifth. Bergman won the Smokin' Aces Bar Box Open back in April, in which Woodward took fifth. Woodward won last week's Smokin' Aces Bar Box 9-Ball Open, in which Bergman had bowed out in the tie for 9th place. They've been in the money at numerous events together throughout this year, and are currently ranked #7 (Woodward) and #8 (Bergman) on our Money Leaderboard. They met for the first time in an event final, during the $7,000-added Carom Room Classic in Beloit, WI on the weekend of August 23-24. In a highly dramatic developing scenario, Bergman occupied the hot seat as Woodward worked through six matches on the loss side to meet him in the finals. Bergman, though, took the wind out of the Woodward sails with a single set victory to claim the event title that had drawn 96 entrants to Coles' Carom Room.
 
Won by Jesse Bowman in 2013, the 2014 Carom Room Classic featured an array of pros who had not been part of the previous year's field; Shane Van Boening, Larry Nevel, Robb Saez, Corey Deuel, Warren Kiamco, Dennis Hatch, and significantly, Bergman among them. Van Boening was gone, relatively early, defeated by Hatch and then, Nevel, who one match later, fell to Woodward. Kiamco was gone by the 7/8 matches, a victim of Saez. The defending champ Bowman, had bowed out in the tie for 13th.
 
It was Bergman and Deuel (a repeat of the April Smokin' Aces final), who squared off in the hot seat match, each having sent a returning competitor (from last year's event) to the loss side; Chads Elston and Lund, respectively. Bergman defeated Deuel 9-5 and due to a little delay in the loss side proceedings got to watch Skyler Woodward battling through an array of opponents to reach him.
 
On the loss side, it was Chad Elston who had the misfortune of running into Woodward, who, having been sent to the loss side by Chuck Raulston, finished Shane Winters and Larry Nevel to reach him (three down, three to go). Lund picked up Robb Saez, who'd eliminated Stan Tourangeau and Kiamco (who'd spoiled Woodward's chance at a rematch by defeating Raulston). Saez and Woodward advanced to the quarterfinals; Saez 9-4 over Lund and Woodward 9-3 over Elston.
 
Displaying a high degree of confidence that has become something of a trademark for him, Woodward downed Saez in the quarterfinals 9-6, and then got way out in front to defeat Deuel in the semifinals 9-2. The true double elimination, 'young gun' battle was on.
 
Bergman came out on top. He took the opening set 9-4 to claim the event title.
 
The event was produced by Pool Action TV, under the direction of Ray Hansen. The event was streamed on Pool Action TV throughout the weekend, with primary commentating from Hanson and Scott Rabon. Hansen thanked Carom Room owner, Dave Coles, Jr. and his staff, as well as sponsors Pat DeViveney Cues, Mitchell Thomas Cues, Jumpin Jax Cues, Lemons Coin Machines, Roger Alford Heating and Cooling, Faries Construction, and Manny Perez of FundManny.com.

Justin Bergman goes undefeated to win $20K in 1st Annual Smokin’ Aces Bar Box Tournament

Justin Bergman

Pretty much everything about the 1st Annual Smokin' Aces Bar Box 9-Ball Open held from April 18-20 in Poplar Bluff, MO was a little different. It was limited to 16 players, required a $2,000 buy-in, featured races to 21, and paid out $20,000 to the winner, Justin Bergman. It was the realization of room owner and tour director Mike McKuin's desire to improve the money-making possibilities for traveling pros.
 
"I did it for the players," said McKuin, who grew up within a dozen miles of an abandoned restaurant called Spencer's Barbecue that he bought back in October, and after re-opening the restaurant, expanded the facility to house a pool room. "I just don't think it's fair. I see all these pool players going to these big tournaments (where) expenses are high, and they don't make money like they should.
"I feel like promoters are taking too much out of pool," he added.
 
His solution: limit the number of players, increase the buy-in, and give the players who show up the opportunity to win big money, in addition to whatever money accrues from the player auctions. And the players responded; a veritable 'Who's Who' in Midwest pool circles, like Shane McMinn, Chip Compton and Joey Gray, along with top-notch players from the rest of the US of A, like Corey Deuel, who was the runner-up, Robb Saez, who placed third, Brandon Shuff, Rodney Morris, Jonathan "Hennessee from Tennessee" Pinegar, and Oscar Dominguez, to name a little over half the field. All 16 were treated to two free dinners over the weekend.
 
"I'm going to continue to do these tournaments," said McKuin, noting that he has scheduled a second such tournament for August 15. "I'm going to (pursue) sponsorships, and I want to be able to give players a free hotel room."
 
The winners' side semifinals in this event featured all three money winners, and Joey Gray. Bergman faced Saez, as Deuel battled Gray. Bergman defeated Saez 21-19, and in the hot seat match, faced Deuel, who'd sent Gray to the loss side, 21-18. Bergman downed Deuel 21-19 and waited in the hot seat for his return.
 
Over on the loss side, Morris, Compton, Chuck Raulston, and Danny Rose finished in the tie for 13th, as Scott Frost and Skyler Woodward advanced through to pick up Saez and Gray. Frost had downed Pinegar 21-18, and survived a double hill fight against McMinn to draw Saez. Woodward defeated Whitney Walker 21-12 and Jesse Bowman 21-10 to draw Gray.
 
Gray and Saez got right back to work; Saez downing Frost 21-15, as Gray eliminated Woodward 21-18. Saez then dropped Gray, 21-19, in the quarterfinals, moving into a guaranteed money slot in the semifinals. Deuel stopped him right there 21-18. Bergman and Deuel duplicated their hot seat match, with Bergman winning it 21-19 to claim the 1st Smokin' Aces Bar Box 9-Ball Open title.
 
McKuin thanked all of the players who participated, as well as his staff for their work over the weekend. He also thanked Big Truck and his crew for their streaming of the event, Jumpin' Jack Cues, Bill Roach, and a "lady named Angel," who stopped by to do work on her pool documentary, Raising the Hustler.

McMinn double dips Woodward to take Midwest 9-Ball event; Miller takes Ladies title

Shane McMinn took two out of three against Skyler Woodward to capture the Midwest 9-Ball Tour's Bar Table event, held on the weekend of March 8-9. Briana Miller went undefeated to claim the Ladies title. Hosted by Break Billiards in Cahokia, IL, the $2,300-added main event drew 74 entrants, while the $100-added ladies tournament drew 16.
 
McMinn and Woodward met first in the winners' side final. McMinn had survived a double hill match against Chuck Raulston, while Woodward was busy downing Gary Lutman 9-5. Woodward then took the first of his three against McMinn 9-5 and sat in the hot seat to await his return.
 
Raulston and Lutman got right back to work on the loss side. Raulston drew Robert Frost, who'd defeated Anthony Fanning and John Gabriel, both 9-6. Lutman got Brian Daniels, who'd survived a double hill match versus Mike Bergere, and an almost-double-hill match (9-7) against Rich Sager.
 
Raulston defeated Frost 9-6, as Lutman was eliminating Daniels 9-4. Raulston then squeaked by Lutman in the quarterfinals 9-8, before McMinn took him down in the semifinals 9-2. McMinn forced a second set in the finals against Woodward with a 9-6 opening set, and though Woodward would force the second set to a single, deciding game, McMinn hung on to win it.
 
Briana Miller and Julia Gabriel faced each other twice in the ladies event. Miller took the hot seat match 7-3, sending Gabriel to the semifinals and a match against Denise Grady, who'd just survived a double hill battle against Angela Vallair in the quarterfinals.  Gabriel won the semifinal matchup against Grady 7-5 and got a second chance against Miller. Miller let Gabriel get two games closer in the finals, one game away from double hill, but she hung in to win it 7-5.

Saez stops Archer loss-side run to go undefeated and win 27th Annual Music City Open

Robb Saez

A week ago, in Decatur, AL, Robb Saez won five matches on the loss-side, only to be denied by Justin Bergman in the finals of the River City Open. This week, from January 15-19, Saez was in Madison, TN for the 27th Annual Music City Open, and opted for the winners' side route to the finals. He stopped a seven-match, loss-side winning streak by Johnny Archer to claim the event title. The $6,000-added Open event drew 105 entrants to JOB Billiards in Madison, TN, while a concurrently-run, $1,000-added Ladies event, won by Brittany Bryant (separate story), drew 48 entrants.
 
A 16-entrant, single-elimination Midnight Madness event, held on Saturday night, saw Corey Deuel down Bobby McGrath in the finals to take the $4,800, first-place prize. Deuel had opened his Midnight Madness run with a victory over Johnny Archer, while McGrath, who collected $3,200 as the runner-up, defeated Robb Saez in one of the semifinals.
 
In the main event, while Archer was working his way back on the loss side, Saez advanced among the winners' side final four for a match against Deuel. Shane McMinn squared off against Danny Smith in the other winners' side semifinal. Saez downed Deuel 11-7, and in the hot seat match, met McMinn, who'd sent Smith to the loss side 11-8. Saez got into the hot seat 11-8 over McMinn, and watched Archer, as he fought back to meet him in the finals.
 
It was Deuel who had the misfortune of running into Archer on the loss side. Archer had four wins already, including an 11-7 victory over Nick Hickerson and an 11-5 win over Chuck Raulston. Smith drew Josh O'Neal, who'd sent Archer to the loss side and then, had himself been sent over by Saez. O'Neal picked up a forfeit win from the only female in the Open event, Brittany Bryant (a conflict with her participation in the Ladies event), and had eliminated Mike Dechaine 11-8. 
 
O'Neal survived a double hill match against Smith to earn a himself a re-match against Archer, who'd eliminated Deuel 11-9. Archer got the best of the re-match, downing O'Neal 11-4, and then, defeated McMinn in the semifinals 11-7; Archer had taken an 8-0 lead in that semifinal match, before McMinn rallied to win seven of the final 10. 
 
In the double elimination finals, Saez and Archer battled back and forth through to a tie at 6-6. Saez won four straight to reach the hill, but came up empty on the 17th rack, allowing Archer to clear the table. Archer made it 10-8 with a 7-9 combo, as the room buzzed with 'here comes Johnny' energy. Saez completed his undefeated run, winning the 19th rack and claiming the event title.

Woodward goes undefeated on Midwest 9-Ball Tour

In a buy-back situation at last June's Southern Classic in Tunica, MS, 20-year-old Skyler Woodward, who will very soon be losing the adjective "young," normally attached to his name, made it to the finals of the Southern Classic's Bank Pool Tournament at Harrah's Casino. He faced Alex Pagalayun, who's about six years away from being old enough for Hall of Fame eligibility. Woodward, who'd already used the 'buy back' option to stay in the tournament had to win twice because Pagalayun had yet to exercise the same option.  Pagalayun prevailed, winning the first and only set 3-1 to finish an undefeated run. But Woodward, who'd finished tied for 70th place in the same tournament a year ago, had his reputation marker advanced a notch or two. In 2012, on our AZB Money Leaderboard, he was ranked 424th. Now, a year later, with three months to go, he's ranked 73rd.
 
Woodward's 'rep' continued to advance in the right direction, as he added an undefeated, September 28-29 weekend on the Midwest 9-Ball Tour to his list of 11 accomplishments (code for "in the money") in 2013. He was almost caught in this one by Jay Klatt, who mounted a five-match, loss-side streak to meet him in the finals. Klatt battled him to double hill before Woodward closed out the $2,150-added Open portion of the weekend's events that had drawn 50 entrants to Break Billiards in Cahokia, IL.
 
The weekend also featured a $350-added Ladies event that drew nine entrants and was won by Julia Gabriel. Like Woodward, Gabriel faced a different opponent in the hot seat match and finals. She downed Shelby Dawn in the hot seat match, but following victories over Annie Nord in the quarterfinals and Dawn in the semifinals, Allison Hardwick got the second chance against Gabriel. Gabriel completed her undefeated run through the short field with a 7-5 finals victory over Hardwick.
 
In the Open event, Woodward moved among the winners' side final four to meet up with Rich Sager. In the other winners' side semifinal, Steve Boucher faced Chuck Raulston, who had just sent Jay Klatt to the loss side. Woodward downed Sager 9-3, while Boucher was busy defeating Raulston 9-4. Woodward moved into the hot seat with a 9-4 win over Boucher and waited on Klatt.
 
Klatt, in the meantime, got right back to work. He defeated Mike Dunklin and Bobby McGrath, both 9-7, to pick up Sager. Raulston drew Shane McMinn, who'd gotten by Drake Nietoetter 9-7 and Jacob White 9-3. Klatt advanced 9-6 over Sager and, in the quarterfinals, got a second shot against Raulston, who'd defeated McMinn 9-4. 
 
Klatt took full advantage of his re-match opportunity. He'd been defeated by Raulston 9-3, earlier. He defeated Raulston 9-5 in the quarterfinals and moved on to face Boucher in the semifinal. He took Boucher down 9-5 as well, and turned for his shot at Woodward in the hot seat. Needing to win two, Klatt's bid fell short with a double hill win in the opening set by Woodward.

Gabriel tops field of 150 at Midwest 9-Ball event; Little takes Ladies title

John Gabriel went undefeated on the Midwest 9-Ball Tour’s $3,500-added 9-ball event on the weekend of February 23-26, working his way through a field of 150 entrants at Shooter’s in Olathe, KS. Melissa Little also went undefeated in the $500-added Ladies event, which had attracted 20 entrants.

From among the winners’ side final four, Gabriel sent Chuck Raulston west 9-5, as Dustin Gunia was busy sending Mike Banks, Jr. over 9-4. Gabriel then took the hot seat match over Gunia 9-5, and waited for his return.

First up for Banks, Jr. on the loss-side was the winner of the concurrently-run One-Pocket event, Mark Haddad, who’d defeated James Baraks 9-6, and Anthony Garcia 9-3 to reach him. Chuck Raulston, in the meantime, squared off against Joey Gray (second in the One-Pocket event), who’d downed Gary Lutman 9-3, and Gordy Vanderveer 9-6. Haddad defeated Banks, Jr. 9-4, but a re-match of the One-Pocket semifinals was avoided when Raulston dropped Gray into the tie for fifth place 9-5.

Raulston took it a step further, dropping Haddad into fourth place 9-5, and turning to face Gunia in the semifinals. Gunia ended Raulston’s bid 9-2 for a second chance versus Gabriel in a potential, true double elimination final. Gabriel took the first and only set 9-5 to secure the event title.

Melissa Little and Nicole Keeney battled twice to crown the Ladies champion. They met first in the hot seat match, and fought back and forth to double hill before Little prevailed. Keeney moved over to the semifinals to face Kathleen Morast, who’d just defeated Carrie Williams in the quarterfinals 7-5. Keeney then shut out Morast for her second chance against Little. Little, though, came out strong in the opening set of what would have been a true double elimination final, and defeated Keeney a second time 7-2.

9-Ball
1st John Gabriel $2,400
2nd Dustin Gunia $1,750
3rd Chuck Raulston $1,000
4th Mark Haddad $750
5th Joey Gray $500
Mike Banks, Jr.
7th Gordon Vanderveer $350
Anthony Garcia
9th Jordan Davis $250
Gary Lutman
James Baraks
Brad Bent
13th Shane McMinn $200
Manny Chau
Greg Hogue
Taylor Anderson
17th Tom Jarboe $125
Patrick Brown
Bobby McGrath
John Bussey
Chip Compton
Glenn Atwell
Jeff Nelson
Anthony Asher
25th Dave Hathman $75
Jacob White
Dusty Meyer
Andy Craig
Mike Banks, Sr.
Dan Angstead
Robert Frost
K. C. Massey

Ladies

1st Melissa Little $500
2nd Nicole Keeney $300
3rd Kathleen Morast $160
4th Carrie Williams $100
5th Angela Vallair $70
Julia Gabriel