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Garcia wins double-hill exhibition match versus Justin Martin at Breaktime in Wilmington, NC

Roland Garcia

It was, in many ways, emblematic of the much larger pool community that has come so far while continuing to have a long way to go. Exhibition and/or Challenge matches happen all the time, but on Saturday, Sept. 10, two professionals squared off in a somewhat isolated venue in Wilmington, NC and played a double-hill exhibition match that was everything, as a spectator, one could hope for; ups and downs, lead changes and at the end of a race-to-17, a single game to determine the winner. 

The event was organized by pro-player Justin Martin, who grew up and currently lives in Wilmington and for the past 15 months, has run the JUMP Billiards Pro Shop at Breaktime Billiards in the city. In coordination with the room’s owners, Jim and Margaret Grago, they transformed a restaurant space within the facility into a 60-seat arena, dismantled and re-assembled one of the room’s nine, 9-ft. tables and invited world-class pro player, Roland Garcia from the Philippines to be Martin’s opponent in the Exhibition match. Garcia is currently the #1-ranked competitor in the Predator Pro Billiard series.

“We’re good friends,” Martin explained, as he worked with a cue on a lathe in the Pro shop a few hours before the match. “We see each other out and about at the tournaments a lot and he’s definitely one of the few guys that I like to hang out with, spend time with out at the events.”

Garcia, sitting a few feet away, is asked whether he intends to emerge victorious in the upcoming match. Having arrived only a few hours before and still dealing with a bit of travel fatigue, Garcia yawned. And then suggested that it would be Martin who would be doing the butt-kicking in the near future. As the lathe continued to turn and Martin kept his eyes focused on the task at hand, he’s asked what prompted the decision to organize the match.

“I don’t gamble,” he said, “and I’m always looking for new ways to compete, to find new ways to stay sharp, so I always felt like exhibition pool is a good answer.”

Justin Martin

In addition to the exhibition match itself, they arranged for a VIP after-party at which spectators who had paid to sit at four VIP high-top tables and chairs, positioned a few feet away from one of the pool table’s long rails, would hang out after the match, play some pool and socialize. All things considered, the match, the VIP Party, and expectations of attendance went smoothly and met expectations. The crowd hovered throughout the match between 40 and 45 attendees, most of them with some form of personal relationship with Martin. 

“I think you’d have been hard-pressed to find someone in the crowd who didn’t know me personally,” said Martin.

“Justin’s girlfriend (Katie Cool) is on our pool team here in Wilmington,” said Mike Tackett, seated at one of a number of folding tables and chairs on the opposite side of the table from the VIP area. “I take lessons from him, too; once a week for about the last month and a half.”

Grago and his wife, Margaret have owned Breaktime Billiards since November, 2015 and hosted their first exhibition match, fan-participation event about four months later, when Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris were the competitors. Though the room has since hosted tournaments at which personalities like Dr. Cue (Tom Rossman) and Venom (Florian Kohler) have been in attendance, this was the first such exhibition match since 2016. While personal-awareness-of- Justin-Martin was an important factor in drawing a crowd to Breaktime Billiards, Grago was also aware of the high-profile status of Garcia as a known, world-class competitor.

“So yeah, it was people coming because they know Justin and knowing that Roland was one of the top players in the world,” he said. “They saw our (FB) posts about the match, Garcia’s and Justin’s, too.”

Attendance got another boost because on the same day, the cities of Jacksonville, Morehead and Havelock, without a facility in their area to accommodate them, played their regional APA playoffs (known as the Tri-Cups) in the building; before, during and after the exhibition match. While at any given moment during the match, there were generally about 40-45 of the arena’s 60-seat capacity watching it, an estimated 10-15 of those were individuals who slipped into the room to watch briefly before heading out to compete in the area of the venue hosting the Tri-Cups. Had that transient part of the crowd all arrived at the same time, it would have exceeded the arena’s capacity, so in a word, sold-out.

Martin and the Gragos were happy with the result, Martin commenting the next day that they were “very happy” and that plans were moving forward “to do a lot more things, going into next year,” to include the creation of even more seating space and an upgraded streaming platform. Nothing, Martin added, really surprised him about the execution of this first-ever event at his hometown room and pointed to the involvement and engagement of the Gragos in the process to its overall success.

“They were integrally involved in being part of it,” he said. “They didn’t necessarily have tons of experience with this sort of thing, and neither did I, but everyone worked hard to make sure that everyone was satisfied, and we hope to be able to continue to do so in the future.”

And then, there was the 10-ball match. It got underway right at the time that Garcia had a meal delivered to the table where he sat with his manager during the match. His first few games were executed while he tended to be swallowing food. Garcia won the lag, broke dry, ran to the 3-ball and scratched. Martin executed a 9-ball combination shortly thereafter and took game one. 

Martin broke, sinking two, ran to the 4-ball and then he scratched, allowing Garcia to finish and tie the score. They went back and forth to a 4-4 tie before Martin began to edge out in front. By the time they moved into double digits, about midway through the race-to-17 match, Martin had established a four-rack lead. Garcia began chipping away at that lead, growing closer and closer until Martin reached the hill first at 16-15. Garcia tied it up and won the final game.

“Neither one of us quite played to our level,” noted Martin, “but it was good and everybody was happy.”

So like pool itself, Martin (and company) started out with very little experience, brought what they did know to the table and put on a good show. Moving forward, also like pool itself, they’re taking lessons from their experience and using those lessons to prepare for the next stage of growth and development. Martin will be back on the road in about a week to attend the Michigan Open (Sept. 21-24), travel to Atlantic City for the US Open (Oct. 10-16) and eventually end up in Norfolk, VA for the International Open (Oct. 28-Nov. 5). 

“There’s nothing set in stone right now,” said Martin of future plans for future events at Breaktime Billiards, “but going into next year, there are definitely plans.”

“We’ll be doing something that will serve the local community,” he added, “and get the local community involved.”

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Florian “Venom” Kohler strikes, joins Team Cuetec

Florian Kohler

Cuetec and Imperial are proud to announce that famed entertainer and trick-shot artist Florian “Venom” Kohler has joined the Cuetec Team of Professional Players and Brand Ambassadors.

“If there was one word that resonated with me the most after my initial conversation with Cuetec it was evolution. Cuetec’s history and experience was of obvious importance, but where the company could go, and how I could be a part of that – that was paramount in recognizing Cuetec was the best fit for me. So far, we are already off to a flying start and I can’t wait to show-off some of the new gear I’ve been using and the upcoming AVID technology in development. My very first cue was a Cuetec, and I’m already in love with what is my first signature Cuetec AVID cue,” said Florian Kohler when asked about making the move to Cuetec.

Florian’s first FK edition models of the all-new Cuetec AVID series will be arriving in February of 2021, with additional FK edition AVID utility cues arriving later in 2021.

“Florian has the ability to connect with a very broad audience, beyond guys like me who are already in love with this game. He has charted his own course in many ways, and as Cuetec works on the next big leap, Florian’s vision for expanding people’s exposure to game is a perfect match. He has already been part of the development process for our new AVID platform, which will bring high-end performance and capability to the sub three-hundred dollar cue market,” said Kyle Nolan, Cuetec Brand Manager.

Check out Florian’s latest videos here at:

About Cuetec
Cuetec burst onto the billiard scene in 1989, developing the composite cue. Today, Cuetec prides itself on offering the most technologically advanced wood and composite constructed cues and shafts, providing players with high-performance playing equipment at affordable prices. For more information, please visit Follow us on Facebook:

About Imperial
Imperial is the exclusive distributor for Cuetec in the United States. Imperial and Cuetec work together to maintain that professional quality players and cherish. Imperial is the premier distributor of billiards equipment and licensed products from the NFL, MLB, NHL and several high-profile colleges and universities. With over 60 years of experience, Imperial has made a name in the industry with some of the most well-crafted pool tables and accessories on the market with price ranges to fit any budget. Add a huge assortment of licensed product and there is no other company that you will need to look to for your game room, dorm room and man cave needs. For more information, visit Follow Imperial on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @imperial_gameroom.

Emily Frazer and Matchroom Top “Pool’s Power 15”

With the recent announcement of the “Pool’s Power 15”, an annual list of the top current influencers in the game of professional pool, the online debates have begun as to who made the list in what position and who didn’t make the cut. 

The list was voted on by a committee of pool media representatives, professional players, and esteemed members of the community. Voters were given the following instructions; Vote for who you believe has had the most influence on pool in 2020, and rank them from 1 to 15. They could not vote for themself if they were nominated. The ballots were then run through a scoring system that takes into account the total number of votes, average placement, and frequency of votes. 

With the online world of social media one of the last parts of the game that isn’t affected by the current health situation, the list leaned towards online influencers of the game. 

The top five entries on the list include Matchroom Multi Sport and Emily Frazer, AzBilliards, Florian Kohler, The Predator Group and the APA Leagues. 

The complete list of influencers, as well as the method used to build the list, can be found online at

Venom Attempts to Set New World Record

Florian Kohler

Florian "Venom" Kohler will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the “most billiard trickshots made in 24 hours” this weekend from his home in Las Vegas.
Kohler, who already owns five Guinness World Records, is making the attempt as a way to thank his fans and followers worldwide.  Kohler surpassed one million subscribers on his YouTube channel on April 13, 2020.
“Without my fans and the viewers, none of my trickshot success would be possible.  So, I wanted to try and give something back to them as a thank you, and also as a way to help entertain them during this difficult time with so many of us are under stay-at-home orders,” said Kohler.
Viewers can watch Kohler’s newest world record attempt in its entirety on his YouTube channel at  The event will be recorded in Full HD, with commentary and chat enabled to provide the viewers with an optimal experience.
The American Poolplayers Association (APA) will also team up with Kohler to provide regular live “look-in” interviews throughout the attempt that will be available on the APA Facebook page.
The world record attempt will comply with all “stay-at-home orders” related to Covid-19, and the production and commentary will only include those already residing in Kohler’s home.
Kohler will have three attempts to perform each trick shot with every one of those being part of the approved WPA Artistic Pool program. Once the 120 shots of that program have been attempted, he will simply start over and repeat the process until 24 hours have passed.
The event will be recorded in Full HD, with commentary and chat enabled to provide the viewers with the best experience possible.
This event is proudly sponsored by Rasson, APA , PoolDawg, APA Las Vegas, Simonis, Aramith, Mezz, Kamui &
For more information on Kohler’s World Record Attempt, please contact

Florian Kohler Player Interview

Florian Kohler

With the lack of events to report on at the moment, we are teaming with the Supr Charged Agency to feature interviews with various European and American players. Hopefully this will give all of the readers a chance to get to know these players better.

This time, we get to know “Venom” Florian Kohler
Name (and nickname): Florian ‘Venom’ Kohler
Birth year: 1988
City of residence and birth city:  Las Vegas, US  – Born in Mulhouse, France

We want to kick this off with how Florian began his career, so let’s start with the opening bio from his website.
Venom first picked up a pool cue and began “fooling around” at the age of 18, when he received a mini-pool table for his birthday. He learned his first trick shots from videos on the Internet, watching and imitating what he saw.

Not satisfied, Venom quickly moved on to inventing his own, modern version of old trick shots. Within two years, Venom was competing against trick shot pool pros that had been playing since before he was born. He hasn’t looked back since.

Who was your inspiration when you first started?
My first inspiration was a guy online named Ppooler. Then it was Semih Sayginer, followed by Mike Massey and Tom Rossman.

You are known as very creative and often come up with new and amazing shots. What is the process like when you work on a new shot? 
This is pretty hard to explain. I would say it is a little bit of everything. From watching other sports to literally coming up with it on the spot, it is very varied. Sometimes I have nothing, but then the next day, out of the blue, I’ll have 2 or 3 crazy new shots. I wish I could ‘control’ this better but it really is an artistic process and like artists, inspiration can come from very different things.

About how long does it take you, from the original idea stage, to have a shot “complete” and part of your show?
That also depends very much. Sometimes one shot can be integrated in the show in 15 minutes if it’s a new but easy one. But if it’s a hard one, I would say it takes me weeks to decide if it is worth it live or not.

How did you come up with the idea of bringing your Diamond table to the desert, Valley of Fire, for your latest video?
This was an old dream of mine. I always thought pool in the pool halls was very stereotyped, so I always wanted to get it out of the pool halls for my videos. On top of that, the landscape in my opinion adds an element of extreme sport that really matches my trick shots.

Your wife became a part of your videos a couple of years ago. How did that come together?
That was a very natural process. Part of the joy in pool is to teach your knowledge, so she learned a few tricks and really enjoyed it. After a while, it became obvious we had to do tandem videos. For the modeling part same as well. During practice, I often used her to ‘crash test’ some shots because she is actually fearless, so it really helped to determine which shot would be worth including in a full production. We really enjoy doing those together as a couple, lots of fun!

Are you a God-given talent, or is it a mix of talent and hard work?
I would say the creativity is definitely something I cannot explain, but the rest is just practice practice and practice!

Do you feel the pressure from up and coming artistic cueists?
I was recently talking about that with Mike Massey and to be honest, not really. I actually kind of miss it. There are a few players here and there that are technically very good and will win tournaments, but so far nobody has my creativity and to me copying something that already exists is very different than creating it.

What are your greatest accomplishments? Tell us about the feeling of achieving those.
It is hard to pick but I always thought my tournament accomplishments were never quite as important as the ones outside the pool industry. If I were to choose my first Guinness World Record, the 1 billion views I have online and reaching 1M subscribers on Facebook and soon youtube! No cueist ever reached that YouTube Gold Button, so that will be something truly special!

How often did you practice early on, and how often now?
I practice less and less now with all my other ventures, but when I started and for the next 7 years I was putting more hours in than I could count. I had no issue doing a week practicing 10 hours a day until my fingers were bleeding!

What should newcomers in this discipline practice most?
Definitely finding new shots and discovering their own style. I believe with the evolution of the cues, we can push the sport further and further.

You are also a great 9-ball player. How would you rate yourself in terms of the APA rating system?
Since I own the league in Vegas, I can tell you I would definitely be a 7-9 . I do have a high run of 73 in straight pool and 5 break and runs in 9 ball, all on 9 foot tables.

Do you ever get tempted to participate in local events?
I do very rarely. Not because I do not want to, but mainly because I am simply too busy. Trick shots are my job and normal pool is my hobby, so I am treating it like this, always trying to get shows on a weekend, rather than playing a tournament.

Is it true that you also hold a black belt in Judo, and do you still practice it? 
Yes that is correct. I unfortunately sort of stopped when my pool career started to take off in order, to avoid injuries.

How important is the equipment for an artistic cueist?
Very important! While you can do most shots with simple equipment, the key for us is for the cues to last and be solid/reliable. I can do 70% of my masses with a standard playing cue, however after 50 tries on that cue I would guarantee I would break the ferrule or something!

When did you realize that you could actually make a living from this?
It sort of happened gradually. I decided to really take a chance when my first viral video hit and had a few sponsors that would allow me to survive.

How many travel days do you have per year?
Not sure how many days, but I can tell you last year I took nearly 120 flights!

You have almost 1 million subscribers on YouTube. 
What, in your opinion, is required to be a great ambassador/sponsored player?
Love of the game first. You cannot just do it for the money or for the titles. This is a crazy game and as soon as you think you control it, something will happen. I just try to enjoy the game and truly love every kind of cue sport which naturally translates during my shows and other interactions.

What should the billiard industry do, in general, to get more recognition outside the industry? 
I think, break off the cliches, be more professional and consider ourselves as such. After all, pool is one of the most played sports in the world, so with the right structures, nothing should stop us from reaching our legitimate status!

Thoughts on Matchroom and their efforts to make pool great?
Fantastic! Any effort like this will be beneficial for everyone. Even for the players not selected, such an effort will ripple and enhance the professionalization of our beloved sport!
You were involved in the “Billiards 2024” project. Your goal was to get the sport accepted for the 2024 Olympic Games.
Were you surprised that the Olympic committee decided to not accept billiards, but chose breakdancing, skateboarding, surfing and climbing?

In my opinion this was the best effort billiard has made in a long time. Brands and disciplines working together, past their differences, all towards a common goal. Yes, the result didn’t reflect our efforts, but I truly believe something ‘clicked’ and in the future this will serve the industry greatly! As far as the other disciplines, to me it was simply a lobbying/marketing issue that unfortunately we could not do anything against…

What are your goals for 2020?
Hard to say at this point. My goal was to grow the pool league and go back to traveling a bit less for trick shots but really with the covid19, it’s hard to say what economical landscape we will all wake up to in a month…  I am still hoping to continue promoting the game through my shows and especially appeal to the younger generation!
Can we expect more world records from you in the next 2 years?
Absolutely. As a matter of fact I had an event planned for next month that unfortunately is cancelled due to the pandemic. I am thinking about potentially doing it live now but hard to say if we can meet Guinness requirements during those times… I will certainly keep everyone posted!!

Your thoughts on the Covid-19 situation and what should pool players do? 
These are going to be hard times for us, just when everything was starting to be better. Obviously, we cannot participate in tournaments and travel, so all we can do is share the love for the game online and practice as much as possible!!

Billiards 2024 Olympic Campaign Launches

Florian Kohler, Jeremy Bury, Shaun Murphy and Jasmin Ouschan

At one of the world’s greatest iconic buildings, the Eiffel Tower, billiards sports launched its bid to get on the program of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
The Conference was organised by the Billiards 2024 Committee on behalf of the World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS), and was attended by many dignitaries and billiard industry leaders. A media contingent of 35 was present to report on the news.
The WCBS is the world governing body for all billiard sports and is a member of the IOC. Its members are the world governing bodies for their respective disciplines of Carom, Pool and Snooker.
The Conference started with a trick and fancy shot display by the world’s greatest trick shot player, Florian Kohler who delighted the crowd with his amazing skills on a pool table that had been specially installed for the occasion.
Speeches followed by WCBS President Ian Anderson (Australia), FFB President Jean-Paul Sinanian (France) and co-ordinator Jean Pierre Guiraud and by video link, European Carom President, Diane Wild (Switzerland).
Three of the great players from each discipline and all world champions, Jeremy Bury (France), Shaun Murphy (UK) and Jasmin Ouschan (Austria) addressed the Conference to tell everyone of their passion for the sport and what hard work is involved to maintain their high standards. They also expressed how important it would be to them and their player colleagues if billiards would find its way onto the Olympic program.
After the formalities were dealt with, more entertainment from Florian, followed by media questions and interviews.
An absolute show of unity was on display between the various sports federations, personalities and the people representative of their own interests.
A great deal of appreciation must be paid to the dedicated Billiards 2024 Committee for the wonderful effort in putting all of this together. The amount of hard work that it took is unimaginable.
On 11th and 12th March 2019, a demonstration tournament will be conducted in Paris. Further details of this event will be announced soon.

Rasson Billiards Signs Sponsorship With Jayson Shaw

Jayson Shaw

Rasson Billiards are delighted to announce that they have recently reached a sponsorship contract of three years with Jayson “Eagle Eye” Shaw.
Jayson Shaw, born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1988, has been playing since he was 5 years old. Just as many of the British players have done, Shaw began his career playing English 8-ball, and first turned his attention to American pool in 2006. Jayson is the most dynamic pool player in recent years and has already amassed a large resume of titles including 5 x Turning Stone Classic Champion, 2x Derby City Classic Big Foot Champion, Kuwait 9 Ball Champion, ESPN Challenge of Champions Winner, US Open 9 Ball Champion, Mosconi Cup Winner. He was also voted as Player of the Year in 2016 by Billiards Digest and AZ Billiards. Just days ago, he won the double titles in both 8-Ball and Straight pool at the “2017 Make It Happen Invitationals”. He is definitely the champion of champions of this era.
RASSON BILLIARDS, based in Jiujiang City of China, specializes in billiard tables and slates since it’s establishment in 1990. With the unique design and top quality of products, Rasson nowadays is the biggest billiard table manufacturer and exporter in the world!
With the signing of Jayson Shaw, RASSON now sponsors 7 players, including Florian Kohler, Darren Appleton, Kevin Cheng, Fu Xiaofang, Shi Tianqi and Matthew Webber.
Shaw is excited with the new sponsorship deal, “I’ve played on Rasson tables and they play great. I’m very happy to announce Rasson as my official sponsor and to work with the best table company in the world. I look forward to a long relationship with Rasson. ”
Junny Song, the general manager of Rasson, expressed Rasson’s feelings regarding the cooperation, “We’re glad to have Jayson on board of Rasson team. He plays great and seems nothing could stop him. We now have total 7 players in our players team, we sponsor them not only to support the billiards sport and players, they are famous and play great, some companies also sponsor many players, they mainly want to increase the brand through the famous players, but we’re not like them, the more we’re hoping is to get the advices from the players concerning tables. As excellent pro players, they must have more strict requirement and higher demand to the playability of a table, they also usually have some unique insights on building a good table, so we’d like to listen to their ideas and work together to build the truly good tables and supply to the market”.

Shaw Steals Dismal Swamp

Dennis Orcollo and Jayson Shaw (Photo courtesy of

This weekend, Elizabeth City, NC was the place to be for this year’s US Open 9 Ball warm-up – the 3rd Annual Dismal Swamp 9-Ball Classic. Owners Jimmy, Ashley and Scott Cartwright – father & two sons – laid out the red carpet at Colonial Cues. With tournament sponsors Glover Law Firm, Biggs Cadillac, Jim Todd, Toyota of Elizabeth City, East Coast Landscaping, McDonald’s, David and Allison Cianciulli, Mike Burton with Joss Cues and the City of Elizabeth, the Cartwrights put together another great event.
The star-studded thirty-two player field included former US Open champs Shane Van Boening, Earl Strickland, Tommy Kennedy and Jeremy Jones as well as Hall of Famers Loree Jon Hasson and Karen Corr. In addition, Billy Thorpe, Alex Pagulayan, Brandon Shuff, Danny Basavich, Dennis Orcollo, Devin Poteet, Jayson Shaw, Sky Woodward, Shaun Wilkie, Tony Chohan, Max Eberle, Ernesto Dominguez, James Aranas plus Petri Makonnen and Jani Siekkinen from Finland put up $250 to take their shot on the nine foot Brunswick Gold Crowns. The format was double elimination – race to 9 on the winners side, race to 8 on the one loss side – winner break, rack your own.
On Friday night, everyone was treated to an exhibition by Venom Trickshots – the one and only Florian Kohler. This is definitely not your grandfather’s trick shot show! For those who haven’t seen him in action, he’s incredible! This was followed by the players auction and then most headed to bed – first round matches started the next day at 10 am!
First round action saw Alex Pagulayan over Karen Corr, Devin Poteet lost to Tommy Kennedy, Jayson Shaw beat Jeremy Jones and Sky Woodward defeated Shaun Wilkie. Tony Chohan was taken down by Jani Siekkinen while fellow Finn, Petri Makonnen, lost to Shane Van Boening.
Second round action was really brutal! Loree Jon Hasson lost to Billy Thorpe, James Aranas bowled over the always tough Alex, Brandon Shuff trimmed Earl Strickland, Dennis Orcollo defeated Danny Basavich, Jayson Shaw sent Tommy west, Sky won over Jani and Shane dispatched Max Eberle to the west side of the chart.
It wasn’t getting any easier! In the third round, James sent Billy to the one loss side while Dennis did the same to Brandon. Sky polished off Jayson while Shane dusted off Kevin West.
By now, there were four players left on the winners side of the chart – James Aranas vs. Dennis and Sky vs. Shane. Dennis and Sky emerged for the hot seat match while James and Shane headed over to the other side to duke it out with the remaining players.
The battle for the hot seat resulted in Dennis locking up his spot in the finals 9-5 and Sky going west to await the results of the Jayson-Shane match. Jayson moved on in a nailbiter – 8-7. Shane had to settle for a fourth place finish.
Looking to avenge his earlier defeat by Sky, Jayson was a man on a mission. He won 8-6, leaving Sky in third place.
This would be a one set finals – race to twelve. It looked to be a barnburner as both Dennis and Jayson were in dead punch. Marching to a mid-match lead, Jayson led 6-3 and then Dennis hit a gear. Racking up game after game, it was all Dennis as he tied it up, went ahead and reached the hill first – and then missed. Now it was Jayson’s turn! Winning game after game, he stole the title from a stunned Dennis. What. A. Match!!! Congratulations, Jayson! Great tournament, Dennis!
Thanks again to Jimmy, Ashley, Scott and their staff for another successful event as well as two Tournament Directors Eric Williamson and Preach Dant for keeping the show running smoothly. would like to thank our viewers and all behind the scenes who helped make this a great show. Without our sponsors – Steve Lomax of Lomax Custom Cues, Aramith, John Barton of JB Cases, Simonis, James Hanshew of Hanshew Custom Cues, Kamui,, Mike Durbin of Durbin Custom Cues and Club Billiards of Wichita, KS – none of this would be possible. Thank you to all!!!
Our next stop is the Sidepocket Open 9-Ball Championship to be held October 28th-29th at Sidepocket Billiards and Darts in Shreveport, LA. Hope to see you there!!!

Billiards International Presents ESPN Billiards

Shane Van Boening (Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson –

Pocket Billiard Champions, from around the world, go head-to-head in a three-day extravaganza of action packed professional pool.
The HALL OF FAME CHALLENGE CUP, MEN’S INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE OF CHAMPIONS, WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS, and TRICK SHOT MAGIC will be held September 20, 21, and 22 at the Official Host Site Trump Taj Mahal, Xanadu Theater, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, close to the cities of Philadelphia, Wilmington, Newark, New York City, Baltimore and Washington, DC.
The matches will be taped for ESPN/ESPN2 with a live audience for television broadcast that represents the highest viewed billiard programming on US network television. 
The events are widely considered the toughest tournaments to win in professional billiards.  Once each year, international champions are battling in short, sudden-death shootouts with pressure-cooker formats and the largest prize money in pool's special events.  And, the winners claim one of the most coveted titles in pool – Champion of Champions! FREE ADMISSION to the events in the Taj Majal Xanadu Theater on a first come, first seated basis and open to all ages.
On September 20 at 2pm, Trump Taj Mahal will host the WPBA sanctioned HALL OF FAME CHALLENGE which will highlight 2 accomplished women champions and Hall of Fame members contending for the title “Hall of Fame Challenge Cup Champion.”
Ewa Laurance (USA) is the holder of multiple World and US Open 9-ball titles, and has also won the Swedish, European and US National Championships in her 20 year plus, remarkable career.  A former #1 ranked player in the world, Ewa has received Player of the Year honors, been named WPBA Sportsperson of the Year and, in 2004, was inducted into the prestigious Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.
Vivian Villarreal (USA) is one of the most exciting players to watch and is nicknamed the “Texas Tornado.”  She has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s top women’s billiard players for the past 20 years and held the #1 world ranking five times. She has won a total of 19 WPBA Classic Tour titles and is the ESPN World Open Champion.
On September 20 at 3pm, Trump Taj Mahal will host the INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE OF CHAMPIONS presenting the top male players in the world:
Alex Pagulayan (Canada): 2016 Canadian Open Champion: 2016 Derby City Classic All Around Champion; 2016 Derby City Classic One Pocket Champion; 2015 3rd Annual Big Tyme Classic 9-ball Bar Table champion; 2015 3rd Annual Big Tyme Classic one pocket champion; 2015 Professional One Pocket Buffalo's Billiards 2000 Champion; 2015 DCC All-Around Champion; 2015 Derby City One Pocket champion;
Shane Van Boening (USA): 2016 US Open 8-Ball and 10-Ball Champion, 2015 World Masters Champion, 2015 US Bar Table Championship (9-Ball Division), 2015 Diamond “BIG Foot” 10-Ball Champion, 2012, 2013, and 2014 U.S. Open 9-Ball Champion, 2014 World Masters Champion, 2014 Derby City Classic 9-Ball Champion, 2012 and 2013 US Open 9-Ball Champion;
Yu-Hsuan Cheng (Taiwan):  2015 US Open 9-Ball Champion;
Jayson Shaw (Scotland):  2016 Derby City Classic “BIG Foot” 10-Ball Challenge Champion; 2016 Bergan Open 9-Ball Champion; 2016 Pool & Billiard Hall of Fame 9-Ball Open Champion; 2016 Predator Pro-Am Tour Stop 5 Open/Pro Division Champion; 2016 Predator Pro-Am Tour Stop 12 Open/Pro Division Champion; 3 time, Back-to-Back Turning Stone Classic Champion.
On September 21, at 3pm, Trump Taj Mahal presents the WPBA sanctioned TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS which will highlight the 4 most accomplished women champions contending for the title Champion of Champions:
Kelly Fisher (Ireland): Two-time winner of the Tournament of Champions, 2nd in the 2016 China Women’s Billiard World Champion, 2013 Amway Cup Champion, and 2012 WPA Women’s World 9-Ball Champion;
Allison Fisher (Great Britain): Over 80 professional titles including 2016 WPBA Masters Champion, 2013 Ultimate 10-Ball Championship Women’s Runner-Up, and 2011 and 2012 US Open 9-Ball Champion.
Jasmin Ouschan (Austria): 2015 WPBA Masters Champion, 2013 European Straight Pool and 9-Ball Champion and 2012 European 10-Ball Champion;
Ga-Young Kim (South Korea): 2016 WPBA Rivers US Open Champion, 2015 Tornado Open 9-Ball Champion, 2015 Tournament of Champions.
On September 22 at 2pm, the Trump Taj Mahal welcomes the return of the highest rated pool tournament ever shown on ESPN, TRICK SHOT MAGIC.  Four of the most talented trick shot competitors in the world will compete for a sudden-death prize in television’s most exciting format:
Andy Segal (USA): #1 ranked in the world, 7 times ESPN Champion, 4 times World champion, 6 times Masters Champion and 2 times US Open Champion;
Gabi ”Mr. Perfect” Visiou (Romania): 2016 ACSISA US Open Trick Shot Championship runner up, 2015 WPA World Artistic Pool Champion and 4 times ESPN World Cup of Trick Shots Champion;
Florian Kohler (France): Current ESPN Trick shot Magic Champion, 2 times world cup of Tricks shots winner, Guinness Book Record holder for most important number of balls jumped in a minute (68 balls),  Most viewed pool Trick shots artist on the internet: half a billion views combined, and 2 times and youngest Artistic Cup winner;
Will DeYonkers (USA): 2016 ESPN Qualifier Champion, 2015 Masters Champion, 2015 UTS Runner Up and Current World Follow Champion.
The latter three events are each regarded as the supreme test of skill and imagination in billiards. The players are so evenly matched that any one player could beat the others on any given day.
The HALL OF FAME CHALLENGE, INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE OF CHAMPIONS and the TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS are 9-Ball with a format of two sets and, in the event of one set each, a one game, sudden-death tie-breaker.
TRICK SHOT MAGIC presents the greatest individual trick shots selected by each player which, then, must be completed by their opponent.  The sudden-death tie-breaker to decide a match requires an incredible eight rail bank shot onto the face of a $100 bill. All in all, the 4 events offer the wildest shootout of the year.
COME MINGLE WITH THE PROS: And, as if that weren't enough, for a few hours each evening, the pros will be practicing in the Xanadu Theater and be available for autographs to audience members and pool fans alike. You might also get tips on improving your game. 
Trump Taj Majal, the Official Host Site, is a 24-hour gaming and entertainment destination on Atlantic City’s world famous boardwalk.  When you decide to name your casino resort after one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, you are setting the architectural bar fairly high.  The landmark Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City lives up to its legendary name.  Unprecedented in craftsmanship, size and opulence, the awe-inspiring architectural masterpiece is a sight to behold.  Check into your palace away from home and enjoy luxurious accommodations, spectacular concerts and shows, thrilling gaming action, tempting gourmet and casual restaurants and a night life that never sleeps.  At the Trump Taj Mahal, the excitement goes on, and on, and on.  Located at 1000 Boardwalk at Virginia Avenue, the Taj Mahal offers 2010 rooms and suites plus more than 25 places to shop, eat, party and have fun.  Taj Mahal will make all three events in the Xanadu Theater ADMISSION FREE to pool fans of all ages.  Parking is available for a fee.
The trophies and winner checks will be presented by the Trump Taj Mahal. The tournaments are also sponsored by Aramith Tournament Balls, Simonis Cloth, Diamond Billiards, Executive Billiards Delta-13 Racks and Pool Dawg.
The 2016 events are produced by Billiards International.  For best seats, please arrive early for each tournament session.
Hotel rooms are available to make an enjoyable getaway at the spectacular at the Trump Taj Majal. Hotel reservations can be made online or by calling 609-449-1000.  Make your plans today to attend the HALL OF FAME CHALLENGE CUP, INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE OF CHAMPIONS, the TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS and, TRICK SHOT MAGIC, September 20, 21 and 22 at the Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City’s premier gaming destination.

Artistic Pool Pros Demand Changes

In almost any arena, when one stands alone in this day and age, creating any sort of change or impact can be a tough nut to crack. In the recent weeks, a small amount of artistic pool players have decided to take a stand against the World Pool Association’s, Artistic Pool Division (WPA-APD).  On September 9th, 2015 a somewhat brash demand letter went out to Mark Dimick, President of the WPA-APD, and all the other board members (Jim Sommer, Javier Gomez, Arkadiy Loshakov, Dan Hosier, Tim Chin, Jamie Moody, Buddy Eick, Stefano Pelinga, Jeremiah Owens, Curtis Robertson) stating that there were issues that a majority of the top players in the world (13 total) would like to see change for the better of the sport.  These terms came with a two-week deadline for response, or else a boycott on future events would take place.


Seeking change for the betterment of artistic pool, as a sport, was what Nick Nikolaidis and his ‘Player's Board’ were seeking.  In the midst of the recent World Championships that took place in Atlanta, Georgia, many issues within the industry were magnified and several players decided it was time to change the status-quo.  Instead of having a continual gripe session, Nikolaidis, helped to fascilitate an impromptu meeting.  Among his constituents, were top ranked, Andy Segal, world champion Gabi Visoiu, viral sensation, Florian Kohler, Dave Nangle, Abram Diaz, Steve Markle, Gordon Hedges, Adam Nickels, Jim Glanville, Jamey Gray and Sebastian Giumelli.  In this initial meeting, they decided it would be an open discussion of all issues, and these issues would be taken to a vote and would be presented to the WPA-APD.  


It seems that with the manifestation of such a notice of demands, the communication gap between the artistic players and it’s governing body has existed for quite some time. The players have felt that there were problems with the format of events, money allocation, and WPA-APD board elections, among other issues.  In this recent letter to the WPA-APD, the ‘Player's Board’, as they call themselves, itemized this letter into seven categories, with included subcategories.  The first category is “Player Quality.”  Because there was a live-stream of the World Championship, the player quality was on spotlight when it came to how artistic pool was portrayed.  This being the case there were five players that scored under 100 points out of a possible 320 points.  There were two players that scored 20 points or less.  As a professional world championship, the playing field is expected to be of a high caliber, especially those playing on the stream table.  This essentially affects how the tournament is set up with regards to which players are in which flights, which is also addressed within the letter.  Upon interviewing Nick Nikolaidis, Abram Diaz and Gabi Visoiu, they all discussed that they wanted Artistic Pool to be represented in the best fashion with the highest ranked and skilled players showcased, especially on a broadcast.  Not for themselves, but for the presentation for the world to see.


Click on here to download and read the letter to the WPA-APD:  Dear WPA


The second category brought up within the letter to the WPA-APD is a topic most often brought up in pool and billiard tournaments: the pay-outs and purse.  The first issue brought up was paying out the entire field, which essentially means the tournament is simply reimbursing all players for part of the entry fee.  In a recent interview with current World Champion, Gabi Visoiu, he stated, “it is simply a lowered entry fee.”  Unless it is an invitational event, it is quite unheard of to pay out the entire field.  Visoiu also has a unique perspective as an international player, wiring his entry is an additional cost, as well as cashing a check from the Bank of Oklahoma in Transylvania, Romania becomes a bit of a challenge.  For Sebastian Giumelli, cashing a check in Argentina is even more of a problem.  Although, the demand for cashier's checks for international winners was in the letter, upon realizing that there was a problem for Visoiu this year, the WPA-APD did tell Visoiu they would switch to an international bank for future events.  Among other points was how much to pay or not pay the tournament director and referees.


Tournament format, the shot program itself, and the awards ceremony is addressed in categories three, four and five.  It has been three years that the World Championships and other tournaments have not been played with a play-off format.  For the players and perhaps even the presentation of broadcast, it would be beneficial to reinstate the play-off format for the top qualifying players in the tournament going into the final day.  In regards to the shot program, the Player's Board is seeking that they get to at least review the shot program to identify any mistakes that may be apart of it.  Finally, the awards ceremony is discussed in the letter, as these players have shown disapproval in the time and manner in which it is conducted.  This once again, addresses the issue of the best representation of the artistic pool in the mainstream media.


The sixth category within the letter from the Player's Board, discusses ranking and the ranking system. This is a smaller category, but can be the most impactful to the other categories because the rankings will affect those that play in world or national tournaments in the future.  The ranking system that is proposed, states the players would like to have a minimum number of events for a player to be ranked.  Also the Player's board is asking that only overall finishes be counted towards ranking points and not highest individual discipline finishers.  


The final category addressed is the general changes that the Player's Board would like to see with the WPA-APD.  These changes include financial records to be opened up for players to see, Tom Rossman no longer being an influential part of the process, no religious material at events, board elections opened up to players and finally, the player's voice to be heard, instead of silence through the code of conduct.  


What began as thirteen players, who wanted change, has now become an eighteen-player coalition, with a small board to represent everyone.  Nick Nikolaidis was elected as intern President by his fellow rebels, with Andy Segal nominated as intern Vice President of the ‘Player's Union’.  Like any union dispute, when demands are not met or even compromised there is a strike.  These rebelling players are now on strike, from a simple response memo from the WPA-APD as, “Thank you for your feedback… Attached, please find the latest entry form for our next event”.  In an interview with Player's Board Member, Abram Diaz, he stated that, “although fearful of possibly not having another opportunity to capture a world title,” he would still boycott the next event. The next event being the Master's Artistic Pool Championship being held in December at Jamaica Joe's in Oklahoma.  What then becomes of the WPA-APD if a majority of the top ranked players in the world decides not to play in future events?  Nick Nikolaidis stated that if need be they would notify the World Pool Association and start their own division.  


Although, the Player's Board sent a demand letter, Abram Diaz commented that they were “ready and willing to negotiate all terms.”  This being said, the WPA-APD might be under the impression that the Player's Board was all or nothing.  Stefano Pelinga, current board member of the WPA-APD, was contacted for an interview, but in his most professional manner, declined to make a statement, as he thought he was not the appropriate person to speak on behalf of the WPA-APD board, but that Mark Dimick, the president and spokesman, should if they decide to.  Unfortunately, we at Point Of View Pool Media were unable to reach Mark Dimick for a statement prior to publishing this article.  In defense of the WPA-APD, they are volunteered, unpaid board members ranging from different parts of the country, so gathering together to discuss all these topics in their spare time might be a bit difficult.  


Hopefully, for all of those involved, the sport of artistic billiards still has a bright future. It seems that with or without the WPA-APD some of these top players are willing to risk it all for the advancement of competition and its presentation in the mainstream media. We know that, without some of its founding members and veteran players the advancement artistic pool might be non-existent in our minds today. However, it seems that there is a new generation of talent knocking loudly at the door wanting their voices to be heard.