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World-class trio of Orcollo, Kiamco & Bustamante go 1, 2, 3 at 6th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball

Kraber goes undefeated to win her second Texas Women’s 10-Ball Championship

(l to r): John Palmore, Dennis Orcollo & James Davis, Sr.

Being Texas, it’s never enough to just hold an Open and Ladies 10-Ball tournament every year. Instead, Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX hosts a six-day extravaganza (this year, from Feb. 12-17) that has a way of feeling like a month-long extravaganza, headlined by the annual Texas 10-Ball Open and Ladies 10-Ball Championships.

Things got underway on Wednesday, Feb. 12 with a 10-Ball mini-tournament, as more or less of a warm-up for events to come. On Thursday, the activity was a Scotch Doubles tournament that was eventually won by the team of Warren Kiamco and Ellen Robinson, who downed John Gabriel and Ellen Jones in the finals. Later in the day, a Banks/Rails game was won Sergio Rivas, who defeated John Demet in the finals. On Friday, an Open Ring game was won by Jeffrey DeLuna, with Sky Woodward as runner-up and John Gabriel in third place.

In the absence of a defending champion (Alex Pagulayan), a few relatively well-known Filipino competitors stepped in to fill the gap at the $4,000-added 6th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball, which got underway on Friday evening. Dennis Orcollo ended up going undefeated through the field. He downed Warren Kiamco twice (hot seat and finals) and waited patiently as Kiamco eliminated Francisco Bustamante in the semifinals. We’ll get back to them in a while, but first. . . the ladies.

The $1,000-added Ladies 10-Ball Championship, which drew 20 entrants, got underway on Saturday. Unlike the Open Championship, the Ladies event featured its defending champion, Gail Eaton. It was won by its 2018 champion, Jennifer Kraber, who went undefeated through the field, downing Courtney Peters twice, hot seat and finals.

Following victories over Kim Pierce, Kelly Jones and Rachel Hurst, Kraber moved into a winners’ side semifinal against Ming Ng. After being awarded an opening round bye, Peters downed Latonia Taylor and Michelle Yim, to draw Nicole McDaniel in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Kraber and Ng locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Kraber to the hot seat match. She was joined by Peters, who’d defeated McDaniel 7-1. Kraber won the first of two versus Peters 7-3 and waited in the hot seat for her return.

On the loss side, Nicole McDaniel drew Kim Sanders, who’d recently eliminated defending champion Gail Eaton and Rachel Hurst, both 5-3. Ming Ng picked up Michelle Yim, who’d defeated Ellen Robinson 5-3 and Kelly Jones 5-2 to reach her.

Yim and Sanders handed Ng and McDaniel their second straight loss; Yim, 5-3 over Ng and Sanders shut McDaniel out to join Yim in the quarterfinals. Yim then did unto Sanders that which Sanders had most recently done to McDaniel; shut her out to advance.

In the semifinals that followed, Yim became the third shutout victim in a row and gave Peters a second shot at Kraber in the hot seat. Peters chalked up two more racks in the finals than she’d chalked up against Kraber in the hot seat match, but they weren’t enough, as Kraber completed her undefeated run 7-5 to claim the Ladies 10-Ball title.

Orcollo backs up Derby City Master of the Table title with undefeated run at Texas Open 10-Ball
It’s only February and Dennis Orcollo has pocketed money that would be the envy of most pool players to earn in an entire year. He finished 16th in the Derby City’s One Pocket Division, 3rd in the 9-Ball Division and won the 9-Ball Banks, all of which earned him the coveted Master of the Table title. All of this followed his victory at the Music City’s Midnight Madness Tournament and his runner-up finish (to Skyler Woodward) in the Music City’s Open Division. He didn’t get a chance to meet Woodward in this event, although Warren Kiamco did.

Robocop (as they call him) got by Kenny Loftis, John Gabriel, Justin Hall, Kevin Guimond and Junior Jueco by an aggregate score of 35-12, giving up just over two racks per match (on average). Orcollo drew Naoyuki Oi in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

Warren Kiamco, in the meantime, started his campaign out with back-to-back shutouts of Thomas Smith and Pat Castro. He then defeated Josh Roberts 7-1, Robert Gomez 7-3 and won a knock-down, drag-out, double hill match versus Sky Woodward (this event’s 2016 champion) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup with a 35-10 aggregate score and having given up an exact average of two racks per match. Kiamco squared off in his winners’ side semifinal against a very familiar opponent, Francisco Bustamante, who’d sent this event’s 2015 and 2017 champion, Manny Chau to the loss side.

Orcollo sent Oi to the loss side 7-2 and was joined in the hot seat match by Kiamco, who’d defeated Bustamante 7-4. Orcollo and Kiamco played an entertaining double hill hot seat match that eventually sent Kiamco to the semifinals and left Robocop in the hot seat.

On the loss side, Naoyuki Oi drew James Davis, Sr. (known as Strop, because he’s originally from Bastrop, TX), who’d recently defeated two strong opponents in a row to reach him; first Josh Roberts 7-4 and then, Sky Woodward 7-5. Bustamante picked up Roberto Gomez, who’d defeated Junior Jueco 7-1 and Sergio Rivas 7-3 to reach him.

Strop and Oi locked up in a double hill fight, eventually won by Strop. Bustamante joined Strop in the quarterfinals after eliminating Gomez 7-4. Bustamante then sent Davis, Sr. home 7-3 in those quarterfinals.

Those who thought that Bustamante and Kiamco would get into a double hill fight for a shot at Orcollo in the hot seat were disappointed. Kiamco gave up just a single rack and advanced to the finals 7-1 over Bustamante.

One might have been forgiven for believing that with that 7-1 momentum, the final rematch between Kiamco and Orcollo would have been something of an epic struggle. It wasn’t, really. Orcollo shut Kiamco out 7-0 to claim the event title.

Tour directors John Palmore and James Davis, Sr. thanked John and Sue Cielo and their Skinny Bob’s staff for their continued support of this event, to include their hands-on assistance with varied aspects of running the tournament; entries, money management, etc. In addition, noted Palmore, “Kaye Watson is the glue that holds everything together for (Davis) and I. She helps with bracket management and most importantly, that all the the money is correct coming in and going out.” They also thanked event sponsors Simonis, Hanshew Jump Cues and Sleep Inn.

Woodward Makes It Four in Shreveport

Alex Calderon and Skyler Woodward (Photo courtesy of PoolAction.tv)

One hundred twenty eight players made the trek to Shreveport, LA to play in this year’s Sidepocket Open Nine Ball Championship. A full field of 128 players including well-known names like three-time and defending champ Skyler Woodward, Roberto Gomez, Robb Saez, Texas Open 10 Ball runner-up Kenny Loftis, Alex Calderon, Gary Abood, Devin Poteet, Ernesto Bayaua and Kevin Guimond put up their $75 entry fee to play in the race to 7, alternate break bar box event.
 
The event kicked off on Friday with the players meeting and draw followed by a players auction. After that, twenty players put up their hundred bucks for a ring 9 ball game. When the smoke cleared, there were two men standing – Roberto Gomez and Sky Woodward. Sky took it down…
 
Owner Roger Lites, along with tournament sponsors OB Digicue, Ballistic Billiards and Steve Wells of Action/27, treated both players and fans to a great event. Tournament Director Jeff Sullivan (“Sully”) and his able assistant, Ileana Ford, kept things running smoothly.
 
After plenty of action, Sunday night whittled down to fourth place finisher Robb Saez while Kevin Guimond came in third. Kelly Isaac took down last lady money.
 
Woodward, looking to claim his fourth Sidepocket Open title, needed to beat the undefeated Alex Calderon twice. Sky won the first set in a squeaker, 7-6. The second set started out neck and neck until Sky pulled away away and reached the hill first – 6-4. Alex was not about to give up easily as he went on to tie it at six apiece. One game for it all & Alex was breaking!
 
Alex made two balls on the break but was faced with no easy shot on the one with a two-nine combination along the side rail. He attempted to bank the one but sold out leaving Sky with a medium-tough shot on the one and a medium-tough shot on the combo. The fans sure got their money’s worth as Sky pocketed the case nine to claim his fourth consecutive title! Congratulations, Sky! Good tournament, Alex!
 
PoolActionTV.com would like to thank our sponsors and fans for another fantastic event! Our sponsors include Diamond Billiard Tables, Lomax Custom Cues, Kamui, John Barton of JB Cases, GoPlayPool.com, Durbin Custom Cues, Aramith, Hanshew Custom Cues, Simonis and Club Billiards of Wichita, KS. Thanks for your support!
 
Our next event is the much anticipated Durbin Cup to be held on March 3rd in Sullivan, IL. Hope to see you there!!!

Chinakhov takes two out of three over Loftis to win 4th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball Championships

Ruslan Chinakhov (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Since January 1 of this year, Russia’s Ruslan Chinakhov has (according to available records here at AZBilliards) earned $247.11 per day shooting pool (not including any Calcutta earnings), which would put him on track to reported earnings of $90,197.11 by December 31, almost triple what he’s reportedly earned in any year since 2007. Chinakhov is reportedly back home in Moscow, after a blistering hot month-and-a-half here in the US of A. Following an eight-man shared victory at the Derby City’s 14:1 Challenge (and other payouts from multiple events), a successful one-on-one, 10-ball challenge versus Oscar Dominguez and a victory in the Virginia State 10-Ball Championships, Chinakhov flew to Round Rock, TX, where, on the long weekend of February 15-18, he chalked up a victory on the 4th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball Championships. Chinakhov went won eight of his nine matches in Texas, downing Kenny Loftis in the hot seat match, losing the opening set of a true double elimination final to Loftis, and then taking the second set to claim the event title. The $4,000-added event drew 128 entrants to Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock.
 
In addition to a Jack & Jill Scotch Doubles Tournament, an Open Banks Rails Game, an Open 10-Ball Tourney (all on Thursday, February 15), and two (Open and Ladies) Ring Games on Friday, the annual event also featured a $1,000-added Ladies 10-Ball tournament, which drew 32 entrants and saw Jennifer Kraber go undefeated through the field to claim that event title (separate story).
 
Though both of the previous two Texas Open 10-Ball Championships were in attendance at this year’s event, neither figured into Chinakhov’s victory. Those two previous champions, Manny Chau (2017) and Skyler Woodward (2016) were shut out in a winners’ side match (Chau by James Dabel, Woodward by Loftis) and faced each other in the seventh, loss-side round (determining the four-way tie for 13th). Woodward advanced with a shutout over Chau, and then, three rounds later, ran into Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, who defeated him in a double hill match (any bets that “Hillbilly” had himself a nice growl/grin/handshake for the ‘young whippersnapper’ Woodward at the end of that match?).
 
Though Chinakhov earned the headline for this event, it should be noted that runner-up Kenny Loftis was the surprise competitor. Loftis, in all of his (reported) pool-playing career since 2011, has earned as much as Chinakhov is projected to make (see above) in the next six-and-a-half days. The surprise commenced with his winners’ side shutout over Sky Woodward, continued with a subsequent, double hill win over “Hillbilly,” and reached its peak when he defeated Chinakhov in the opening set of the true double elimination final.
 
“He certainly was the surprise of the weekend,” said Skinny Bob’ Billiards’ owner, John Cielo. “He’s been consistent finishing in the money in these annual 9-ball and 10-ball events, but he’d never made the top eight before.
 
“He played outstanding,” Cielo added.
 
Through his first 43 games against five opponents (Rich Anglin, Pat Castro, Ray Lopez, Shane Manaole and Alex Calderon), Chinakhov gave up a total of eight racks. Half of those were surrendered in his winners’ side quarterfinal against Calderon, which set him up to face Ronnie Alcano in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Loftis, in the meantime, who’d given up 11 racks through his first 46 games against Charlie Morra, Leon Contreras, Jason Harkrider, Sky Woodward (the shutout) and Ruben Bautista, squared off against Bryant in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Loftis and Bryant fought their double hill battle, which advanced Loftis to the hot seat. Chinakhov joined him after shutting out Alcano. In their first of three, Chinakhov moved into the hot seat with a 7-5 win over Loftis.
 
On the loss side, “Hillbilly” picked up Woodward, who was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak that included victories over Robb Saez 7-3, and Roberto Gomez 7-4. Alcano drew Ruben Bautista, who’d defeated Jeffrey Luna 7-5 and eliminated the ever-dangerous Jeremy Jones in a double hill match.
 
Bryant chalked up his double hill win over Woodward, and was joined in the quarterfinal match by Alcano, who’d defeated Bautista 7-3. Alcano then ended Bryant’s bid 7-3, before himself being eliminated, by Loftis in the semifinals 7-5.
 
One has to imagine that the results of the first double-elimination set of the finals came as a surprise to both Chinakhov and Loftis; Chinakhov, because of how things had been going for him since 2017 had turned into 2018, and Loftis because of how things had been going for him since he started showing up on regional tour payout lists here at AZBilliards seven years ago. Loftis took that opening set 7-5.
 
In the second set, Chinakhov regained control. He gave up only two racks to Loftis in that second set and claimed the event title.
 
“He impressed me,” said tour director James Davis, Sr. of Chinakhov’s performance, “and I’m not easily impressed.”
 
“He’s tall,” Davis added, “and has the most powerful break I have ever seen. He makes every shot look so simple, just an amazing player.”
 

Justin Bergman Defends Memphis Open 10 Ball Title

Justin Bergman, Tracy Whitney and Justin Hall

The thirty two man field drew twenty-seven players to take their shot at the Ten Ball division of the Third Annual Memphis Open at High Pockets, once home court for the legendary "St Louie" Louie Roberts.
 
After claiming a hill-hill victory over Mike Dechaine at the BCAPL 10 Ball Challenge in Las Vegas last week, young Manny Perez drew a first round bye. Others getting the coveted bye were Billy Thorpe, Mike Delawder, Jason Klatt and Corey Deuel.
 
2016 Memphis Open One Pocket champ Justin Hall, Johnathan Pinegar ("Hennessee"), defending champion Justin Bergman and High Pockets house pro Shane McMinn shot their way into the final four on the winner's side. After being down 9-4 Hall came back and beat Hennessee 13-10 to earn his spot in the hot seat match. Bergman defeated McMinn 13-5 for the other spot.
 
On the other side of the bracket, after losing his second round match to Hall, BCA Hall of Famer Johnny Archer put his head down & barrelled through Delawder, Deuel & McMinn until he reached Pinegar. A hard fought match put the veteran out of contention 9-6 & Hennessee waited for the loser of the Battle of the Justins.
 
Both hailing from St Louis, MO, longtime friends and competitors Hall and Bergman duked it out with Hall taking it down 13-6. After a few minutes break, Bergman dispatched Hennessee 9-5 and took his spot in the finals.
 
Since this event was true double elimination, Bergman would have to defeat Hall twice to take the title. A race to 13 ensued, with Bergman winning the first set 13-6. Since both players now had one loss, the final set would be a race to 9.
 
The second set was all Bergman as Hall just couldn't seem to do anything right. Even though he was struggling with his break, Bergman played nearly flawless pool and defeated his close friend 9-0 for his second consecutive Memphis Open 10 Ball title!
 
Congratulations to Justin Bergman for an unbelievable display of precision pool!!! Great tournament, Justin Hall! Not too shabby – first place in the One Pocket & second in the Ten Ball! Great shooting!
 
In addition to the One Pocket and Ten Ball divisions, there was also an Open 9 ball event played on the seven footers. Zack Sanderson defeated Robert Stewart to win the event while Ted Reeves finished third and Kenny Loftis finished in fourth place.
 
The Memphis Open is always a favorite for the players as High Pockets owner, Tracy Whitney, and staff pull out all the stops to make it a fabulous event. In addition to providing a topnotch venue, Tracy always makes sure the players are well-fed too. Included with their entry fee is all they can eat – from steaks to burgers! Wow! Thank you, Tracy!
 
And, of course, thanks to every one of our sponsors! They include Ramin Bahktiari and MaryAnn Starkey of GoPlayPool.com, Mike Durbin of Durbin Custom Cues, Carlos Sanchez of KamiMaze Tips, Ivan Lee of Simonis Cloth and Aramith Billiard Balls, Viking Cues and Tiny of Club Billiards in Wichita, KS, Steve Lomax of Lomax Custom Cues, James Hanshew of Hanshew Custom Cues and John Bertone of Kamui Tips USA for their continued support.
 
PoolActionTV.com would also like to thank all our viewers and fans! See you down the road at the Texas Open in Austin, TX – September 2-5th!!!

Bergman hangs on to win 2nd Annual Memphis 10-Ball Open; Loftis takes Pro-Am 9-Ball

Justin Bergman

The stars came out to play on the weekend of July 11-12, as High Pockets in Memphis, TN played host to the $4,500-added Memphis Open, featuring a $4,000-added Pro 10-Ball event with races to 15 (11 on the loss side) and a $500-added Pro-Am 9-Ball tournament (races to 7 on both sides). Ray Hansen, with guest commentary from many of the Open-Pro players, was on site, throughout the weekend, streaming the event on PoolActionTV. 
 
Both winners went undefeated through their fields. Justin Bergman spoiled a six-match, loss-side bid by Shane McMinn in the Pro 10-Ball event that drew 16 entrants, including last year's winner, Jason Klatt, as well as McMinn, Johnny Archer, Dennis Hatch, Larry Nevel and Skyler Woodward (among others). Like Bergman, Kenny Loftis survived a loss-side bid (by Scott Rabon; seven on the loss side) to go undefeated in the Pro-Am 9-Ball tournament that drew 64 entrants.
 
Bergman's undefeated run was almost sidetracked by Johnny Archer in one of the winners' side semifinals. Archer battled to double hill before giving way to Bergman. John Morra, in the meantime, sent Larry Nevel to the loss side 15-7. Bergman claimed the hot seat 15-11 over Morra and waited for Shane McMinn to finish his loss-side run.
 
On the loss side, McMinn, who'd been defeated earlier by Skyler Woodward, had eliminated Drake Neipotter 11-4, and last year's winner, Klatt, 11-7, to draw Archer. Nevel faced Dennis Hatch, who'd defeated Danny Olson 11-4 and Jeremy Jones 11-7 (Jones had previously eliminated Woodward 11-8). McMinn handed Archer his second straight, double hill loss, while Nevel advanced to the quarterfinals 11-6 over Hatch.
 
McMinn then won two straight 11-7 matches; over Nevel in the quarterfinals, and Morra in the semifinals, setting up what proved to be an epic race to 15 against Bergman that went to 28 games. The larger, more deliberate McMinn took an early, slim lead, 4-2, before the rail-thin, highly-energized Bergman settled in to win four in a row. The two battled back and forth with Bergman never extending that two-game lead, though not for lack of trying. They were tied at 13-13, when Bergman won two straight to claim the event title.
 
In the Amateur 9-Ball tourney, Loftis and Nick Evans advanced to the hot seat match; Loftis, having sent Mark Cavalier to the loss side 7-4, while Evans sent Greg Mitchell over 7-5. Loftis moved into the hot seat with a 7-4 win over Evans, and waited for the return of Scott Rabon.
 
Rabon had been sent to the loss side by Greg Mitchell, and was Mitchell's first loss-side opponent. Rabon, with two loss-side wins to his credit, had eliminated Brian Woodward 7-4 and Kevin Hutson 7-3 to reach Mitchell. Cavalier picked up Dale Neipotter, who'd defeated Paul Dodge, double hill, and Johnny Box 7-4. By identical 7-5 scores, Cavalier and Rabon defeated Neipotter and Mitchell and turned to face each other in the quarterfinals.
 
Rabon downed Cavalier 7-4 and earned his shot at Loftis in the hot seat with a 7-5 win over Evans in the semifinals. Loftis ended Rabon's seven-match, loss-side winning streak with a 7-5 victory in the finals.

Engel wins seven on the loss side, double dips Abood to take Arena Billiards 9-Ball Open

Jesse Engel (Photo courtesy of WPBL)

Jesse Engel fell to Larry Nevel in the early going of the Arena Billiards 9-Ball Open, but won seven on the loss side to eventually meet and defeat Gary Abood in the event finals. The $1,800-added event drew 79 entrants (only 77 actually played) to Arena Billiards in West Monroe, LA.

 
Once Engel had been sent west, Nevel was eventually sent to follow him by Abood, who advanced among the winners' side final four for a matchup against James Council. Carl McLendon squared off against Eric Brown in the other winners' side semifinal. Abood gave up only a single rack against Council and in the battle for the hot seat, met McClendon, who'd defeated Brown 7-3. Abood got into the hot seat with a double hill win over McClendon.
 
Engel, in the meantime, was racking them up on the loss side. With two down and five to go, he defeated Tom Orange, and was denied a re-match against Nevel, when Josh Roberts took him out in the same round. Engel went on to defeat Roberts 7-5, which set him up to face Council. Brown drew Clint Freeman, who'd gotten by Mike Brown and Kenny Loftis
 
Engel defeated Council 7-3 and was met in the quarterfinals by Brown, who'd eliminated Freeman 7-4. Engel moved on and chalked up four straight 7-4 wins, beginning with his defeat of Brown in those quarterfinals.
 
He defeated McClendon in the semifinals, and got out in front of Abood in the opening set of the finals to take it 7-4, as well. Abood jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Engel caught up to him and eventually sealed the deal with a final 7-4 win.