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Cutrone records first payout in five years, comes from the loss side to win KC Clayton Memorial

Elvis Rodriguez and Frank Cutrone

KC Clayton recorded his first cash payout and entered the AZBilliards database in 2016 when he finished in the tie for 9th place at a stop on Tony Robles’ Predator ProAm Tour. In his last known appearance at a pool table on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, KC Clayton was defeated by Tae Chang to finish in the tie for 7th place with Nick Torraca at a stop on the Predator Tri-State Pool Tour at Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. The $70 he won that weekend was enough to make 2022 his best recorded earnings year. He’d cashed in five events, all on the Predator Tri-State Tour, finishing as runner-up in two of them. On November 22, Clayton died of natural causes, cutting a developing pool career, and his life, way too short.

Last weekend, (Jan. 14-15), 64 players from the New York Tri-State area gathered at Clayton’s home room, Raxx Pool Room, Sports Bar & Billiards in West Hempstead, Long Island to pay homage to that life. They did so by competing in a $500-added pool tournament, which, by its very nature, supported the development of ongoing pool careers in the Tri-State area among many of the players who’d competed with and sometimes against Clayton during his brief six years with known cash winnings, and likely long before he recorded his first cash payout as a professionally competitive pool player in the area. Some of the event’s proceeds were donated to FDNY and Foster Love in his name. Players throughout the Tri-State area who may be hearing of his passing here are encouraged to contribute.

Clayton would likely have approved of the results of his first Memorial tournament, which saw a well-known Tri-State area veteran (Elvis Rodriguez) emerge from a field with a lot of them and fall to an up-and-coming competitor (Frank Cutrone). Cutrone came from the loss side and defeated the veteran twice in a double elimination final. The payout ($2,600) was the first recorded by Cutrone since he finished in the tie for 9th place at the 2011 Empire State Championships at Raxx Billiards.

KC Clayton

Though it was Cutrone who faced Rodriguez in the finals, it was another up-and-coming competitor Gordon McDaniels, who battled Rodriguez for the hot seat. McDaniels was, according to Stephen Motilal, who organized and directed the event, “the biggest underdog coming into day two.”

“With a 416 Fargo Rating,” he wrote in an e-mail, “McDaniels had notable wins against (my father) Ricky Motilal (595) and the WPBA’s top US competitor, Caroline Pao (637).”

Rodriguez arrived at his hot seat match against McDaniels with an aggregate score of 31-2, having given up one rack to each of his first two opponents (Linda Cheung and Troy Deocharran) and none at all to his next three; Monika Callaghan, her brother-in-law, Dave Callaghan and in a winners’ side semifinal, Cutrone. McDaniels, in the meantime, showed up to challenge him for the hot seat with a 21-23 aggregate score, the handicap protocols forcing his opponents to race to higher numbers. He faced only one opponent with a lower Fargo Rate (Suzette Santos) and along the way sent Motilal (595), Pao (637) and in a winners’ side semifinal, Esteban Morrell (545) to the loss side.

Even with Rodriguez racing to 9 and McDaniels to 3, the Fargo Rate system gave McDaniels just a little more than a one-in-four chance of grabbing the hot seat. As it turned out, McDaniels chalked up two of the three he needed, reaching the hill first, before Rodriguez chalked up his ninth to claim it.

On the loss side, Cutrone was dealing with his own set of much-higher-Fargo-rated opponents, commencing with Pao, who’d followed her loss to McDaniels with victories over Mac Jankov 8-1 and Raymond Lee 6-4. Morrell drew Paul Puma (600), who’d won five on the loss side to reach him, including the recent elimination of Dave Callaghan 7-3 and Troy Deocharran 6-1.

Cutrone defeated Pao 5-2 (Pao racing to 7) and in the quarterfinals, faced Puma, who’d battled to double hill against Morrel before eliminating him 7-4. With Puma racing to 6, Cutrone defeated him 5-4 in those quarterfinals and then, shut out McDaniels in the semifinals.

With a slightly elevated Fargo Rate going into the finals, Cutrone made the point moot. He took the opening set of the true double elimination final 5-2 and followed it with a 5-4 victory in the second set, claiming his first major event title, the first and not likely the last KC Clayton Memorial.

Stephen Motilal thanked the ownership and staff at Raxx for their hospitality, as well as all of the players who came out to support the event, honoring one of their own.

“May KC Clayton rest in peace for eternity,” he said.

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Burwell wins first 2022 stop on J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour

Linda Haywood-Shea, Caroline Pao, Briana Miller and Kia Burwell

In a J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) stop in Pennsylvania, affected by a variety of factors, including other events, gas/lodging prices and distance, Kia Burwell chalked up her first 2022 tour win this past weekend (Oct. 8-9), downing both the tour-rankings leader, Briana Miller and the top American competitor on the WPBA rankings list, Caroline Pao in the process. She also won five of her seven total matches on the loss side to be in the event finals. While the $750-added event drew a short field of 12 entrants to Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA, it was not without its impactful matches among the tour’s top competitors; six of the tour’s top 10 were on-hand to jockey for tour-ranking position in the 8th of 10 stops on the 2022 tour.

Following a first-round bye, Burwell (#2) lost her opening match to Carol V. Clark (#6 on the tour) 7-5. Clark advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Miller (#1). Pao (#4), in the meantime, followed an opening round bye with a 7-3 win over tour director Linda Shea (#3) to pick up Rachel Walters in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Miller shut Clark out and in the hot seat match, faced Pao, who’d defeated Walters 7-3. Miller claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Pao and waited for Burwell to complete her loss-side run.

Two matches into her loss-side run, with victories over Shelah Joner 7-4 and Melissa Jenkins 7-2, Burwell drew Walters. Clark picked up Shea, who’d defeated Linda Cheung, double hill and Ashley Benoit 7-4 to reach her.

Burwell did her part to bring about a rematch against Clark in the quarterfinals, downing Walters 7-4, but Shea spoiled the ‘party’ by eliminating Clark 7-2. In a quite familiar scene, Shea and Burwell battled in those quarterfinals, Burwell coming out on top 7-3. 

Either way, the semifinals were going to yield a finals opponent for Miller that would not be enviable; Pao or Burwell. As it turned out, Burwell had to win two straight double hill battles to complete her run. 

No problem. She battled Pao to the hill before advancing to the extended-race-to-9 finals. There, she chalked up seven racks first to extend the race to 9 games and then, with Miller nipping at her double-hill heels, she finished up to claim the event title.

Co-Tour Directors Linda Shea and Briana Miller thanked the ownership and staff at Eagle Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues and stream commentator George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor, Baltimore, MD). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of November 5-6, will be hosted by On Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Front Royal, VA.

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Cha double-dips Goberdhan to win 25th Predator Tri-State Invitational

John Leyman, Henry Cha, Dan Cintron, Jason Goberdhan and Todd Fleitman

Since he first began showing up on the tri-state New York area’s payout lists two years ago, Henry Cha has been making steady progress, earning a little more each year since then. He earned more in 2021 than he did in 2020 (which, full disclosure and thanks to Covid, pretty much everybody did) and now, midway through 2022, he’s already surpassed last year’s earnings. He won his first Predator Tri-State Tour stop in back in March and this past weekend, (June 25-26), he chalked up his second Predator Tri-State win, coming from the loss side to down Jason Goberdhan twice in the true double elimination final of the tour’s $3,800-added, 25th Invitational Tournament. The annual event, which signals the end of one tour season and the start of another (in this case, ‘20/’21 to ‘21/’22) drew 63 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

Cha’s trip went through Lidio Ramirez, Raymond Lee and Julian Tierney to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Mike Pruitt. Goberdhan, in the meantime, downed Nick Persaud, Jay Chiu, Nick Torraca and Anil Dhenraj to face Linda Cheung in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Cha got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Pruitt and was joined by Goberdhan, who sent Cheung to the loss side, double hill. Goberdhan, looking for his first win on the tour since four days before Christmas last year, claimed the hot seat 7-5 in what would prove to be his last win of the weekend.

On the loss side, Jaydev Zaveri, who’d lost his second round, winners’ side match to Tierney and then got by Hunter Sullivan and Basdeo Sookhai in the first money round, got a second shot at Tierney. They battled to double hill before Zaveri advanced to defeat Frank Rodriguez, also double hill, and drew Mike Pruitt, just over from the winners’ side. Chueng arrived on the loss side to draw a rematch against KC Clayton, whom she’d defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal and who’d gone on to defeat Marc Lamberti 6-4 and Anil Dhenraj 6-3.

Zaveri defeated Pruitt 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Cheung, who’d eliminated Clayton, double hill. Zaveri ended Cheung’s run 9-7 in those quarterfinals. 

Zaveri’s run ended immediately thereafter. Cha defeated him 7-5 for a second and necessary third shot at Goberdhan in the hot seat. Cha took both sets of the true double elimination final 8-5 to claim the Predator Tri-State 25th Invitational Tournament. In addition to the prize money they earned, Cha took home a Predator Cue, while Goberdhan and Zaveri each were awarded a Poison Break Cue. 

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour scheduled for the Saturday, July 30, will be a $500-added, A-B-C-D 10-ball event, hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. 

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Rodriguez takes two out of three over Ramirez to claim Predator Tri-State title

Roberto Rodriguez and Lidio Ramirez

They played three times, once in the hot seat match and twice in the finals. Each match came down to a single, deciding game. Lidio Ramirez took the first match, sending Rodriguez to the semifinals. Rodriguez came back to double-dip Ramirez in the finals to win this past weekend’s (June 11-12) stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour. The $1,000-added event drew 36 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY. 

Separately, they worked their way through the field to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match; Ramirez versus Silvestre Palacios and Rodriguez against Paul Lyons. Ramirez sent Palacios to the loss side 7-5, while Rodriguez gave up only a single rack to Lyons, downing him 6-1 to join Ramirez in the hot seat match. Their first of three got underway and moved to its 18th game before Ramirez dropped the 9-ball in the 19th game and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Palacios picked up Hunter Sullivan, who’d defeated Adrian Daniel and Luis Jimenez, both 7-5, to reach him. Lyons drew Euryel Castillo, who’d recently eliminated Jason Goberdhan 7-5 and Linda Cheung 8-3. 

Palacios sent Sullivan home 7-3 and waited for Lyons to complete a double hill win over Castillo to join him in the quarterfinals. Palacios took that quarterfinal match 7-3, only to have his loss-side winning streak stopped at two wins by Rodriguez in the semifinals 8-5. 

The true double elimination finals were on. They battled back and forth to double hill and Rodriguez brought their match count to 1-1. They fought to double hill in the second set and Rodriguez finished it to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of June 25-26, will be the Predator Tri-State’s Annual Invitational Tournament, to be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

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Miller wins her second straight on J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour

Briana Miller and Kia Burwell

In the wake of winning the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour’s season opener last month (March 5-6), after being away from the tables for about three years, Brianna Miller commented that while she hoped to be increasing the frequency of her competition in the weeks and months ahead, she was going to “stick with the JPNEWT for right now, to get back into the swing of things.” She took a ‘swing’ at Stop #2 on the tour this past weekend (April 9-10) and as she did in March, so, too, in April. She went undefeated to claim her second straight 2022 tour title. The event drew 21 entrants to Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA. 

Absent from the entrant list this time around were Miller’s season-opening hot seat opponent (Kathy Friend) and finals opponent (Caroline Pao). In as clear an indication of “out of the frying pan, into the fire” imaginable, she faced tour director Linda Shea in the hot seat match and Kia Burwell in the finals.

Following victories over Gina Cunningham 7-3, Susan Kimble 7-1 and a shutout over Ada Lio, Miller faced Anna Marks in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Shea, in the meantime, got by Suzzie Wong 7-4, Jolene Retallack 7-2 and Carol V. Clark to face Nicole Nester in the other winners’ side semifinal. Nester had just sent Kia Burwell to the loss side in a rare shutout against Burwell.

Shea downed Nester 7-3 and turned to a hot seat match against Miller, who’d defeated Marks 7-3. Miller claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Shea and waited for Burwell to get back.

Burwell took her opening, loss-side round versus Suzzie Wong 7-5 and then, in something of a response to her winners’ side shutout loss, advanced to the quarterfinals, with two straight shutout wins over Carol V. Clark and fresh from the winners’ side, Marks. Nester picked up Alyssa Solt, who’d lost her opening round match against Linda Cheung and embarked on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Ada Lio 7-4 and, in their rematch, Linda Cheung 7-3.

Nester stopped Solt’s loss-side run at four, downing her 7-3 on Saturday night. Nester was unable to return on Sunday for a rematch against Burwell, who leapfrogged over the quarterfinals and downed Shea in the semifinals 7-5. Miller completed her second straight undefeated run on the tour with a 7-3 victory over Burwell in the finals.

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Cues, ThinkTechMD for their streaming and social media services, as well as Gina Cunningham (real estate agent of Keller Williams Integrity) and George Hammerbacher. The next event on the JPNEWT, scheduled for May 21-22, will be hosted by On Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Front Royal, VA.

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Cha chalks up his first Predator Tri-State Tour win

Henry Cha

The first-place prize in this past weekend’s (March 12) stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, combined with the cash he pocketed for finishing 17th at the B & L Open 10-Ball Championship in Maryland last month, put Henry Cha just over halfway toward a goal of surpassing his 2021 earnings at the tables; his best year of three in which he has recorded payouts. It was also his first win since he earned his first cash payout, taking the September, 2020 season opener of the Mac Attack Tour. The $1,000-added Predator Tri-State stop this past weekend drew 26 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. 

Cha opened his campaign against Dave Callaghan, who gave him a double-hill run for his money, before Cha prevailed to advance. Cha then faced and defeated Robert Calton (6-3), who’d defeated him at a Predator Tri-State tour stop twice last May, at the same location, in the hot seat and finals. Cha then sent Mikhail Kim to the loss side 6-4 to draw Tommy Schreiber in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the meantime, KC Clayton’s march to the hot seat match began with a bye, after which he downed Linda Cheung 5-2 and Carlos Duque 5-3 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Jay Chiu.

Cha downed Schreiber 6-4, as Clayton got by Chiu 5-3. In his second recorded hot seat match since he’d lost to Calton, two years ago, Cha sent Clayton to the semifinals 8-4.

On the loss side, Schreiber drew Kim, who, following his defeat versus Cha in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had downed Julian Tierney, double hill and Kevin Shin 6-4. Chiu picked up Duque, who’d lost his winners’ side quarterfinal to Clayton and advanced to eliminate Suzzie Wong and Cheung, both double hill.

Chiu ran right into his second straight loss, which advanced Duque to the quarterfinals 5-3. Schreiber joined him after eliminating Kim 6-4.

Schreiber and Duque locked up in a quarterfinal, double hill fight (the fifth of the event’s final 14 matches) that sent Schreiber to the semifinals against Clayton. The sixth double hill fight among the final 14 eventually sent Clayton back for a rematch against Cha, waiting for him in the hot seat. 

The finals brought the total number of double hill fights to half of the final 14. Clayton was looking for his first recorded victory after his best recorded earnings year (2021), in which he’d finished either 4th or 5th (three each) at six stops on the Predator Tri-State Tour. He had to settle for his first runner-up finish on the tour because Cha dropped the last 9-ball to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The Predator Tri-State Tour will return to Cue Bar, for a formerly cancelled stop, on the Sunday, April 3.

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Briana Miller takes season opener on J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour

Briana Miller and Caroline Pao

She’s back.

After almost three years in which she had failed to record any sort of a payout in any pool tournament (that we know of), Briana Miller returned to Pennsylvania from St. Charles, MO, where she’d attained a degree in finance, thanks to a pool-related scholarship to Lindenwood University. She got a job upon graduation and then, later, just beyond the height of the pandemic, was allowed to transfer and do that job remotely, back at home in Allentown, PA. Just this past weekend (March 5-6), Miller went undefeated to chalk up her first win on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) in five years. Her last two recorded payouts came during the 2018 and 2019 Super Billiards Expo’s Women’s Championships in which she finished 9th and 5th, respectively.

Miller’s last win on the JPNEWT, in November of 2017, featured two, back-to-back victories (hot seat and finals) over Tour Director Linda Shea. In a circumstance that at the time, we described to be “as rare as a teenager that doesn’t play video games,” Miller shut Shea out in both matches. Like that event, the tour’s 2022 season opener, with its 29 entrants, was hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

“It’s great to see her out and playing again,” said Shea after this past weekend’s event. “I loved it. She’s all grown up now; nice and settled and doing well. Her game showed it. She shot the lights out.”

It was, all told, a big come-back weekend for Miller that happened to accompany a turning point for the JPNEWT, as well. Their season opener capped an overall effort to revitalize the tour. Their 2022 season has begun with a new ‘look.’ They’ve partnered with a new streaming company – TTMD Streaming (ThinkTechMD) – which has brought a degree of professionalism and new vitality to the streaming services, including such improvements as multiple camera angles, the ability to do instant replay and steady commentary from the familiar face and voice of pool instructor George Hammerbacher and Wayne Everhart, owner of TTMD. The company has also undertaken to improve the tour’s presence on varied forms of social media and have been instrumental in creating a new tour Web site.

“They were very professional,” noted Shea of TTMD Streaming’s presence at the tour’s season opener, “and I’m looking forward to a great union with them.”

“Not only that,” she added, ‘but feature this: we held an amateur event, as well, for 450 and below Fargo rates that I’ve been trying to grow for two years. TTMD’s on board for our first event of the season and they get 25 women to participate. The most I ever got was eight. They worked that very hard and for sure, get all the credit for that 450 and under event. They even put four players in the main event, sponsored them.”

The winner of the ‘450 and under’ event was Lynn Richard, who came from the loss side (three matches) and claimed the title, with Linda Cheung as runner-up. There was also a preliminary, 17-entrant ‘chip tournament’ on Friday night, March 4, with races to one that proved immensely popular. 

“It was a lot of fun,” said Shea. “Only 17 people (mixed genders, won by Pete Boyer), but it was a blast and they want it to come back every week.”

In main event, Millers runs a gauntlet of some of the better-known competitors on the tour

In spite of what Miller encountered as a lot of new faces, she ended up facing people that she knew, beginning with Lai Li and following with Judie Wilson and Linda Cheung, which brought her to a winners’ side semifinal against another familiar face, Eugenia Gyftopoulos. Kathy Friend, in the meantime, got by Melissa Jenkins, Alyssa Solt and survived a tough double hill challenge by Caroline Pao before advancing to her winners’ side semifinal against Ada Lio.

Friend downed Lio 7-3 and met up with Miller, who’d sent Gyftopoulos to the loss side by the same 7-3 score. Miller claimed the hot seat, her first in a long while, 7-2.

On the loss side, Lio picked up Linda Shea, who’d lost her opening match to Shanna Lewis and embarked on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was almost derailed by Melissa Mason’s double hill challenge in the second, losers’ side round. Shea survived that, advancing to eventually eliminate Linda Cheung and Kia Burwell. Gyftopoulos drew Caroline Pao, who, following her defeat at the hands of Friend, had eliminated Lewis 7-4 and Judie Wilson 7-1.

Pao defeated Gyftopoulos 7-5, as Shea was busy getting by Lio 7-3. It set up a classic JPNEWT quarterfinal match between two of the tour’s most enduring event champions; Pao and Shea. Pao won this round of that ongoing rivalry 7-4 and then, dropped Friend 7-3 in the semifinals.

The finals of the 2022 season, pitting Pao against Miller, was, by almost any standard, a classic of the tour’s long-standing and still ongoing history. Behind them, at this event, were quite a few former JPNEWT champions; Shea, Burwell, Friend, Lewis, Lai Li and in absentia, the memory of Karen Corr. Ahead of them, as is always the case, was the table in front of them. Miller completed her undefeated run with a 7-4 victory over Pao to reclaim her spot among the tour’s best.

She’d taken a break and had now come back, to her hometown and pool. 

“After I graduated (in 2018, from Lindenwood), I felt like a needed a break,” she explained. “I’d been playing since I was eight (but) felt as though I wasn’t having as much fun anymore. So, I shifted my focus to other things.”

As for future plans, she’s keeping her expectations and specific plans on a ‘tight rein,’ so to speak. A sort of one day at a time approach.

“I think I’m going to stick with the JPNEWT for right now, to get back into the swing of things,” she said, adding that her ‘future’ eye is extended forward a little, toward future WPBA events and CSI’s Predator Pro Series, as examples. She’s considering attending this year’s Super Billiards Expo, but more likely as a spectator and to get reacquainted with some of the women she’d come to know over the years. “I might just go and say ‘Hi’ to everyone.

“I’m not at that level of play (to be) in a Pro event yet,” she added. “I’ll just get out there when I’m ready. Right now, I’m just playing pool to have fun.”

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Cues, ThinkTechMD for their streaming and social media services, as well as Gina Cunningham (real estate agent of Keller Williams Integrity) and George Hammerbacher.

The next event on the JPNEWT, scheduled for April 9-10, will be hosted by Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA.

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Lamberti comes back from semifinals to down Goberdhan in finals of Predator Tri-State Tour

Marc Lamberti and Jason Goberdhan, having returned recently from an all-too-familiar absence from the tables, signaled their return on the Predator Tri-State Tour with victories just over a month apart. A week before Christmas, Goberdhan chalked up his first tour win in two years at Steinway Billiards. On Saturday, Jan. 22, Lamberti followed suit, chalking up his first tour win in two years, with Goberdhan right on his heels. Goberdhan won the first of two against him, battling for the hot seat, but Lamberti returned from the semifinals to defeat him in the finals. The $500-added event drew 23 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Goberdhan had survived a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal match against Bryan Jeziorski to pick up Ray Marisette in one of the two winners’ side semifinals. Lamberti, in the meantime, drew Tom Crane in the other one. Goberdhan and Lamberti advanced to the hot seat match; Goberdhan 6-3 over Marisette, Lamberti 7-5 over Crane. Goberdhan edged out in front at the end of their first match to claim the hot seat 6-4.

Marisette next ran into Jeziorski, who’d followed his defeat at the hands of Goberdhan with loss-side victories over Jay Chiu 8-6 and Alfredo Altamirano, double hill. Crane drew Linda Cheung, who’d recently eliminated KC Clayton, double hill, and Mac Jankov 7-2.

Jeziorski downed Marisette 8-6 and in the quarterfinals, faced Cheung, who added another double hill win to her event tally with the elimination of Crane. Cheung and Jeziorski embarked on an epic, 18-game quarterfinal battle that Cheung eventually won 10-8 to face Lamberti in the semifinals.

Lamberti gave up just one rack to Cheung in those semifinals to win it 6-1 and then brought that momentum with him to the finals. He gave up only two racks to Goberdhan to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quic Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, which was scheduled to begin today (Sat. Jan. 29) at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY has been postponed due to weather.

Goberdhan goes undefeated to claim his first Predator Tri-State title in two years

Jason Goberdhan and Mike Pruitt

He got in just under the wire, chalking up an undefeated run on the Predator Tri-State Tour’s final stop of the year this past weekend (Sat., Dec. 18). Jason Goberdhan first appeared on our ‘radar’ (aka AZBilliards’ database) in 2018, cashing in nine events; eight of them on the former Predator Pro Am Tour and one on the Tri-State Tour. He progressed to cash in 13 events the following year, his best-recorded-earnings year so far; six each on the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am Tour and one combination of the two – The 9th Annual Ginky Memorial. His average place-finish in those 13 events was a solid 7th, and he won a stop on each of the tours that year.

Goberdhan was able to record only three cash finishes in 2020, the last of them on March 8, when he finished 4th at a Tri-State stop. By the time he and a good deal of the Tri-State New York area’s pool community came back with any regularity to the tables in 2021, the Predator Pro Am Tour was no longer in existence and the Tri-State Tour had picked up the sponsor to become the Predator Tri-State Tour. Goberdhan returned and competed three times on the tour, before chalking up his first cash finish this past weekend at the $1,000-added event that drew 25 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

In his undefeated run through the field, Goberdhan ended up facing five of the eight competitors who finished in the money. He got by Brandonne Alli in the opening round, and then defeated those five, in a row, to claim the title. Victories over Paolo Valverde and Ricardo Rodriguez brought him to a winners’ side semifinal match against Bianca Martinez. Mike Pruitt, destined to be runner-up, didn’t see any of the event’s final eight until he came up against Luis Jimenez in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Jimenez sent Pruitt to the loss side 7-5 and was joined in the hot seat match by Goberdhan, who’d defeated Martinez 6-3. Goberdhan, who, as a C+ player on the tour, began the hot seat match with two ‘beads on the wire,’ sent the B+ Jimenez off to a rematch against Pruitt in the semifinals and claimed the hot seat 7-2.

On the loss side, Pruitt picked up Solomon Brown, who’d lost his opening round match versus Max Watanabe and was in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to come to an end. Brown (B+) had recently navigated a successful rematch against Watanabe (A+) 7-1 and then eliminated Paolo Valverde 7-3. Martinez forfeited out of her scheduled first match on the loss side of the bracket to Linda Cheung, who followed victories over Tom Crane, double hill and Roberto Rodriguez 6-1 and leapfrogged into the quarterfinals. Pruitt joined her after eliminating Brown 7-5.

The D+ Linda Cheung battled the B Mike Pruitt to a double hill final game in those quarterfinals before Pruitt prevailed to earn his rematch against Jimenez. The semifinal proved to be a successful rematch for Pruitt, who won it 7-5 over Jimenez for a shot against Goberdhan in the finals.

Each of the finalists had something at stake. Goberdhan was looking for his first win in two years, but Pruitt, who’d already accomplished his highest finish on the tour by just being in the finals, was looking to claim his first event title. The double hill battle that ensued as a result came as no surprise. They each chalked up six racks in the contest, but Goberdhan began with one ‘bead on the wire,’ so when he finished his sixth rack, it was over.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stik, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The Predator Tri-State Tour will be back at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ for its next stop, scheduled for January 22. 

Rosario goes undefeated to claim Predator Tri-State event title

Abel Rosario and Linda Cheung

Linda Chung cashes for the first time in a “best ever” finish on the tour

As the Predator Tri-State Tour continues to build toward the kind of schedule that characterized its pre-COVID days, more and more tour veterans are starting to return to populate the payout lists. Abel Rosario, as a random example, appearing for only the second time in the current season, went undefeated on Saturday, Sept. 25 to claim his first Predator Tri-State title since he came from the loss side to win one just over two years ago in August, 2019. Competitors were the beneficiaries of $3,000 in added-money at this event, thanks to the generosity of long-time benefactor of the tri-state New York city pool community, Dr. Michael Fedak, who added $1,000 dollars to the $2,000 added by The Spot in Nanuet, NY. The event drew 35 entrants.

Rosario and eventual runner-up, Linda Chung met twice, in the hot seat and finals. It was not only Chung’s first appearance in a hot seat match, but her appearance in the preceding winners’ side semifinal had guaranteed that she’d go home from a Predator Tri-State event with cash for the first time. There was, too, a bit of ‘added flavor’ to the event for Chung. She’d defeated her husband, Jay Chiu, double hill, in a third-round match and had that ‘blow’ softened when Chiu advanced to the first loss-side money round.

Chung had defeated Connor Phares 6-3 to advance to the hot seat match, while Rosario was busy downing Mike Pruitt 6-4. Rosario won the first of his two versus Chung 9-7 to claim the hot seat. 

On the loss side, Phares picked up K.C. Clayton, who’d defeated Mark Tracey, double hill, and in that first money round, Jay Chiu 5-3 to reach him. Pruitt drew Matt Klein, who, like Rosario, had not chalked up a Predator Tri-State win since the 2019-2020 season, when he won 10 on the loss side to win in February, 2020. Klein had eliminated Raymond Lee and Keith Adamik, both 6-4 to draw Pruitt.

Klein downed Pruitt 6-3, advancing to the quarterfinals. Phares joined him after eliminating Clayton 5-3. Klein advanced one step closer by defeating Phares 7-4.

Chung, though, proved that her advancement to this stage of the proceedings was not just a ‘lucky break’ (or set of ‘rolls’). She downed Klein in the semifinals 9-7 to earn a second shot at Rosario in the finals. 

Rosario, though, proved as resilient as Chung and equally determined to win. He won their second meeting 9-6 to claim the title.

Tour representatives thanked the owners (husband-and-wife team, Rhys Chen and Lenore Chin) and staff at The Spot for their hospitality, Dr. Michael Fedak for the extra money-added, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Cappelle, Blue Book Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for this coming weekend (Saturday, Oct. 2), will be a $500-added event, hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.