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Kazakis Wins Player Relief Open

Alex Kazakis (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

With the last minute cancellation of the 2018 Tornado Open, a large number of top players who were in the states for the event found themselves with in search of a place to play and an event to play in. It would have been easy for anyone to just shake their head and think that it was another bad roll for the players. Sandcastle Billiards’ owner Ed Liddawi isn’t just anyone though. 
On short notice, Liddawi put together the Player Relief Open 9-Ball Tournament at Sandcastle on November 8th and drew a talented field of international players. “I felt real bad about the tragic situation with the cancellation of the Tornado Open not only for Vivian Villarreal but for all the struggling traveling players that spent so much money on flights and hotels just to get to New Jersey. Not only were they out money but they also had no competition to enjoy or try to make up for their losses.”, Liddawi said. “Being a premier pool room in NJ dedicated to the serious player, I just HAD to do something while all the top players from around the World were already in the same state.”
The field of players was a who’s who of top talent including such notables as Alex Kazakis, Casper Matikainen, James Aranas, Johann Chua, John Morra, Konrad Juszczyszyn, Kristina Tkach, Maksim Dudanets, Ruslan Chinakhov and Mieszko Fortunski
The two players who were able to navigate this field of tough players without a loss were James Aranas and Casper Matikainen. Aranas had wins over 14 year old Ivo Linkin, Juszczyszyn and Chinakhov, while Matikainen had wins over Chua, Morra, Eric Bayhon and Fortunski. Aranas then took the hot-seat with a 7-4 win over Matikainen. 
Alex Kazakis had lost his second match of the day to Fortunski 7-5, but was cruising through the left side of the board. To get to the semi-final match against Matikainen, Kazakis had wins over Tkach, Joey Korsiak, Chinakhov and Dudanets. He then scored a 7-4 win over Matikainen to earn his spot in the finals. 
With the momentum of his one loss side winning streak, Kazakis defeated Aranas 7-3 in the first set of the finals and then again hill-hill in the second set to earn first place and $1,200 in prize money. 
After the tournament, Liddawi expressed his gratitude to Iwan Simonis, Aramith Billiard Balls, Outsville Inc., Accu-Stats Video Productions, Erwin Dionisio, Ivan Lee, Roy's Basement Ariel Roy Francisco, Jerry Forsyth, Mike Howerton, Billiards Digest, Michael Panozzo,, Ramin Bakhtiari, Patrick Fleming, Jim Fredericks,  Jose Burgos, Paul Lieb, Michael Sasso, Alyssa Solt, Saliba Liddawi, Nawal Liddawi, Alex Liddawi and Anastasia Beaverhausen. 
With all of those thanks, he forgot the most important thanks. That was a thanks to Liddawi himself for coming through for the players like he did. It’s room owners like Liddawi that keep this game alive. 

GoPlayPool Celebrates 6th Year and Announces Expansion into Canada

As well as new membership benefits and advertising opportunities.


The GoPlayPool App has reached its 6th year in the industry.  Owners, Ramin Bakhtiari and Mary Ann Starkey, would like to thank family, friends, and their many supporters.  “Without everyone’s patience and support, we wouldn’t have made it this far.”  The system, as a whole, is more organized and inclusive than ever before.  In the last year, the directory of pool rooms has made a change by including more information about the establishments available to users.  Each listing now includes basic information when available.  Table types, sizes and counts, tournament and league availability are part of our basic listings.  The GoPlayPool App is focused on the future of pool, so we also include age limits in our basic listings.  We want to let our users know where junior players can practice, play and compete.  GoPlayPool App Member Rooms can also post food and drink menus, entertainment, special events and much more.

GoPlayPool App users can also add, edit or delete pool rooms and their information directly through the free GoPlayPool App or the GoPlayPool website.  This has created a user-based directory, which some have said is like a ‘pool version of Yelp’.  It’s now easier than ever for pool room owners and managers to become members of the GoPlayPool App, which includes monthly and yearly memberships.  
When pool rooms become members, they receive multiple benefits, which include a more descriptive listing and profile.  These profiles contain everything from specific tournament and league information, coupons and discounts for users through our GoDeal$ Program, as well as push notifications to let GoPlayPool App users know about upcoming events in member rooms. And last but not least, members become part of the “Featured Listings” on the system.
The GoPlayPool App also contains an extensive flyer section, where pool rooms can post their event flyers for free.  For those who are interested in posting flyers, it’s recommended to do so at least a month before the event to get as much exposure as possible.  
As of August 2018, the GoPlayPool website has over 100,000 views a month.  That’s a focused audience that is searching for pool related information.  With more members and users than ever, the GoPlayPool App is going to be expanding their directory into Canada.  Ramin Bakhtiari said, “We are very excited to move into the next phase of this company.  Creating the directory for Canada will take some time, but we’ve seen the demand from players and pool rooms alike, so we’re expanding.”  
If you already have the GoPlayPool App installed on your devices, it is recommended that you re-install the app to make sure the new features are updated.   As always, there are no pop-up advertisements and users are not required to login to use the GoPlayPool App or website.  For GoPlayPool App users, Mary Ann Starkey wants to remind them to “keep the notifications turned on so you can get updates and notifications about upcoming events.
The GoPlayPool App is available on both Android and Apple devices.  It is 100% free to download and use.  Visit to learn more about the available features or to become a GoPlayPool App Member location.

Geronimo wins La Mesa Mezz Stop

The Mezz West State Tour was held in gorgeous La Mesa, California at its premier room, On Cue Billiards. The Nooris family welcomed 88 players including none other than “The Magician” himself, Mr. Efren Reyes. It was quite a treat for both players and spectators to watch and interact with the legend himself during the two day event. 
The top half of the bracket was packed with talent as it contained not only Rodrigo Geronimo, Ramin Bakhtiari, Vilmos Foldes, Johnny Kang, James Cabal, Dan Wallace, Dave Gorham, Rodney Wynn and Victor Castro but also Efren Reyes. Foldes and Reyes met up in the final 16 of the winner side in a TV table face off. Foldes fought hard, but was out matched by Reyes with a score of 9-4. Reyes’ bracket got no easier, as Rodrigo Geronimo was waiting for him following his 9-3 victory over James Cabal.  This Filipino match up went back and forth to the bitter end with Rodrigo pulling away a 9-7 victory and sending the Magician to the losers side. This win secured Geronimo’s spot in the final 4 of the winners side where he would defeat Victor Castro, who had tough wins over Mark Whitehead, Ray Pajarillo and Dave Gorham. Geronimo would go on to defeat Castro 9-6 to find himself waiting to battle it out for the hot seat. 
The bottom half of the bracket was no cake walk either as Oscar Dominguez, Attila Bezdan, Kenichi Uchigaki, Ruben Bautista, Sal Butera, Beau Runningen and Melissa Hernadon made up just a few of the great players that filled up this portion of the chart.  Second round of the winners side found Beau Runningen taking on Toyko player, Kenichi Uchigaki. Beau made a heart filled effort but fell short, sending Uchigaki further into the winners brackets and himself to the losers side. Uchigaki proceeded to find wins over Branch Talley, Larry Bohn and Sal Butera all of which allowed him to face off against Oscar Dominguez in the final 4 winners. Dominguez made his way there with wins over Melissa Hernadon, Amir Shoshan and Attila Bezdan. This was hard fought battle between the two international friends, but ended with Kenichi Uchigaki taking down Dominguez 9-6. This win ensured Uchigaki to face off with Geronimo for the hot seat. The match up one sided early on with Geronimo taking the win 9-5, putting him in the hot seat.
Meanwhile, the action continued on the losers’ side where team Hungary faced off. Vilmos Foldes defeated his best friend and road partner 9-4 knocking Attila out of the competition. Vilmos would then go on to beat Sal Butera in a hill-hill, nail bitter which came down to a safety battle on the 8 ball in the final game.  However the hill-hill matches were not over for Foldes just yet, as Victor Castro played his heart out but fell short to Foldes in the following round.  On the top side of the losers bracket, Oscar Dominguez found himself fighting back against Efren Reyes, who at one point led the match 8-2. Dominguez came with great out after great out, eventually tying the match at 8-8. In the case game, Reyes was up to break. Reyes broke in two balls and skillfully made an incredible out on Dominguez, forcing Oscar to settle for 5th/6th.
The 3rd/4th match found Foldes and Reyes once again. Foldes found his revenge on Reyes winning 9-6 and sending him to the losers side final against Uchigaki. Uchigaki, who was feeling ill and very jet lagged opted allow Foldes to move onto the finals by forfeit.
The finals between Vilmos Foldes and Rodrigo Geronimo was a match to be seen. In true double elimination format Foldes would have to defeat Geronimo twice to claim victory. Foldes easily handles Rodrigo winning the first set 9-3. The second set was much more of a grind with many break and runs, kicking and safety play. Rodrigo eventually grinded down Foldes and took his victory in a close 9-7 win. This win would make Rodrigo a three time tour stop winner this season. 
Also, a congrats to Melissa Herndon for being the top female finisher and receiving a $100 bonus.
The MWST would like to thank their sponsors for their continuous support of bringing pool back to the west coast. In addition, a very special thank you to Daniel Bush and POV POOL for their hard work providing the live streaming. Mezz Cues (, West State Billiards Supply (, ZAN tips (, Kurzweils Country Meats (,,,, Marty Carey Jump Q,, Turtle Racks, and fast&loose designs.

Sambajon Wins Mezz West State Tour Stop

Stop #6 on the Mezz West State Tour headed south to the San Diego area of La Mesa, CA to On Cue Billiards. 96 players from all over California, Nevada, Arizona, and several international players were all in attendance for a chance to grasp their hands on piece of the $6800 prize fund.
Leading the top half of the bracket was Phoenix, Arizona native Tim Daniel. Tim had strong wins over Art Garcia, Kevin May, Ramin Bakhtiari, Victor Ignacio, and Chris Fangre all the way to the hot seat match. While on the lower half, Santos Sambajon Jr. slowly but surely snuck his way through players Mike Meeker, Al Garcia, Fach Garcia, Ernesto Dominguez, Tang Hoa, and Amir Shoshan setting up the hot seat match between Daniels and Sambajon. This match would prove to be a lobsided one as Santos' experience and shotmaking took the hot seat with a resounding 9-2 scoreline.
After an early defeat, Hungarian native Vilmos Foldes stormed through the losers bracket with 6 wins on the losers side. Tim Daniels finally stopped the former Junior World Champion in his tracks to settle for third place setting up a rematch in the true double elimination finals between Daniel and Sambajon. 
The packed house at On Cue was treated to a nail biting finals as Daniels managed to control the first set with uncharacteristic errors on behalf of the diminutive Filipino by a 9-4 score. Santos and Daniels battled toe to toe in the final and concluding second set with Daniels having a very routine out with only 3 balls left on the table. Upon pocketing the 7, Daniels left himself a slightly awkward angle which would prove costly as Daniels failed to manage the carom on the 9 correctly by scratching, only leaving the gift of shooting the 9 ball with ball in hand for Santos. The devastated Daniels consoled himself with runner up prize money of $1000 while Santos took home the title and $1500 first prize.
A very special thanks to all of our sponsors; Mezz Cues, West State Billiard Supply, ZAN tips, Turtle Rack, POVPool, NYCGrind, AZBilliards, Kurzweil's Country Meats, Marty Carey Jump Cue, Virtual Pool 4, and Fast & Loose Designs.

GoPlayPool Celebrates Two Years Since Launching the GoPlayPool App

When Mary Ann Starkey walked into a southern California pool room and saw gorgeous Diamond tables, she wished she had known about the room years ago.  The room was located a mere 15 minutes from her house and had a great atmosphere.  It was during that time that Mary Ann and Ramin Bakhtiari, her boyfriend and fellow pool player, had begun building an app designed for pool players.  But it wasn't until she saw that room that she knew what direction to go with the app and the start-up company.  Mary Ann thought, "There should be an app that tells you where to find a pool room or bar that has pool tables.  It should tell you what you'll find when you get there, and allow the rooms themselves to promote the events they hold.  Whether it’s tournaments or leagues or even things that have nothing to do with pool, like their menu or other kinds of games or entertainment."  The task of building GoPlayPool had begun.

Mary Ann and Ramin knew all along that they did not want to charge the players or users of the app to find the information they would provide.  They always knew they wouldn't charge anyone to download the app.  They decided that offering pool rooms an affordable way to promote their business was the best way to go, along with giving pool players a source to find more pool rooms and more tournaments.  That is why they decided to give pool rooms a monthly membership.  The membership is free for the first 30 days, and after the free trial, it's only $19.95 a month.  With the membership they create detailed profiles of what their room offers its patrons.  Everything from what types of pool tables they have to what nights their tournaments are.  They can include their food and drink menus, and list all of their other amenities.  If they host darts tournaments on Tuesday nights and ladies nights on Wednesday, they can put that in their profile.  While Mary Ann and Ramin's focus has always been on pool, they knew that pool rooms would benefit from being able to promote all of the other aspects of their room.
It was a long road, filled with sleepless nights and spending hours doing research.  But after nearly a year, the GoPlayPool App was ready to launch and on September 17, 2012 the app became available in both The App Store and Google Play.  To say that Ramin and Mary Ann were proud would be a vast understatement.  The long road that stretched out in front of them would require hard work.  In order for the pool rooms to have a reason to become a member, they needed to get people to start using the app.  So, they spent the next year promoting it like crazy.  Social media, press releases, articles and advertising with pool magazines and news sources, live stream advertising, even driving hundreds of miles to various tournaments just to hit another area and introduce the app to players and rooms.
The support of already established companies and the players and fans of the game has been incredible.  Mary Ann said, “With September 17th marking 2 years since we launched the app, it’s great to see how far we’ve come.  Looking back now, I think we've always had tremendous support from within the industry.  People see what we're trying to do and they are more than happy to support a resource that just keeps growing and expanding.  I think the direction we chose couldn't have worked out any better.  We've given pool halls an opportunity to advertise and promote their room for an amazingly low rate.  And unlike advertising in the newspaper, people will keep coming back to the GoPlayPool App.  We're constantly adding new features and keeping the content fresh, so people always have a reason to come back.  Users will always know when new members sign up and be able to see the member profiles."  Along with the great cost of the membership, pool rooms will also receive a physical package when they sign up.  It contains thousands of dollars’ worth of free sample merchandise, vouchers and discounts from companies within and outside of the pool & billiards industry.
Since the GoPlayPool App launched, it has undergone a lot of changes.  As more time goes by, it becomes even more user-friendly and has thousands of hours of engaging content.  Recently, they added a section called "GoPlayPool 101" which features hundreds of videos, drills and instructional material from some of the best instructors in the United States.  Other sections like Flyers, a Calendar of World Events from AZ Billiards, and of course the phone and map directories of pool rooms all across the U.S. will keep users coming back for more, giving pool rooms every reason to sign up.
The GoPlayPool Team has also expanded their endeavors by reaching out to the community.  After learning that a few different players had come down with various illnesses, Ramin and Mary Ann wanted to help.  So they created the “Pool Together” site, as an extension of GoPlayPool.  If players in need have a benefit tournament or charity, they can post it on the Pool Together site to reach more people and hopefully get more donations.  Since taking on the venture, Ramin and Mary Ann have been a part of various fundraisers which have raised over $50,000.00 for players in need, or the families they have left behind.  You can learn more and donate to the listed causes by visiting
If you're a player or fan of the game, you can download the free GoPlayPool App for iOS and Android devices.  It's also available on Windows and Blackberry devices.  Much of the information is also available in a mobile and web format.  For more information, please visit
For all other inquiries, feel free to get in touch with the GoPlayPool App team at

Jaynard Orque Wins Mezz West State Tour Stop #2 at Hard Times Billiards Sacramento

Jaynard Orque and Ernesto Dominguez

The Mezz West State Tour kicked off its second stop of the season at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA. The beautiful room of 31 pool tables offered a premium setting for players along with bleacher seating for spectators.  A big thank you goes out to Mike and Karen Markulis and their entire staff for supporting our sport and having one of the premier rooms in the country.
After a successful first stop in Los Angeles, the energy and excitement of the tour went north garnering a very strong field of 68 players who played on the very tight equipment Hard Times Sacramento had to offer. The top half of the field was littered with strong players such as returning winner of stop number one, Rodrigo Geronimo of the Philippines. San Francisco bay area resident, Jaynard Orque had a very impressive showing of smooth play with wins over Nick Callado, Oscar Dominguez, Jeff Gregory, John Henderson, before he stumbled to Ernesto Dominguez in the semis. The 59 year old Ernesto had a 1985 flashback winning matches with excellent safety play and decision making. Ernesto won the hot seat over the always dangerous Los Angeles player, Ramin Bakhtiari.
Once on the losers side, Jaynard Orque showed his shot making ability on the table defeating Amar Kang, Oscar Dominguez, and Ramin Bakhtiari consecutively in very close matches to get another chance at Ernesto waiting in the hotseat. In the true double elimination format, Jaynard easily ran away with the first set and defeated Ernesto hill-hill in a tense battle in set number two. The Filipino young gun demonstrated a solid game on extremely challenging equipment and earned $1400 for his efforts. Ernesto settled for $1000.
The top female prize was split between two strong female players from California, MaryAnn Starkey and Barbara Lee
Oscar and Desiree of the Mezz West State Tour would like to thank all our sponsors: Mezz Cues, West State Billiard Supply, ZAN tips, Turtle Rack, Fast&Loose designs, and our media sponsors; AZBilliards, NYCGrind, and POV Pool. Also, a very special thank you to Chris Kurzweils of Kurzweils Country Meats who donated snacks and jerky to the players and spectators of Hard Times Billiards.
Next stop on the tour schedule is Diamond Billiards in Fresno, CA. For more information please the contact us tab at or visit our Mezz West State Tour Facebook page. We thank you for your support and look forward to bringing pool back to the West!

GoPlaypool announces one year since launch of app

Aliso Viejo, CA – September 17, 2013: owners announced on September 17, 2013 that they had reached the one year anniversary of launching their app.  The GoPlayPool app began as an idea and after a solid year of work in creating the database of pool rooms and build the website and app, the GoPlayPool app earned Apple’s approval and went live on September 17, 2012.  
“I can’t believe it has been a year!” said owner, Mary Ann Starkey.  “We’ve been working so hard so I suppose the time has just gone by quickly.  I’m very pleased to say that the support, the enthusiasm and the positive reactions to the app have been instrumental to our success so far.  I am really looking forward to the next year and the great times that are to come.  We love pool and we want to see those who play the sport as well as support it be able to thrive.  Pool is a sport that has been around for centuries and it should be as main-stream as any other professional sport.”  
Mary Ann Starkey and Ramin Bakhtiari are the creators of and founders of the company.  They also play pool in the southern California area, and travel throughout the western U.S. to various pool tournaments.
The GoPlayPool app features a directory of pool halls in the United States along with tournament listings, information about leagues and tours throughout the country as well as a music playlist, live stream listings and much more.  The GoPlayPool app is free to download on both iOS and Android Platforms.
If pool halls are interested in promoting their establishment, they can become a premium member of and create a detailed profile of their room, including all amenities they offer, not just pool.  The rooms get the first 30 days of their membership for free, and after that it is $19.95 per month. also does advertising for businesses and individuals within the industry such as retailers, clothing companies and cue makers.  It also promotes leagues and tours at no charge.  If you’re interested in promoting or advertising ideas, you can find out more information by visiting and clicking on the “Join Us” link.

Orcullo wins seven on the one loss side to take Hard Times 10-Ball away from Van Boening

Dennis Orcollo

In a star-studded, Hard Times 10-Ball tournament, held on the weekend of May 4-6, Dennis Orcullo won seven matches on the loss-side and dominated Shane Van Boening in the finals to become the third Filipino champion of this annual tournament. Lee Van Corteza (2010) and Alex Pagalayun (2011) were the previous champions. The $5,000-added event drew 64 entrants, including Rodney Morris, Mike Davis, Mitch Ellerman, Francisco Bustamante, Oscar Dominguez, Scott Frost, Raj Hundal and Brandon Shuff to Hard Times in Bellflower, CA.

Van Boening’s path to the winners’ side final four went through Justin Logan, Mitch Ellerman, Mike Davis and among the final eight, Francisco Bustamante. He faced Manny Chau in the winners’ side semifinals, as Max Eberle faced Corey Harper. Van Boening got into the hot seat match with a 9-3 victory over Chau, and faced Eberle, who’d sent Harper west 9-4. Van Boening downed Eberle in the battle for the hot seat 9-4 and waited for the fateful return of Orcullo.

Orcullo, who’d opened his tournament bid with victories over Branch Talley and Scott White,  moved to the loss side on the heels of 9-5 victory by Louis Ulrich in the third round of play. His seven-match march back to the finals began with victories over Ernesto Dominguez and Ramin Bakhtiari. He then downed Bustamante 9-7, and Morris 9-6 to pick up Harper. Chau drew Scott Frost, who’d defeated Ulrich 9-3 (spoiling any re-match possibility for Orcullo), and Kenichi Uchigaki 9-5. 

It was Orcullo and Frost advancing to the quarterfinals; Orcullo with a 9-4 win over Harper, and Frost 9-7 against Chau. Orcullo dropped Frost into fourth place 9-3 and completed his seven-match, loss-side winning streak with a 9-3 victory over Eberle in the semifinals.

Orcullo came out smoking in the single, race-to-11 finals, jumping out to a lead and giving up only three racks to Van Boening. At the conclusion of the match, Orcullo stepped to the end of the table and began preparations for a 15th rack. He had to be informed that the match was over, and began accepting congratulations. And for the third year in a row, Max Eberle placed third.