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Wise Guy Snaps Off Senior One Pocket

Ronnie Wiseman, Ray Hansen, Bogies Owner Cody Parish and Nick Varner

Thirty one players came from all over the country to Bogies Billiards & Sports Bar in Houston, TX for the 7th Annual Senior One Pocket Championship.

My favorite tournament of the year, I couldn’t wait to see my longtime friends. “Tall Jeff” Sparks stopped by on the first day as well as Keith Thompson, the 1970 Johnston City All-Around champ. Texas legend, Jerry Prado, was supposed to play in the tournament but had car trouble – he showed up for the last two days to see everyone anyway. 

My friends Linda Martin, Samm Rubin, LoreeJon Ogonowski-Brown, Julie Mason-Comitini, Chris Fields, Kelly Isaac were there as well as Phil Windham, Carl Honey, Big Tyme’s Jim Henry, Todd Comitini, Bogie’s House Pro Roberto Gomez and Alex Calderon. The Taiwan contingent including Cheng Yu-hsuan (“Kevin Cheng”) and Chang Jung-lin was also in town making a pit stop before heading to Atlantic City for the US Open Pool Championship. There was even a little ten ball action between Roberto and Alex and a couple of the Taiwanese players after the finals on Sunday night. 

Presented by PoolActionTV, Bogies Billiards, Aramith, Simonis, Diamond Billiard Products and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, owner Cody Parish & Manager John Rizzo welcomed players such as BCA and One Pocket Hall of Famer Nick Varner, James Christopher (“The Sniper”), Moises Pouncey (“Gabby”), Scott Kitto, Ronnie Wiseman (“Wise Guy”), “Jumpin’ Sammy Jones, Erman Bullard, “Tyler Bob” Valliere, Joey Aguzin (“Joey A”) and Robert Newkirk (“Newk”) to the fray.

Among several first time players were Perfect Pocketz’ Mark Gregory (“Mags”) and “Colonel Bille” Miller as well as the returning northern California contingent – Bob Beaulieu, Ed Neves, Lee Wallick and Al Markasky. Warren Ruth, Tad Sowa, Larry Landsman, Mark Dimmick, Jim McCary, Ronn Rutan, Gary Urinowski, Kent Berthelot, Bob Hayes, Wayne Catledge, Mike Hoyt, James Christensen and Louis Vickio rounded out the field.

Dealing with health issues and sorely missed were former champs Billy Incardona, Jerry Matchin, John Henderson and James Davis Sr. It just wasn’t the same without you guys! Sure hope to see you next year!

The $3,000 added double elimination event had a $200 entry fee with races to 4/3 and alternate breaks. The player auction was pretty healthy with Wiseman going as the first blind bid and Varner the second. The auction was followed by the players meeting, the draw and one round of play. 

Shaking off the rust and slicing through the top part of the bracket was Perfect Pocketz’ Mark Gregory. “Mags” is better known today for his beautiful restorations of the classic Brunswick Centennial and Anniversary tables as well as perhaps the best table mechanic on the planet. Mark sent both Al Markasky and Ronn Rutan west with identical 4-1 scores and skunked Warren Ruth 4-0. 

Plowing through the other part of the bracket was Iowa native Scott Kitto – also known as “911.” Along with Mark Wilson and Jeff Carter, the trio dominated pool in the Midwest in the eighties. Scott blitzed both Gary Urinoski and Larry Landsman 4-zip and “Joey A” 4-2 before running into Gregory. Gregory made short work of Kitto – score 4-1. Scott headed for the scenic route while Mark locked up his seat in the hot seat match.

On a collision course in the upper part of the bottom bracket was the “Kentucky Colonel,” Nick Varner and Ronnie Wiseman. Player of the Year in 1980, 1982, 1989, 1994 and 1999, Nick is one of the best all-around players of all time with over one hundred career titles beginning with ACUI Collegiate National Championships (representing Purdue University) in 1969 and 1970, as well as back to back US Open Nine Ball titles. Nick has also won world titles in nine ball, eight ball, straight pool, one pocket and bank pool and has represented Team USA eight times at the Mosconi Cup – four times as the team captain. 

Originally from Windsor, ON, Ronnie Wiseman made his debut at this event. Although Ronnie played in tournaments here and there – even winning a few including the 2005 Reno Open, the “Wise Guy” is considered to be one of the smartest – if not THE smartest – action guys in the pool biz.

Nick blitzed both Ed Neves and Sammy Jones 4-0 while Ronnie toasted “J-Tom Pilot” 4-1 and skunked “Colonel Bille” 4-0. In a match that was closer than the score indicated, Ronnie sent Nick west 4-2. His next match was Moises Pouncey – the legendary player with a silky stroke. He was tagged “Gabby” early in his career for standing like a statue – never saying a word. Gabby mowed down “Newk” 4-0 and edged out Mark Dimmick 4-3. His next match was Jim McCary – score 4-2. Ronnie then made short work of Gabby 4-1 and met Gregory in the hot seat match.

Mark took the first two games over Ronnie and was on his way to winning game three when he picked out two different shots out of the stack, fired them in and ended up frozen to another ball in both cases with no shot. Ronnie clawed his way back and won four in a row over his frustrated opponent and locked up his seat in the finals. Mark headed to the one loss side to await an opponent.

After losing his second match, Sammy Jones battled his former running mate, James Christopher, and escaped with a 3-2 win. He then ran through both Warren Ruth and Mark Dimmick 3-0 before running into Gabby. That one went down to the wire also and Gabby survived with a 3-2 win. Varner spanked both Ronn Rutan and Jim Tomassoni 3-0 and then outlasted Kitto in an eight hour marathon 3-2. 

Returning the following day at noon, Nick ground out a 3-1 victory over Gabby. He finished in fourth place. Next up was Mark Gregory – he went down with a 3-0 pounding. Mark finished in third place.

Since this tournament was double elimination, Nick had to defeat Ronnie twice to win the event. This title has eluded Varner for the past few years and he wanted it badly but it was not to be. Wiseman moved out quickly winning the first two games. Back to the grind, Nick managed to take the next two and tie it up.  2-2! Bearing down, Ronnie won the next and was on the hill. Methodically making one ball at a time, Nick stayed in the game – keeping it close. It looked like he was going to tie it up and then he scratched! Wiseman, needing one, leaped out of his chair and got down on the spot shot. He stood up and then got back down and rifled it in! Boom! And we had a new champion!

Congratulations to Ronnie for snapping off the title on his first attempt with his beautiful Steve Lomax custom cue! Great effort, Nick!

Once again, would like to thank Bogies owner Cody Parish, Manager John Rizzo and their staff for making all of us feel so welcome.

We’d like to thank our commentators for a fine job. They included One Pocket Hall of Famer Cliff Joyner, Mary Kenniston, Jeff Sparks, Joey Aguzin, Ronn Rutan and Ray Hansen.

We’d also like to thank our great fans and sponsors. Our sponsors include JB Cases, Aramith, Hanshew Jump Cues, Bogies Billiards, Lomax Custom Cues, Simonis, Diveney Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Durbin Custom Cues, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX.

Our next event is the One Pocket Champion Challenge featuring Tony Chohan and Alex Pagulayan with $100,000 plus in the middle! Hosted by Buffalo’s Billiards in Jefferson, LA, the dates are October 19th-22nd. Hope to see you there! 

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Franklin goes undefeated to win Stop #5 on Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour

Robert Newkirk, Jeff Franklin, Ryan Braselman, Blake Kamiab

Challenged twice by previously unknown competitor, Ryan Braselman

It happens, but it’s rare. While an unknown player might surprise a few players in a bar or pool hall with a good performance in a game or a match, instances of relative unknowns enduring the rigors of a lengthy tournament and challenging more established players in the hot seat and finals of such an event are few and far between. And there are generally rules in place to avoid some random entrant from sneaking up on a tour’s regulars and ‘stealing’ a tournament by understating his or her skill level.

“If we don’t know you, you don’t have a Fargo rating, can’t find any history on your skill levels and no one can vouch for you that you have one,” said Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour representative, Monica Anderson, “we start you out as a ‘7,’ for guys, mainly.”

And so it was, for Ryan Braselman, new to Texas and the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour, having migrated recently from Louisiana. He made it all the way into the hot seat of the tour’s 5th stop, defeating tour veteran Jeff Franklin, whose history (in AZBilliards’ database, at least) dates back 16 years to his 3rd place finish in the Texas 10-Ball Championships in 2005. Franklin came back from the semifinals to double dip the newcomer and claim the event title. The $1,500-added event drew 108 entrants to Rusty’s in Arlington, TX.

“As you can see with Braselman’s finish,” said Anderson, “he is indeed a skill level 7.”

Both Franklin and Braselman began the tournament with a bye. Franklin opened with a shutout victory over Jacky Halper, who was the lowest skill level player (4) that he would face the rest of the way. Franklin then defeated Bobby Diggs, Jeff Georges and TJ Davis (#9 on the tour standings list) to draw Blake Kamiab in one of the winners’ side semifinals. After his ‘bye,’ Braselman opened against a skill level 7, Friday Abismo, and after sending him to the loss side 7-3, chalked up his shutout over Casey Dawson. Victories over Clint Palaci and Jim Tuley put Braselman in the other winners’ side semifinal against Tony Loeper.

Franklin defeated Kamiab 8-3, not knowing that he’d be facing him a second time, later. Braselman joined Franklin in the hot seat match after sending Loeper to the loss side 7-5. Given their respective records at the table, it’s hard to figure who was the more surprised when the ‘new kid on the block’ defeated Jeff Franklin 7-5 to claim the hot seat.

Six of the top 10 players in the tour standings competed in this event. Two made it to the fourth winners’ side round, two made it to the third round, and two played only a single match on the winners’ side. Of those six, only three took home any cash. TJ Davis (in a two-way tie for the 8th spot in tour standings) made it as far as the first money round and finished there in the tie for 17th. Robbie Cleland (#3) finished in the tie for 7th, while Daniel Herring (#1) got as far as the tie for 5th.

Moving over from the winners’ side final four, Loeper drew a rematch against Robert Newkirk, whom he’d sent to the loss side in a double hill, fourth round fight. Newkirk downed four on the west side, including Roman Bayda 7-3 and TJ Davis, double hill, to reach Loeper. Blake Kamiab picked up Daniel Herring, who’d also been sent over by Loeper, double hill, in a winners’ side quarterfinal immediately after Loeper had defeated Newkirk. Herring eliminated Miguel Hernandez 8-1 and Donnie Gregory, double hill, to face Kamiab.

Newkirk wreaked his vengeance on Loeper 7-3, leaving him in the tie for 5th place. Kamiab joined Newkirk in the quarterfinals after eliminating Herring 7-4.

Kamiab stopped Newkirk’s loss-side streak at five, with a 7-3 win in those quarterfinals, earning himself a rematch against Franklin in the semifinals. Franklin stopped Kamiab’s streak at two matches with an 8-4 win in the semifinals.

The true double elimination format required Franklin to defeat Braselman twice in the finals. He beat him in the opening set 8-3 and being satisfied with that result, did it again, defeating him a second time to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Rusty’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor CueTec and Associate Title sponsor Fort Worth Billiards Superstore. The CueTec DFW 9-Ball Tour will return to Snookered in Frisco, TX for stop # 6, scheduled for June 19-20.