I recently had the opportunity to speak in-depth with 2015 New England Pool & Billiards Hall of Fame inductee, Bart A. Rivezzi. Mr. Rivezzi has a distinguished reputation as a person, pool player, rare and vintage cue collector/appraiser, former pool room owner/operator, and overall ambassador to this game that we all love and cherish. It was a pleasure conducting this interview and I hope all of you will enjoy it as well.

 

What were you doing before you decided to take up pool/billiards? What inspired the change of interest?

Prior to becoming involved in playing pool I was really into racing dirt-bikes in a motocross setting. In the late 1980’s, a series of bad accidents, 3 surgeries, and 5 years of physical therapy forced me into finding a new hobby to pursue. The inspiration to take up the game actually came from my friends. We met up at a local spot that had a few tables. I began shooting and the rest is history as they would say.

After developing the interest and becoming accompanied with the many variations of the game, which style became your game of choice?

In the beginning it was primarily 8-ball like most shooters. After developing my game and following the trends in the hobby, I developed a fondness for 9 &10-ball. Snooker has always been and will continue to be a personal favorite. The additional skill and attention to detail required over the smaller table variations is something only a Snooker player will ever know or comprehend.

How did you progress from a casual shooter to an industry ambassador you developed into?

That stems from the competitor mindset deep inside of me. After I began shooting more and more, I expanded into playing in tournaments. As my game evolved I continued to play in tournaments with much stronger fields to get that desire for competition satisfied. Along that path I met an older gentleman by the name of “Mike Esposito” at a local pool room. He had spent a number of years on the road honing a set of skills that all whom witnessed it would be envious of. Over the next year or so we would we would get a table for 5 to 6 hours or so once a week when time permitted and I was shown the game as Mike saw it. The knowledge that I acquired from him shaped my game drastically and I will forever be grateful for the education that was bestowed upon me.

I again found myself traveling all throughout the New England area seeking out new tournaments to enter. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and various other locales. The thrill of competition is a most powerful one. Along the way I had the privilege of shooting with some wonderful players and people. Franklin Hernandez, Bobby Hunt, Tony Robles, George “Ginky”San Souci, Larry Lisciotti, and Robb Seaz just to name a few.

Being around so many tournaments and having my own pool room, {The Corner Pocket Cafe, Orange, Connecticut, Now Permanently Closed) gave me the opportunity of being introduced to world-class professional players like, Mike Siegel, Earl Strickland, Allen Hopkins, James Rempe, Loree Jon Hasson, Robin Dodson, Ewa Laurance, and Allison Fisher. Just to name a few.

What advice would you give to someone leaning towards progressing away from recreational pool and delving into the brutal world that is playing tournament pool?

There isn’t just one way to answer this question. If I had to narrow it down to something that would be of the most benefit in the beginning, I would say to continuously seek out players that are a few skill levels higher than yourself. Whether by APA rank or whatever ranking system you have to reference to. Find that player or players and shoot with them until you can beat them consistently and are comfortable in doing so. There is a vast difference in beating someone and comfortably beating someone. Most importantly, I would say don’t get overly discouraged. If you aren’t losing games then you aren’t playing the right people. Everyone loses on occasion regardless of skill level.

I would be selling this interview short of the mark if I failed to ask about your 2015 New England Pool & Billiards Hall of Fame induction. I will assume that was an amazing phone call to receive. Would that be an accurate description?

I would say that would be an understatement. It was definitely a quite humbling experience to say the least. Allow me to share a funny story about that phone call. The phone rings one day and a gentleman by the name of Tom McGonagle is on the other end of the line. He introduced himself and told me that I had been nominated to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. My first thought was that I was on one of those television shows where they make ridiculous situations out of thin air and then laugh their you know what off after they have you believing it. So I questioned it bit and was finally re-assured that it was indeed a genuine and very real situation. It’s funny looking back on it now. To have your love and passion for anything validated to that degree is truly a blessing and a much appreciated gesture. I could not be more proud of that honor.

With all of your accomplishments in and around the game of pool, are there any regrets or something you would like to say to the pool community. Personally, professionally, or otherwise related to the game?

Yes, there most certainly is. It was my absolute honor and privilege to serve the pool community. I would like to thank everyone that came to visit Corner Pocket Cafe during its years of service to the community. Whether it was just a one time visit, a tournament player that shot in any of the numerous events over the years, or the local regulars that supported us day-to-day. While I poured my heart and soul into my room, it’s the people make the establishment what it ultimately becomes. Closing the doors was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. The lack of interest in the game of pool has fell short of the mark in the past few years I feel. The rising costs associated with the leasing of the space, the ever increasing licensing fees and taxes, and several other factors forced me to make the business decision to close the doors and move onto to the next adventure in life.

 

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Sponsored by Jacoby Custom Cues

Author: Gary Warren

Editor: Shaylyn Troop