Greg “Spanky” Hogue: All-Consumed by Pool. {Interview, Part 1}

“I’ve ate, slept, bled pool my whole life.”

Greg Hogue admits to being focused on pool. He has been all-consumed by the game since 1981. At the age of five, Grandpa Frank (“Pops”) took him to a restaurant called Self’s Coney Island in Wagoner, Oklahoma, put him on a milk crate in front of an old American Eagle bar table and handed him a house cue. Greg made six shots in a row. He was hooked.

That was 33 years ago. Since then, pool has woven itself into Greg’s blood.

At the age of 11, Greg graduated from playing at Self’s Coney Island to a rec center called Sure Shot, owned by Norman Rowe. Here he entered his first tournament playing Snooker. He was the youngest player, competing against all older men, the oldest about 55 years old: farmers, salesmen, and a stay-at-home dad. Greg walked out the winner. While they weren’t professionals, Greg was only 11.

It was pretty impressive, and it felt good to win.

Greg remembers Sure Shot’s owner’s son: “I’ve been all over the country and played all sorts of pool players. Gary Rowe, his son, was one of the best players I have ever met. And the local sheriff. He did nothing but play pool in that rec center and do his job as sheriff. I have a long list of Champions I have competed against all over the United States and Gary Rowe was as smooth and played as well as anyone I have ever witnessed or competed against…”

Raised by his grandparents, Greg’s grandmother worked for a car dealership in Tulsa and had commuted 110 miles a day to get to work. After 30 years, the dealership showed their gratitude by buying her a house in Tulsa so she didn’t have to commute anymore. This meant that at 13, Greg moved to Tulsa.

Tulsa. It is and always has been one of the best pool towns around.

Everyone in Tulsa plays good pool. Scotty Townsend and Charlie Ford are the only two players that have ever come through Tulsa having won all the money.

Moving to Tulsa meant moving to a new poolroom, Q-Spot. This is where he got his first taste of action. Greg told me, “A lot of people have a negative outlook on action, but if it wasn’t for me growing up  with action I wouldn’t be the player I am today. When you are playing for cash out of your pocket at a young age, you have to be serious about your game. I played my first $500 set out of my pocket at 15.”