3 Simple Questions That Paint a Bigger Picture
When people find out I am a professional pool player, they usually have many questions. After all, it’s definitely not your normal job title, especially one for a young woman. I am genuinely delighted each time someone is inquisitive about my life & the pool world. I think a great way to help grow the sport is to intrigue non-pool players to take an interest in learning more! Throughout the last 10 years as a WPBA touring Pro (+10 years competing prior), the range of questions I’ve been asked is crazy; however, there are 3 that reoccur so often, it’s worth taking notice. I believe these questions can teach us about how the average American looks at the sport of billiards. Hopefully we can slowly expand this list, by connecting people to pool in new & exciting ways! Let’s read between the lines and see what we can learn...
Question #1: Have you ever hustled?(Pro’s Emily Duddy & Mike DeChaine “The Hustlers”
In my experience, most people immediately assume I’m a pool shark and want to know if I’ve ever hustled. I think every veteran pool player has a unique answer to the question, considering most of us have played for money & are ridiculously competitive. In my case the answer is...I’ve never truly hustled; however, over the last 20 years I’ve won thousands of drinks & dollars from people that happen to underestimate me. It’s not so much deliberate trickery, as it is using the norms of society to my advantage. For example using the common misconception that men are better pool players than women, lol, silly boys!
I will admit, I have countless amazing & intense memories of playing pool for money. Many of them were made while filming the first major reality pool tv show “The Hustlers”, which aired from May-July of 2015 on TruTV. It was a tremendous opportunity to play against other great players for real money, while being filmed! At the same time I took most of the money I won in bars, pool halls, or on TV & reinvested it in my pool skills. I’ve lost money to many players that I knew were better, or outmatched me on that particular day, to test myself & learn. I truly believe that beginning through intermediate players can gain valuable experience & knowledge by gambling with stronger players. Or perhaps I used the money I won as an entry fee for my next tournament or to take a lesson, instead of gambling it. In the end I feel satisfied to know that I have won more than I have lost & I learned a lesson from every match. The ultimate goal is not to hustle just to make money, it is to use everything in your arsenal to become a better player.
In America I believe our sport has too little mainstream coverage & too much hustler mystique, hence more interest in hustling than knowledge about professional pool. Hopefully pool can continue to grow stronger in mainstream media & start getting recognized as a major sport. Then the question might change from: How much $ have you ever won gambling? To…When is the next US Open?
Question #2: Have you ever played “The Black Widow”?
Many average people who aren’t pool players or enthusiasts, immediately respond to my profession like this: “Wow that’s amazing! Do you know “The Black Widow”? Or the spider lady? Or Jeanette Lee? Or that bad ass chick who always wore black I used to see on ESPN?” First off if they do not know her actual name, I make sure to let them know it’s Jeanette Lee “The Black Widow”, because Spider Lady or badass chick in black does not cut it! Then I let them know she’s an amazing player, a Hall of Famer & arguably the most famous pool player of all time because she’s a marketing genius. I have the honor to call her a friend & have competed against her many times. I am in awe of how many people that know NOTHING else about pool, will immediately bring her up. Talk about making an impression!
In my opinion there are many other players that have come close to Jeanette’s fame...Willie Mosconi, Steve Mizerak, Jean Balukas, Allison Fisher, Earl Strickland, Efren Reyes, LoreeJon Hasson, Jennifer Barretta and more. On top of that list there are countless more incredible players & personalities that remain unknown to the general population. I believe that if the sport of billiards wants to break through to the next level of popularity, it must nurture it’s potential star power. We need more pool players to become household names!
The up & coming bright stars of pool could include...Kelly Fisher, Kristina Tkach, Margaret Fefilova, April Larson, Fedor Gorst, Shane Van Boening, Jayson Shaw, April Larson, Billy Thorpe, Emily Duddy & more. I believe all pool professionals should look to Jeanette as an inspiration & for guidance on how to break through. Of course one could argue that her looks & sex appeal don’t hurt; however, I would counter argue that it’s her talent, brand strength, quality of products, relationship with her fans, and more that set her apart. Maybe one day this question could change from: “Have you played Jeanette Lee?” To…”My favorite players are famous player 1, famous player 2 & famous player 3?”
Question #3: Is pool included in the Olympics?
This might be the most important question of all, is pool in the Olympics? The short answer of course is no, but the topic is so complicated & very frustrating. Having Cue Sports (carom billiards, pool, & snooker) included in the most prestigious competitive event in the world, would be a huge step towards legitimizing the sport. I think to understand why Cue Sports has yet to be included we must acknowledge how many Cue Sport games truly exist! From Russian Pyramid to Korean Sagu, 3 Cushion Billiards to Snooker, 8Ball to 9ball, etc. Simply take a look at this list of games pulled off Wikipedia below. This list doesn’t even include the various billiards & snooker games! On top of that there are different governing bodies & rules. Where does one start to prioritize & organize?
Even though the task is difficult, the mission is an important one. The greatest strides so far were made in November 2018 in the form of an international press conference held at the Eiffel Tower, to get Cue Sports included in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Top notch representatives included Ian Anderson - the President of the World Confederation of Billiard Sports (WCBS), Florian Kohler - Trick Shot super star who entertained the media, Jasmin Ouschan - for Pool, Shaun Murphy - for Snooker and Jeremy Bury - for Carom Billiards. A variety of speeches were given pleading for Cue Sports rightful place in 2024. Optimistically I look forward to a future when the answer to Question #3 is a “Yes it is!”
By Emily Duddy