When I was 13, Texas Tony was one of the best 9-Ball players at Red Carpet Billiards.
He was wise for his age and had a special rule about never giving lessons for free. I knew if I could ever get him to play me my game would considerably improve.
He showed up regularly on Friday nights to play in Desoto Don’s Midnight five dollar 9-ball tournament. On this particular Friday night it was still early yet almost all the players were in attendance, including Texas Tony. Both Poker Paul and Desoto Don had been mentoring me for weeks on how to get him to play me.
True, I had strong young eyes and a little talent, yet Texas Tony believed these advanced lessons were not suitable for someone of my young age. After all I was a just boy and these men simply thought I wasn’t quite ready for the brutal reality of a true pool hustler’s game. My plan was to propose some simple action before the tournament started as a warm up session.
All the 9-Ball players always gathered together before the tournament to swap stories and tell lies, and with all his brethren gathered around him I spotted an opening and took my shot:
“Say TT, how about some 9-ball action for 25 a game?” They all looked surprised to say the least! He cautioned me, “You don’t want to throw your money away Kid, save it for a rainy day!” I said, “Hey, if you’re not up for it, I promise not to tell your girlfriend!” It got laughs from all the brethren who were now each encouraging TT to “Go ahead and play the Kid! Show him what you know!” When he stood up and grabbed his stick he asked me if I was sure I wanted to play for 25 a game? I told him, “Sure! I’m ready! I got a whole pocket full of quarters right here!” All the brethren busted out laughing again and each one insisted he had to play me now! We lagged for break and he won and over the next two hours beat me 88 times for a grand total of 22 bucks!
But that’s not the whole story!
True, I lost, but every once in a while I’d put him in a spot where he’d actually have to show me what he knows to win! I noticed at those times he’d distract his brethren’s attention across the room at a pretty girl then shoot
the tough shot when they weren’t looking, yet I watched and studied every shot he made. To how he analyzed a shot, how he focused, to how hard he concentrated on the tough ones. I studied his stance stroke and bridging and just as Poker Paul and Desoto Don predicted I got a crash course in 9-ball for $22 bucks, which would have cost anyone else hundreds$$$!
The very next week I played in Desoto Don’s Race to 5 Tournament and was pitted up against Texas Tony in the very first match. I used every trick he used on me from the week before and I won 5 games in a row! I won the last game with a shot he actually showed me!
The 9 ball was hanging in the pocket and I had a three ball combination lining up down the rail, instead I shot the 3 ball around the 8 off the rail and made the 9! That was a slick shot for a 13 year-old Camino Kid.
Editor: Dana Gornall
Photo: Nav Jagpal/Flickr