This short story takes place in January of 1999. One of the biggest gatherings of pool players, hustlers and sharks throughout the year, took place every January in a nice hotel in Kentucky. This hotel was quite large and had several humungous ballrooms that was the site for the annual Derby City Classic pool tournament. This event was actually a series of events much like the WSOP in Vegas has for poker. There were typically 3 or 4 of different disciplines that had there own tournament, like 9 ball, 10 ball, bank pool, and one-pocket. Every year the best of the best would show up for 2 solid weeks of high level playing and gambling that went on around the clock.
This particular year, me and a couple friends decided to make our presence known at the event. Of course we were mere minnows in a sea of great white sharks, but if we got the correct matchups, could win a lot of money. With all the champions, fast talkers, con men, and angle shooters in the same place at the same time, you were sure to find action on just about anything. You didn’t even have to bring a pool stick to get in on the action. There was enough side betting on every match that you could win without ever putting a pool cue together.
Not only could you bet on pool matches, there were people looking to play chess, backgammon, cards, arm wrestle, and just about any other prop bet that they could come up with. It was always quite a spectacle, and something you’d have to see to believe. I think that people saved their money all year long just to have a big bankroll to bring to this one of a kind event. God only knows how much money was being thrown around in that hotel during those 2 weeks. It was not uncommon to see a pool match with over $50,000.00 bet on it, and that’s not counting all the side action involved in just that one match.
I witnessed a guy willing to bet anybody $10,000 that he could stand flat footed next to a pool table and jump clear over it. Another guy was betting $5000 that he could drive a golf ball a quarter mile outside. People were betting big money on some ridiculous and crazy things, and everybody loved it. It was definitely an eye opening and energy buzzing atmosphere.
About the 6th day in, certain people were starting to make names for themselves for creating the most action in the place, and it didn’t really matter for what. At the end of the event, the promoters would announce the name of the person they thought created the most action, and award that person with a free room for the next years event. And believe me, the competition for this notoriety was fierce. With this kind of publicity, your street cred would skyrocket!
I began to follow around this great player by the name of Willy J. He seemed to stay in lots of action and was booking a lot of winners. If I noticed that he was matching up with somebody, I’d make sure to get some bets in on his side. He was super flashy and flamboyant, and had a voice that carried pretty far. When he was wolfing at somebody, he wanted everybody to take notice. He was definitely one of those guys.
One morning about 4 am I noticed that Willy J was barking at an older gentlemen about playing some. This older gentlemen who I’d never seen before was every bit of 6’4 and 300 lbs. He was wearing a pair of overalls that looked to be about 10 years old and on their last leg. He had dark bushy hair that was jumping out from underneath his Budweiser baseball cap. If he was trying to give off the impression that he was a pig farmer, he nailed it!
Anyways, after about 45 minutes worth of Willy J taunting this beast, a crowd had formed around the table. Finally the beast broke down and agreed to play him. Willy J talked him into playing a race to 5 for $1000 in 9 ball. This meant that the first player to win 5 games collects the cash. Now everybody knows that Willy J is a great player and that most of the side action was going to be on his side because not many people in the pool world had ever seen or heard of the beast before, and for the fact that Willy J was tough to beat.
They decided to flip to see who got the first break, and it was the beast. While racking the first game, Willy J is running his mouth and putting on a show for the crowd like he was known for doing. As he stepped away from the rack, the beast crushes the balls with a thunderous break. He made 2 balls on the break and proceeded to run out the game. It was 1-0 and as Willy J racked the balls for game 2, he ramped up his taunting and showboating. Again the beast crushes the balls and runs out for the second time in a row. It’s now 2-0 and Willy just gets louder and louder, trying to get in the beast’s head.
It took no longer than 15 minutes and the beast had won the match by the score of 5-0. He won the coin flip and proceeded to break and run all 5 games without Willy J ever getting a chance at the table. After paying off, Willy J feeling somewhat embarrassed, feels compelled to put the beast down, call him lucky, and shouts about playing again and doubling the bet. The beast quickly agrees to the rematch. This time around, Willy J wants a little spot to even out the game so he asks the beast for the last 2. The beast declines to give up a spot and says that they have to just play even up again. Willy being the entertainer that he was, jumps up on the table and says to the beast, you just beat me 5-0, are you afraid to give me a spot? Without hesitation the beast replies, I don’t know how good you really play because I ain’t seen you shoot yet!
That was the first time that I’d ever seen willy J speechless in front of an audience. As the crowd laughed at the beasts remark, Willy J packed up his pool cue and wasn’t seen for the remainder of the event. ” I ain’t seen you shoot yet ” became the talk of the tournament and till this day, replays in my mind.
Simply classic! If you enjoyed this story, please check out some of my other ones, or check back periodically as I will continue to add more. you can find them on the Amazing Gambling Stories page.
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