The First 9 Ball & Dice Board Game
Pool Cue's for Sale & Billiards History
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Kreole Freddie, they call him, and he's been around the game for twenty years or so. He's won his share of money shooting in every kind of joint, from two-table bars to the biggest tournaments in the biggest rooms around. He's traveled with most of the players whose names are household words now, and he knows them all. So I asked Kreole just who he thought was the best 9-ball player he'd ever seen, and he didn't hesitate a second."Buddy Hall," he said, "period!" And when I asked him to elaborate on that short answer, here is what he told me:
"Well, you know Rick, there's Luther Lassiter, and Earl Strickland, St. Louis Louie, and The Cincinnati Kid (Don Willis), before he died. And of course you've got Efren Reyes, and all those guys from the Northeast like (Mike) Sigel, (Jim) Rempe, Alan Hopkins, (Steve) Mizerak, Ray Martin, Lou Butera. They're all good 9-ball players, and there's a lot of others you never even heard of, but when it comes to gamble, to the big money in the back rooms, Buddy's beat them all."
"I remember when Luther Lassiter was considered the best pool player in the world, and I talked to him once about Buddy. He said that even as good as he (Luther) played 9-ball, he'd never play Buddy straight up. And Don Willis, before he died, told me that Buddy shot better than anybody. The only problem, he said, was that Buddy didn't always get the best rolls. I know that's true now, and believe me, there's something to getting a good roll now and then. But even with that handicap, I'd still put my money on Buddy against anybody in a high-stakes game."
"When it comes to rolls, Mike Sigel probably gets the best rolls in the game, and Mike is without a doubt the best tournament player alive right now, but in the back room, where the real money changes hands, that's where Buddy can make a fool out of the best players you've ever seen."
"Every body knows that Earl Strickland is a superb 9-ball player, and one of the things that makes him so strong is that Earl breaks the balls better than anybody around. Another thing is that you can't hook Earl, because Earl jumps the ball so good."
"I remember a time down in Tampa, in the back room at Rocky Point Resort, when St. Louis Louie tried about six times to beat Earl, and Earl beat him out of about $12,000. When it was over, Earl finally had enough ammo and had been playing good enough that he went after Buddy. Earl had beat Sigel twice for $1,000 a set, and he had beat Louie - that's when Louie was a world-class player-and Buddy shot him down in cold blood. I mean he literally destroyed the guy."
"Then there was that big tournament out in Houston in 1985 when Efren Reyes came up. We were all out there and Reyes won the tournament. Afterwards Reyes beat Sigel, he beat Earl, he beat me and Wade Crane out of $1,700, and when all this was over, the only person left was Buddy, and Buddy absolutely crucified him. He beat him so bad, he put so many balls on him, that the guy just....I mean as much gamble as Efren has, he just wilted. And it seems that ever since, he hasn't played quite as well. You know, I can understand it, I mean Buddy was just awesome."
"And all those guys from the Northeast - Sigel, Rempe, Alan Hopkins, Mizerak, Ray Martin, Lou Butera - all that bunch, Buddy broke 'em all, they were sucking eggs when he got through with them - they almost stopped gambling. Every time they'd run up on him, he'd just eat 'em alive."
"I remember a time when Rempe had won 23 tournaments in a row, and headed out west. He had this stake horse who was a swimming pool manufacturer or something. Anyway, the guy had a ton of money. So they went out to Oklahoma City to play Buddy at True Love's Pool Room, and I remember sitting there and saying, 'There's nobody in the world that can beat Jim Rempe--nobody!' Well, Buddy just massacred him. I never saw Rempe bet a quarter after that, and in all the tournaments I've seen him in since, he's never quite reached his peak again. This is a guy that won 23 tournaments in a row, a guy who's respected as one of the best players ever, but it seemed like after Buddy beat him, he was just demoralized."
"Same thing happened to Sigel. Sigel is beyond a doubt the best tournament player in the country, but, when it comes to the gamble, I don't think he's ever recovered from the beating Buddy gave him."
"Hubbard and Sigel drove out to Oklahoma City and they had about $20,000 each. They got out of the car and went into the poolroom and Hubbard sat there and watched Sigel hit several balls. Sigel was drilling them, really splitting the wick, and Hubbard says 'Mike, you're ready'. So Sigel played Buddy for $10,000 a set, and Buddy made him look like a diaper boy. I mean he got out from everywhere. He walked balls down the rails, he twisted them in from impossible angles, he made that cue ball do things it's not supposed to be able to do. He literally hypnotized Sigel."
"You know, I've played Buddy, and I remember practicing with him one time down in Tampa, or maybe I should say he practiced; I didn't get to shoot but about once every hour. I was so careful about making a ball when I finally did get a shot, and so cold from the wait, that my arm would just stiffen up. When you watch a guy shoot like Buddy can, and you have to wait and wait and wait for a chance to hit a ball, he's one up on you right there, and that's exactly what happened to those guys that took him on."
"They call Buddy the Rifleman, and it's a fitting name, the way he rifles ball in and shoots players down in cold blood. I don't know, there are probably some people who disagree, but me, I say Buddy Hall is the best money 9-ball player there ever was."
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