By: Erik Hjorleifson
Another great week of action promoted by Smokin' Aces BBQ and Billiards in Poplar Bluff, Missouri has taken place. The room owned by Mike McKuin has been host to some of the biggest prize funds paid out in the U.S. over the past year. They have been promoting a new style of event that has caught on in the past year, which is to have monster entry fees open to anybody who is willing to test their skills.
In the past 6 months, Smokin' Aces has successfully run two bar table events carrying a $2000 entry and $20 000 first prize. This time they took on the large task of promoting a $10 000 entry one pocket tournament, again open to anyone willing to throw their hat in the ring. After a few months of promotion they settled on making the entry fee $6000, still to my knowledge the largest entry fee ever attempted in the history of pool.
The tournament received 8 entries and most of the one pocket giants were in attendance. One pocket legend Efren Reyes was in the field as well as one pocket guru Scott Frost. Francisco Bustamante and Corey Dueul rounded up the more well known entrants. Young guns Chip Compton, Joey Gray and Justin Bergman took their shots along with one pocket specialist Josh Roberts. The action was fierce right from the get go as tournament favorites Frost and Reyes drew each other in the first round of the double knockout race to 7 format.
Reyes began his path to victory with a nail biting 7-6 victory, he advanced to the winners side final against Josh Roberts, who has made a real statements in the past year in the one pocket world. This was highlighted by a win at the $1000 a man one pocket tournament promoted by Big Dogs billiard earlier in the year. On the losers side of the bracket Francisco Bustamante charged all the way back to the final including a hill hill win over Joey Gray.
After defeating Josh Roberts in the 3rd place match, Bustamante set up a final confrontation with his longtime friend Reyes. As expected and as his reputation has preceded him, Reyes took the final in style with a 7 to 1 victory. Reyes' record in one pocket tournaments is second to none, most notably winning the 400+ player one pocket tournament at the Derby City Classic 5 times. I felt like when this tournament was announced, Reyes would be right in the mix and it is encouraging to see that someone at the age of 60 can still win against the best of the best.
I think this new trend of higher entry fees and smaller fields is a very good thing for billiards in the long run. It is producing some very impressive prize funds and I believe it serves as a way to promote the sports best players, who in the past were easily lost in the mix of 200 player fields. In the future we will see if this format can stand up with traditional games like nine footer 9 ball and 10 ball.
Efren Reyes $25 000
Francisco Bustamante $15 000
Josh Roberts $10 000