Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Beard Saves Pool

How to fix pool? That was the theme of this month's Pool Synergy project. I posed the question to Hall of Fame player Nick Varner, whom I featured in my essay. You can read it here.  But Nick's wasn't the last word on the topic. I also received emailed and Facebook suggestions from several other people, all of whom offered great ideas.  And I spoke for a few minutes with my friend Freddy "The Beard" Bentivegna, author of Banking with the Beard and The GosPool of Bank Pool.

For those unfamiliar with The Beard, he is one funny guy. The Beard is the teller of many great road stories, some of which you can read at his website, others you can read in his books (that you can find here), and some you can read at this separate Q&A at One-pocket.org. I teed up a few questions the other day about fixing pool, and he knocked 'em down. I've included a partial transcript of our conversation below. 

Q. What about deep pocketed promoters? Does pool need another Kevin Trudeau, or was he bad for the sport?

The Beard: Everybody attacked Trudeau. But the (pool world) never had tournaments like that.  Ever. They never had that kind of class. I went to a couple of ... the match games. He had Earl (Strickland) play Johnny Archer. ... They fu***d up the television, then ran it on the Internet. But it was a fabulous high-class deal, and everybody had a great time. It was done really, really well. There are so many knockers of Trudeau in the (Internet) forums but everybody ended up getting paid. Ninety-eight percent of the money ended getting paid off.

Q. So why didn't it work?

The Beard: They caught a bad break. When they changed the law where you couldn’t have Internet gambling — that was the whole deal. Trudeau was selling (the tour) to a billionaire from Shanghai and at the same time, the government passed the law — no more Internet gambling. They wanted to be able to bet on the pool games. When they removed that option, he (the billionaire) lost interest.

Q. Speaking of promoters — does pool need another Minnesota Fats?

The Beard:  Yes, pool doesn't have a character right now and we need another character. ... You've got to have somebody who's interesting. ... So you need someone with a personality, and the key is also that you have some money, so people show up to watch. ... Look at how poker took off with all those characters like Amarillo Slim. Those characters are what made the game.

Q. Does gambling help?

The Beard:  You got 500 guys enter (at Derby City) and that’s successful. People stay around for 10 days. That's an exciting tournament. Everybody loves it. Gambling is what makes it. 24 hours, until three or four in the morning, you can't get a table. They're all going.

Q. What else?

The Beard: I got some ideas.  We had this idea for Quantum 8-ball, which is where you play 8 ball with nine balls. (The Beard goes on to explain the rules for the handicap game. I'll provide further explanation in a separate post.) There's not going to be interest in playing ... if there is too much disparity between Mickey the Mope and Bustamante.

Check back soon for more description of the Beard's handicap games, plus more suggestions from other readers about fixing pool. I've also got a few of The Beard's autographed books available.  Go here for more details.

-- R.A. Dyer

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