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Worldwide Pool HQ Is???

From past to present.

In the 1800’s billiards would be an outdoor croquet game where you shoved balls into holes with maces. When it snowed, they built large tables to come inside to play the same game where it was warm. They shoved balls with a flat surface or turned the cue around to shoot with the sharp end, like using a mop handle with out a tip today. In 1827 in Paris, François Minguad invented the leather tip and began touring Europe drawing, hitting force follows and Masses. They thought he was a witch. The center of billiards was then Paris and it remained so for almost a century. He invented the modern game and wrote the first trick shot book showing these amazing new ideas.

In Paris the game developed into 10’ tables, billiards and straight rail, then into baulk line. The two main capitals of the world at that time were Paris and London where the game in the UK would evolve into 6x12’s and with pockets and a game called English Billiards which would rule for 75 years to be replaced by modern Snooker.

At the end of the 1800’s all the top players on Earth would have to come to Paris to play. Why? That was where the action was and the top competition on earth played. That was where the world championship was held and that was where the world champions lived and played.

As the century turned into the 1900’s many Americans were becoming contenders and quite famous. Jake Shafer was the main star and the boy wonder Willie Hoppe would be booked to come over and play for a 6 month engagement. Having a fat guaranteed pay check was just as important to a player then as it is today. The set up was almost a duplicate of the Janscos event up 60 years later which I attended every year. 2 tables sat in an amptheather where the rail birds had seats that went up like a modern arena. You paid admission, took a seat, ate lunch, drank a glass of wine and saw a match of two world class players. You might see Hoppe play Slosson, or Vinguax or Scheafer. They had all the top players there playing like gladiators all afternoon and evening non stop.

It was the custom to bet on every match, like you were at a race track. When the rich Americans came over they would back the Americans with large wagers and usually got odds from the French. It became an American vs. France competition. Like Johnston City, the action got out of hand and the entire operation was busted and shut down. Hoppe and Schaefer were banned out of the country. A year later, the top officials were greased and the Americans returned and it was business as usual. Hoppe had tried to challenge the champions but being a kid they laughed in his face and ignored him. Finally in 1908, he got a shot against the over the hill Vinguax. Hoppe wiped the floor with him and made over a million on the side. The bets were so huge, fortunes were won and lost.

When Hoppe became the world champion he brought the crown to the USA and to NYC and refused to defend it any where else. He alone, made the center of pool or billiards in the world in the USA and NYC. He became the greatest billiard star of all time. He said, if you want my crown, get on a boat from Paris and come to me and take it from me. What he accomplished was to make the USA the center of billiards and pool like Paris, for almost another century to come. The 2nd major HQ of pool has now been established, Paris lost it and it was never coming back to them.

Pool was invented in the late 1880’s and it came on in the early 1920’s with its first major star, Ralph Greenleaf. Hoppe would dominate billiards from 1908 into the early 1950’s winning 100 world titles in 6 decades, a record that can never be touched. All the major world championships in pool or billiards usually took place in NYC, or Chicago. When you get all the best players playing and living in NYC to Philadelphia, they keep each other on a level above the rest of the competition. It becomes a champions breeding camp.

In the late 1990’s the PBT had a 10 year run with Camel backing them and then went down by the bow suddenly like the Titanic. The 9 ball pro pool tour ceased to exist and pool crashed and burned like happened in 57. Billiards had died as a mainline game in the USA and was now only being played by Asians and Latinos in the major port cities in the USA. It was easy for the Koreans to come in and take over billiards and run it and its tournament functions world wide with their money backers. The Americans as the time who tried to run it were broke pool bums and they lost it fast to the Far East. Promoting tourneys requires deep pockets and not good intentions. Billiards leaves the USA and its new HQ is Korea. Korea finances a lot of sports, especially Karate, they give any one of talent the money to set up, then half of their profits must be sent back to Korea. That is why you saw over night a Korean Karate studio in every shopping center in the country.

Pool died, enter the Koreans again, with their main man, Charlie Williams who begins the next main USA pool tour being financed from Korea who wants to control pool world wide. Enter Barry Hearn who has ran Snooker in the UK for decades and controls all snooker and pool in Europe and Sky net TV where all his matches are shown. The main money men pounce on the dead carcass of American pool and fly off with major chunks of it. The Koreans with the new American tour, the UK now just takes over the world 9 ball championships and runs away with it.
The era of American dormancy in pool and billiards ended in the late 1990’s. Like a century before, the 3rd major shift occurred. It now went to England and to the Far East.

After running a few worlds in the UK now Barry sells it to the one who coughs up the most cash which this year is the Chinese, Roc, Taiwan. Next year, if pogo pogo wants the puppy and they put up the cash, they got it dude. Like in Paris, when they lost it, they never got it back. The Americans have not yet even realized it’s gone. They can’t even contemplate it is never coming back. Few here now realize the center or world wide pool is now the UK, soon to be totally the Far East.

To play in the world championship the game was 14.1 and you went to NYC and played at the Roosevelt hotel ball room. The BCA killed it off and the game of 14.1 because it was not making them money, John Lewis made that call. Now the world event was only 9 ball. When you were in NYC playing in the world event it was mostly Americans with a few foreign stars. Today, in 2005, the world WPA player rankings have only one American in the top 10 and 4 in the top 20. The majority of the top players in the world today are Asian, Philippines, Japanese or Chinese. American pool is broke and can’t even in its own industry finance a pro tour where the pros can make a living. America gave up pool, went bust and into the gutter belly up and the well heeled players in the UK, Korea, Japan and China said thank you very much, we will take it from here. Thanks for giving it to us for free. The industry was so centered on making millions making tables and cues they let the pro tour and players starve and crash by not funding or supporting it and gave the game away to foreign shores.

In July 2005 the world 9 ball event occurs. The top 10 UPA players are being sent over by the Koreans to play, Dragon Promotions of Korea and Orlando. Any tour player out of the top 10 would have to spend $4000 to fly over to qualify, and if you fail, you fly back with nothing. That means the majority of the rank and file that used to play in the former world events never will again. Instead of 100 Americans playing, you now have 10. That assures Asian domination of the world title by simply having 90% more players in it that we do. That is what we used to do to them.

We blew it, and it isn’t coming back. The future of pool in this century is Asia. The 3rd world domination is now in place and it should run for the next century. The next battle is against the UK, Hearn and the Asians, which I pick the Asians to win and we the Americans sit like rail birds and just watch.

Best Wishes,

Fast Larry Guninger

©Fast Larry Guninger, all rights reserved. Published in DC, bpn, czm, upp, ppt, flp, btt.

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Larry became the fastest player alive in 1994, pocketing all 15 billiard balls in just 33.9 seconds, hence the handle " Fast Larry ."

"Larry you are The Great One. The best shotmaker I ever saw." - Ray Martin , 3 time World  Champion and BCA Hall of Famer.