Don “Cincinnati Kid” Willis and the Big Hoorah Hustle

Don “Cincinnati Kid” Willis and the Big Hoorah Hustle

The two out-of-towners are relatively short men, in their thirties, the unfortunate age when the paunch begins to show. Neither carries a pool cue. They’ve appeared unannounced and unexpected in a back-water pool room, which they immediately size up.  Who in here has some gamble to them?  They get a table. They rack for nine-ball. They start shooting. “Remember...

Interview Excerpt: Weenie Beenie talks about Cleo Vaughn

Here’s an excerpt of an interview I conducted around 2007 with Bill “Weenie Beenie” Staton. Some of this, as I recall, ended up in Hustler Days. Staton references in this interview his hot dog stand. That’s a picture of the last of his hot dog stands at the top of this post. Earl Shriver, Squirrel (Marshall Carpenter), Daddy Warbucks – they were all out in Arkansas....

Johnston City Stories: Daddy Warbucks, a Hat and a Toilet Brush

Gary Carlson, a former graduate student from Southern Illinois who wrote recently about a chance encounter he had with Minnesota Fats, also sent in a note about stumbling into a poolroom owned by George and Paulie Jansco. This was sometime back in the late 1960s. The Janscos were the creators of the famous Johnston City tournaments, which I write about in Hustler Days. Carlson appears to have...
From The Hamper to The Nice Chap: The History of Sharking

From The Hamper to The Nice Chap: The History of Sharking

Pool, as is noted in this great Sports Illustrated article that I’ve just stumbled across, involves sustained waiting. “When one player is at the table, there is nothing his opponent can do except sit and hope that he misses,” wrote Robert Coughlan in the April 4, 1955 edition.  “The player at the table, on the other hand, knowing that a miss will give his opponent a...

Master Class Sharking: The Alfredo De Oro Bladder Technique

The Alfredo De Oro Bladder Technique I wrote an essay sometime back in which I listed some of the most popular sharking techniques in history. Somehow I neglected to mention one of my favorites. During the 1936 World Billiards Tournament, when Alfredo De Oro was 71 years old, the Cuban master found himself matched up against the legendary Welker Cochran. Cochran was then at the top of his game....
One-Pocket Mystery: Who Invented the Hustlers’ Game?

One-Pocket Mystery: Who Invented the Hustlers’ Game?

Here’s a one-pocket mystery. Jack Hill, apparently from Oklahoma, is referenced in Hustler Days as the inventor of one-pocket. But the original source for that information was The Bank Shot and Other Great Robberies, the book by Minnesota Fats. Fats offers only a few details about Hill, and we have never seen Hill’s name referenced elsewhere. According to Fats, a man by the name of...