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Iwan Simonis Ride The 9 Tour -- The Gloria Jean Interview By Patrick Sampey

Thursday, November 18th, 2021 -- Gloria Jean is grinding, making waves in the pool scene, tidal waves. Having just interviewed her just last week, she regaled me with her billiards life amidst the canvas of a pandemic: Covid-19.

The pandemic has changed the game, literally, and Gloria Jean has adapted with a worldwide landscape of Global unrest, uncertainty, fear, vaccines, virtual pool tournaments, face masks, hand sanitizer, political unrest and so forth -- as we each seek to cope with all the stressors of our modern age.

Gloria Jean's is a story of victory -- one about adapting to the conditions of one's environment, the reality we live in -- and overcoming the obstacles.

Gloria is a billiards influencer and the founder and President of the Iwan Simonis Ride The 9 Tour, has been hosting virtual billiards tournaments. Anyone can get a tour card for $40 and receive tournament discounts and perks related to being a tour member, players can compete virtually from anywhere, playing the ghost against one another live through the internet; this has been going on the last year and a half. Gloria implemented these virtual pool tournaments as a result of the pandemic, since people weren’t able to get out, discouraged from congregating in groups and spreading COVID-19.

Gloria Jean sends her gratitude out to Iwan Simonis and all they do for the game.

The Ride The 9 Tour has been going on since 2007, for approximately the last 14 years. But with the new, virtual tournaments, I wanted to get the inside scoop on her, what she is bringing to the sport of pocket billiards, maybe even eventually sign up myself, get into some virtual events (I love to play the ghost. Call me “ghostbuster.”).

Here is a link to the ‘Ride The 9 Tour’ website where players can find out more about this cool, virtual tournament format:

To sign up for the tour, get your tour card and begin to compete in these events, go to:

“So the ride the 9 tour has been around for 14 years as of November first of this year, 2021, and we basically started with small venues, and started with little races to two to test the water, see how things would potentially go. The interest was so great that our very first real tournament, we kept at it, 48 players, and then we had a full field; we had a waiting list of 25 people...we accommodated handicapping,” Jean Said.

“Before the Pandemic, we were doing New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts -- we were going to travel to Connecticut, but didn’t have a chance. But there were multiple venues,” Jean added, then listed off any number of pool halls in those areas where they held tournaments for players in those localities.

“Now there are a lot more venues, but back then we would just travel to 7 or 8...When the pandemic came around, the pool halls were shut down right? So, around March/April (of 2020), I wanted to try a break and run pot to see how that took virtually. And we did 100% payback of the break and run pot. So, we’d go live once a week with the break and run pot,” -- Gloria Said.

I then asked her if it was some kind of virtual interface, like with some type of computer-simulated pool, and she explains more:

“So basically, what I did was bought four thousand dollars in equipment: camera, microphone, boards, everything that you would need, and what we would do -- I went and got a subscription to Zoom. And we would connect via Zoom, to you, to the person playing pool. And we would watch them on their table as they played the ghost. We came up with our own type of ghost format, and modified the ghost rule. They’d be playing verses the ghost, verses each other. So, say you would go to the table, and say the ghost was worth 10 points, right -- which our racks were worth 13, so if you didn’t take ball in hand and made the next ball, you would get a plus 3. That’s our way of handicapping for the lower players. You get up to the table. You get ball in hand. You break. Whatever you make on the break, you keep. You try and run out the table. So, you would play 5 racks.” -- Jean said, concluding that the player with the most points playing the ghost that way would advance to the next round. “And then it would do that until we got to the finals. But we would have 10 people a night...and then how you get to the next round, we would go off a night, and then back on. This would last a month long. We were paying out like two thousand, five hundred -- three thousand a tournament.”

I then ask how many would be in the tournament total.

“It depends tournament to tournament, because we did a different format. We would have as many as 90 participants, per tournament,” -- Jean said.

“So what they (players) would do, is be able to play from the comfort of their own home,” Gloria concluded. “I would live stream from Facebook. So we have the last year and a half on Facebook. We’re going to upload them to YouTube.”

“We had an opportunity to help the pool community by doing this. Who wants to sit in their basement or attic and shoot alone?” -- Said Gloria.

What a wonderful pool idea! Pool players playing the ghost verses each other remotely during a tough time, the game continues. Pool Is Alive!

And we need recreation in these times more than ever, if just for a moment now and then to get some respite from the slings and arrows life throws at all of us. Sure, we must work, and be responsibly civically, take care of our families, but we must each and every one of us also find joy, happiness, and entertainment to endure -- we must always play the game; we must find a way. That’s exactly what Gloria Jean has done with her Iwan Simonis Ride The 9 tour. And the billiards world will never be the same.

This has also been a way for players to connect, people to connect from different regions of the country. “We have people from Ohio traveling to our Florida tournaments. And people in Florida, they all met in person. So they had people from Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and New York all go to the Efren Reyes Tournament. They met in person for the very first time after playing virtually,” Gloria informed me. “It’s really bringing the pool community together. That’s why this is so important to me. You have to adapt and evolve, and that’s what we have done.”

How cool. How avant garde! Welcome to the future of the game! Welcome to the Ride The 9 Tour! Sign up now and play from anywhere players. The game continues. We must continue and endure despite the global calamity we face. And Gloria Jean has provided the platform needed at a dark time in human history.

Gloria Jean is a billiards writer as well, having interviewed many legends in the game.

Gloria Jean also would like to thank her sponsors: Iwan Simonis, Diamond, Kamui, Aramith, Illuminated Cueing Arts Training System, JFlowers, Bullet Proof Break Tips, Narragansett, Littman Lights, and Tony Russell (TR) Custom Cues.

Charles Lakey -- international trick shot artist -- is the ambassador to the Ride The 9 Tour as well. He does things on the table no one has ever done.

Play on players! Keep on hitting them balls! For Sneaky Pete Mafia, the Tallahassee Squirrel out for now. Check us out for our continued coverage of the game, and don’t play alone in your basement, garage, attic, or den -- sign up for the Ride The 9 virtual pool tournaments and play from anywhere!

Additionally, the Iwan Simonis Ride The 9 Tour hosts in person events around the country.

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