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Steven H Gifford: Billiards Readers & Fans Wanted ~ by Patrick Sampey

#1 Best selling author Steven H. Gifford afforded me the opportunity to interview him today. He has a lot to say about pool and has been a driving motivator and leader throughout his life, writer, pool player, Marine, and USA patriot.

I have just downloaded Gifford’s book entitled, ‘Final Expense Boot Camp: Earn Your Stripes Today,’ and have gleaned some insight into the man behind ‘Top Shots,’ and so many other upcoming books on the game of pocket billiards & pool.

The first speech for a recruit from Marine Corps Recruit Boot Camp, “On behalf of Major General Deagan, Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, I’d like to personally welcome you to Parris Island, SC. At this time you will gather your belongings, exit my bus, put your feet on my yellow footprints. Your back is straight, thumbs along your trouser seams, eyeballs are straight ahead to the front and the only time you will talk is when you are spoken to. At all times you will answer YES SIR- NO SIR- AYE AYE SIR– Do you understand me…? NO- I said DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME….? GET OFF MY BUS… MOVE RECRUITS…. FASTER… GET THE HECK OFF MY FREAKING BUS…

GET ON MY YELLOW FOOTPRINTS!” — Gifford writes in the opening; the way he describes it, I feel like I’m on the bus, wondering how I got there, but I digress. This book was his first #1 Best Seller and would guide him to many more. His next book- Top Shots goes on sale today. Steven describes it as such:

“If you thought the ‘Color of Money’ was intense, you haven’t seen anything yet. Anyone can play for themselves but when you put a team together to fight for one goal- a lot of things can go right and wrong. We lay it out Marine Corps style- so hold on. We serve you a taste of the Marine life, pool life, and everything in between on a golden platter,” Gifford, from his fictional book ‘Top Shots,’ which can be purchased on the site Legends of

‘Billiards Readers & Fans Wanted’ here — this article — seeks to investigate the plethora of books Gifford envisions writing in the game — has written — and will continue to write to cover the game of pool both he and I love to play and write about. It fires me up personally, as he is an accomplished writer, so I believe he has something substantial to offer fans of the game such as myself.

Today, January 3rd, 2019, I had this dialogue with Gifford, and it was enlightening to say the least. With team USA just winning the Mosconi Cup this past December 4-7th, 2018, the pool world here in the States is buzzing with talk of the possibility of pool rising once again as a prominent sport within the fabric of American leisure.

Additionally, Steven may come on with SPM Magazine as a contributing writer, as we continue to cover various aspects of the game, and get the word out: EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! That’s how they did it “back in the day” as they say, and so “if it ain’t broke, don’t break it,” like Lil Wayne said. This is a pool production of US Patriots, Marines, and pool aficionados, as we peruse these players & great champions in the sport of pool. I feel like Gifford and I are on the same page both figuratively and literally (here we are again, where the black written word balances out the white canvas — my blinking cursor complete!). This is our zen, this writing gig, but pool is our pleasure and delight players!

The pool world is alive with color, vigor, and steeped in the history of the USA here. The player-profile books highlight well known champions & new talent, some of the best the world has ever seen. Pool fans can read about, and become familiar with these players, as we now have access to these billiards resources, and growing library of pool stories — a menagerie & eclectic cast of players & characters.

In the vein of Walter Tevis himself — author of ‘The Hustler’ and ‘The Color Of Money’ — Gifford writes with a passion for pool, rivaled by few. Here is a glimpse into his book TOP SHOTS.

“The Drill Instructors knew who we were before we got there. They called us ‘The Real Team Six’. The SEALS have a Team named SEAL Team Six or DEVGRU. This is their best team, who are considered Tier One Operators. However, in this instance- we knew we might have messed up. You see, in the Marines, if one person messes up- we all would pay. We’ll get to all those games in just a few seconds, but yeah- we were screwed! ‘GET ONLINE NOW!’ the DI screamed. ‘AYE SIR!’ we shouted at the top of our lungs. ‘NO… I SAID GET ONLINE NOW!’. ‘AYE SIR,’ as we sprinted to get on the painted white line running up each side of the center of the squadbay in front of the racks. There were two-foot lockers at the end of each rack with a piece of white tape going across them and someone’s last name marked in black. So, you had to somehow locate your name on a box in .03 tenths of a second before hell broke loose.” — From ‘Top Shots’.

At first glance, ‘Top Shots’ reads like catch between ‘Top Gun’ and the ‘Color of Money’ with a team tournament versus an individual one. I look forward to reading this interesting marble-mix of military and billiards — green, spangled with the red, white, and blue.

All in all, Steven and I had a great talk, the billiards discourse has only just begun — as we collide I’m the interim. (And he gave me some insight into the craft of writing books as well.)

Check out his book, and look for articles by him on the game we all love soon. Keep on hitting them balls.



“GALION — Steven Gifford, a 1992 Galion High School graduate, has secured interviews with some of America’s best billiards players to write a series of books focusing on the players’ life stories. Some of those players recently won the 2018 Mosconi Cup in London, England.” — Jan. 1st, 2019,

Ideed Gifford appears to be a billiards writing machine, working on a library of pool knowledge, entertainment, biography, and storytelling. He is expanding upon the history of the game, with his in-depth insight into these players.

Author: Patrick “The Tallahassee Squirrel” Sampey Editor: Chris Freeman


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