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Where Have All the Pool Rooms Gone? ~ Bert Kinister

I have been doing this for 51 years I have heard all of these paradigms before.

I can tell you this. People who don’t gamble have been “cleaning up pool” since I started playing.

Since I was 14 I played pool for money. I loved pool but when I found out you could win money playing, it changed my attitude completely.

I went to the pool room to make money. I traveled America to make money. The pool subculture was a self-perpetuating economic engine that needed poolrooms to survive so it makes sense that pool rooms could not survive without them.

You would see many great playing (outsiders) men with jobs come in to test their mettle. Time and again they were sent home late, broke—only to have to get up early again and show up on time for a couple of weeks work to get their money back. Then many would try it again. There were many ways to keep them coming back (another story).

But when these men got married that was the end of them on the field of honor.

Then the rains came—I am sorry I mean the leagues. Now these fun players had a venue to show their skills, where the outcome had no consequence on their economic relationship to society. For five, 10, maybe 15 games a week they could be heroes.

They never had to go home and tell their wives to sign the title to the Jag because the player on the porch is the new owner, and if they played “really good” they could go to Vegas once or twice a year and spend, lose or donate all of the money in or to the Casinos that normally, without the leagues, would have gone into the “pool subculture.”

You guys can talk all you want, for the real player, pool is a blood sport. At the beginning of this century there was only pool and boxing—nothing else. The pool rooms were full at one time. In downtown Chicago there were over 400 pool rooms (not table’s pool rooms) where men—mostly bachelors—contended with men.

Today “real” players in America (not the rest of the world) have become the “mascots” of the well-intended sponsors, promoters, backers and wanna be’s.

So the leagues have been the conduit to remove the resources from and destroy the economy of the pool rooms and vest those resources in a little town in the desert and various Indian reservations scattered throughout the land.

That money never returns to the pool economy, it is gone forever. “Honey I did lose everything budgeted for Las Vegas” is the new battle cry, not “I just lost the Jag to that uneducated bum looking guy on the front porch.”

If all of this is true, it would mean that pool rooms all over America would be closing.

But wait there is more! Pool rooms all over America are closing.

They are driven out of business as the fuel of their industry is deposited in the coffers of those that only book bets, but do not make them.

In all of these years I have seen a lot of “promoters” come and go with the same battle cry. “We have to clean up our sport!”

And the cleaner it has become the fewer pool rooms there are and the harder it is to find those promoters.

The world’s largest producer of pocket billiard instruction since 1988 with over 100,000 videos sold, his is the most influential instruction in the world. One-hundred-eight video lessons with no repeat information available on the Internet’s first streaming instructional site,, also for sale on DVD at 800-898-7665 Bert has taught pocket billiards in 51 countries during the last 28 years. More than 30 of his students have played in the “world 9-ball championships.” Most notably, his private student of more than 20 years, Niels Feijen, won the World title in Qatar in 2014 and has won six out of seven of the last major tournaments he has entered since then. Niels was also MVP of the “Mosconi Cup” in 2013. Bert and his wife Orietta Strickland International Scotch Doubles champions (undefeated). At Derby City Open, Bert beat US Open winner Jimmy Reid [undefeated], Freddy the Beard (undefeated) and eliminated the returning 9-ball champion and two time U.S. Open winner Mika Immonen. Bert gives private lessons at his studio in Plano, TX. He can be contacted at, Photo: PJM Editor: Dana Gornall

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