To me, billiards can be intimidating.
In fact, for fear of embarrassment, I used to refuse to play if I was in a large crowd or party, or if I went to a joint where guys were racking and breaking 'em like Fast Eddie Felson from "The Hustler" and "The Color of Money."
Throughout college, I'd run into a game of pool here and there, mostly at my fraternity brothers' house. They had a small table and turned the dining room into a mini-billiards hall. Bring some beer, call up some girls, play some pool - instant party.
I remember being not very good at pool in those days.
In fact, I didn't progress to the level I'd call competent until post-college when one summer nearly every night after work my roommate and I would walk down the street to a local bar that had a couple of pool tables and we'd play until we ran out of quarters or drank too many beers.
He'd spank me game after game, but eventually I got better and more confident. I didn't feel apprehensive anymore when I'd run across a friendly barroom game of pool.
Several years later, some friends and I would go to a real pool hall in Midtown Atlanta - a place where you'd have to sign up on a waiting list for a table and pay by the hour, and where the tables were regulation-size and not covered in cigarette burns and puke stains.
Depending on the gang I was with, we'd often wind up not getting our money's worth as poorly played games of 8-ball would drag on into ridiculousness - and then one of our players would disappear to the bar or bathroom for far too long.
Again, I wouldn't call myself a pool shark - I don't even know all of the terms and strategies, but I've logged many an hour trying to sink that elusive 8-ball (and sometimes 9-ball).
I still can't break worth a shit, and will usually defer to my partner if we're playing doubles.
Funnily enough, the last time I remember playing pool out on the town was a couple of years ago at Causeway Raw Bar and Grill in Garden City Beach. And I hadn't played in quite awhile, so I thought I'd be pretty rusty.
But for some reason, I was on fire. I sank nearly every shot, and my partner and I kept the table for a couple of hours. I was hanging out with some dudes that were friends of a friend, and they all thought I could play, but I didn't let it get in my head and stayed on my game. So, after successfully defending the table for a couple of hours, I decided to call it a night before I could deteriorate into my usual mediocrity - and more importantly leave those guys with the impression that I got skills.
I'd love to be much better at billiards and dream of owning my own table.
And if you're looking to improve your billiards skills, there was going to be an opportunity on Saturday.
But as we neared press time, we learned that an event featuring legendary pool hustler/pro player Danny "Kid Delicious" Basavich at new pool hall Shore Thing Billiards on Lake Arrowhead Road had been postponed due to the possible nasty weather associated with Hurricane Irene.
But we've got a paper to put out, regardless of the weather, and Kid Delicious is supposed to be rescheduled for Oct. 8 at Shore Thing where he'll put on a billiards clinic, according to the event's organizer, so we'll just have to go with the flow, like any good hustler.
In any event, Kid Delicious' story is too good not to tell.
So we dispatched correspondent Derrick Bracey to find out why he's (eventually) paying us a visit and to get the story on a man who has been labeled "the last Great American Pool Hustler." You can read his report starting on page 12.In addition, if you've been itching for a scratch (or for your opponent to scratch), we've rounded up the 411 on some local pool halls where you can get your cue on, which you can read on page 14. A note: this is not intended as comprehensive list of every joint with a coin-op pool table shoved in a corner along the 60-mile stretch of the Grand Strand. Rather, it's intended as a scouting report on some local billiards venues that offer by-the-hour play and the feel of tradition pool halls.
Rack 'em up already.