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National eight-ball tournament held in Westlake over weekend

Pittsburg native Mark Thompkins, left, fell to Westlake native Jack Karam, right, in the championship match of Dave and Busters' eight-ball tournament on Sunday in Westlake. (West Life photo by Stefanie Kilnapp)

Stefanie Kilnapp

Professional and semi-pro pool players from all around Ohio and across the country came to Westlake Sunday to participate in Dave & Buster’s first annual eight ball billiards tournament.

Eight-ball is the most popular pool game in which one player must pocket all of either the solid-color balls or the striped ones before being permitted to attempt the pocketing of the eight ball, which wins.

Although this game is commonly known, it is not normally played by professional whom would typically play nine ball or one pocket.

“Real pool players usually don’t play eight ball,” tournament organizer Butch Bower said.  ”This is the first eight ball tournament I’ve had since 1970.”

Bower has been putting together events like this for decades and has had them in Canton, Youngstown and the east side of Cleveland, but it is the first time that he’s had one here in Westlake, at Dave and Buster’s.

“It’s a beautiful facility,” Bower complimented. “I’m used to having them in pool rooms, some of them are holes in the wall.”

Butch was pleased with the venue and Dave and Buster’s area operations manager Mark Sabol is happy to be hosting.

“For us it’s great to drive the business traffic that we need,” Sabol said.

Not only that, Sabol was proud to bring together community involvement.

“For the community, I think it says that they have a lot of trust in us,” he said. “It’s an honor that they come in here and hopefully they come back and see us again.

“We look at is like a personal relationship, we make it as special as we can. Treat them right and give them an experience you can’t get anywhere else.”

Bower even made a stipulation that touring pros are not allowed in, to make it more inviting for the locals.

There were about thirty participants in the event.

“We’re hoping to grow that. This is like the sample test; we’re taking really good care of them,” Sabol stated.

The entry fee was $20, and the top-four winners were paid off in a Calcutta pool, which is a form of betting. Gamblers bid for participating contestants in an auction, the proceeds from that are put together in a pool which is distributed according to a prearranged scale of percentages, to those who selected winners.

“I made the entry fee cheap so we can get a lot of players and a lot of spectators,” said Butch, “That’s what we need.”

“It is first come first serve,” Butch explained, “With pool players that’s how you have to do it, they’re unreliable.”

“If everybody showed up that said they were coming, I’d have one heck of a tournament!”

Dave and Buster’s encourages more pool players to come play at their tables whether it be for a tournament or just to have fun.

Sabol concluded, “we have 10 billiards tables so that’s great, you can’t find that anywhere else. It’s a very nice area that’s set up, it’s very private.”

The winner of the tournament was Jack Karam, a Westlake native, followed by Mark Thompkins (from Pittsburgh) in second, Benny Jones (from Willoughby) in third and Bobby Sneider, a Fairview Park native, in fourth.

 

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