Best Pool Players of All Time

Records

Pool, a form of billiards, is a competitive sport played by the novice to professional players in every corner of the world. Every week players all over meet to play in pool league matches, often in local pubs, bars, and pool halls. These league matches lead to local, regional, national, and international competitions. For a pool player to make it on the world stage, they have to compete with hundreds of amateur and professional players from all over the world.

Most league matches use a complicated rating system to assign players a handicap based on their number of matches and overall winning percentage. This allows players of lower skill levels to compete against higher level players in a more even match. For example, an amateur player may have a skill level of 4, if playing against a player with a skill level of 7 they may have to win 3 games before the other player wins 6.

Different pool leagues use rules and gameplay ranging from traditional 8-ball, often called straight 8, Busch league pool, and even 9-ball. All of these lead to a wide range of players reaching the world stage in their own unique and dynamic way.

What makes pool unique is the range of ages that world-class players are popular and competitive. There is a definite talent for playing a great pool match. Skill can be inherent or grown over time. However, the most important thing to achieve is consistency.

Here is a look at the best players in the game:

Earl Strickland – The Pearl


A dominant American 9-ball champion, Earl Strickland is widely thought to be one of the best players of all time. Strickland won an astounding 11 US and World nine-ball championships over the course of his professional pool career.

Willie Mosconi – Mr. Pocket Billiards


A blast from the past, Willie Mosconi will always maintain a strong spot in any list of pool players. One of the first players to be inducted into the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) Hall of Fame. Mosconi was widely known for his majestic trick shots and helped launch the game to the national stage.

Mosconi was fundamental in the making of the movie The Hustler starring Paul Newman, where he taught Newman not only how to play, but how to walk and talk pool.

Rudolf Wanderone – Minnesota Fats


Another legend to the game, Rudolf Wanderone, known to most as Minnesota Fats was a professional pool player whose love of the game and amazing talent helped the entire sport gain popularity. Unlike other players on this list (and others) Wanderone never won a championship. Rather, he spent his entire career hustling and bring some showmanship to the game.

Jeanette Lee – The Black Widow


Arguably one of the most modern recognized faces in the game, Jeanette Lee is by far one of the most dedicated and fierce competitors in pool. Winning over 27 national and world titles from 1994 to 2007, Lee has since spent her time as an ambassador for the sport.

One reason Lee’s success is so astonishing is her diagnosis of scoliosis, a sometimes – debilitating curve of the spine. Lee has dedicated her time and celebrity to be a national spokesperson for the Scoliosis Association.

Efren Reyes – The Magician


Filipino born; Efren Reyes has won over 70 titles in competitions all over the world. What sets Reyes aside from many other players is that he has not only competed but succeed in both 8-ball and 9-ball. Most other players tend to specialize in one.

Like many players in his generation, Reyes started his journey hustling the game in local pubs and pool halls until he was discovered by international promotors in the late 1970s. In the inaugural Color of Money tournament, Reyes played against Earl Strickland to win a marathon race to 120 wins; Reyes beat Strickland 120-117.

Mike Sigel – Captain Hook


One of the fundamental elements of the game of pool is the ability to “hook” an opponent into a difficult shot, known as a defensive shot. Mike Sigel earned the name Captain Hook due to his ability, and tendency to hook his opponents in some of the most difficult positions, leading to victory. Over the course of his career, Sigel earned over 100 professional titles, including 10 world title. In 1989, Sigel became the youngest player to be inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame.

Allison Fisher – The Duchess of Doom


Allison Fisher is another powerhouse female that has met and surpassed expectations over and over. It all started when she won her first world championship at just 17 years of age. Fisher has undergone some condemnation over the years for losing her professional status on the world stage in 1997 due to changes in the ranking system.

However, she made a comeback after making the move to the United States and joined the Women’s Professional Billiards Association Tour. Since, she has gone on to claim 50 WPBA titles, including both 8-ball and 9-ball competitions. She was named the Female Player of the Year in 2007.

Honorable Mention – Mike Massey


Mike Massey may have decided to take his talent for pool in a direction besides competition, he deserves some recognition. Massey has been widely accepted as one of the most influential and unique trick shooters in the game. He has traveled the world showing off his skills and bringing love and energy for the game to players of all ages.

Final Thoughts

Pool is one sport that allows players of all skill levels to achieve success on a large stage. Unlike other sports, pool can be a sport that can even allow for success at a later age and allows players to learn and develop skill in a rather short time compared to other sports. Over the years, the game has developed into a respectable sport… a far cry from the backroom game of years past. Modern pool players come from all walks of life and economic classes brought together by a pure love of the game.