"St. Louie" Louie Roberts: Pool God
by Mike Burch
It has been my good fortune to have seen some of the best tournament pool
players, sharks and hustlers: Johnny Archer, Buddy Hall,
Allen Hopkins, David Howard, Jeanette Lee, Mike Massey, Keith McCready,
Alex Pagulayan, Efren Reyes, Mike Sigel, Earl Strickland, Nick
Varner, et al. I even saw Steve Davis score a perfect 147 in snooker. (I was on vacation in
England when he hit the magical number, in a match televised by the BBC.) But
the most charismatic, exciting and crowd-pleasing pool player that I have seen
personally was "St. Louie" Louie Roberts. He was an incredible,
fearless shot-maker. There was something magical about his game, when he was "on." I remember watching him advance through the
losers' bracket at the 1981 U.S. Open Nine-ball Championship, promoted by Mike
Massey at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As I remember things, Roberts had lost his opening round match,
and then almost lost a second time to the little-known Nat Green.
In that match, there was a controversy about someone breaking out of turn and the referee not
catching it, so that Roberts ended up breaking the last two games despite an
alternating break format. I believe
Roberts either made the nine on the break, or broke and ran out, in the "double hill"
game. After that, he seemed
to freewheel, drinking openly, bantering with fans, and disdaining
safeties. If his opponent made a ball out of turn, and two balls
were lined up on the spot, Louie would hit the head ball with so much English
that he banked the second ball in "long rail" ... a shot that I have never seen anyone else
attempt in a major nine ball tournament. Roberts went on to defeat a perplexed Buddy
Hall, who just shook his head at Louie's crowd-pleasing antics and incredible
shotmaking. I believe it had been a longtime dream of
Louie's to beat Buddy Hall, who was the world's best Nine-ball player at the time.
What Louie accomplished that day, and how he accomplished it, was magical, and
I'll never forget how he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand until
he was proclaimed the victor, to wildly delighted cheers that included my own.
"St. Louie" Louie Roberts
Louie vs. Gary Serville, spotting the 7, 8 and 9 ...
In the videos above,
"Navy" Gary Serville hits the pool balls pretty sporty, but is no match for the
Elvis Presley of pool, "Saint Louie" Louie Roberts.
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A Brief History of Billiards,
Pool/Billiards Record High
Runs, The Sexiest Sharks,
Johnston City Sharks,
Louie Roberts, Earl "The
was the best nine-ball player?