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"St. Louie" Louie Roberts: Pool God and Immortal

by Mike Burch

It has been my good fortune to have observed 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. 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.

Louie Roberts - "Saint Louie Louie"

"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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