It’s possible that everyone who ever picked up a pool cue thought about making a living with it. Pool is a game that is easy to understand, but not so easy to master. Like all sports, all you have to do is start young and practice for ten to sixteen hours a day and you’ll be fine.
Running the Table is the story of Kid Delicious, the last of the Great American Pool Hustlers. The hero is a fat kid who was picked on in school, suffered from depression, and then found his way to a pool table.
Needless to say, you have to kind of like pool to like this book. The Sports Illustrator writer L. Jon Wertheim does a pretty job of dropping in all the odd little pool hustling terms of the Road Player look for a Whale. Since I don’t read a lot of sports books, I don’t if this is the standard format for a sports bio. It is fun to ride around the country with Kid Delicious and Bristol Bob as they hustle the locals out of Nickles and Dimes.
The Color of Money and The Hustler are both great movies about shooting pool for money. How real are they? How real is this world where guys play pool for $5,000 a set and then go to a nearby casino and gamble away all their winnings? The fun part of Running The Table is entering a world that co-exists with our which we are simply unaware of.
Pool hustling has become a hard thing to do now that the internet can id all the con artists as they roll across the country looking for Action. Pool has never been a huge sport, despite the fact that it seems to be the only thing they show on ESPN2. But even there most of the ads for billiard accessories, billiard equipment, and billiard lights feature players I have never heard of, if they feature a player at all. In most sports the real money is selling Buicks or Nikes on the side. There’s not a lot of endorsement deals for road hustlers.
So the story of Kid Delicious and the countless silly named players he mets and beats is fun, but our hero is still just a pool player at the end. There is a bit of excitiment in these matches and the author does try hard to build suspense and show the pressure of a high stakes game. He uses phrases like the cue ball moved as if on a string or like it was a guided missle. The pool is the best part of the story, but the odd balls bits of Danny ‘Kid Delicious’ Basavich are interesting as well. There is this kind of feeling that Danny’s rotten life made him destine to be great-I half expected an endnote to say he died at the table-but he Kid Delicious seems to doing fine.
It’s a good book, I liked it.