Greatest Pool Player in History


Sticks and balls – these are the objects in which they’re so good at. The sport they play may not be as energetic and dynamic as other ball games but they can still ensnare the crowd with their accuracy and precision. Who among these men… and women is the best at driving the hard plastic balls into the table pockets? Who is the greatest pool player of all time?

Earl Strickland

stricklandFrom: USA
Due to his outspoken views and volatile behavior at the games and tournaments he’s in, he became known as one of the sport’s most controversial players. As a gifted nine-ball player, he is one of the very few who has faced the greatest of the greats in the league, most notably the likes of Efren Reyes and Steve Davis. His career highlights include five wins at the United States Open Nine-ball Championships which surpasses the ones attained any other professional pool player internationally. From his humble rise to prominence in 1983 with a victory in Lake Tahoe, Strickland became a multiple winner of the prestigious Player of the Year Award, and is regarded as one of the very best at what he does.


Efren Reyes

reyesFrom: Philippines
Countless professional players openly declare him as the greatest living pool player in the world. He has the ability to “kick safe” and to kick balls into intended pockets in a manner that is simply legendary. Along with the other “Filipino invasion” players, he revolutionized the way pool is played due to his introduction of pinpoint precision kicking – going into a rail with the cue ball and then hitting an object ball. When such a maneuver is discussed, Efren is undoubtedly the best at it. This ability, coupled with his superb skill at other aspects of the game, led worldwide professionals to give him the moniker “The Magician.


Darren Appleton

appletonFrom: England
Known for his effectiveness as a team player rather than just a lone pooler, he was a member of the victorious European team in the 2010 Mosconi Cup in which he was named MVP for the tournament with a 5-1 win to loss ratio. As an early starter who started playing pool at age 12, he grew up to be so good at it that he became a ranked 1 player in British-style eight-ball pool during the mid 2000s. He broke a lot of records and has beaten a lot of pool players which make him one of Britain’s most recognized indoor athletes.



Chao Pong-fang

chaoFrom: Taiwan
Chao is a bit of an eccentric. While a majority of Taiwanese players play with open bridge hands, he is among the few who play with a closed or loop bridge. He is renowned for his jump shots, relying on them considerably more frequently that most other pros. One notable instance was when he played versus Francisco Bustamante, one of the greatest Filipino players at the 2001 ICC tie-breaker: Bustamante came up with a good snooker behind a ball, leaving Chao in position that seemed impossible to get out from. But he went for the jump, and made it to win the match and the title. He is one of the very few squinty-eyed guys to be hailed as one of the greatest in the pool table, which enabled him to start walking in the halls of legends.


Allison Fischer

fisherFrom: England
Her latest achievements include being a runner up of the Women’s Division of Ultimate 10-Ball Championship, Women’s Division and as a 3rd placer of WPBA Masters, both of which she garnered in 2013. She’s a woman, and an attractive one at that. This makes her grab the “Fans’ Top 20 Favorite Players” poll of 2007, a list which included a lot of male players. But is she just all looks and no skill? The answer is no, because she earned a reputation similar to that of the fifteen-time darts world champion Phil Taylor and snooker players Joe Davis, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. She can figuratively hunt and kill effortlessly along with other male players. This is one of the reasons why they call her “The Duchess of Doom.”


Ronnie O’Sullivan

sullivanFrom: England
He achieved his first major professional success when he won the 1993 UK Championship at the age of 17, making him the youngest player ever to win a ranking title, a record that remains unbeaten to date. It can be noted that years before that, he was already a child prodigy of pool-playing having achieved fame at age 10. He is noted for his rapid playing style, mercurial temperament and his ambivalent relationship with the sport, claiming that a “slow-paced pool or snooker game would turn away viewers.” Even in victory, he has been labelled as a perfectionist, and is highly self-critical. The fact that he is never really content with his own skill pushed his playing style even more to the point that he is declared by many as a real genius in his chosen sport.


Ralf Souquet

souquetFrom: Germany
In 1997, German President Roman Herzog handed him the “Silver Laurel Leave”, the highest distinction for sportsmen in Germany, which makes him technically the greatest pool/billiards player in his country, and one of the greatest in the entirety of sports. This could be due to his hard work and diligence. He started playing billiards in his parent’s pub when he was 6 years old, and would practice the game for about 5 hours every day for more than 8 years. At the age of 14, he won the German pupils 8-Ball Championship for the first time as well as the German Open. Since then, he engaged in match-ups with other billiard legends which proved that in the game, he is unstoppable in claiming his rightful titles that he truly deserves.


Alex Pagulayan

pagulayanFrom: Philippines
He is known for his calmness and coolness in every game he participates, and is a crowd favorite. He is well-liked because of his humorous interaction with the audience – a total contrast with his nicknames “the Lion” and “the Killer Pixie”. This latter nickname was given by Cliff “the Grinder” Thorburn, former World and Canadian Snooker champion. Alex’s expertise in the pocket billiards game of snooker, and his capabilities helped his Philippines team to win the Snooker Gold Medal at the 2005 SEA Games. Although people thinks that he was only brought to fame because of the legacy of Bata Reyes, Alex is said to be the great player that can bring the audience and the sport as well in a totally different tone because of the unique kind of entertainment that he alone can project.


Jeanette Lee

leeFrom: USA (of Korean descent)
Aside from being an excellent pool player, she is a strong supporter of those affected by scoliosis. She currently serves as the national spokesperson for the Scoliosis Association as someone who has suffered from the disease as well. It didn’t stop her from pursuing billiards though. She started playing pool in 1989. She went on to rank as the No. 1 female pool player in the world during the 1990s, and received the Women’s Professional Billiard Association Sportsperson of the Year Award in 1998. She is often called by her friends as “The Black Widow” because of their claims that in spite of her sweet demeanor, and very captivating physical appearance, she would “eat people alive” whenever she got too immersed in a game.


Thorsten Hohmann

hohmannFrom: Germany
At a very young age, he had always been interested in sports that require a lot more strength and mobility: soccer, table tennis, and badminton. But then his father took him to a local pool hall where he heard the sound of hard balls bashing against each other – it was then that he realized his true calling. A year later on his 10th birthday he received a miniature pool table and was inseparable from it. By age twelve Thorsten and a friend began playing pool within the local scenery. By age 16 he had won his first open adult tournament with 128 players. He went on to garner numerous wins and recognitions the latest of which include World 14.1 Tournament Champion and Archer Cup Champion, which he both won in 2015. He is hitting his targets pretty well, which makes him deserving of the nickname, “The Hitman.”

Who among them should be ranked as No. 1?

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