Opening my email back into the summer of June of 2021, one of the best invitations comes into view with one click of the button, Skinny Bob’s and The Texas Open. Suddenly, this reporter realizes she needs new shoes, it is Texas after all. Nick De Leon, my newest partner in crime and my inviter, within a month of the tournament regrettably phones to say he couldn’t make the trip. “So sorry I have these amazing plans and I cannot break them.” We find out later this year he was planning to get engaged, all is forgiven! Now, it leaves this quirky blonde without a partner in crime, true to form Nick sent me on two tasks, Jesus Antencio and Molina Mike. Who are these two men and why are they so important to this story? Hold on to your seat’s sports fans, task completed, and this girl got the opportunity to get to know some amazing people. De Leon didn’t let this reporter down, but she definitely had to earn it, pool players and their shenanigans!
Shane Van Boening
Skinny Bob’s [located at 300 Hesters Crossing Road in Round Rock Texas] sets the mood with a warm welcoming bar including a fantastic, upgraded menu, VIP style seating situated snuggly center stage of the room engulfed in a coral feel to separate the table atmosphere from the intimacy of the bar, ultimately this venue sets the weekend off to the perfect start. You don’t play pool? They have televisions in every direction while you enjoy a beverage to watch a sports game or just want to soak up the atmosphere. Skinny Bob’s boasts Eighteen Nine-foot Diamond tables with two Billiard tables in the corner of the room, walking through the door the tables are separated to the left and right while the bar is in your eyeline. With front of the building parking, this venue is a must see, friendly staff during a busy event can be stressful but this venue pulled up their bootstraps and took it on with a smile. This reporter was well taken care of, management as well staff did a wonderful job at keeping the atmosphere in great spirits, good job Skinny Bob’s!
Walking into the room on Wednesday August 26th the spirit of Nick De Leon slips into my mind, “Two tasks to break the ice”, first up Jesus Antencio.
Antencio has been hazed by De Leon for a Steak House incident where he unfortunately ordered Mac n Cheese on Nick. My mission? Ask him why people are calling him Mac n Cheese. While Carlos Sanchez filled me in on the story, with a laugh and a humble smile Jesus simply nods then goes right back into practicing. Great demeanor on a player, not rocked but still smiling! Sanchez and myself are having a giggle at Jesus’ expense as one of my featured professional players comes into view, cue in hand and a smile that can melt hearts, Mosconi Cup Team USA’s Chris Reinhold graces this silly reporter with his best one liner jokes as he produces his own camera, instant friends! Must be a Sagittarius thing, we know our own kind. This guy is everything he projects himself as, dedicated to perfecting himself not only in his billiard game but his photography as well with integrity on and off the table. Reinhold makes it down to the finals on Sunday in the Nine Ball event being nudged out by John Morra. The future for Chris looks bright and this reporter looks forward to watching his climb.
Moving on to Saturday, Chris McDaniel belly’s up to the bar while the photos being gathered are compiling. “Have you talked to Molina Mike yet?” McDaniel says with a grin on his face. McDaniel a Denver Colorado native has been back in tournament action this year, like many other players the Pandemic put a hiatus on his career as a billiard instructor as well as a tournament player. After a year off, McDaniel seemed at ease fundamentally but says he felt he needed more time on the table. We will see more on Chris coming out of the West, without a doubt. There are rumors of a reporter and the NikonKid invading Denver in the future. Out of the corner of my eye Molina Mike comes into view, it’s time for me to complete the next task. Task two, “There was a rumor told to me and it’s not lady like to call anyone out, but I must know, I heard you were the biggest nit in the room.” With a massive smile and chuckle, (this curly haired blonde is relieved he didn’t throw her out of the building) “Who told you that?” Then he realizes, “Nick said that didn’t he?” Molina Mike says with a laugh. “That was over a Calcutta, we weren’t on the same page.” he continues. After a few moments of the story and a few laughs, the conversation was all about Shane Van Boening and the Mosconi Cup hopefuls and the next big tournament.
With a room full of Mosconi Cup former players and this year’s players like, Jeremy Jones, Tyler Styer, Skylar Woodward just to name half of the team sitting amongst us, Skinny Bob’s was exactly the place to be. James Hanshew joins the conversation and his thoughts on the picks as the tournament is grinding down. Sitting down with me for a moment to fill me in on a fantastic story about two other spotlight players, Justin Espinosa, and Manny Chau; check those stories out as well. Hanshew is a jump cue maker with an amazing fan base such as Dennis Orcollo, Manny Chau as well as Justin Espinosa; may be something to investigate if you are in the market for one. With his knowledge of cues and associations with many of the players, James comes highly recommended in the pool community. This reporter will be tracking down, James Hanshew soon for a live interview on our new show, InsidePoolMag’s Billiard Talk on YouTube.
With tasks completed and a new group of people to guide me through the tournament, Omega Billiards Mmp Phil comes up for a light chat on his next Tournament out of Aiken South Carolina in the next few weeks, Omega’s Diamond Open. Omega has done great things for the pool community and this Diva on her travels, fantastic group of people who not only support our sport but also give back to the community as much as they can. In my eyeline, Joey Gray comes into view and a chat must be had. Gray and I have been in touch regarding the Junior Events and what can be done to help improve the exposure of them to help gain more sponsorship. You will often find Gray in a pool room around the area holding Junior Clinics giving these children the fundamentals and guidance needed to further their passions in billiards, another amazing role model for our kids. Suddenly the match we were waiting for, Dennis Orcollo versus Josh Roberts comes over the microphone! In a conversation after the match, Josh gives this reporter a glimpse into who he is off the table. Orcollo defeated Roberts in the One Pocket Event. Roberts tells us, “I’m chasing that big win, second is great but whoever remembers the second-place guy?” Direct and humorous, what else would you expect from this Boston Massachusetts native?
Round Rock Texas also offered the players and a curly haired blonde, a variety of restaurants to please any appetite. Professional Player Justin Martin and I enjoyed a Brazilian meal (Fogueira Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse) over an interview with the twenty-two-year-old out of Wilmington North Carolina. Meeting Martin in 2018 at Super Billiards Expo with Johnathan Pinegar, the talent combined with the growth this kid has gone through in such a short time explodes on the table during the tournament. Martin explains, “I have a workout regime that I’ve been doing along with realigning myself in faith. I’m doing work not only on my game but on myself. I’ve realized I have a goal and for me, these things will help to get me there.” Justin plays well throughout the event but falls short to make it into the finals on Sunday, not to worry this man is grinding through some tough action at all these large tournaments, he is due his win soon. More on Justin Martin in a spotlight interview, where he allows us into his world to know the man behind the cue.
Charlie and Heather Bryant
Brutal Game Gear is in the building as well, Charlie Bryant sits down with me for a few moments to tell me about the team he is building with Bryant Billiards. If you all recall the Iron City Billiards event, Brett Snowden and Melissa Smith which were both interviewed with spotlight articles, are both sponsored by this amazing duo of Charlie and Heather Bryant; recently adding Justin Martin to the fold of incredible talent. Brutal Game Gear has an array of clothing to fit anyone’s body type, Heather is a hands-on owner and will give you the best customer service there is. This is about Charlie though, right? Charlie goes onto say this about his wife, “She is the backbone of Brutal, it gives me the opportunity to work on my coaching and running the other company. I really don’t know where I would be without her hard work and understanding over years, I’m a better man because of her, I mean that.” Charlie explains, “I’ve been in the pool world most of my life, things have to change for our players. Not all of us have a fairytale story, I know I don’t, but I’ve changed my life and I want to build a team that the Pool Industry can be an example of. There are more than the fundamentals in pool, there must be an ethic, a standard that we all must live up to. That’s what we are building here at Bryant Billiards, a group of people the future players can look up to.” With the men and women on his current list, there is nothing more impressive than what Charlie is doing with this monster team. This reporter looks forward to this legend’s team taking down these large tournaments soon.
Bryant has been on the charts with wins and accomplishments ranging from two-time Space City Open Nine Ball Champion in 2012 and 2013, Fast Eddie’s Tour Player of the Year in 2011, Lone Star Billiards Tour Player of the Year in 2009 and 2011, Glass City Open Champion 2004 with career ranking highs which consist of #4 on the 2004 Billiard Digest and Power Index to #6 on the UPA ranking list. Bryant retired from the Pro Tour at #12 on the BCA Pro rankings list, his resume speaks highly for itself. This humble soul with a sense of humor to match is all business when it comes to his clients by giving each of them the attention needed to expand each of their games. It was an honor to sit and speak with this legend in his own right, personally looking forward to watching this spectacular man play a little more in the future. What does Charlie “The Hillbilly” Bryant have in his case? This Icard, North Carolina born player plays with a Diveney Custom Cue with a Becue Carbon Fiber Shaft and a Hillbilly Thunder 2 Break Cue, weapons of a champion.
Allison Fischer and Courtney Peters
The Texas Open didn’t disappoint, the fans and this quirky reporter had the pleasure of watching some of the best players around the world here in Round Rock, with Pool Action Tv providing commentary and a stream for those of us unable to attend this amazing event. The 9 Ball Open Event held one hundred and sixty players with Professionals like Sky Woodward, Billy Thorpe, Corey Duel and Alex Pagulayan, some tough action packed into this venue. Sunday unfolds with some unexpected defeats as Shane Van Boening takes down Dennis Orcollo 9-2 in the finals, Shane holding firm with no losses. The Women’s Event gathered thirty-two amazing talents like Allison Fischer, Ming Ng and Sakura Muramatsu. Courtney Peters faces off against Fischer in the finals but falls short with a 7-4 loss. Peters grinded in this event and it showed in her performance, this reporter looks forward to seeing her in future events.
Special thanks to Austin Marriott North and Desiree Knapp for an amazing stay in Round Rock Texas. This lavish hotel with marbled floors and dark wood as far as the eye could see also boasted a full bar and after-hours menu to satisfy anyone’s late night snack, soft comfortable beds with extra pillows and a large walk-in shower to make a girl feel at home. The staff went above and beyond to make sure this reporter had all the necessities a girl could want, even extending my stay due to a hurricane coming in from the gulf at the same discounted price offered during the tournament. Austin Marriott is just a mile up the street from Skinny Bob’s, easy to find and convenient for an out-of-town guest. If your headed to Round Rock Texas on vacation or heading back to Skinny Bob’s for another event. We recommend you stay at the Austin Marriott North you won’t be disappointed! https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ausno-austin-marriott-north/