Too many stories, but my cousin and I would would go to a local pool hall called Montana Billiards. It's now closed, but they allowed a 13 and 17 year old in, so long as we paid a dollar for a drink (soda - Fanta Orange was my go to). We were normally, the only ones there at that time.
Then we got to play from noon to 5 pm. I was the 13 y/o.
It was glorious.... looking back it now. The dusty, stagnant smoke lingering, the general run down look was beautiful.
We would go to the local library and check out books on billiards and learn the nuances. Study the basic patterns on why the diamonds were lined up and down the table.
Then, the next day, practice bank shots for 5 hours - setting up row after row til we each had a solid grasp.
THANK YOU ESPN2 for putting on the 9-ball challenges (Jeanette Lee stays hot to this day).
Eventually, I got to the point I would go home from my job at JC Penney, spend my hour of lunch running a rack in the garage of my parent's in sweltering El Paso weather; then put my shirt back on and hustle back.
When I finally turned 21, we would hit up local, generic spots to play.
But the *best* pool players and hustlers I ever came across were at the grimiest sections of El Paso. THAT is where I saw incredible shots and these dudes only played for a round of beers.
I got my ass handed to me there, but when I went to the more affluent West Side part of town, I held my own on these lawyers/business men.
As I said, too many stories and I've droned on... I can go on. The beauty of billiards and the preciseness/etiquette of it all while still being showcased in a hole-in-the-wall is akin to ballers on the top handling their own above the rim.
The way the pros make it look so crisp on ESPN2 on Sundays when NFL is on, has me like Uncle Phil grabbing for Lucille.