Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pool Hustlers

A couple of things to mention today regarding pool hustlers. First is this very interesting look at modern pool hustlers at the Derby City Classic from SI. The article is basically an except of the book Running the Table by L. Jon Wertheim.

Today also happens to be the anniversary of the death of Arnold Rothstein who died from being shot in the gut (many speculate that he was shot because he welshed on a large poker debt). Rothstein is mainly remembered as a gangster and as the man who may have been behind the 1919 World Series fix. It should also be remembered that Rothstein got his start as a pool hustler and is the centerpiece of one of the most memorable matches in history.
The group brought Jack Conway, a Philadelphia sportsman and accomplished jockey, who happened to be an expert pool player, to town. One night at Jack’s, a popular Manhattan hangout, Rothstein walked in and was invited to sit down with the group as they discussed baseball and prizefights. During this talk it came out that Conway was “probably” the best amateur pool player in the country. Rothstein, unaware of Conway’s background or that he was being set up, sensed a challenge and jumped at it.

The two men agreed to play to 100 points for $500 at John McGraw’s Billiard Parlor. The game began on a Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. By the time it ended, at 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning, some 36 hours later, Rothstein was rumored to have won over $10,000. The match received so much publicity that it was reported on in two of the New York City newspapers. In one account Rothstein was referred to as “a well-known sportsman.”
The above is from the Crime Library's mini biography of Arnold Rothstein. Well worth the read if you are interested in that sort of thing. Below I've put a link to perhaps the best biography of Rothstein if you want to read more.

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