Pool, also known as pocket billiards, is a type of cue sport that involves hitting balls with a cue stick and sending them into six pockets on a table. The pool is one of the most popular billiard sports in the world, along with snooker and carom billiards.
Pool players can compete in various disciplines, such as eight-ball, nine-ball, ten-ball, straight pool, one-pocket, and bank pool, each with its own rules and strategies.
Some pool players have achieved remarkable feats and become legends of the sport, earning respect, fame, and fortune. They have won numerous titles, broken records, and displayed extraordinary skills and creativity.
Here are the top 10 greatest pool players of all time, based on their achievements, influence, and popularity:
10. Allison Fisher
Allison Fisher is an English-born pool player called the “Duchess of Doom” because of her destructive steady moves and no-joking playstyle.
Fisher has won over 80 titles in her career, including 11 world championships, 53 Women’s Professional Billiard Association (WPBA) titles, and four Women’s Professional Billiard Tour (WPBT) titles.
She has also competed against some of the best male players, such as Efren Reyes, and earned their respect.
She was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2009, becoming the youngest living member of the prestigious group.
Fisher is not only a champion player but also a passionate teacher and promoter of the sport.
She founded the Allison Fisher World Champion Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she offers lessons, clinics, and exhibitions to students of all levels and ages.
She also serves as a spokesperson for the Billiard Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports youth billiard programs and scholarships.
9. Jeanette Lee
Jeanette Lee, born and brought up in Brooklyn, New York, is a retired American proficient pool player who started playing pool in 1989.
She is nicknamed “The Black Widow” for her consistent and ruthless performance in pocket billiards, a type of pool that uses six pockets on the table.
It’s because even after being a person with a sweet attitude, if possible, she could “eat people alive” who were against her at the pool table.
She had a reputation as one of the best pool players ever and dominated not just the female class in the pool but also overall.
Lee has won over 30 national and international titles, including the world 9-ball championship in 1994.
She got the WPBA Sportsperson of the Year award in 1998.
In 2001, Jeanette confronted Efren Reyes in a race-to-13 friendly match at nine-ball in Manila, Philippines, though she lost 4-13.
She was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 2013.
In 2021, Lee was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer and announced her terminal diagnosis. In May 2022, gratefully, Lee shared that her cancer was in remission.
8. Johnny Archer
Johnny Archer, also known as “The Scorpion,” is an American professional pool player.
He is one of the most successful nine-ball players of the 1990s and 2000s, having won the majority of the game’s major tournaments at least once.
He was nominated for induction into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame on June 8th, 2009.
Archer has also claimed victories in the International Challenge of Champions in 2006, as well as the 2007 Texas Hold ‘Em Billiards Championship.
Additionally, he won the 2003 Sudden Death Seven-ball competition and has numerous other titles to his name.
Despite being in his 60s, Archer continues to compete actively and has secured wins as recently as 2020, showcasing his enduring success at the highest levels of the sport.
He is undoubtedly one of the most decorated and accomplished players in the history of the American pool.
7. Luther Lassiter
Luther Lassiter, also known as Wimpy, was an American pool player from Pasquotank County, North Carolina.
He was born in 1918 and developed a passion for pool at a very young age.
He used to play at a local pool hall in Elizabeth City, where he worked as a cleaner in exchange for free access.
He dropped out of school at 16 to pursue pool as a career option.
Lassiter is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, especially in the game of nine-ball.
He won six world championships and numerous other titles in his career.
He was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame in 1983, the same year he died of a heart attack.
He was also ranked number 9 on the Billiards Digest 50 Greatest Players of the Century.
6. Mike Sigel
Mike Sigel, also known as Captain Hook, is an American professional pool player born in Rochester, New York.
He began playing pool at the age of 13 and turned professional at 20.
His mother, Ruth, occasionally expressed frustration with him for not attending Hebrew school due to exhaustion from late-night pool sessions.
Sigel has achieved numerous accolades, including winning the US Open straight pool tournament with a score of 14-1.
He could shoot with both his left and right hands.
Sigel has won 108 professional pool tournaments, comprising 3 US Open Nine-Ball Championships and 10 world pocket billiard championship titles.
Sigel was honored as “Player of the Year” three times by Billiards Digest and Pool.
In 1985, at the age of 35, he became the youngest person to be inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.
Despite a brief retirement, Sigel returned to the sport after the establishment of the International Pool Tour in 2005.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest pool players of all time, he was named the “Greatest Living Player of the Century” by Billiards Digest Magazine in 2000.
5. Ralph Greenleaf
Ralph Greenleaf, an American pocket pool player born in Monmouth, Illinois, was a dominant force in the sport from 1919 to 1924 and intermittently from 1926 to 1937.
His exceptional skill and captivating charisma established him as a leading figure in American sports during the 1920s.
Notably, as a young player, he gained recognition by defeating Bennie Allen, the world pocket billiards champion at the time, in an exhibition match at Monmouth.
In 1929, he reclaimed the world title from Frank Taberski in Detroit with a run of 126, achieved in just two innings.
Additionally, Greenleaf is renowned for achieving a record run of 269 in an exhibition match.
4. Rudolf Wanderone
Rudolf Walter Wanderone, also known as Minnesota Fats, was a Swiss-American professional pool player born in New York City in 1913.
He began playing pool as a child and became a traveling pool hustler in his teens, using various nicknames such as Brooklyn Fats and New York Fats.
In his thirties, he moved to southern Illinois, where he married his first wife, Evelyn. During World War II, he hustled servicemen in Norfolk, Virginia.
In 1968, he hosted a TV show called Celebrity Billiards, where he played pool against famous guests such as Groucho Marx and James Garner.
He was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1984, four years before his death.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest pool players in history and a master of the game’s entertainment value.
3. Earl Strickland
Earl Strickland, also known as “the Pearl”, is an American professional pool player from Roseboro, North Carolina.
He is widely regarded as one of the best nine-ball players of all time, having won over 100 championship titles and three world titles.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame, the highest honor for pool players in the United States.
Strickland won the Mosconi Cup, an annual nine-ball pool tournament between teams representing Europe and the United States, nine times between 1996 and 2005, alongside Johnny Archer.
He was also a three-time WPA World Nine-ball Championship winner, a prestigious event sanctioned by the World Pool-Billiard Association and organized by Matchroom Sport, in the years 1990, 1991, and 2002.
He is known for his aggressive playing style, competitive spirit, and sometimes controversial behavior.
2. Willie Mosconi
Willie Mosconi was a legendary American pocket billiard player from Philadelphia.
He won the world championship 15 times between 1941 and 1957 and was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1968 at the age of 55.
The Mosconi Cup, an annual pool tournament featuring American and European players, was named in his honor and began in 1994.
Mosconi’s remarkable accomplishments have cemented his status as a beloved and celebrated figure in the billiards community.
1. Efren Reyes
Efren Reyes, known as “The Magician,” is considered by many pool analysts, players, and fans as the best pool player in the world.
He is a Filipino professional pool player, who was born in Pampanga, Philippines, on August 26, 1954.
He has won around 80 international titles and was the first to win the World Championships in two pool categories: nine-ball and eight-ball.
Reyes has won major titles, including four World Eight-ball Championships, two World Nine-ball Championships, three US Open Nine-ball Championships, and 13 Derby City Classic Championships.
Reyes’ impressive achievements have solidified his position as one of the greatest pool players of all time.
He was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame in 2003, the highest honor for pool players in the United States.
He is also widely regarded as the greatest one-pocket player of all time, a challenging discipline that requires exceptional skill and strategy.
Reyes is nicknamed “The Magician” for his ability to make seemingly impossible shots, using English and spin in creative ways.
He is also known as “Bata”, which means “Kid” in Tagalog, to distinguish him from another Filipino pool player with the same name.
These ten pool players have left a remarkable legacy in the world of billiards with their incredible skills, precision, and dedication.
From legendary players of the past, fans and players alike have felt like Willie Mosconi to modern-day greats like Efren Reyes have left their impact on the game.
Whether through multiple championship wins or their unique playing style, these players have cemented their place in pool history and continue to inspire new generations of players.