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Books for the Pool Player: Biographies

Updated on December 7, 2009

Casual Reads for the Billiards Enthusiast

You don't know pool until you know something about the life of a pool player. In this lens, you'll find some of the bestselling biographies of personalities in the world of billiards. Some are light reading, some will put you into the dark world of hustling, but all are great reads. These are sure to help any pool enthusiast to pass the time with pleasure.

The books are sorted here by publication date, with the newest book at the top. If there's a book you highly recommend but do not see it listed, please leave me a message in the guestbook.

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Sweet: An Eight-Ball Odyssey

Sweet: An Eight-Ball Odyssey
Sweet: An Eight-Ball Odyssey

This book is an autobiography by Heather Byer. Originally from the Midwest, she moved to New York and very quickly became a successful movie executive. However, something in her life felt missing, and thus, she turned to pool for therapy.

Her website further says, "Byer recounts her first fumbling attempts to learn a game that beckoned to her for years. She describes the hypnotic pull that surrounds the sport of pool: the netherworld of bars that serve as dens for substance abuse; the troubled players who lose themselves in the game; the constant quest for the win."

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Read a review on the New York Times

 

Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious

Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler
Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler

Danny Basavich, aka Kid Delicious, is one of the biggest names in pool today. However, he didn't start out that way. In fact, his childhood was pretty tough, and he often fell into a deep depression. Pool set him back on track and with his friend Bristol Bob, they decided to earn a living through hustling. He describes the highs and lows of the hustling life and how he eventually made it as a legitimate pool player.

Rumor is, a movie based on this book is already in production!

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The Hustler & The Champ: Willie Mosconi and Minnesota Fats

Hustler & The Champ: Willie Mosconi, Minnesota Fats, And The Rivalry That Defined Pool
Hustler & The Champ: Willie Mosconi, Minnesota Fats, And The Rivalry That Defined Pool

Minnesota Fats was one of the most famous pool hustler while Willie Mosconi made his name as the best pool player in the world. When they would face off on television, who would win?

From the back cover: This book "tells of both men’s hardscrabble march to greatness, of their bitter decades-long rivalry, and finally of the televised shoot-out that revealed pocket billiards to millions even as it exposed the deep contradictions within all of organized competition. Through the 1920s, the Great Depression, and the resurgent 1960s, R.A. Dyer follows the lives of both men and tells the story of America’s conflicted love affair with the sport of rogues."

 

The Bank Shot and Other Great Robberies

Bank Shot and Other Great Robberies: The Uncrowned Champion Of Pocket Billiards Describes His Game And How It's Played
Bank Shot and Other Great Robberies: The Uncrowned Champion Of Pocket Billiards Describes His Game And How It's Played

Who is Rudolph Wanderone? Those who play pool know him as the legendary Minnesota Fats. This book describes his hustling exploits and other adventures with people like Tuscaloosa Squirrely, Cornbread Red, Handsome Danny Jones, and Weanie Beanie. As a bonus, Fats also leads an in-depth discussion of his techniques for various aspects of the game of pool.

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McGoorty: A Pool Room Hustler

McGoorty: A Pool Room Hustler (Library of Larceny)
McGoorty: A Pool Room Hustler (Library of Larceny)

Danny McGoorty is a billiards champ, hustler, hobo, and womanizer. As a figure in the Capone era of Chicago, this book is the story of his exciting and racy lifestyle. Willie Mosconi himself said, "At times funny, occasionally filthy, here and there exaggerated, but it’s an entertaining story of a guy who doesn’t try to pass himself off as any sort of giant at the table: just a fellow who loved the game."

 

Ronnie: The Autobiography of Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie
Ronnie

Ronnie O'Sullivan is known as Britain's favorite snooker champion. This book chronicles his professional achievements including winning a world-ranking championship at only 17 and becoming a legend after winning the Embassy World Title.

 

Hustler Days

Hustler Days: Minnesota Fats, Wimpy Lassiter, Jersey Red, and America's Great Age of Pool
Hustler Days: Minnesota Fats, Wimpy Lassiter, Jersey Red, and America's Great Age of Pool

Another book by R.A. Dyer, this one focuses on several pool greats: Minnesota Fats, Wimpy Lassiter, and Jersey Red, all legendary hustlers. Dyer describes the exploding popularity of pool in the 1960s after the rise of the popular movie, The Hustler. Publishers Weekly says, "His prose can shade toward the purple ("Jersey Red came at the other fellow ferociously...his young lion heart pounding with every soft thud of the nine-ball,") but connoisseurs of urban decadence will enjoy soaking up the rich atmospherics."

 

Playing Off the Rail

Playing Off the Rail: A Pool Hustler's Journey
Playing Off the Rail: A Pool Hustler's Journey

In this book, the author David McCumber describes the life of the road player. He decides to put up his own finances and gambles on the road player's skills. Library Journal says, "In this entertaining on-the-road journal, we meet a host of colorful characters and run a gauntlet of high stakes, low-life, pool hall activity. Befitting the smoky atmosphere of the pool hall, the language is strong and the threat of violence is always imminent. Over the course of the book, the action becomes repetitive, but the story is told from a unique perspective that captures the genuine flavor of pool hustling."

 

I hope this list inspired you to do some reading. What did you think of them? Leave a message here! Also, if there's a great book that I've missed, be sure to let us know. Thanks!

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Which book is your favorite?

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    • JesPiddlin profile image

      JesPiddlin 6 years ago

      Nice collection of resources!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      great lens and tips! ;)

      Pool Cleaning Jacksonville

    • mosaic lm profile image
      Author

      mosaic lm 9 years ago

      tommy, you're right! I've now added the book in!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      the book McGoorty is missing a bio by Byrne