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

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9780547086125: Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler

“A tremendously satisfying road story. What makes Running the Table so special is not the pool prowess of its protagonist but the unlikely bond between two wildly different young men who find each other through an exhilarating, often infuriating game.”—Los Angeles Times

Running the Table spins the outrageous tale of Kid Delicious, an affable skilled pool shark from New Jersey, and his studly if less talented setup man, Bristol Bob. Wertheim follows this mismatched pair of sidekicks as they go underground to learn the art of the hustle while experiencing the highs and lows of life on the road. Their four-year odyssey takes them from podunk pool halls to slick urban billiard rooms across America, some nights taking down as much as $30,000 and others ending up with just enough gas money to get home. With every stop the action gets hotter, the calls get closer, and Delicious’s prowess with a cue stick becomes more widely known. Ultimately the Kid sheds his cover, becoming perhaps the biggest sensation in professional pool since Minnesota Fats. Wertheim paints a lasting portrait of an insanely talented and magnetic hustler who is literally larger than life.

“Renders the trappings of a road player’s life . . . readers are taken on a sweet and varied ride.”—Sports Illustrated

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About the Author:

L. Jon Wertheim is the author of three previous books and the forthcoming Blood in the Cage: Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Miletich, and the Furious Rise of the UFC. Film rights to Running the Table were optioned by Lions Gate, and the film is currently in development. He is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and lives in New York.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PROLOGUE

Jeez, that fat man, look at the way he moves. Like a dancer. And those fingers, them chubby fingers. That stroke, it’s like he’s playing the violin or something.
— Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman), marveling at Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) in The Hustler

The big fella waddled down the hallway of the hotel, grinning and nodding graciously. The pool tribalists called out his name or patted him on the back. When you’re five feet nine inches and tip the scales at 320 pounds or so, it’s not easy to walk without breaking stride. But Danny Basavich had no choice. He’d overslept on this listless morning in January 2006 and now was minutes from forfeiting a match in the Derby City Classic, a twelve-day gambling marathon masquerading as an annual pool tournament.
His personality as generously proportioned as his physique, Basavich tried to acknowledge everyone at the Derby City venue — the Executive West Hotel, a shopworn hostelry hard by the Louisville Airport, designed by someone with a deep appreciation for the 1970s. As he shuffled down the hall, Basavich smiled his infectious smile, quickly pressing his stubby right hand into his admirer’s, a handshake that effectively conveyed the message “Luv-ya-but-I-gotta-run.” In a disarming voice that recalled Wolfman Jack with a New Joisey accent — e’s screeching like old train brakes, p’s and t’s popping like fireworks — he shouted out a stream of “Catch me when I’m done playing, Chris” and “You got my cell number, right, Petey?” and “Let’s grab a drink later, Alex.” Without exception, everyone was called by his first name, a Dale Carnegie lesson he’d learned years before.
He arrived at table 17 just in time. With his girlfriend, Danielle, a clutch of friends, and dozens of railbirds looking on from aluminum bleachers, Basavich unsheathed a custom-made Pechauer cue. His opponent in this early-round Derby City match was José Parica, one of the brighter stars in the pool cosmos. A slightly built Filipino who looks to be in his mid-fifties, Parica performed with an even disposition, neither surly nor affable; just focused and impassive, his body language betraying nothing.
Minnesota Fats famously wore a carnation in the lapel of his bespoke suit. Though comparably built, Basavich didn’t go quite so far with his fashion. Still, he looked resplendent in drooping black trousers, black loafers, and a herringbone jacket that did its moaning best to cover his girth. His thatch of straw-colored hair had been generously gelled and his goatee neatly trimmed. Like many hefty men, he’d tried to drown his insecurities in an ocean of cologne. He somehow looked both older and younger than his twenty-seven years. His boyish, contagious smile was, as ever, in full bloom. At the same time, his swollen belly and arthritic movements suggested a man well into middle age. His green eyes sparkled and swiveled from side to side as he stared at the configuration of balls on the table.
The best American pool players were once irrepressible, wild and woolly figures straight out of Damon Runyon, all trash talk and color and bluster. But once they started getting beaten by Asians and Europeans — who, the conventional wisdom went, weren’t better players but simply possessed superior powers of concentration — the Americans grew stoic and emotionally frozen. In this sense, Basavich was a pure throwback. Above the crack of the balls on the surrounding tables and the echoes of clinking beer bottles, Basavich directed an ongoing monologue to the folks on the rail, to his cue, to himself. After one particularly dazzling piece of shotmaking, a smile stole across his face as he said, to no one and everyone, “Didn’t think a big guy like me could pull that off, did ya?” It’s always “big” with Basavich. Never “fat.” Derby City had already crowned champions in bank pool and one- pocket, and now the tournament culminated with the nine-ball championship. A form of rotation pool, nine-ball requires players to rack only the first nine balls in a diamond formation. A player wins by pocketing the yolk-colored nine ball, but on every shot he must hit the lowest ball on the table first. Usually the player devises a pattern of shots through the rack, or what remains of it, that has him pocketing the one, the two, the three, and so on, until he’s taking aim at the nine ball to win the game. At Derby City, the first player to win the race to seven games wins the set and advances to the next round.
In the movies, pool is played at warp speed. The balls invariably collide violently on impact. The pace is rapid-fire. The players attempt high- risk, high-reward shots. It’s all pyrotechnics. Real pool, at least at the highest level, is much more clicking than clacking; it’s a sport of ellipses, not exclamation points. The balls don’t often rocket into the pocket. They tend to enter casually, as if they’re slipping out and quietly leaving the party, landing with a gentle ka-tonk. The players discharge their duties at a leisurely pace, especially Basavich, whose excruciatingly slow playing is as much his hallmark as his overstuffed physique and bottomlessly charismatic personality. Sizing up shots like Tiger Woods studying a putt, he takes his time, rocking back and forth in the manner of a man who has to pee.
In professional pool, you can go for hours without seeing a holy- shit-you-gotta-be-kidding-me shot. It’s all about positioning and control. Because of the way they expertly maneuvered the cue ball, Parica and Basavich went entire games without having to hit a single shot that would give a decent recreational player trouble. Of course, it’s where the cue ball ends up after hitting the object ball that makes it all possible. That’s where the genius resides. It’s position play that separates the pros from the ball- bangers.
There’s something both absurdly simple and impossibly complex about the way Basavich plays. His backswing, not unlike his body, is short and compact. His break is more about control than force. Little about his style could be described as exciting. But there is an undeniable artistry and dignity — a majesty, you could even call it — to his game. He has that highly developed pool cortex that enables him to think four or five shots ahead. Often he even sees the whole rack unfolding right after the break. He is steady and balanced and supremely confident. With the equilibrium of a Zen archer, he plays as though the mere prospect of misfiring hasn’t crossed his mind. Then, just when his game takes on a mesmeric quality, he plays a dazzling shot that defies the conventional laws of physics.
Tied with Parica at six games apiece, Basavich sized up a three- rail kick shot on the six ball. After determining that it was merely geometrically improbable — not impossible — he took aim. He inhaled, exhaled, and pulled off the shot. The railbirds clapped and whistled. Parica shook his head in a sort of gracious resignation, a rare show of emotion. Impervious to any pressure, Basavich ran out the remaining balls to take the set. Basavich seven, Parica six. After shaking his opponent’s hand, Basavich playfully pumped his pudgy fist for an imaginary television camera. Then he kissed his girl.
There was a time, not long ago, when this kind of performance at the table would have earned Basavich $5,000 or $10,000 or, if everything really broke right, twenty-five large. He would have celebrated with a trip to the local diner or watering hole, lavishing on himself three or four cheeseburgers, washing them down with a tankard’s worth of Coors Light. Maybe later that night, for good measure, he’d have fired up a joint or sprinkled his cash at a strip club. As the old pool joke goes, he would spend his money on booze and women and gambling, and he’d simply fritter away the rest of it.
But that was when he was a road hustler, crisscrossing the lower forty-eight on unending ribbons of asphalt, slinking from town to town, busting the locals, prospecting for that next big score.
Pool hustling is a dying art. In recent years, road action has been “knocked” by everything from the poker boom to the proliferation of casinos (which seduce the same species of young, hypercompetitive, incurable gambling men who once frequented pool halls) to three-bucks-a- gallon fuel prices to Internet forums that expose the identity of even the stealthiest of hustlers. But as recently as 2003, no one was plundering the pool halls of North America with more success than Basavich. Back then he was anonymous; only his bloated belly — not his reputation — preceded him when he walked into a room. Eventually he took on a quality that spells doom for a hustling career: he became notorious. Athletes in other sports gorge themselves on the nectar of fame. But for any pool hustler worth his chalk, even demi-monde celebrity is a professional death sentence. By the winter of 2006, Danny Basavich was no longer a hustler; he was a pro pool player.
After beating Parica, Basavich unscrewed his cue, carefully placed it back in its leather holster, and walked through the Executive West lobby. He headed for the room on the fourth floor that he and Danielle were sharing with another player, Chris Bartram, to defray the $69-a-night tariff. He picked at some leftover Thai food in a container on a desk next to a pile of dirty socks and a well-worn road map. He then cocooned himself in his blanket, trying to get some sleep for the first time in two days. He had another match later that night. If he could win that, he’d be assured of finishing in the money. Which meant he’d be eligible for a whopping $160 jackpot.
Throughout the Derb...

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Descripción Mariner Books, United States, 2008. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.A tremendously satisfying road story. What makes Running the Table so special is not the pool prowess of its protagonist but the unlikely bond between two wildly different young men who find each other through an exhilarating, often infuriating game."Los Angeles Times Running the Table spins the outrageous tale of Kid Delicious, an affable skilled pool shark from New Jersey, and his studly if less talented setup man, Bristol Bob. Wertheim follows this mismatched pair of sidekicks as they go underground to learn the art of the hustle while experiencing the highs and lows of life on the road. Their four-year odyssey takes them from podunk pool halls to slick urban billiard rooms across America, some nights taking down as much as $30,000 and others ending up with just enough gas money to get home. With every stop the action gets hotter, the calls get closer, and Delicious’s prowess with a cue stick becomes more widely known. Ultimately the Kid sheds his cover, becoming perhaps the biggest sensation in professional pool since Minnesota Fats. Wertheim paints a lasting portrait of an insanely talented and magnetic hustler who is literally larger than life. Renders the trappings of a road player’s life . . . readers are taken on a sweet and varied ride."Sports Illustrated. Nº de ref. de la librería APC9780547086125

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Descripción Mariner Books, United States, 2008. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. A tremendously satisfying road story. What makes Running the Table so special is not the pool prowess of its protagonist but the unlikely bond between two wildly different young men who find each other through an exhilarating, often infuriating game."Los Angeles Times Running the Table spins the outrageous tale of Kid Delicious, an affable skilled pool shark from New Jersey, and his studly if less talented setup man, Bristol Bob. Wertheim follows this mismatched pair of sidekicks as they go underground to learn the art of the hustle while experiencing the highs and lows of life on the road. Their four-year odyssey takes them from podunk pool halls to slick urban billiard rooms across America, some nights taking down as much as $30,000 and others ending up with just enough gas money to get home. With every stop the action gets hotter, the calls get closer, and Delicious’s prowess with a cue stick becomes more widely known. Ultimately the Kid sheds his cover, becoming perhaps the biggest sensation in professional pool since Minnesota Fats. Wertheim paints a lasting portrait of an insanely talented and magnetic hustler who is literally larger than life. Renders the trappings of a road player’s life . . . readers are taken on a sweet and varied ride."Sports Illustrated. Nº de ref. de la librería APC9780547086125

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Descripción Mariner Books. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Paperback. 288 pages. Dimensions: 7.8in. x 5.0in. x 0.8in.A tremendously satisfying road story. What makes Running the Table so special is not the pool prowess of its protagonist but the unlikely bond between two wildly different young men who find each other through an exhilarating, often infuriating game. Los Angeles TimesRunning the Table spins the outrageous tale of Kid Delicious, an affable skilled pool shark from New Jersey, and his studly if less talented setup man, Bristol Bob. Wertheim follows this mismatched pair of sidekicks as they go underground to learn the art of the hustle while experiencing the highs and lows of life on the road. Their four-year odyssey takes them from podunk pool halls to slick urban billiard rooms across America, some nights taking down as much as 30, 000 and others ending up with just enough gas money to get home. With every stop the action gets hotter, the calls get closer, and Deliciouss prowess with a cue stick becomes more widely known. Ultimately the Kid sheds his cover, becoming perhaps the biggest sensation in professional pool since Minnesota Fats. Wertheim paints a lasting portrait of an insanely talented and magnetic hustler who is literally larger than life. Renders the trappings of a road players life . . . readers are taken on a sweet and varied ride. Sports Illustrated This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Nº de ref. de la librería 9780547086125

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