opinion piece | u.s. open 9-ball

some may consider this post to be heresy.  please remember that a nobody is writing his worthless opinion on a subject that doesn’t have clear answers.  feel free to disregard the message if you disagree with me.

i’m sure many of you have heard of the abp (association of billiards professionals) is boycotting the u.s. open event because the event producer, barry behrman, cannot guarantee the prize fund.  (it’s all over azb, and omg has written an insightful analysis on it.  to hear the interview of rodney morris and barry behrman on runout radio, download it using this link.)  now, who in the deuce is the abp?  i’ve no idea, except that they sound like a new pool players’ organization, ala mpba, pbt, wpa, wpba, upa, and a myriad of alphabet soup groups.  as far as the future of abp, we’ll see what happens; that’s a topic for another day.  i will say that oscar dominguez is part of the group, and in my opinion, oscar is a straight player, so that’s a good sign.  moving on.

according to the u.s. open’s website, the tournament has been around since 1976.  also according to the website, mr. behrman has been running the event the entire time independently.  (wikipedia essentially lists the same info, but since i’ve no idea who wrote the wikipedia entry, i can’t verify the information.)  the first tournament was quite small, but over the years it grew in size and prestige.  now, the u.s. open is one of the must-play events in pool.

no doubt that many will call me a gigantic f~*head a~* s~*face after this.


i do not dispute the prestige of the tournament.  it is many players’ dreams to win the u.s. open 9-ball; to some, that is the holy grail of pool, or at least 9-ball.  but the disorganized situation situation is just nothing new.  if you take a gander, you’ll notice that here hasn’t been a fully recognized group for players in a long f~*ing time.  the women have a wholly recognized group–wpba.  even though things are rocky right now, the women actually have a de facto organization to turn to, which is more than what the men can show for.  anyway, i’m going off a tangent.  back to the point.

if you look at golf and tennis, the u.s. open is fully endorsed by the respective ruling body of the sport–namely, the pga and the atp.  in both sports, the u.s. open is fully supported by the ruling body and player-members, and is considered one of the most prestigious events in the world.  on top of a shot at the prize money & glory, attending players also get points toward ranking.  the recurring theme here is that there is a ruling body for the sport, because you need a ruling body to have a ranking system that you can apply the points to, read a unified group of professionals that recognize the authority of a ruling body.  right now, we have a newbie organization boycotting a prestigious event, and an event producer crying wolf about not have enough cash to guarantee a prize fund.  whose fault is it?  is little billy or little timmy that started the fight?  who knows?

yeah, i realize that it’s a pretty big deal to boycott the u.s. open, and that both sides have gripes they’re putting out in the open.  in the grand scheme of things, however, the men still don’t have a de facto organization to turn to, and one doesn’t have to listen to the other.  we remain loose sand on the beach, being washed around by every fly-by-night “association” that comes along.  the u.s. open 9-ball continues to be an event run by a one-man-show that has no real backing by the pros or any sort of steady corporate sponsorship.  boycott?  it’s one event.  in the long-range view, so what.  looks the same to me.

22 comments on “opinion piece | u.s. open 9-ball

  1. The men want to boycott? For what gain? Sounds like to me the men are just shooting themselves in the foot again. I understand their intention, and their frustration, but this is not the most productive way to make improvements to the tournament or the industry. The lack of professionalism among the men is so tiring. *sigh*

    • well, this is not a clear-cut, “the men are wrong again” scenario, mr. reddick. a full-time professional pool player relies on the prize money as income; that’s what they do, by definition. a pro pool player’s job is to play pool and get paid for it, or at least he/she is supposed to; they don’t work a 9-5 with a steady income and insurance. imagine if the lakers tell kobe bryant that he may or may not get paid his salary depending on how the organization does in a season. what do you think are the chances that kobe will suit up to play? in this specific instance, the men are doing the only thing they can–boycott the event because they don’t have available legal options at this point. remember, to play in an event, the men have to get money for the entry fee, plus travel, food, and lodging expenses, which can easily be $1000-$1500 to start. then the event producer tells you that you may or may not get paid right away if you place in the money? what would you do?

      the problem is much more complicated than what your response is trying to encapsulate. i’m not saying the abp or behrman is right. i think they’re both wrong, and the root of the problem runs way deeper than just those two. but to sweepingly declare that it’s the men’s fault due to their lack of professionalism is too injudicious and mindless in my opinion.

  2. I have been to many WPBA events and the World 9 ball championship, BCA, along with the US Open and the Derby City Classic. In my opinion, the US Open is the least organized and least professionally conducted. There were so many people moving around during the match it was unbelivable. The most ridiculous thing was the way the seatings were arranged in the finals. If you did not buy this so called VIP ticket you have no chance of really watching the tournament. I have never been to a tournament when the regular seatings are so ridiculously arranged. Have they not been able to find a way to provide proper seatings like the BCA, WPBA, or Matchroom events could–even the US open is supposed to be the longest running and have been held in the same venue for over 35 years…

    • thanks for commenting mr. b. i think the best way is to have an earnest discussion with behrman the next time you go to the u.s. open, or send him a friendly email with your list of suggestions. in my experience, if you approach someone directly in a constructive way, chances are the person is more open to suggestions. doesn’t always work, but i think it’s the best approach. giving credit where it’s due though, behrman has continuously produced the event since 1976, no small feat in my opinion. did behrman sounded sincere in the radio interview? i don’t think he was. but at least he’s trying to produce the event year after year, and that can’t be easy financially and logistically.

      anyway, if you think the event sucks, talk with the event producer directly. i’m sure behrman wants to improve the tournament as much as anyone.

      • If you had really talked to Barry Behrman or his son about ideas of improving his event you would not be so “sure” anymore. LOL Just ask Mika…

        You are right, he has been promoting this event since 1976, and for all these years, he never could figure out how to arrange the seatings in the finals so at least everyone who paid could have a glimpse of the players?

        Why is it that tournaments that have been run much shorter than the US Open such as Matchroom, BCA, WPBA can get the seatings right but the US Open cannot? I will say it is because he does not care and he tries to make the regular seating so horrible so he hopes that everyone would buy that VIP ticket rather than a regular ticket.

        Does that mean those who have been faithfully supporting his show for so many years are not a “very important person” because he does not want to does not have the $200+ to buy a ticket?

        I am just expressing my opinion here regarding Barry’s event and I have talked to him in the past. Saying he has done it for so many years does not excuse him for his poor effort in making his event a professional event like all the others. The problem is Barry, not the pool players. Barry is all about himself and he does not care about the players.

        His players do not get respect the same way they do in other events –during their matches, no one made any effort to stop the audience from making noises and/or moving around; the match time was often late and could be late for over an hour! I saw girlfriend of a famous player kept buying “her man” bottles of bud light after bottles during his match when his opponent was trying to shoot; the “rack girl” walking towards the table when Mika Immonen was down on the 9 ball causing him to miss it twice! Does this sound like something you would expect to see in a professional tournament, especially one that has been run for so many years in the same venue. I don’t know about you but I have never seen that in any matchroom, BCA, or WPBA event.

        I saw with my own eyes 3 players from overseas asking Barry if they could get their checks as they needed to catch their flight out of the country and Barry told them he was too busy to deal with that now. What was Barry doing? There was Barry walking around with his dog in front of the gate smiling at some lady!!!! The players kept saying “please, Mr. Behrman I really need this check and I need to get to the airport, could you please please…” He was literally BEGGING for his check! Is this the same man who says he supports and has done more for pool players than anyone else?

        When I phoned barry about his event, he told me to stay at the Marriot. He said, “don’t go to the red roof it is very far, the Marriot is much closer.” When i got there I noticed that the red roof is next to the Marriot! What a guy Barry is. He got more cut back from Marriot is the only reason he suggested that to me. Good thing I was not naive enough to believe him.

        If you know Barry you would know that he is all about him him him. He will try to make as much money from you as he can, and he will try to keep from paying out what he is supposed to every chance he has got. Give me a break if anyone believes he is the kind of guy who respects and supports the players. His behavior clearly speaks otherwise.

        • it’s too bad that you’ve had such a bad experience at the u.s. open mr. b. from what you said it seems that behrman is not interested in improving the event. if that’s truly the case, then the pros have all the rights in the world to boycott, protest, or take legal actions against behrman. maybe one day i’ll get to verify what you said & see if behrman is truly this bad. however, since i don’t know him personally i will not form an impression right now.

  3. After reading Mr. B’s remarks, I stand corrected. I assumed (wrongly evidently) that the men had not made an attempt to work out the issues with Barry. I do not know Barry, nor have I attended a US Open, so any further comments from me would be purely speculative and probably not do anything to advance the discussion. 🙂

    • i’m a bit puzzled by your comment mr. reddick. mr. b didn’t mention that the pros tried to work things out with behrman in his comments, so i’m not sure where you got that from. aside from that, it sounds like you assumed that what mr. b said was true without verification. i’m hoping that the tendency to assume is not your typical pattern of thinking, otherwise it will bring people to question your analyses in general.

  4. I think this boycott only hurts the industry even more. At a time when the sport needs support, some little group is boycotting it. If it is truly a no name group – then it shouldn’t have much of an indent anyway.

    • maybe. however, as i commented earlier it can get expensive to play in an event. to have the event producer tell you that you won’t get paid right away on top of it can be pretty unnerving, especially when you play pool full time without a 9 to 5. even in local tournaments the players get paid right away, so i can understand how the pros may feel.

      like i said, i think both sides are wrong. however, this is a murky issue with no clear-cut bad guys. each side has legit concerns & it’s tough to say who is clearly wrong. i’m only hoping they’ll work it out so we can continue to have the event.

      • I can’t believe that there aren’t more people backing the players on this. The way that payouts are handled is an absolute disgrace. Yes, everyone gets paid eventually, but from what I’ve been told, players are told that they better shut up and deal or else they won’t get paid at all. I’ve also heard from more than one person that Mika didn’t get his full payout and was “asked” to take booth space as part of his winnings (this was not from the horse’s mouth though, so it would be up to Mika and/or Barry to confirm or deny).

        If players are asked to pay up front to play in an event, they should expect to receive their “guaranteed” prize money in a timely manner instead of post dated checks. As long as players put up with TD shenanigans, they’ll keep having to do the ankle grab.

        Let’s also not forget that Barry needs the top tier pros as much as the pros need the US Open. If the US Open goes off without the likes of guys like Johnny Archer, Mika, Efren, Busta, etc, attendance will reflect it. Poor attendance means not only a s~*y gate, but also a lackluster ROI for both vendors and sponsors.

        • Michael, I agree with you 100%. The players should be paid immediately for any money they earn in tournaments. There should not be any bartering after the fact.

        • on this point i do agree with you mr. feiman. as i commented before, i think both sides are wrong, and this is where behrman is wrong. i personally believe that the typical expectation is to get paid right after you finish a tournament. i think omg pointed out that if a TD can’t do this, he/she can reduce the purse to fit the budget better. behrman should do a better job at managing the money so the players will get paid promptly. if things are bad enough where the pros have to boycott his event, he probably needs a cpa to do the tournament’s budget.

          btw, nice avatar.

  5. Hi Poolriah! It appears that my previous attempts to keep my comments brief have only served to misrepresent my thoughts on this matter. Now that I’m at a computer (and not being forced to write comments using my hunt and peck iPhone typing methods, LOL!) I can hopefully do a better job of communicating my thoughts. Sorry if this comment is too long!

    So, first things first: What follows are my current thoughts on the matter, which are based upon what little that I’ve read both in your blog and from other sources. As is the case with all open and honest communication methodologies, any additional information that I receive subsequent to me posting this comment could very possibly cause me to revise my perceptions and opinions about the matter. I am definitely open to additional information and the opinions of others. Additional information would include, but not necessarily be limited to, information that I receive via direct communication with others, by personal observation and experience, or by reviewing information provided by others via written accounts (written accounts in this case would include actual written accounts or information provided via electronic media).

    With that preface securely in place, I believe I can now communicate my thoughts regarding the boycott of the US Open…

    It appears there are two main camps who have reached an impasse: 1) Barry Behrman of the U.S. Open, and 2) The professional men players. There may be other camps involved, but alas, I am not aware of them. If there are others, please clarify. In my opinion, it will be bad for pool if the professional men to not participate in the US Open. I’m not saying that the men are bad for not participating, and I’m not saying that the men are wrong for not participating; I’m just saying it will not be good for the industry as a whole.

    Since the men have announced their intention to boycott the US Open, how do we move forward? I am sure that both Barry and the professional men have legitimate thoughts, opinions, and issues that need to be resolved. Here are some points to ponder:

    1. Barry has produced and run the US Open for many years. I’m sure he wants to run the event this year and to pay the men big money, because that only serves to make his tournament (and him) look better in the eyes of the industry. Barry, being a business man, also realizes that in order to pay the men the money they rightfully deserve, he will need to bring in money so that he has the funds to pay the men. Given the current state of the economy, this may be harder now than in the past. Of course, that’s merely speculation on my part since I’m not part of this industry.

    2. The professional pool players are very talented and hard working. I know some professional players, and I can tell you that they are just as dedicated to this sport as any professional athlete in any other sport. The professional pool players deserve to be paid handsomely for the work that they do; however, most if not all professional players are vastly undercompensated. I completely understand their drive and desire to be compensated for the efforts. If they train for and enter a tournament, any tournament, they have a right to expect to be paid immediately following the conclusion of their tenure in the tournament.

    3. I have read some comments about the US Open, both positive and negative, from a variety of sources (including those from Mr. B, whoever he is). Since I have never attended a US Open, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any of these statements, so I can only speculate based upon what little information I have available to me.

    4. My short analysis of the issue: (1) It seems Barry is concerned that he will not be able to raise adequate funding to guaranteed payouts to the players. (2) The players are concerned that Barry will not pay them if they place in the money.

    5. The main contention is this: How do we (or rather, THEY) resolve the dilemma stated above?

    The most promising way to resolve this is for both parties to get together and have an open and honest discussion about the issues that are preventing the event. This should not be a discussion about personalities, about opinions, or anything else. Both sides have legitimate financial concerns, but this is not an intractable issue. There are ways to move forward, but getting to a positive resolution will require different thinking than the thinking that lead them to this situation to begin with. Since I am not involved directly with either Mr. Behrman or the professional players, I cannot say whether there have been good faith attempts by either party to bring this to a proper resolution. I can only hope that they are willing to communicate with each other in a professional manner, by use of professional mediation services if needed, and resolve this matter as quickly as possible. That way, the men can play and be compensated appropriately for their efforts.

    If the professional players have made a good faith attempt to meet with Mr. Behrman to discuss and resolve their concerns regarding compensation, and Mr. Behrman has refused to cooperate or even entertain their concerns, then I completely understand the men’s decision to boycott. I’m not saying this effort has taken happened; it’s just speculation on my part.

    Conversely, if Mr. Behrman has made a good faith attempt to meet with the professional players to discuss and resolve his concerns regarding funding for compensation, and the professional players have refused to cooperate or even entertain Mr. Behrman’s concerns, then I do not understand the men’s decision to boycott. Again, I’m not saying this has happened; it’s just speculation on my part.

    So, what it boils down to is: Have both parties made a good faith attempt to resolve this dilemma in a professional manner? Since I’m not involved, I don’t know. I can only hope that they will.

    Just my thoughts.

    • making a blanket statement is not an attempt to keep your comments brief, but i won’t belabor the point.

      according to the interview, it sounds like the negotiation just got started. the men have fired a salvo, and it’s up to behrman to respond. behrman had stuck to his guns in the interview, so this affair may drag out for a while. it’s too bad that runout radio didn’t (or couldn’t) interview both morris & behrman together and have them hash it out on the air. time will tell.

  6. I dont know much about the ABP, and I do not know what they have tried to do. I do not have any opinion about them. Dont like to comment on things I do not know.

    When it comes to Barry, I know what I saw and people who really know what is going on can verify that. Barry likes to threaten people and he is very childish and hold grudges so a lot of people are too afraid to speak up in public but if you know pro players or people in the industry, talk to them in private and they will tell you.

    I have a feeling that Barry wants to do the US Open because he wants to be remembered as the guy who has done so much for pool and so on. He keeps repeating that in his statements. He is doing this to feed his own ego. He is not doing it because he so loves the game that he just has to do something for the players–he wants a legency.
    Barry likes to pay these rack girls to walk around and give all the ladies a rose, but he does not want to pay the players right away. What does that tell you about who is more important to Barry…

    The US Open is not a very professional event. I do not consider it a prestige event when the promoter cannot even come up with the cash to pay the winner. If Barry has done it for so many years and still cannot come up with the right formula then he needs to either stop or hire some help.

    Barry may think he is like a god for the players because he has this one tournament a year that pays the players a bit of money. He likes to say things like he has paid the players much more than other promoters and whatever. Truth is there are lots of tournaments and events in Asia who are run very professionally and pay on time, with a very nice purse. US players just need to travel more. For guys like Mika, Ralf…etc, missing the US Open is not the end of the world.

    • well, you’re definitely free to have your opinions mr. b. however, i’m not able to verify anything you say, so i will withhold from forming an impression about the abp or behrman. my policy for this blog is to not censor comments for the most part, so you’re free to state your opinions. for me personally though, i’ll form my opinion when i get to see things first hand. in the age of digital (mis)information, i like to get some hands-on data myself. this is not to say that your opinions are correct/incorrect, it’s just that i have no way of telling which is which.

      • Well, not sure what I said that you cannot verify first hand. Is it about Barry beng able to pay the rack girls and buy the roses but not to pay the players on time, or the fact that other tournaments which have been run shorter than the US Open being able to pay on time and run more professionally? May be talk to some pro players and actually attend the US open would give you more first hand experience.
        You asked for opinion and I gave my opinion. What you think of it is up to you.
        Peace out.

        • here’s the thing, mr. b. obviously you seem very entrenched in what you believe in, and that is fine. but you cannot expect me to immediately take your side of the argument and be an overnight convert; as an independent thinker, that is something i do not do. i’m not saying your opinion is invalid–far from it. i AM saying that i need to check things out myself so I can be convinced.

          as an amateur player, i do not have access to players and industry insiders. plus, it takes time to verify things, and i’m not a professional, full-time blogger. when i get the time and the chance to ask people face to face about the u.s. open, i will do so, but i’m not able to drop everything to check stuff out right away. as far as attending the u.s. open, when my finance allows, i will do so, as well as other events on my list. as i’ve stated before, i don’t think either side is right–behrman or abp. i just don’t have enough info first hand to say who is what.

          i value people’s opinions, which is why my comment section is pretty much open, barring cuss words and spam–those go into the moderation cue or the spam filter. but please don’t expect me to side with anyone unless i get a chance to think for myself. “trust, but verify.” that’s all i’m doing.

  7. Finally, someone who agrees with my thoughts. SO WHAT about the U.S. Open and the boycott. Good for you for not being shy about this. 🙂

    • Barry wants to make the US Open into his legacy, The US Open is all about Barry. Other tournaments such as Matchroom is about the players and the viewers.
      For most players (especially those outside of the US) this is a big event but is not THE event. The US Open is not the biggest event nor is it the most prestigous event to win in the world.
      However, the US Open is one that always has problem with money (at least since 2007) and it is the only tournament in the world as far as I know that a champion would get thrown out for asking for his check which was owed for a very long time and people who were owed money have been for years been threatened to keep quiet for as long as it takes.
      Barry fails to pay the players as promised repeatedly yet this is the single tournament in which the promotor has the balls to repeatedly telling everyone in public despite all this how great a promotor he has been.
      I have never heard so many excuses about why payment could not be made from any other promotor in the pool world other than Barry. It almost appear that other organizations such as WPBA, APBU, Matchroom, WPA…never had any problem and Barry is the only one with all the bad luck and tough breaks.
      Barry’s attitude has been and will be that the players need to be grateful for the handouts he has been giving them for so many years and they should never have complained.
      “So what” is what I say. That is right.

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