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Shooters take aim in Sin City

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By Mike Cote

Shooting stick can be much more than a leisurely activity while downing a few cold ones.
For some of the top local players, it can mean a trip to the national playoffs.
That’s what one team from Los Alamos did recently. In May, regulars in the Los Alamos Pool League took a trip to Las Vegas to compete with some of the top shooters in the nation.
The local team of Mike Cutler, Tony Zukaitis, Brian Appell, John Robertson and Vance Boone took part in the Billiards Congress of American Pool League National Championship, which was held at the Riviera Resort and Casino – all the players but Boone took part in the open individual event as well.
While the team wasn’t among the top national finishers, it still had a very respectable showing, surviving the weekend in the crowded 8-ball tournament.
Robertson, who is one of the organizers of the local pool league, said the players in the league can be pretty competitive with several players usually vying for the top of the local standings.
Robertson was one of the top 8-ball shooters of the season, which usually runs from October until the early spring, finishing behind Mike Jensen. In 9-ball play, Lou Roscha was the top shooter of the past season, followed by Greg Beleyu.
The game of 8-ball, the most common form of billiards, pits players trying to knock in either the solid-colored or striped balls and finish off by pocketing the black 8 ball. In 9-ball, the balls 1-9 are sunk in order, unless a player can drop the 9 ball after first connecting the number in play.
“There’s more defense in 8-ball,” Robertson said. “There are more safeties. 8-ball is my favorite game, but a lot of people like 9-ball.”
Along with regular season play, which is usually held Tuesday nights at the VFW, American Legion, Canyon Bar and Grill or a combination of the three, the local pool league is currently playing a couples competition and hosted the Atomic City Open in April.