For retired Senior Chief Paul Allers, Oak Harbor and billiards go hand in hand.
Allers, who has run the North Whidbey BadAss Pool League since 1998, is raising it to new heights through his passion for billiards and what he jokingly calls, “ADH … look a squirrel!”
“I have a tendency of tunnel vision,” Allers said. “Pool tends to be my squirrel.”
This ability to juggle tasks and take on new projects has driven Allers to lead the league to a record 13 teams with some 70 players this summer.
While 12-14 teams is normal in the winter, BadAss has never had more then eight or so in the summer.
Allers attributes this to a couple of things.
The last end of season tournament was very successful and “people are talking it up,” he said.
Players must play at least 24 games in the regular season to qualify, but once qualified, even the first eliminated players receive some money. The top prize varies based on the number of leagues and players, but winners can take home up to $200. Each player pays $5 per game through the season, which is collected for prize money, a buffet and team plagues at the season’s end.
Allers also receives $10 per player per season to run the league and track the stats.
While the BadAss league remains the “fun” league, three years ago Allers started a local installation of the Billiards Congress of America Pool League, where players can qualify to compete in local and regional competitions for cash.
Allers said he believes that attracting more serious players through the BCA may be overflowing into the BadAss league, increasing the quantity and quality of its players.
Despite the demands of organizing two pool leagues, Allers also finds time to work on any number of artistic projects including wood and leather working, wood etching, plague making and building custom pool cues for himself and more than 25 of the league’s current members.
Jo Jo’s Harbor Light Tavern Team Captain Scott “O.C.” Rodich, who’s grandfather was “a hustler of sorts,” is one of many local players who uses one of Aller’s hand-made pool cues.
“They’re good sticks and relatively cheap,” said Rodich, who has played pool all his life. “It’s a unique game - it’s you against the other guy, but it’s always different. And there’s no one but yourself to blame if you screw up.”
The league has gone through a few changes over the years, existing as the Whidbey Men’s Pool League in the 90s. Then a secondary summer league was created in 2004 under the moniker BadAss Pool League. The two were merged in 2009 to create the current pool league that plays year round.
Retired Culinary Specialist Mike Snyder, an Oak Harbor Tavern team member who tracks his own stats, has played on three of leagues’ teams over the last several years.
“I started playing when I was a pipsqueak,” Snyder said, who served 10 years in the Navy and retired in 2008. “It’s funner when you win, but it’s fun when you play. And, you learn from the other players … I have dramatically changed the way I shoot.”
As for Allers, who served as a Navy P3 flight technician, he has been playing pool since the day he arrived at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in 1996.
A fateful visit to the Chief’s Club yielded two important friendships for Allers. Retired Master Chief Warren Hagsten and club bartender Dani Hinshaw invited him to play and showed him the ropes.
“He used to be our rack boy and now we’re racking for him,” said Hinshaw who still plays on the American Legion team with Hagsten and Allers.
“He’s become so good,” she said. “So now the shoe’s on the other foot.”
The BadAss pool league plays at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights at Jo Jo’s Harbor Light Tavern, Oak Harbor Tavern, All Sports Pub and Grill, the Foreign Legion, all in Oak Harbor and at the Anchor Inn in Anacortes.
Anyone interested in playing can show up on league night and ask for a team captain, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org