The Don Carlos Lounge held a ball-in-hand open pool tournament on Saturday (Sept. 10) in memory of deceased Amigos 8 Ball Pool League Players — including George Trujillo, the bar’s owner and operator for over 50 years.
A couple of sharpshooters made the trip from Alamosa for the tournament. One player, Dominic Martinez, filled up his day with two lengthy competitions. In the morning, he was competing in the Taos Amateur Championships — then he traded his wedges for a cue stick and tried his luck at Don Carlos, where he made it to the middle of the pack.
The tournament format was double elimination, with each individual matchup consisting of a best-two-out-of-three. In the worst-case scenario, a person losing both their matches right away still got to play a minimum of four pool games before being eliminated. The entry fee for each contestant was $25.
David Romero, also known as “Flaps” due to his ears, helped promote the tournament by posting flyers throughout town, while pool president of the Amigos 8 Ball Pool League Stephen Montoya handled the responsibilities of adjusting the results of a large bracket that were posted on a white board spanning the length of a table.
With registration starting at noon and play officially starting at 1 pm, it took eight hours of nonstop pool action on the six Don Carlos pool tables for the grand winner to be declared and receive the $438 payout.
The flyer for the tournament advised players to bring their own food. On one of the tables, there were a couple of giant crockpots with all the necessary fixings to make a hearty Frito pie. This came in handy in the later rounds for the players, some of whom were depending on Dos Equis to steady their aim. The crockpots were cleared out by the end of the tournament, the only food remaining was an abundance of lettuce.
A man named Mojo made a deep run in the tournament. In between games, he briefly talked about his unique name. Mojo’s mom had a fantastic dream involving buffaloes and rivers, inspiring his name, he said.
Joseph Santistevan, representing the “Los Chicanos” team of the Amigos 8 Ball Pool League, made it all the way to the quarterfinals. He did so while wearing a shirt that read, “Don’t worry I’ve had both my shots [tequila] plus my booster [a giant frothy mug full of beer]”
Montoya’s sharpshooting skills got him to the championship round against an Alamosa player named Johnny Lucero. Lucero had beaten Montoya already in the winner’s bracket, and Montoya now needed to beat Lucero twice in a row.
Lucero opened up the championship round with an improbable scratch where the cue ball flew off the table. From there, it was a defensive match with both players hitting safeties and trying to stay out of trouble. Eventually, Montoya scratched and then Lucero ran out of the table to win the first game. The second game followed a similar pattern. Lucero strung a few makes but was then trapped by the 8-ball and his own ball, but he was able to hit a sharp bank off the wall and graze his own ball to avoid the scratch. Montoya cut the lead in half and tried playing a safety, where his remaining balls would, in theory, leave Lucero with a tough combination to make. Lucero overcame the tough angle with a nice leave that gave him an easy 8 ball to pocket.
After the championship round, Lucero talked about what it took to come out on top after eight hours of pool: “Lotta luck. Lotta good shooters. You gotta be lucky. Shoot good. You got to be on your game.”
First place: Johnny Lucero, $438
Second place: Stephen Montoya, $263
Third place: Corvette Larry, $131
Fourth place: Denis Arguello, $43
For more information on how to join the pool league, contact Stephen Montoya at 575-613-0351.