County native power at billiard table

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, July 23, 2009

When Russ Powers started playing pool about 11 years ago, he didn’t exactly have a national title in mind. But in August, the Chilton County native will be chasing one at the American Poolplayers Association’s National Team Championships in Las Vegas.

Powers, one of eight pool players that make up the team Strictly Business, based out of Pelham, won the right to compete nationally by taking home first place from the City League Tournament in Birmingham June 14.

“Everybody semi-plays, but not everybody can compete,” said Powers, who along with teammates beat out 80-plus opposing teams for $5,500 and trophies. They placed first in 8-ball and third in 9-ball.

Next month, they will be among 800 to 1,000 teams eyeing a $25,000 grand prize, plus national sponsorships and a return invitation to Las Vegas.

But it won’t be Powers’ first trip to the national tournament. Several years ago, the team placed 60th in the nation.

“The team that beat us won it all,” he recalled. “They shouldn’t have beat us, but that’s the way it goes, I guess.”

All the team members sat out about a year due to marriage and other family plans, but they wanted to try just one more time.

“We said if we ever came back together, it would be strictly business,” Powers said, hence the team name.

A close friend and team member Chris Myrick introduced Powers to the game of pool at age 21.

His competitive nature made him a natural.

“I guess the main reason [I started playing] was at that age, all the single competitive sports were gone. I was just looking for something competitive,” Powers said.

He typically practices two to three times a week but is planning on practicing a lot more in preparation for Vegas.

When asked about his strategy of play, he said he tries to be consistent and just let the table play itself. It also helps that he isn’t easily distracted.

“I don’t really get nervous when I play,” Powers said.

The national event will take place Aug. 21-29 at the Riviera Hotel & Casino.

The final three days will be televised.