More than 1,000 pool players packed into the Adams County Fairgrounds this weekend for the annual Fraternal Order of Eagles State Pool Tournament.
For Nels Andersen of North Platte, it was a homecoming of sorts. He lived in Hastings for 44 years.
He said every game is different because each break leaves the balls in random positions. A player’s ability to make shots despite bad positioning is crucial. Even with good positioning, some players might miss the straight shot before missing a cut.
“It’s crazy how pool can be so strategic and humbling,” Andersen said. “You just come out, make balls and try to have fun.”
Bill Primrose, a local Eagles officer and past Nebraska president, said the tournament went well. The Eagles raised about $1,600, which will help fund heart transplants at the Children’s Hospital in Omaha.
Tom House of Sidney said the money raised at the tournament goes to good organizations and that is one of the reasons he keeps coming to the tournament. Another reason is the amount of organization that goes into making the tournament run smoothly and efficiently.
“You play in it once and you want to come back,” he said. “There’s a lot of good people who work hard at it. There are so many good volunteers.”
His teammate, Shawn Jallen of Sidney, has played in the tournament for three years.
“It’s an awesome tournament,” he said. “It’s a great way to meet people.”
Each year, the annual tournament takes bids from cities wanting to host the event. Next year, it is scheduled to be in Columbus.
Overall, 130 teams participated in the 8-ball tournament. Each team had eight players, divided into four partners, for 1,040 total players. Competitors played 18 rounds for 4,680 games in 14.5 hours.
There were 74 pool tables shipped in specifically for the tournament. Team tables surrounded the perimeter, most with cue racks set up along the outer edge.
At the end of the 18th round, the scores from each game were tallied to determine the winners. Games were scored on a 15-point system based on the number of opposing balls remaining on the table.
Strokers, a team from Omaha, won the tournament for the third year in a row. The Walking Dead, a Columbus team, took second place, followed by All Metals from Fremont in third. A team from Crete, ShamWow, took fourth, and fifth place went to Miscues Hit N Run from Hastings.
Jeremy Christensen of York looks forward to the tournament every year. He has participated in the last five tournaments. He enjoys the challenge of the game.
“It’s fun to shoot against people who are good,” he said. “It’s a nice weekend to get away and play some pool.”
His teammate Kim Hoffschneider of York said it was like a mini-vacation. He said the camaraderie and skill level of other players keeps him coming back.
“You never know if you’re going to win or lose,” he said. “There’s a lot of good pool players here.”
Scott Witte of Hastings said the tournament provides a good and friendly atmosphere for players. His team eventually took fifth place in the tournament.
“Everybody’s just here to have a good time,” he said.