Efren Reyes

Crime, entertainment or professional sport are the more traditional paths followed by those seeking an escape from poverty. Thankfully for the Philippines and the game of pool, Efren Reyes opted for the third of these routes. It might not have been the case — growing up dirt poor in Angeles City, Pampanga, presents a man with countless ways to go awry. But Reyes possessed so miraculous a talent that nothing, ultimately, could deviate him from his true calling.

At the age of nine, Reyes began hustling for pesos at a pool hall owned by his uncle. Forty-two years...

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