8-ball, Corner Pocket

He was a skinny guy with a thin mustache and no teeth. To most folks, this Caesar Morales looked like a dreamer without a chance, some local hero or small-time hustler who thought he could ride a few bar room triumphs to success on the pro billiards circuit. Maybe he was Mexican, or Filipino—he didn't say and no one asked. This was the 1985 Red's 9-Ball Open in Houston, Texas, $10,500 to the winner, where billiards' best came to win, not make friends.

Morales stayed inconspicuous; the guys he came with did not. They were making bets, saying...

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