Charlie Williams - House Pro

1995 Article

My full name is Charles Lee Williams. I was born in Seoul, Korea on Jan. 5, 1977. My Korean Name is Heoun Ho Kim, but all the pool players call me Charlie. In fact, I've been called by a variety of different nicknames, but none of them have ever stuck, which is good because I didn't care for them anyway. When I was little, about 12 years old, someone called me Charlie Chan. Next thing you know, everyone called me that. It took them two years to figure out that wasn't my real last name. Then there was "The Korean Bandit". This was a short lived one because I thought it had negative connotations to it, so I discouraged fellows not to use it. So then I was stuck for a while with the common mark, "little Charlie". Well, eight years later I am no longer little (as far as age goes at least), and I am left with no nickname. Someone did once call me "The Korean Dragon" and I really liked the sound of that (especially since I like dragons and I even have a dragon design on my break cue). So from now on, I shall endorse the nickname Charlie "The Korean Dragon" Williams (I get goose bumps when I hear that name. Hopefully it will stick, but if it doesn't I won't worry. I mean, how many Koreans do you know named Charlie Williams?

Well, getting off that subject, let's get back to my life story. I moved to the U.S. when I was two months old. I had a pretty good childhood. I liked to play outside, ride my bike, and read comic books. My favorite thing was playing an imaginary game where I was some superhero defending the universe from evil. But I don't do that anymore (at least not in front of people I don't know). My parents were very hard working folks, especially my mother. She didn't have a lot of time to keep an eye on me, so I had a lot of responsibilities, which for the most part was keeping myself out of trouble. I was a very good student in school, mostly because of my mother's threat of burning every comic book I had if I did poorly.

I wanted to be a variety of different things when I grew up. First I wanted to be Superman, but when I found out I couldn't, I chose Batman. Then my mom convinced me to become a scientist, so I decided to become one to find a way to become Superman. For a while I wanted to become a minister, but I think that was a phase from when I was in private Christian school. As I got older, my mother wanted me to be some kind of doctor, like a heart surgeon; but looking at blood makes me ill, so I decided a less messy doctor job would be in order. That's why I am a psychology major; no blood involved unless one of your patients is a psychotic homicidal maniac. But after seeing how many years I need to get a Ph.D., I think I'll go back and try Superman again.

My mom owned a restaurant with some small bar tables. My first time at the table I climbed on top of the cloth (I was too short to stand and play) and took the butt of the house cue and held it like a baseball bat. I then proceeded to smack the balls into the pockets with the butt of the stick, because I did not know how to play. Sometime later I taught myself how to hold the cue and learned to make a ball or two while standing on a milk cart. By the time I was twelve, I could beat your average shipyard worker, but I did not take the game very seriously; it wasn't nearly as important as video games and bowling (my two loves as a kid).

One day I went with a friend to a local poolroom. It was an old place with dark, dim lights and smoke all around. But it was separated into two parts; one was the pool table room (I was too scared to walk into that part) and the other was the arcade room. My friend and I played video games for a few hours, then we left. On the way out, the manager handed me a flyer and told me to come next Saturday and watch a pro pool player give an exhibition.

The next Saturday I finished my junior bowling league and headed to the poolroom. I had never seen a real life pro anything, especially a pro pool player, and I had never been to the pool table part of the poolroom. I was curious. Well, I walked in there a couple of hours before it started, and the first person I saw was this slender, goofy looking boy playing on the first table. He was probably 15 or 16 years old with a crew cut, and not what you would call pretty. But no one else was around and I suddenly felt like playing a game. I asked if he would like to play and he amiably accepted. He racked up a game of nine-ball, and asked if I knew how to play. I knew the basic rules, but he explained "tournament rules", which sounded a little absurd to me, especially the ones where you could lose if you scratched three times in a row, and then your opponent could but the cue ball anywhere on the table if you didn't hit the lowest numbered ball. We started playing and right away I noticed he played differently than any other player I had seen before. This was no ordinary shipyard player that I was accustomed to playing. The way he got down on the ball, the way he aimed and stroked, even the way he looked while he was playing was intensely different. I realized this was a real pool player. He did not curse when he missed; he did not jive talk while he played; he simply shot the balls with style and grace. Unfortunately we kept score, and he beat me about 30 games to my 10.

I had not played very much, but still I had never been beaten that badly. Even the older, good players that came into my mom's restaurant couldn't beat me that bad. The older boy then shook my hand and told me I had a good game for my age and he was a little surprised to hear that I had never played in a pool hall before. Later I watched him play against the featured exhibitionist that day, who was not a pro after all, but the first BCA Junior National Champion Chan Whitt, Jr. Chan White was amazing with his trick shots and smooth playing style. He was even better than the boy I had just played. But as it turned out, not much better. The boy had lost to Chan in nine-ball, but had beaten him in a strange game I had never heard of called straight pool. It was thrilling to watch these two boys play, and I was happy for the one boy who had played me to beat Chan in their match. It turns out the boy was ranked 5th in the nation as a junior contender, and had lost to Chan at the nationals. I shook Chan's hand and the other boy's to congratulate them both on a great match. I got the boy's address (he lived three hours away in D.C. are) and gave him mine. Little did I know then that he would be one of my best friends in pool, as well as in life. His name was Max Eberle.

Well, it turned out that a genuine pro was coming the next Saturday, and a genuine women's pro would be there the Saturday after that. So, after bowling leagues, I came to watch these pros. The first one was Mike Sigel, a legendary pool player to those who knew him. He astonished me. My jaw was literally dropping during his whole show. He was the greatest player (by far) that I had ever seen. Then I saw Loree Jon Jones. She played as beautiful as she looked. I had never seen such a young, pretty woman have so much skill and talent.

After all those exhibitions, I quit my junior bowling league, skipped the arcade room and went directly to the pool tables every chance I could. I was smitten with love for the game of pool. I had seen true pool excellence, the first excellence I had ever seen in anything, and I craved for it. I practiced, practiced, and practiced. One year later I was at the 2nd Annual BCA Junior Nationals. My roommate was Max, and that poolroom that we had met at was our sponsor. I got 4th place that year; the next year I won the whole thing.

Now it is eight years later. Mike Sigel has gone into retirement. Loree Jon Jones is older, but she is still playing great and she is still a babe. And sadly, Chan Whitt is dead. He died in a car accident a few years back, and I, as so many others do, mourn the loss of a champion and artist. Max Eberle is no longer goofy looking, his crew cut being replaced by a receding hairline, and a little bulge in his waist is prophetic to how slender he will remain. But his pool style is smoother and even more graceful than it ever was, and his game constantly becomes greater. He's also still my friend. And I, "The Korean Dragon", have played in every sort of tournament there is. I have been to so many different places, played so many people, and played so many games. I have played pool, and there is so much more to play.

 ** I would like to thank God for all the blessings and talent he has bestowed upon me. I am thankful for all that He has given to me. My life with all of its accomplishments would not be possible without Him.


Billiard World Home
Charlie's Scrapbook #1
Charlie's Scrapbook #2
Willie Mosconi