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Stroke of Genius

Presented by PoolDawg.com
Video provided by Accu-Stats Video Productions
January 2008: “The Shot”

Player: Efren Reyes
Event: Sands Regency XXI
Date: June 11, 1995

For the first installment of our new monthly feature detailing amazing plays on the cloth, we take a close look at what is often now described as “the greatest shot in pool history”: Efren Reyes’ two-rail kick shot in the case game of the 1995 Sands Regency XXI final.

Ironically, the shot in question came about as a result of a rare Reyes mistake. With the score tied 12-12 in the race-to-13 final against Earl Strickland, Reyes opted for a safety on the 5 ball. He banked the 5 off the foot rail, intending to leave the cue ball behind the 6, and the 5 on the head rail. And that’s exactly what happened — except the 5 accidentally nudged the 8 ball into the head-rail left-corner pocket on its way up table. Reyes left himself the same devious safe he intended for Strickland.

“I thought I’d lost the match when I saw the 5 ball on the end rail like that,” Reyes told BD after executing the improbable two-rail kick. “I didn’t think I could make the ball — I just wanted to hit it.” Contacted specially for this feature, Reyes had a slightly different recollection. “It was a do-or-die shot,” he said through his sponsor, Aristeo Puyat. “I was really going for it, thinking that I had a slim chance because the 5 was already near the pocket. I had a 10 percent chance. I didn’t have a safety in mind. I just hoped that if I missed, the cue ball would end up in a difficult position so Earl could not make an easy runout.”

Reyes applied mild left topspin on the cue ball, so it would have more bounce and speed off the rails. Sure enough, the shot not only knocked the 5 down the end rail and into the corner pocket, but the cue ball then strolled downtable for great shape on the 6. The crowd erupted into a spontaneous standing ovation, and even Strickland applauded from his seat. After Reyes ran to the 9 ball, Strickland rose from his chair, ceded the match and lifted Reyes’ hand high in victory.

“This shot is sure to go down in pool history,” Strickland said afterward. If he had to lose, he said, he’d prefer to do so “with a great shot like [that one].”

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