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From the Publisher
By Mike Panozzo
Mike became editor of Billiards Digest in 1980 and liked it so much that he bought the company. He has served on the Billiard Congress of America board of directors and as president of the Billiard & Bowling Institute of America.

April: The Democratic Process
April 2008
Nothing is more American than a good old-fashioned national election. It inspires passion and sparks spirited debate. Candidates are thrown onto a ballot, after which their credentials are analyzed and re-analyzed, their closets are ransacked for skeletons, and their chances for victory are handicapped.

Ah, the democratic process! Stand up and be counted. Every vote counts. Don't complain if you don't vote. (Insert your favorite voting cliche here.)

Me? I've voted a half dozen times already. (After all, I'm from Chicago, where the official election slogan is, "Vote early and often.")

Honest truth? I voted for Efren Reyes all six times.

Not for president! (Although he couldn't do any worse, could he?)

No, I'm talking about the online voting for the International Pool Tour's "Viewer's Choice Challenge Match."

Haven't heard of it?

It's the latest twist in the IPT's continued efforts to generate interest in professional pool. Yes, the IPT is still in business. Since January, the IPT has been staging one-on-one challenge matches which stream live on the Internet for any pool nut around the globe to watch. Low budget? Sure, compared to the mega events that cost IPT founder Kevin Trudeau millions. Still, the IPT is spending thousands promoting the challenge matches on Google and other search engines, and thousands more on the streaming video. And, so far, it's made for pretty good viewing.

Which takes us to the Viewer's Choice match. Pool fans will determine which combatants face off in the IPT's April 29 match. Voters can choose from any of the 200-plus players who make up the IPT roster, and the IPT will fly the two highest vote-getters to Los Angeles for the April 29 event. Dying to see Andreja Klasovic of Serbia & Montenegro battle Chile's Alejandro Carvajal? Vote often enough and the IPT will make that dream match-up happen.

It's a great idea, really. Give the people the match-up they want to see.

Based on voting and discussions on the popular AZBilliards.com Web site, America's new 9-ball stud, Shane Van Boening, seems like the front-runner. Reyes could wind up his opponent, which would make for a juicy match-up.

I've thought long and hard about what match-ups would get me to the Internet, and here's my top picks:

Earl Strickland vs. Daryl Peach. Are you kidding? After Peach's invitation to have Earl step outside during the Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas, this is a match made in heaven or hell. Throw a cage around the arena and lock them in. Race to 15, best-of-three falls.

Shane Van Boening vs. Allison Fisher. Let's end this debate once and for all.

Dave Pearson vs. Luc Salvas. If the IPT is looking to save a few gigabytes, these frenetic speed-pool nuts would do the trick.

Hillary vs. Barack. Hey, I want to know that my Commander In Chief can handle a cue. Like legendary hustler Danny McGoorty once said while watching then-President Richard Nixon speaking on television, "How do you like that guy? President of the United States, and he can't run five balls!"

Who are your picks? There's still time to vote. Voting on InternationalPoolTour.com is available until April 10.

But be careful. That's right around the deadline for your income tax. In your haste, you might accidentally submit your online tax forms to the IPT and your Viewer's Choice ballot to the IRS. Next thing you know, you'll be getting a message from the IPT wanting to know how you could claim to be a pool player and still deduct $10,000 in gambling losses, and another from the IRS wanting to know why you'd want to see an aging star like Mike Sigel get his clock cleaned by Efren Reyes again!