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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. Donít complain if you donít vote. (Insert your favorite voting clichť here.)

Me? Iíve voted a half dozen times already. (After all, Iím from Chicago, where the official election slogan is, ďVote early and often.Ē)

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

Not for president! (Although he couldnít do any worse, could he?)

No, Iím talking about the online voting for the International Pool Tourís ďViewerís Choice Challenge Match.Ē

Havenít heard of it?

Itís the latest twist in the IPTís 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, itís made for pretty good viewing.

Which takes us to the Viewerís Choice match. Pool fans will determine which combatants face off in the IPTís 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 Chileís Alejandro Carvajal? Vote often enough and the IPT will make that dream match-up happen.

Itís 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, Americaís 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.

Iíve thought long and hard about what match-ups would get me to the Internet, and hereís my top picks:

Earl Strickland vs. Daryl Peach. Are you kidding? After Peachís invitation to have Earl step outside during the Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas, this is a match made in heaven Ö 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. Letís 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, ďHow do you like that guy? President of the United States, and he canít run five balls!Ē

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

But be careful. Thatís right around the deadline for your income tax. In your haste, you might accidentally submit your online tax forms to the IPT and your Viewerís Choice ballot to the IRS. Next thing you know, youíll 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 youíd want to see an aging star like Mike Sigel get his clock cleaned by Efren Reyes again!