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Remembering Tony Ellin: Charleston’s Pool Hall Champion



When somebody has the nickname ‘The Hurricane’, you might think you know what you’re getting.

But for Tony Ellin, one of Charleston’s leading sporting exports, the moniker came from the way he went about his business at the pool table – his incredibly powerful break-off shot, a whirl of arms, causing the pack of balls to seemingly explode into life.

Ascending to the very top of his chosen sport, Ellin will forever be remembered as one of the best pool players of his generation – here’s how the man who set up home in Ladson got there.

Pool King

There are plenty of cue sports specialists from around the globe who think they can tame the world of pool.

Take Judd Trump, for example. He is a regular at the head of the snooker betting market; a two-time world champion and member of the vaunted ‘triple crown’ club. Indeed, his form this year has been so strong that he is the favorite in the snooker UK Championship 2023 odds at +400, with greats like Ronnie O’Sullivan (+500) and Mark Selby (+800) behind him in the pecking order.

Like many snooker pros, Trump enjoys playing pool in his downtime and attempted to make his hobby pay when entering the US Open Pool Championship in 2021. But a 1-11 defeat to Jayson Shaw was a reminder of how different the two sports are – and just how skillful these pool pros really are.

It was that US Open Pool Championship, amongst the most prestigious events in the sport’s calendar, that gave Ellin one of his most memorable moments in the game.

He would sweep all before him in the 1993 edition held in Virginia, reaching the final to battle it out for the $15,000 winner’s check – adjusted for inflation, that would be a handsome $32,000 today. Standing in his way was the small matter of Earl Strickland, the three-time world champion considered by many to be one of the greatest pool players in history.

Ellin gave it his best shot and pushed Strickland all the way, eventually succumbing to an 8-11 defeat. But it was a fine moment in the Ladson native’s career, with that performance and a win at the Sand Regency XIX event in 1994 propelling him up to third in the Professional Billiard Tour’s rankings.

There’s no doubt that Ellin was one of the most successful sportsmen to blossom from the Charleston area.

Join the Cue

If that has whet your appetite for a game of pool or two in the Holy City, the good news is that there’s a handful of places where you can head to pot some balls.

The Player’s Place Billiards & Sports Pub in West Ashley boasts 21 pool tables, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long to chalk your cue, as well as other unique games like axe throwing.

The Recovery Room Tavern in Downtown describes itself as a dive bar with a friendly, family feel, with fresh food served daily alongside a sporting diet of pool, foosball and even pinball, while a stone’s throw away Local 616 is a venue that provides big screen sport and live music… and a chance to brush up on your pool skill, too.

Why not head out and see if you can emulate the great Tony Ellin!

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