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Stick-wielding sharpshooters aim for $1 million prize

They are an army of stick-wielding sharpshooters, and they travel from all over the world every summer to make their way to Las Vegas to take aim at The American Poolplayers Association World Pool Championships — and a shot at winning more than $1 million that’s up for grabs.

Las Vegas has played host to this annual affair for a quarter-century, first at The Mirage in 1992, followed by 23 years at The Riviera, which was imploded last year. In 2015, many of these pool players were the last ones out the door when The Riv closed up shop May 4 just hours after the conclusion of The APA’s championships.

Now the annual showdown has moved down the street to Westgate. Come Aug. 10, the casino hotel will be packed with pool players from across the globe, including some from right here in Las Vegas.

Several local teams will compete in this year’s championships. Additionally, Las Vegas import Florian “Venom” Kohler, the billiard trick-shot artist of viral-video fame, will be on hand to wow participants.

Perhaps one of the most famous players to ever pick up a cue, the alluring “Black Widow” Jeanette Lee, also will be here. This remarkable woman started playing pool in 1989 and went on to rank as the No. 1 female pool player in the world during the 1990s. She received The Women’s Professional Billiard Association Sportsperson of the Year Award in 1998.

Jeanette was three times runner-up at The World Nine-Ball Championships from 1993-96. In addition to top finishes on The WPBA Tour, she won the gold medal for The United States at the 2001 World Games in Akita, Japan, and the ladies’ $25,000 winner-take-all Tournament of Champions twice, in 1999 and 2003.

Jeanette wrote “The Black Widow’s Guide to Killer Pool.” As someone who has suffered from scoliosis, she is a strong supporter of those affected by the disease and serves as national spokeswoman for The Scoliosis Association.

Jeanette appeared on Fox Sports Net’s “Sport Science,” where she pocketed 12 balls in one trick shot, on March 30, 2008. Orange County Choppers built the Black Widow Bike in her honor on the TV series “American Chopper.”

The APA will host two pool parties at Westgate to celebrate the event. Spectators who have never picked up a cue stick are invited to come by to check out the event and root for their local teams. Play is from Aug. 10-19 when the last eight-ball drops. Admission is free.

The APA, based in Lake St. Louis, Missouri, sanctions the world’s largest amateur pool league, The APA Pool League in The United States and The Canadian Pool League in Canada. Nearly 250,000 members compete in weekly 8-Ball and 9 Ball League play.

The APA is generally recognized as the Governing Body of Amateur Pool, having established the official rules, championships, formats and handicap systems for the sport of amateur billiards.

The APA produces three major tournaments each year — The APA World Pool Championships, The APA Poolplayers Championships and The U.S. Amateur Championship — that pay out nearly $2 million. Aramith, Action Cues and Pool Dawg sponsor The APA and championship.

For more information on The American Poolplayers Association, visit PoolPlayers.com.

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