A magazine devoted to the characters and culture of pool and billiards in honor of and inspired by one of it's greatest storytellers, teachers, and legends - Freddy the Beard
The Interview Show
Freddy 'the Beard' Interview Show appearance with host, Mark Bazer
Happy 25th Anniversary to The Hague 5!
World Champion Alex Lely and "The Dutch Voice" Pepijn de Wit share their Freddy the Beard Derby City inspired poem that they read at the Hague 5 Netherland's anniversary party. One thing's for certain, the Dutch love pool and Freddy the Beard!
Freddy the Beard Derby City Classic Video #1
Never before seen interview of Freddy the Beard at Derby City in January, 2014
Freddy the Beard Derby City Classic Video #2
Never before seen interview of Freddy the Beard at Derby City Classic in January, 2014
Freddy the Beard at Derby City Classic Video#3Watch Now!
New Excerpt from Pool Hustler's Daughter Memoir
"I learn gaffes, avoid traps, and never act like a lamb. I learn gaffes, avoid traps, and never act like a lamb because of my father." - Cat Bentivegna Adami, The Pool Hustler's Daughter
From left to right - Frank Bentivegna, Theresa Bentivegna and Freddy "The Beard" Bentivegna
Season's Greetings from Bridgeport, USA 2012
Pool Hustler's Daughter flashback of Christmas Eve's Feast of The Seven Fishes dinner at Freddy the Beard's house on the south side of Chicago.
Pool Hustler's Daughter Flashback: Sweater John Brown
John Brown was an old time Chicago "sweater" loved by The Beard.
Lee Brett on The Beard and winning big on his brand, American Hustler
World level player, snooker champion and Beard student, Lee Brett, relaunches his brand, American Hustler, after beating Hustler Magazine and nightclub owner Larry Flynt in court over the trademark. Lee stayed with the Beard in Chicago to receive lessons and his pool name!
Day of the Dead: the Dago Version
The Beard always paid his respects to the greats before him and his basement training facility in Chicago doubled as a memorial and museum.
The Famous Red's in Houston
"I want to make note that Red's was a very, very large place. It contained a large disco, snack bar, many tables, etc. It would have taken a platoon of Navy SEALs to stick the joint up. There were hundreds of people in there 24 hours a day. Plus, probably 20% of everyone in there also had a gun." - Freddy the Beard, The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers
Eddie Robin's Essential Reading
National Three-cushion champion in ’72 and ‘79 - Author of the two most famous One-pocket books. Eddie lived with Brooklyn Pancho in Florida to write his first three-cushion book while The Beard was there and hung out with Pancho's ex who hustled with the same style that Pancho did. The Beard served as a contributor to the one-pocket books. These books are priceless!
Freddy won big at the Racetrack
My Dad won a lot of money at the Racetrack. He cursed a lot there. Racetrack people are similarly esoteric subterranean dwellers and sometimes overlap with pool room denizens. They’re just a group of people who’ve decided not to live life “not on the square.”
Excerpt from Pool Hustler's Daughter Memoir
Minnesota Fats and Willie Mosconi, the trouble with hustlers and hangers, Freddy the Beard and finding my calling.
The Dutch Voice July 2018
Romantic and Black and White Images of Pool Hustling by: Pepijn de Wit
James "Peaches" Rochford Remembered
One of Freddy the Beard's oldest friends, "Peaches"(here in Helaine Garren's photo) passed away just after his 88th birthday. Artie Bodendorfer, Onepocket.org Hall of Fame member called him, "One of the last Dinosaurs from Bensinger's, "A true bar room scuff! His views on life were Shakespearean." - Mr. Cue Bill Smith; "I knew Peaches and he was a rounder for sure and a stand up guy. R.I.P." - HOF Bill Incardona. George Fels captures Peaches in the attached article,"The Lamb Killers." Peaches was famous for bar tables and was known as a "non-hustler." You can find more on "Peaches" in "The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers."
New book on Freddy the Beard, "Life Ain't on the Square" part memoir/part self-help to be shopped this summer in NYC
Catherine Bentivegna Adami, otherwise known as The Pool Hustler's Daughter will be attending The Writers Hotel Program in NYC this June to complete and shop her manuscript on her late father, Freddy 'the Beard' Bentivegna. This adventure of an American Folk Hero includes chapter titles, "Freddy in Hollywood," "Freddy on Love," and "Freddy and the Mob." Keep posted for publisher and release dates!
Personalized Herman Rambow cue from 1965
Thank you to Jerry Scott, who shared with us photos of his personalized Herman Rambow cues which he bought for $47 dollars 50 years ago. Herman Rambow can be found in "The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers."
Greg Weiss, Proud Fan of Freddy the Beard!
David Mamet loves Pool Halls!
The Pool Hustler's Daughter meets Pulitzer prize winning Bensinger's Pool Hall denizen David Mamet!
David Simon recreates a real pool hall in HBO's "The Duece"
Emmy Award Winner David Simon's "The Duece" is a story about the burgeoning porn industry in 1970 in NYC, but it's really a step back in time to old-school city living. When James Franco walks up the stairs and has to knock on the door of a pool hall to get let in by the "Houseman" to lay down a beating, the wide shot and camera following him throughout the dark, cavernous, smoky pool hall reminded me of my childhood. Just a gorgeous scene styled perfectly!!! Grateful for David Simon for alsso having his eyes and ears on the pulse of #subterranean America!
Herman Rambow, Famed Chicago Cuemaker: Inspiration for "First Blood?"
We all know the Sylvester Stallone photo of Vietnam Vet Rambo in sweaty bandanna and military green. Did you know about the famous Chicago Cuemaker named Rambow???
Video Interview with Freddy!Watch the Interview now!
Hall of Fame Bank Player Truman Hogue by: Freddy the Beard Bentivegna
Keith McCready excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers
In honor of Keith McCready's well deserved induction into the Onepocket.org Hall of Fame 2018!
Congratulations to Keith McCready for your induction into the 2018 Onepocket.org Hall of Fame!
Keith is also one of the STARS of The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers!
Crazy About Pool on Banking with the Beard Book
Freddy the Beard teaches Banks in 2012 article from Crazy About Pool
Efren credits Freddy the Beard for Teaching him One-pocket in interview
15 minutes in, Efren credits Freddy the Beard for teaching him how to play one-pocket, "He taught me how to play one-pocket and every time he teach me, it cost me."
"Life in The Fishbowl" by George Fels, Billiards Digest 1986
Fels explains how Freddy got Martin Scorsese to give him a part in "The Color of Money."
The first thing he ever said to me was, “Play some banks?,” and I knew at once this was no ordinary mortal. After all, no white man had ever asked me that before.
Conversations with Pool Hustlers: Robert "Bobby" "Cotton" LeBlanc
Enigmatic southern charmer who wrote "Confessions of a Pool Hustler" and inspired the film "Pool Hall Junkies."
A Tribute to the great writer George Fels by his son, Sam
George Fels was the popular, award winning columnist for Billiards Digest and best-selling author. George and the Beard were friends for over 50 years and had an intimacy over their love and understanding of pool and billiards.
Why Pool Hustlers are Important
Freddy 'the Beard' Bentivegna thought that "sanitizing" pool in the 1970's and 80's was the worst decision pool ever made. The authenticity of the characters of pool-American Folk Heroes-is what everybody loves.
Books and Instructional Videos by Freddy the Beard
The Dutch Voice: May 2018
USA in The Netherlands
Freddy and Eddie: The Dutch Voice, April 2018
A look at the influence of Freddy the Beard's Book, "Banking with the Beard" on Dutch pool players.
Freddy Lives by: The Dutch Voice
Grateful for the many reminders, like this one, of all of the people Freddy the Beard touched and taught in his lifetime. His memory lives on in players like these every day!
Dutch Voice Columnist, Pepijn de Wit of Pool-Head.com wins "The King of Banks" tournament in The Netherlands!
Freddy the Beard would like to congratulate our wonderful columnist, Pepijn de Wit on being crowned "The King of Banks" last week!
The Dutch Voice: February 2018
Dutch One-pocket promoter Pepijn de Wit new column, "King of Banks"
The Dutch Voice, January 2018 "The Billiard Brothers."
Pool-head blogger and One-pocket promoter Pepijn de Wit introduces us to the young Russians making a hit at Derby City!
Freddy the Beard Magazine sends our deepest condolences to the friends and family of American Billiard Radio Producer and Chicago Billiard Museum Curator, David Bond. From comforting me after the loss of my father, to raising money to buy a headstone for one of the greatest cue makers in Chicago, David was a "good egg" who loved pool and pool history like no one else. This is a tragic loss to the pool world. Hope you're having fun in heaven with all of your pool heroes, Mr. Bond. RIP
The Dutch Voice January, 2018
Hear about Pepijn's journey to Las Vegas from The Netherlands to play pool at Griff's and watch the Mosconi Cup!
The Dutch Voice: December 14, 2017 by: Pepijn de Wit
"Staaf" by pool-head.com Blogger, Pepijn de Wit
To All the Jewish Godmothers I Loved Before
Pool Hustler's Daughter reminisces about the bounty of two wonderful women who spoiled her as a child - including Barbra Reid(here with Jack Cooney) - the most famous woman in pool who doesn't play pool.
The Dutch Voice - December 2017
Learn about some of the history of the Dutch love of pool by it's champion, Pepijn de Wit
Freddy and Food by: The Pool Hustler's Daughter
Kings and Queens of the pool world of pool ate at Freddy's.
The Dutch Voice
Column of One-pocket aficionado and European promoter of the game, Poolhead blogger Pepijn de Wit
Growing up a Pool Hustler's Daughter
Freddy the Beard's Daughter, Cat Adami beside "Frisco" Jack Cooney-perhaps the greatest pool hustler of the late 20th century. He looked like Clark Kent and played like Superman.
On Pool Hustlers
"Pool Hustlers were the gunslingers of the 20th century who came to your town with pool cues instead of pistols." - Freddy 'the Beard'
Freddy the Beard Fast Facts
World Champion Pool Hustler and Bank Pool Expert
Freddy 'the Beard' Bentivegna (November 16, 1940-June 18, 2014) was born and raised in Chicago, IL and devoted his life to the study of bank and one-pocket pool. He was inducted into the "secret society" of pool hustlers. He was one of the most popular pool commentators. His books - "Banking with the Beard," "The Gospool According to the Beard," "The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers," and DVDs - "Banking with the Beard-the Movie" and "Banks that Don't Go But Do" are world-wide best sellers. His world reknown tagline is "Bank on, Brother!"
Taught World Champion Efren Bata "The Magician" Reyes how to play One-pocket
Efren learned from Freddy at Chicago's Billiard Cafe
One of the legends who attended the Jansco Brothers' famous and infamous Johnston City tournaments.
"The Pit" 1963 signatures include such legends as Freddy the Beard, Grady "The Professor" Matthews, Irving Crane, Truman Hogue, Jim Rempe, Eddie Taylor, Bugs, Jersey Red, Jimmy Mataya, Wade Crane(Billy Johnson) Squirrel, Lou Butera, Fast Eddie Allen, Eddie Kelly, Jimmy Moore, Bunny the Rogue, Jimmy Fusco, Johnny Ervilino, Danny DiLiberto, Jimmy Reid, Jimmy Manos, Jimmy Moore, Steve Mizerak
Onepocket.org Hall of Fame Emcee at Derby City
Freddy 'the Beard' was inducted into the Onepocket.org Hall of Fame in 2006 for bank pool and served a emcee until 2014. He was one of the sport's most beloved players and personalities. He championed the unsung heroes of the pool world on stage and in his critically acclaimed best-seller, "The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers.Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe
Folk hero and Cultural Icon Freddy 'the Beard' thought Pool was a means to "stay young" and to learn the "secrets of the universe."
Freddy 'the Beard' was turned on to every experience and adventure life provided. He was a spiritual, life-long learner with a big heart and abject loyalty to his friends. His subterranean tales of life on the road in the second half of the 20th century coincided with every major pop culture phenomenon there was. He LOVED his life and he LOVED pool. His credo was "Life 'ain't on the square."
"Knockers only knock because they'll never be great at anything themselves." - Freddy 'the Beard'
The Epitome of Cool
Freddy the Beard with James "Peaches" Rochford
On Overcoming Adversity
"Sometimes......you just gotta get down with it." - Freddy 'the Beard'
Read The Beard's last interview
A thrilling glimpse of The Beard's life story
On Why Pool is so Special
“Listen, in what other sport besides pool can a guy like Willie Hoppe win the world championship two times: at eighteen and 61? Like I said, pool's kept me young, you know? “ – Freddy 'the Beard' Bentivegna, "Shooters", The Chicago Reader by: Bruce Wexler, October 1977
2014, Skyline Magazine's Ann Gerber
"Chicago's own Freddy "the Beard" Bentivegna, was one of the lucky few to grab a role in the 1986 film, "The Color of Money" and taught young Tom Cruise how to break for nine-ball. The "Successor to Minnesota Fats" and "The Foremost Pool Scientist in America," Freddy's latest tome, "The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers" is filled with celebrity and pop culture tidbits from the last 50 years and includes Elvis, Phil Spector, Amarillo Slim, Harry Reasoner, Bobby Riggs, Igor Cassini, Goldie Hawn, James Caan and Geri McGee(Sharon Stone's character in "Casino")."
Freddy the cultural icon
Freddy in Hollywood: Geri McGee, Jimmy Caan and Ye Olde Billiard DenRead Freddy in Hollywood!
Freddy idolized the "King of the Jungle"Read about Lincoln Park Zoo's "Bushman!"
Where The Boys Are
South Florida was the "it" place to be in the early 1960s. Freddy hung at famous Ft. Lauderdale beach bar "The Sugarshack" with pool hustler "Sugarshack" Johnny, famed jewel thief of the Hope Diamond - Murph "the Surf," Tennis Hustler Bobby Riggs. Pool star Danny Dilliberto and Freddy sang Frank Sinatra karaoke. Here's a photo of Freddy at famed James Bond set Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami.
Dickie Betts and "Road" Music
One of The Beard's favorite "Road" albums was The Allman Brothers' "Eat a Peach."
Chicago's "Black" South Side
If it weren't for entry into the pool rooms on what was known as Chicago's "Black" south side by famed Leonard "Bugs" Rucker and friends, Freddy would have never learned or fell in love with bank pool.
Brooklyn Pancho hosts Freddy's 50th birthday party with private concert by soul icons Sam and DaveRead the essay!
Soul Icons Sam and Dave perform "Soul Man"Watch and listen
The Allman Brothers perform "Ramblin' Man"
A song made for pool hustlers
Freddy, The Porn Producer and The Outfit Guy
Like a scene out of HBO's "The Duece" only set in Chicago and true!
Freddy is the star of the last great pool hustle in America
One of the last great big money pool hustles of the 20th century(before cellphone cameras and the internet) brought Freddy the Beard out of retirement to play Vegas gambling superstar Archie Karras. When he was done winning the cash, he asked his backers, "When can we go again?" Excerpt from Diana Hoppe's(pictured with Freddy) excellent video "Road Scholars" available on freddythebeard.com!
Sunday Mornings on Maxwell StreetMemory by: The Pool Hustlers Daughter
Freddy the beard curated books and DVDs
American Billiard Radio
From February 20, 2014 interview, "The Beard, The Angel and The Toaster."
1970, Billiard News: Freddy beats World Champion Cisero Murphy
Murphy was the Jackie Robinson of pool. "Cisero was also one of the funnier players I knew. When an earthquake hit a Fred Whalen tournament in LA, all the pool players were staying at The Elks Club. Cisero and I were staying on the top floor, the 9th. In the midst of all the chaos - like running down the stairs to get out of the building because the elevators were not working --Cisero quipped, "I'm never going on the road without my parachute again." - Freddy 'the Beard, The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers
Nov 10, 1975, Sports Illustrated "Easy nine the hard way" by: Pat Putnam
During the World Nine-Ball Championship, the Beard got knocked out early and this writer ended up hanging beside and studying him the whole time. Great quotes from Jack Breit "Jersey Red" and The Beard in this article.
Jeannie Balukas, "Queen Jean" plays her first male pro in a tournament - Freddy the Beard!
"I was the first male pro whom she ever played in a tournament; she beat me 11 to 2 playing Nine ball in a big tournament in St. Charles, IL...Maybe the best woman player of all time...She was such a nice kid that she even apologized for beating me so badly." - Freddy the Beard, The Encyclopedia of PoolHustlers
1981, Billiard News
Freddy and pals (from right) Artie Bodendorfer, George "The Polish Prince" Pawleski and John Abruzzo win the team 8-ball tournament.
2011 Red Shoes Billiards Qualifier for the World 14.1 Game
Bob Cozzolino vs. Lou Figueroa Commentary(and history) by the late George Fels (a straight pool pool bug) and Freddy the Beard. Be entertained by two "triple smart" old pals and walking pool encyclopedias and miss them as much as we do. Did you know the Beard played Willie Mosconi? Hear about Minnesota Fats's exhibition at Chicago Chinatown's famous Dragon Cue. Photo by pool documentarian Angel Levine of "Raising the Hustler" at Wrigley Field, George Fels, Jimmy Mataya and Freddy and Racetrack Phil.
Diana Hoppe's "Road Scholars 2"
Delight in the stories told by the legends of the game! Available on freddythebeard.com!
11/10/75 Sports Illustrated, "Easy nine the hard way" by: Pat Putnam
"About the only dissenting view, and a mild one at that, came from Chicago Freddie(the Beard). Early in the week, he had stepped into the lobby from the Hotel Burlington elevator, his custom pool cue broken down and fitted snugly into its black leather case. An old railroad type, in engineer's cap and bib overalls, spotted him. The aged gent eyed the case and said, "How's the pheasant hunting going?'
Chicago Freddie laughed, "Pops," he said, "this isn't for shooting pheasant. This is for shooting pigeons."
Articles on pool and hustling from around the web
New York Times 1982 Flashback to HOF Pete Margo
Hall of Fame pool player Pete Margo has reemerged in the pool world with a pool league venture with fellow HOF Mike Siegel. Here's a vintage article on young Pete Margo in the NYT. Profiles on both Pete and Mike can be found in "The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers."
NYT Obit on Minnesota Fats
See what the NYT had to say about the world's most famous pool hustler!
New York Times' Profile of Efren Bata Reyes - 2002
The Saturday Profile from The New York Times by: Seth Mydans 02/16/2001
The AnitoKid on Freddy the Beard
We would like to thank The AnitoKid in The Philippines on his warm tribute to Freddy the Beard on his Facebook page and blog, "The AnitoKid on Billiards."
Article on Bensinger's Pool Hall Photo Series
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago on Bensinger's Pool Room Series Photographer, Helaine Garren.
Efren 'Bata' Reyes feature in The Atlantic Monthly from March 2005 written by: Pat Jordan
Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame adds Danny D!
Jump the Shark
11/24/2007 New York Times Editorial by Sports Illustrated Senior Writer L. Jon Wertheim and fan of Freddy 'the Beard' on the end of pool hustling from the author of "“Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last American Pool Hustler.”
Can't Knock the Hustle
02/18/2014 Granta article on the Derby City Classic showdown between World Champions Earl Strickland and Efren Reyes by Hot Springs, Arkansas native and Freddy 'the Beard' fan David Hill in the critically acclaimed Granta magazine. Hill said he was astonished his editor let his article run as long as it. Obviously, pool battles are captivating!
Parting Gift of Freddy the Beard: The "Encyclopedia" of Pool Hustlers
From 06/27/2014 - Author of "The Hustler and the Champ" and "Hustler Days" R.A. "Jake" Dyer is one of the pool hustling world's greatest historians. Here's his post from his blog after the passing of Freddy 'the Beard' and Jake's rave Billiards Digest review of "The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers."
That Club was Trump
"In the 1980s, Earl (Strickland), came up to my place, North Shore Billiards, on what was probably his first real road trip. He was dead broke, without any backers, no car, and no place to stay. On top of that, he could only play Nine ball, the least favorite pool game in Chicago. He seemed like a good kid, so we let him sleep in the pool room." - Freddy 'the Beard from The "Encyclopedia" of Pool Hustlers"
Pool Hustler Spotlight: World Champion Earl Strickland Profile in the New York Times, 2014
The Beard visited Steinway Billiards in 2014 and knew it was special and a "real" pool hall the moment he saw ornery old guys playing Backgammon by the front door...
New York Times Video with Earl "The Pearl" Strickland
Excellent interview with World Champion Earl "The Pearl" Strickland - "I play for the love of the game" from 2014. Earl came out to The Beard's book party for "The Encyclopedia" in NYC that same year. Thank you, Earl!
Vernon Elliott: Greatest Pool Hustler
From prolific pool writer, Matt Sherman of Thoughtco.com
Helaine Garren just may be the Vivian Maier of the Pool Hall
Aimee Levitt, The Chicago Reader August 5, 2015
Hustled by Freddy the Beard
By: Ben Joravsky, the Chicago Reader, "Bleader". April 30, 2014
The Unhappy King of Snooker by: Sam Knight
Snooker player from the UK came to stay in Freddy's basement to learn about pool and life and eat home cooked meals. Here's a great profile on the very best of the best, Ronnie O'Sullivan!
Senator Lindsey Graham can shoot good pool!
Comedy Central's The Daily Show host Trevor Noah shoots and hustles pool with US Senator Lindsey Graham. I wonder if he ever played pool with Grady "The Professor Matthews" in South Carolina?
Pool Hustler Heaven
Published in Sneaky Pete Mafia, July 29, 2015
Stars of the Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers
Billy Incardona and The Beard became friends at Bensinger's in Chicago when Billy was literally "Billy the Kid." They took pool and gambling VERY seriously and were life-long friends. The Beard liked to call him "Cardone."
Johnny Ervolino aka Brooklyn Johnny
"I did learn something though. What a wonderful way to duck the incoming bite, and then pave the way for a future bite yourself" - Freddy the Beard
'Cornbread Red' Billy Joe Burge
"Somebody at the Rack asked Cornbread for change for a hundred-dollar bill. Cornbread's reply, "Son, that is change." - Freddy 'the Beard
Poker Hall of Fame legend Amarillo Slim was also a serious One-pocket and Shortstop Snooker player!Excerpt on Amarillo Slim here!
"Bugs," Leonard Rucker
One of the Beard's greatest friends and rivals. Loved each other like brothers. Bugs was portrayed by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker in Martin Scorsese's "The Color of Money."
Friends and Fans of Freddy the Beard
Efren 'the Magician' Reyes
Freddy, thanks for teaching me how to play one pocket"
One of the reasons I like your Dad is because of his excellent book "Banking with the Beard" which has helped me very much!"
RIP Fred Bentivegna aka Freddy the Beard. Being a student during the 2011 Old School Pool Seminar at the Southern Classic in Tunica is truly one of the highlights of my pool career...You have left an everlasting mark on the world of pool."
Ed Young, Chicago custom cue maker and friend
Freddy's real gift is not playing pool. It's being the world's best narrator for stories. His timing's right. The facts are right. There are so many stories.
Freddy is an icon. He knows more about all the different facets of the world of pool than any living human.
Bill Incardona, World Champion and Pool Legend
Freddy is an icon and a personal friend of mine. We have known one another for over 50 years...He constantly keeps you amused with his gift of gab and his vivid and accurate description of the lifestyle he and so many other great characters shared...No one like him. Bank on, Brother.
Proud to call Freddy a friend. Greatest storyteller since Fats but in The Beard's case they are true. He can teach you a lot about pool and a lot about Life.
I wish this generation would listen to the 30 volume encyclopedia known as Freddy the Beard...they might just learn something! Bank on, Brother!
Book and DVD REVIEWS
R.A. Dyer's Holiday Gift Guide
Dyer includes his own great books and an array of others, including THE BEARD!
Banking with the Beard Book Review
George Fels's Billiards Digest review, "Put a Bounce in your Step."
Billiards Movies DVD review of "Road Scholars" series
Diana Hoppe's "Road Scholars" films reviewed by billiardsmovies.com