April 22, 2024


10 mins read

10 Greatest Pool Player Of All Time (2024 Reviews)

Key Takeaways

  • Top 10 the greatest pool player of all time
  • Biographies of those professional pool players
  • Their records and achievements

Efren “Bata” Reyes

Who is the billiard GOAT? The first player we must mention is Efren “Bata” Reyes, who left an unforgettable mark in the pool world. Born into a humble family in the Philippines, Reyes’ journey to becoming a billiards legend inspires many young pool players.

Reyes, also known as “Bata” (which means “child” in Filipino), started playing billiards at a young age. Growing up in poverty, he used this sport to make a living, often competing against older, more experienced players. His natural talent and ability to adapt quickly made him a formidable competitor in local tournaments.

Efren "Bata" Reyes

(Source: Yahoo News Singapore)

Reyes’ signature playing style is taking a strategic approach and executing seemingly impossible shots. He uses keen observation to predict his opponent’s moves and adjust his play style.

Records and Achievements:

  • Over 100 professional tournament victories and more than 80 international titles
  • Becoming the first player to win the World Championship in two different categories
  • 4-time winner in the WPA 9-ball championship and the World 8-ball championship
  • 3-time U.S. Open champion
  • 2-time World champion
  • 13-time Derby City champion

Over the years, Efren “Bata” Reyes has earned the title “the greatest pool player of all time” and has become an inspiration to numerous players. Even in his late 60s, Reyes still actively participates in tournaments and exhibitions and amazes audiences with his unparalleled skills.

Ralph Greenleaf

Ralph Greenleaf (1899 – 1950) pioneered American pocket billiards. He dominated the pool world from 1919 to 1937 with charismatic manners and exceptional skill. His father, who owned a billiards hall in Monmouth, inspired his passion for billiards from a young age. 

Known as the “Bank Shot Wizard” for pulling off seemingly impossible shots, Greenleaf became the best billiards player of the first half of the 20th century.

Ralph Greenleaf

(Source: Getty Images)

Records and achievements:

  • World pocket billiards champion from 1919 to 1924 
  • 14 consecutive world championship titles from 1927 to 1940
  • 20-time World Pocket Billiards Champion
  • National Billiards Champion 
  • World Balkline 18.2 Champion

The New York Times stated, “What Babe Ruth did for baseball, Dempsey did for fighting, Tilden did for tennis,…Greenleaf did for pocket billiards.”

In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Greenleaf was honored as one of the first three inductees into the American Billiards Hall of Fame in 1966. As the original GOAT, his legacy remains influential to this day.

Allison Fisher

Allison Fisher, born February 24, 1968, in Cheshunt, England, emerged as a dominant force in billiards. Not only is she in the top 10 greatest pool players of all time, but she is also the best female billiards player in the world. 

With a decades-long career, Fisher’s remarkable journey began when she won her first world championship at age 17 and became a record-breaking champion. As the “Duchess of Doom,” Fisher’s strength and strategic play earned her widespread recognition and admiration.

Allison Fisher

(Source: World Women’s Snooker)

Records and achievements:

  • 3-time World 9-ball champion
  • 12-time World champion 
  • A record-breaking 53 WPBA titles in 2009
  • Over 80 national titles 

Fisher was the top-ranked player in the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA) from September 1996 to June 2001 and every year from 2002 to 2007. 

Her influence extends far beyond her countless titles and victories. A pioneer for female players in a traditionally male-dominated sport, she broke barriers and paved the way for future generations of women in snooker. In recognition of her contributions to the sport, Fisher was inducted into the American Billiards Hall of Fame in 2009.

Dave Pearson

Dave Pearson, widely known as the ‘Ginger Wizard,’ has left an unforgettable mark on the world of professional pool. Originally from Britain, Pearson has dedicated over 30 years to mastering the game, earning recognition for his outstanding skills. As the founder of Pearson Cues, he has played a significant role in promoting the pool industry. 

Dave Pearson

Dave Pearson

Pearson’s strategy involves lightning-fast gameplay and precision, making him one of the fastest and most remarkable pool players ever. His most notable feat is pocketing 16,499 balls in just 24 hours. He once shared, “The secret thing about the pool is not to move your head.”

Bernie Endres, the General Manager of Massé, talked about Pearson: “No one was able to beat him, no one came close. I don’t think people realized how hard it is until they tried.”

Records and Achievements:

  • Having performed in 33 countries. 
  • 4-time Guinness World Record holder.
  • Running a line of cues currently sold in over 120 countries.

Pearson’s remarkable achievements have earned him widespread recognition and admiration from the pool community and beyond. Despite his incredible success, Pearson remains humble and emphasizes the importance of concentration and precision in billiards. 

Willie Mosconi

Who is considered the greatest pool player of all time? Many would mention Willie Mosconi, another of the first three to appear in the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) Hall of Fame in 1996. 

Willie Mosconi (1913 – 1993), born in Philadelphia, was an iconic figure in professional billiards. Known as “Mr. Pocket Billiards,” he dominated the pool table with his consistency, accuracy, and ability to run the ball long without making mistakes. Mosconi even set a world record for the highest number of consecutive balls in straight pool: 526. 

But his contributions to the sport go far beyond being a champion. Mosconi pioneered the game and helped popularize billiards as a legitimate sport. He also played a critical part in developing new cue and ball technologies to improve the game and make it more accessible to players of all skill levels.

Willie Mosconi

(Source: Iconic Images)

Records and Achievements:

  • 15-time World champion, including the World Straight Pool Championship, U.S. Open Straight Pool Championship, and the World 14.1 Continuous Championship.
  • National Straight Pool Invitational Tournament winner in 1958

Shane Van Boeing

Shane Van Boening (born July 14, 1983), from Rapid City, South Dakota, is a renowned American professional pool player. Despite facing challenges due to a hearing impairment, Van Boening’s exceptional skill and tireless dedication have firmed his status as a titan of the modern pool.

Since the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Shane Van Boening has emerged as a dominant force in billiards. Inspired by his grandfather, he started participating in the sport at a young age and attracted attention from top players. 

Famous for his sportsmanship and abstinence from alcohol, Van Boening is an example of dedication and hard work. His professionalism and versatility across various forms of billiards make him unbeatable.

Shane Van Boeing

Shane Van Boeing at the final match during World Pool Championship 2022 (Source: Pool Mag)

Records and Achievements:

  • WPA World Nine-ball Champion in 2022
  • WPA World Eight-ball Champion in 2023
  • 2-time World Pool Masters
  • 5-time US Open Nine-ball champion 
  • U.S. Open Ten-ball champion in 2024
  • Premier League Pool winner in 2024
  • 3-time Open One-pocket Champion
  • Over 100 professional titles

On March 26, Shane Van Boeing defeated five other opponents and won Premier League Pool 2024 with $20,000 in prize money. With these, he etched his name in snooker history as one of the best players of his generation.

Rudolf Wanderone

Who is the greatest pool player of all time without a major tournament winning? Rudolf Walter Wanderone (1913 – 1996), known as “Minnesota Fats” or “New York Fats,” left an unforgettable mark as an American billiards player and entertainer. He began playing beer at a young age in New York City, where he improved his skills and became a formidable player. 

Wanderone’s nickname “Minnesota Fats” came from Jackie Gleason’s character in the 1961 film “The Hustler”. Through this association with the film, he got book deals and made numerous television appearances, including a series of matches with his rival, Willie Mosconi.

He was the most widely recognized billiards player in the United States.

Rudolf Wanderone

(Source: Southern Illinoisan)

Records and achievements:

Although Wanderone never won a major tournament under the nickname “Fats,” his charismatic personality and showmanship brought him unparalleled fame and recognition in the United States.

Wanderone was inducted into the United States Billiards Hall of Fame in 1984 for his tireless efforts in promoting the sport of billiards to the public over many decades.

Earl Strickland

Born June 8, 1961, Earl Strickland is a renowned American pool player. He solidified his legacy in the sport with a remarkable record of championship victories. 

Strickland began playing billiards at the age of 8 and participated in professional tournaments by 16. His breakthrough came in 1983 when he defeated Steve Mizarak and won the Caesars Tahoe Billiard Classic. 

Let’s see how Strickland performs in the 2022 Mosconi Cup:


One of Strickland’s most notable accomplishments was winning the PCA $1,000,000 Challenge in 1996, the largest cash prize of the time. 

However, besides his outstanding talent, Strickland is one of the most controversial players in the sport due to his outspoken views and sometimes unstable behavior during tournaments. 

Records and achievements:

  • 3-time WPA World 9-Ball Champion
  • 2-time U.S. Open 9-Ball Champion
  • World 8-Ball Champion in 1996
  • World All Stars Invitational Team Cup winner in 2004
  • World Pool Masters winner in 1997
  • Winning over 100 major pool tournaments

These extraordinary achievements led to his induction into the BCA’s Hall of Fame in 2006. Although he has not officially retired and sometimes joins tournaments, his number of matches has gradually decreased in recent years.

Jeanette Lee

Jeanette Lee, born Lee Jin-Hee on July 9, 1971, in Brooklyn, New York, is one of the U.S.’s greatest and most influential female pool players. 

Jeanette Lee

(Source: ESPN Press Room)

Lee got the nickname “The Black Widow” due to her fierce competitiveness during matches, which she often describes as “eating people alive.” She is also renowned for her preference for wearing black attire in the game. 

Lee’s dynamic style of play has earned her widespread recognition. Beyond shining in female pool competitions, Lee has showcased her skills across various divisions, challenging top male players like Efren Reyes. 

Records and achievements:

Lee was honored as the WPBA Sportsperson of the Year in 1998 and later appeared in the BCA Hall of Fame in 2013.

Besides the players mentioned above, many others have left an unforgettable mark in the history of billiards:

  • Luther Lassiter
  • Johnny Archer
  • Buddy Hall
  • Ronnie Allen
  • Kim Ga-young
  • Gerda Hofstatter
  • Kelly Fisher
  • Jasmin Ouschan

Greatest Pool Player Of All Time: Who Is Your Idol?

The billiards community always has mixed opinions about who is the greatest pool player of all time. Whether it’s Efren Reyes, Willie Mosconi, or Earl Strickland, each player brings a unique style to the table. 

In the list above, who impresses and admires you the most? Share with us in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the greatest pool shot in history?

The most excellent pool shot in history occurred in the match between Efren Reyes and Earl Strickland on June 11, 1995. 

With the score tied at 12-12, Reyes faced a difficult situation after accidentally sinking the number 8 ball. He made a two-rail kick shot at this point, sinking the number 5 ball while ensuring the perfect position for the rest of the table. 

This incredible display of skill saved Reyes’s match and helped him easily overcome his opponent.

Who is the best pool player currently?

According to the WPA World Rankings, Joshua Filler is the top-ranked man in the men’s category, and Chieh-Yu Chou is the top-ranked woman.

Dave Pearson

Dave Pearson, the world's leading pool entertainer, is renowned globally as the ultimate exhibition player.
Boasting 20 world records endorsed by the prestigious Guinness Book of World Records, Dave established a legendary history in the sport industry.

Dave Pearson

Dave Pearson, the world's leading pool entertainer, is renowned globally as the ultimate exhibition player.
Boasting 20 world records endorsed by the prestigious Guinness Book of World Records, Dave established a legendary history in the sport industry.

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