10 Best pool players ever: top billiard players of all time

10 Best pool players ever: top billiard players of all time

Pool, also known as pocket billiards in North America or pool billiards in Australia and Europe, is one of the world's most stylish and sophisticated indoor games. It belongs to the family of cue sports, and some of the best pool players earn fame and a huge chunk of money.

The best pool players ever
Photo collage of the best pool players. L TO R: Shane Boening, Ralph Greenleaf and Zhao Xintong. Photos by Merlin A. Summers/WireImage, CORBIN and Olly Scarff, modified by the author.
Source: Getty Images

The game involves a table with six pockets or receptacles along the rails. There are many variations, including eight ball, nine ball, six ball, and other hybrid variations of pool and carrom billiards.

Top ten best pool players of all time

We have compiled a list of the top ten best pool players based on their number of titles, skillset, and popularity.

10. Kelly Fisher

best billiard players of all time
Kelly Fisher of the UK celebrates after defeating Fu Xiaofang of China in the Women's World 9-ball Championship final match on 21 June 2012 in Shenyang, China. Photo by Visual China Group.
Source: Getty Images

Fisher started as a snooker player, winning three Ladies World Snooker Championships between 1998 and 2000. Then, the Englishwoman moved to the United States to pursue a career in billiards, joining the Women's Professional Billard Association. In 2008, she became the world's #1 female player and one of the best on the planet.

9. Johnny Archer

best billiard players of all time
Johnny Archer of USA cue during the fourth day round match against Xu Meng of China, at the World Pool Championship being held in Manila 07 November 2006. Photo by JAY DIRECTO/AFP.
Source: Getty Images

He is nicknamed "the Scorpion" as one of his sponsors is Scorpion Cues and also because his zodiac sign is Scorpio. Having achieved titles such as the WPA World Nine-ball Championship, Sudden Death Seven-ball, and more than 60 professional tournament victories, the Georgia native joined the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame on 8 June 2009.

8. Allison Fisher

best billiard players of all time
Allison Fisher of Britain competes during the final match at the 2010 Women's 9-Ball World Championship at Worldstar International Hotel on 29 August 2010 in China. Photo by Visual China Group.
Source: Getty Images

The English champion has dominated the British and international nine-ball and snooker scene in the recent past. Allison got inducted into the BCA in June 2009 and has been teaching billiards at the Allison World Champion Academy in Charlotte, NC.

7. Mike Sigel

best pool player ever: A list of the best billiard players of all time
Mike Sigel at the International Pool Tour World 8-Ball Championship at the Mandalay Bay Resort on 20 August 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Bryan Haraway.
Source: Getty Images

The American shooter has won over 102 major tournaments in his active career. The New Yorker dominated the sport in the 70s and 80s and earned the nickname "Captain Hook" for his ambidextrous ability to use safety plays to hook his opponents. He became the youngest player to earn his place in the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame at age 35 in 1989.

6. Earl Strickland

best pool player ever
USA's Earl Strickland kisses the trophy after defeating Philippines' Francisco Bustamante in the Hasseroder World Pool Championship Final at Cardiff International Arena, Cardiff. Photo by PA Images.
Source: Getty Images

Nicknamed "The Pearl," the American from North Carolina is considered one of the best nine-ball players. However, he became famous among the most controversial sportsmen for his outspoken views and volatile behaviour. Nevertheless, he earned his place in the BCA in 2006.

5. Luther Lassiter

Born in Pasquotank county, US, Wimpy, as he was known to his mates, was drawn to billiards from a very young age. He left school when he was 16 to pursue a professional pool career. He was inaugurated into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1983. Sadly, Lassiter was found dead by his nephew next to his pool table in 1988.

4. Rudolf Wanderone

best pool player ever
Rudolf Wanderone Jr. (Minnesota Fats) demonstrates trick pool shots possible to the average player. Photo by Carl Iwasaki.
Source: Getty Images

Famously known as "Minnesota Fats" from a character in the 1961 film The Hustler, Wanderone garnered fame for hustling servicemen in Norfolk during World War II. He earned his place in the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1984 for his role in promoting the sport and not necessarily winning any championships.

3. Willie Mosconi

best billiard players
Willie Mosconi poses for this photograph circa 1980 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Focus on Sport.
Source: Getty Images

He earned his nickname "Mr Pocket Billiards" for coming up with numerous trick shots. Like Wanderone, Mosconi was born in 1913 and was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America in 1968 when he was 55. Mosconi further popularised the sport by assisting in making the 1961 film, The Hustler. The Philadelphian died on 6 September 1993 in Haddon Heights, New Jersey.

2. Ralph Greenleaf

The best pool players ever
American pocket billiard player Ralph Greenleaf (ca. 1899-1950) was the world pocket billiard champion from 1919 to 1924 and won several more titles from 1926-1937. Photo by © CORBIS.
Source: Getty Images

Born in 1899 in Monmouth, the charismatic American billiard shooter was considered one of the most prolific players of his active time between 1919 and 1937. He won the World Pocket Billiards Championship twenty times. He was one of the first three inaugural inductees into the BCA Hall of Fame in 1966.

In his obituary in March 1950, The New York Times stated,

"What Babe Ruth did for baseball, Dempsey did for fighting, Tilden did for tennis...Greenleaf did for pocket billiards."

Who is the best pool player ever?

Efren Reyes is often called "Bata," which means "kid" in Filipino, a name given to him by close friends to distinguish him from an older Efren who also played billiards. He is a winner of over 100 professional tournaments and has been regarded as the world's greatest player.

1. Efren Reyes

The best pool players ever
Efren 'Bata' Reyes of the Philippines plays a shot during the International Open Singles 10-Ball Billiards Tournament on 3 September 2014 in General Santos, Philippines. Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem.
Source: Getty Images

Efren Manalang Reyes, aka Bata, is considered the greatest pool player of all time by fans and mates. He became the first Asian to join the BCA Hall of Fame in 2003 and the record holder of the first World Championship winner in two different disciplines. His prowess in several disciplines, including Straight pool, Nine-ball, Three-cushion billiards, and One-cushion billiards, have earned him the nickname "The Magician."

Honourable mentions

the best billiard players of all time
Photo collage of the best pool players. L TO R: Jeanette Lee, Shane Van Boening and Kim Ga Young. Photos by Merlin A. Summers/WireImage, Justin Setterfield and Jeoffrey Maitem, modified by the author.
Source: Getty Images
  • Jeanette Lee
  • Buddy Hall
  • Ronnie Allen
  • Kim Ga-Young
  • Gerda Hoffstetter
  • Jasmin Ouschan
  • Shane Van Boening

Most famous pool player

As the best in billiards, Bata has become quite famous worldwide. However, when he moved to the US, he had to use an alias, Cesar Morales, to hustle games without being recognized.

Best 8-ball pool player ever

Willie Mosconi is the legend of pocket billiards and holds the record for potting 526 balls without missing a single pocket. He has also bagged 15 World Straight Pool championships throughout his career.

Who is the best pool player in history?

Efren Reyes is the best-known and top-ranked player by pundits and fans. He is also thought of as the best player globally, with over 100 professional tournaments and over 80 international titles.

The best pool players
China's Zhao Xintong chalks his cue while playing against Scotland's Stephen Maguire at The Crucible in Sheffield, England, on 22 April 2022. Photo by Oli SCARFF.
Source: Getty Images

Who is the no 1. pool player worldwide in 2023?

According to WPBA, Shane van Boening is ranked first with 34215 points in the commonly played nine-ball. Kelly Fisher is the best female shooter with 16226 points.

Who was the best pool hustler of all time?

Vernon Elliott was arguably the greatest hustler ever. He, however, never played in tournaments.

Who is the best pool player globally in 2023?

Joshua Filler is ranked #1 in the WPA ranking of 2023. He has 105 wins and 38 losses so far.

Richest pool player

Despite being a recreational sport, professional players earn a decent sum, and the highest-paid is Efren Reyes, with a net worth of $2 million.

Billiards is a game of skill, precision, patience, and focus, and the top ten best pool players have perfected these qualities. Since the sport keeps changing and growing, upcoming stars have a chance to make it to the top leagues.

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