(born August 26
) is a Filipino
player from Angeles City
and a 2-time world champion. Reyes is considered to be one of the all-time greats in the games of nine ball
. He is often known by his nickname "Bata
", and is also referred to as "The Magician" (see "Nicknames and aliases" below for more detail)
Reyes was born in Pampanga
in 1954 and moved to Manila
with his family, at the age of 5. In Manila, he worked as a billiards attendant at his uncle's billiards hall, where he started learning the various cue sports. Because he was not tall enough to reach the pool table, he played while standing on Coca-cola cases that he moved around. At night, while he was dreaming of playing pool, the pool table was his bed.
He is called "Bata", which is Filipino for "Kid", because there was another older pool player named Efren when he was young. To determine which Efren onlookers were referring to, he was nicknamed Efren "Bata" or the "Kid".
At a young age, he played for money, and in the sixties and seventies, played carambola billiards (also known as three cushion billiards). After establishing himself as a winner, he was discovered by promoters. This gave him the opportunity to compete in big time tournaments.
Reyes began winning a number of tournaments in the US, Europe and in parts of Asia. Thus, he started to gain attention and recognition worldwide. In fact at the start of his career he would use "aliases" to hide his true identity just so as to be allowed to compete. By the mid-1990s, he became one of the elite players of the Philippines alongside Jose Parica and Francisco Bustamante.
Notable successes in pool
The fame of Efren Reyes began when he won the US Open Nine Ball Championship in 1994 by defeating Nick Varner
in the finals. He was the first non-American ever to win the event.
A couple of years later, Efren Reyes and Earl Strickland were chosen to face each other in an event called the Color of Money, named after the movie. The event was a 3-day race-to-120 challenge match of 9-ball. It was held in Hong Kong and has a winner-take-all prize of $100K. Reyes won the match 120-117 and the big prize. This was the largest single-winning purse in a pool event.
Although Earl Strickland was the first to win the WPA World 9-ball Championship, Reyes, in 1999, became the first to win it broadcast on television. Note - this tournament was not recognised at the time by the WPA, but Reyes was later retrospectively acknowledged as the winner of one of two world championships held in 1999. Nick Varner won the other than-"official" world title, but this was a much smaller scale event than the one Reyes won. The two tournaments were merged for the following year, with both men listed as the champion for 1999. At the time, the Matchroom Sport-organised event in Cardiff, Wales, was called the World Professional Pool Championship (despite the entry of many non-professional players).
In 2001, Reyes won the International Billiard Tournament. The event was held in Tokyo, and had over 700 players and total purse of ¥100M ($850K). Reyes dominated the event by beating Niels Feijen in the finals 15-7 and earned the ¥20M($170K) first prize. At the time, this was biggest first prize in a pool tournament.
By 2002, he won the $50K winner-take-all International Challenge of Champions. Reyes won the event, defeating Mika Immonen in a deciding rack after both players splitted sets.
Then, in 2003, he became the first Asian to be inducted into the Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame.
Near the end of 2004, Reyes beat Marlon Manalo to become the first-ever WPA World Eight Ball Champion. With the win, he became the first player in WPA history to win two world championships of different disciplines.
In December 2005, Reyes won the IPT King of the Hill 8-Ball Shootout. Reyes won a record-breaking $200K for first place by beating fellow Hall of Fame member Mike "the Mouth" Sigel two sets to none (8-0 and 8-5).
In 2006, Reyes and Francisco Bustamante represented their country as Team Philippines in the inaugural World Cup of Pool. They defeated Team USA, formed by Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris, to capture the title
That same year, Reyes won the IPT World Open Eight-ball Championship over Rodney Morris 8-6. He earned $500K which was the largest prize money tournament in the history of pocket billiards. Unfortunately, he hasn't claimed much of this as of 2007 due financial problems of the IPT.
For 2007, he was ranked #2 in Pool & Billiard Magazine's "Fans' Top 20 Favorite Players" poll.
One of the world's most profitable players
As a player in professional pool, Reyes has been known to have won a number of money-rich tournaments worldwide. This makes him one of the most profitable players around. To prove it, he topped AZ Billiards Money List 5 times; 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
In 2006 he set a record by earning $646K in a single year.
Film and ambassador
, Mr. Reyes was featured in the Filipino movie Pakners
with the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr.
. He also slated to appear in Anthony Palma's
upcoming movie "9-Ball.
Reyes was appointed Philippine Sports Ambassador of the 2005 South East Asian Games alongside some of the Philippines' greatest athletes (Allan Caidic, Rafael Nepomuceno) to promote the event throughout the country.
Nicknames and aliases
Reyes is often called by his nickname "Bata
for ""kid"), given to him by friends at his regular pool hall
to distinguish him from an older Efren. Reyes, along with the other "Filipino invasion" players, revolutionized the way pool is played by their introduction to the sport of pinpoint precision kicking (going into a rail with the cue ball and then hitting an object ball). Reyes' ability to "kick safe" and to kick balls into intended pockets is legendary. This ability, coupled with his superb skill at other aspects of the game, led U.S. professionals to give him the appellation "The Magician".
"[The] first time I came over to the states, I used an alias of Cesar Morales. Pool players in the US already knew Efren Reyes as a great shooter from the Philippines, but they [hadn't]...seen...[me]...in person." — Efren Reyes
Titles and achievements
- 2007 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
- 2007 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
- 2007 Pool & Billiard Magazine Fans' Top 20 Favorite Players, #2
- 2006 Asian 9-ball Tour (Jakarta Leg)
- 2006 IPT World 8-ball Open Championship
- 2006 World Cup of Pool (with Django Bustamante)
- 2006 Asian 9-ball Tour (Vietnam Leg)
- 2006 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
- 2005 IPT King of the Hill 8-ball Shootout
- 2005 Derby City Nine-ball Championship
- 2005 IPT King of the Hill Eight-ball Championship
- 2005 Asian 9-ball Tour (Jakarta Leg)
- 2005 Japan Open
- 2005 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
- 2005 Derby City Classic 9-ball
- 2005 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
- 2004 World 8-ball Championship
- 2004 On Cue 3: Intercontinental Conquest
- 2004 Asian 9-ball Tour (Singapore Leg)
- 2004 Asian 9-ball Tour (Vietnam Leg)
- 2004 Asian 9-ball Tour (Taiwan Leg)
- 2004 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
- 2004 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
- 2003 World Classic Billiards Tournament
- 2003 Las Vegas 9-ball Open
- 2003 Asian 9-ball Tour (Manila Leg)
- 2003 Mid-Atlantic 9-ball Championship
- 2003 All Japan Championship
- 2002 World Pool League
- 2002 Asian Eight-ball Tournament
- 2002 Cafe Puro Challenge of the Masters
- 2002 Shooters Labor Day Weekend Open 9-ball
- 2002 International Challenge of Champions
- 2001 World Pool League
- 2001 Tokyo 9-ball Event
- 2001 US Masters 9-ball
- 2001 International Billiard Tournament
- 2001 Accu-Stats 8-ball Invitational
- 2001 Color of Money II Challenge Match (vs Earl Strickland)
- 2000 US Open One-Pocket Championship
- 2000 Camel Pro 8-ball Championship
- 2000 Pennsylvania State 9-ball Championship
- 2000 USA Billards Challenger Event 2
- 1999 ESPN Ultimate 9-ball Challenge
- 1999 ESPN Ultimate Shootout
- 1999 Sands Regency Open 29 Nine-ball Championship
- 1999 World 9-ball Championship (Cardiff)
- 1999 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
- 1999 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
- 1998 World 8-Ball Championship
- 1998 Camel South Jersey 10-Ball Open
- 1997 PCA Shooters Challenge
- 1997 PCA Treasure Island Resort Event
- 1996 The Color of Money (vs Earl Strickland)
- 1996 PBT World 8-ball Championship
- 1996 PBT Legends of 9-ball Championship
- 1996 Camel World 9-ball Championship
- 1996 PBT Western Open
- 1996 PBT Florida Flare Up III
- 1995 Sands Regency Open 21 Nine-ball Championship
- 1995 PBT World 8 Ball Championship
- 1995 Pro Tour 9-ball Championship
- 1995 Maine 14.1 Event
- 1995 Bicycle Club VII
- 1994 US Open 9-ball Championship
- 1994 PBT Bicycle Club Invitational
- 1992 International 9-ball Classic
- 1992 World 9-ball Open (Tokyo)
- 1990 World Cup (Taipei)
- 1988 PBA McDermott Masters 9-ball
- 1986 Sands Regency 9-ball Championship
- 1985 Sands Regency 9-ball Championship
- 1985 Red's 9-ball Open
- 1985 Tar Heel Open
- 1985 Willard's Open
- 1985 Chicago Billiard Cafe Open
- Aside from being a notable player in the game of nine-ball, Reyes possesses a masterful skill in straight pool (14.1), a game completely obscure the Philippines. In 1995, Efren Reyes dominated the Maine 14.1 Event besting very well-known names such as Jim Rempe and Earl Strickland. His highest run in that tournament was 123.
- In 2000, Reyes competed in the US Open 14.1 Championship. Although he didn't win and had to settle for third, he conquered notable players such as Oliver Ortmann, Thomas Engert and Mike Sigel. He even made an impressive run of 141 which was more than the one he made five years before.
- Efren Reyes, along with fellow countryman Francisco Bustamante, was featured in a video game called World Championship Pool 2004.
- He starred with the late Fernando Poe, Jr. in the movie "Pakners" in 2003.