Billiards Through the Ages: Top 10 Best Billiard Players In History

Ranking the top 10 best billiard players in history is a challenging task, given the different variations of the game and the many eras in which it has been played. However, certain players have stood out for their titles, innovation, and influence on the game. The American Billiard Congress and the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame are two organizations that have recognized the contributions of many of these players.

Billiards is a game that has stood the test of time, captivating audiences for centuries with its unique blend of strategy, precision, and skill. From the early days of the game in Europe to the modern era of professional pool players, billiards has always been a popular pastime for players and fans alike. As a result, it’s no surprise that there are many talented players who have made their mark on the game’s history.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the top 10 best billiard players in history based on a combination of their achievements, their impact on the game, and their overall contribution to the sport. From the early pioneers of the game to the modern-day masters of the pool, these players have all left their mark on billiards history, and their stories make for some of the most interesting articles in the sport. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a first-time spectator, you’re sure to find something to appreciate in the stories of these legendary players.

Top 10 Best Billiard Players In History

When it comes to the greatest billiard players of all time, two names stand out as the undisputed icons of the sport: Willie Mosconi and Efren Reyes.

Willie Mosconi (1913-1993)

Known as “Mr. Pocket Billiards,” Willie Mosconi was a dominant force in the sport during the mid-20th century. He won an incredible 15 consecutive World Straight Pool Championships from 1941 to 1957, a record that still stands today. Mosconi was also known for popularizing trick shots, which helped bring wider attention to the sport.

Efren Reyes (1954 – )

Often referred to as “The Magician,” Efren Reyes is widely regarded as the greatest pool player of all time. His versatility is unmatched, with world titles in Eight-ball, Nine-ball, One-Pocket, and other disciplines. Reyes is known for his unorthodox style, with incredible shot-making creativity and a disregard for conventional wisdom. His ranking as the world’s greatest pool player is well-deserved, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of players.

In conclusion, Willie Mosconi and Efren Reyes are two of the greatest billiard players in history, and their contributions to the sport are immeasurable. Their dominance, innovations, and unorthodox styles have inspired countless players over the years, and their legacies will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.

Modern-Era Giants

If you’re looking for the best pool player in the world today, you might want to start with Shane Van Boening and Ralf Souquet. Both of these players have been dominating the sport for years and have earned their place among the top 10 best billiard players in history of all time.

Shane Van Boening (1983 – )

Van Boening is an American pool player who has won multiple US Open titles across disciplines. He is known for his exceptional consistency and has maintained an exceptionally high winning percentage over an extended career. Van Boening is also known for his mental toughness and has a reputation for performing his best under pressure.

Ralf Souquet (1968 – )

Souquet is a German pool player who has won scores of European titles and World Championship wins. He is known for his aggressive yet calculated style and is particularly famous for his powerful break shots. Despite competing at the top level for decades, Souquet has maintained a high level of play and is still considered one of the best pool players in the world today.

If you’re a fan of modern-era pool, you can’t go wrong with Van Boening or Souquet. These two giants of the sport have proven themselves time and time again, and their performances on the table speak for themselves.

Trailblazers and Record-Breakers

If you’re talking about the best billiards players of all time, you can’t ignore the trailblazers and record-breakers who set the standard for excellence in this sport. Here are two of the most iconic players in the history of billiards:

Mike Sigel (1952 – )

Known as “Captain Hook,” Mike Sigel is one of the most successful players in the history of the game. With over 100 professional tournament victories, he’s widely regarded as one of the best billiard players of all time. Sigel was an all-around threat, excelling in virtually every pool discipline. He won multiple world championships in nine-ball, eight-ball, straight pool, and one-pocket, among other events.

Earl Strickland (1961 – )

Earl Strickland, also known as “The Pearl,” is another legendary player who has left an indelible mark on the sport. He’s a five-time US Open Nine-Ball Champion, and he’s won numerous other titles over the course of his career. Strickland is known for his intensity and trash-talking at the table, which has made him one of the most intimidating players to face. He’s also an accomplished writer and commentator, and he’s been a vocal advocate for the sport for many years.

These two players are just a few examples of the many trailblazers and record-breakers who have helped shape the world of billiards. Whether you’re a casual player or a serious competitor, you can learn a lot from their example and their achievements.

Contenders for the Crown

While the top 5 billiard players in history are well-known, there are other players who deserve recognition for their skills and achievements. Here are a few additional players to keep an eye on:

  1. Alex Pagulayan – This Filipino-Canadian player is a force to be reckoned with in the world of Nine-ball. He has won multiple major titles, including the World Pool Masters and the US Open Nine-ball Championship. His precision and consistency make him a top contender in any tournament.
  2. Jayson Shaw – This Scottish player is known for his aggressive shot selection and fearless approach to the game. He has won multiple titles in both Nine-ball and Ten-ball, including the World 9-Ball Championship and the US Open 10-Ball Championship. His unique playing style makes him a fan favorite and a formidable opponent.
  3. Fedor Gorst – This young Russian player has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of the top players in the world. He won the World 9-Ball Championship in 2019 and has continued to impress with his skill and consistency. With his youth and potential, he is definitely a player to watch in the coming years.
  4. Mika Immonen – This Finnish player has been a top player in the world for over two decades. He has won multiple major titles in both Nine-ball and Ten-ball, including the US Open 9-Ball Championship and the World Ten-ball Championship. His calm demeanor and precision make him a formidable opponent in any match.
  5. Shane Van Boening – This American player is often ranked among the top 3 players in the world. He has won multiple major titles in both Nine-ball and Ten-ball, including the US Open 9-Ball Championship and the World 10-Ball Championship. His consistent performance and ability to adapt to different playing conditions make him a top contender in any tournament.

These players, among many others, have made significant contributions to the world of billiards and continue to inspire new generations of players. Whether you’re a fan of Nine-ball, Ten-ball, or other billiard disciplines, there’s no shortage of talented players to watch and admire.

Honorable Mentions

While the top 10 best billiard players in history are undoubtedly some of the greatest to have ever played the game, there are still many other talented players who deserve recognition for their contributions to the sport.

One such player is Rudolf Wanderone, better known as “Minnesota Fats”. Although limited records exist of his career, he was a legendary figure in the billiards world and helped to popularize the sport during the mid-20th century.

Another notable player is Welker Cochran, who was the first person to win three straight world championships in straight pool. His career spanned from the 1920s to the 1950s, and he was known for his precision and consistency on the table.

Hungarian immigrants such as Ervin Rudolph and Michael Pasko also made significant contributions to the sport in the early 20th century. They helped to introduce new techniques and strategies to the game, and their influence can still be seen in modern billiards today.

More recently, players like Jeanette Lee, also known as the “Black Widow”, have made a name for themselves in the sport. Lee is one of the most successful female players in history, having won over 30 national and international titles throughout her career. She is known for her aggressive style of play and her ability to make difficult shots under pressure.

While these players may not have made it into the top 10, they have all left their mark on the sport of billiards and deserve to be recognized for their skill and dedication.

The Debate Continues

When it comes to the title of the top 10 best billiard players in history of all time, the debate is ongoing. Many legendary billiards players have dominated the sport over the years, and each has their own unique style and strengths.

Some argue that Willie Mosconi, with his 526 straight pool run, is the best pool player ever. Others believe that Efren Reyes, with his magical touch and undeniable skill, is the world’s best pool player. Meanwhile, Allison Fisher, known as the “Duchess of Doom,” is often considered one of the best pool players of all time, with over 80 titles in her career.

But the debate doesn’t end there. Tyler Styler ranked number 10 in the world, and Lechner Maximilian, currently ranked number 9, are also highly regarded in the billiards world. And let’s not forget about the likes of Ralph Greenleaf, who won 20 world titles, and Rudolf Wanderone, better known as “Minnesota Fats,” who was a colorful and charismatic figure in the sport.

Ultimately, the title of the best billiards player of all time is subjective and open to interpretation. Every fan has their own favorite player and their own reasons for why they believe that player is the best. It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer.

So, who do you think is the best billiards player of all time? We invite you to share your own favorites and discuss the merits of different players with fellow fans. After all, the beauty of sports is in the passion and enthusiasm of its fans.


Discuss how the top 10 best billiard players in history weren’t just masters of a single game. They were masters of adaptation. Highlight how they evolved with changes in equipment, rules, or the competitive landscape. This emphasizes the ongoing mental challenge of the pool.


Who is considered the best pool player of all time?

There’s no single definitive answer, but names like Efren Reyes (“The Magician”) and Willie Mosconi (“Mr. Pocket Billiards”) consistently top the lists. Reyes’ versatility across disciplines and Mosconi’s dominance in the straight pool make them legends.

What makes a great billiards player?

Top billiards players possess a combination of:

  • Technical skill: Precise cue ball control, shot-making accuracy, and in-depth knowledge of angles and physics.
  • Mental game: Focus, composure under pressure, and the ability to strategize multiple shots ahead.
  • Adaptability: Great players can read the table, adjust to different game types, and evolve their game over time.

Are there different types of professional pools?

Yes! Popular professional pool variations include:

  • Eight-ball: The most widely played, where you pocket your suit of balls (solids or stripes), then the black 8-ball.
  • Nine-ball: Fast-paced, where you must sink balls in numerical order.
  • Straight pool (14.1 continuous): Highly strategic, with a focus on running large groups of balls.

How can I become a better pool player?

Here are some tips to improve your pool game:

  • Master the basics: Focus on your stance, grip, and stroke before fancy shots.
  • Practice consistently: Even short sessions improve your muscle memory.
  • Study strategy: Learn patterns, safety plays, and how to control the cue ball.
  • Watch the pros: Analyze the techniques and shot choices of top players.

Additional Resources

Websites and Online Forums

  • AZBilliards Forums – An online community where enthusiasts discuss everything from pool ball selection to maintenance.
  • Billiards Forum – A platform for billiard players to discuss various topics, including pool ball comparisons and experiences.

Professional Organizations

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  • Top Female Billiard Players to Watch in 2024
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