The pool is more than just a game in the Philippines; it is a way of life for every Filipino. The Philippines is without a doubt the best pool-playing country in the world. Playing this game in a competitive environment has produced some of the world’s top players in the country.
Here are the top 10 Filipino pool players of all time
Jose Parica is a Filipino professional pool player from Manila, nicknamed “Amang” (Tagalog for “uncle”) and “the Giant Killer.” As a Filipino Hall of Famer, he was a part of the “Filipino invasion” in the United States in the late 70s, especially in the game of Nine-ball and One-pocket. Also known as “the King” and “the Legend” in the Philippines, Parica is well regarded by many players and peers as one of the greatest “money players” of all time. He became the Billiards Digest Player of the Year in 1997. He was the only player to shoot a perfect run-out match in the Nine-ball race to 11 format, which is still a record.
Born: April 18, 1949 (age 73) Nickname: Amang, The King Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket Champion: 1995 Roanoke One Pocket
Born and raised in Bacolod in the central Philippines, Chua began playing pool at the age of nine. He was often accompanied to the local pool hall by his father who gave him the nickname “Bubwit” or little mouse due to the fact that he was too little to be seen behind the pool table. Chua quit schooling at 13 to pursue his passion and began playing professionally at the age of 19.
Born: May 31, 1992 (age 29) Nickname: Bubwit, Bad Koi Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball Southeast Asian Games: 2019 Philippines
Roland Garcia is a professional pool player from Magalang, Philippines. Garcia reached the final of the 2017 WPA World Nine-ball Championship; but lost 13–5 to Carlo Biado. Garcia had also reached the quarter-final of the China Open in 2016, and the last 32 of the world nine-ball championship in 2018.
Born: January 1, 1979 (age 43) Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket Runner-up: 2017 World 9ball Championship
Anton ‘Dragon’ Raga
Anton Raga is one of the best players you might not have heard of. Young guy, On Fargo he’s 767, which is good enough to be top 100 in the world, but he isn’t listed in the top 100 because he doesn’t have enough games in the system.
He played Dennis Orcollo on his home table for a few thousand, raced to 23 alternate breaks, and Anton won. Not to mention he played against many of the top players in the Philippines, including Efren Reyes, Carlo Biado, Francisco Bustamante, and many other top local players.
Born: November 14, 1997 (age 24) Nickname: The Dragon Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball 1st Runner Up: China Open World 9-ball (2019)
Lee Vann Corteza
Corteza is the oldest of five brothers. His parents named him after American actor Lee Van Cleef. Corteza first took up pool at age thirteen, after a friend brought him to a pool parlor. Corteza was subsequently blacklisted from the parlor after accidentally damaging a table, but he continued to pursue his passion for the game at other parlors.
Born: March 1, 1979 (age 43) Nickname: Van Van Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket World Champion: 2013 World Cup of Pool
Alex ‘The Lion’ Pagulayan
Alejandro Salvador Pagulayan is a Filipino Canadian professional pool (pocket billiards) and snooker player. His nicknames are “the Lion” and “the Killer Pixie”. This latter nickname was given by the great Cliff Thorburn, former World, and Canadian Snooker champion. Alex has a third, more recent nickname of “Mungo” (a favorite Filipino dish) given to him by Rick McCallum, former Wayne State University Pocket Billiard instructor, and friend from the Hall of Fame Billiard room in Warren, Michigan. Alex was born in Cabagan, Isabela, Philippines, and was raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2004, Pagulayan returned to the Philippines and is a dual citizen of Canada and the Philippines.
He is known for his relaxed demeanor during competition and is a crowd favorite, well-liked because of his humorous interaction with the audience and entertaining impressions of other players. Wikipedia
Born: June 25, 1978 (age 43) Nickname: "The Lion" Pool Games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket Nationality: Canadian
Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante
Francisco Bustamante is a Filipino professional pool player from Tarlac, Central Luzon, and the 2010 World Nine-ball Champion, nicknamed “Django”, after the lead character of the 1966 film of the same name, and sometimes also called “Busty”, especially in the United States. Bustamente has won over 70 International titles.
Born: December 29, 1963 (age 58) Nickname: Django Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, 8-ball, One Pocket World Champion: 9-Ball (2010)
Dennis Orcollo sometimes called Dennis Orcullo, is a Filipino professional pool player, nicknamed “Surigao” (after a province in the Philippines) and “RoboCop”. He has been called “the Philippines’ Money-game King”.
In 2007, Orcollo reached the finals of the WPA World Eight-ball Championship only to be bested by countryman Renato Alcano. He would again reach the finals of the same event in 2011, this time to win against Niels Feijen.
In 2016, Orcollo defeated Shane Van Boening, 200–121 to win the U.S. Open Straight Pool Championship, a tournament that has not been held previously for sixteen years.
In 2020, Orcollo recorded a 120–119 victory against Shane Van Boening to be crowned The Money Game King in a three-day one-on-one 9-ball tournament held at Bill’s Bar and Billiards in Oklahoma City.
Orcollo was deported from the United States in January 2022 reportedly due to overstaying in the country. He is bared from going back to the United States for five years, consequentially making him unable to compete in US tournaments
Born: January 28, 1979 (age 43) Nickname: Robocop Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, 8-ball, One Pocket World Champion: 2016 U.S. Open Straight Pool Championship
Carlo ‘Black Tiger’ Biado
Carlo Biado is a Filipino professional pool player. Biado has roots in Rosario, La Union and/or Nueva Ecija. He started playing pool when he was age 13 and worked as a caddie at the Villamor Air Base golf course while he was still a student. After work, he would play billiards in the evening. He stopped pursuing high school education when he was in his first year and the sport serves as a means of livelihood. He earned money from bets in the billiards place he helps manage.
Biado won the biggest pool event in the US. The US open pool championship in 2021 (previously U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship) was an international nine-ball pool tournament held from 13 to 18 September 2021 in Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Born: October 31, 1983 (age 38) Nickname: The Black Tiger Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket World Champion: 9-Ball (2017)
Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes
Efren “Bata” Reyes is a Filipino professional pool player. A winner of over 100 international titles, Reyes was the first player to win the WPA World Championships in two different pool disciplines. Among his numerous titles, Reyes is a four-time World Eight-ball champion, a WPA World Nine-ball Champion, a three-time U.S. Open winner, a two-time World Pool League winner, and a 14-time Derby City Classic winner.
Reyes also represented the Philippines in the World Cup of Pool, winning the event in 2006 and 2009 with his partner Francisco Bustamante. Reyes won $100,000 in pool history by defeating American player Earl Strickland in the inaugural Color of Money event in 1997. Many pool analysts, fans, and players regard Reyes as the best pool player of all time.
Born: August 26, 1954 (age 67) Nickname: The Magician, The Maestro, Bata Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, 8-ball, One Pocket, Balkline World Champion: Eight-ball (2004), nine-ball (1999)
What are the most popular billiard games in the Philippines?
Answer: Rotation is the most popular billiard game in the Philippines, 9-ball comes next. It is a game sometimes called rotation pool or 61, is a pool game, played with a pocketed billiards table, cue ball, and triangular rack of fifteen billiard balls, in which the lowest-numbered object ball on the table must be always struck by the cue ball first, to attempt to pocket numbered balls for points.
What is Efren Reyes’ Favorite Game?
Answer: it’s not One Pocket nor 9-ball it’s Balkline! In a 2008 interview at an IPT event with Inside Pool’s Vanessa De La Cuetara, Efren Reyes reveals his interest and passion for 18.1 balklines, a very technical and intricate billiard game that Efren was brought up with but is rarely seen playing.
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Those are your top 10 Filipino pool players of all time. Which is your favorite Filipino pool player? Leave a comment down below.