Top 10 Filipino Pool Players
Filipino embraces pool much differently than Americans.

The pool is more than just a game in the Philippines; it is a way of life for every Filipino. Without a doubt, the Philippines stands as the premier pool-playing country in the world, fostering a competitive environment that has given rise to some of the globe’s finest players in this game.

Here are the top 10 Filipino pool players of all time

    1. Jose Parica

      Jose ParicaJose Parica is a Filipino professional pool player from Manila, nicknamed Amang (uncle) and the Giant Killer. As a Filipino Hall of Famer, he was a part of the Filipino invasion of the United States in the late 70s, especially in the game of Nine-ball and One-pocket. Many players and peers considered Parica one of the greatest money players. He earned the prestigious event of Billiards Digest Player of the Year in 1997. A remarkable feat that sets him apart is being the sole player to accomplish a flawless run-out match in the Nine-ball race to 11 formats, a record that remains unbroken up to this day.

      Born: April 18, 1949 (age 74)
      Nickname: Amang, The King
      Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket
      Champion: 1995 Roanoke One Pocket
    2. Johann Chua

      Johann Chua

      Johann Gonzales Chua is a Filipino professional pool player from Manila. His nicknames are “Bubwit” (little mouse) and Bad Koi.

      Chua embarked on his pool-playing journey, often joining his father at the local pool hall. Due to his small stature, his father affectionately nicknamed him Bubwit, which means little mouse in Filipino, as he would often go unnoticed behind the pool table. Motivated by his unwavering dedication to the game, Chua decided to quit school at the age of 13 and wholeheartedly pursue his passion for pool. By the time he reached 19, he had already embarked on his professional career in the pool industry.

       

      Born: May 31, 1992 (age 31)
      Nickname: Bubwit, Bad Koi
      Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball
      Southeast Asian Games: 2019 Philippines
    3. Roland Garcia

      Roland GarciaRoland Garcia, a skilled professional pool player from Magalang, Philippines, made a notable achievement by reaching the final of the 2017 WPA World Nine-ball Championship. Garcia ultimately fell short with a score of 13–5 in a closely contested match against Carlo Biado. Garcia’s talent was evident in his quarter-final appearance at the China Open in 2016 and his progression to the last 32 of the world nine-ball championship in 2018.

      Born: January 1, 1979 (age 45)
      Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket
      Runner-up: 2017 World 9ball Championship
    4. Anton ‘Dragon’ Raga

      Anton Raga

      Anton Raga is one of the best players you might not have heard of. The official ranking does not list this promising young talent due to the scarcity of recorded games in the system. Nevertheless, their remarkable abilities undeniably warrant recognition among the elite players.

      He played Dennis Orcollo on his home table for a few thousand, raced to 23 alternate breaks, and Anton won. In addition, he faced off against numerous esteemed players in the Philippines, such as Efren Reyes, Carlo Biado, Francisco Bustamante, and several other accomplished local players.

      Born: November 14, 1997 (age 26)
      Nickname: The Dragon
      Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball
      1st Runner Up: China Open World 9-ball (2019)
    5. Lee Vann Corteza

      Lee Van Corteza

      Lee Vann Corteza, a Filipino professional pool player, is known as “Van Van.” With his pool journey beginning in 1993, Corteza has developed a strong passion for the sport.

      Corteza is the oldest of five brothers. His parents named him after American actor Lee Van Cleef. Corteza discovered his interest in the pool when a friend introduced him to a local pool parlor. Corteza persisted in his love for the game and sought out other establishments to further pursue his passion.

       

      Born: March 1, 1979 (age 45)
      Nickname: Van Van
      Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket
      World Champion: 2013 World Cup of Pool
    6. Alex ‘The Lion’ Pagulayan

      Alex PagulayanAlex Pagulayan, known as “the Lion,” is a Filipino Canadian professional pool and snooker player. Born in Cabagan, Isabela, Philippines, and received their upbringing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They currently hold dual citizenship in both Canada and the Philippines. Pagulayan’s relaxed demeanor during competitions and ability to entertain the crowd with humorous interactions and impressions of other players have made him a favorite among fans.

      Born: June 25, 1978 (age 45)
      Nickname: "The Lion"
      Pool Games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket
      Nationality: Canadian
    7. Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante

      Francisco Bustamante

      Francisco Bustamante, hailing from Tarlac, Central Luzon, is a Filipino professional pool player. He earned the title of the 2010 World Nine-ball Champion and is affectionately known as “Django,” inspired by the lead character of the 1966 film of the same name. Bustamante is also known as “Busty,” particularly in the United States. He has secured over 70 International titles in his entire career with an impressive record.

      Born: December 29, 1963 (age 60)
      Nickname: Django
      Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, 8-ball, One Pocket
      World Champion: 9-Ball (2010)
    8. Dennis Orcollo

      Dennis Orcollo

      Dennis Orcollo, a renowned Filipino professional pool player nicknamed “Surigao” and “RoboCop,” holds the prestigious title of “the Philippines’ Money-game King.” Dennis Orcollo has accomplished remarkable achievements in his pool career, including reaching the finals of the WPA World Eight-ball Championship in 2007 and claiming the championship title in 2011 with a victory over Niels Feijen. In 2016, Orcollo staged a remarkable comeback, winning the US Open Straight Pool Championship after a sixteen-year hiatus from the tournament. However, his journey faced a setback in 2022 when he was deported from the United States due to overstaying, leading to a five-year ban on his participation in US tournaments.

      Born: January 28, 1979 (age 45)
      Nickname: Robocop
      Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, 8-ball, One Pocket
      World Champion: 2016 U.S. Open Straight Pool Championship
    9. Carlo Biado

      Carlo Biado

      Carlo Biado, a Filipino professional pool player, hails from Rosario, La Union or Nueva Ecija. At 13, Carlo Biado discovered his passion for the pool while working as a caddie at the Villamor Air Base golf course. In the evenings, he would engage in billiards, eventually making it his livelihood by earning money from bets at the billiards establishment he helped manage. Despite discontinuing his high school education after the first year, Biado’s skill in the sport propelled him forward.

      In a remarkable achievement, Biado emerged victorious in the prestigious U.S. Open Pool Championship held in 2021. Formerly known as the US Open 9-Ball Championship, this international tournament happens from September 13 to 18, 2021, at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

      Born: October 31, 1983 (age 40)
      Nickname: The Black Tiger
      Pool games: 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket
      World Champion: 9-Ball (2017)
    10. Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes

      Efren Reyes

      Efren “Bata” Reyes, a Filipino professional pool player, has established an extraordinary legacy in the sport. He made history by becoming the first player to win the WPA World Championships in 2 different pool disciplines with an excellent record of over 100 international titles.

      Representing the Philippines in the World Cup of Pool, Reyes secured victories in 2006 and 2009 alongside his partner Francisco Bustamante. Additionally, he made history in the sport by earning a remarkable $100,000 prize in the inaugural Color of Money event, defeating American player Earl Strickland. Regarded by many pool analysts, fans, and players as the greatest pool player of all time, Reyes has left an indelible mark on the sport through his exceptional skills and achievements.

      Born: August 26, 1954 (age 69)
      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?

Rotation, also known as rotation pool or 61, is a popular billiard game in the Philippines, with 9-ball following closely in popularity. This game is played on a pocketed billiards table using a cue ball and a triangular rack containing fifteen billiard balls. The crucial rule of rotation is that the cue ball must always strike the lowest-numbered object ball on the table first, aiming to pocket the numbered balls and accumulate points.

What is Efren Reyes’ Favorite Game?

During a 2008 interview at an IPT event with Inside Pool’s Vanessa De La Cuetara, Efren Reyes unveiled his deep interest and passion for 18.1 balklines, a highly technical and intricate billiard game that he grew up with but seldom in his repertoire. Contrary to the more popular games like One Pocket and 9-ball, Balkline holds a special place in Reyes’ heart and represents his affinity for the strategic and nuanced aspects of the sport.

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