Without a doubt, pool is the most popular bar game of all. It's less labor- and space-intensive than bowling and more social than pinball. And it beats Golden Tee, always. It's the game you get good at after a few beers -- and really bad at after a few more. It's the everyman game, appealing to our basic need to compete. In 1992 Houstonians Don Wright and Bob Ainsbury formed The Lonestar Pool League as a way for local amateur pool players to compete on a level playing field in both eight-ball and nine-ball. Instituting a handicap system, the league allows nobodies to play experts -- with a real chance of the nobody winning.
Sanctioned by the Billiard Congress of America, the league sponsors tournaments every week, usually in bars, and some players vie for national status in Las Vegas each year. But the competition isn't overzealous. "We're mainly a fun league," says Wright. At its peak, the group had more than 130 teams with nearly 1,300 members, but now it's returned to a humble but respectable ten teams (or so). Even with the small cash rewards that come at the end of a season, it's still really about just good everyman fun. Wednesdays. For locations, schedule and membership information, call 713-464-3864 or visit www.lonestarpool.com. $20 per year; $10 per weekly event. -- Eric Norvell
Let’s Be Realistic
Planning to scoop up some tix to the Super Bowl at the last minute? We hope you're prepared to sell your kidneys on the black market. It's a better idea to set your sights a little lower and grab a seat at the Global Junior Championship, an international round-robin tournament featuring some of the best high school football players from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Russia and Japan. Per tradition, the U.S. team is fielded by star athletes from the Super Bowl's host city, so 36 Houston boys will take the field to prove, once and for all (or at least until next year), that America kicks ass. And we promise there won't be any fantastically mundane halftime shows. First round kicks off at 1 p.m. Wednesday, January 28. Finals at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 31. Tully Stadium, 1050 Dairy Ashford. For information, call 713-862-2560 or visit www.nflhs.com. $6. -- Keith Plocek