The Big Sky State Games is still three weeks away, but billiards players have had their calendars marked for this weekend for quite some time.
The BSSG billiards competition will be held Saturday at Bullwackers because the National 8 Ball tournament will be held in Las Vegas on July 19-21, the same weekend the State Games are scheduled.
The National 8 Ball tournament is the largest amateur billiards tournament in the world and is usually held in May, but was moved to July this year. The tournament usually draws about 10,000 entries, many of which come from Montana.
Doug Asleson is one of those who participate in the national tournament, and is also the billiards commissioner and one of the coordinators who helped get billiards into the State Games.
Asleson is also the President and League Operator of the Billings BCA Pool League, which is one of the biggest leagues in the country.
“This is the first year it will be held on a different weekend,” Asleson said. “We usually have about 30 to 60 participants, but I’m not sure what to expect this year. Some people will play because they love the game and some won’t be able to because of scheduling conflicts.”
The Big Sky State Games began offering billiards as one of its sports 11 years ago, and regularly attracts participants from all around the state.
Karen Grimm of Billings has been playing for 45 years and has been participating in the billiards tournament in the State Games for 11 year. She plans to do everything she can to support the sport’s growth in the future.
“I love pool, it’s kind of addicting,” Grimm said. “It includes people of all walks of life and all skill levels. It’s not just hitting the ball around.”
Grimm said she appreciates the work that Asleson has done in promoting the sport around the area, and helping to get billiards into the State Games.
“He does a great job,” Grimm said. “And he’s a great pool player, and so is his wife.”
Asleson credits the State Games organizers for helping to keep billiards in the State Games this year.
“I just can’t say enough about the people in the State Games office,” Asleson said. “I have so much respect for the way they run it. For everyone who participates, it’s a wonderful celebration of the sport.”
Bullwackers is located at 1517 Wyoming Avenue in Billings.