MANILA, Philippines – Filipino billiards ace and former World No. 1 player Dennis Orcollo was featured by ESPN The Magazine in its “Money Issue” this month.
The feature article titled “Running the tables” tells the story of Orcollo’s beginnings, how he emulated Efren “Bata” Reyes and his games with Manny Pacquiao.
The feature narrated how he grew up in Bislig, Surigao del Sur and dreamed of playing against Reyes and becoming a “money game king.”
“At 9, Orcollo dropped out of school to run racks on his grandfather's pool table, routinely beating grown men for 20 pesos a game. He was a pure shooter, cleanly sinking shots that others usually missed.
“At 15, Orcollo left Mangagoy -- despite pleas from his mother and grandfather, who wished he'd stay and become a fisherman -- to see how far this skill could take him,” the story goes.
The feature also told of how he followed Reyes in Manila’s pool halls, just to learn “The Magician’s” tricks.
"I was a good shooter," Orcollo says. "But I didn't know how to control the cue ball. I watched how Efren controlled the ball. It was like chess."
While observing Reyes’ pool prowess, Orcollo also earned extra cash by hustling college students in Manila.
“He bought a shirt identical to the uniforms of the Manila university students who were hooked on pool and whose families could afford to give them a little spending money… The kids thought he was one of their own, underestimating him to the tune of 500 pesos per day, about enough for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Orcollo's new luxury.”
The story also told of Orcollo’s encounter with boxing icon Pacquiao, who used to gamble on pool before renewing his faith.
Pacquiao, reportedly, had high-stakes games against Orcollo where bets went up to as much as $60,000.
"I made a lot of money with Manny," Orcollo says.
The article was written by Brett Forrest.
The 33-year-old Orcollo, called the Philippines' "Money-game King," is a former World 8-Ball champion.
A former World No. 1 billiards player, he is also considered as one of the highest earning pool players in the globe.