Efren Reyes’ cue

What cue does Efren Reyes use?

This is a very popular topic in billiards forums, pool halls, and well, probably every pool player I know at least once became curious as to what type of cue the master uses. Maybe there’s something in his cue, or at least maybe, there’s something wrong in our cues that we can’t make the same shots he does. Nothing’s special with his cue for sure, and nothing’s wrong with ours either; “it’s him” is almost always the most popular end to this debate. But well, like most pool afficionados, especially equipment freaks, we can’t help but be curious.

I don’t personally know Efren. My closest encounter with him was “small talk” in Metropolis Mall some 4 years ago. Metropolis Mall is a popular tournament venue; the likes of Earl Strickland, Johnny Archer, Francisco Bustamante, have all participated in tournaments there. I did ask Efren something about his cue back then, but first let me just clear out that the answers to this post’s subject came from research – both online and offline. If there are discrepancies, feel free to comment at the end of the post.

Meucci

Efren was under contract with Meucci in the 90’s as seen in this interview from Billiards Digest done on October 3, 1997. He states that it was 21 oz. and 13 mm. But there are claims in AZBilliards Forums that he had his Meucci tapered down to 12.5 by Judd Fuller. He played with the Meucci in the Color of Money race to 120, which he won, against Earl Strickland. The only thing I could remember from that video was that the cue had a white irish linen wrap. Also, in addition, the question I asked him in Metropolis Mall was “What happened to your Meucci?” He jokingly said, “I threw it away, it’s unlucky.”

Pampanga cue

This cue was made by Jesus “Jessy” Bundalian as claimed by Linds, a popular local cue maker, in his about page. It was what Efren used when he won the 1999 World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales. If you are from the Philippines, you’d probably remember Efren holding that cuestick in his lifesize San Miguel Beer posters. Apparently, there is another local cue that Efren used before the “Jessy” or “Jessie” cue; it was made by someone named “Boyet,” as said by a man called JoeyInCali in biliards forums. This article claims that Efren’s cue is more than 20 years old, was bought for roughly $10, and was offered $10,000 for it but he refused it; I’m just not sure if it’s the “Boyet” or the “Jessy.” JoeyInCali also said that the “Jessy” cue developed a rattle and was sold to a collector.

Judd cues

From the late 90’s to the present, Efren has been associated with Judd cues. Judd cues are made by Judd and Trudy Fuller. In the 1999 World Pool Championship this is what we could consider as his break cue. There were times that he used it to play as well. It was the JT1 model; birdseye forearm with cocobolo handle and decorative stitch rings. In Judd’s site, you could get a JT1 for roughly $700.00, but I think the wait time is around 12 months. He also switched shafts for this cue; in some pictures you could see that the shaft’s collar is darker but it is still a Judd shaft. I believe this cue is no longer with him.

He does have a new Judd. It features 4 high ivory points and 4 low ebony points with an ivory diamond in the middle, set on a birdseye maple forearm. There’s a thread in AZBilliards that shows the Judd up close; he wrapped part of this cue with masking tape in one tournament because it felt cold to his hands. They say he got this cue from someone named Alex. Here is a clear picture of Efren using the cue.

Efren “Bata” Reyes signature series

There are Japan-made Efren Reyes signature cue sticks made by Cosmo. I believe this is the same company that makes Mezz cues. They have a site, but it’s in Japanese. In Singapore, I was able to try one out. It sold for around $100.00 back then. They say that it is made in Efren’s exact specifications. Here is a picture of him using the EBR-501 model.

Common denominators

All of Efren’s cues are 60″ in length. This is probably the only sure common factor in his cues’ specifications that always surfaces around in discussions and interviews. Efren is surprisingly tall, for Filipinos at least. I would say he is around 5’10”. Definitely taller than 5’8″, my height, since I’ve stood beside him a couple of times, but not taller than 5’11”.

Most of his cues’ are wrapless. Meucci’s are notorious for having a protective varnish on top of the wrap. His “Jessy” cue also has varnish on the wrap. His Judd JT1 has cocobolo wood in the wrap area.

For tips, this post claims that he used Elkmaster for several years and then recently switched to Tiger’s Sniper tips. His Elkmaster’s however, were pressed on a vice to compress more.

Finally, a mop handle

The truth is, you can probably hand Efren a mop handle to shoot pool with and he would still beat us. There’s nothing special on Efren’s cues. There’s no one magic cue as well. He uses what feels right to him, sometimes surprisingly he switches cues or shafts in the middle of racks. He could make a ton of money endorsing a particular brand but if it does not feel right for him it might just affect his game. In addition, Efren is also a very superstitious person, he will let go of a cue if he feels it has become unlucky.

I hope this post has been informative. And again, feel free to post a comment if there are discrepancies. My online sources are all linked from this entry. Also, there is a thread in my billiards forum that is all about Efren’s cue. Click here and feel free to join; it’s mostly in Filipino but you can participate in English.

Francisco Bustamante adds another title

UPA US Pro Tour Championship

His last title was in the 2005 World Pool Masters. In this tournament, “Django” defeated Johnny Archer in the finals 7-6 for the $10,000 prize. This year’s US Pro Tour Championship, now on it’s 5th year, was held at the Normandie Casino, Los Angeles. In his journey to the finals, he defeated James Burt, Mike Davis, Tony Crosby, Fabio Petroni and Mika Immonen. What’s more impressive though, is he did not allow any of his opponents more than 5 racks in a race to 11; the final four was brought down to a race to 7. Also in the final match he was down 3-6 and won 4 straight racks in an alternate break format.

Also in tournament were Filipinos Santos Sambajon and Efren Reyes. Efren was again beaten by Tony Crosby - from his memorable loss in the 2006 WPC where he missed the 9.

Lee Van Corteza is the National Pool Champion

2007 BSCP National Pool Championships

A title formerly held by Alex Pagulayan, Lee Van Corteza, 27 years old, defeated Marlon Manalo 13-11 earlier today to become only the 2nd National Pool Champion. The tournament was participated by 64 top Filipino players including the likes of Ronnie Alcano, Rodolfo Luat and Leonardo Andam. “Van-van” only lost once in the tournament, to Carlo Biado, early in the knockout stages.

The finals was not really what people might have expected, although it was close, both seemed to have finals jitters, missing balls and creating unforced errors more than what is usually seen in a finals match. At 12-11, Lee Van broke, runout and never let Marlon back to the table. In Lee’s journey, the semi-finals match between him and Dennis Orcollo was probably more memorable. At 9-9 (in a race to 10), Dennis was about to finish the match clearing out the rest of the final rack. In the 5-ball, he made an excellent cross table bank shot with perfect position for the 6. In a relatively straight shot to the side pocket, he missed the 6-ball, causing him the game, the finals slot and the whole tournament. Corteza then proceeded to clear the rack and gain the finals slot.

Lee Van Corteza pocketed Php 500,000.00 while Marlon manalo took home Php 250,000.00. Iris Rañola, on the other hand, emerged as the first ever winner of the ladies section and went home with Php 200,000.00, defeating Mary-Ann Basas of Davao City, 9-7.

I was only able to go on the third day, arriving around 7:00 p.m., expecting to pay Php 100.00 for the entrance, but instead we were let in for free because the gate was already closing. Was able to catch action in all tables simultaneously with the highlight being the Pagulayan vs. Andam match in TV table two. Here are some pictures.

2007 BSCP National Pool Championship

The 2nd BSCP National Pool Championship

This March 26-31 at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium. The tournament starts live at 1 p.m., and will be televised at ABC-5 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., except for dates which coincide with the PBA. Ticket prices are Php 100, 200 and 1,000 for a week’s pass. BSCP stands for Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines.

Defending the title is of course, Alex “The Lion” Pagulayan, who considers Ronnie Alcano as his top hurdle. Other players in the event include Dennis Orcollo, Antonio Gabica, Lee Van Corteza, Antonio “Nikoy” Lining, Rodolfo Luat, Ramil Gallego, Warren Kiamco and Roberto Gomez.

My money is on Alex Pagulayan this year, he recently defeated Dennis Orcollo in a money game match in One Side and is really on top of his game. The top prize is Php 500,000.00, with prizes up to the 16th place from RAYA Sports and sponsors. Also up for grabs are slots in the 2007 World Pool Championship, which will be held here again by the way. Hoping to catch some action this week, watch out for it in the gallery.

Ronnie Alcano wins another one

World 8-Ball Championship

Defeating fellow Filipino Dennis Orcollo, 11-8, in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates last March 8, 2007. Ronato “Ronnie Calamba,” “The Volcano” Alcano has won two world championships in a span of four months. He took home $25,000.00 for this event, Dennis, on the other hand pocketed $12,500.00.

Other Filipinos who reached the quarter-finals were Elvis Calasang, who was defeated by Ronnie, and, the other Bustamante – Joven Bustamante, who was defeated by Dennis Orcollo. Efren Reyes, unfortunately, was taken down by Marcus Chamat of Sweden early in the tournament.

Ronnie has now proven himself as an established international star in billiards; Dennis Orcollo has also already won major international tournaments, but not as significant as Ronnie’s two world championships. In the Philippines however, Dennis is still regarded as “Money Game King.” I once asked a knowledgeable source from our local pool hall who would win a money match between Dennis and Ronnie. He simply said, “It would not happen, they belong to the same ‘quadrant’ as they have the same manager.” “It will always be the Efren-Django group versus the Ronnie-Dennis group.”

No cue rolls perfect

Except for mine actually. Ok, there are cues that are perfectly straight and roll perfectly straight but hear me out on this one; Efren’s and Django’s cues are not. As recently confirmed by Jojo, a local hustler; he claims that once in One Side, he and his friends did some testing on Efren’s and Django’s cues. Surprised as they were, none of the cues rolled perfect. Upon telling this story, the people at our local pool hall engaged on endless debates on how a small wobble in one’s cue really affects the game. And come to think of it, if the masters can live by it, why can’t we?

Today, I stopped worrying about that inevitable wobble.

Vhante Cues

My post about Ronej Cues got the attention of foreign cue buyers and collectors especially the ones lurking around ebay for the cheaper alternative – top-quality Philippine cues; searches are made for the the brand or the cue maker. It seems that recently Vhante has been putting up more cues for auction, therefore more searches and results land here. He does not have a site yet. I then might as well help a friend and have some information about his product.

Who is behind Vhante cues?

Vhante cues is the cue line of Steve Urate. Steve is the nephew of Jenor Urate, the man responsible for Ronej cues. They do not compete against each other; in fact Steve’s cues are made in the same shop Ronej cues are. Steve also happened to come up with the idea of putting up a cue making business, in the process he convinced his uncle to finance a shop for him and his friends.

What’s the difference between Vhante cues and Ronej cues?

Steve might have helped in the creation of your custom Ronej cue but Vhante cues are all done by Steve from start to finish. It is his personal product.

What kind of craftsmanship can I expect from a Vhante cue?

World class and comparable to top Philippine made cues such as Edwin Reyes, Viattorre, Tony Bautista, Linds, etc. However, the intricacy of the design falls between basic and semi-complex. Steve admits that he still has a lot to learn in making complex designs; he does not want to sign his name to a cue that he can’t build perfectly.

What kind of materials does he use?

Anything that is available at the time of your order. He will also try to find your preferred material if it’s not available. Also, Steve is a pool player so he prefers the radial pin and a flat-faced wood-to-wood joint; obviously he can change that and make a joint to your liking.

How’s the hit?

Subjective. However, due to the number of available options for the joint, tip, ferrule material, etc., you can mix-and-match the hit characteristics from your favorite cues. With regards to the shaft, trust me, they only use top grade Canadian maple.

How long will it take to complete my order?

Two weeks to a month or more. Depends on his work load.

What price range can I expect?

$100 up. Depends on the materials and shipping.

How can I contact Steve?

His ebay store. You can email him from there if you have an ebay account. You can also email me.

Here’s a picture of me posing as a cue maker in their shop.

A Jazz cue

I recently acquired a Jazz custom cue from a friend that comes with a Predator 314 first generation shaft and a regular Jazz shaft. I was only going to buy the Predator shaft but he made me an offer I could not refuse. The total brand new value of the cue including the Predator shaft is a little over $500.

The butt has a curly maple forearm with 8 floating hi and low points made of ebony. The hande is black leather and the butt sleeve is made of ebony with ivory rectangles and floating maple veneers. The ringwork features extensive ivory work reminiscent of Meucci production cues. The butt diameter is a little oversized for some reason. The cue weighs 19.3 ounces with the Predator shaft and is standard in length. With the Jazz shaft, weight goes up to 19.4 and the length becomes 58 1/2 inches. The original shaft for some reason in a little longer.

Jazz cues and Tony Bautista

I have managed to collect some information about Jazz cues and Tony Bautista from a couple of friends. Tony Bautista is the main cue maker for Jazz cues. Jazz cues is a brand that is financed and marketed by a certain capitalist whose name I still have to find out. Tony Bautista I believe came from Edwin Reyes and went solo after he started making a name for himself. Tony Bautista is considered a top cue maker in the Philippines and he is probably the best in inlay work. In fact, I showed the cue to a couple of cue makers and they just marveled at the craftsmanship of my cue’s inlays. In fact, the work at the butt sleeve is almost perfect.

I might sell this cue in the near future. The cue plays great, this is the longest time I’ve had a Predator shaft and I’m still getting used to it. It also comes with a Moori tip and I have to say that that alone is a huge factor in how this cue plays. I’m more of a plain jane cue lover but I just needed to get this cue because of the good offer.

Here’s the related link at bilyar.NET.

Jazz custom cue (Tony Bautista) with Predator 314 shaft

Ronej Cues

Let this post help anyone seeking information about Ronej Cues.

You might have heard about Ronej Cues from ebay or from one of the popular billiards forums out there. I, on the other hand, am just happy to share some information about Ronej, his cues, and his business. Ronej is Jenor (spelt backwards) Urate. He is a retired professional from the construction industry. What exactly was his job before, I do not know. He went into the cue making business because his nephew, Steve Urate, a pool player who shifted full time into cue-making, convinced him to finance a cue-making business that will concentrate on the foreign market – particularly ebay. I believe Steve and his friends were taught by a certain foreigner to sell their cues online.

Steve is the primary cue maker for Jenor. They have a team of about 4-5 men who work daily in Jenor’s shop located beside his house. I know from a fact that this team of cue makers came from other well known local cue manufacturers such as Aragon, Linds and Edwin Reyes. I know Raul (part of Jenor’s team) came from Aragon because I have talked to him personally.

I know all of this because I have been to Jenor’s shop a couple of times now. It is the nearest cue shop from where I live. Jenor is a very, very friendly guy who knows how to satisfy a customer. I have yet to own a Ronej cue (my order is currently being made), but I already have had a couple of my cues modified and re-finished. I also get to see and hold whatever finished cue he may have during my visits. The cues’ craftsmanship is excellent. Everything is made by hand but I could hardly see any flaws from the finished cues. They can build exactly what you want. I consider their style of business as “do exaclty what the customer wants.” I can also attest to the playability of the cue because one of my repaired cues has a new Ronej shaft to it. I consider it as a typical solid, aged and treated piece of maple made into a shaft.

Ronej cues is considered as one of the 2nd-level cues coming from the Philippines. The 1st level includes Edwin Reyes, Linds and Viattorre. The first three of course, you are already buying the name. Philippine-made cues have had a bad reputation to the foreign market due to craftsmanship and warpage. This reputation is slowly being reversed by the 1st-level cue makers and for me, Ronej cues can compete with the best of them. Ronej cues does not have a “signature” hit, since I mentioned earlier that they will do exactly what the customer wants, but if you are looking for a particular “hit,” I suggest knowing first what kind of materials you want especially for the joint and the ferrule, as well as the type of tip. They have all kinds of materials readily available. Soon I will update this post and post some pictures of my cues particularly the Ronej cue (when I get it) and the ones I had repaired.

In the meantime, you can browse Ronej cues in ebay.

By the way, there is also a seller in ebay called Vhante Cues. That is Steve Urate. Basically those cues are done by him from start to finish so there may be a signature style there.

If you want to know how to get in touch with Jenor (local number or address), please email me or post a comment. His email is ronejcuephils@yahoo.com.

What a night in One Side

Last night I decided to pay One Side in Mabini, Malate a visit. I’ve heard so many good things about this billiard hall and I also went there during the the World Pool Championship (usually around 11 p.m.) but most times I would end up forgetting I was wearing my trusty Havana’s. They are really strict with the whole dress code thing.

In one night I was able to witness a Francisco Bustamante vs. Jeff de Luna 10-ball match, an Alex Pagulayan vs. Dennis Orcullo 10-ball match, a Darren Appleton (what’s he still doing here?) vs. Jharome Pena 9-ball match and a Bert Dy (Bert Pasay) vs. a young up-and-comer (sorry first time I saw him) 10-ball, with a 9-10 handicap, match. There was also this other table featuring 2 more tiradors, the one’s name is at the tip of my tongue. Simultaneously! And believe me, the class and skills they show in money-games are nothing compared to the tournaments. Pool-heaven-post-WPC galore.