Deno Andrews is the chief operating officer of the International Pool Tour, which will run at the Grand Sierra (the former Reno Hilton) from Sept. 2-10. He played three-cushion billiards professionally but quit playing because he wasn’t making enough money. He went to business school and worked in the bio-technology industry before meeting Kevin Trudeau, natural cures author, who provided the seed money for the pool tour. That relationship launched the International Pool Tour. The IPT is the world’s largest professional billiards organization, with “all the best players,” representing 29 different countries.
All the best players, so not just the top one or two, but the top 100?
It’s easily the top 100, probably the top 150. There are maybe—maybe—three or four top players in the world—not even top—three or four people who might be considered top 150 that might not be on our tour. They do get on through qualification tournaments because the “best” is a changing status. You might be great one year, and you might stink the next year.
One of the things about this tournament is its huge money.
Not only is it huge money, but this tournament we are bringing to Reno is the largest tournament in the history of cue sports. It’s $3 million prize money. And the winner of the tournament wins a half-a-million dollars. [To put that in perspective], the WPBA …
Women’s Professional Billiards Association. Their first-place prize for the champion—the Allison Fishers of the world—is usually between $12-15,000 per tournament. It’s ungodly low money.
Now how in the world did you pick Reno for this?
There are several criteria we use to pick out spaces to hold these tournaments. One is space. The most important thing is to have enough space to have these events. A typical pool tournament might have 8-12 tables. Our tournaments require 60 tables. Other tournaments have very limited seating for spectators. We like to have seating for thousands of spectators at any given time. Most tournaments don’t have a private room for all of the players. All of our tournaments have a players lounge—La-Z-Boy recliners, televisions, massage therapists, catered food—all being free for the players. That’s a big expense, and it’s a great perk to be a player. Most tournaments aren’t on TV. Our tournaments are broadcast around the world, live. Eurosport broadcasts all our tournaments live all over Europe—59 different countries, 20 languages. The television aspect of our shows takes up 10,000 square feet.
So it’s the convention facility of the Grand Sierra?
They’ve got a massive ballroom that we’ll be able to take up the entire ballroom space. It’s just a massive production. The second piece of the criteria is it has to be a world-class convention facility. Obviously, to bring in these tables—these tables are 1,500 pounds each. There are 60 of them; they come in on semis. We need to be dealing with professional spaces that can do large-scale events and have the staff to pull them off without a hitch. There are all sorts of other things that come into play. It’s the quality of the venue for the players. We want to have these in class establishments that have nice rooms, nice facilities, nice amenities for our crew and for the players. And then there’s availability, so if you meet all those criteria, then you have to have these dates open.
What’s the total number of games that will be played in this tournament?
The total number of games will be nearly 12,000.
How long do you have to complete the tournament?
We’ll do the tournament in eight days.
Oh my gawd.
The play starts at 10 o’clock in the morning and often goes to 11 or 12 at night.