World-renowned billiards icon Nick Varner sized up the greens at Hood River Billiards on Tuesday, treating the locals to a full day of fun and learning.
Varner, who has won world championships in five disciplines — 8-ball, 9-ball, straight pool, bank and one pocket — spent the entire day sharing his experiences and expertise with Gorge-area billiards aficionados.
He taught a three-hour clinic in the afternoon and held an exhibition in the evening, giving Hood River a glimpse of what the world’s most recognizable pool player is all about.
“It’s fun for me because I like to give people an opportunity they don’t get all the time,” said Varner, a Florida resident who is playing in a tournament in Renton, Wash., this weekend.
“The players I have met here are very interested in improving their games, and I’m happy to show them what I know,” he said.
Approximately 65 people turned out to Hood River Billiards Tuesday evening for Varner’s exhibition, and owner Cristy Barsky was ecstatic.
“The exhibition was a tremendous success,” she said. “A lot of people told me it was the most fun they’ve had in a while, and we were all amazed and awed by Nick’s demonstrations.”
Varner took 22 challenge matches — losing just two — and put on an hour-and-a-half trick shot show that Barsky called “truly extraordinary.”
“People were cheering and stomping their feet,” she said. “He was pulling off shots that many of us had never seen before.”
Barsky said Varner was signing autographs until 11:30 p.m. and he felt very welcome in Hood River. Varner said he likes to promote the sport in any way he can, and he may even return in the future.
“I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for the game after all these years,” he said. “I still really enjoy it and I love to share whatever I can with people who are intent on improving their games.”