Locals looking to get schooled in pool could have learned (and lost to) one of the world's best the last few weeks. Shane Van Boening, the South Dakota Kid, just wrapped up a two-week layover in Fort Collins.
Van Boening, a hearing-impaired, straight-edge shooter born to champion-caliber pool players, spent most of his time at Match Ups on Mason Street. He is currently the number one ranked billiards player in the world, according to AZBilliards.com.
Pool hustling has gotten a brighter spotlight recently due to a book, Running the Table, by L. Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, which profiles Danny "Kid Delicious" Basavich and his life on the road (I grew up one town over from Delicious, and his hometown pool hall was just a few minutes from my parents' house). One of the more interesting aspects of the story, which is being made into a movie now, is how hustling has declined for the likes of Van Boening and Delicious because the Internet has made it impossible for sharp shooters to keep low profiles as they travel the country looking for marks. The hold 'em boom has also grabbed a lot of the action that used to revolve around tournament billiards.
One Match Ups bartender told me no one was dumb enough to challenge Van Boening to a money game, even with him openly offering some generous spots to any takers-on.