Pool's the game: Bend man heading to nationals

Success at billiards brings big trip to Las Vegas

Bend man heading to Vegas for national pool tournament

BEND, Ore. - More than 300 pool players are descending on Las Vegas this week for the Amateur Pool Players of America's National 9-Ball Shootout.

Four of them are from Oregon, and one is from in Bend.

From the Moose Lodge in Bend to the Rivera Casino in Las Vegas: That's the slight upgrade Curtis Mayo will have this week as part of the APA's 9-Ball Shootout.

It all started back in February, when he qualified for nationals by winning the regional competition in Oregon City.

"I don't know that I've truly accepted it yet, I really don't," Mayo said this week. "It's one of those things where I get down to Vegas and it's all going to hit me like, 'Oh my God -- here I am!'"

He'll join amateur pool players throughout the country for the three-day event that hands out cash and prizes totaling $150,000.

The shootout is divided into three skill levels, of which Mayo is in the white tier as a Level 4.

After the break in 9 Ball, you have to shoot at the balls in numerical order.

Mayo's main adjective is not to be taken out in the first round.

And he has the backing of everyone in his local league.

"Everyone in the league, the local league is super excited for me. They've got a picture of me up on the board, which kind of embarrasses me, but every time I play, they're like hey good luck, then they whoop my butt when we're playing that league night," Mayo said.

When his first match starts on Thursday, Mayo knows he'll be a bit nervous, but he's going to try and stay as even-keeled as possible.

"I don't want to get too excited, because I get too excited, and then I'll get anxious,  and then I'll go down there and I'll choke," Mayo said. "Make no mistake, I want to go down and represent Central Oregon -- and I want to win."

His game plan heading into the shootout: Try and take each match just like it's league play back at the Moose Lodge.

"I'm here to play, and I'm here to have a good time," Mayo said. "And if I'm not having a good time  and if I'm getting nervous about it, there's no point in me being there. I'm there to have fun."

"One of the things I find works for me is, I'll look at my opponent just like he's one of the buddies off my team, and I'll try to whoop his ass. I mean, that's the bottom line," he added.

And if he does bring home the $10,000 prize for winning his skill level, he says he'll either buy a new rig or put the cash in the bank.

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