His name alone strikes fear in his opponents. Mark “The Snake” Jones. I vividly remember the first time I met him. It was in 1988 when I was a student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. I was just starting to get “serious” with pool and was looking for a place to play near Georgia Tech’s campus. If I was going to be a serious pool player I knew I needed to have my own cue, so I bought my very first cue from a local billiards supply company in Atlanta. When I mentioned my interest in getting involved in a pool league, they steered me to a league operator with the American Pool Players Association. It turns out, there was an APA 8-Ball team playing out of a bar relatively near Georgia Tech called The Beer Mug. I signed up.
I played with my team at The Beer Mug for a couple years, and often had the opportunity to watch Mark play as The Beer Mug was also his team’s home base. The thing I remember most about Mark was the intensity of his focus and his game face. There was something about the way he held himself as he whipped around the table, adjusting his wheelchair, taking aim, and in almost all cases either pocketing a ball or playing a tight safe. He had a killer instinct and a desire to win that was intimidating. Everyone in the league knew who he was. I was actually scared of him, but his tenacity and drive motivated me to be a better player.
I left the Atlanta area 15 years ago for a job in California. I often wondered what became of Mark. Imagine my surprise a few days ago when a friend sent me a link to an article in the Atlanta magazine Creative Loafing. Surprise, surprise! Mark is doing very well, indeed. He will be traveling to South Africa this December to compete for a gold medal in the WPA’s 9-Ball Championship. I was ecstatic to see Mark again, and I wish him the best of luck in South Africa. You can read more about Mark and his journey in the Creative Loafing article by clicking either of the pictures above. Good luck Mark!