Now Playing: Catching Up With Karl Boyes

After competing in numerous tournaments, 3 time Mosconi Cup champion and former World Cup of Pool champion Karl Boyes sits down and talks about his time learning and playing the game of pool and 9-ball.


Ben: Here we are today joined by the former World Cup of Pool champion and three-time Mosconi cup champion, Karl Boyes. Carl welcome.

Karl: Thank you.

Ben: So we're going to quick fire some questions to you today to give viewers and followers a real understanding of nine-ball and just a bit about yourself really. So what kind of got you into cue sports in the beginning? 

Karl: I started playing English eight-ball when I was 14 years old. There was a pub over the road from where I lived with my parents. And I was just going there playing pool and the local guy who stood at the bar spotted me. And he said oh, it looks like he's got a good eye for the ball, you know, sort of potting the ball. So he signed me up to the team. And obviously, I was 14 years of age. I was playing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday night, going over to pubs where obviously we weren't allowed. But they would asking if I were to go to pubs and whatnot. So when I was going to school the day after, I really didn't have the interest. I was just thinking about the pub and playing real pool. And it was good. So that's where it all started, to be honest.

Ben: Yeah. And what made you in transition then, I guess, from eight to nine? 

Karl: In 2006, there was a guy in America who set up the IPT, which was International Pool Tour. And it was eight ball on a nine ball table. And the money was unbelievable, so I was just desperate to get on the tour. And I went to America for a year basically. And I qualified for the tour. We played two events and it was unbelievable. We were playing on a Diamond pool table, which I had never seen before because I thought pool was English pool. And then when that died off and it weren't successful, the tour, I saw I couldn't face going back to English eight ball, because I realized that pool, in general, is American pool if you like. That's what they play all over the world. So I decided to stick playing nine ball and American eight ball.

Ben: Brilliant, so you talked about Diamond. You must have played on a variety of different tables over the years. Is there a particular style of table or size you prefer?

Karl: I think playing on the ten foot by five foot, which I never knew existed but apparently the heritage of nine ball in American cuesports, that's where it all began really.

Ben: Brilliant.

Karl: Obviously, they started making smaller tables to fit in bars, etc. So obviously that's why it's sort of changed, but I just think when you play on a bigger table, your cue action's gotta be more perfect. And obviously that catches the weaker players out, let's say, as opposed to on a smaller table.

Ben: Yeah, so you've played in a variety of different tournaments as well, both in this country and overseas. Is there a particular tournament or is there a highlight that really kind of sticks out?

Karl: Yeah, I mean there's been many. Obviously, I've won like Mosconi cups, world cups, world eight-ball championships. You know, I beat Shane Van Boening in America in a final on a ten by five, which not many people have. But it probably sounds a bit silly, but I think when I look back, the biggest sort of win I ever had was winning the Radcliffe pool individual singles. And that sounds a bit crazy because it was like two hundred pounds first prize and it was a race to three. But I think now I'm 32 when I was a kid I wanted it more than anything. Do you know what I mean? It was my life because where now, I never set out to be a nine ball player, see. So I can't really say it's been my dream because I didn't set out to do that. I set out to play English eight ball. So I remember speaking to my mom and my sister and whatnot, and I was just so desperate to win that title. And obviously it was only a race to two or three, I can't remember. And when I won it, I was like the happiest kid in the world. Do you know what I mean?

Ben: So from a practice then, from your practice then as a kid I guess, to where you now, do you there a set routine? Because some people stick to routines, and some people say no, forget routine, I'm just going to play. 

Karl: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, I'm sort of more of a talented player. But obviously you've still got to put the hard work in. And at times it just doesn't pay off. In some ways you probably better off not being talented because you work harder, you know what I mean? But obviously, you know, you've got to practice things because if you don't play a lot, you feel rusty and stuff. So yeah, you've gotta do your routines and getting confidence from it really.

Ben: So we touched on your favorite size of table. So the ten foot sounds like you've had some great success at the ten foot. So from a maker table, what is your favorite, if you had to pick, favorite table? What would your favorite table be?

Karl: Yeah, I mean, through English eight ball and American pool, I think over the years I've played on all different types of brands of tables, obviously. Probably like 15 or 20 different brands of table. But at 32, having played 15, 16 years, I would say Diamond billiard tables are the best. They feel more strong. You feel like if you're walking around and you sort of accidentally nudge it, it's not going to go anywhere. And when you pot the ball, it sort of thuds and rolls in the pocket, the bounce off the cushion. It just seems to be made of real quality stuff. Do you know what I mean? As whereas some of the other tables, they can be a bit flimsy, let's say.

Ben: Okay, mate. This is another question that's coming from the team here, actually from here at Home Leisure, is what's it like to be the poster boy of nine ball? And did you even know you were the poster boy of nine ball?

Karl: Yeah. Of course. No, I mean, obviously, people say that and wherever else. But I think it's like when I first came on the scene, I was about 18, 18 and a half stone. And I went to the gym and I lost a lot of weight. And I think my looks improved a bit losing the weight and whatever. So it obviously gets mentioned. It's nice but at the end of the day, it doesn't win your tournaments, I suppose.

Ben: No. So when you win those tournaments, in the back of your head, because I wouldn't know what it's like obviously to play in front of millions of people, probably no more than five or ten. And that's obviously just local friends. What's it like, pressure-wise and do you even think about that pressure as you take those shots when you're live on TV or in a big competition?

Karl: Yeah, I mean, obviously when you're not playing a regular pool tournament where you have like anywhere between 10 or 20 tables in a big open space and there's no pressure because you might play in the corner of the room and what not, going to play on a one table setup, which we don't play many events like that. So it's not like we're used to it, like let's say golf or sort of snooker players or whatever else; you get used to it. I think you just don't want to sort of look silly, really. But I'm sort of used to looking a bit silly anyway. So if I make a silly mistake, I can just laugh at myself and people usually just forget about you, you know what I mean?

Ben: Yeah. But what about that final shot? You said that final shot is worth the championship which is worth the prize fund, obviously, and the accolade. What's it like having to take it, especially if it's a tricky one?

Karl: Well, I was just going to say it. You're sort of hoping you're straight on the nine and you can sort of pot it one handed, really. But I suppose if its a bit tricky, you're thinking 'Oh God, I've not landed too well on this shot'. But I suppose when you're in the heat of the moment and the pressure's on, you just sort of...that's what you practice about when you've played all your life. You've done it so many times before in practice and in match situations. And that's what experience is about, really.

Ben: Do you find that you zone out? Do you literally get into the zone of that ball? Or are you very aware of everything else that's kind of going on around you?

Karl: No, I think you sort of zone in, to be honest. And if you're not zoned on that particular shot, the chances are you're going to mess it up because you're thinking about what somebody said in the crowd or you're not happy with like the air cone or whatever. You're obviously, you're feeling it a bit. Your mind's not on the job, really.

Ben: Yeah. So at the world cup of pool there's obviously two of you?

Karl: Yeah.

Ben: So I guess play versus yourself and an opponent versus two of you, I guess there's a bit more camaraderie having watched you this year in the world cup of pool.

Karl: Yeah there is, but the thing with when you play Scotch doubles, I mean, it's great for TV and it's exciting. But as a player, you never feel relaxed because you're obviously not playing a lot of shots, aren't you? Your playing 50% of the shots. So I think that's why the drama's very good in it because you don't sort of find your cueing arm, if that makes sense. And sometimes you can have a bit of a nightmare and then that can affect your partner and whatever else. So it makes for good TV, to be honest. But I've always liked playing doubles or team events.

Ben: Yeah. So more so than solo?

Karl: Yeah, I think so. I think obviously I don't really like sort of being alone or being on me own. Like when I'm back home, I've got a lot of mates and our house is always full of everybody; it's full of family. Or somebody's always in the house; it's never like quiet, do you know what I mean? So if you're travelling around on your own and you're got to practice on your own, I find it a bit depressing. So I think I should have been a footballer, really. I'm getting a good laugh here, eh?

Ben: So talking football, any other sports you [inaudible 00:00:00] at? Are you any good at, I don't know, golf, football?

Karl: I liked to play a lot of golf when I was a kid before I started playing pool. I was a junior member with my dad, [inaudible 00:08:40] golf course in Radcliffe. And I still play alright now. Well, people say I could probably be single handicap. Football, I don't play enough to get that down, but I like to have a game. I like to play a bit of tennis, table tennis. That's probably about it, really.

Ben: Yeah. Not much of a footy man? Rugby? Cricket?

Karl: No, as a kid obviously growing up in Manchester, it was like the red and blue divide. And at school I was a sort of a red bloke, growing up watching the Derby days in the pubs. And the pubs getting smashed up, I just thought what's all this about? Sort of just concentrated on the pool, really. And so as I've got older, I watch the big champions league games, and obviously the big tournaments. But I don't really follow a particular team.

Ben: Alright, fair enough. So, Karl, you've obviously got your table that you've talked about, your Diamond at home. How does that play versus a table in a competition? Or a table that you're playing maybe on the TV? Is there a difference between your home table versus one in a tournament?

Karl: Yeah. I mean, even though it's the same table, you know, I bought my table from Diamond, who sponsor the tour. It's the exact same table, the same cloth, the same balls, but it plays like two different tables. And that's not obviously the table's fault, it's just the conditions. Imagine my converted garage, if you like. So it's a bit colder, I don't have table heaters on it. I don't have got TV lighting beaming down it, which makes a lot hotter. And obviously I don't change the cloth on it because I'm a bit tight. But when you play on a brand new cloth and it's really hot in the arena, it slides a lot more. So you could sort of aim a particular part on the cushion, on let's say my table at home, and then the same position on the TV table and it'll come off different. So you have to adjust. And I'm sort of not the best at adjusting on a TV table because I'm used to playing in the clubs and the pubs, really. So yeah, I'm sort of used to like battered tables with like rips in it and stuff like that.

Ben: Yeah, excellent. Okay, cool. So my final question Karl is what does the next 12 months look like for you? What have you got planned?

Karl: Yeah, I mean, the calendar in the sort of modern era has gone really crazy. We're starting to play a lot more in China. That seems to be the beginning of the year. And obviously, we've got, obviously, all the regular tournaments. So it's a packed season. And I sort of want to start the year off by losing some weight again and back into the gym. I've got like bad neck, bad knee. So I need to sort of control the diet. It's not easy when you're on the tour. But yeah, they're the sort of goals. And try and win another world championships, really.

Ben: Fantastic. Okay mate. Well look, thanks for stopping by. And from all of us here at Home Leisure...

Karl: Cheers, pal. Nice one.

Ben: ...good luck for the future.

Karl: Thanks, mate.

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