Sep 4, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff WriterSaturday's competition at Wind River Casino was the largest 8-ball event in Wyoming this year.
Becka Larkin of Livingston, Mont., decided to forego the worries of wildfires surrounding her home for a few days as she vacationed in Riverton with her girlfriends.
"There really isn't anything I can do but worry," Larkin said. "I decided to get away for a little bit and take my mind off everything."
Larkin was one of 100 players participating in the Wind River Hotel and Casino's 8-Ball Battle, the largest pool tournament in the state of Wyoming.
Signing up for the highest women's division, bracket A, Larkin said she has played pool since she was a little girl and was excited to compete in the tournament.
"My husband told me not to worry about the fires near our cattle ranch and come play in the tournament over the weekend," Larkin said. "I packed up all the important documents I own like my marriage license, passport, and pictures. I am trying to just take my mind off of everything."
Pool tournament organizer Peggy Black said the event attracted players from Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nebraska.
The four-day tournament was held in the entertainment room at the casino where 15 pool tables were set up for competition.
"We wanted to bring other activities to the area which is good for the economy," Black said. "Pool is a popular game, and for a lot of people it is their hobby."
Those participating in the tournament were not allowed to smoke or drink alcohol.
"The tournament is different than a lot of pool tournaments in that you can have a lot of fun without needing to drink or smoke," Black said. "It really shows people that you don't need to smoke or drink in order to have fun."
Black said more than $12,000 in prize money was going to be awarded throughout the different divisions in the second annual tournament.
"If you are a beginning pool player you are put in the C bracket," Black said. "Once you win a tournament you get to be a B, and once you win a few tournaments you are placed in the highest bracket which is A. This tournament has a lot of different brackets participating."
Sean Robertson of Riverton lost his game but enjoyed getting to see a lot of his friends.
"I made too many mistakes during my game," Robertson said. "It is just nice to be able to get out of the everyday routine and meet up with a lot of people you don't get to see on a regular basis."
Robertson said the tournament draws a lot of great pool players, and competition is high.
"It is great camaraderie," Robertson said. "You just get to have a lot of fun while playing the game of pool."
Bill Mayo of Riverton has played pool for 20 years and won his match in the A, AA, AAA, bracket.
"This has been a lot of fun to come play pool at the casino," Mayo said. "I know a lot of these players participating in the tournament. It is fun to be able to reunite and play some competitive pool."
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.