Sulphur pool player wins national 9-ball shootout championship in Vegas

Published 8:20 am Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Ashton Richard’s journey as an amateur poolplayer started as a young child playing on the family pool table at home and hasn’t stopped since.

The rising star on the local amateur pool circuit won big in her first appearance on the national stage when she walked away with a championship and $10,000 at the 2024 American Poolplayers Association 9-ball Shootout Pool Championship in Las Vegas on May 5.

“It’s exciting,” Richard said. “There was a lot going on. It was my first time ever going (9-ball Shootou),” Richard said. “It definitely didn’t hit me (immediately).

Email newsletter signup

“It took a bit before it was like got in (my mind) that I won because of all the adrenaline and stuff but it was definitely exciting.”

Richard’s journey to the championship nearly ended in the early rounds. She won her opening match, but lost her second, dropping her to the losers bracket. She battled back to make it out of pool play and reach the eight-person finals bracket.

Richard won seven consecutive matches to win the Green Tier championship. The APA uses a four-tier skill level system for 9-ball competition. Richard started the tournament at Level 3, the highest in the initial Green Tier. She reached Level 4 just before the championship match, which means she will compete in the White Tier (skill levels 4-5).

In the championship match against Raylynn Percy of Fernley, Nevada, Richard pocketed the 9-ball on a combination shot to close out the first two games, scoring nine consecutive points at one point. But Percey battled back to get within three points of winning before she scratched going for the 8-ball in the fifth game, opening the window for Richard, who remained calm and knocked in the eight and nine-ball to win.

“There was a lot going on and he was it was a tough environment,” Richard said. “But I don’t really get nervous too much. So I think I was just like any other match pretty much.”

She said she is grateful for the support of her parents and fiance who traveled with her to Vegas.

“They are always supporting me, and they always go to everything,” Richard said.

Richard said the key to her success is just having fun and not stressing out over the outcome.

“That is the way I look at it is I just play to have fun,” Richard said. “I don’t if I win, I win, and if I lose I at least had fun doing it.

“I don’t like to put pressure on myself like a lot of other people do. I feel like that’s probably why some people don’t make it all the way because they put too much pressure on themselves and I try not to do that.”

Richard, who graduated from college in 2021 and is a drafter for Dashiell Corporation, learned the game from her parents. She said she started playing around 2004 or 2006 and started playing competitively in her late teens.

“Because my parents have a pool table at their house. So I’ve been playing since I can hold a stick. I just wasn’t playing competitively until I was 16 or 17.”

She hopes to reach the skill level of her father (7) and uncle (9) one day.

“My dad is pretty good and all my uncles are pretty good too,” Richard said. “I beat my mom a couple of times, like in not in any tournament settings.

“Like we’ve played matches and stuff and I’d beat them both. But I wouldn’t say that I beat my dad because like he probably let me have a couple. I just want to keep playing fun. And if I make it back to this (APA 9-ball Shootout Pool Championship) I will go up. Of course, I plan to get better and be able to compete with people like my dad.”

Richard plays and practices multiple times a week, usually at Cash Magic in Sulphur. She plays in the APA Acadiana League which is run by Lisa and Preston Granger.

“I play League Every Monday and Wednesday night,” Richard said. “And then the usually we play like a little like in town tournaments on Fridays. Or if we don’t have tournaments, I go over to my dad’s house, so probably about three, maybe sometimes four days a week. I play a good amount.”

Richard said the strategy is important in 9-ball. With the object of the game being to knock the ball into any pocket in numerical order, using each shot to set up the next is key.

“Most of the time, but because I am a lower skill level I usually just try to make the ball because it is a points game so I usually just try to make the ball and try to get a little close to where I can make the next one,” Richard said. “But yeah, you’re supposed to think a couple of rounds ahead.”