Local shooters rack up fun, tournament-level competition

By Bruce Hope
Posted 1/20/21

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Corner Pocket pool hall in Green Cove Springs, which doubles as a diner, is an exciting place. Whether it is hosting poker tournaments, darts, Karaoke, pool or Bingo, with …

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Local shooters rack up fun, tournament-level competition

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Corner Pocket pool hall in Green Cove Springs, which doubles as a diner, is an exciting place. Whether it is hosting poker tournaments, darts, Karaoke, pool or Bingo, with rewards of up to $250, there is usually something going on.

But most of all, people come to shoot pool.

“We have 11 pool tables. We play APA and NAPA,” said Cheri Starnes, co-owner of Corner Pocket with her husband, Noel. “We have quite a few people who play on Thursdays and the same way on Sundays.”

The Corner Pocket also has a team that competes in the American Poolplayers Association and North American Poolshooters Association.

While Thursdays and Sundays are the primary days for players in the NAPA, patrons can play any day.

Corner Pocket has been a local establishment for about 20 years. The Starnes owned Corner Pocket for the past two years and two months.

“We decided to buy the pool hall because it was for sale, and my husband loves pool,” said Starnes. “And I just thought it would be a good thing for us to own.”

The pool hall entertains many long-time players as well as those who are more recent arrivals to the game.

“I just started [playing pool] two years ago,” Starnes said. “My husband’s been playing since he was in high school. He played here before we ever owned it [Corner Pocket].”

Meanwhile, Steve Fuller has been playing for six years and is on the eight-member team that won a qualified in a local Orange Park tournament last year that earned them a spot at the Las Vegas tournament to compete against players from around the globe.

Corner Pocket is the main pool hall where Fuller plays. The team is a part of the First Coast APA.

Fuller said the Orange Park qualifier featured about 90 teams fighting for the chance to move onto the more significant competition.

The team went to Las Vegas to compete in the World Pool Players Association Tournament and placed around the middle of the pack, finishing 358th out of 750.

The tournament lasted for one week, and the Corner Pocket team lasted until Day 5.

Corner Pocket players – Bob Clark and George Falcon (Black Ballers Matter), Noel Starnes and Nick Watts (Gators) and Calvin Rollins and Cheri Starnes (Ebony and Ivory) – also competed a week ago at the NAPA Scotch Doubles National Championship at Brunswick, Georgia.

Fuller loves being a member of the Corner Pocket team.

“I love the camaraderie,” he said. “I love the people that play there. We play there all the time. We don’t care about whether we go to Vegas or not. If we get to go, we get to go. We don’t care about that. We just love the people that are associated [with Corner Pocket]. When we were in Vegas, it brought all of us together. It’s like, we were there together, and we were playing together, and we played as a team together. It brought us a little bit closer.”

Fuller says if he speaks to someone who’s never played before, he would tell them to give it a try.

“Just shooting pool and having fun with others, that’s the important thing,” he said.

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