Nick Varner, aka "The Kentucky Colonel"
Little in Stature, Big in Heart:
A top player throughout the 80's and into the present, the diminutive Nick Varner, (about 5'4" in his stocking feet) is an all-around great pool professional.
For most of his younger years, Nick neglected the game he learned at home in Indiana where his father, a businessman, owned a small Billiards equipment showroom and pool hall. Five-year-old Nick was quite the sight pulling a soda case around a table so he could stand atop it to reach the playing surface.
A top local player by the time he graduated high school, the shy Nick put away his cue. But one afternoon as a young man in college, his life changed forever.
Two Titans Meet:
Nick wandered into his school's activity center and asked for a game of pool where the top stick, who would become reigning national champion of the A.C.U.I. Tournament, Richard Baumgarth, stepped to the challenge! Though he had not shot pool for months, Baumgarth was just four games ahead following a two-hour session.
Nick started to win after several afternoons of intense competition that thrilled him. Falling in love with pool again, he held daily practice sessions where he often ran a hundred or more shots in a row.
The College Champ:
Later, Varner topped his local rival to arise supreme champion at the A.C.U.I.'s, playing his favorite game, Straight Pool. Some years ago, to the regret of many, A.C.U.I. became exclusively Eight Ball and later, Nine Ball, competition.
Nick repeated as champion in 1970, winning his second national title in Gainesville, Florida. He later named a line of his custom cues "The Gainesville". Nick is still the foremost competitor to emerge from collegiate competition successfully.
Decades of Dominance:
Both Nick's gentle, disarming personality and his extraordinary skill at the table including his exquisite cue ball positioning insure his popularity with pool's fans. They have watched him become one the dominant players of pool history.
In 1989, Nick won half the Pro Pool Tour events he entered, scoring 11 titles, a record not likely to be equaled. Two of his Championships in 1989 included the World Championship and the US Open 9-Ball Championship.
His over 80 tournament championships, including 8 World Championships, placed him as a 1992 inductee into the Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame.
What Ben Burman Said:
Writer Ben Lucien Burman wrote after watching Nick at New York's Players Club, "To watch Nick Varner at a pool table is like watching a portrait being painted by Rembrandt."
Among many highlights, Varner is the sole player ever named World Champion in 5 different pool games, including Straight Pool, 9-Ball and One Pocket. Straight Pool is considered a premier test of skill, and at one practice session, Nick ran
nearly 350 shots without a miss, a performance that kept his inning
alive at the table for nearly three hours!
A Personal Memory:
A kind and sincere man, I have fond remembrances of this living legend as do friends. Following one trick shot exhibition, Nick played all comers at Nine Ball, and I broke but left myself a difficult shot 2-ball. I played safe and we both sallied on defense for several minutes to the oohs of the crowd before Nick ran to the nine for the win.
Nick lingered a long time over his shot then bounced the nine off the point of the side pocket, setting me for the win! The crowd gasped at his near miss but from his big smile I knew Nick played a perfect shot, designed to encourage little ol' me in my meager efforts.