After 15 years of knocking 8-balls into corner pockets, Tina Romito-Cammarata can hold her own in the Association of P.O.O.L. "Before I shoot, I envision where I hit the cue ball to get the object ball into the pocket," she says. "If you can't make it, don't leave your opponent with an open shot."
Since 2000, the coed P.O.O.L. -- which stands for Privately Owned & Operated Leagues -- has grown to 30 teams. They represent shot-and-a-beer joints like Andy's Hot Spot on Denison Road and the Closing Room on Lorain Avenue. Each five-member team plays an opponent every week. (Tournaments are scheduled in January and June.) "Even though somebody's better than you, you can still beat them," says Romito-Cammarata. "Just play smart."
Romito-Cammarata bought the Cleveland chapter of the Virginia-based P.O.O.L. eight years ago, after a deal to purchase another club fell through. "The owner had someone else in mind and said, 'We're giving it to him,'" says Romito-Cammarata. "I said, 'You know what? I'm going to be your biggest competitor.' Three years later, I put him out of business." P.O.O.L. shoots from 7:30 p.m. to midnight Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at 30 bars throughout Cuyahoga County. Annual dues are $20, weekly fee is $8. Call 877-341-5858 for more information. -- Cris Glaser
It's Fragging Time!
Kids put aside schoolwork to slay evil.
Fourteen-year-old Jerrod Berry gets "a little wigged out" after school. So he heads for the Escape LAN Gaming Center, where he unwinds by playing Armies of Exigo -- one of more than 50 PC and XBox games at the venue's 17 video stations. "It's where beasts, knights, and elves are locked in a war for survival," Berry explains. "You have to battle in the forests and caves to consume the dark evil. It's a lot better than learning algebra." The Gaming Center (470 Northfield Road in Bedford) is open from noon to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday. Hourly fee is $6 ($4 on Mondays); call 800-808-3621. -- Cris Glaser