McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

July 6, 2013

The Grand Master of McAlester

By Matt Goisman
Sports Writer

McALESTER — Marlan Isbell has had great success playing pool. He’s won several state tournaments and performed well at the national level, and in 2010 he was among the first group of players named Grand Master by the Black Gold Billiards Congress of America Pool League.

But such triumphs come with, if not regret, then at least an awareness that it took too long for Isbell to reach this level. Because of that, Isbell never had a chance to turn his talents into a professional pool career.

“It was all pretty much self-taught for me,” Isbell said Thursday.

“I’ll be 40 years old soon, and I’m getting some eyesight issues.”

Rather than dwell on what might’ve been, Isbell is using his own story to help others. He’ll open Back Alley Billiards in McAlester later this month, hopefully helping young pool players in this area develop faster and with the organized instruction Isbell never received.

“I would get as much out of pool now if I could get a youth group in, if I could get some young girls, some young guys in here that like the game and wanted to learn,” Isbell said.

“I know what it’s done for me. I didn’t want to go out when I was young and get drunk on the weekends and do stupid stuff. I wanted to shoot pool.”

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