The magician who put our nation in the Billiard map, Efren “Bata” Reyes is a winner of over 70 international titles and also was the first player to win world championships in two different disciplines in pool. He is considered by many analyst, pool players, and fans to be the greatest billiard player of all time.

Efren was born in Mexico, Pampanga but later moved in Manila by the age of 5 with his family. In his young age, Efren was tasked to be the billiards attendant at his uncle’s billiard hall, from there he learned the various cue sports at a very young age. That time, he was referred as “Bata” which is Tagalog for ‘Kid’, because there was another older pool player named Efren when he was young. He often remembered that when he was young, he used to sleep on the billiard table while dreaming he was playing pool.

During his early years in playing pool, he learn to gamble by playing “Three-Cushion” Billiard where he became famous and later on discovered by promoters to compete in big-time tournaments. From there, he became one of the rising stars in billiards alongside Jose Parica, Rodolfo Luat, Jorge Dacer, and Manuel Flores. Since 1978, he represented the Philippines in international pool tournaments and that’s now more than 40 years of representing the Philippines, but his fame did not start immediately.

Since 1980s, Efren is already considered to be the nation’s top billiard player but not yet internationally recognized, so he went to U.S. to hustle. Hustle is a deceptive act of disguising one’s skill in sport to make money in the streets; popular legend claims that Reyes earned US$80,000 in a week hustling in the United States. From there, he gained international exposure and began winning a number of tournaments in the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia.

His first highlight in his professional pool career was when he defeated Nick Varner in 1994 US Open Nine Ball Championship; Efren Reyes was the first non-American to win the event. Two years later, he eventually faced another legend in Earl Strickland for the Color of Money event. In his prime, it was documented that he defeated every pool legends in any form of pool tournament and also claiming record-breaking prize pool in every tournament he won.

Reyes was the first player to win world championships in two different disciplines in pool, first in 1999 for 9-ball and 2004 for 8-ball. In 2003, he was the first Asian to be inducted into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame.

In 2006, he teamed up with Django Bustamante to represent the Philippines and eventually defeat Team USA which consists of Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris. In 2009, the pair also defeated the German pair of Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann to take their second championship title.

Reyes alongside with fellow “Filipino Invasion” pool players who introduced the art of pinpointing precision kicking, revolutionized new ways to win in a pool game. He was named as “The Magician” by his U.S. fans and peers for his outstanding ability to “kick safe” and to kick balls into intended pockets.

Awards and Honors

  • Philippine Legion of Honor
  • Philippine Order of Lakandula “Champion for Life Award”
  • Outstanding Filipino Awardee of the Jaycees
  • Philippine Sportswriters Association Sportsman of the Year 1999, 2001 and 2006
  • One Pocket Hall of Fame (inducted in 2004)
  • Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame (inducted in 2003)

Titles and Achievements

  • 2019 “6th Annual Junior Norris Memorial Shootout 9-Ball Champion”
  • 2018 1st Asian Culture Day Lifetime Achievement Award (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
  • 2018 Taiwan Pool Classic (Team Philippines)
  • 3rd 2018 The Break Room 8-Ball Classic
  • 2016 Accu-Stats Make-It-Happen One-Pocket Invitational
  • 2015 Accu-Stats Make-It-Happen One-Pocket Invitational
  • 2014 MP Cup Gensan International Open 10-Ball
  • 2014 Smokin’ Aces One-Pocket Shootout
  • 2014 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
  • 2012 Chuck Markulis Memorial One-Pocket Division
  • 2011 World Mixed Doubles Classic (with Rubilen Amit)
  • 2011 US Open One Pocket Championship
  • 2010 Spanish Open 2010
  • 2010 Predator International Ten-Ball Championship
  • 2010 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
  • 2010 Derby City Classic Fatboy Challenge 10-Ball
  • 2010 Derby City Classic Nine-Ball
  • 2010 Asia vs. Europe Challenge Match
  • 2009 World Mixed Doubles Classic (with Rubilen Amit)
  • 2009 Galveston World Classic One Pocket
  • 2009 World Cup of Pool (with Francisco Bustamante)
  • 2007 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
  • 2007 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
  • 2006 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour (Indonesia Leg)
  • 2006 IPT World Open Eight-ball Championship
  • 2006 World Cup of Pool (with Francisco Bustamante)
  • 2006 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour (Vietnam Leg)
  • 2006 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
  • 2005 IPT King of the Hill Eight-Ball Shootout
  • 2005 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour (Indonesia Leg)
  • 2005 All Japan Championship
  • 2005 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
  • 2005 Derby City Classic Nine-Ball
  • 2005 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
  • 2004 WPA World Eight-ball Championship
  • 2004 On Cue 3: Intercontinental Conquest
  • 2004 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour (Singapore Leg)
  • 2004 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour (Vietnam Leg)
  • 2004 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour (Taiwan Leg)
  • 2004 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
  • 2004 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
  • 2003 Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame
  • 2003 World Classic Billiards Tournament
  • 2003 Las Vegas Nine-Ball Open
  • 2003 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour (Manila Leg)
  • 2003 Mid-Atlantic Nine-Ball Championship
  • 2003 All Japan Championship
  • 2002 Asian Games Eight-Ball singles (bronze)
  • 2002 World Pool League
  • 2002 Cafe Puro Challenge of the Masters
  • 2002 Shooters Labor Day Weekend Open Nine-Ball
  • 2002 International Challenge of Champions
  • 2001 World Pool League
  • 2001 Tokyo Open 9-Ball
  • 2001 US Masters Nine-Ball
  • 2001 International Billiard Tournament
  • 2001 Accu-Stats Eight-Ball Invitational
  • 2001 The Color of Money II (vs. Earl Strickland)
  • 2000 U.S. Open One-Pocket Championship
  • 2000 PBT World Eight-Ball Championship
  • 2000 Camel Pro Eight-Ball Championship
  • 2000 Pennsylvania State Nine-Ball Championship
  • 2000 USA Billiards Challenger Event 2
  • 1999 ESPN Ultimate Nine-Ball Challenge
  • 1999 ESPN Ultimate Shootout
  • 1999 Sands Regency Open 29 Nine-Ball Championship
  • 1999 World Professional Pool Championship
  • 1999 Derby City Classic Master of the Table
  • 1999 Derby City Classic One-Pocket
  • 1998 World Eight-Ball Championship
  • 1998 Camel South Jersey Ten-Ball Open
  • 1997 PCA Shooters Challenge
  • 1997 PCA Treasure Island Resort Event
  • 1996 The Color of Money (vs. Earl Strickland)
  • 1996 PBT World Eight-Ball Championship
  • 1996 PBT Legends of Nine-Ball Championship
  • 1996 Camel World Nine-Ball Championship
  • 1996 PBT Western Open
  • 1996 PBT Florida Flare Up III
  • 1995 Sands Regency Open 21 Nine-Ball Championship
  • 1995 PBT World Eight-Ball Championship
  • 1995 Pro Tour Nine-Ball Championship
  • 1995 Maine 14.1 Event
  • 1995 Bicycle Club VII
  • 1994 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships
  • 1994 PBT Bicycle Club Invitational
  • 1992 International Nine-Ball Classic
  • 1992 World Nine-Ball Open (Tokyo)
  • 1990 World Cup (Taipei)
  • 1988 PBA McDermott Masters Nine-Ball
  • 1986 Sands Regency Nine-Ball Championship
  • 1985 Sands Regency Nine-Ball Championship
  • 1985 Red’s Nine-Ball Open
  • 1985 Tar Heel Open
  • 1985 Willard’s Open
  • 1985 Chicago Billiard Cafe Open

It’s a wrap

To this day, Efren “Bata” Reyes is still playing the game he loved since his childhood and still representing our flag in every pool tournament internationally. For us Filipino, I think we should celebrate his greatness while we can. He is a living legend of Billiards, the greatest of all-time (GOAT) in world pool history and still we take him for granted as a normal athlete for the Philippines. Maybe we should put him in line with Manny Pacquiao as one of the most celebrated Filipino athletes for dominating his sport and being the greatest billiard player of all time. Efren “Bata” Reyes rightfully belongs as one of the legends of Philippine Sports History.