The first time I saw Billy Pappas was Labor Day Weekend, 1995 in Dallas, Texas. My first $100,000 Tornado Foosball World Championships as a green rookie. One of the experienced rookies of Tulsa crew, J.W. Tyler, worked for Inside Foos at that time and gotten 3rd the year before in Rookie Doubles. We strolled through the huge D/FW Hyatt Ball room among 150 foosball tables and more than 1000 attending players. J.W. showing me the lay of the land and highlighting different players to watch and be aware of. In the back of the ballroom A 10 year old was playing on a table and scurrying around with other kids his age. It was a scene of genuine fun that reminded you that anyone could play Foosball and it should not always be so serious.
J.W. told me not to under estimate anyone in the rookie division, this was his first case in point. Billy was horsing around other kids his age and having a blast like any 10 year old but could not be taken lightly. Fact was he had won the U.S. Open a couple tour stops earlier in Rookie Singles. Not only did Billy win the tournament, he had lost first round in the double elimination vent and came back through a huge bracket to win the tournament. In 1995, foosball was much larger and Rookie events played 2/3 games on the winners side and a race to 7 points in the loser's bracket. Billy had won 13 or more race to 7 point matches and then double dipped for the win! Foosball was a game you could never judge a book by it's cover. I was 10 years Billy's senior at this point and did not want to face this kid at my first world's!
I watched his game progress at amazing speed. He was a tour player with a supportive friends and family. He toured around the country stopping to play at couple of my Tulsa tournaments, including the 2005 New Year's Open. While other Pros were pairing up, Billy played from the heart. He played with a close friend of his, an aspiring rookie named Dan Watkins. Now ranked pro, Dan was still cutting his teeth as a aspiring Rookie. Has I watched Dan go through emotional swings of taking down a big win against top players like Terry Moore and Tommy Adkisson, Billy stayed cool and had fun playing with a friend while winning in a close 2 set match against two former #1 players.
Billy was still having has much fun playing the game in 2005 as he was when I first saw him in 1995. Billy Pappas continued to tour the world playing on every table and representing our country at the world cup. Billy appeared humbly accept his foosball success, not letting it go to his head as other Pro Master players. Billy is just an authentic person seeking to improve at everything he does to the point of mastery. Great to see him as a rookie in completely different competitive arena and in the middle of another breakout moment.
ESPN live coverage of the 2014 World Series of Poker final table begins Monday November 10th. Foosball players and friends from around the world are pulling for you, Billy! You have already made us proud long before you picked up your first hole cards. Have fun and enjoy this moment! I hope the river treats you well and Foos on!!
ESPN coverage will be live in dayshttp://www.wsop.com/20d14/
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