Saratoga pool tournament brackets filled early, contestants come from around the globe
The Wyoming Open, Saratoga's annual pool tournament that draws players from around the country and even the world, just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
This year's event, to be held March 31-April 2, had already been slated to have 208 players, 16 more than last year's total of 192. That expansion wasn't enough though, and organizers have had to find more tables and add more player slots to accommodate those who want to be a part of the action.
"I posted on Facebook Feb. 9 and Feb. 20-11 days later-we had filled up all 208 spots," said Monte Thayer, tournament director for the Wyoming Open. "Eight days after that, I had 72 people on the waiting list."
Thayer said he contacted Ed Glode, the tournament promoter, and told him about the overwhelming response to the tournament. "I said we've got a lot of people wanting to come to Saratoga and Carbon County and spend their money," Thayer said. "Let's try to increase this."
Thayer arranged to get four pool tables from Rawlins, and four more from Laramie. Then, the expert and classic divisions were increased by 16 players each from 64 to 80 players, and the women's division was increased by eight players, for a total of 248 players signed up.
Despite the addition of more than 50 players over last year, there are still about 30 people on the waiting list. The junior's tournament will also add around 32 players to the total, Thayer said, since players sign up for that competition onsite.
The Wyoming Open has grown so much that organizers for the event have found themselves having to coordinate with large events on the East Coast. The Super Billiards Expo, held in Philadelphia, bills itself as the largest consumer-oriented billiards trade show and tournament in the world. Because many professional players want to attend both the Wyoming Open and the Philadelphia event, organizers for the two events have had to coordinate to ensure there is no overlap between them, Thayer said.
Unfortunately, the events overlapped this year, but with the Wyoming Open being an up-and-coming event, in the future the two events will be scheduled not to coincide.
Competitors for the Wyoming Open come from all over the United States, with one competitor flying over all the way from London, though 80 percent of players are from the Rocky Mountain Region, Thayer said.
"This tournament is unique in this region because we do have some of the top professionals in the country," Thayer said. "It's because we have players like that that people call up and ask who we have playing this year-they want to come out and see because these are people they've seen on TV."
As big as the tournament has gotten, organizers aren't ready to stop yet. They're searching for new sponsors to help bring in even more top talent to draw even bigger crowds into the Valley. "Mayor Glode has a goal of having ESPN here at some point to film a professional pool tournament," Thayer said.
The Wyoming Open for 2017 will be held March 31-April 2 in Saratoga at the Platte Valley Community Center, with other events taking place over the course of the weekend at local bars around town.