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"He loves to play so much he'll actually lose money just to play," says Jean. "He'll spot himself out."
"Whenever I get playing I have no interest in money," says Billy. "I just like to play to be playing. It'll relax you more than anything in the world. Whenever I play I don't have a worry in the world. Everything else is gone. Life's just a big lot of laughs."
"I never made a nickel playing shuffleboard," a player named Rod Cameron was saying not too long ago. "I like the atmosphere. You meet a lot of characters like Billy. If you wrote up every game he lost you wouldn't have enough paper. He's been busted more than any shuffleboard hustler."
"I made more money than any shuffleboard hustler," said Billy. "I usually spot Rod a point and a hammer and he won't play. I'll play anyone in the world on any board, give them 14 points if they give me all the hammers."
"Let's slow down something," another player said to Billy. "I'll buy your glasses for $50."
"If he can't outshoot you, he'll outtalk you," said Jean.
This was in Moose Lodge 1818, a storefront in Dallas where Billy was promoting what he called the First Official World's Shuffleboard Tournament, $1,000.00 Guaranteed. Billy was eliminated in the singles but he and Bill Milton of Davis, Okla. took second in the doubles. Then, the day following the tournament, Billy busted three players, making $1,400. (Players are never wholly broke, however, for, as Billy says, "any hustler, you always give him road money.") "That's why I like tournaments," he says. "The gathering of the players. Everyone got to try me."
Two days later Billy and Jean flew to Los Angeles, rented a car and drove to the Islander bar in Garden Grove, Calif., which has blowfish for light fixtures and "Kanes" and "Wahines" on the restroom doors and where they had heard there was action.
"We got to find out where they're playing," Billy said. "Let everyone know we're in town. In two hours half the players in southern California will know we're here."
As it turned out, there wasn't any action at the Islander, so Billy called the Dixie Tavern in Chino, where he had played on his last trip to California two years previous.