Meet Earl “The Pearl” Strickland (3-time 9 Ball World Champ)
It’s virtually impossible to talk about the greatest pool players of all time without mentioning Earl Strickland. Earl, or “The Pearl” as he is fondly referred to, is arguably the greatest 9-ball pool player ever. This is a high honor, considering this list includes names such as Efren Reyes, Johnny Archer and Mike Sigel.
With over 100 titles, Strickland is one of the most decorated players in pool’s history. He is also quite a controversial player on and off the pool table, with strong opinions on different matters concerning the game.
In this article, you will get to learn more about Earl Strickland, from who he is and how he started his career to the championships he has won.
Who is Earl Strickland?
Earl Strickland is a professional American pool player who many consider one of the greatest 9-ball pool players to grace the game. He is famous for his aggressive playing style, competitive spirit, and ability to take on challenging shots that most players often avoid.
Strickland was born on June 8, 1961, on a farm in Roseboro, North Carolina. He fell in love with the game at a young age when he saw a pool table for the first time. He also found playing pool much more fun than farming or picking cotton.
There were few opportunities to play pool in an organized setting around his rural North Carolina home, but Strickland was still able to start playing when he was just 8 years old. He got hooked on the game and would spend a lot of time playing in his teenage years. By 16, Earl was very skilled and even entered his first professional tournament.
Strickland quickly became known for his smooth and consistent play. A snooker commentator once said he played like a polished gem, which resulted in him getting the nickname “The Pearl.”
When did Earl Strickland turn professional?
Earl Strickland turned professional in 1981 and won his first major championship just a year later – the 1982 Akron 9-Ball Open. The young Strickland later gained more national prominence in 1983 when he won the Caesars Tahoe Billiard Classic by beating Steve Mizerak. The win also resulted in his first significant payout of $35,000.
Earl was gambling on pool in his younger years, and even into his pro years. He took to the road to play money games and admits to gambling on pool until he was around 30.
Earl Strickland’s Pool Cue of Choice
Earl Strickland uses Cuetec cues. He has had a partnership with Cuetec for many years. His pool cue of choice is a custom Cuetec 19 oz cue with a 13 mm shaft.
Like all his pool equipment, Earl is very particular with the cues he uses. Over the years, he has always preferred custom-made cues that suit his playing style. Earl has also used custom cues from top cue makers like Predator, Joss, and several others.
Earl Strickland’s Championships
Earl Strickland is one of the most successful pool players of all time, with more than 100 championships. Here are some of his major wins:
1. World 9 Ball Championship (3 times)
- 1990 – Beat Jeff Carter in the finals with a 3-1 (sets) final score
- 1991 – Beat Nick Varner in the finals with a 9-7 final score
- 2002 – Beat Francisco Bustamante in the finals with a 17-15 final score
2. US Open 9 Ball Championship (5 times)
Earl shares the record for winning the US Open 9 Ball Championship the most times (5) with Shane Van Boening.
- 1984 – Beat Mike Sigel in the finals with an 11-10 final score
- 1987 – Beat Jim Rempe in the finals with an 11-7 final score
- 1993 – Beat Tony Ellin in the finals with an 11-8 final score
- 1997 – Beat Efren Reyes in the finals with an 11-3 final score
- 2000 – Beat Takeshi Okumura in the finals with an 11-5 final score
3. Mosconi Cup (9 times)
Earl Strickland has been on the Mosconi Cup winning USA team each of these years:
- 1996 – Beat team Europe 15-13
- 1997 – Beat team Europe 13-8
- 1998 – Beat team Europe 13-9
- 1999 – Beat team Europe 12-7
- 2000 – Beat team Europe 12-9
- 2001 – Beat team Europe 12-1
- 2003 – Beat team Europe 11-9
- 2004 – Beat team Europe 12-9
- 2005 – Beat team Europe 11-6, and he also won the MVP
4. Akron 9 Ball Open (6 times)
Earl Strickland’s Career Earnings and Net Worth
Earl has been playing pool for over 40 years and has been highly successful. Although it’s not easy to provide an exact figure for his career earnings, he has easily made over $2 million from winning tournaments and championships in his career. The figure is probably higher if you add earnings from endorsements and other sources.
Earl has not provided an exact figure for his net worth. Most sources put his net worth at around $4-$6 million.
Earl Strickland’s Family & Current Whereabouts
Little is known about Earl’s family, but he was married to Lisa Strickland for 10 years between 1992 and 2002. He often acknowledges her contribution to his success in the early years of his career. He also had a close relationship with his mother, and she was often seen at some of his matches.
Besides playing pool, Earl also works as a pool analyst and commentator. He often shares his insight with viewers during televised pool events. Earl has also been involved in a lot of charity work. He has donated exhibition time to programs like the Billiard Education Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Other Awards and Accolades
1. Player of the Decade – The Billiards Digest named Earl the player of the decade for the 1980s.
2. Billiards Digest Player of the Year – Earl has been named player of the year by Billiards Digest 5 times – 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 2000.
3. The National Billiards News Player of the Year in 1984 – Earl had a dominant performance in 1984 that saw the National Billiards News name him player of the year.
4. Won the largest pool cash prize ever – Earl won the largest pool cash prize to date by winning the PCA $1,000,000 Challenge in 1996. He won by running 11 consecutive racks playing against Nick Mannino.
5. Inducted into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame – He was inducted in 2006 and joined an elite club of the game’s greatest that have been inducted in the past, like Willie Mosconi and Efren Reyes.
6. Pool & Billiard Magazine’s “Fans’ Top 20 Favorite Players” poll – He was ranked 6th in the 2007 poll.
Earl Strickland has already cemented his place in the list of pool’s greatest players of all time. He has won over 100 titles, a feat very few pool players have surpassed in the game’s history.
Besides his achievements as a player, he contributes to the development of pool in many ways. He has been mentoring upcoming players, and his outspoken personality has made him a good ambassador for the sport.
Earl’s experience, understanding of the game, and ideas for improving it are great resources for the sport and pool players worldwide.
As always, Happy Shooting!