Meet “The South Dakota Kid,” Shane Van Boening
Many of the known billiard greats are from the mid-20th century when the sport’s popularity was at its peak. There’s now a new generation of players that are cementing themselves into the list of the game’s greatest of all time. One player in particular is Shane Van Boening.
Shane Van Boening, or “The South Dakota Kid”, as he’s known in the pool world, has been dominating the game for almost two decades.
We’ll help you learn everything you need to know about Shane, from how he started his career to his greatest achievements. By the end, you’ll understand why he deserves a spot in the list of the game’s greats, alongside players such as the legendary Efren Reyes, Willie Mosconi and Earl Strickland.
Who is Shane Van Boening?
Shane Van Boening is a professional American pool player who has been a dominant force in the game for over 10 years. Shane has won over 100 professional titles and was named player of the decade. He is known for his killer break shots, smooth stroke and an aggressive playing style.
Shane was born in 1983 in Rapid City, South Dakota, to a family of pool fanatics. He is now 39 years old. His grandfather, Gary Bloomberg, was a renowned pool trick shot artist and owned several pool halls. Shane’s mom, Timi Bloomberg, was also an exceptional pool player. She played and won several state tournaments.
As a result of his environment growing up, he was exposed to the game at a very young age. His grandfather gave him his first pool cue and a miniature table as a Christmas gift when he was just two. The gift became Shane’s favorite toy. He would also spend a lot of time in his grandfather’s family-friendly pool halls every day after school.
Shane was born deaf. The pool hall was where he would find comfort when kids bullied him because of his condition. Seeing people having fun playing pool would make him feel better and help him forget about the bullying he was facing.
Shane still lives in South Dakota. When not on the road playing, Shane practices at Sioux Falls’ Lucky Billiards, which he co-owns and is also the house pro.
When did Shane turn professional?
A young Shane decided to start playing proper tournaments and went professional in 2005. It would only take him one year to make a mark on the game when he defeated Vilmos Foldes at the 2006 International Pool Tour qualifier.
In 2007, Shane won his first US Open 9-Ball Championship marking the beginning of his dominating streak. He now has well over 100 titles and achievements.
Interestingly enough, Shane tried pool hustling before he went professional. When he turned 18, he hit the road with his uncle in search of money games.
The dangers of pool hustling became very clear to him when he was hit in the chest with a cue ball playing for money in Tennessee. This is why Shane decided to take pool seriously and turn pro.
Shane Van Boening’s Pool Cue of Choice
Like any other pro pool player, Shane has used several cues over the years. He prefers low-deflection shafts as they give him better control and maximum accuracy. Before Cuetec, it’s believed that Shane was using custom cues made by Joss Cues.
Shane Van Boening Championships
Shane has won over 100 professional titles in a career spanning almost 2 decades. Here is a list of his most notable championships:
1. US Open 9 Ball Championship (5 times)
- 2007 – Beat Ronnie Alcano with a 13-10 final score
- 2012 – Beat Dennis Orcollo with a 13-7 final score
- 2013 – Beat Lee Vann Corteza with a 13-10 final score
- 2014 – Beat Dennis Orcollo with a 13-10 final score
- 2016 – Beat Chang Jung-lin with a 13-9 final score
2. WPA World 9 Ball Championship
- 2022 – Beat Albin Ouschan with a 13-6 final score
3. Mosconi Cup (3 times)
- 2009 – Was part of team USA that beat team Europe 11–7
- 2018 – Was part of team USA that beat team Europe 11–9
- 2019 – Was part of team USA that beat team Europe 11-8
4. World Pool Masters (2 times)
- 2014 – Beat Nikos Ekonomopoulos with an 8-2 final score
- 2015 – Beat Darren Appleton with an 8-2 final score
5. Derby City Classic (7 times)
- 2009 – Won the 9-ball title
- 2011 – Won 1-pocket and the overall (Master of the Table) title
- 2012 – Won 9-ball, 1-pocket and Master of the Table title
- 2014 – Won 9-ball and Bigfoot 10-ball competition
- 2015 – Won Bigfoot 10-ball competition
- 2016 – Won the 9-ball title
- 2023 – Won Bigfoot 10-ball competition
The 60 Minutes Feature
Shane sat down for an interview with the popular CBS News show, 60 Minutes, hosted by Jon Wertheim in December 2022.
Shane’s interview was one of the most in-depth he had given in years, covering everything from how his deafness has impacted his game to the current state of the sport.
As heard in the clip above, viewers learned that Shane’s deafness was more of a strength than a weakness. Shane admitted to switching off his hearing aid when playing important matches he wanted to win. Switching off the hearing aid allowed him to concentrate on the game fully with no distractions. Some pro players even started complaining that this was giving him an unfair advantage.
The interview also revealed just how much work Shane has put into becoming one of the game’s greatest. He spends up to 10 hours a day practicing and is on the road playing for at least 300 days out of the year.
Shane shared stories about his hustling days as a late teenager before turning pro. He is living proof that a successful living can be made through hard work, even though hustling and gambling could potentially be more lucrative. According to Shane, pool players do not make millions like pros in other sports, but a top pool player can make six figures.
Shane Van Boening’s Career Earnings and Net Worth
Most sources put Shane’s net worth at over $1.5 million, conservatively. It is important to note that this is just an estimate. Shane is yet to make his exact net worth public.
Shane Van Boening has been winning major championships and titles almost every year since going professional in 2005.
Many of these are prestigious championships and events that have a solid paycheck. Shane also has at least 6 sponsors and has endorsed several brands/products over the years. His career earnings are well over $2 million.
Other Awards and Accolades
1. Billiards Digest Player of the Year – The Billiards Digest has named Shane Van Boening player of the year 4 times – 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
2. Player of the Decade – Shane was Billiards Digest player of the decade for the 2010s.
3. AZBilliards Player of the Year – Shane won the AZBilliards player of the year award in 2007, 2013 and 2018.
4. International Challenge of Champions – Shane beat Niels Feijen from the Netherlands to win in 2015 and has also been a runner-up twice (2012 and 2016).
5. UPA Player of the Year – The United States Professional Poolplayers Association declared Shane their 2007 player of the year after a very successful year on the road.
Shane Van Boening is one of the best pool players of the 21st century. With over 100 titles, he has won almost everything. From the look of things, he will keep winning more titles as he is still at the peak of his career.
The South Dakota Kid’s success is mostly a result of his hard work and not letting physical or emotional challenges brought by his disability stop him. Shane’s story continues to inspire young and upcoming players facing challenges as they strive to become top players.
As always, Happy Shooting!