billThis afternoon at Bayou Billiards in Baton Rouge I saw a guy playing one of the machines on the counter, and I thought he looked so much like pictures of the suspect in this case, I'm sure I did a double-take. Same hairline, hair long in the back - but no ponytail - I asked around, nobody seemed to know him, but said he had been coming in 'for a while'. When I left I called the local police to come and have a look at him. I am told that a couple of guys came in after I had gone, and did a walk-through, but apparently they did not think he resembled the suspect and did not brace him. I called a second time, but I don't know if anything further was done. I had given them Mike Surber's name, so surely they had the same pictures we have seen. A resemblance . . . in my opinion. This is how he will be caught.
Jason, I met Mike in Baltimore a couple of years before this tragedy. He was truly a gentleman. He was waiting for a local fellow which he had scheduled a game with. I had just started playing pool back then. ( yes I started in my 40) . I was practicing and he offered some suggestions. Long story short. He was the professional pro. Willing to help out a struggling player without any benefit to himself.I have gotten some pretty bad news recently that has made me want to talk about this guy.
First off, I know I am a DONKEY, but Mike is 100% the reason I love One Pocket.
I know I may have told this story before on here but I am doing it again.
Mike came to Biloxi Ms. from Vegas to work at the casinos not sure when he got here but I do know that he played a lot when he 1st got here, him and his buddy Tom Golli(SP), gambled with anyone who come around they even took little trips around the south here to gamble, I was just a bit too young in my pool playing to have been around for this. I think they realized pretty quick there really wasn't enough pool action around to keep them interested in the grind, so I guess they semi-retired to just work and golf. Fast forward a few years(around 99’/2000’) and a new poolroom opened up just a few miles from where Mike lived and I am sure he might of had the bug to come in but didn't for a while when a mutual friend of ours kind of got hustled by Mike, they worked together at the casinos went to play golf and our buddy messed up and mentioned pool, so then Mike beats on him a few sessions, then our buddy got him to come hustle anybody else instead of him, and here I am young and dumb, yep we played 3 sessions $10 a game he gets my $50 or $60 each time, that’s when I said I can’t beat you. Thankfully he did not offer me weight because I am so naive that I would have probably keep losing till the spot got to about 12/6 back then.
This is one of the main reasons he was such a great person, even though he used to make a living playing pool at this point in his life he had compassion for people he knew was to stupid to not know their limits (Hi, I was stupid).
This started it for me from then on, we played pretty much every Tuesday he was off till his death in 09’, he just played never tried to gamble with all the locals so he became like the house pro without all the benefits, I do believe he enjoyed playing everyone, I also believe me and him played the most out of all the locals with both of us getting something from it with me getting waaaaay more than him as he made my game improve by balls. At the end our game was 9/7 and I maybe wrong but I believe he was trying just as hard to win every game or session as me, and if anyone knows me, I’m never under any circumstances not trying to win, my nickname should be “funzise champion”.
Around the time Katrina hit us in 05’ is when I finally started seeing really how good he played. He went to work every shift, most people early outed when the boats were not busy not Mike, his days off were Tues. and Wed. so he only played on Tues. since he was back playing, but now he is off work for a solid year while they get the casino built back after Katrina, so he uses this time to travel around and play some pool, I was still working so I didn’t get to go, and I really don’t know all the spots he hit but every time he would come home he would tell me who all he beat. He also around this time started going to tournaments like the Derby each year he made gambling scores and placed high in the events as well.
In 07’ I believe is when I was lucky enough to get a chance to go, he let me sleep on his couch in his room for $20 a night, which was one of the only reasons I was able to go. When he was not playing or watching his old friend Allen Hopkins, he sweated my matches.
Mike was a big custom cue collector, he probably average 6 cues a year for no telling how long. One Tuesday I met him at the poolroom and he was shooting with a new cue but it didn’t look like the ones he usually gets, Scruggs was his favorite as he probably bought 10 or 15 of them as long as I have known him, but this one looked different, so I said what you get this week, he rolls the cue around and I see “Dishaw” on the butt of the cue, he knew that I was one day going to get me one of Dan Dishaw’s cues because that was my dream cue since I had a basic one years earlier and loved the way it played. He tells me I know you can’t afford it, but I saw it and picked it up for you and you can pay me on time till you pay it off, That’s the kind of guy he was. Well around the summer of 09’ I was struggling a bit so I was forced to sell anything of value so the cue was about all I had, and I called Mike to see if he would put the cue and my case on Ebay since he bought and sold stuff on there all the time. He asked me what I was going to sell them for and told him about $1300 for both, he said ok we hang up, about 15 min. later he calls back and said he had $1000 he could give me, and he would just hold my cue till I was able to pay him back, That’s the kind of guy he was. My cue was in his safe at the time of his Murder in Nov. and I was going to sell it, but after what happened a part of me felt like I needed that cue to remember him, I wrote his family and told them my story in hopes that they would understand what he meant to me and they was totally understanding and gave me my cue and ask that I donate the money I owed to Mike’s charity. I still play with that cue today, One Pocket is its favorite game it specializes in $20 a game.
Well since he had my cue, I was not really playing that much, and he knew if I was not at the poolroom by 5:00 that I was probably not coming, and he played someone else. The night he was murdered I was running later than usual I got there about 5:30 thinking he would still be there, but he had just left, but I just thought he was tired and went home. I stayed up there till about 10 watching the WSOP final table on TV and went home. When he did not show up for work on Thursday morning is when everyone started looking for him. Thursday night around 6:00 is when about 6 of us from the poolroom went to his house and found him right inside his front door. I never went in and looked at him I stayed by the street, I called 911, then I called his brother whom I only met one time briefly before, so I can imagine what he was thinking getting that phone call.
The way that his situation all went down would have keep people on the edge of there seats if it was a movie or something, but guess what it was no movie, and a great guy was gone. The service for Mike was like going to a pool tournament with a few relatives sprinkled in there. They had food and stuff after at the pool room where they was playing Mike’s Accustats match against Cliff Joiner for 3rd place in DCC One Pocket, my phone rings and its Cliff he said he was sorry he missed it, I told him about the match they were showing and he said “I wish Mike would have won that match”. If anybody watches that match Mike misses an easy 5 ball that I’m sure would have won him that match.
It is sad that someone could think of doing this to anyone, and on top of that get away with something so horrific. We can only hope he has already got what he deserves. Mike may be gone but I promise he will never be forgotten by this Donkey, and a lot of other One Pocketers across this country. We miss you buddy.
PS. Cancer sucks, I love you Maw Maw
Very commendable try, Bill. It's great that you're keeping your eyes peeled for the suspect! I'd be surprised if "Cooper" would linger anywhere in this general area, but of course one never knows. He seemed to have some connection with the greater Atlanta area, although I didn't detect any southern accent-- more midwest. He was in Villa Rica, GA before and after Mike's murder.He'd likely be in his 60s now, about 5'8".This afternoon at Bayou Billiards in Baton Rouge I saw a guy playing one of the machines on the counter, and I thought he looked so much like pictures of the suspect in this case, I'm sure I did a double-take. Same hairline, hair long in the back - but no ponytail - I asked around, nobody seemed to know him, but said he had been coming in 'for a while'. When I left I called the local police to come and have a look at him. I am told that a couple of guys came in after I had gone, and did a walk-through, but apparently they did not think he resembled the suspect and did not brace him. I called a second time, but I don't know if anything further was done. I had given them Mike Surber's name, so surely they had the same pictures we have seen. A resemblance . . . in my opinion. This is how he will be caught.