Rack 'Em Up

state pool champ might play at your favorite bars

Robin Kinderman, photos by Drew Kaiser |

For Angela Jackson, pool is an art form.

“I used to be an artist, so I’m good at visualizing angles,” she says.

Amazingly, the 28-year-old Eau Claire native didn’t pick up a cue until she was 18 at an old place called the Club and Cue on London Road. She had no idea she was any good until she beat the guy she was playing. That guy offered to teach her the tricks and trades of the game, and from there her previously undiscovered talent took off like a rocket. Jackson went from shooting pool at the Happy Hallow and My Place Tavern to traveling around the country with leagues for competitions.

“Within a year I won my first tournament,” Jackson said, which was the Valley National Eight Ball Association Junior International Championships. It was a proverbial landslide after that as she nabbed first place in the Wisconsin State Masters three years in a row, won third place in the Intermediate 9-Ball, third place in the VNEA 8-Ball Singles, and her team won the VNEA. Most recently, she and her boyfriend, Rich Cunningham, went to a tournament in Las Vegas and came home with no less than six statuettes and a plaque, one of which was a first place for International Scotch Doubles.

“I love the challenge,” she says, “There’s always something to learn.”

    And learning has had its interesting moments along the way. Jackson recalls playing one night in a bar when a cocky guy wanted to play on the table she was renting. Jackson invited him to play her, to which he boasted he would beat her. Jackson ended up smoking him five times in a row, and the guy spent the rest of the night sulking at the end of the bar. But sending people into humiliation isn’t exactly Jackson’s thing, according to Tracy Reidt, a bartender at the Happy Hallow who used to play in a league with Jackson.   

“She’s an awesome player,” says Reidt, “but she doesn’t let it go to her head. She’s a sweetheart.”

Reidt has also watched Jackson play at State and Las Vegas, and knows that she has what it takes. “As long as she keeps playing, she’ll keep going (up).”

That’s why Jackson is packing her bags and moving to the Twin Cities – to be closer to her teammates so she can keep playing. Although she already has a handful of trophies to boast about, there are many more competitions in the versatile game of pool to be beaten.

“I want to see how good I can get, how many tournaments I can win.”