5.31.2003...This was a great night for billiards and the lucky people of Cambridge, Maryland. Great Slates, at 738 Cambridge Plaza on Route 50, brought to you by John Moody opened its doors to over one thousand people throughout the day and night. There were over for 400 attending the opening ceremonies of the grandest "eatertainment" facility of them all. Let me educate you all a little on the meaning of what a full scale entertainment facility should be, as Great Slates exhibits all the symptoms of the true definition. Capable of entertaining 700, over 100 tv’s, Great Slates is a sight to be seen.
The day started off with Earl Strickland, unprecedented 5 time US Open winner, current World Champion and winner of two of that coveted title and Allen Hopkins, US Open Champion times two, and US Open Straight Pool Champion, numerous other titles and ambassador of the game starting out with a nice repertoire of trick shots. The billiard area is 6,000 sq" feet and has 14 Gabriels Vector 4 ½’ X 9’ tables and 4 Gabriels bar tables
@ 3 ½’x 7’. This area is separated into two rooms. The back room has 6 tables, an elevated viewing area for spectators, and booths for dining as well. For those of you that are familiar with tables, this one is the best there is. All I can say is that this table is an engineering feat. It looks to me like every complaint ever brought up by table mechanic’s has been addressed by this table manufacturer. It is truly a great table. Next on the agenda was Allen’s favorite game straight pool! They played a game to a hundred points. With Earl winning and the score at 25-20, Earl scratched, and Allen ran 80 and out. Nice game. They went on to do challenge matches for the Make-a-wish foundation. Attendees coughed up $10- each to have a chance at beating these two great players, myself included. I got pounded a few times, and that was that. The day session brought in $400- for the charity event. At six o'clock, we broke for a dinner break in the "eatertainment" side of this fabulous facility, capable of seating over 300, with 10,000 sq' feet dedicated for dining, dancing, and live music. The crab dishes were superb, and if your tastes vary, there is something for everyone, from appetizers to complete meals. You can order anything from finger food on up to a filet mignon, and the Bailey's Chocolate eclair was big enough to make a hungry group happy!!! It was literally a foot long! Great Slates also has a custom stage built for handling the sounds of the best bands the East Coast has to offer. There are also 5 Gabriels bar tables @ 3 ½’ x 7’on the dining/lounge/live band/dancing side.
At seven o'clock, the focus switched back to the exhibition. Allen and Earl played 9-ball race to 11, with the final score being Earl 11-8 Allen. Needless to say, there was some great shooting going on for these two champions. When the 9-ball was over, the two champions went back to the Make-A-Wish charity challenge matches. The total brought in for the day and night sessions for the Make-a-wish Foundation was $1100-. Earl and Allen offered videos, pictures and autographs to any diehard pool fans, and a everyone had a great time.
To top all this off, adjoining Great Slates is the Cambridge Turf Club, a 10,000 sq' off-track betting facility, with two 100 foot long tv’s, featuring the Meadowlands and any other facility that is running races. The Turf Club also has a full service lounge, and cocktail waitresses serving food from Great Slates. To the Turf Club’s credit, it also has segregated smoking areas for smoker’s and non-smokers comfort alike. To make it convenient, the two facilities are connected by and a convenient passageway back and forth.
When asked about the opening ceremonies, the owner John Moody said "I was thrilled to have Allen and Earl part of the opening. I found it uplifting and stimulating, and it was fantastic fans showed up by the hundreds today to support pool. I would like to thank everyone, and am looking forward to my 10th anniversary of my two pool room’s and having the US Open warm-up in September here at Great Slates. This facility is everything anyone would want to have a great tournament and have a great time. Having the Hyatt Regency next door, along with the 18-hole PGA golf course on the Choptank River, only enhances your entertainment experience."
After the exhibition/challenge matches, the play went on with Allen Hopkins playing in a friendly game with John Moody & Sonny Roton, with Earl Strickland and myself playing a race to 9. Naturally, it was another pounding.
I would like to add that after traveling coast-to-coast, Canada to Mexico, it is this author's feeling that Great Slates is the finest billiard establishment ever experienced!