Also called “The Magician,” Efren Bata Reyes is currently the pocket billiards star of the worldwide tournament stage. He has won many major tournaments, and was part of the “Filipino Invasion” that took the United States by storm beginning in the 1970s. His talents and performances earned him a feature spot in a movie, “Pakners,” and to his engagement as Philippine Sports Ambassador to the Southeast Asian Games in 2005.
He was born in Pampanga, Philippines, on August 26, 1954. When he was five years old, his family moved to Manila. There, he worked in his uncle’s pool hall and was given the Tagalog nickname “Bata,” meaning “kid,” so he wouldn’t be confused with another player with the same name. While working in the pool hall, he learned how to play, and began playing for money. Soon he was winning games worldwide, and would be called one of history’s finest players.
Reyes United States tour began with simply playing for money in the 1980s, but soon he was winning tournaments against some of the country’s best players. In 1995 alone he won six tournaments, including the Sands Regency Open and the 1995 Pro Tour Championship.
In 2003, he received the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Billiard Congress of America. Reyes continues to win honors and a huge paycheck—in the 2005 International Pool Tour’s King of the Hill 8-ball Shootout, Reyes beat Mike Sigel (also in the Hall of Fame) for a $200,000 prize purse, as well as the International Pool Tour championship over Rodney Morris for $500,000.
He got the nickname “The Magician” for his talent in kicking the ball, which is hitting a rail with the cue ball before hitting the intended ball. His kicking ability in addition to his general talent for the game earned him his nickname from the U.S. professional players.
As of this writing, Reyes boasts a total of 54 tournament wins, 5 recognition awards, and appeared in a film called “Pakners” along with actor Fernando Poe Jr. Poe claimed the movie was his recognition of Reyes for bringing the Philippines to the world’s stage in pocket billiards.