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Cue Ready, Kid Delicious Finds Calling on 'the Felt'

Danny Basavich found salvation from depression in smoky billiard halls.

Basavich was a depressed high school dropout when he started hanging out at pool halls. Eventually he became "Kid Delicious," professional pool's biggest sensation.

In his new book, Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler, L. Jon Wertheim, a writer at Sports Illustrated, documents the New Jersey native's rise from local pool-hall hustler to tournament pro. The affable, overweight Basavich started his career hanging out at Elite Billiards in Marlboro, N.J., and realized he loved the atmosphere and had a passion for the game. At 17, he took on the moniker "Kid Delicious" and found a sidekick, Bristol Bob, a suave pool perfectionist.

Running the Table tells the story of the unlikely pair's four years on the road. Wertheim describes the colorful subculture they encounter at billiards halls across the country. In one night, Kid Delicious and Bristol Bob make $30,000, only to lose it the next. When Bristol Bob becomes a crystal meth addict, Kid Delicious strikes out on his own, winning some major tournaments.

Scott Simon spoke with Kid Delicious about his life, and learned a few trick moves on the "the felt."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.