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A 'trick'y trip to Vegas

Matt MacPhail is one of eight players in the world invited to compete at the Trick Shot Magic Tournament in Las Vegas. Reminder Publication photo by Natasha Clark
By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN At first, Matt MacPhail didn't like showing off his skills. Trick shooting in front of people isn't just about skills, it's about entertaining. Luckily, he learned to love the limelight and performed a demonstration for onlookers at Eastfield Mall Aug. 18 and 19.

He may be performing for a much larger audience come October, when he'll be flying to Las Vegas to participate in the Trick Shot Magic Tournament as one of only eight trick shooters in the world invited.

"No Fail" MacPhail said that he's always been an athlete. He played baseball while attending Western New England College, but "either I grew out of it, or it grew out of me," he joked. "I needed to compete, though. My friend Jack Lapomardo started bringing me to Snookers freshman year and it fulfilled my competitive needs."

He started just like every other pool player, playing eight ball, nine ball and straight pool. He joined a competitive league at Snookers, located on Boston Road. He met his wife Michelle, his boss Armand Beaupre and webmaster Charlie Beaupre there.

It was only after seeing Tom Rossman "Dr. Cue" perform in a local trick shooting tournament that MacPhail became interested in trick shooting himself, however.

"It was easy to figure out what I wanted to do after that," MacPhail said. "This isn't like regular pool, where you do the same thing over and over. There are millions of different trick shots out there."

MacPhail entered his first tournament not long after he started performing trick shots. He finished second to last in that tournament.

"Each shooter has three attempts to make a shot and each shot has a level of difficulty," MacPhail explained. He earned his nickname "No Fail" by managing to make every shot on his third and final attempt.

The most important quality a trick shooter can possess is his or her ability to adjust, according to MacPhail. "Adjusting is what sets players apart. It's like the difference between junior varsity and varsity."

MacPhail's ability to adjust is what has taken him so far. He's been a member of the Professional Trick Shot Tour since 2004 and is currently ranked sixth in the world. He admits he could never have gone this far without help from Snookers, though.

"If I had a full-time job somewhere else, I couldn't do this," he said. "My family here means a lot to me. I wouldn't be anything without Snookers."

In addition to working and practicing at Snookers, MacPhail also teaches shooting classes there as well. "We cover every aspect of pool here."

MacPhail can develop a new trick in a matter of minutes. An original he plans on using in Las Vegas is called "The Boomerang." Two stacked balls are placed at one corner pocket and a third ball is placed at the other corner pocket on the same side. He shoots the cue ball forward, knocking the stacked balls into the pocket before the cue ball zips backward to knock in the final ball.

Another trick he's developed is the "Totally Tubular Shot." Using a plastic mailing tube, a pair of short sticks serving as a prop, one long stick, two cue balls and two balls to sink, MacPhail sends one cue ball up the tube before hitting the other to sink one ball; the cue ball coming back down the tube will slide along the long stick to sink the other ball.

"I haven't even reached my full potential yet," MacPhail stated.

He will be the youngest player, at age 28, playing in the Trick Shot Magic Tournament this year. Only three different people have won the tournament since 2000.

Of the eight invited to the tournament, only four will make it to the finals round, which will be broadcast on ESPN on Oct. 5.

"My goal is to do well, but to win would be great," he said. "Even if I don't make it to the final round, I'll be sitting in the audience. I'll be on TV one way or another," he joked.

MacPhail will have a little less pressure on him when he performs an exhibition for the Chicopee Senior Center on Oct. 30.

"It's all fun," he admitted. "This is just something I'm drawn to."

For more information on "No Fail" MacPhail, visit or