Math teacher competes in pro-level billiards matches


Bethany Bissell

Math teacher Elise Briseno holds her APA TriCup quali cation round billiards trophy. When she isn’t at school, she plays professional pool.

Isaac Villafranca, Staff Writer

During school, teachers are very busy with the daily grind of preparing lessons and grading papers.
During the summer, however, some teachers take time to pursue what they enjoy. Math teacher Elise Briseno has her sights set on pursuing her hobby of playing pool this summer at big national tournaments and leagues. Briseno is part of two organizations called the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) and the American Pool Players Association (APA).

Briseno was interested in playing soccer but found that her body could not handle doing it regularly. Briseno decided to get into pool to feel her competitive drive.

“I needed some kind of sport,” she said. “I am really good at math, so it was kind of an easy transition for me.”

Briseno keeps her work life and her pool life separate. However, she said she tackles pool with the same intensity that she approaches teaching. Both require being organized and following a strict schedule. Briseno said being a math teacher helps with pool because there is some math involved with pool.

“At the same time, its muscle memory,” Briseno said. “It’s physics. It’s just having a good routine.”

roughout the summer Briseno enters national tournaments such as the US Open, which hosts a 9-ball tournament where she competes as an individual.

She also competes on an Austin-based team with the APA.

“APA has their city cup, which my team will be going to in June so we can go to Vegas again hopefully,” Briseno said.

Briseno said that she has had many accomplishments in playing pool, but believes her biggest accomplishment happened in a tournament with her pool team. Briseno’s team placed really high in the Las Vegas tournament.

“We got 52nd out of the nation so that’s out of about 800 teams,” Briseno said.

Briseno said her biggest failure was her lack of experience. Briseno started o playing against high tiered players with high skill levels. e pool associations rank players at different levels, ranging from a tiers 1-9. Briseno did not know the expectations of playing against high-ranked players.

“To not know how to play against 7s, who have been playing for 20 years, that was kind of jarring,” Briseno said.

The money Briseno receives from the national pool organization is for the necessities when she travels. Briseno also chooses not to gamble for money,

“They do give us fees for our stay in Vegas, for food and for the air ticket so that’s the payment we get,” Briseno said.

Briseno said that, ideally, she would become a professional pool player in the future, but that is not her plan. Briseno does not want to be on TV and doesn’t even want to tour in Europe. She said she would rather compete in male-dominated tournaments but the billiard leagues are divided by sex, and Briseno doesn’t like that.

“The fact that I’m working most of the year, it’s very difficult to do that,” Briseno said