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Competition and Fun in Older Adult Center Pool Tournament

By David Montilla

Larry Hamilton (right) poses with Armando Vera (left) before a game of pool at Henry Street Settlement’s Older Adult Center. 


Tucked in Henry Street Settlement’s Older Adult Center’s rec room is a vibrant community of Lower East Side residents enjoying music, playing games, and socializing. Of these games, one of the most popular is pool. There are several pool tables in the center, and they are always in use. For the last decade, Larry Hamilton, who has been playing pool since the 1950s, has been teaching pool and organizing games at the center. Larry prioritizes creating a friendly environment where everyone approaches the game with a good attitude. “There are no superstars,” says Larry, “we are here to encourage not discourage.” 

At the Older Adult Center, Carmen Liardo engages in various activities, including dominoes, bingo, and self-defense courses. In 2022, Carmen started learning how to play pool. She was inspired by Doris Martinez, one of the first female pool players at the center. After seeing how much fun everyone was having with the game, Carmen decided to jump in. Fast forward to December 2023, she won first place in Henry Street’s quarterly women’s pool tournament!  

Carmen and Vincent Liardo celebrate their trophies at the Older Adult Center’s Pool Tournament ceremony. 

The pool tournaments typically span one or two days, each lasting around five hours. The events attract a diverse group of participants, with the latest one hosting over 30 competitors, eight of them women. The culmination of these tournaments is marked by a celebratory gathering where participants enjoy not only food and drinks but also the warmth of camaraderie and newfound connections.  

Pool tournaments at Henry Street have grown into a big social event at the center, says Olivia Johnson, program director at the Older Adult Center. This inclusive and sociable environment has motivated individuals like Carmen and her husband, Vincent Liardo, to participate. According to Olivia, the post-tournament ceremony is a powerful attractor for more participants, showcasing the joy and fun experienced by all involved.  

The champions show off their trophies around the victory cake.

The Older Adult Center encourages women to learn to play pool and join the tournaments. Carmen believes there are many women who can play and who want to learn. Most important, she believes it is a wonderful way to make friends. Olivia says the recent addition of women into the pool tournament sparked a new excitement in the game. To learn more about pool and the other activities hosted at our Older Adult Center, please visit our website at: 

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