Judy Swisher had some extra time between play at a Las Vegas pool championship.
So she married the man with whom she won her first tournament.
"Pool brought us together," said Swisher, 56, between cracks of her pool cue Wednesday at Break Time Billiards in Modesto.
Swisher, a grandmother of four, was once a "rack girl" --- racking balls for her husband Len, 62, an accomplished pool player.
Now, she's won money playing against as many as 10,000 players in Las Vegas and has a reputation of her own around town.
"She plays men," Break Time owner Joe Gonzales said. "She beats guys."
By day, Swisher is an accountant at the downtown Modesto courthouse and holds a math degree. She said her day job isn't at odds with spending hours practicing in a dimly lit billiards hall.
"Pool is based a lot on math, on angles and geometry," Swisher said.
On Wednesday night, the Swishers arrive early for their league practice, which includes about 120 area players.
A sign greets them near the door: "Professional and Amateur Hustlers Welcome."
Judy Swisher pulls out a special carrying case and screws together one of two pool cues. The other is used to help her "jump" balls.
They play on special "bar tables," used in Las Vegas tournaments, that are smaller than regulation-size tables. As a big tournament nears in May, the Swishers will play as often as four to five times per week. They also practice on a pool table in their garage.
Swisher said she's had to work to tune out the distractions around her while playing with thousands of others in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
Len Swisher has his own advice: "They say if you play hungry you play better," he said.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.