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We Are the Champions

Meet the city’s premier Donkey Kong II player and other ace bar gamers.

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1. DARTS
Neil McLoughlin, 36
Software engineer, Croton
CLAIM TO FAME: New York Darts Organization ten-time singles champ.

Do you ever hustle for money?
I prefer not to. But don’t get me wrong— if I have a few drinks and someone runs their mouth, I’ll play them.
How can a person beat you?
I’ve been dominating the leagues for so long people get to the line and they’ve already given up. You got to go up there and really want it.


2. BANK SHUFFLEBOARD
Paul “The Snake” Serafin, 46
Insurance-company general adjuster, Upper East Side
CLAIM TO FAME: Two-time champion at Nancy Whiskey Pub.

How do you keep your skills up?
I go to Nancy Whiskey a couple times a week after work. I can go through stretches of two, three hours where I don’t get beat. The longest I’ve stayed on is four hours.
Any tips for amateurs?
Keep the puck on the board. If it goes off, you can’t score points.


3. DONKEY KONG
Ben Falls, 34 Software developer, Williamsburg
CLAIM TO FAME: Official Donkey Kong II record holder.

Are you the next King of Kong?
I’ve been in contention for the world record on the original Donkey Kong and Frogger. The current Donkey Kong record is 1,050,200. The closest I’ve been is 874,100.
Why are you so good?
I can recognize what’s going to happen before it happens. When you get killed in a game, you have to figure out why it happened. You can’t make the same mistakes over and over.


4. BOCCIE
Alex Durham, 32
Teacher, Prospect Heights
CLAIM TO FAME: Member of three-time Union Hall champions the Mighty Mudskippers.

What’s the secret to boccie?
Our team mantra is to take the point if you got it. Don’t get greedy for more.
What’s your signature shot?
I throw out the pallino. So I’m the setup man, or woman. I used to teach archery, so that kind of hand-eye coordination helps.


5. BILLIARDS
Jennifer Barretta, 40
Creative director, East Village
CLAIM TO FAME: Former pro pool player.

How did you start playing?
About eleven years ago, I passed a pool hall to kill some time and got hooked. I went professional for a while, and then I took a year off to raise a family. I’ve won every eight-ball tournament in Vegas.
Do you ever hustle at bars?
There was one time against an older gentleman—I felt like I was taking his Social Security check. But he had hustled plenty of people, believe me.


6. BIG BUCK HUNTER
Alex DerHohannesian, 28
Ad-agency TV producer, Upper West Side
CLAIM TO FAME: Ranked No. 1 in the U.S. on Big Buck Safari video game.

When did you start playing?
I was shown the Way of the Buck three years ago.
What makes you so good?
It’s all about getting the right buzz, where I’m not that sober but I’m not totally soft. You’ve got to capture and embrace that perfect four-to-seven-beer level. That gets the lead in the air and the meat on the ground.


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