Andy “The Magic Man” Segal makes billiard balls hop, dance around obstacles, ricochet off rails and spin into pockets on command. Onlookers of his championship trick shots erupt in laughter and applause.
Is it magic?
No, it’s technique, practice, and the analytical skills he learned at Carnegie Mellon University that give him an understanding of how the amazing shots work.
“I enrolled at CMU,” he recalled, “because I was interested in math and computer science and wanted to pursue that as a career, at least as much as an 18-year-old can.”
In between his studies, the 1991 CMU graduate spent many evenings in the dorms playing pool with friends. He founded and ran CMU’s intramural billiards competition. (Since then, the activity has come a long way on campus. CMU now boasts a team that recently won the gold medal in 8-ball and the silver medal in the overall competition at the 2016 University of Michigan Team Pool Championships, the largest U.S. collegiate billiards tournament.)
Segal enjoys delighting everyone with his incredible trick shots.
“I always liked to perform and entertain, to make people smile,” he said.
When he was starting out, young relatives began to ask if the “magic man” was coming for holiday dinners and the name stuck. After Segal graduated, he headed to Wall Street and a career in information technology, but he never stopped playing pool, squeezing in practice and tournaments in his spare time. He entered a trick shot competition in 2002 and placed well.
“I decided that’s where I belonged,” he said.
He continued to ply his IT skills by day, using his spare hours to perfect and perform his trick shots. In 2007, he went all-in, leaving IT to devote himself to the trick shot circuit full-time.
He has gone on to win every major title. For the annual world championship, held in cities from Las Vegas to St. Petersburg, Russia, he has won it four times and is the only contestant to win it three times in a row. He is also a seven-time champion of ESPN’s “Trick Shot Magic,” the sport’s best-known billiards competition. That includes four consecutive wins, which is also unmatched by anyone else.
“Andy Segal will go down as one of the greats in trick shots,” said Gregg Hovey, “Trick Shot Magic” producer. “His creativity and skills have inspired a whole new generation of trick shot performers.”
In addition to competitive tournaments, Segal has written a book, Andy Segal’s Cue Magic, and he has performed in various television commercials, shows and films, including “National Geographic’s Amazing.” He was a technical adviser for the Woody Allen film, “Sweet and Lowdown,” and has appeared at numerous exhibitions and trade shows.
Nearing the 10th anniversary of his full-time career, he took a moment to reflect: “I think I’ve accomplished pretty much what I wanted to accomplish in trick shots.”