BOISE — In a pithy explanation of pool, players put a plastic ball in a pocket, off another plastic ball, with a straight stick. And it doesn't really take too much effort to do it.
"Steady hands, good eyes," says Sam Yost, who's been playing pool for more than 50 years. "And, you know, patience."
It all seems easy enough until it's not.
George Utley has the good eyes for the game, the patience, and the steady hands. His are just different than most.
George was born with two short arms and malformed hands. But that didn't stop him from picking up a pool stick for the first time as a teenager.
"It never did bother me," he says. "I mean, like my mom said, 'Let George do it!'"
Growing up in Memphis, George never considered his arms his biggest handicap. He's also hard of hearing. With all that you'd think he'd have a harder time at, well everything. Not George.
"Cause you know, life's too short, you just make the best of it, yeah," George says.
It's a motto he's armed himself with his whole life.
"You can't help being instant friends with George," says Sam, who remembers meeting George for the first time about five years ago at a pool tournament.
"Well, he put me in the losers bracket," Sam recalls.
George has done that to a lot of people over the years. The last two he's placed third in the Idaho Senior Games pool tournament.
"I couldn't believe how good I was playing," he says. "I beat a lot of real tough guys I wasn't supposed to beat."
And last year he qualified for a national tourney in Las Vegas in doubles. To say he's underestimated would be an understatement.
"You know, I turn a lot of folks' heads," says George. "'Oh, I gotta watch this guy play,' you know?"
What they see is how the 59-year-old approaches life, the same way he lines up his next shot.
"I just like the challenge if I think I can do it," he explains. "Cause you never know you can do it unless you try."
And if he can't?
"Oh well, the next one," George says. "There might be something else around the corner I didn't know I could do."
George says he is also an accomplished golfer and bowler, usually shooting the low 90s on the links and rolling an average of 170 on the lanes.
He will compete in the Idaho Senior Games pool tournament next month at The Pocket in Boise. And after taking the bronze in his age group the last two years George is hoping he can turn that into gold this year.