Earl "The Pearl" Strickland (born on June 8, 1961, Roseboro, North Carolina) is an American professional pool player and was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame in 2006. He is considered one of the best nine-ball players of all time because of his numerous championship titles within a 25-year time span, and also one of the most controversial, for his often-outspoken views and sometimes volatile behavior at tournaments. Strickland started playing pool at the age of nine, and after intensive practice he entered his first pro tournament at 15. Strickland rose to national prominence in 1983, with a victory in Lake Tahoe. This was followed in 1984, in Caesars Palace Pro Billiard Classic, Las Vegas. According to sources, Strickland played "like a polished gem." He was beginning to be a dominant force on the tournament trail and recognized as a future world champion. He had the "skill, endurance, patience, temperament, and tenacity of which champions are made." Because of his dominance, Strickland was named The National Billiard News Player of the Year in 1984.