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Educate Yourself About the Game

The Northeastern United States is one of the most active and competitive areas in the pool world. With some of the most experienced and well-known players surrounding the game in our backyard, we speak to them and relay their insight to the up-and-coming generation of shooters.

Recognizing the Issues

The larger amateur pool leagues are dominating the game. Year after year they drain the sport of our money, values and the next generation of players! They teach shooters to be secure at a low skill level. If you do happen to get better, they make it much more difficult to win, thus urging players to manipulate their handicap in order to remain competitive. This is not what the founding fathers of pool had in mind.

The Issue With Handicaps

When handicaps were introduced to pool, at first it seemed like it was a fair way for everyone to compete. While it made beginners feel like they had a chance to win, it also diminished a great deal of the game's integrity.

"Why get better? I can just dump a few matches and then I'll have an edge when my handicap goes down."

"I sandbag. Then I can have an advantage in tournaments and leagues because I'll be ranked well below my true ability."

A non-handicapped format is the only way to truly determine a winner. The format of the game is what dictates the level of play needed to win. In an even 9-ball race to 15, an amateur has very little chance at beating a professional player. An amateur can win a few racks here and there, but the outcome will almost always be the same. The pro wins. As the race goes on, the amateur makes more and more mistakes while the pro maintains a very consistent level of play.

A handicap is basically trying to gauge how often a player will make an error, combined with what shots they can execute, how often they can do this, and for how long at a time.

For example: An amateur player goes against a professional in a handicapped format. The race is 5-15.

How can you legitimately say that a 5-15 race is fair, basing it on the assumption that the amateur player will mess up 3 times more often than the pro? Well, they're both humans, right? What if the amateur player has gotten better since he was last evaluated? Is it fair to the professional that spent years honing his skills to lose with a score of 5-12? He won 7 games more than his opponent, yet he is considered defeated? You can see how this is not a fair or consistent format.

Pool Players Vs. People Who Play Pool

There are basically 2 types of pool shooters. "People who play pool" and "pool players". The majority of "people who play pool" are involved in amateur leagues or just go to pool halls and bars to shoot pool for fun. These people are content with playing just to be involved in a social setting, pool is just the chosen form of entertainment. This is harmless fun, and has mostly harmless effects on the game. However, those same players are unknowingly segregating themselves from the beauty and true essence of the game. More often than not, it takes players years of experience before being able to view the full spectrum of what billiards is all about. This is largely due to the players not being integrated with educated and experienced players. If you want to be good at something or become educated on a topic, does it not make sense to surround yourself with the experts?

In come the "pool players" of the world. Two main factors create a true pool player, and it's not how well they play. Some have friends or relatives that are already in the know that have brought them into the scene. The others have already experienced the initial offerings of the pool scene alone, and have looked beyond what was shown. They strive to better their skills all while respecting strong players and the game itself. These players will go out of their way to get to the closest tournament or even just to watch high level players compete. They continue to test themselves in competition and even put cash on the line against other players, simply to prove they are a worthy opponent. They are the lifeblood of billiards. This group is the dominant source of professionals and competitive amateurs.

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