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How do Byes Work in Pool Tournaments?

Learn about what "byes" are and how to deal with byes in a pool tournament.

How do Byes Work in Pool Tournaments?

What are "byes" in a Pool Tournament and When are Byes Needed?

In a pool tournament, when a team gets a "bye" it means they get a free pass to the second round. Byes are necessary in a single elimination or double elimination billiard tournament when the number of pool players or teams is not a "power of 2" e.g. 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, etc. If the number of players or teams does not follow that pattern, byes must be awarded.

Bye Rounds in Pool Tournaments

Byes are always given in the first round of the tournament only. In order to determine the number of byes in each pool tournament you subtract the number of players or teams in the tournament from the next nearest "power of 2".

For example:

  • 3 Teams: 4 - 3 = 1 (1 bye awarded)
  • 5 Teams: 8 - 5 = 3 (3 byes awarded)
  • 7 Teams: 8 - 7 = 2 (2 byes awarded)
  • 9 Teams: 16 - 9 = 7 (7 byes awarded)
  • 20 Teams: 32 - 20 = 12 (12 byes awarded)
  • 50 Teams: 64 - 50 = 14 (14 byes awarded)

Which Players or Teams get the Byes?

Typically in pool tournaments, the top seeded players are awarded the byes. The logic is that they would have likely progressed to round two anyway. Alternatively, some pool tournaments use a "blind-draw" format where skill level and previous performance are ignored, and byes are awarded based on a draw. You have to make the decisions based on what best fits your pool tournament and ensure that the choice and methods are communicated clearly before hand.

How to show Byes on a Pool Tournament Bracket

Since there is still a fixed layout to the pool tournament bracket, you can't just put the byes in any random placeholder. Placement of the byes revolves around the seeding of teams (as mentioned earlier, seeding is another topic for another article).

The "power of 2" players or teams bracket numbers noted above are all "perfect brackets" meaning that each subsequent round will have exactly half the teams as were the previous round. Pool tournaments that have byes will not become the "perfect bracket" until the second round of the tournament. From the second round on they become a perfect pool tournament bracket. This is why byes are given in the first round and the first round only.

Possibly the best clarification on byes in billiard tournaments and how to show byes on pool tournament brackets comes from Ed Mercier, former President at playpool.com. He posted it to the rec.sport.billiard group in January, 2000. Here is his post, edited for clarity:

Distributing Byes on a Tournament Chart

First, no matter how many players you have in a tournament, you always use a tournament chart that is designed for a power of two players. Tournament charts come in the following sizes (all powers of 2), 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, and 256 players, etc.

The important thing about byes is:

The byes have to be spread out evenly on the chart, regardless of how many byes you have.

You can figure out how many byes you need by taking the chart size you are using and subtracting the number of players in the tournament. For example, if are using a 32 player chart, and you have 20 players, you need 12 byes (32 - 20 = 12). If you have more byes than players, you are using the wrong sized chart, and you should go down to the next smaller chart size.

For example, let's say you have 14 players. You are using a 32 player chart. 32 - 14 = 18. You would have 18 byes. The number of byes (18) is greater than the number of players (14). Thus you should be using the next smaller chart size, which is a 16 player chart. If you used the 16 player chart, you would have 16-14=2, or 2 byes.

If you look at our charts, there is a number where you write in the players name. For the 32 player chart, the numbers run from 1 to 32. Let's say you had a tournament with 31 players. In that case you would use a 32 player chart, and you would have 1 bye (32 - 31 = 1). It doesn't make any difference where you put the bye on the chart, it can go anywhere and everything would work great. Now having said that, I would put the bye in position number 2 (no reason, that's just what I am used to).

The important idea here is:

You always write the byes on the chart BEFORE you write any players names on the chart.

For another example, let's say you had 30 players. Then there would be 2 byes (32 - 30 = 2). These byes need to be spread equally across the chart, which means one bye must be put in the top half (in place of one player in the range of player numbers 1 through 16) and the other bye must be in the bottom half of the chart (in place of one player in the range of player numbers 17 through 32.) It really doesn't matter where you put the byes, as long as one is in each half. If it were me I would put the byes in place of player number 2 and player number 18. (if you try this out on a 32 player chart, you can see a pattern developing.)

Next example uses 28 players. This results in 4 byes (32 - 28 = 4). One bye has to go in each one quarter of the chart. The quarters are player numbers 1-8, 9-16, 17-24, 25-32. I would put the bye's in places 2, 10, 18, and 26.

Next example uses 27 players. This results in 5 byes (32 - 27 = 5). One bye has to go in each one quarter of the chart, and the last bye can go anywhere on the chart (but it should be put somewhere equally between the other bye's if possible.) I would put the bye's in places 2, 10, 18, and 26. For the last bye I would put it on place 6. It could have gone on place 14, 22, or 30 instead. It CANNOT go on places 1, 9, 17, or 25, because if you did that, you would have two byes playing each other in the first round. That's wrong because the byes are not spread out.

Next example uses 26 players. This results in 6 byes (32 - 26 = 6). One bye has to go in each one quarter of the chart, and the last two byes must each go in one half of the chart, One bye in top half, the other bye in the bottom half. I would put the byes in places 2, 10, 18, and 26. The last two byes I would put in places 6 and 22.

Now to the original example of 20 players. This results in 12 byes (32 - 20 = 12) One bye has to go in each 1/8 of the chart, (the eighths are 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16, 17-20, 21-24, 25-28, 29-32). I would put the first 8 byes in positions 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, 30. The next 4 byes have to each go in their 1/4 of the chart. I would put these byes in positions 4, 12, 20, 28. You could have put them in positions 8, 16, 24, and 32 if you wanted, it would have been just as good.

Remember that the byes need to be spread out as evenly as possible. You should never have a bye playing another bye in the first round. One way I make sure this never happens is I always put byes in the even number spots, never in the odd number spots. If you spread the byes properly, you will NEVER have a bye in the second round on the winners side. You will never have two bye's playing each other in the first round. You may have byes matched up together in the first round of the losers side, and sometimes in the second round of the losers side.

I know I went into a lot of detail, and maybe I was overly detailed. I'm just trying to make it as clear as possible. Please do not hesitate to ask me for more help if you have more questions, I'm glad to help.


Are Byes Fair in Billiard Tournaments?

Some folks will believe that it is not fair for teams to be allowed to skip the first round. They want a bracket that has all teams playing in the first round, however, this would create the need to award byes in multiple rounds of the pool tournament when the stakes are higher.

For example, 40 teams in round one would leave 20 teams in round two, 10 teams in round three, and 5 teams in round four (an odd number of teams). This means you will need to award 1 bye in round four. Then in round five there are 3 teams remaining (an odd number). This means one of those 3 teams would need a bye, which gets them into the championship match without having to play in the semi-finals. This is obviously worse than having a few byes in the first round.

Byes in a Round Robin Pool Tournament

If you are running a round robin pool tournament or a pool league, byes are only needed when there are an odd number of teams. When this occurs, only one bye per round is needed.

How do Byes Work in Pool Tournaments?

Discussions and questions about How do Byes Work in Pool Tournaments?:

  • Title: How do Byes Work in Pool Tournaments?
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 11/6/2016 8:35:55 AM
  • Last Updated: 11/6/2016 10:08:22 AM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum

How do Byes Work in Pool Tournaments?

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