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Playing and Progressing in an APA Pool League

Wonder what is involved in joining an APA pool league and how to make the most of it? Jonathan Loder explains how to progress in an APA pool league, based on 6 years of APA league experience.

Playing and Progressing in an APA Pool League

The APA is the largest pool league in the world. It boasts 250,000 members across the world. I've been active in it for 6 years and would venture to say that it is a great place to start learning and excelling at the great game of billiards.

Basically, I would consider it a developmental league. This is not a bad thing, it is great competition with the possibility of huge payouts. However, it is quite a journey to make it to Vegas, then you have to repeat the journey in Vegas to make it profitable. Although the APA Masters league (not available everywhere, talk to your league operator) is definitely a great way to progress out of a handicap league while still under the same governing umbrella.

Most of the players I have come across personally are pretty stagnant in their skill levels. Whether it be in 8-ball with skill levels ranging from 2-7, or 9-ball with skill levels ranging from 1-9.

If you want to progress in the APA, you must dedicate more than just one or two nights a week to playing. I capped out at playing 6 nights a week, this was mixed between poolhall practice, APA and money tournaments. Each has its own place in the mix.

Just practicing in a pool hall is the time to hone your skills. Playing in a league such as the APA brings you to a more competitive level with your skills, and then playing in money tournaments (5-15$ entries) adds a level of stress to the competition.

The APA calculates the skill levels based on innings and defenses played. In 9-ball, they also track the amount of points (balls made, 1-8 being worth 1 point each and the 9 being worth 2) 10 points total per rack. In order to increase your skill level, you must improve on these.

Innings are counted when both players have ended their turn at the table. The beginning of the inning is when the person who broke, on the very first rack, gets back to the table. This crosses between racks. So, if the person who ends the inning wins the game, the inning is not complete until they end their turn on the next rack. This means that if you were to break and run, there are zero innings. People have been known to "miss" in order to bring up their innings and in so doing, keep their handicap at a more advantageous level. This is known as sandbagging and is looked down upon. I agree, it is a dishonest action that falls in line with hustling or sharking.

In order to keep your innings down, you will need to be able to run out more consistently. This means better cue ball control and break outs. If you have a problem on the table, attack it as soon as possible, do not leave it for the end. Leaving it will give your opponent something to work with on a defensive side and will cause you problems if it becomes the final obstacle for your run out.

Safeties are usually under appreciated by most bar room shooters. They usually consider them weak and underhanded. This is far from the truth, billiards is a game of wits as well as a game of skill. If you can find a shot that will force your opponent to give you ball in hand, and you are able to complete it, you have the advantage. This takes smarts to look and see what you can do in a defensive manner, as well as complete the task. This usually means exact cue ball control and positioning. This brings an aspect of strategy that is lacking on most bar tables.

Safeties affect your skill level calculation by removing 1/2 an inning per safety. This means that if you have a 3 inning game and 2 safeties, the game was finished in 2 innings per the calculations. DO NOT REMOVE THE INNINGS YOURSELF, the league operator will process the information accordingly.

To sum it all up, tune up your shot making and cue ball control to increase your run outs as well as practice and use safeties to gain an edge on your opponent. Above all, enjoy yourself shooting with friends and if you are so inclined, enjoy a few drinks as well. After all, it is an amateur pool league and at the end of the night you should not go home heartbroken as if you just lost a hill hill match on the final table at the US 9-ball open.

Play hard, drink smart, and drive safe.

Playing and Progressing in an APA Pool League

  • Title: Playing and Progressing in an APA Pool League
  • Author:
  • Published: 11/3/2016 10:13:00 PM
  • Last Updated: 11/3/2016 11:02:05 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)

Playing and Progressing in an APA Pool League

Playing and Progressing in an APA Pool League Comments

  1. DW2DW2 from NJ, United States on 9/27/2018 7:50:16 AM

    Do you remove innings for ALL safeties played in the match? or just the safeties that are played by you?

    For example: In a 10 inning 9-ball match, where you played 2 safeties and your opponent played 4 safeties, do you reduce the total innings by 1 or by 3?

  2. billiardsforumbilliardsforum from Halifax, NS on 10/1/2018 6:24:15 PM

    You just count the number of safeties played by you. In your example, you reduce the total innings by one.

  3. LoderLoder from Reno, NV on 10/2/2018 5:11:00 AM

    Correct, your safeties count against your inning count, and your opponents safeties count against their innings. This being after the score sheets are turned in and processed by league officials.

  4. RayMillsRayMills from Seattle, WA on 12/15/2020 2:07:43 AM

    I've never heard the one about "safety = half an inning", although it would make more sense if a good shooter ends a long run-out with a safety. (I would guess that most safeties are the only shot of that player's half-inning.) I'd assume APA keeps formula that a secret.

    Anyway, the responsibility for noting safeties is actually on the opponent, and the shooter can play honestly and have them noted as well. Noting safeties is usually done silently, with the opponent's opinion carrying the weight if the two scorekeepers don't agree. This is to prevent sandbagging since the silent safety-player gets no inflated-innings advantage out of his "miss" (and was hoping the other scorekeeper isn't thorough).

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