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What to Expect Playing in a Pool League

Great primer from Jim Barr of the Kansas City Players Pool League on what to expect when playing in a pool league. This article was originally published in 1997 under the title "Playing In Leagues", but is still a relevant and interesting guide to playing pool in a league.


What to Expect Playing in a Pool League

If you are not currently playing in a league, then it's something you might want to consider. Many players have been playing in leagues for years and participation has grown tremendously over this time. The image of the sport has seen major improvements, which is partially due to league play. Leagues are fun and give you a chance to meet new people and learn new skills from other players.

It doesn't matter if it is a league in a nice parlor or if it's a bar league. I have seen bar leagues come a long way in the 15 years that I have played in them. When I first moved into my area of the city seven years ago, I was told leagues had only been in the area for three years. Playing safe was taboo at this time, even though these were BCA leagues. I handled this by calling a ball, then playing safe and trying not to make it look obvious. We still occasionally run into the new player that doesn't like safe play, but I don't hesitate to call a safe anymore.

Try different leagues until you find the format you like the best. Some of the things that you might want to look at and decide if they are important to you are, the payouts, cost to play, type of rules, is the league handicapped, and how long the matches last. Keep in mind that there is no handicap system that is perfect, some are better than others and payouts can vary drastically from one league to another. it's important that you feel you are being treated fairly, but keep in mind that the league must keep some of the money to keep the league going and that the establishments that sponsor leagues expect to make money from them.

All teams should have common goals. My teams goals are to have fun, win and learn. Another way to have fun is with team spirit, and I believe that team spirit can raise every player on the teams playing ability by a notch. We just finished a session of play in a division that we have always settled for second place. The same team had beat us every time. This session our enthusiasm was much higher than it has ever been. It was so high that if one of our players won a game, you had better get your hand up for that high five when they walked by. If you failed to do so then you would catch a forehead five! I caught a couple of these simply from not paying attention. Guess what? We won first place for the first time and found that team spirit can also be a lot of fun.

Joining a team is a commitment, so please be dependable. If a team has a player or players that are not dependable then it will do just the opposite of team spirit, everyone will play a notch below their ability.

If the league allows coaching, use this to your advantage. You can call a coach for other than advise on how to shoot a shot. A coach can also be used for a second opinion, strategy, how to play safe or how to get out. The biggest problem that I have seen with players using their coach was using them too late. In other words they should have called for the coach before they got into the trouble that they are now in. When I call a coach, it may not be the best shooter on the team, it may be the player with the best knowledge of the game. If this strategy doesn't make since, then think about the pro who takes lessons from the instructor that's not on the pro circuit.

If there are Scotch Doubles leagues in your area you might want to give this game a try. This is a couples game that is played by alternating shots. It's not uncommon for couples that play in our area not to play with their spouse. If they do this game is sometimes referred to as "Divorce Pool." You are likely to say things to your spouse that you would not say to someone you don't know as well. My wife and I do not play Scotch Doubles together in league. I can't seem to keep from saying the wrong things. We did play in a tournament a few months ago and I thought that I had done real well about choosing my words. The next day I heard her talking to a friend and she told her "He did real good he only said one thing to me about my playing" Well my ears perked up and she was right, I said it. I did not even realize I had said it. All I said was, "If you want to win this tournament you're going to have to play better." It must have worked, we won. So guys, remember, Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus.

Sandbagging, in one word, don't. If you play on a team that wants you to sandbag then find a new team or league if necessary. In my opinion, your game can not improve by holding back, and it's much more fun to win especially when you can run out. If your team does sandbag to win, then are you really the best?

Sometimes you might run into that problem player. The slow player, the mouthy player, the player who will try to shark you or the ones that don't want to play the league rules. I don't know of any good ways to deal with these people except for a chat with the player and expel them from the league if necessary. A chat with the player will usually do the job, although it sometimes results in the player not playing in the next session. This is probably best for the league and the rest of the players.

Keep in mind when you deal with your league operator that running leagues is not an easy job. We have run into all kinds of situations, of which some are unbelievable and they don't always involve players. We recently had a problem with a bar owner who thought we were a 24 hour a day baby sitter for all our league players. This was not the first problem we've had with this owner. This problem did involve a league player, but was not league related. The owner got pretty nasty about it and assured us he would not participate in our leagues again. We're sure gonna miss him! No matter how hard a league operator tries, there is always some people that you can't please.

What to Expect Playing in a Pool League

  • Title: What to Expect Playing in a Pool League
  • Author:
  • Published: 1/1/1997
  • Last Updated: 3/28/2017 7:33:20 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)

What to Expect Playing in a Pool League

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