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How to Start a Quality Pool League

An older article by Jim Barr, a BCAPL league operator from Kansas City, MO. Originally published in 1996.


How to Start a Quality Pool League

The three most common e-mail questions we receive are: How do I start a pool league? What kind of software do you use to run your league? What kind of pool table should I buy? We will answer the first two of these question here. You're on your own on the pool table.

This is intended as a guide only, just to help get a league started. The information below is based on how Players Pool League of Kansas City runs their leagues. You may find other methods that work better for you. If any league operators out there would like to contribute to this page, please feel free to do so.

Getting Started

One of the first things you need to do is to find enough players to start a league. A good start for this is to make up some flyers and or posters. Don't rely on the flyers or posters alone, it won't work, we tried it. The best way to get players signed up is to put the employees of the establishment(s) on the job. These people are around and know the players. If you know a lot of players this is another good source for players. As the league is discussed with potential members make sure you get names and phone numbers of all that are interested. It would be a good idea to create a sign up sheet for this.

The Flyer or Poster

The flyer or poster does not have to be real fancy or expensive. Our flyers are designed by us and printed on our color ink jet printer. Some of the information we feel is important to include is: The proposed pay out, an announcement for a date, time and place for a players meeting, type of rules, starting date, and a way to contact the league operator. You should also add any information that you feel makes your league stand out above the others. Then a few days before the meeting take those phone numbers you have been collecting and get on the phone. Remind them of the meeting and why they need to be there.

The Meeting

Most of our players that attend our meetings are players that already have a team. They have played before and wish to play again, but we always have players that want to play but don't have a team. This is when we place these players on teams. We either place them on teams that are short players or create new teams for them. We also use this time for the players to vote on any new rules, or rule changes that they would like to make.

The Rules

We play BCA rules, with a few exceptions. There are a few BCA rules that our players do not care to play. This is where our by-laws come in. Our by-laws contain the league rules and any amendments to the BCA rules. Here is an example of the by-laws for a pool league:

  1. Game time is 7:00 p.m. regular time, not bar time. There is a 15 minute grace period. If you only have 1-2 players at 7:15, go ahead and start, if at the end of those one or two games your 3rd player has not arrived, it will then be a forfeit, unless the other team is willing to play. If you only end up with 3 players, you can still play! You can play one blind and the other person would be a forfeit. On the forfeit, the average is a 10, every time they came up, they would automatically receive a 0, and the other team would receive a 10. Also, your 5th player only has until the end of the 1st round to arrive. If you know your 5th player will be there, you can leave his name on the score sheet and he will receive a 0 and the opponent a 10 until he shows up. If you are not sure he will make it, then play a blind for your 5th person.
  2. The blind will be a 10 average. Each player will play the blind. This is so you can’t pick on 1 person. If you are listed 1st in that round, you will play the blind first when it comes time for the blinds game, if you are listed 2nd, you will play the blind second, etc. If you are the 5th player, you will get to pick your opponent for the blind.
  3. Eight on the break is a 10-0 win if you do so without scratching. If you make the eight and scratch, it is a 10-0 loss. It is always 10-0 even if you make 2-3 balls on the break.
  4. Home team flips - visitor calls. Winner of flip breaks, and the winner of the game breaks from there on after. Split quarters, if it’s a 75 cent table, then the bar pays the extra quarter.
  5. If at any time you are shooting at the 8-ball and you scratch, it is loss of game. The other player receives a 10 and you would receive a 7.
  6. Your roster can not exceed 8 players. Your rosters must be set within the first four weeks. If after you have set your roster, and those players you have listed cannot play, you may add a player, but you must drop another player, and they can not play again for the rest of the season. If you plan on doing this, you must list them the prior week, so when you go to play the opposing team, their name is on the roster. You will not be able to add a player not listed on your roster the night of play. For example, if you have only 4 people show up, and you cannot reach any of your subs, you will not be able to get someone at the bar to play if there name is not listed on the roster, unless it is before the 4th week. If you want to add this person to your roster, you will have to drop another person, and this person would not be eligible to play until the following week, when his/her name would appear on the standing sheet.
  7. You are allowed 1 coach per game. Anyone can call for the coach, the player does not have to call them to the table. This coach is a 2 minute time limit! Let’s try to keep it at that.
  8. Captains, it will be your responsibility to make sure spectators stay back from the playing table while players are shooting.
  9. Sponsor fees are due within the first four weeks of play. Sponsor fee is $25 to be paid by the bar, it is the Captains responsibility to get the Sponsor fee. The Sanction fee is $10 per person, including subs, and must be paid within the first four weeks of play, a once a year fee, good from June 1st to May 31st . We will only sanction the Tuesday and Thursday leagues. Weekly dues are $6 per player to play in the league.
  10. Home team is the drop off bar. Please leave all your money and sheets in envelopes provided, and I will pick them up.
  11. Please make all checks payable to either Loma Barr or Players Pool League.
  12. The Home Bar will furnish a round of drinks for both teams before the night of play is finished, but your house round must be what you've been drinking all night. (ex - if you drank water all night, your house round is water).
  13. You cannot get more than $60 behind on your money, if you do, you are out for the season and you will forfeit all money you have paid in. If the team has one player that continues to abuse this rule, the Captain shall make the decision to either let the player pay in full, or be dismissed from the team.
  14. A money banquet will be held at the bar that finishes first in regular season play. A sponsor trophy will be provided for the 1st place bar.
  15. Scoring is as follows ~ the winning player receives 10 points for each win. The opposing player receives 1 point for each of his or her balls pocketed. Six team wins are possible, one win for each flight and one win for total points. The individual handicap is figured by totaling all points and dividing by the number of weeks played. If it works out to be 7.5, then your average would be an 8. Anything .5 or higher rounds up and anything .4 or below rounds down. The team handicap is figured by totaling all five players averages to receive a total average, then subtract the lower from the higher to receive your handicap. (See sample score sheet). Please list first and last names of all players, especially if it’s their first time to play. Each player will shoot five games, playing each of the opposing players one time. The numbers on your score sheet determines which player you will shoot each flight. The left side of your score sheet is for the home team, the right side is the visiting team. Maximum handicap is 7 balls per flight. The first night of play is scratch.
  16. When receiving ball in hand, you may not at any time place the cue ball with any part of your stick.
  17. Object ball frozen to cushion or cue ball ~ This rule applies to any shot where the cue ball’s first contact with a ball is with one that is frozen to a cushion or to the cue ball itself, after the cue ball makes contact with the frozen object ball, the shot must result in either (1) a ball being pocketed, or (2) the cue ball contacting a cushion, or (3) the frozen ball being caused to contact a cushion (not merely rebounding from the cushion it was frozen to), or (4) another object ball being caused to contact a cushion to which it was not already in contact with. Failure to satisfy one of those four requirements is a foul. An object ball is not considered frozen unless it is examined and announced as such by the opponent prior to the shot. If the cue ball is frozen to the object ball the shot must be executed at a minimum of a 45 degree angle either horizontally or vertically.
  18. Jump Shots ~ Jump shots are legal as long as the player does not strike the cue ball below center ("digs under" it) and intentionally causes it to rise off the bed of the table in an effort to clear an obstructing ball. Any miscue while executing a jump shot is a foul. The minimum length of a jump cue is 40 inches. Taking apart your cue stick to perform a jump shot is not acceptable.
  19. Bar closing - If at any time through the season a bar closes, and the home team is the bar that closed, the home team shall have the right to designate a new bar to play at, and continue to play there for all home matches. In the event the bar closes at the point of bonus round play, and the higher ranked team is the bar that closed, the higher ranked team shall designate a neutral bar to play at, but it must be one that played within the league.
  20. Concession - If a player attempts to unscrew their jointed cue while their opponent is at the table shooting, it will be considered a concession and a loss of game. This applies to any comments made to the shooter while he/she is on the 8-ball or if the opponent feels he/she will not get another shot. (ex - Saying good game before the player has shot)
  21. Sharking - When your opponent is at the table shooting, there should be no verbal contact. There will be one warning from the Captain and any further offenses will result in a loss of game.
  22. Two Tables - All matches will be played on one table, unless both Captains agree to play on two tables. No exceptions!

Once You Have The Players

Now you need to get everything ready for the first night of play. You will definitely need score sheets, schedules and rules. Anything else would be a plus, we would also recommend another sign up sheet at this time. We print all of these items on our laser printer. We even printed two part carbon-less score sheets on this printer our first session of play.

Our Team Packet

At the beginning of each season we give each team a league packet. This packet is a simple pocket folder that contains the following items. A thank you letter for playing in Players Pool League, two score sheets, two envelopes, two pens, one copy of the BCA rules, one copy of Players Pool Leagues bye laws, one copy of the bonus round rules, one sample score sheet, one copy of the pay out sheet, one sign up sheet, and five schedules.

The Schedules

We try to keep all of our leagues at 8 to 10 teams. One advantage to doing this is that you can split up your weaker teams from your stronger teams. Then we set the schedules up so that every one plays every team twice. If you're not an in-house league, once at home and once away.

The Software

Again this does not have to be anything fancy. Some sort of league software may be best for you, but we can't recommend anything since we have never had any. Our leagues are run entirely with Microsoft Word and Excel 7.0. Excel is used to figure all of the handicaps. The formulas are set up to automatically import everything into a separate spread sheet. (The standings sheets.)

The Standings Sheet

Our standings sheet contains the following information. Win/loss record, total points for each team, last weeks results, a list of individuals with most wins for the session, first and last names of all players, with their average, number of wins, total number of games played, their total points, and if needed a list of any money that is owed.

The Money

The cost to play in our league is $6.00 per night, the players also pay a once a year $10.00 sanction fee to BCA. We do not charge membership fees to play in our leagues, although some leagues do. Of the $6.00 per night that the players pay, the league keeps $1.00. This is well below what other leagues in our area keep. Our goal was to provide a quality pool league for the average and novice players, not try to make a living at it. There is also a $25.00 sponsor fee paid by the establishment that that team plays for. This would not be a good idea for an in-house league unless you have the players find a sponsor or they sponsor themselves. We buy a first place sponsor trophy with this money and the rest goes into the prize fund.

The Drop Off and Pick Up

If you are starting an in-house league this may not apply to you. Our leagues are spread out in the area that we operate, so twice a week we pick up and drop off score sheets. We drop off the sheets for both teams at the home bar. They in turn leave their sheets there when they have finished. The contents of the envelope we drop off are 1 envelope, 1 score sheet, and 2 standings sheets for each team.

The Handicap

You may or may not want to handicap your leagues. If you decide to handicap here's how we do ours. (This is the BCA handicap system.) Even though each player has a handicap, this system handicaps the team not the player. Wins in our league are figured by points, not games won. Handicaps are figured by taking the total points for the season and dividing by the total number of games for the season. In our league we have 5 player teams and you play each player once. You get a 10 for a win, if you lose you get a point for every ball you have off the table. So if you played 2 weeks and the first week you shot a 40, and the second week you shot a 50, your total points would be 90. You would divide this by the 10 games you have played and your average would be a 9. Most of the time you will need to round these off to the nearest whole number, Excel will do this for you or you can choose how you would like to round them. When it comes time to play, you take the total of the handicaps for both teams and subtract the lower from the higher to get the handicap. For instance, Team #1 handicaps total 40 and Team #2 handicaps total 35. The spot would be 5 balls per flight, our players have set a maximum spot of 10 balls per flight. You can find more on this by viewing our sample score sheet. The first week of play is played scratch. (No handicaps.)

sample pool league score sheet

When a Team is Short Players

Our teams are allowed 3 alternates, but in case a team does not have enough players here's what you can do if you are a handicap league. If they only end up with 3 players, they can still play! You can play one blind and the other person would be a forfeit. On the forfeit, the average is a 10, every time they came up, they would automatically receive a 0, and the other team would receive a 10. Also, the 5th player only has until the end of the first round to get there. If they know that their 5th player will be there, they leave his or her name on the score sheet and they will receive a 0 and the opponent a 10 until they show up. If you are not sure the 5th player will make it, then they play a blind for their 5th person. The blind is a 10 average. Each player plays the blind, this is so they can't pick on 1 person. If you are listed first in that round, you play the blind first when it comes time for the blinds game, if you are listed second, you play the blind second, etc. If you are the fifth player, then you get to pick your opponent for the blind. The players that play must pay for any blind or forfeit.

Our Bonus Round Tournament

At the end of each session we have a bonus round tournament. This is an extension to the regular season of play. We take the teams that finish in the top half of the division and the teams that finish in the bottom half of the division, and run two single elimination tournaments. This gives all the teams a shot at some additional prize money, even the teams that finish in the bottom part of the league. We pay a first and second place pay out for both tournaments. See Players Pool Leagues pay out sheet:

sample billiard league payout sheet

Our Pay Out

We believe that it makes a more enjoyable league for the players to spread the money out as much as possible. We pay 100% of the field including, individual pay outs for most wins, and the four bonus round positions mentioned above.

The Party

This is when we hand out the prize money, we always have the season end party at the first place teams bar. Our leagues are all money except for the first place sponsor trophy. This is also a good time to talk to people about playing the next session.

Where You Can Get More Information

If you decide to become a BCA sanctioned league as we are, BCA will furnish you with a league system book which has a lot of good information on how to run leagues, be sure to stop by and visit the BCA league Page.

A Little Closing Advice

Once you have a league or leagues prepare yourself for, teams that don't show up, teams and players that don't pay, disgruntled players, lack of interest during the Summer and other surprises. It will all happen.

You can learn more about how we run our leagues simply by browsing around our web site.

Good luck with your new leagues.

How to Start a Quality Pool League

Discussions and questions about How to Start a Quality Pool League:

  • Title: How to Start a Quality Pool League
  • Author:
  • Published: 1/1/1996
  • Last Updated: 3/28/2017 10:59:01 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)

How to Start a Quality Pool League

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