Some people have asked me how I determine skill levels. I am not going to tell you the exact equation that I use because….well there isn’t one. The reason is that I believe that as soon as you tell players the ” magic formula”, you are inviting players to sandbag. I will say this….the overriding factor that I use in determining skill levels is a players proficiency in winning their matches. After all…..at the end of the day, that’s what we are trying to do, right? I know some leagues put a large emphasis on a player’s makes and misses in a match. I also know some players who play in those leagues who are masters at making sure that they get their required ” misses” in while still winning their match. In other words, they have mastered the art of sandbagging. I’ve heard some players say ” he’s not a “4”, he only had 8 innings and beat me 3-0″. It is not at all uncommon for a 4 to be able to run 5-6 balls at a time if given an open table. I have seen many players who are good shot makers lose to the player of equal ” handicap” even though the opponent is not nearly the shot maker that they are. The reason the opponent often still wins is because they play a much smarter game. They play more defenses. Better ” 2 way shots”. They are better at measuring the risk vs reward of a particular shot. Show me a “4” who doesn’t think about the consequences of missing a particular shot and I’ll show you a “4” who loses often. And then there is always the “luck” factor in which case the better player gets beat by a “lesser” player. We’ve all had those games in which you make your last ball before the 8 ball and the cue ball ends up parked up against your opponent’s last ball so that it’s virtually impossible for you to get a legal hit on the 8 ball. Did the opponent really earn that victory? I’d say no. Pool is a great game because it requires shot making, cue ball control, and pattern play…just to name a few. But it also requires STRATEGY. And often, it is the player who uses proper strategy who wins their match even though the opponent is better at other facets of the game. Until next time, HAPPY SHOOTING! And remember……safeties are our friend!