Central PA’s Pool Leagues


These posts are encouraged to stimulate discussion among members.

Slow play is still continuing to be a problem which is leading to some very long nights. In an average 8 ball league night, about 24 games are played. A good pace for games played by higher skilled players (6 and higher) is about 7 games per hour. For medium skilled players (4-5.5), the pace should be about 5 games per hour. For lower skilled players (2-3.5), the pace should be about 3 games per hour. These are only averages. Sometimes the games will be quicker and sometimes they will be longer. It is incumbent on the captains to do everything in their power so that matches aren’t lasting into the wee hours of the night. Steps that can be taken now are.

-Limiting the amount of times that your “slow” players play each session.
-Staggering your players each week so that you can balance out your slow players with some players who shoot quickly.
– Starting earlier than 7:00 (if the other team captain agrees).
– Calling out YOUR OWN players as well as the other team’s slow players.
– Telling the opposing team who will be playing the next match so that there is not a lag time between matches.
– Limiting timeouts and when taking one, try to make it quick.

It’s understood that everyone wants to win but keep in mind that this is a recreational league and it is not fair to the other players to make them stay into the wee hours…especially when many of them need to get up early the next day. This will continue to be monitored and if it continues to be a problem, I will CONSIDER (nothing is definite) changes for the upcoming session including but not limited to…

– Changing some (a small number) of the races from 5-5 to 4-4 and from 4-4 to 3-3. (If this is done, some 4-4 and 5-5 races would remain.)
– Designating some players as “slow” players on the standings. In these cases, their opponent will have to win one less game (Example…If a “slow” 5 plays another (non-slow) 5, the race would be 4-3 instead of 4-4 with the “slow” player needing the 4 wins.)
– Reducing the number of allowable timeouts per game.
– Changing start times to 6:30.
– Reducing the max cap from 26.0 to 25.5 or 25.0.

Again, we are not playing for a million dollars here. If a player is a “6” but has to be a very slow player to maintain that “6” skill, maybe they are really a 5 or a 5.5 (if not taking so long to shoot). That’s ok. Try to be considerate of everyone’s time and realize that it’s just a recreational activity.

As is the case with any pool league with “handicaps”, there are always going to be some grumblings of some handicaps. In fact, if anyone ever told me that everyone in the league thinks that everyone is properly handicapped, I’d tell them they were lying. PACS relies on a sophisticated algorithm (which I will put up against any other algorithm that determines handicaps for accuracy). These are some of the more common fallacies that players use in their assessment of handicaps and why they differ from the official PACS handicaps.

1. They are looking only at a players standings for the current session on a given team. For example, lets assume a player is a “5.5” and is 6-0 in matches and 30-12 in games for his Monday team ” Mollys Hatchet”. The only information that gives you is that he has won his last 6 matches on that team. It does not tell you what they have done in their last 20 matches (which is usually what really determines a players handicap in conjunction with postseason matches), the level of their competition during those 6 matches, or what they have done in postseason matches (when it counts the most). It does not tell you what that player is doing on his other team(s) where he might be 2-5 in matches with a 10-23 game record. It also does not tell you if that player might have just moved up to a 5.5 within the last few weeks.

2. “Short-termism”. Anyone who has played in league for even a short amount of time has seen a player on THEIR OWN team play much better than normal. Maybe its a “3.0” who made a couple banks in their match and put together some nice shots en route to beating a “5.0” by a score of 2-1. When its a player on their own team that they are familiar with and know the persons pattern of consistency, not much is said. However, when its a player on another team, they just assume the person isn’t properly ranked or is “sandbagging”. Everyone of all skill levels has good and bad days in comparison to their paper handicap.

3. A player might have a particular skill that is much better than most players of their handicap. Just because a “5.0” can jump and bank pretty well does not mean they should be a “6.0”. They might have deficiencies in other areas that are below that of most “6.0”s. Perhaps they never play safe or take very risky shots instead of “2 way shots”. Perhaps their mental game is weak and they give up as soon as they think they are outmatched by a player who “isn’t handicapped correctly”.

This is obviously only a partial listing. Probably shocking to some players, but I have never been more confident in the algorithm or in players handicaps than I am now. Could there be a player or two who is progressing very quickly before his paper handicap has a chance to “catch up”? Certainly. Are there a handful of people trying to “work the system”? Probably. Might there be one or two who are getting away with it? Possibly. The main thing to keep in mind is that it’s in my best interests to be as fair as possible to the league and that starts with having a good way to handicap players. Make no mistake, if I wasn’t the person entering all of the statistics and seeing what the algorithm is telling me, I’d also think some players weren’t properly rated. Rather than just assume I’m off my rocker, don’t hesitate to ask as to why a person is rated as they are. You may be surprised to find that I’m more than willing to answer with their statistics that will make you realize that maybe I do know what I’m doing after all. 🙂

Happy shooting, hit ’em straight!!

Effective immediately, PACS will be instituting “floor handicaps” for certain players. This will be a “behind the scenes” number that a player will never ever ever drop below for any reason other than a very slow deterioration of skills due to age or due to some physical ailment. This means that certain players might lose their next 80 matches in a row and will not move down. As I’ve mentioned before, I have no desire to cater to sandbaggers and would rather they don’t play in PACS. These players will have a MOUNTAIN OF EVIDENCE to prove that they should have “floors” established. Please don’t ask me if a particular player (or yourself) has a floor handicap as I will not comment. You’ll know once you lose 15-16 matches in a row and don’t move down that your floor has been established. Thanks for your understanding.

Please be considerate of your opponent and everyone else that is being “held captive” when you are playing your match. Captains are expected to be policing their own players and making sure they aren’t taking too long to play their match. The shot clock is 45 seconds but a much more important thing to consider is the pace of play. 45 seconds is a loooong time. A player that is averaging 35-40 seconds per shot is playing too slow and needs to speed up. Some players in the league have a reputation (and for good reason) of playing slow. Captains need to tell these players that this is not a life or death situation. Pool league is a recreational activity. Many of the people who play have to get up early the next morning. There will be situations where a game or a match takes a long time and that’s understandable. If two high skilled players have a long match and play 9 games with a lot of safeties, it could be a long match. However, high skilled players should not be averaging 4 games per hour over their entire career in pool league. I’m calling on captains to help me with this so that everyone involved in league can have an enjoyable evening while still getting home at a reasonable time. If this doesn’t work, I will consider other options such as limiting habitually slow players to 6 matches per session or possibly even banishment from the league. I really don’t want to have to do this but we simply can’t have certain players playing so slow that it is sapping all of the fun out of the evening for everyone else. Thanks for your cooperation.

I am very pleased to announce that beginning next session in 8 Ball, PACS will be introducing the new exclusive ACCU-RACE Handicapping system. I am very excited for this new system as it will provide more transparency since all “4”s (or “5”s or “6”s, etc) are not created equal. I am very confident that this will be an improvement and will be widely accepted as such by the players as a whole. I firmly believe that this will take the league to the next level. More details will be unveiled at the captains meetings at the conclusion of the current sessions.

It may seem like the answer is obvious…..good players who win make for a winning pool team. Of course, that is true, but here are some other “not so obvious” things that can also separate the winning teams from the others.

1. Attendance. A team that always has several players available at the match at all times does not have to worry about “getting the right matchup” based on what the other team does. Winning the game on the table is hard enough without having to worry if your next player will be there in time or if the person shooting is also the scorekeeper and coach for their own match. The player at the table should be able to focus 100% on his/her match and should not be in a hurry to finish that match because they have to be somewhere else.

2. Lack of “Team Drama”. Related to #1 above, it is hard to be focused on the task at hand on the pool table if you or others on your team are arguing. It is distracting and will probably make the player shooting not shoot to their ability.

3. Know your players. Some players will shoot better if they can be 100% focused on their pool game and not talking to anyone even when their opponent is at the table. Other players will play better if they are talking/joking with their teammates when their opponent is at the table. Some players can shoot well while they are eating their wings. Others…like me… can not. If your player is playing poorly on a given night, they might respond favorably from some gentle “ribbing” from the teammates. Other players will play worse. Your job as a good teammate is to make the conditions favorable for the particular player shooting to play their best game.

4. Having other players engaged in the match. A “3” or a “4” will probably have a better chance of winning their match if there is at least one higher skilled player (the “coach”) paying attention and “ready to pounce” with a timeout if the opportunity presents itself. This does not mean that the coach should use both timeouts every game. The ideal coach – player relationship is a skillful and attentive coach who can coach the player to their ability, and a player who is open to getting advice from the coach.

5. Practice. Every team / player has different things that they want to get out of pool league. Some teams enjoy getting together with friends and sharing some laughs while playing a game that they enjoy. Trying to improve their game is not a prime concern. There is nothing wrong with that if the team is on the same page about expectations. Other teams are more competitive. The players are putting in several hours or more each week in practice to try to improve. A player wishing to improve should try to get some practice in during the week outside of pool league. However, much can be learned also by watching good players shoot in their league match and trying to learn strategies ( safeties, pattern play, etc) that they use on a regular basis.

6. Don’t get blindingly drunk. I don’t think any explanation is needed. You may think you shoot better drunk. You don’t. Having a couple drinks might “lift the edge” and help, but you should stay below the point where you’d fail a sobriety test if you want to increase your chances of winning.

These are just a few things that come to mind…there are many others. Happy shooting!!

I sometimes will hear from a player about things that went awry at a recent match with a particular player and/or team. I understand that there are usually two sides to the story that are quite different from one another. I don’t usually put a whole lot of stock into the complaint if it is a player/team that I often hear FROM, or if it is about a player/team that I rarely hear anything bad ABOUT. In an effort to reduce some of the problems, I am going to ask from input from each team captain at the end of the session. I’d like every captain to send me an email or text AT THE END OF THE SESSION to tell me if there is any player or team that they FREQUENTLY have problems with along with an explanation of specifically what problem(s) they have. The responses I get will be completely confidential. My hope is that by doing this, it will encourage captains to control their players when they are getting out of line. Pool league is supposed to be a fun night out for players who enjoy shooting pool with friends. The money that you can win should be secondary. Don’t sacrifice your dignity in the hopes of winning a few hundred dollars. Not only is it not worth it, but if I am hearing ABOUT the same players/teams often, there’s a pretty good chance that the complaints have merit and they will therefore be on my s&(! list. Getting on my s&(! list will put your team at a disadvantage in reaching the postseason and in bad standing with the league. Captains, if you have certain players who are frequently the source of problems at league matches, you may want to consider addressing it with them and/or replacing them on your roster.

Captains, I want you to erase from your memory any bad experiences that you’ve had with certain players/teams so that everyone is starting with a clean slate. Lets see if these steps can reduce the amount of arguments that we have at league matches.

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