The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of 4.5 x 9 Feet –  Competing in Pool Leagues and Tournaments

Competition, also known as survival of the fittest, is built into our DNA so it's really little surprise that we get so worked up about sports and games.  Bowling leagues, weekend softball games and poker night are all evidence of our desire to match up against others.  Luckily, if you're looking to put your pool game to the test, there's no shortage of opportunities - whether you're looking for a little fun with your friends on league night or you're feisty to climb to the top of the dog-pile at a weekend tournament.

Fun and learning are the key elements that keep people coming back to pool competition. Both leagues and tournaments can give you great perks like:

–    An excuse to hang out in a bar and watch sports
–    An opportunity to meet new people who share a common interest
–    A reason to get together with your buddies
–    A lesson learned by playing a better player
–    A little friendly competition to push you to improve your game

If you're new to scene and want to start competing, but you're not sure whether a league or tournament is right for you, here are some important details to consider:


–    You're a team player - you've got spirit, yes you do! The majority of leagues are team-oriented, although there are also individual leagues in most areas if you're willing to look a little harder.
–    You're in it for the long haul. Leagues are usually a commitment of one evening a week for six to twelve weeks.
–    See the sights or become a regular, your choice. Choose an in-house league that plays all matches in one place or league that has a home base and travels to away games at other rooms.
–    Have a chance to win or test your mettle. There are leagues that are handicapped and leagues where everyone plays even-up.
–    Chase the big carrot with a yard of margarita!  Most national leagues (e.g. BCA, CSI, APA) hold a yearly event in Las Vegas, where you can win big money and then promptly lose it right back to the casino.


–    You fancy yourself the best shot in your hole-in-the-wall bar and you want to take some new names - how will you match up when pitted against all the other best-in-the-bar players from around the city, state or country?  Tournaments are an excellent way to find out.
–    It's going to be a long night (or day) if you keep winning.  Most nightly tournaments don't finish until two or three in the morning.  Weekend tournaments can see you playing ten hours straight if you're doing well.
–    There's a big ladder if you like climbing.  You can work your way up from The Salty Dog's nightly bar tourney to the U.S. Open and other professional events.
–    It's okay to be a beginner.  There are plenty of handicapped tournaments that give everyone a shot at winning.  As handicapping is far from a perfect science, tournaments of this type are often marred by people arguing about whether players' ratings have been assessed correctly.

Always get as much information as you can about a league or tournament before signing up, such as the rules, times of play, how much it will cost and what prizes are at stake.