View Full Version : Handicapped Straight Pool League

05-03-2007, 06:56 AM
There's talk about statrting a straight pool league in our area. Many of the players are good shooters with little or no straight pool experience. Also, many of the players mainly play on the smaller tables. The only accepted and used handicap system in our area is APA and BCA Valley 8 Ball which is based off of one game sets on a bar box. I think we are going to have a problem moving that style of ranking to a different game on different tables. My concerns are going to be more biased to the better players. The system used locally doen't separate huge differences of ability beyong running a rack of 8 ball on a bar box. Any thoughts on this would be helpful. I'm very interested in any known well working system. I don't want to suggest anything to the potential players that will upset anyone, however I don't want them to be upset mid way through the league either due to a failed system. Thank you advance for any assistance.

05-03-2007, 08:05 AM
I expect several people will chime in, this has been discussed a few times here.

I run a straight pool league in Columbus, Ohio. I took over the league two years ago after having played in it for one year. When I was asked to take over the running of the league, the first thing I wanted to do was revamp the handicapping system. The old system resulted in the better player winning 87% of the matches. At first, the better players will want a system like this. Some guys get really upset when they lose to a weaker player because of the handicap. However, having a system where the weaker players have no chance does not work long term. The better players get bored, they know they will win without really trying. The weaker players get tired of getting hammered each week with no chance to finish high in the standings. A more balance system is the way to go.

There are straight pool leagues spread out across the country, each with a different system. When I wanted to revamp my system I looked to the leagues that have been around a long time with a system that works. Bob Jewett has such a system. His system has grown and been tweaked to work very well. The proof is in his league stats.

When I redid the my leagues handicapping I shamelessly borrowed heavily from his system. I did make a few minor changes to make the switch over from the league's old system to the new system easier, but the essence is the same. My results are also very good.

In my league there are no world beaters, but we do have a wide variety of skill levels. Using a system similar to Bobs, this last season the underdog won 35% of the time and 38% of the games are decided by less than one rack of balls.

Anyhow, I will leave it to Bob to point you to the details on his system. I believe it is someplace on his web site.

05-03-2007, 08:58 AM
In the straight pool league I operate I use the game of equal offense to determine a players starting handicap. I will have each new player play 12 racks of equal offense, then drop their to worst rack scores, add up the total of the best ten racks, then transfer it over to our handicap chart (which is predicated off of Bob Jewett's).

Last season we had 10 matches come down 8 balls or less to determine the win, 5 matches with 5 or less, and 2 matches decided by 1 ball:eek:

I am confident in how our handicap system is working.

This season, for all the new players, their handicap will adjust by 10 points up for a win, or 10 points down for a loss for the first three matches. Then it will drop to a 5 points swing either way for the rest of the season's matches. For the returning players, the first three matches will have +/- of 5, then go to +/- 3 for the rest of the season.

An honest effort from players setting their handicap will result in an extremely competitive 14.1 league.

P.S. Myself, Danny H. and a few other skilled players observe all equal offense sessions and make sure the individual is not sandbagging. We also reserve the right to make any handicap adjustments that we see fit. As of yet we have not had to do this.

Bob Jewett
05-03-2007, 05:24 PM
There's talk about starting a straight pool league in our area. ...
The system used around here and in some other places is simple at its core: Players get ratings, the higher-rated player in a match has to make more balls to win than the lower-rated player, and the ratings are adjusted after each match. The winner goes up and the loser goes down. All of the handicaps are determined by the difference in the ratings of the players. If two players are 100 rating points apart, the handicap will be about 2:1 on points. In the league I play in, there are players up to about 300 rating points apart, and such a match would be 140:20, typically. Yes, players really are that far apart, and that is a fair match.

The details are in the rating assignments, the rating adjustments and figuring out fair matches.

For starting ratings, make your strongest player an 800, and work down from there. If you have any idea of how many points he would have to give up in a fair match against other players, those other players can be given ratings that would produce the fair match.

After each match, the winner goes up 3 points and the loser down 3 points. You can make larger adjustments to new players and the first season, but you better have it all in writing or players will feel you are treating them unfairly or doing favors for your friends. You might want to adjust by 10 points per match in the first season, but you run the risk of overadjusting. Also, for brand new players in an established league, you need to reserve the right to do arbitrary adjustments the first few weeks of membership.

Other details are discussed in http://www.sfbilliards.com/articles/2003-06.pdf but the adjustment method in there is no longer used -- use the system above.

Tables of matches for various rating differences are listed at http://www.sfbilliards.com/14.1_charts.htm Note that you can have two weak players go to a lower total than two strong players so that all matches take about the same length of time. Where I play, the stronger player may go to 60 to 140 depending on his rating, and then the weaker player goes to something below that according to the tables.

One additional thing to consider is how to treat/encourage the better players. The system as described is guaranteed to produce fair matches -- that is, close to a 50-50 proposition for both players. Some of the top players don't like that. You can have a special "masters" tournament at the end of the season for the top 10% of the rated players with some fraction of the season's prize fund. I think this is a better solution than trying to build in a bias to let the top players win more games.

05-04-2007, 09:59 AM
I've played in a leagues that uses Bob's system and it's pretty spot on. I'm one of the new players to 14.1 and pool in general. With his system, I've won a few matches and lost a few matches, but the point spread at the end has always been close. This makes for some great matches and gives hope to those just starting out.

The finals have been split into tier one and tier two levels. Tier one being the really good players and tier two being all others. I actually won a tier two finals once.

This has helped my motivation to keep playing and to improve to get the matches closer in points.