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Joining A Pool League

Posted 11-16-2014 at 06:47 PM by Legacybilliards
Updated 11-17-2014 at 10:05 PM by Legacybilliards

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I have always been a quiet and reserved person. I enjoy various sports, but nothing has ever moved me quite like league play. I love the feel of a pool cue in my hand and the confidence of knowing I'm about to win it for my team.

Pool for me is not even about the shot, it's more about the eyes that I can feel watching me, just beyond the table light, as I am about to shoot. The feeling of the crowd willing my shot into the hole mixes exquisitely with the morbid apprehension exuding from every pore of my opponent.

I always found the feeling of sinking the winning shot euphoric. The added bonus was when they handed me my first ever APA 50 Patch. It was the "green jacket" of golfing professionals, only for pool players. A trophy handed out for a perfect match, and unobtainable without being part of a league.

There are a few things to consider before diving into league play. First, you need to reflect on your reasons for wanting to join and see if they align with your goals. Then you need to familiarize yourself with the lingo so you can walk the talk. Finally, you need to consider which type of league you want to play in.

Reasons To Join
Social Interaction - Playing pool is a great way to meet people and socialize with friends. By joining a league, you will meet different teams each week you play.
Improve your game - Playing a random stranger can be fun and exciting, but you have no idea skill level they are at. Within a league, you almost guaranteed to play someone at or above your skill level once a night. Playing the best players available is the quickest way to improve your game, in my opinion.
Safe, Controlled Environment - While going to bars or pubs can sometimes be dangerous if you are by yourself, there is always strength in numbers and if you are there with a team it just means you can rely more on a buddy system. Not everyone in the world is honest or has your best intentions at mind and a game like pool can often be associated with unwanted gambling advances. Fueled by alcohol, those exchanges can escalate quickly, especially if you are wiping the floor with your opponent.

General Terms
Note: These are the basics. You will pick most of the lingo up as you play more and more.
Slop - This is a general term that basically means to hit the ever-living crap out of the cue ball and whatever happens, happens. If you get 4 balls in, you are a genius and it is still your turn. If you scratch, it's their shot and you meant to do it. Just stay confident.
Big Balls / Little Balls - Crude and generally phallic synonym for stripes or solids when determining who is going to be playing which balls.
Ball In Hand - If the other person says this to you. They probably muttered it as they were walking away to grab another beer. Congratulations! You can put the cue ball anywhere on the table you want.

Picking A League
There are two major leagues when it comes to playing pool: The American Poolplayers Association (APA) and the Billiards Congress of America (BCA). In the circles I run with, the APA was generally considered the easier of the two because of its definitive reliance on a handicap system to even out players. The BCA seemed to be a bit harder and had more experienced players on a whole. Here is a general (basic) breakdown of differences in both leagues:

BCA - Call your shot. (ball and pocket only)
APA - Slop play on everything but the 8-ball.
BCA - Spot the 8 if you make it off the break.
APA - You win if you make the 8 off the break.
BCA - If you make a ball on the break, the table is still open. Take anything you want.
APA - You play the ball you make off the break.

In reality, it doesn't really matter which league you pick if you are just looking for some old fashioned entertainment and socialization. This guide is a general overview from personal experience rather than an attempt to steer you one way or another. Whatever you do, just remember to have fun and call your shot, unless, of course, you are playing APA rules!
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