Hardships of Professional Pool as a Career

JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Here is a few snippets from a post I read earlier today: I dedicated my life to pool achieving significant results and often representing my country abroad ... a “name” in the world of billiards. Along this journey I've faced several really tough obstacles to overcome and somehow I've always made it. Today is different though. Today the difficulties seem more cruel than yesterday and the obstacles insurmountable. I don't know if it's me who changed. Asking myself unanswered questions today.

I wonder if it's fair for a player with my history to refrain from competing because the economies won't allow him to. I wonder if it's normal for said player to constantly receive invitations from many parts of the world and is forced, for the same reason, to always reply with a "no thanks" (and God knows if I would want to go and prove what I've got). I wonder if it makes any sense to continue all this in a country that seems to have forgotten (if it ever fully understood) the meaning of the term "sport billiard."

I can't keep deceiving myself. I don't want to. If no one believes anymore, then I give up. With no drama or regrets.



I almost hesitate to post this thread, but I empathize with the plight of those who have devoted their lives to professional pool. As the saying goes, only the strong survive, but in pool, this has a broader meaning. Unless you're in the top 5 percent of professional-caliber players, I do not think it's possible to make ends meet, unless you have a sponsor, stakehorse, or rich spouse. It's not possible to hold down a 9-to-5 job if you're traveling around the world to compete on the tournament trail, and then there's the time that's needed to devote to practice to keep your skills up.

I recently read this post from a pro player I really do admire and like. Unlike some who think pro pool players are "looking for handouts," there are those who truly do want to give it their all and rise to the top. This is not possible without funding in today's pool world. I've heard and read all the swipes written by those who have a disdain for professional pool players, saying they're bums, substance abusers, and need to get a job. But let it be known that there are some pro-caliber players, aspiring and seasoned, who do want to work hard and give it their all.

I'm not sure what the answer is today to help aspiring and veteran players stay in the sport. Matchroom and Predator are doing a lot with their tour stops, providing a lot of opportunities for pro players to follow their dreams and develop their professional career. However, without funding, it is not possible in 2023 to attend all of these great, great pool competitions.

I am looking forward to seeing how 2023 unfolds for professional pool. There is hope with the multitude of competitions up ahead, but one cannot compete if they do not have the means or funding. I'm hoping 2023 will be the year that pool makes headway and brings in new blood as well as keep the existing lot of professional players in the sport.
 
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logical

Loose Rack
Silver Member
I don't think it's unique to pool and it may or may not ever get significantly better.

Pool does have the advantage over many "sports/games" in that it is at least known by most people even if they aren't enthusiasts. At least a baseline awareness exists unlike more obscure or newly "invented" sports.

Pool , plain and simple...at least in the US, suffers from a lack of organization and the lack of understanding that it needs to deliver a marketable product that will draw sponsors and advertisers.

People seem to want more tournaments with bigger money with no understanding that it will only happen if you deliver an audience who will pay to see it or show up in numbers that will appeal to advertisers and sponsors. NASCAR isn't a force based solely on ticket sales revenue for the track owners or entrance fees for participants. It's successful and able to make it a viable career (drivers, owners, car builders, crews, etc.) because it draws eyeballs that advertisers want to get in front of.

Pool at this time is not the entertainment machine that it needs to be to create a significant number of career opportunities.

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JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I don't think it's unique to pool and it may or may not ever get significantly better.

Pool does have the advantage over many "sports/games" in that it is at least known by most people even if they aren't enthusiasts. At least a baseline awareness exists unlike more obscure or newly "invented" sports.

Pool , plain and simple...at least in the US, suffers from a lack of organization and the lack of understanding that it needs to deliver a marketable product that will draw sponsors and advertisers.

People seem to want more tournaments with bigger money with no understanding that it will only happen if you deliver an audience who will pay to see it or show up Un numbers that will appeal to advertisers and sponsors. NASCAR isn't a force based on ticket sales. It's successful and able to make it a viable career (drivers, owners, car builders, crews, etc.) because it draws eyeballs that advertisers want to get in front of.

Pool at this time is not the entertainment machine that it needs to be to create a significant number of career opportunities.

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Well said! You really hit the nail on the head with this post.
 

logical

Loose Rack
Silver Member
Well said! You really hit the nail on the head with this post.
Thanks...you are 100 times more engaged than I am. Are any of the plans to create a product by people like "RealKingCobra" actually in development.

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David in FL

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I don't think it's unique to pool and it may or may not ever get significantly better.

Pool does have the advantage over many "sports/games" in that it is at least known by most people even if they aren't enthusiasts. At least a baseline awareness exists unlike more obscure or newly "invented" sports.

Pool , plain and simple...at least in the US, suffers from a lack of organization and the lack of understanding that it needs to deliver a marketable product that will draw sponsors and advertisers.

People seem to want more tournaments with bigger money with no understanding that it will only happen if you deliver an audience who will pay to see it or show up in numbers that will appeal to advertisers and sponsors. NASCAR isn't a force based solely on ticket sales revenue for the track owners or entrance fees for participants. It's successful and able to make it a viable career (drivers, owners, car builders, crews, etc.) because it draws eyeballs that advertisers want to get in front of.

Pool at this time is not the entertainment machine that it needs to be to create a significant number of career opportunities.

Sent using Tapatalk

Pretty much this.

Money for the players trails revenue to the sponsors which trails viewership.

It’s the same reason that women’s basketball isn’t able to pay their players very well. It has little to do with the quality of play or the talent of the players themselves, rather the lack of revenue generated by the sport itself.

As soon as someone figures out a way to make pool interesting enough to the general public they‘re willing to pay to watch it, advertisers/sponsors will come out of the walls to throw money at it. That’s when the players will benefit.

If only it were that easy…
 

garczar

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Right now the only outfits with the $$ and organization skills is Predator/CSI and Matchroom. That's it. Others may/may not come along but right now these two and especially MR are driving the pro pool bus.
 

JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Right now the only outfits with the $$ and organization skills is Predator/CSI and Matchroom. That's it. Others may/may not come along but right now these two and especially MR are driving the pro pool bus.
What is sad is that many, many aspiring and seasoned players who do want to compete on Matchroom and Predator's tour cannot afford it, sad to say. Therein lies the problem of attracting new talent.
 

kling&allen

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Here is a few snippets from a post I read earlier today: I dedicated my life to pool achieving significant results and often representing my country abroad ... a “name” in the world of billiards. Along this journey I've faced several really tough obstacles to overcome and somehow I've always made it. Today is different though. Today the difficulties seem more cruel than yesterday and the obstacles insurmountable. I don't know if it's me who changed. Asking myself unanswered questions today.

I wonder if it's fair for a player with my history to refrain from competing because the economies won't allow him to. I wonder if it's normal for said player to constantly receive invitations from many parts of the world and is forced, for the same reason, to always reply with a "no thanks" (and God knows if I would want to go and prove what I've got). I wonder if it makes any sense to continue all this in a country that seems to have forgotten (if it ever fully understood) the meaning of the term "sport billiard."

I can't keep deceiving myself. I don't want to. If no one believes anymore, then I give up. With no drama or regrets.



I almost hesitate to post this thread, but I empathize with the plight of those who have devoted their lives to professional pool. As the saying goes, only the strong survive, but in pool, this has a broader meaning. Unless you're in the top 5 percent of professional-caliber players, I do not think it's possible to make ends meet, unless you have a sponsor, stakehorse, or rich spouse. It's not possible to hold down a 9-to-5 job if you're traveling around the world to compete on the tournament trail, and then there's the time that's needed to devote to practice to keep your skills up.

I recently read this post from a pro player I really do admire and like. Unlike some who think pro pool players are "looking for handouts," there are those who truly do want to give it their all and rise to the top. This is not possible without funding in today's pool world. I've heard and read all the swipes written by those who have a disdain for professional pool players, saying they're bums, substance abusers, and need to get a job. But let it be known that there are some pro-caliber players, aspiring and seasoned, who do want to work hard and give it their all.

I'm not sure what the answer is today to help aspiring and veteran players stay in the sport. Matchroom and Predator are doing a lot with their tour stops, providing a lot of opportunities for pro players to follow their dreams and develop their professional career. However, without funding, it is not possible in 2023 to attend all of these great, great pool competitions.

I am looking forward to seeing how 2023 unfolds for professional pool. There is hope with the multitude of competitions up ahead, but one cannot compete if they do not have the means or funding. I'm hoping 2023 will be the year that pool makes headway and brings in new blood as well as keep the existing lot of professional players in the sport.

In many ways pool professionals are like artists (I mean that as a compliment). An occasional great makes money during his or her lifetime. But most just barely get by doing what they love.
 

kkdanamatt

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I don't think it's unique to pool and it may or may not ever get significantly better.

Pool does have the advantage over many "sports/games" in that it is at least known by most people even if they aren't enthusiasts. At least a baseline awareness exists unlike more obscure or newly "invented" sports.

Pool , plain and simple...at least in the US, suffers from a lack of organization and the lack of understanding that it needs to deliver a marketable product that will draw sponsors and advertisers.

People seem to want more tournaments with bigger money with no understanding that it will only happen if you deliver an audience who will pay to see it or show up in numbers that will appeal to advertisers and sponsors. NASCAR isn't a force based solely on ticket sales revenue for the track owners or entrance fees for participants. It's successful and able to make it a viable career (drivers, owners, car builders, crews, etc.) because it draws eyeballs that advertisers want to get in front of.

Pool at this time is not the entertainment machine that it needs to be to create a significant number of career opportunities.

Sent using Tapatalk
Perfect response!
The sport of pocket billiards continues to fund pool tournaments using players' entrance fees, plus a much smaller amount of added money.
JAM is correct...only the 3, 4, or 5 top finishers can make a profit after expenses.

Many years ago, I backed a world champion, a BCA Hall-of-Famer, for an entire pro tour schedule.
He won 2 events, finished 2nd twice, 3rd once, and was "in the money" once more.
He finished out of the money twice.
After all expenses (travel, hotels, and entrance fees...I don't count food costs because you have to eat wherever you are..), we broke even.
I might add, that back in those days, income taxes were not part of the equation.
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
As long as announcers say canards like "he just scored the five ball, I think he'll try for the six ball next," and as long as pool coverage cuts off the player's stroke to focus on the table, and avoids cool interviews with the stars and sidebar trick shot and instruction demonstrations--there are MANY things that can be done to elevate our game on TV and in local halls.

I don't think it's "get bigger sponsors" but rather "enhance tournaments and the game overall and the bigger sponsors will enter the sport".
 

measureman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Pretty much this.

Money for the players trails revenue to the sponsors which trails viewership.

It’s the same reason that women’s basketball isn’t able to pay their players very well. It has little to do with the quality of play or the talent of the players themselves, rather the lack of revenue generated by the sport itself.

As soon as someone figures out a way to make pool interesting enough to the general public they‘re willing to pay to watch it, advertisers/sponsors will come out of the walls to throw money at it. That’s when the players will benefit.

If only it were that easy…
Pool for the casual sports watcher is as exciting as watching paint dry.
Basketball,Football,Soccer,Baseball,Golf,Auto racing and others are all more interesting because the general public understands whats going on,not so much with pool.
I watch pool played at a high level and pay no attention to great shots being made, all top level players can do that I watch how they handle the cue ball that's the part that interests me and the casual viewer has no clue of the skill it takes to move the rock.
 

GoldCrown

Pool players have more balls
Gold Member
Silver Member
In many ways pool professionals are like artists (I mean that as a compliment). An occasional great makes money during his or her lifetime. But most just barely get by doing what they love.
Same for athletes/musicians. We have a very talented pro level golfer in the family. He gave it X amount of time To Make It and changed direction. Became an instructor and it’s his full time.
 
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BasementDweller

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Nice post but I think you overstate how poorly professional players are viewed. I think there has been slow but remarkable improvement in this department over the past decade. Many players have figured out how to properly market and present themselves, and with very positive results. This is a great thing for professional pool!

One dramatic problem many 2nd or 3rd tier pros now have is -- the numbers DO NOT lie! You cannot be a pro with a 720 Fargo Rating and ignore this reality any longer. These players can't live in denial, and neither can their potential sponsors or backers. It's one thing to be an up and coming player with a rising FR in the low 700s. It's an entirely different thing to be a player in your mid 30s with such a rating. If these players want to continue on with pool, they need to rethink their approach. Most likely moving towards a more club-pro type mindset.
 

Zerksies

Well-known member
Professional pool player is not an easy life. If you don’t have some big sponsor or being in the top five you’re living a very crappy life. You’re spending months on the road at a clip. You’re in constant danger. You don’t know when you next payday is. It’s not fun at all.
 
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couldnthinkof01

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Professional pool player is not an easy life. If you don’t have some big sponsor or being in the top five you’re living a very crappy life. You’re spending months on the road at a clip. You’re in constant danger. You don’t know when you next payday is. It’s not fun at all.
Which life is easy?
What is all this constant danger?
They all look to be enjoying themselves when I see them.
 

measureman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Nice post but I think you overstate how poorly professional players are viewed. I think there has been slow but remarkable improvement in this department over the past decade. Many players have figured out how to properly market and present themselves, and with very positive results. This is a great thing for professional pool!

One dramatic problem many 2nd or 3rd tier pros now have is -- the numbers DO NOT lie! You cannot be a pro with a 720 Fargo Rating and ignore this reality any longer. These players can't live in denial, and neither can their potential sponsors or backers. It's one thing to be an up and coming player with a rising FR in the low 700s. It's an entirely different thing to be a player in your mid 30s with such a rating. If these players want to continue on with pool, they need to rethink their approach. Most likely moving towards a more club-pro type mindset.
I know of a second tier "pro" that rarely cashes (except in local events) but plays all over the world because he has the luxury of coming from a wealthy family.
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
Here is a few snippets from a post I read earlier today: I dedicated my life to pool achieving significant results and often representing my country abroad ... a “name” in the world of billiards. Along this journey I've faced several really tough obstacles to overcome and somehow I've always made it. Today is different though. Today the difficulties seem more cruel than yesterday and the obstacles insurmountable. I don't know if it's me who changed. Asking myself unanswered questions today.

I wonder if it's fair for a player with my history to refrain from competing because the economies won't allow him to. I wonder if it's normal for said player to constantly receive invitations from many parts of the world and is forced, for the same reason, to always reply with a "no thanks" (and God knows if I would want to go and prove what I've got). I wonder if it makes any sense to continue all this in a country that seems to have forgotten (if it ever fully understood) the meaning of the term "sport billiard."

I can't keep deceiving myself. I don't want to. If no one believes anymore, then I give up. With no drama or regrets.



I almost hesitate to post this thread, but I empathize with the plight of those who have devoted their lives to professional pool. As the saying goes, only the strong survive, but in pool, this has a broader meaning. Unless you're in the top 5 percent of professional-caliber players, I do not think it's possible to make ends meet, unless you have a sponsor, stakehorse, or rich spouse. It's not possible to hold down a 9-to-5 job if you're traveling around the world to compete on the tournament trail, and then there's the time that's needed to devote to practice to keep your skills up.

I recently read this post from a pro player I really do admire and like. Unlike some who think pro pool players are "looking for handouts," there are those who truly do want to give it their all and rise to the top. This is not possible without funding in today's pool world. I've heard and read all the swipes written by those who have a disdain for professional pool players, saying they're bums, substance abusers, and need to get a job. But let it be known that there are some pro-caliber players, aspiring and seasoned, who do want to work hard and give it their all.

I'm not sure what the answer is today to help aspiring and veteran players stay in the sport. Matchroom and Predator are doing a lot with their tour stops, providing a lot of opportunities for pro players to follow their dreams and develop their professional career. However, without funding, it is not possible in 2023 to attend all of these great, great pool competitions.

I am looking forward to seeing how 2023 unfolds for professional pool. There is hope with the multitude of competitions up ahead, but one cannot compete if they do not have the means or funding. I'm hoping 2023 will be the year that pool makes headway and brings in new blood as well as keep the existing lot of professional players in the sport.
Great post that effectively encapsulates the issue of the day.

Even though things are improving, pool's catch-22 is that the typical aspiring pro player still can't afford to play in the biggest events and if they skip those events, their pedigrees won't develop in full.

Even in the case of Matchroom, our sport's gold standard, entry fees are trending downward and prize money is trending up, but as nice as that might sound, Matchroom does not stage "show up and you get to play" events.

Only higher ranked players are assured invitations, and demand for participation in Matchroom events is so high that for everyone but ranked players, entry is an online free for all. Even in large-field events, Matchroom fields tend to fill up in a matter of hours, and hundreds miss out.

Hence, there appears to be a second Catch-22. How can one become a high enough ranked player to be assured Matchroom invitations if they can't afford to attend all the Matchroom majors, most of which are in Europe? In 2023, Matchroom has begun to address this. In 2023, there are 30 events all over the world that will award Matchroom ranking points. Hence, a worthy pro can build up their ranking on their home soil, thereby qualifying for invitations to all the Matchroom majors and possibly even Matchroom Invitationals.

Prize money will grow as revenue grows. As we saw with the IPT and again with Bonus Ball, if a pool venture pays out prizes that are irreconcilable with revenue, it will fold.

America does, as you suggest, need to rally around its most promising players by helping them with participation costs and by offering resources for training. As we know, some countries (such as Poland) are already offering this kind of support and their players are reaping the rewards.
 

Rusty in Montana

Well-known member
My feeling is if there were places in each state or region for a qualifier tournament to be held a stair step system may help promote the game and get prospective players a opportunity to play in a match to make more money .

For instance the sport of rodeo there's a rodeo in every part of the US and Canada with prize money that's much better than ever and growing each year not just for those who win the world championship or all around .
The American is a event where it's possible someone will walk out with a million dollars many winners of $ 100,000.00 over that one weekend after competing and doing well at a qualifying rodeo .
The Cowboy Channel and RFD TV helped spread the sport which increases sponsorship dollars a win win situation for those involved
The Professional Bull Rider's or PBR is 30 years old and has given many contestants a chance to make a very good living in the original extreme sport of man against beast .

Just some food for thought from my little part of Montana
 

Logandgriff

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think a major reason that professional pool has not achieved the same level of success as professional golf and tennis and Formula One is that it does not generally appeal to rich people. Not sure how to fix this.
 
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