Hardships of Professional Pool as a Career

boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
This guy is a pool champion, well known. He's not starting a career in playing pool professionally. He does give lessons and puts on exhibitions. Sadly, though, he's older now, and when you age as a professional pol player, you find out how many friends and fans you really do have in the industry.

GoFundMe accounts are set up for some pro players who passed away and their families could not afford to bury them. There are other players who may not be a sharp as they once were—Earl Strickland comes to mind—yet they still have game. Unfortunately, when a player devotes their entire life to pool and then ages, eventually cannot run racks anymore, they begin to live a lonely existence. Some ex-pro players figure out a way to eke a living in pool by selling autographs balls and photos, putting on exhibitions, et cetera.

This pro player who wrote those words wants to give it his all on the pool tournament trail and is stating he will devote 100 percent of his attention to competition to a sponsor and/or stakehorse. He's still got game, still passionate about pool, yet he cannot afford to attend Matchroom events that he's been invited to. The expenses are too high. I think that was the purpose of sharing his thoughts.

I view this subject matter differently than most, I realize. The purpose of this thread was to illustrate that although 2023 looks great for pool tournaments by Matchroom and Predator and others, there are many pro-caliber players who cannot afford to go. It doesn't matter how many tour stops there are if you can't afford the cost. Remember that the payouts of these events are not like snooker. You must come in first, second, or third to break even in most tournaments, and even if you do cash in one or two of them, you are probably stuck in expenses from the tournaments that you didn't rise to the top in. This is the dilemma of professional pool today. It's great we have so many events, but if the players cannot afford to go, then what?
It's definitely a sad situation.

Pool payouts are chump change for the most part. The top 3 places might get a little ahead. Even in amateur events the payout is silly. At a sanctioned state tournament my buddy took 2nd in 8 ball standard level. It cost $25 to enter the event. Out of probably 80 people he ended up in 2nd and won a whopping $200. Hotels were anywhere from $70 per night to $250. The event ran multiple days. No way to make money at the amateur level, even though this is a huge event. Every pool discipline costs at least $25 to enter, food is ungodly expensive (we lived out of a cooler packed full of lunch meat and cheese). If you drank, beer was $6 a 12 oz can, bottled water was $4.

I'm not discounting this player's plight. I get it. I'm not even very good in the grand scheme of things, but I love this game. I can only afford to go for a 3 day weekend tournament once or twice a year, and that's if they are only an hour away. It sucks. I love the tournament atmosphere, but it's only gonna happen once or twice a year because it's all expense and no payout. I can't even imagine being at the pro level and having to go through the same type of dilemma.

Pool isn't a career with any kind of security, no matter how you play. It's terrible. Hopefully it can change.
 

BasementDweller

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
He's 744 on Fargo.
Thanks

Very interesting as therein lies the problem. Years ago, a 740 could be mistakenly viewed as an elite professional if they somehow managed to snap off a tourney or two even years ago. As the game has become so international, a 740 isn't really a threat to place in any international field. That's just the reality and there's no hiding from this. A player at this level really needs to bring something to the table other than just their game, if they hope to attract sponsors.

Really 740 is closer to shortstop level now. By comparison, Michigan's best active player is Jeremy Seaman at 765. He works full-time for a living. I'm not sure he's ever had the luxury of being a full-time player.
 
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MattPoland

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Makes me wonder how other hobby-like sports are doing at a professional level, like archery, wrestling or some better example. In some cases pool with Matchroom, Predator and various sponsors might actually be doing better than some of those activities that require you to 100% self fund with . And it’s promising that we have events like the Mosconi Cup that show there is entertainment value to the sport. There’s clearly potential there.

And anyone dedicating their life to it knows they only have one life to live so it’s their responsibility to enter it with eyes wide open. You have to know that you’re not getting a 401k, health insurance, and paid time off with pool. You have to tend to your affairs and recognize there likely isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We can all hope that one day there will be but it would certainly be naive to bank your future on it.
 

westcoast

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Pro pool players know what they are getting themselves into- they must know you will have to be top 10 in the world to make a decent living playing pool and even then, it’s a rough life being on the road so much
 

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
Turning Stone is a players' event with streaming, not a spectator event. Last September it cost me about $1500 to watch in person and that was with free admission. I think the audience was nearly all players and relatives with a few locals and fewer still who travelled more than two hours.

The Mosconi Cup packed 2300 seats.
I saw that too at the last Moscone’s Cup. The place was packed every day and the majority were young people (20-40). As a longtime promoter of professional pool tournaments I was well aware of how big a “Gate” they were doing. The tickets were not cheap and almost all seats were full each day. Whatever Matchroom is doing is working! My hat’s off to them!
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
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He's 744 on Fargo.
Then, in my view, he is no longer a competitive tournament player. That would get him #40 in the US, and it's well out of the top 100 in the world.

If he cannot find a way to continue to make a living being involved with the game, and he cannot afford to retire, he needs to find a job outside the game. But you've already mentioned pool-related ways he makes money. Maybe he would be better off upping his game there. I hear that Matchroom is looking for a tournament director. YouTube videos can be lucrative -- some of them pay over $2 per thousand views. If that's the range Sharivari is getting, he's made a total of over $100,000 off his videos, he hasn't been around that long, and each video continues to get views.
 

skogstokig

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Makes me wonder how other hobby-like sports are doing at a professional level, like archery, wrestling or some better example. In some cases pool with Matchroom, Predator and various sponsors might actually be doing better than some of those activities that require you to 100% self fund with . And it’s promising that we have events like the Mosconi Cup that show there is entertainment value to the sport. There’s clearly potential there.

And anyone dedicating their life to it knows they only have one life to live so it’s their responsibility to enter it with eyes wide open. You have to know that you’re not getting a 401k, health insurance, and paid time off with pool. You have to tend to your affairs and recognize there likely isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We can all hope that one day there will be but it would certainly be naive to bank your future on it.

these are good examples. i'll add weight lifting, bodybuilding and power lifting. the latter two will certainly have as many hobby participants as pool and probably as many trying to be professional. the top few will make good money, but most others will need a different source of income. sponsors and "influencing" is necessary for them all.

i think a lot of pool players aren't diligent enough in trying to attract sponsors and creating a social media presence. some are very good at it, some don't seem to bother at all.
 

JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Thanks

Very interesting as therein lies the problem. Years ago, a 740 could be mistakenly viewed as an elite professional if they somehow managed to snap off a tourney or two even years ago. As the game has become so international, a 740 isn't really a threat to place in any international field. That's just the reality and there's no hiding from this. A player at this level really needs to bring something to the table other than just their game, if they hope to attract sponsors.

Really 740 is closer to shortstop level now. By comparison, Michigan's best active player is Jeremy Seaman at 765. He works full-time for a living. I'm not sure he's ever had the luxury of being a full-time player.

I guess it's hard to understand. The reason he is 740 is because he cannot afford to compete in ranking events that would rise his score on the Fargo scale.

It's easy for those of us who do not shoot pool competitively to cash aspersions and opinions, et cetera, about this guy's dilemma. But I do know he's a strong player and shoots better than 740.

Again, if you can't compete in events due to finances, you can never get your score higher.

People who rely on ranking results are results pickers. In my opinion, those ranking systems are not all-inclusive on how strong a person shoots pool.

It's like a handicap league system. Some team brings in a ringer from, say, Philippines that nobody has ever heard of, and the person is ranked low because he's never played pool on the league.
 

JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Then, in my view, he is no longer a competitive tournament player. That would get him #40 in the US, and it's well out of the top 100 in the world.

If he cannot find a way to continue to make a living being involved with the game, and he cannot afford to retire, he needs to find a job outside the game. But you've already mentioned pool-related ways he makes money. Maybe he would be better off upping his game there. I hear that Matchroom is looking for a tournament director. YouTube videos can be lucrative -- some of them pay over $2 per thousand views. If that's the range Sharivari is getting, he's made a total of over $100,000 off his videos, he hasn't been around that long, and each video continues to get views.
Again, in my view, the ranking systems are not a good mechanism to determine a person's caliber of play. If a person does not have the money to attend events around the world, even when the promoter invites them to represent their country, they will not get ranked.

This player was invited to world championship tournaments last year and could not go because of finances.

The problem is he wants to compete. He is passionate about pool. For him, it's more so about being in the sport than earning an income. But, when you get invited to a world championship to represent your country and you cannot go because of finances, therein lies the problem and what I am trying to state in this thread about the hardships of being a professional pool player. It's not that he needs a job or is looking for a new job that pays more money.

As well, as most know who shoot pool professionally, it is not possible to hold down a traditional 9-to-5 job and compete on a professional level when you have to devote so much of your time to traveling to tournaments around the world as well as practice to keep your pool-shooting skills sharp, just like a musician would practice their instrument before a big concert.

I did see that Matchroom was looking for a TD. I did not think about him at the time, but I'll mention that to him today. Thanks.
 
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JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Makes me wonder how other hobby-like sports are doing at a professional level, like archery, wrestling or some better example. In some cases pool with Matchroom, Predator and various sponsors might actually be doing better than some of those activities that require you to 100% self fund with . And it’s promising that we have events like the Mosconi Cup that show there is entertainment value to the sport. There’s clearly potential there.

And anyone dedicating their life to it knows they only have one life to live so it’s their responsibility to enter it with eyes wide open. You have to know that you’re not getting a 401k, health insurance, and paid time off with pool. You have to tend to your affairs and recognize there likely isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We can all hope that one day there will be but it would certainly be naive to bank your future on it.

And there it is. Pool players should know better than to get into the professional pool is how some who aren't involved in professional pool think.

We all have a job and work 9 to 5 and have insurance and benefits and savings. "The pool players are stupid with their choices in life. Why feel sorry for them?" is how some people view this thread. Meanwhile, this line of thinking and those who think this way, as expressed by some on this thread, are the first ones standing in line for a photo opp and an autograph of the pool player they belittle because of the pool player's choices in life to be a professional pool player. "By golly, why feel sorry for them. They deserve it. They made the choice," again, is how some people think about the professional pool player who has devoted their entire life to pool.

The ridiculing videos and memes have already started to creep in the thread by the usual pro pool player bashers. Welcome to the pool forum where the railbirds and those who do not shoot professional pool know much more than all others.
 
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JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
these are good examples. i'll add weight lifting, bodybuilding and power lifting. the latter two will certainly have as many hobby participants as pool and probably as many trying to be professional. the top few will make good money, but most others will need a different source of income. sponsors and "influencing" is necessary for them all.

i think a lot of pool players aren't diligent enough in trying to attract sponsors and creating a social media presence. some are very good at it, some don't seem to bother at all.
You know this player. I am going to send you a private message because I don't want the usual suspects bashing him on this thread with their blue-blooded non-professional pool-playing opinions.
 

dendweller

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
And there it is. Pool players should know better than to get into the professional pool is how some who aren't involved in professional pool think.

We all have a job and work 9 to 5 and have insurance and benefits and savings. "The pool players are stupid with their choices in life. Why feel sorry for them?" is how some people view this thread. Meanwhile, this line of thinking and those who think this way, as expressed by some on this thread, are the first ones standing in line for a photo opp and an autograph of the pool player they belittle because of the pool player's choices in life to be a professional pool player. "By golly, why feel sorry for them. They deserve it. They made the choice," again, is how some people think about the professional pool player who has devoted their entire life to pool.

The ridiculing videos and memes have already started to creep in the thread by the usual pro pool player bashers. Welcome to the pool forum where the railbirds and those who do not shoot professional pool know much more than all others.
I'm curious, what do you think the solution is? Should pool players somehow be compensated for wanting to compete?
 
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JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'm curious, what do you think the solution is? Should pool players somehow be compensated for wanting to compete?

Well, if I knew the solution, I would have definitely shared it. :cool:

I guess what I was trying to convey with this thread that while we virtual railbirds (some of us) are all excited about the multiple tournament opportunities by Matchroom and Predator and others in 2023 around the world, it most definitely brings hope and excitement for professional pool as a sport. For me as a pool enthusiast, I can't wait to see the next big event on a live stream somewhere and root for my favorite pool pro. But—and the reason for this thread—while I am excited about these international events around the world, the payouts are not at a level where the majority of professional-caliber players can afford to attend due to expenses.

Winning 20- or $30,000 for first place is great, but if you're stuck 20- or $30,000 or more in expenses when attending every single event available on the professional pool tournament trail, it's not enough to sustain the professional pool player to keep going.

In order for professional pool to flourish, it is important to attract new blood as well as keep the existing lot of professional pool players in the sport. Again, this thread was meant to illustrate the hardship of the professional player who wants to stay in the sport but cannot afford to travel around the world two, three, and four times a month to keep their rankings up. It is a hardship for the professional player who wants to stay in the sport. For the virtual railbird like me? It doesn't affect me at all. I'm happy to see more pool happenings around the world in the comfort of my home. I can afford to travel to a couple of these events each year if I desire. I will still be able to make ends meet and enjoy the roof over my head and shop at Whole Foods each week. :p
 

bbb

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boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
"By golly, why feel sorry for them. They deserve it. They made the choice," again, is how some people think about the professional pool player who has devoted their entire life to pool.
I don't think it's really being mean or anything, it's just the current reality of our sport. I'm sure there are people who delight in the troubles of others and meme it up and such, but for the most part I just see people being realistic. 740 is unreal good, like you would have dominated pool on ESPN back in the day. Now, it's more than most mere mortals can achieve, but it's still just brushing against the elite. It's a huge wall to get higher, more so than most realize. It's a full time job that doesn't pay much until you are in the god tier elite.

Pool is sort of like fishing vs. living the "lake life." The "pro" folks on the big lake have a $50K+ boat to even be part of the club. The Jet skis, the $100k motor home, gas, etc. This is beyond what most people can afford, unless it is the only thing they do in life, are deep in debt, have a killer job or have inherited money. I fish, but from the bank and on the river. I catch just as many fish as the "lake life" type, but I'm just a mud grubbing dude, not a "real" fisherman like them. If I had a spare $100K I could be in the club. Is that fair?

Passion doesn't always get you in the club. It takes money. This is life. It's unfair, but it is what it is. Money is what the player needs. They need to find a way to make it or temper their expectations. Sadly, it can be insurmountable and at that point you need to decide what you are doing. It's sad, I have empathy, but empathy doesn't pay the bills.

If said player needs funds to go to the big events they are going to have to find a way. It's a sad state pool is in, but what the heck can I personally do about it? Nothing. It seems cold, but honestly what could I do? Nothing. I'd chip a few dollars their way if they had a fundraiser, but that's about all I could do to help. The player needs to promote themselves and decide if it's worth doing.

Matchroom could provide hotels for the participants and travel expense, kind of a money for showing up type thing, but that's up to them and their business decisions. Matchroom is the boss, they have the money, they make the rules. Calculated business decisions, not feel good or do what's fair. This is the other golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.
 

JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
here is a read about the similar struggles in tennis to get to the top where the purses are much greater
Thank you for this. At least somebody gets it.
 

JAM

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Meanwhile, as I'm sharing the thought of too many pool events and not enough money to attend, along comes this. Too many pool events and not enough time comes into the picture. :p

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dendweller

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Passion doesn't always get you in the club.
That really is just life. There's a long list of things a young person can become passionate about doing for a living that aren't very reliable ways to make a living. Some go for, some don't. Sucks if it doesn't work but you look like a genius if it does.
 

skogstokig

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Matchroom could provide hotels for the participants and travel expense, kind of a money for showing up type thing, but that's up to them and their business decisions. Matchroom is the boss, they have the money, they make the rules. Calculated business decisions, not feel good or do what's fair. This is the other golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.

they can really only do this for the invitational events. for open events with 256 players i don't see it happening.
 

Brookeland Bill

AzB Silver Member
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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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In a few short words…It needs to clean its act up and stop looking like a crap game in a back alley.
 
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