# Is There A Handicap System That Works The Best ?

#### Mickey Qualls

##### You study the watch......
Silver Member
Hi all,

Working on building a league between a few local bars. A lot of folks in this area don't drive, and the five taverns in the area are centrally located.

The plan is to get more 'non-pool' people playing.

So I'm trying to find some sort of handicap system that not only works, but is easy to understand and explain to the players, too.

I once played in a BCA league that each ball was worth a point, and the eight was worth three points.
For example, if you lost the game, but made five of your group of balls, the game is scored 10-5 (10 going to the winner, 1 point for each ball, three points for the 8, for a total of 10 points).

Your average/handicap is figured as follows: the total number of balls you make, divided by the number of games you play. So if you played four games (say, the first night you play), and you win two games (10 points each), and lose the other two but make 6 balls in each game, that total is 32. Divided by four games, your handicap is 8.

Over the course of a season, you'd play more games and make more balls. And your average would rise or fall, depending on those numbers.

But the formula was easy enough to understand.

Total balls divided by games played.

I'd like to find a handicap system that's maybe a little more comprehensive.

But an easy enough formula to explain to someone considering joining the league.

Any input is appreciated...

Gold Member
Silver Member

#### FAST_N_LOOSE

##### <--THE AMAZING JESSE JANE
Silver Member
Hi all,

Working on building a league between a few local bars. A lot of folks in this area don't drive, and the five taverns in the area are centrally located.

The plan is to get more 'non-pool' people playing.

So I'm trying to find some sort of handicap system that not only works, but is easy to understand and explain to the players, too.

I once played in a BCA league that each ball was worth a point, and the eight was worth three points.
For example, if you lost the game, but made five of your group of balls, the game is scored 10-5 (10 going to the winner, 1 point for each ball, three points for the 8, for a total of 10 points).

Your average/handicap is figured as follows: the total number of balls you make, divided by the number of games you play. So if you played four games (say, the first night you play), and you win two games (10 points each), and lose the other two but make 6 balls in each game, that total is 32. Divided by four games, your handicap is 8.

Over the course of a season, you'd play more games and make more balls. And your average would rise or fall, depending on those numbers.

But the formula was easy enough to understand.

Total balls divided by games played.

I'd like to find a handicap system that's maybe a little more comprehensive.

But an easy enough formula to explain to someone considering joining the league.

Any input is appreciated...

I have had some luck locally with a loosely based version of the BCA system. It's the most transparent and easiest to understand. It can also be used for teams with any number of players.

All the others can be way too tough to understand, or can be a pain to calculate. With the BCA system, each player can double check their own rating, and not have to whine about being over or under rated.

#### peteypooldude

##### I see Edges
Silver Member
I think the simplest formula is as follows

Every ball is worth a point and the 8 is worth 3
The loser has 3 balls left the score is 10 4
A good incentive for this handicap is to pay high average and most improved
It will stop some sandbagging because people are shooting for that money also. Most balls pocketed is a good incentive also . If a player shows up and plays every week he will be hard to keep up with on ball count. I know these are extras but a lot of times that's what makes players interested and feel like they have a shot at something.
As far as the handicap numbers I can get you a scale if you want it
the bars pay 75\$ per team and each player pays 7\$ a week for a total of 35\$ a week

Good luck with it

#### ChicagoRJ

##### EEEEEXCELLENT ;)
Silver Member
Mick, your suggestion will work... the only tweak you need the winner gets 10 points plus one point for every ball his opponenet left on table.

Best score would be a run out, 17-0. Because someone that wins lots of games by a score of 10-7, is not the same caliber player that wins the same amount of games 15-2 and 14-3.

Thus, this really seperates the very good players and the great players.

And don't forget to throw in the magical 6th round. After 5 rounds, who ever has the most total points (including handicapp points) is the winner of the overall, and thus wins one extra round.

This helps reduce sandbagging as that one game you "tank" could cost you one round at end of night... and that one round coud cost you the championshop...

also, the handicaps are on going... thus if you are a 40, you really need to play well to get your overall score to rise becuse you have to play pretty consistently as a 45 to get the 40 to move to 41 or 42.... thus, players are rewarded for gettting better because they pick up some extra handicap points until the system catches up with them...

Last edited:

#### Mickey Qualls

##### You study the watch......
Silver Member
I have had some luck locally with a loosely based version of the BCA system. It's the most transparent and easiest to understand. It can also be used for teams with any number of players.

All the others can be way too tough to understand, or can be a pain to calculate. With the BCA system, each player can double check their own rating, and not have to whine about being over or under rated.

And that's the biggest thing I want to be able to show.

This is all hearsay, but my understanding is that a while back, there was a local league between the taverns. But the handicap was... questionable at best.

The LO couldn't explain why there were weeks when someone would win all of their games, but their handicap would go down.
Apparently the final straw was when one of the players that everyone knew quite well did absolutely terrible one week. The guy was something like 7-38 for his win-loss record. And lost all five of his games that week.
And his handicap raised by a point (or ball or whatever, I'm still not clear on how the handicap worked) the following week .
When the LO was confronted by both players and tavern owners, he couldn't effectively explain how the handicap system worked. And that was the end of that league.

I have no idea if it was a sanctioned league, or whether it was just a group of bars getting together to get more business.

Four of the five taverns had different owners now. And the fifth one is willing to include his place, if the handicap system is 'above board'.

Total balls made divided by games played. Simple enough...

#### Mickey Qualls

##### You study the watch......
Silver Member
I think the simplest formula is as follows

Every ball is worth a point and the 8 is worth 3
The loser has 3 balls left the score is 10 4
A good incentive for this handicap is to pay high average and most improved
It will stop some sandbagging because people are shooting for that money also. Most balls pocketed is a good incentive also . If a player shows up and plays every week he will be hard to keep up with on ball count. I know these are extras but a lot of times that's what makes players interested and feel like they have a shot at something.
As far as the handicap numbers I can get you a scale if you want it
the bars pay 75\$ per team and each player pays 7\$ a week for a total of 35\$ a week

Good luck with it

I like the handicap system.

I really like the bold part. I think that will keep the lower caliber players interested...

#### Mickey Qualls

##### You study the watch......
Silver Member
Mick, your suggestion will work... the only tweak you need the winner gets 10 points plus one point for every ball his opponenet left on table.

Best score would be a run out, 17-0. Because someone that wins lots of games by a score of 10-7, is not the same caliber player that wins the same amount of games 15-2 and 14-3.

Thus, this really seperates the very good players and the great players.

And don't forget to throw in the magical 6th round. After 5 rounds, who ever has the most total points (including handicapp points) is the winner of the overall, and thus wins one extra round.

This helps reduce sandbagging as that one game you "tank" could cost you one round at end of night... and that one round coud cost you the championshop...

also, the handicaps are on going... thus if you are a 40, you really need to play well to get your overall score to rise becuse you have to play pretty consistently as a 45 to get the 40 to move to 41 or 42.... thus, players are rewarded for gettting better because they pick up some extra handicap points until the system catches up with them...

I hear what you're saying, RJ.

The only downside that I can see is that there aren't that many 'good' or 'great' players. Most of these folks would be playing for a night out. Maybe even win a few games.

I might even be able to wrap my head around giving the winner the difference between either the 10-7 win.
Say you win and beat your opponent 10-4. Then you would get a score of 13-4. 7 for your group of balls, 3 for the right ball, and another 3 for how many he had left on the table.

I think a couple of 17-0 losses could make pool league night discouraging for a lot of the lower caliber players. Especially in the first couple of seasons of trying to get the league off the ground.
And the drama that accompanied the previous league (see my response to Fast_N_Loose).

But I like the idea... :thumbup:

#### bhambomber

##### AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
where can i buy the fargo handicapping program?

#### Stones

##### YEAH, I'M WOOFING AT YOU!
Silver Member
Is There A Handicap System That Works The Best ?

NO.

Stones

#### Sealegs50

##### AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
This may not be the best system, but it is very easy to understand. Players start even. The player who loses gets the 8 for the next game. If that player loses again (down by 2 games), the handicap bal moves from the 8 to the 7. The handicap ball continues to move down to the 5 if one player is behind by 4 games. If the player who is behind wins a game, the handicap ball moves back up.

It works pretty well for players who differ by one level. The stronger player tends to win these matches. But typically matches are not blow-outs and weaker players win a few games. For stronger players, the system provides challenge when playing weaker players. It generally allows players to enter a competition who have no prior history. The system also does not require a scorer to watch numbers of balls made or missed, etc.

You might need to be inventive for games between players who differ by 2 or more levels. "A" players are pretty easy to spot. "C" and "D" players are, too. Perhaps those matches could start with the 7 and proceed from there.

The system does not require exact evaluation of personal handicaps. Sandbagging becomes meaningless. As I mentioned before, it is easy to understand. It also was fun for the players.

#### ChicagoRJ

##### EEEEEXCELLENT ;)
Silver Member
I hear what you're saying, RJ.

The only downside that I can see is that there aren't that many 'good' or 'great' players. Most of these folks would be playing for a night out. Maybe even win a few games.

I might even be able to wrap my head around giving the winner the difference between either the 10-7 win.
Say you win and beat your opponent 10-4. Then you would get a score of 13-4. 7 for your group of balls, 3 for the right ball, and another 3 for how many he had left on the table.

I think a couple of 17-0 losses could make pool league night discouraging for a lot of the lower caliber players. Especially in the first couple of seasons of trying to get the league off the ground.
And the drama that accompanied the previous league (see my response to Fast_N_Loose).

But I like the idea... :thumbup:

Mickey, if you don't have any great players, you really won't have to worry about many 17-0 nights....ond of course, that is just one game. They still have a few games left to shoot.

But you will have some 14-3, 13-4, etc., and will prollly gets lots of 10-7 and 11-6, which really tells you are the "better" of the recreational players, and thus the HC is at the right spot. It's hard to defeat this system, I've yet to see anyone do it in 10 years, and only a few have tried (couple bangers thought they were smarter than they were) but all have failed. When they kept giving up rounds each night, they were soon in last place very quickly...... whoops

#### Diamond69

##### AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Mick, your suggestion will work... the only tweak you need the winner gets 10 points plus one point for every ball his opponenet left on table.

Best score would be a run out, 17-0. Because someone that wins lots of games by a score of 10-7, is not the same caliber player that wins the same amount of games 15-2 and 14-3.

Thus, this really seperates the very good players and the great players.

And don't forget to throw in the magical 6th round. After 5 rounds, who ever has the most total points (including handicapp points) is the winner of the overall, and thus wins one extra round.

This helps reduce sandbagging as that one game you "tank" could cost you one round at end of night... and that one round coud cost you the championshop...

also, the handicaps are on going... thus if you are a 40, you really need to play well to get your overall score to rise becuse you have to play pretty consistently as a 45 to get the 40 to move to 41 or 42.... thus, players are rewarded for gettting better because they pick up some extra handicap points until the system catches up with them...

RJ,
I'm in the same group as you as far as handicap. The VNEA has the 10 for a win and a point for each ball for the opponent. This is a good handicap for the 4's through the 8's. But as you point out, the 9's don't have enough range in them. The 9 that has 10 ERO's in a season has more value than the 9 who has 1. Because of the amount of points they have given to the opponent.

Your idea seems to take that into account. Not sure if VNEA would pick up on that idea, but it would work for local leagues.

The other thing that I don't like is the person who has the misfortune of getting run out on often. IMO, an ERO against you should not impact your handicap. In short 12-14 week sessions, I've seen people that have been 9's for years end up being a 6 or 7 early in the season (happened to me once). Which isn't fair to the opponent.

#### hang-the-9

##### AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
From the ones I have seen, I like the USAPL one the best by far. One thing, winning a game, even if you only make the last ball, actually counts for something, it's worth more than all the other points in the rack, just like in real life. You get 14 points for a win, the loser gets 1 point for each ball made. This works in both 9, 10 and 8 ball.

The rankings go from 30-125 so there is good granularity in skill levels, you don't have two 7 ranked players that max out the ratings but one is a good B, the other is a good A, and they play even. In the USAPL, and A player would be over 100, a B would be around 70-100, so there is a few balls and game spots there to work with. And a low ranked player could win even if they don't win a single rack, just have to make enough balls. If a 30 plays a 80, the 30 has 6 racks to make 30 balls.

#### Eagleshot

##### Mark Nanashee
Silver Member

Everyone plays even races to 4. Every time you win you go up 1 game, every time you lose you go down 1 game.

1st match player A goes to 4
Player B goes to 4
Player A wins

2nd match player A goes to 5
Player B goes to 3

lowest number is a 1, highest is a 9

Have to do a lot of tracking and updating but it would end up pretty even over a season.

Worst case scenario you might end up with players going to 17 games but They would be your best players.

#### hang-the-9

##### AzB Silver Member
Silver Member

Everyone plays even races to 4. Every time you win you go up 1 game, every time you lose you go down 1 game.

1st match player A goes to 4
Player B goes to 4
Player A wins

2nd match player A goes to 5
Player B goes to 3

lowest number is a 1, highest is a 9

Have to do a lot of tracking and updating but it would end up pretty even over a season.

Worst case scenario you might end up with players going to 17 games but They would be your best players.

That is way too much of a swing for one loss or one win. It's simple but not balanced.

#### thepavlos

##### AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Fargo

Fargo is a very good system and we implemented it in our in-house league for one season. The only drawback we observed to Fargo is that the lower handicapped players stood no chance to the higher handicapped players. If you can make it that people purposefully try to match up as evenly as possible then it works; but due to the strategizing to guarantee a win, it doesn't work.

#### CreeDo

##### Fargo Rating 597
Silver Member
Just another opinion... the points thing can make eight ball weird. I seem to recall situations in BCA
where a player wasn't worried about winning, just making a certain number of balls.

In 9 ball I like points because the way the game's designed, it's often too easy to win from the chair without
actually sinking any balls. And runouts are almost impossible at the amateur level so it's usually a crap shoot
who arrives at the 9 ball first. The better player often doesn't win in 9b, which is a bit unfair...
but a point system is one way to remedy that. Not a perfect way but it works.

In 8 ball both players at least must make 6-8 balls to win, and running out is very possible for average players,
so the guy who wins the game usually deserved it. There's no easy win from the chair
(except the rare scratch on the 8 ball).

Also part of the game's strategy is to NOT make balls unnecessarily
since doing that makes it easier for the other guy to run out.

So imo eight ball doesn't need a point system, if someone sinks all his balls before the other guy, he earned
his win. Points encourage a different style of play where making balls is more important than playing strategically.
And it's especially weird and different to have games where a guy is soft breaking and trying to just run a few balls
with zero concern for opening the rack or eventually making the eight.

The best handicapping for 8b is games on the wire. You can use statistics like high run, average run, etc.
to help determine how many games must be spotted and what's a fair race. I think this is what Fargo is about
and my only complaint is the presentation and math is overly complex. If you're trying to teach casual pool players
a transparent handicapping system, you can't be spitting lengthy formulas with greek letters at them.

#### bhambomber

##### AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Where can I get a copy of Fargo?