Something I have been wrapped up in for a few years is shooting pool in sanctioned APA leagues. The APA has offered pool leagues for over 30 years nationally. I enjoy playing both 8-Ball and 9-Ball and have been on some teams that have made it to playoffs, but have yet to be on a team to make it all the way to Las Vegas.
I first became interested in shooting pool at a young age. My father had a table in the house and liked to shoot. A good friend, Dan Pagley, would come to the house frequently and we would play for hours. Coincidentally, Dan and his wife Gina own Pagz, a bar I shoot with on Tuesday and Thursday. Dan knows the game and would tell you he would rather coach than shoot some days.
When a session starts, a team of players assigned handicaps play against another team from a different sponsored establishment. The leagues are fun and competitive and I would encourage anyone who likes to shoot pool to get on a team and get involved. At the end of each session, a team mini-tournament known as Tri-Cup takes place. You have to win a couple of matches at Tri-Cup for your team to advance to the next round. Winners from the Tri-Cup tournaments face off to compete for a trip to Las Vegas with the APA picking up the tab for the flight and the hotel.
I have several friends who have made it to Las Vegas to shoot at the APA championships. I feel like a couple of the teams I am playing on can make it if everyone is having a good day and brings their A game. I am a 5 handicap in both 8 and 9-Ball. For some reason I seem to shoot much better when playing 9-Ball.
So my Monday night ritual is to go to my home bar, The Bowery, and either settle in there or meet the rest of my team to travel to our competitive destination. The matches vary in time, but usually friendliness overrides competitive punity and everyone has a nice night. I do not drink alcohol, so if you think people join pool leagues as a reason to get torn up once a week, you are sadly mistaken. I have seen a few heavy drinkers from time-to-time, but not coincidentally, the next time we play that very same team, the obnoxious member is gone.
Some of the rules in the APA are different than other leagues. In 8-Ball, making the 8 on the break nets you a win. In some leagues it is spotted and pocketed as a shooter’s last ball. Lately, the rage issues have come over handicaps. A team can not go over 23 total for handicap in a match. So if someone has a decent session and gets hiked to a 6 handicap, on a night that player shoots, there are only 17 more handicap rating points to use. A team that wins will have trouble staying together long for this reason.
Bernie Pavlok is my local APA representative. He and his wife, Nohaud, are fair and in contact with most players. They have always been cordial and accessible to all members of my league.
There are not many things you can do for $7 a week that are much fun in today’s smashed-up economy. I would encourage you to try and shoot pool. If you win, you advance and reap the benefits, if you lose, it’s back to the drawing board for next session.
Pop into the local Papa’s Sports Club in your neighborhood and see what you have been missing!