The game of pool, which is a variant of billiards, has been played since the early 1600s. This recreation activity was enjoyed by 19th century royal families in England and was called the "Noble Game of Billiards" due to its high-class popularity. Today, people all over the world enjoy the similar table games of billiards and pool, and tournaments allow skilled players to earn a living through the sport.
Professional pool players earn a living by entering tournaments and gaining sponsorship. Pool players travel frequently in order to attend competitions in many different cities. People in this profession must maintain their skills by practicing frequently, and handle high stress competitions without losing focus. No specific background is required for individuals who wish to play pool professionally. However, the ability to make 80 or more pool shots in a row is usually required to be competitive at the pro level. Most professionals in this sport belong to a league such as the United States Professional Poolplayers Association, which allows them to enter exclusive tournaments and compete for large cash prizes.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track income information specifically for pool players. However, the BLS states that the median salary for all types of sports competitors is $40,480 per year as of 2008. According to CVTips.com, the average income of a professional pool player is approximately $30,000 annually. The typical salary of a professional pool player is often lower than the income from other pro sports due to the relatively low spectator popularity of pool games.
Several factors influence the actual income earned by a professional pool player, including the number of tournaments that a player enters and wins. According to KayCircle.com, winning a pool world championship can result in extra income of $60,000 or more. Some players are able to travel frequently to competitions around the country, while others are limited to tournaments in only one area. Pool players can increase their income by offering lessons to other players, gaining new endorsements or betting on the outcome of pool games in areas where sports gambling is legal.
The BLS expects opportunities and salaries for all athletes and sports competitors to increase significantly in the near future. Specifically, careers in sports are projected to grow by 23 percent between 2008 and 2018. The game of pool has grown significantly; before 1979, no professional pool player organization existed. As of 2010, the largest player association for this sport has 260,000 members, and new tournaments are organized every year.