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Pool Tournament Rules

By Daniel Gasteiger

Pool means different games to different people. Straight Pool once dominated as the tournament game of choice, but most tournaments today are either Eight-Ball or Nine-Ball.

Pool Offers Variety

There are several versions of Eight-Ball and Nine-Ball with Eight-Ball having far more permutations than Nine-Ball. While one version may be popular in the northeastern United States, another version could be more popular in the northwest. Even within a geographical region, people in different leagues and at different pool halls may play these popular games with unique local variations.

Plan Your Tournament

Decide what game rules players will follow. Will it be a traditional Eight-Ball tournament? Texas Eight-Ball? Last Pocket Eight Ball? Find the rules, print them out, and post them on the wall in your establishment. The rules you post become the "house rules" for the game they describe.

Handicap Your Tournament

Pool halls schedule tournaments to attract players of all abilities. An "open" tournament attracts top players but may also attract mediocre players who hope to get lucky. A "D" tournament, on the other hand, allows only the very worst players. Someone who is competitive in an open tournament has no business playing in a D tournament. A "C" tournament is open to C-quality players and D-quality players. A "B" tournament is open to B-, C-, and D-quality players. If you know the abilities of the players, you can also run a "handicap" tournament in which an "A" player may need to win three or four times as many games as a D player when playing against each other.

Single or Double Elimination

In a single-elimination tournament, if you lose a match against an opponent, you are out of the tournament. In a double-elimination tournament, losing a match bumps you into the "losers' bracket" and you get to play against another loser. Should you lose a match in the losers' bracket, you are out of the tournament. The semi-final match in a double-elimination tournament is between the winner of the winners' bracket and the winner of the losers' bracket. This is the final match if the winners' bracket player wins. Losing bounces the winners' bracket winner into the losers' bracket and the two players have a second match to determine the tournament's winner.

Rules for Your Tournament

Use these rules for any pool tournament. Note that upper case identifies where your tournament format requires you to identify specific options: 1. Tournament is open to C AND D players only. Management reserves the right to check references. 2. All matches will be played according to the House Rules of 8-BALL posted in the pool hall. 3. Players lag to determine who breaks first; players alternate the opening break in subsequent games. 4. The player waiting to shoot must remain seated during his or her opponent's turn at the table. 5. The first player to win three games during a match wins the match. 6. This is a DOUBLE-ELIMINATION tournament.

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