What is a “Pro” Pool Player?

When I first started this pool journey late last fall, I stated my purpose was to reach “pro” status in two years.  Upon further reflection, I realize that I don’t really know what that means.  Unlike the professional women’s tour, which issues tour cards to its members, there is no men’s professional tour which offers tour cards to its members, at least not that I’m aware of.  So, that leaves the question unanswered:  If you’re a man, what does it mean to call yourself a professional pool player?  I don’t have the answer.

I did a little brainstorming and came up with the following criteria that MAY qualify someone to call themselves a “Professional Pool Player.”  Take a look and let me know what you think.  Can you come up with other criteria that could differentiate between amateur and professional caliber players?

  • Get listed in the AZ billiards top 100 players list
  • Place in top 15 in an open pro tournament
  • Get invited to play in a closed pro tournament
  • More than 50% of your earned income comes from pool
  • Pass the following test:  Break a rack of 9ball, take ball in hand on the first shot, and be able to run the table more than 50% of the time.
  • Pass this test: Match up against any player on the AZ Billiards top 100 list, put $1,000 of your own money on the lights above the table, then beat them in a race to 10.

8 responses to “What is a “Pro” Pool Player?

  1. check out my post titled “pro vs. joe” and see what u think, mr. reddick.

    • poolriah, thanks for the quick comment! I checked out your article and enjoyed reading it. Reaching “pro level status” should be, IMHO, performance based. If lucky Joe Schmo hit the lottery, quit his day job, and did nothing but shoot pool, winning $100 a week in local tournaments, is he a “pro player?” Of course not. I agree with you that the criteria should be performance based. I think you did a good job in your article of trying to establish a set of criteria for judging a player’s skill level. I’ll think a little more about it, and see if I can add to the list. Thanks!

  2. If you want a quantitative measure of performance that you can use in your personal development, I suggest you try the practice game Fargo. It’s a good measure of skill, because it’s progressive in nature. That is, you can increase the difficulty by switching to the rotation phase earlier. And it’s not just a measure of raw skill, but it also forces one to concentrate on every shot.

    A professional player’s typical score in Fargo should be about 220. Typical score here means the long-time average, not the “high-score”.

    Back in the days when they developed the game, Ed Mercier got Larry Nevel to try Fargo and Larry scored 224 on his second official run. Larry also agreed that 220 is a good cut-off for professional players.


    The fun of it is that you really can’t fake a score in this game and you can’t delude yourself to think you’re better than you really are. It also builds up some pressure as you aim at your best score and realize that you can’t miss those early shots.

    Couple of links about Fargo:


    I suggest to try the game couple of times and then do a Fargo run once a month and try and see if you’re getting better at this game.

    • Jarno, thanks for introducing me to Fargo. It’s very similar to Equal Offense, which I played a few times many years ago. I think I will like Fargo because it has the added complexity of rotation. It really makes you look through the rack and assess whether or not the table is runnable in rotation. Another advantage of Fargo is that you don’t have to execute the 14.1 break shot, which almost always destroyed my changes of long runs in Equal Offense since I never practice 14.1. I wonder if there are any statistics recorded to assess quantitatively what a typical pro would score in Fargo. I know at one time someone was keeping statistics on Internet Equal Offense tournaments. Thanks for the recommendation. Now I can’t wait to get to the table to give it a try!

  3. There’s not a whole lot of statistics recorded as far as known professionals go. The only one I know is the Larry Nevel’s short venture into Fargo that I mentioned.

    That said, I trust the rating comparison they’ve developed as it is based on real results in the “Fargo tournaments” Ed Mercier ran and other practical experiences of the game. Those D-AA and Pro ratings don’t say much to me though, but I guess they’re more familiar to US based players?

    • I agree that the typical D through Pro ratings used in the States is rather qualitative and subject to sandbagging. Here are some examples of rating systems that I’m familiar with in the States:
      1. APA – The skill scale goes from 2 to 7. Last week I rejoined the APA after a 15 year layoff, and it’s funny how your perspective changes over time. The scale does not have enough discrimination to fairly handicap the best players.
      2. USPPA – The skill scale goes from 0 (theoretically) to 200+. 150 and above may be considered “pro”. I played for several years and never could figure out the math involved in the handicap calculation. Neither could anyone else, and there seemed to be a lot of sandbagging involved by certain players, which quickly killed participation.
      3. CPPT – The skill scale is Pro/A/B/C. Only four skill designations, but practically there are only two divisions: (1) B/C and (2) A/Pro. In tournaments players are separated by B/C and A/Pro brackets. The top 25% from each bracket go on and play against each other. There is no handicapping of each match, thus no sandbagging at all.
      To sum up, and prevent me from rambling on forever, most of these rating systems are used for handicapping. I don’t think any of these systems really accurately characterize a players true ability. The only true measure is a player’s performance. I like the approach of Equal Offense, Fargo, or just plain 14.1. There’s no way to cheat. You have to execute.

  4. I run a local amateur league of 117 teams with approx 1000 players and am looking where I can find a listing of all American players classified as pro status or touring as a pro. All I can find is top 25 or top 10 lists. Is there a full list of everyone? Or maybe top 500 in US?

    Steve Kidd
    Metro East Billiard League President

    • Hi Steve. There is no definitive list because there are multiple ways to rank players; however, I recommend doing research on AZ Billiards. They maintain 2 or 3 different ranking systems for top players. You can see their BCA and WPA rankings at http://www.azbilliards.com/2000pointslist.php. They also maintain their own ranking system called the AzB Player Rank. In addition, you can search for any player using their Player Finder function. They have a database of thousands of players. Hope this helps!

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