About the APA

The American Poolplayers Association - known as APA Pool Leagues - is the world’s largest amateur pool league with more than 275,000 members competing in 8-Ball and 9-Ball Leagues, as well as numerous other specialized formats such as no-handicap Masters, 8 and 9 ball Doubles, Ladies 8 ball, Juniors, and our extremely popular National Singles Program!
These formats and programs are currently in three country's around the globe... the United States, Canada, Japan - with more countries slated to begin in the future.
 APA Executive Staff

Co-Founders – Larry Hubbart and Terry Bell

In 1979, after several years on the professional circuit and with numerous titles under his belt, Terry “Texas Terry” Bell developed an idea for a centrally controlled nationwide amateur pool organization. He realized how popular billiards was becoming and knew that no organized system for recreational league play existed. So, amid much skepticism among professional players, Bell joined forces with Larry “The Iceman” Hubbart, who was also competing on the professional circuit. Together they founded the American Poolplayers Association, Inc. (APA) in 1981 to act as the sanctioning body of the League. Previously known as the American Pool League, Busch Pool League, Bud Light Pool League and the Camel Pool League, the APA now sanctions and oversees the APA 8-Ball League and APA 9-Ball League in the United States, the Canadian Poolplayers Association in Canada and the Japanese Poolplayers Association in Japan.

Based on their knowledge of the game, Bell and Hubbart developed a unique handicap system, The Equalizer®, to level the playing field in the League. The Equalizer® utilizes a formula that measures a scoring ability by counting the number of turns it takes a player to win a game. The result is a handicap that determines the number of games a player must win to capture a match. After the handicap system was developed, the APA was formed as the sanctioning body of the League. In October 2010, Bell and Hubbart were inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame for Meritorious Service!

History of the American Poolplayers Association (APA)

The American Poolplayers Association (APA) was founded by professional poolplayers and Billiard Hall of Famers Terry Bell and Larry Hubbart in 1979 as the National Pool League, which became the American Poolplayers Association in 1981. The two realized the popularity of the sport, but knew, that different from other sports, there was no existing recreational league system.

Today, the APA, also known as the Canadian Poolplayers Association in Canada and the Japanese Poolplayers Association in Japan, has grown to nearly 275,000 members and boasts more members than all other “national” leagues combined. The League is administered locally by a network of Franchise Operators, called League Operators, and is conducted weekly in a variety of both 8-Ball and 9-Ball team formats. There are nearly 300 APA Leagues throughout the U.S., Canada and Japan.

APA League teams have the opportunity to advance to the APA World Pool Championships each summer in Las Vegas. In 2010, Guinness World Records recognized this event as the World’s Largest Pool tournament. In addition, the APA also hosts a second tournament, the APA Poolplayer Championships, in Las Vegas each spring. APA pays out a combined $2 Million annually at these tournaments.

The APA also conducts the U.S. Amateur Championship, the pool world’s most prestigious amateur tournament, which is the only competition open to APA members and nonmembers alike. The tournament began in 1994 and has grown significantly over the years, as players across North America battle for a spot in this coveted event.

APA also runs the APA Junior Championships each summer. This tournament gives children ages 7-18 the opportunity to compete for prizes and trophies in their skill level bracket. It’s a great opportunity to introduce kids to the game of pool!

The APA is has also been recognized as one of the top small business and home-based franchise opportunities in the world. In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked the APA as the #2 “Top 20 Franchises to Start.” APA is ranked a “Hall of Fame” franchise with the Franchise Business Review for having been named a Top 200 franchise for 10+ years. Click here to view more APA franchise honors.

One of the keys to the success of the American Poolplayers Association is The Equalizer®, the unique handicapping and scoring system that makes it possible for players of different playing abilities — especially novices and beginners — to compete on an equal basis, much like they do in golf and bowling. The Equalizer® uses a formula that measures a player’s ability. The result is a handicap of how many games a player must win to capture a match in 8-Ball or the number of points a player must earn to win a match in the 9-Ball format.

The Equalizer® system lets players of any skill level compete against each other evenly.

With The Equalizer®, it’s feasible for a beginner to have a nearly equal chance in a match against a more highly skilled player. The Equalizer® aids the lesser skilled player by dictating mathematically that he/she needs to win fewer games or points than his opponent to win the match. (In golf and bowling, you give or get strokes or pins.)

Everyone Can Play – Anyone Can Win!®The Equalizer® is only available in the APA.

In an APA League, you give or get games in the 8-Ball format and you give or get points in the 9-Ball format. How many games or points you give or get is determined by comparing your skill level to your opponent’s skill level. A higher skilled player must give games or points to a lower-skilled player, thus evening the match.

How Handicaps Are Determined

Your Local League Office calculates and reports skill levels to the teams on a regular basis. Your skill level determines how many points you have to earn to win your match. Each ball pocketed is worth one point, while the 9-ball is worth two points. Skill levels are maintained, calculated and updated by the Local League office. The process includes a number of factors including the application of specific mathematical formulas to the data on the weekly scoresheets, win/loss records, Higher Level Tournament performance, qualitative judgment by Handicap Advisory Committees, and other considerations. You are asked to refrain from attempting to keep your own records as it is generally a disruptive practice. The APA appreciates your cooperation with this policy.

How to Get Started

New players do not have a skill level established, so all new players will start as a skill level 3. A League Operator is authorized to assign special skill levels and lowest attainables to new players who are known to be highly skilled players or to players who have previously established a skill level in another format. As a result of your first match, a skill level is established and reported for you. It is against the rules for a player who has an established skill level to attempt to reestablish his skill level at a later time. For example, you can’t quit for awhile and then rejoin the League or transfer to another League area as a nonrated player. You are obligated to disclose the fact that you are a former or current member in another League area with an established skill level.

Once Skill Levels Are Established

Now you can look at how your skill level and the skill levels of the other players interact to create the highly competitive atmosphere that has made this League so successful. Remember you are going to give or get points in 9-Ball. During regular weekly League play, simply refer to the “Points Required to Win” chart shown on the scoresheets for your convenience.

History of Billiards

The History of Billiards is rich and interesting. The game we know today has evolved over centuries, morphing from games popular during different periods of history. Billiards is known to have evolved from a lawn game, similar to croquet. Play was eventually moved indoors to a wooden table with green cloth, to simulate grass. The history of the “Noble Game of Billiards” is deep and vast, the table, tools for play and rules have changed century to century. Billiards enthusiasts have included, Kings, Queens, commoners, Conquistadors, church officials, Presidents, up to modern day players and professionals.

What Is Billiards and How Did It All Start?

Billiards began as a lawn game similar to the croquet played sometime during the 15th century in Northern Europe. It has evolved from that point into the present-day style of billiard/pool table and rules.

The game moved indoors to a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass (I'm not really sure why they decided to simulate grass) and a simple border around the edges. The term "billiard" is derived from the French language, either from the word "billart," one of the wooden sticks, or "bille," a ball.

Most of our information about early billiards comes from accounts of playing by royalty and other nobles. It has been known as the "Noble Game of Billiards" since the early 1800's but there is evidence that people from all walks of life played the game since its inception. In 1600, the game of billiards was familiar enough to the public that Shakespeare mentioned it in his play "Antony and Cleopatra." Seventy-five years later, the first book of billiards rules remarked of England that there were "few Tones of note therein which hath not a publick Billiard-Table."

From Mace to Cue

In the original game (when they first brought it indoors), the balls were shoved (rather than struck) with wooden sticks called maces. The cue stick was developed in the late 1600s. When the ball lay near a rail, the mace was very inconvenient to use because of its large head. In such a case, the players would turn the mace around and use its handle to strike the ball. The handle was called a "queue" meaning "tail" from which we get the word "cue." For a long time only men were allowed to use the cue; women were forced to use the mace because it was felt they were more likely to rip the cloth with the shaper cue (it must have been all the trick shots they were trying to do).

At some point, someone used chalk to increase friction between the billiard ball and the cue stick (even before cues had tips) and found significant improvement in their performance. Around the turn of the 18th century in Europe, the leather cue tip was developed, which allowed a player to apply side-spin, topspin, or even backspin to the ball.

All billiard/pool cues used to be one single shaft until the two-piece cue arrived in 1829.

The Pool Table

Billiard/pool tables originally had flat walls for rails and their only function was to keep the balls from falling off. They used to be called "banks" because they slightly resembled the banks of a river. Billiard players discovered that the balls could bounce off the rails and began deliberately aiming at them, and therefore the "bank shot" was born! This is where the billiard ball is hit toward the rail with the intention for it to rebound from one cushion as part of the shot—possibly even three, four or five rails and into the pocket.

Wood was the table bed of a billiard table until around 1835, when slate became popular due to its durability for play and the fact that it won't warp over time like wood. In 1839 Goodyear discovered the process for vulcanization of rubber and by 1845 it was used to make billiard cushions. As for the size of billiard tables, a two-to-one ratio of length to width became standard in the 18th century. Before then, there were no fixed table dimensions. By 1850, the billiard table had essentially evolved into its current form.

Billiard/pool equipment improved rapidly in England after 1800, largely because of the Industrial Revolution.

The talent of a professional pool player is truly amazing! Visitors from England showed Americans how the use of spin can make the billiard ball behave differently depending on what type and amount of spin you put on the ball, which explains why it is called "English" in the United States but nowhere else. The British themselves refer to it as "side."

The Game of Pool

The word "pool" means a collective bet, or ante. Many non-billiard games, such as poker, involve a pool but it was pocket billiards that the name became attached to. Another interesting fact is that the term "pool room" now means a place where pool is played, but in the 19th century a pool room was a betting parlor for horse racing. Pool tables were installed so patrons could pass time between races. The two became connected in the public mind, but the unsavory connotation of "pool room" came from the betting that took place there, not from billiards.

The game of pool evolved with many different flavors.

·       In Britain the dominant billiard game from about 1770 until the 1920's was "English Billiards," played with three balls and six pockets on a large rectangular table. The British billiard tradition is carried on today primarily through the game of "Snooker", which is a complex and colorful game combining offensive and defensive aspects and played on the same equipment as English Billiards but with 22 balls instead of three. The British appetite for snooker is comparable only by the American passion for baseball; it is possible to see a snooker competition every day in Britain.

·       In the U.S. the dominant American billiard game until the 1870's was American Four-Ball Billiards, usually played on a large (11 or 12-foot), four-pocket table with four billiard balls - two of them white and two red. This was a direct extension English Billiards. Points were scored by pocketing balls, scratching the cue ball, or by making caroms on two or three balls. What is a "Carom"? A "carom" is the act of hitting two object balls with the cue ball in one stroke. With many balls, there were many different ways of scoring and it was possible to make up to 13 pints on a single shot. American Four-Ball produced two offspring, both of which surpassed it in popularity by the 1870's. One of the games used simple caroms played with three balls on a pocketless table was something known as "Straight rail" which was the forerunner of all carom games. The other popular game was American Fifteen-Ball Pool, the predecessor of modern pocket billiards.

·       Fifteen-Ball Pool was played with 15 object balls, numbered 1 through 15. For sinking a ball, the player received a number of points equal to the value of the ball. The sum of the ball values in a rack is 120, so the first player who received more than half the total, or 61, was the winner. This game, also called "61-Pool" was used in the first American championship pool tournament held in 1878 and won by Cyrille Dion, a Canadian. Later in 1888, it was thought more fair to count the number of balls pocketed by a player and not their numerical value. Thus, Continuous Pool replaced Fifteen-Ball Pool as the championship game. The player who sank the last ball of a rack would break the next rack and his point total would be kept "continuously" from one rack to the next.

  • Eight-Ball was invented shortly after 1900; straight pool followed in 1910. Nine-ball seems to have developed around 1920.

While the term "billiards" refers to all games played on a billiard table, with or without pockets, some people take billiards to mean carom games only and use pool for pocket games. Through the 1930s, both pool and billiards, particularly three-cushion billiards, shared the spotlight.

From 1878 until 1956, pool and billiard championship tournaments were held almost annually, with one-on-one challenge matches filling the remaining months. At times, including during the Civil War, billiard results received wider coverage than war news. Players were so renowned that cigarette cards were issued featuring them. Pool went to war several times as a popular recreation for the troops. Professional players toured military posts giving exhibitions; some even worked in the defense industry. But the game had more trouble emerging from World War II than it had getting into it. Returning soldiers were in a mood to buy houses and build careers, and the charm of an afternoon spent at the pool table was a thing of the past. Room after room closed quietly and by the end of the 1950s it looked as though the game might pass into oblivion.

How Paul Newman Saved Pool—Twice

Billiards was revived by two electrifying events. The first was the release of the 1961 movie, "The Hustler." The black-and-white film depicted the dark life of a pool hustler, with Paul Newman in the title role. New pool rooms opened all over the country and for the remainder of the '60s pool flourished until social concerns, the Vietnam War, and a desire for outdoor coeducational activities led to a decline in billiard interest. In 1986, "The Color of Money," the sequel to "The Hustler" with Paul Newman in the same role and Tom Cruise as an up-and-coming professional, brought the excitement of pool to a new generation. The result was the opening of upscale pool rooms catering to people whose senses would have been offended by the old rooms if they had ever seen them. This trend began slowly in 1987 and has since surged.

Women and Pool

In the 1920s, the poolroom was an environment in which men gathered to loiter, smoke, fight, bet, and play. The rooms of today bear no resemblance to those of the earlier times. Until very recently, billiards was completely dominated by men. The atmosphere of the poolroom was very forbidding and women had trouble being accepted there. Nonetheless, women have been enthusiastic players since the game was brought up from the ground in the 15th century. For over two hundred years, women of fashion have played the game. In the past, it was very difficult for a woman to develop billiard skills because male players, her family, and friends usually did not support her efforts and it was not easy to find experienced female instructors or coaches. As these situations changed, and continue to change, we can expect women to equal or even exceed men in ability and take the game to new heights.

Click here for more information about the history of the APA.