Co-Founders – Larry Hubbart and
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
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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.