vapor

before ya get yer panties inna bunch, i’m not a financial expert or an economist.  i’m not schooled in business or money management.  these are just my views.

perhaps pool & billiards is one of the real hobbyist games (or sports, for the contrarians) out there.  i say this because there’s no money in this sport.  sure, people do make money in pool/billiards; i do think those that make money are the exceptions, and they often make money on the small scale.  so, in general, you gotta play pool because you REALLY love to, not because you’re trying to scramble up a few bucks.  (oh boy.  here comes the “for the love of the game” cliché.  ya see that comin’, didn’t ya?)

the vegas legend archie “the greek” karas once said in an interview that “pool is a small game”.  he was talking about betting $50k-$100k per set.  i agree with him wholeheartedly.

one of the ongoing jokes in pool (at least in my PH) is to learn golf and quit pool.  my personal observation is that pool has always been a tough game to make a living.  not saying golf/tennis/basketball/football/baseball/soccer/nascar/poker is easy; all these games are extremely hard to make a living at.  the difference though, i think, is the payoff once you reach the top (or near top) of the game, or even the middle for certain games.  right now, if someone throws a pool tournament that only pays $10k for 1st place & $5k for 2nd, you’re gonna get a bunch of people to play (probably 100-150 players) for a relatively small purse.  the 2008 u.s. open champ (mika i think) made about $40k for that win.  just to give an example, in an nascar event, you can make about $20k per car just by qualifying for the event then quitting at the start of the race.  (if you want, read the fascinating article in car & driver that discussed this interesting phenomenon some called “start & park”.)  to recap, the u.s. open pool CHAMPION makes about $40k (maybe less if the field isn’t full), and a nascar driver can make $20k just by qualifying then quitting at the start of the race, meaning LAST PLACE.  granted, racing nascar is insanely expensive, & qualifying for a race is difficult; if you win a race though, the payoff is vely beeeg ($150k-$200k and much more, depending on sponsors, advertisers, and attendance).  not so with pool.

or tennis.  the winner of the 2009 u.s. open tennis singles division is guaranteed $1.6 million (men & women).  the most money efren ever made tournament-wise was the $100k winner-take-all color-of-money event; however, you can’t even call it a tournament since it was a one-time-only special event cooked up by sponsors.  u.s. open tennis, on the other hand, happens every year.  sure, you can point to the ipt stuff, but to this day i wonder if any of the players got paid their prize money.

how about the other side of pool—the room owners, manufacturers or large/multinational/conglomerate companies?  conceivably this is the more lucrative side of pool.  i’m not sure, however, what a typical room owner can expect to make profit-wise.  i’ve heard intarweb forums pegging a room’s typical profit-margin at 6%-12%, though i can’t validate its accuracy.  if that profit margin is true, however, it’s NOT a lot.  (guess i can’t blame my favorite PH’s owner for being cheap after all . . .)  the manufacturers & large companies do much better, i’m sure, but that’s a whole different ball game.  for example, brunswick is a multinational corporation that manufactures marine, fitness, bowling, and billiard equipments.  as with other multinational corporations, you put your hands in multiple cookie jars and open additional jars as necessary.  the focus is drastically different, however; for a large company, i think, the business entity and profit become the foci, and the products are the vehicles to gain profit, thus not the primary focus.  when a product/service becomes profitable, a large company can go after it, regardless of how the company is originally branded.  (e.g., a pet food corporation can conceivably go into the golf club market.)  or that same company can drop a product if it stops selling.  in terms of billiard corporations/companies, the focus is not on pool, but profit & company survival.  (nothing wrong with this approach, btw; a business has to survive so the people in it can survive.  i’m merely pointing out the different priorities.)  i guess that’s the divisive point: love of the game or company survival?  what do YOU want?  (speaking of money, the brunswick stock [symbol: BC] is at $9.59 per share last time i checked.  not bad, but not exactly blue-chip either.)

that makes me wonder if pro tours need to adopt the strict profit-first capitalistic business model to be successful.  it may be worth a shot; after all, America has flourished with capitalism.  shoot, a system that can make a nation prosper can surely revive pool.  my wishful wish anyway.

bottom line?  if you, as a player, love money or financial success, don’t touch billiards.  golf, poker or tennis are much better vehicles to arrive at wealth, should you become good at it.  but for the die-hards, the bull-headed, the foolhardy:

welcome to pool.

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