pro vs. joe

what is a pro pool player?  once again i feel the need to define a term for my sake.

i personally think that a pro player is a standard of play & not a status.  for example, anyone can become a professional pool player.  all you gotta do is quit your job and play pool full-time: tournaments, gambling, the whole enchilada.  by my definition, however, such person hardly equals a pro player.  IMO, being a pro player means you’ve reached a certain level of pool/billiard skills.  the natural question then is: what is that level of skill?

the following criteria are derived from my personal observations.  they’re not meant to be scientific at all.  unless otherwise stated, the criteria apply to the game of 9-ball.

here’s my proposed minimum criteria for a pro pool player:

1. a pro player should be able to break and run a minimum of two racks of 9-ball on a 9-foot table at least 50% of the time, on reasonably maintained, tournament-spec equipment.  (fairly clean cloth, tight rails, no pits or tears in cloth, etc.)

2. a pro player should, after striking the object ball, be able to hit a specific spot on the rail he wants at least 70% of the time in any game.

3. a pro player should be able to execute the safety he wants at least 70% of the time in rotation-type game (e.g., 9-ball, 10-ball).  if the safety is easy to achieve, then at least 80%.

4. a pro player should be able to hit a successful kick shot at least 60% of the time, and hitting a specific side of the object ball on a kick shot at least 40% of the time.

5. a pro player, while positioning the cueball to run out a rack of 9-ball, should not get out of line more than once per game.  being left a tough shot does not count.

6. when the cueball is about half a table away (or roughly 4 1/2 feet) and straight-in from the object ball, a pro player should be able to draw it straight back, passing the original location of the cueball at least 70% of the time (no hitting the object ball to the left or right).  to simplify, from 4 1/2 feet away, be able to draw the cueball back more than 4 1/2 feet.

7. a pro player should have the ability to stop the cueball near the center of the table after a hard break at least 50% of the time, or stop the cueball at an area of his choosing.  if a soft break, at least 70%.

i’m going to give this a margin and say that a pro should be able to do at least criteria one through six that i’ve laid out above.  remember, meeting these criteria will give you a barely passing grade, making you a C- student.  don’t forget the big gap between the C- students and the A students.

i do want to discuss the stroke aspect of my proposed criteria.  most pros i’ve seen have big strokes, but allen hopkins is a genuine pro who doesn’t have a big stroke.  hopkins proves to me that it is possible to play this game without a lot of power.  of course, since most pros do have a big stroke, you place yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t have at least a decent stroke.  (i’ve played against many folks with less-than-average strokes; i just make sure to leave lots of distance between the cueball & object ball.  almost feels like cheating.)

keep in mind i arrived at these criteria for the male pros.  i don’t watch the female pros enough to come up with a set of criteria for them, although i think it’s a perfectly good idea if the lady pros use the same exact standards as the men.

i’m sure i’m not the only one who has a set of criteria for being a pro pool player, and that other folks will have different opinions.  however, i’ve not seen a definition on what it means to be a pro pool player.  for my personal sake, i’m gonna throw this one out there and see where it lands.  maybe it won’t land.  😛

and please remember this is an OPINION.  if you don’t like this criteria then post your own in the comments section should you be so inclined.

[addendum Dec. 12, 2009:  thanks to q & b, i realized that i could improve the wording and make this post less confusing.  i should’ve named my criteria the minimum criteria for professional-level players.  i think that when i say pro players, things can get confusing, since you can be a pro without being able to play well.  like i stated in this post, you can just quit your job and play full time & call yourself a pro pool player.  hopefully my post is more understandable now.  thanks again to q & b.]

4 comments on “pro vs. joe

    • thanks q&b! interesting post u listed here; i read the thing, albeit roughly. the reasoning seemed pretty nebulous and i didn’t get a good sense of what qualifies a pro player after reading the post. i like defining a pro player based on merit along, not other miscellaneous criteria. basically, i like to define it purely on a person’s ability to play. but thank you for the link; it was pretty interesting.

      come to think of it, i think my wording was a bit confusing. i think i should’ve said “professional level player” instead of just “pro player”. when i say pro player it can confuse the issue, since anyone can be a pro pool player. like i stated, u just gotta quit ur job and play full time. u may not be a successful pro player, but you’ll be a pro player. 😛

      as far as the type of detailed stats you mentioned, i don’t think there are people out there that keep them. (if someone is keeping the kind of stats you mentioned i think we would all love to see them.) the closest thing i can think of are the accu-stats matches. they calculate this total performance average (or TPA i think) by tallying balls made/missed, successful safeties, fouls, missed position play, and so on. they don’t keep track of bank shots, i don’t think.

  1. I agree with you that the criteria for determining if a player has reached “pro status” should be performance based. 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!

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