ratings may be a sign of something else

2011 is rapidly coming to a close.  the chuck markulis memorial tournament is this weekend, then the u.s. open a week later.  time sure is zooming by, but at least there will be some decent pool to watch for the next two weeks.  i believe mr. andy chen will provide free streaming for the markulis memorial, so gift him some cash to support his efforts to bring you free pool videos online.  send him your donation on paypal with this email address: hang10ac23@hotmail.com.  don’t forget to pick up a set of magic rack from omg as well.  go to omg’s homepage and links will be on the upper right hand corner.  get them before it sells out!

continuing with my culinary explorations, i tried another thai noodle dish.  i went for a thai beef noodle soup with a side of chili.

this noodle dish is pretty good, but the soup is mainly savory in taste with a hint of sweetness; the flavors are definitely not as explosive or complex as the tom yum noodle soup i had last time.  still good, but geared toward diners who enjoy dishes less piquant.  i’m looking for boat noodle next; when i find it i’ll post a pic or two.  now on with this week’s topic.

if you have played pool for a length of time or have a few tournaments under your belt, you are probably aware of the rating system or ranks.  the primary use for ratings or ranks is in tournaments, although occasionally players will use it to establish a handicap/spot in gambling matches.

so sometime ago i was practicing with young buck, and in between shots i was casually watching a match between two gents.  the first one was bandwidth from a previous post.  so bandwidth approached a player and asked to play a set; we’ll call the second gent baldendouche, since, well, he is kind of a douche.  baldendouche agreed to the set, and before they started playing they chitchatted briefly.  the first thing that came out of baldendouche’s mouth was, “what’s your rating, man?”

i remember thinking, man, baldendouche is obsessed with ratings.  mind you, this is not the first time he asked about people’s ratings; in fact, he has a habit of b~*ing about people’s ratings, sometimes bitterly.

ratings as a system is fraught with uncertainty.  there is really no hard and fast criteria to establish a rating; you will most likely get rated by a tournament director, meaning you are at the person’s mercy.  if the TD is a fair person, you’ll likely get a fair rating that’s close to your actual ability.  if not, then you’ll be saddled with a grossly elevated rating (or a vastly deflated rating if you’re the TD’s buddy).  as you can see, a player’s rating can drastically change based on politics, the TD, location, hometown favoritism, and myriad other factors.  ideally your rating will honestly reflect how you shoot, but at times it will not.

a different approach is to rate a player based on performance, like the system used in USPPA.  however, players can alter their stats through sandbagging, so that’s not a reliable method either.  bottom line is that ratings is a subjective system.  in the best case scenario, a rating will closely approximate your level of ability, but only approximately.  we don’t really need to discuss the worst case scenario.  knowing the nature of ratings and ranks, it’s a little strange to me why some people (like baldendouche) become so obsessed with a system that is so subjective in nature.  ain’t no sense in it.

the biggest joke, of course, is that pros don’t have ratings.  when you look at a rating system, it’ll go from low to high, then “pro”.  so it’s like once you reached pro level, ratings are not needed anymore.  there are great pros and not so hot pros, sure, but it’s like an exclusive club where everyone knows the score and no one needs a rating to figure out who’s who in the pro pool’s world.  in other words, ratings are reserved for rank amateurs like you and me.  no, let me rephrase.  ratings are for people that suck at pool & haven’t reached pro level, like moi.  while some people look at ratings as a badge of honor or a source of pride, in reality it’s really a


as with anything, if the rating system is used properly, it is very helpful to a player’s career.  there’s nothing wrong with tracking your progress through the rating system, with the understanding that you’re climbing that ladder until you achieve pro level, where you’ll discard your rating because it’s not needed anymore.  as always, balance is key.  obsessing over ratings will get you a train ticket to nowhere.

i hope this has cleared up some misconceptions about ratings.  😛  back to practice.

before i forget, ustream has random pool livestreams from time to time.  some are from asia, others are from different parts europe.  occasionally you’ll see some US streams.  most of them are put up by individual pool halls, and the players go from novices to some pretty good shots.  some will feature tournaments, while others are just random people playing pool.  it’s kind of interesting to watch people in different parts of the world playing pool; some of the places use mutant rules on 9-ball and 8-ball, and it’s a brain tease trying to figure out what these rules are.  anyway, if there’s downtime at work, use this link called “see what’s live now“.  (to search manually, go to ustream, click on sports, then “see what’s live now”.)  look for pool related screen shots.  enjoy.  here’s a recorded match that was streamed that i found.  i’ve no idea what’s going on, but it looks like some kind of women’s 9-ball tournament in japan (i’m guessing a regional or local tournament).  oh, and i found these oddities in different feeds.

notice the device in the red circle.  the picture above was from a screen capture of some japanese pool live feed on ustream.  our japanese pool brethren may be more technologically more advanced than us, but that weird device is just ridiculous.  many of us have seen break cloths of course, but i cannot figure out wtf they’re using for breaks.  i can’t even tell what material it is except that it’s either naturally green or painted green.  it looks like plastic, but i can’t be sure.  then i found this other one.

the pictures above are from another feed.  again, note the device in the red circle.  that looked more like a break cloth, but when i watched the feed it seemed to be something other than cloth.  i tried googling but came up with nothing.  i’ll try to search some more and see if i can determine what those are.  btw, in both feeds they were using the magic rack.  i wonder if the japanese pool rooms like new gadgets.  maybe they have boxes of that kamui chalk for the players.  hey, you never know.  they could be selling it cheap in japan.  😛

have fun digging around.  🙂

4 comments on “ratings may be a sign of something else

  1. The obsession with ratings occurs in most sports and hobbies that have ratings, e.g. chess.

    I didn’t know a “break cloth” was legal. Is that a recent invention? I didn’t think you were allowed to put anything on the surface of the table to help your shot, other than a bridge stick.

    • true. some people get really wrapped up with ratings.

      as far as the break cloth goes, i’m not sure if it’s legal or not. but in local tournaments, some owners would insist on its use to reduce wear & tear on table cloth. i guess in japan, an actual product was invented for this purpose.

  2. Stop it, you’re always making me hunger. I love the Thai Beef Noodle soup, haven’t had that in a while. I think I still prefer the VIetnamese pho.

    Sand bagging is what gives pool a bad name. Maybe it is better that handicapping should not even exist in the pool world. Let the beginners play with the beginners etc. As with what happened with the local TD here, pool is a vicious world.

    • heehee. i’m lucky that socal has a thriving ethnic scene, so finding asian & mexican foods are not very difficult. thai noodle soups & pho are both good & it’s tough to compare them. i get them based on what i crave at the moment.

      i think sandbagging is a symptom to a root cause: the players are not ethical. when players are not ethical, lying and cheating become the norm, and all sorts of bad behaviors manifest themselves (sandbagging, hustling, etc.). pool players have to start giving a f~*, else the sport will continue to decline.

      it’s too bad that your TD got assaulted; shame on the perp who punched the TD. another example of a player who has no respect for decency & good sportsmanship. the guy needs to be in jail.

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