(FAQ) What are some different tournament formats?

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There are lots of ways to have fun shooting pool. Tournaments are an excellent test of personal skills and courage. They can be a simple quickly assembled challenge among friends, a semi-formal arrangement run by the local pool hall or neighborhood bar - or even the more formal qualifiers or sponsored regional tournaments.

Formats will vary among the different venues - and the personal preferences of whoever is the designated tournament director. Here is a brief description of some common tournament formats and how they are put together.

A single elimination tournament is straight forward - you lose, you go home. You win, you keep going. The TD (tournament director) assigns matches with the loser becoming a spectator. The winner advances to a new battle against the winner of another competition.

A double elimination is a little more complicated to track. Generally, if you lose the first match, you go to the loser's side ladder instead of staying in the winner's side ladder. (The two ladders only meet at the top level final match for first and second place money.) If you lose on the loser's ladder, you have two failures to advance - and you go home.

Many double elimination setups only guarantee you will play two matches. This means that if you win the first match and then lose the second match, you are eliminated. Sometimes, depending on the number of entries, you win the first and lose the second; you can still go to the loser's ladder.

The bookkeeping and tracking for single eliminations is straight forward. Yet, few people like to compete in this type of tournament - especially the lesser skilled players. They got out of bed and dressed for the public, drive over to the pool hall, show up on time, and paid their entry fees. The idea of playing a single match and getting knocked out is hard to accept.

If you are involved in setting up or recommending a tournament format, here are a couple of ideas. For weekly small tournaments, run them as single elimination. If you get too many complains, you can do a secondary tournament where the first round losers can buy-in at half price.

The cost of a weekly tournament will depend on the social scale of the players. A middle-class area will have $10-15 entry fees. A higher-class pool hall can charge $20-25 for a weekly tournament. For regional and national qualifiers, fees can range from $50 and up. The pool hall may toss a few more bucks into the pot to entice more players to compete for a bigger cash prize.

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