View Full Version : What do ratings really mean in the APA?

09-20-2002, 11:34 PM
I've played BCA league, but not APA.
I just recently joined a 9-ball APA league.
They have ratings of players from 1-9 as part
of their handicapping system.

As far as skill level:

What is a true 1?
What is a true 2?
What is a true 3?
What is a true 4?
What is a true 5?
What is a true 6?
What is a true 7?
What is a true 8?
What is a true 9?

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09-21-2002, 05:37 AM
I'm just starting an APA league myself. I'm not sure how to answer your specific questions, but I'll try to answer the intent behind them. I assume you are trying to find out how valid and meaningful the ratings truly are. The ratings are a measure of how well you perform against other players of lesser, equal, or better playing ability. It seems to me a fairly good rating system, since it handicaps lower ranked players against higher ranked player, requiring that each player performs at their best in order to maintain the current rank or advance a rating.

For instance, the handicap in 8-ball is based on games won. A player with a 5 rating must beat a 2-rated player 5 games to 2 games in order to win the match. The handicap in 9-ball is based on points: each ball is a certain number of points (I'm fuzzy on the details, somebody correct me: is it each ball is worth one point?). The higher ranked player must reach a number of points, say 31, before a lower ranked player reaches their required points, say 12, in order to win the match. Equally ranked players race to the same number of points (or games).

In 8-ball, men start as a 4, women start as a 3. In 9-ball I think it's the same. The first season you play, your ranking will go up and down as you win or lose matches. Then your ranking levels out the longer you play.

From what I understand, a 4 is average, a 9 is a worldclass player, 6 is a fairly good player, players with the designation 7 are the ones I don't play for money. A friend of mine told me that that he went from a 6 to a 7 and saw a remarkable gap between the skill levels. He was mopping up the floors with sixes, and the next week sevens were doing some cleaning work on him.

In my league rules, the only ratings listed are 2 through 7. I infer that these are the categories that most players fall into. The ratings then are sort of a norm-referenced system for differentiating between skill levels of different players. So then, it measures the difference between players WITHIN A PARTICULAR LEAGUE, but statistically it will also give information on the comparability of a player in Idaho with a player in Texas. So it's both valid for one league and consistent across several leagues as long as the rating system produces a good "spread" of players: lots of people in the middle (2-7) and very few at either end (1,8,9).

09-21-2002, 08:35 AM
Ludba - APA 9-ball ratings run 1 to 9; 8-ball runs 2 to 7. In 9-ball, each ball counts a point, except 2 points for the 9; thus each rack has a potential of 10 points. Handicaps are adjusted by points; a skill level 1 (S/L1) must make 14 points before their opponent reaches the requirement for a win at his/her skill level. A S/L1 playing a S/L4 would be a 14-31 race; a 1 against a 9 would be a 14-75 race.

As you said, in 8-ball the spot is in games on the wire. Since S/L7 is the highest rating, there can be a wider "spread" in the abilities in this category than in the lower ones, but your friend's clock-cleaning experience with 7's is pretty typical, I think.

Walt in VA

09-21-2002, 09:18 AM
Thanks, that makes more sense.

One has to wonder though why the ratings are 1-9 and 2-7 instead of 15, 23, or another number of skill levels. I suppose the six or nine skill levels is for simplicity. But maybe it has something to do with a statistical breakdown of various skill stages through which players progress. I think I'll find out from the APA itself...

09-21-2002, 10:46 AM
It is just an arbitrary numbering system used to indicate skill levels. These skill levels are then used to try to fairly handicap matches. The numbers are determined in 9-ball by a complex, semi-secret formula that takes into account average balls made per inning and won-loss record in the best 10 of the players previous 20 matches. Of course new players have to start somewhere, so APA arbitrarily assigns an initial rating, which, interestingly, is based on your gender. I've heard, but don't know to be true, that the system is standardized for the league, so an APA 4 in my locale may not be the same strength as an APA 4 in yours.
In my area the 9-ball ratings would roughly correspond to the following. These are typical. Of course there will be many exceptions. They apply to 9-ball only:

1: Absolute beginner, 50/50 to run 2 balls starting with ball in hand, concentrates solely on pocketing, no attempt at position play. May miss a spot shot by a diamond. Doesn't know the common scratch shots. Cannot draw a ball.

2: Beginner, similar to a 1, but maybe a better stroke, maybe 1 out of 3 in running 3 balls in competition starting w/ball in hand. Usually, but not always, the 2's are women. (Not being sexist here - just reporting the situation as I've observed it.)

3: A player that is starting to be successful at position play in addition to pocketing balls. Is maybe 40/60 to make a spot shot and 50/50 to make a difficult cut shot. Will sporadically have runs of 6 or so balls. Very inconsistent with draw shots. Same with masse shots, if he or she tries them.

4: Knows position play, avoids common scratch routes. Problems with consistency. Is 50/50 to run out 4 open balls with ball in hand to start. 50/50 to make a spot shot and if he/she misses it will probably be by an inch or two.

5: Probably has played the game a couple of years or more. Would start to show up on the radar of strong players as a beginning "player." He/she can play position, has a fairly grooved stroke, although it will change quite a bit on pressure shots. 60/40 on a spot shot. Also a slight favorite to run out with 4 balls on the table- biggest problem is getting out of line after a few shots. Can draw the ball a few feet but is inconsistent. He/she might have begun gambling a bit on the game. Would impress a recreational player. Will hit routing kicks, but 50/50 on harder ones.

6 - A pretty good player who can run out from the 1-ball occasionally. Will get out with 3 balls on the table 90% of the time if he/she starts with decent position. Pays attention to positional details like making sure to get on the right side of the ball to continue the run. Has a well-grooved stroke. May have the beginnings of a decent safe game. Seldom scratches. Mostly men at this level and higher.

7. Very similar to a 6 but more consistent. Has probably been playing several years. Getting out of line in a 6 or 7 ball run is probably this persons biggest problem. Is 50/50 to get out with 6 or 7 balls on the table starting with ball in hand. May have an inconsistent pre-shot routine. Might miscue on draw shots occasionally. Can masse but inconsistent with it. Hits most kick shots. May choose a combo on the 9 rather than a several ball run (not in APA, but in other 9-ball games). Could give a 5 the 8 ball for an even match. Good enough that railbirds might enjoy watching his/her game.

8. Not many players end up at this level. Usually this level is passed through fairly quickly in becoming a 9.

9. Might be a local shortstop who has played many years. Very consistent preshot routine and stroke that will hold up under pressure. Is a favorite to run out from the 1 with ball in hand and occasionally strings two or three racks together. Makes a spot shot 80% of time or more. Excellent position play. Can break out problem clusters during a run. Very seldom miscues. Shoots safeties that really tie up the opponent. Has a fairly consistent masse shot in the arsenal. Avoids combos like the plague, since he/she knows he/she has a better probability of running out. Seldom misses kick shots and often kicks to make the ball or to kick the ball for a return safe. Inning is more likely to end with a safe rather than a miss. Most 9's could give a 7 the 8-ball and still be a favorite.

09-21-2002, 10:47 AM
Preacherman, Hopefully someone with the inside scoop will weigh in on this subject. (An LO, or Regional director, or whatever) I've played APA for several years, and have heard different things, but can't verify the accuracy of what I've heard. For instance, in 9ball I've been told that your rating is based on both the points you make in your matches and the innings played. These statistics are put into a computer, and some formula determines your rating. For instance, if you get to your required number of points to win in very few innings, you must have had some very good runs and might be under-rated, based on a formula that says a certain skill level should need so many innings to reach their required points. I'm curious what the exact formula is. There is also some discretionary judgement that permits moving someone up in spite of the statisics, from what I've been told. This is used when it is suspected that a player is sandbagging. Another thing I've been told is that some higher level players skill level is frozen, and that no matter their performance, they won't go down. I'd be very interested to know what the formulas are and whether the other things I'm told are true, and if so, the basis for these decisions.

09-21-2002, 10:50 AM
Forgot to sign in - I wrote the anonymous post.

09-21-2002, 11:19 AM
You hit all the high points, Stickman, including the part about "discretionary judgement". In theory APA handicaps are supposed to be done completely by computer -- your rating versus your opp's rating, innings, defenses, etc. Apparently the League Operators also have a hand in deciding who goes up or down -- at least where I live they do. After my 9-ball team went to Vegas a couple of years ago our LO jacked up the ratings on 3 of our players -- one of which hadn't played a match in 3 weeks and lost the only match he played in. I called the LO and asked what the deal was with that and was told we "needed to give someone else a chance to go to Vegas" (direct quote) and that was why our handicaps were going through the roof. Eventually, everyone got jacked up and we had to disband the team -- we couldn't field 5 players and make the ratings cap.

I'm not saying this is the case everywhere and please don't think I'm going off on the APA. For the most part I think their rules are very fair to players of all ratings.

Scott Lee used to be a league operator. He would probably be able to better explain how the handicaps are determined and what factors are used.


09-21-2002, 09:33 PM
Thanks for the detailed answer. Close to what I thought.

Does APA itself have a detailed breakdown of their rating system?


09-22-2002, 04:07 PM

I don't know the formulas, but you are correct on the discretionary and locking comments. I started last year as a 4 (I think all men start as 4's) in 8-ball, and was jacked up to a 7 the next week after winning only one match. I was told it was a discretionary move based on calls from the other team. Also, the freeze takes effect after "higher-level tournaments". I think this means state or above. I'm a "lifetime 7".

Our league doesn't have 1, 8, or 9 ratings. I suspect that those ratings may be unique to the 9-ball events.

Thinking about how our 2 plays, I shudder to imagine what it would take to become a 1.