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How to Run a Pool Tournament in a Bar

Running a pool tournament in a bar is fun and profitable for both the pool players and the bar owner. It's also a great way to meet new people and see the talent of the other billiard players in town. If you can't find a pool tournament to play in, find a bar that needs a tournament and offer to run it for the owner.

Decide how many players will be allowed, keep in mind time and the number of available pool tables. The average weekly bar tournament allows 8-16 players for at least 2 pool tables. Draw up brackets or download them for free at a number of sites.

Decide on the rules of the pool tournament, including the number of games per match . Almost every league has its own variation on billiard rules, so specify what leagues rules you choose to follow. It is easier to pick a league to follow so that rules can be looked up or distributed to all players in the pool tournament.

When choosing the number of games per match keep time in mind. No player wants to wait hours between matches, but the bar owner needs players there long enough to buy food and drinks. An average 8-Ball tournament can be a race to see who wins 3 games, 9-Ball is often a race to 5 games.

Set an entry fee and ask the bar owner if they would like to add anything to the pot. This could include free drink coupons, t-shirts, or cash. You don't have to decide the exact dollar amount of the pay-outs at this time, but you should choose how the split will look as a percentage. For example, an average weekly bar pool tournament will split the pay-out like this: 1st Place - 50 percent, 2nd Place - 30 percent 3rd Place - 20 percent. The bar owner can decide how and when to award prizes they donated.

Advertise the pool tournament everywhere you can. Most pool league operators have newsletters they send out, ask to be included. Set fliers around the bar where the pool tournament is to be held, and other bar owners may allow you to advertise if pool is not their main interest.

Arrive at the bar early on the day of the pool tournament to have everything set up before players come in. Start taking names and money from entrants as soon as they show up. Keep all entry money in a secure area.

Count the number of entrants in the pool tournament. You may end up with an odd number of players or a less than full bracket. You can still have a tournament as long as there are at least 7 players. You will need to add 'byes' to the brackets.

Players can draw cards for placement in a bracket . However you choose to seed players, call them all together around a pool table and do it in an orderly fashion. Write the number drawn next to each person's name on the list of entrants. Double-check that all numbers have been assigned.Transfer the players' names to the corresponding number on the bracket sheet.

Double-check money, payouts, and brackets, and call your first match. Ask some interested and knowledgeable on-lookers to help in watching tables.

Pay attention to all of the games being played. Try not to get too deeply involved in one match or conversation, keep an open ear to the entire bar.

Make rulings yourself or have and impartial person watch the shot in question. Have a rule book handy for the closest of calls. Some players know the rules to the letter and may call the smallest infraction, so advise all of the pool tournament players to read the rule book prior to playing.

Update brackets and call new billiard matches timely. Play at least two rounds on the winner's side of the tournament bracket before moving to the loser's side. After being eliminated, most players will leave the bar, this does nothing for the bar owner's business.Try to rotate between the winner's bracket and the loser's bracket to spread out play for everyone. No one wants to sit for hours between matches, and word will get around.

Watch the final billiard matches closely and bring attention to it among the patrons. Announce the money matches as they come up. Billiard players thrive on attention and will return for the spotlight if nothing else.

Make a big deal about pay outs and prizes. Announce to the entire bar who the winners are and what place they came in or what prize they won. You shouldn't announce the monetary amount, if any.

Invite players back, especially good ones. The better players you have, the more players you will draw. Every billiard player loves a challenge, and a well run tournament may even the odds for beginners.

Things You'll Need:

  • Tournament bracket
  • At least 8 players
  • At least 1 pool table
  • Set of rules


Recruit help from knowledgeable pool players to watch tables and make impartial rulings. Start a free blog and update tournament results every week. Advertise weekly bar pool tournaments, and interview local players.


  • Billiard players are very serious about tournaments, especially those involving money or prizes. Hot-headed players should be watched relatively close for fighting or bullying, and dismissed from the premises immediately. Rules must be followed by every player in the billiard tournament. All rulings must be objective.
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