The Finest Pool Players
NOVA BCAPL was established to serve and train the finest amateur pool players in Northern Virginia. “Finest” isn’t simply a reputation for sinking balls. Character and sportsmanship are expected. We don’t foster drama. Sharing the wealth is also important. Many of our members are eager to discuss what they know and mentor — even with opposing players. Because there’s no team handicap (e.g., rule of 23 or 25), players don’t have any other motivation behind their feedback other than to help you get better. In other words, no more holding back your game “so the math works.” NOVA BCA is a unique destination and proving ground for players in one of the top billiard regions in the nation — home to BCA HOFer Karen Corr, many rising amateurs, JPNEWT and the Action Pool Tour (APT).
A Breezier Evening
Teams and singles play out a grid of 21 racks. It’s one match per evening. We use two tables per match and a “round robin” scoresheet. There are no prolonged races, completed one at a time, in order, on just one table. We warmup at 7pm (an hour later than other leagues). Need to work late? No problem. Make dinner plans and avoid the bulk of traffic. Matches start at 8pm and finish by 10:30 (on average). While other leagues ask for six hours, we get it done in nearly half that time. Play hard but sleep well.
Players and teams can join at any time. We don’t lock rosters after four weeks each session. We’re always open for business. Your first match is free of charge, as a courtesy and welcome to you. There’s no obligation for you or the team to stick with the arrangement. On your second match, you and the team are committing to each other for at least the remainder of the current session’s schedule. New teams enter tied for last place.
More Players Engaged
Rosters are unlimited in size. Teams can carry the minimum three players (so that all three compete each week). Others carry a mix of regulars and part-timers. Between three and six players can compete in a typical match. The scoresheet asks for three players to be entered as your lineup. Substitutions are allowed. If each starting player is removed for another during the match, then that’s six players engaged in the match. There’s also a template that shows you how to split the racks nearly evenly (see the League Resources header on the Download page). One player will shoot six racks and break three times. Three players will shoot five racks (two will get three breaks and one will break twice). In order to avoid a forfeit, each team must have at least two players available. You can play makeup racks any time before the fifth week in the session.
Because our format is “round robin,” match play is highly integrated. You’ll play each player on the opposing team. You won’t lock horns with one opponent for an hour or longer. Each team will progress through a match as a unit. You won’t need to wonder when or if you’re playing. You’re likely in the starting lineup and know exactly when you’re playing. In-game rules rely on communication (e.g., calling pockets or safeties), which works in subtle ways to encourage cooperation.
Sudden Death Pool
A single rack between players (as opposed to a race or set of games) challenges and trains you to value each shot a little bit more — which will naturally tighten up your game. You’ll learn to confront and manage pressure. It’s not uncommon for a NOVA BCAPL match to be decided by a handful of balls made or missed. If any of this sounds scary, then please don’t worry. Our “differential” system was designed to focus players on matching their typical score (called player average) or being one ball better than it. You’ll find this is the healthiest way to appreciate results.
Pro Rules Matter
NOVA BCAPL, like the Billiards Congress of America (BCA) before it, believes that the best way to improve your game is to adopt professional in-game rules (eg., to attempt to play the game as a pro would). We also think you should want to compete with players who are as good as or better than you are. We don’t offer timeouts. “Taking off the training wheels” requires you to formulate your own game and become self-reliant on the felt. Between racks, your teammates are available as sounding boards, and you’ll find that opposing players and captains are also eager to assist before and after matches. Through a friendly “trial by fire,” you’ll become a better player — and sooner. Give our group an honest effort and you’ll notice a change in your overall attitude and performance.
Our Differential System
Players who want to improve deserve a clear, practical way to challenge themselves. In 2015, one of our co-founders (Eric S. Townsend) created a system that leverages “differential” to challenge players of all types to improve. Its basis is simple — know the average number of balls you pocket in a rack and try to beat it by one or more balls each time. The team with the more positive, cumulative differential at the end of the match adds a bonus point to their team’s score. The same system works for singles competition. Learn more at the Differential tab.
Racks are scored once, after the money ball has been pocketed. There are no complicated inning counts or safeties to tally. It’s simply 10 points to the winner and one point for each ball pocketed by the loser. In this way, the money ball (8 ball, 10 ball, etc.) is worth three times as much as the preceding object balls. Subtract the rack points from the player’s average points per rack (a.k.a player average or PA) to record the “differential.” For example, if a player averages 7 points, and loses a rack with 5 balls pocketed (5 points), then the differential for that rack is -2.
What It Represents
Once two weeks of scores enter the system, you receive a player average (PA). This statistic is your total points scored divided by the number of racks you’ve played. For each game in which you compete (8 Ball, 10 Ball. etc.), you’ll generally have a different PA. Very few players are equally comfortable and competent across different games.
Keeping It Fresh
Player average can change multiple times in a session, based on your recent performance. Established players see their last 100 racks factored. For players with less than two matches played in a game (8 Ball, 10 Ball, etc.), each rack score is your player average. There aren’t enough scores yet to know how you play — so we don’t yet look to weigh performance against any norms, nor do we provide any benefit that would be unfair to opponents.
If knowing where you stand among peers is important to you, then know that BCAPL players gain a unique handicap that can be used to determine fair and favorable matchups between players outside of the team-based format. Many amateurs like to see how they compare against pro-am and professional players. Check the Fargo Ratings page for more on this, since we’re all plotted along the scale together. To obtain a rating, you must compete in regional or national events. be unfair to opponents.
How the Points Work
Your team and your opponent each start with one point for showing up. One of your teams earns a second point for winning 11-10 on racks or better (again, there are 21 total racks played in a match). The third point up for grabs goes to the more positive, cumulative differential. This is calculated by rack, totaled by round then shown as a running tally throughout the match (e.g., +2 is more positive than -6). The ability to achieve a split score (e.g., 2-2) as opposed to only decisive outcomes is unique to NOVA BCAPL. Team scores will therefore be one of the following: 0-0 (double forfeit), 3-0 (one team forfeits), 2-2 (teams split the bonus points) 2.5-1.5 (one team wins on racks but the teams tie on differential) or 3-1 (one team earns both bonus points).
Every Match Has a Story
NOVA BCAPL matches have a dual heartbeat — who’s winning the racks and whose performance is more impressive than usual. By the end of the night, the story will be clear. If you’re looking carefully, you’ll know when the tide turned and what you need to do to correct in real time (or the next time) to achieve better results. The system works equally well for teams, singles or doubles.
While we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we do take pride in who we are as players. In addition to the fact that we compete in a challenging format, it’s also nice to know that the best in the game don’t cringe or snicker at what we represent. They compete with us side-by-side at our highest level events — sometimes in their own division or sometimes mixed in with us (e.g., in open events, at regional tournaments or BCA Nationals). If you’re committed to your game, or you’re at least “improvement curious,” then we’re the pool league for you.
BCAPL is a product of Cue Sports International (Las Vegas). There are more than 500 BCAPL-sanctioned leagues in more than eight (8) countries with a total membership over 50,000 players. It was created in 1978 by the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) to unify independent leagues around the world. In 2004, the BCA decided to sell the league portion of its business. CSI has since produced top-flight regional and national events for professionals and amateurs alike. These include: Ohio BCAPL State Championships (Jun 8-11 from Columbus OH), Southwest Regional Championships (Aug 31-Sep 4 from Scottsdale AZ), New England Regional Championships (Sep 1-3 from Ayer MA), 20th Annual Western BCA Regional 9-Ball Championships (Oct 9-15 from Lincoln City OR), 2017 CSI Oklahoma Regional Championships (Nov 6-12 2017 from Lawton OK), Colorado Regional Championships (Dates/Location TBA), Florida Regional Championships (Dates/Location: TBA).
To learn more about history, read about about the transition from BCA to BCAPL or explore a billiards timeline for key milestones like when the pool cue, tip, table specifications and more were created.
It’s been called “the greatest pool tournament in the world.” Staged mid to late July at the Rio (one week after the World Series of Poker Main Event completes there), the venue is Las Vegas’ only all-suite hotel and casino. The event accommodates the most popular pool games (8 Ball, 9 Ball, 10 Ball, etc.) in a variety of formats (singles, doubles, teams). Events are catered to a broad range of skill levels. The competition is played on over 300 Diamond 7-foot tables. The tournament boards are interactive touch screens. Pros compete alongside amateurs in open events and also compete in challenges against each other for attendee viewing. Pro matches are streamed in each hotel room as well as projected in the players lobby outside the main room. Major and minor billiard manufacturers and vendors are positioned around the perimeter of the playing areas. Small-board, open tournaments are staged each night in one of the side parlors.
There’s an entry fee per event. Singles events start at $100 per player. Doubles and team event entries start at $50 per player. Unless you’ve earned money from NOVA BCAPL for being a top finishing team, then also expect to cover these expenses at Nationals: flight, cost of sharing a suite (Rio only offers suites), food/drink and spending money. It’s entirely possible to live comfortably and compete on a team for $1,000 or less per player for a 4-5 day stay in Las Vegas. Bringing some amount of food (e.g., granola bars, fruit bars, energy shots and the like) can dramatically reduce your trip’s cost.
Local Member Costs
Basic NOVA BCAPL Membership
New members pay annual dues ($25) and a greens fee ($10 per match played). You get an hour of warmup, 2.5 hours of match play and generally some amount of free time on the tables after the match. If you don’t compete in your team’s match then there’s no greens fee for that night. If you play 4 racks or less, then it’s $5 for your greens fee.
Participation in BCAPL Nationals
If you choose to enter one or more events at the BCAPL National Championships, then there’s an entry fee for each that varies. Singles events start at $100 per player. Doubles and team event entries start at $50 per player. Unless you’ve earned money from NOVA BCAPL for being a top finishing team, then also expect to cover these expenses at Nationals: flight, cost of sharing a suite (Rio only offers suites), food/drink and spending money. It’s entirely possible to live comfortably and compete on a team for $1,000 or less per player for a 4-5 day stay in Las Vegas. Bringing some amount of food (e.g., granola bars, fruit bars, energy shots and the like) can dramatically reduce your trip’s cost.
What It’s For
NOVA BCAPL puts up a portion of the money we collect from greens fees as prize money for top-finishing players. This cash pool is specifically earmarked for use in competing at BCAPL Nationals. We currently award first and second place team finishers, by session. In our Fairfax room, first place has been $2,000 to $3,000. Second Place has been $500 to $1,000. At our Springfield room, the prize pool is 40% of the greens fees after expenses. The finalized amounts vary based on the money collected during the year. To determine the recipients of this prize money, we had typically staged an annual “tournament of champions,” in round-robin format, consisting of those teams who’ve finished in first or second place in a session. Given three sessions per year, this meant anywhere from two to six teams had qualified, with two teams walking away with cash for Vegas.
New For 2017
In 2017, we moved to an earn-by-session model where the end-of-year tournament is eliminated and money is immediately earned as the final night of each session closes. This allows teams to organize and plan sooner, as opposed to waiting for all sessions to close and the end-of-year tournament to wrap up. The prize pool will be divided for first and second place teams will be divided into thirds. For example, if it’s $3,000 for first place and $900 for second place for the prize pools, then it’ll be $1,000 to the first place finisher and $300 to the second place finisher, by session. That could mean $3,000 to a perennial first place finisher or $1,000 for each of three first place finishers.
With the change, we’ll disburse funds at the end of the spring session (end of April, early May). BCAPL Nationals takes place mid to late July.