The Equalizer®Handicap System

The uniqueness of The Equalizer® handicap system is that it brings out the best in both the novice or beginning player and the expert should they meet in a match. With The Equalizer®, it is feasible for a beginner to have a nearly equal chance in a match with a more highly skilled player. The Equalizer® aids the lesser skilled player by dictating mathematically that he needs to win fewer games than his more highly skilled opponent to win a match. In golf and bowling you give or get strokes or pins. In this League, you give or get games. How many games you give or get is determined by comparing your skill level to the skill level of your opponent. Higher skill level players give lower skill level players a number of games, thus evening the match.


Your Local League Office calculates and reports player skill levels to the teams on a regular basis. Your skill level determines how many games you have to win, in order to win your match. Skill levels are maintained, calculated and updated by the Local League Office. The process includes a number of factors such as the application of specific mathematical formulas to the data on the weekly scoresheets, win/loss records, Higher Level Tournament performance, qualitative judgment by Handicap Advisory Committees, and other considerations. You are asked to refrain from attempting to keep your own records as it is a generally disruptive practice. The APA appreciates your cooperation with this policy.


Note: Skill levels are maintained,calculated and updated by your Local League Office.

Obviously, new players do not have a skill level established, so a standard starting method has been devised for new players. Statistics show that 73% of male players are SL4s and higher while 73% of female players are SL3s and below. Gentlemen will play their first match as a SL4; ladies will play their
first match as a SL3. A League Operator is authorized to assign skill levels and lowest attainables to new players who are known highly skilled players or to players who have previously established skill levels in another format. If a player has previously established a skill level in the APA 9-Ball format, then
he will begin play in 8-Ball with his current 9-Ball skill level.

Note: A SL1 will begin as a SL2 in 8-Ball and SL8 or SL9 will begin as a SL7 in 8-Ball.

As a result of your first match, a skill level is established and reported for you. It is against the rules for a player who has an established skill level to attempt to reestablish his skill level at a later time. In other words, you cannot quit for a while and then rejoin the League or transfer to another League area as a
nonrated player. You are obligated to disclose the fact that you are a former member or a current member in another League area and already have an existing skill level.


Now it is time to take a look at how your skill level and the skill levels of the other players interact to create the highly competitive atmosphere that has made this League so successful. Remember you are going to give or get games. During regular weekly session play, simply refer to the “GAMES
MUST WIN” chart shown at the top of the next page. This chart is also printed on the scoresheet for your convenience.

games must win


To read the chart, find your skill level along the left side of the chart. Then find your opponent’s skill level along the top of the chart. Now, track to the right from your skill level and down from your opponent’s skill level until the two tracks meet. In that block, the first number is the number you race to, and the second is the number your opponent races to. The two numbers involved should have the same differential as your skill levels. For example, a SL6 playing a SL4 tracks to the block with 5/3 (circled) in it. The SL6 races to 5 while the SL4 races to 3. 5 to 3 is a differential of 2, just as 6 to 4 is a
differential of 2.

Example 1: On this particular League evening, Bill is scheduled to play Frank. Frank is a SL5. Bill just joined the League and is a nonrated player, meaning that he does not have a skill level yet. Therefore, Bill plays as a SL4 and Frank plays at his SL5. Referring to the “GAMES MUST WIN” chart, you can see that a match between a SL5 and a SL4 has the SL5 player racing to 4 and the nonrated player racing to 3. That is a difference of 1 game which is the difference in the skill levels. Frank is going to have to win 4 games of 8-Ball before Bill wins 3. That is Bill’s advantage or equalizer.

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