top of page

The Lag ~ Kelvin Greenleaf

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

This is the first entry of my blog called, “The Lag.”

Let’s talk about added money, green fees, and coin-op tables, in a tournament setting.

I suppose we could start by giving definitions or meanings of these terms.

Added money: Money which is added to the tournament prize purse from another source other than the players’ entry fees such as the venue or a sponsor.

Green Fee: A fee charged to tournament players usually to cover table rental time.

Coin-op Table: A pool table with a mechanism to release the balls from inside once enough coins (or bills) are inserted into acceptor.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s put it all together.

What are the benefits of hosting a pool tournament? Generating income for the establishment? Perhaps… How? What kind of income? It is pretty much understood that pool players as a whole drink very little alcohol. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but I am writing in terms of a large group. So, to think or hope a pool tournament is going to generate a ton of income through beer and liquor sales is, well, naïve to put it mildly!

OK, so you have a tournament with, let’s say 64 players, in your building. Of those 64 players you might have 15-20 (to be generous) who order a beer or drink. Cut that number in half for the ones who order another one. Then cut that number in half for those who have more than 3. Then, there is always the one guy who gets sloppy. So in essence, you have about 4 or 5 paying customers in your building, while the rest are just taking up space, using your electricity, and flushing your toilets. Now, just hold that thought and I’ll get back to it in a moment.

Let’s talk about the tournament. Let’s say it is a $10 entry fee plus a $5 green fee. The owner of the venue has agreed to open the coin-op tables and add $500 to this tournament with the stipulation of filling it up with 64 players. Wow! That really looks good on a flyer! Big, bold numbers, in a highlighted color to attract the eyes of the reader:

“$500 ADDED!”

(You probably saw that before you ever started reading this blog!)

See how that works? OK, back to the point: Where is that $500 going to come from? Why has a stipulation been put on it that the money is only added if the tournament fills up? That’s the first clue, right there! Guess who is really adding the money to the tournament? What is the entry fee, $10? NO!! It’s really $15! The PLAYERS added $320 to the tournament leaving $180 for the establishment to add to make it $500.

Now, it has been said that venues that make the players feed the tables are robbing the players of the added money. Seems to me like it’s the other way around! The green fee tournament directors are lying to the players about the added money. Yeah, that’s right! I said it! They are lying to you about the added money! You [the players] are adding most of the money to your own tournaments! Then, the establishments are turning around and taking credit for it like they have done some huge, generous thing! Granted, if an establishment opens up the coin-op tables for a tournament, that is nice. That is generous. But why not just advertise the tournament as $15 entry, open tables, $180 added? Here’s why: because $180 added for 64 players, and even for 32 players, sounds really weak and they’re afraid no one will come! So they choose to mislead instead. Tell me how generous that is. Tell me again how they have my best interests, as a player, in mind!

Now, let’s talk about another tournament in a different venue. This tournament has a $10 entry fee with a guarantee of $250 added and, if it fills up with 64 players, they will throw in another $250 for $500 added. The only difference is, the tables are closed and each game must be paid for by the players. Sure, the player who goes deep in this tournament then gets put out just before the money has more invested than the player who went 2-and-out, but he also was able to play more games than the early-out player. That does not really seem unfair to me. If I am a player in this tournament I know from the get-go what the terms are. I know from where the added money is coming. I know the deeper I get into the tournament, the more money I’ll have invested (giving me more incentive to win). I understand that someone will win and someone will lose and I hope I can play well enough to keep from being the loser!

If we compare these two tournaments, there really is not a whole lot of difference from a player’s perspective. The highly skilled players may be more apt to go for the green fee tournament because they will have less invested to subtract from their winnings. That is understandable. I want us to look at it from the business owner’s perspective. Let’s bring back the thought we were holding from a few paragraphs earlier. If I am the owner of the establishment hosting the event, I know it is going to cost me money. I have to figure out a way to try and recoup some of that cash. So, I have approximately 60 people in my building drinking water, coffee, tea, or soft drinks, spending minimal cash.

What can I do to get some more money out of them? Well, serving good food would be the best bet, but unfortunately, there is no kitchen in my building. I know what I can do… there is no green fee. They have to pay for pool! Yeah, that makes me a big meanie! Whoever heard of pool players having to pay to play pool? Well, I can’t make them drink more beer, or shots, or big, tall mixed drinks if they don’t drink. I can’t blame them, either, for wanting to stay sharp and at the top of their game. I have to understand because, after all, I own a pool room and want to cater to these people. But I can’t do it for nothing and if the majority of people in my business are not spending money then my business is not making any money. If my business is not making any money it will not last very long. If my business closes, where will the pool players go? To the place which held the other tournament? Sorry, but they closed way before I did! They were upside down after every tournament and just could not recover!

Now, here is my take on all of this: first of all, honesty and integrity go a long way with me. If I have a choice of dealing with one of two people, I’m going to go with integrity and honesty every time! Even if the shady guy seems to be offering a better deal, I’m going to shy away from him and go with the other guy because I know there will be no surprises. A reputation means a lot! Secondly, I like to look at more than just what is on the surface. For instance, in the case of these tournaments I want to know who is running them. Is that person known to be honest or shady? Is that person a true lover of pool or is he looking for notoriety? Yes, believe it or not, there are lots of tournament directors out there who do it just so they can rub elbows with great players, get their names in print, and be seen with famous players. Admittedly, all those things are kind of cool, but as a tournament director, they have to be put into perspective. Does this person do that? How does he handle his notoriety? Along with that, I want to know about the venue.

How are the owners? I don’t care if they are adding $1,000, if they do not respect pool and pool players, if they don’t know how to provide an atmosphere conducive to pool playing, including proper maintenance and care for their equipment, I probably will choose not to play at their place of business. It seems most pool rooms in this country are struggling, some, deservedly and some, just because. I will always choose to support the pool rooms whose owners and staff (including tournament directors) operate in a manner to support the game. That does not mean run themselves into the ground in the name of pool. That simply means doing what they can to support the game at their local level by taking advantage of the opportunity for residual income from a tournament. What is residual income? Residual income is income generated by the tournament after the tournament. For example, a player who has never been to that particular pool room before the tournament really likes the place, the tables, the atmosphere, everything! So he makes it his home pool room, going there to practice and brings in other players for action, which in turn brings in spectators who — spend money! If players like the establishment, they are doing something right and deserve support.  So, if I have to put quarters in their tables to play in a tournament, I don’t mind doing it! It’s going to a good cause, which benefits me as a player, by helping them to keep their doors open, cloth on the slate, and chalk on the rails!

In closing, I want all readers to understand one thing! The sole purpose of this blog is to make you think. It is not to discourage, run down, or decimate anyone or anyone else’s tournament. I just want everyone to think about why some things are done and understand the reasons behind them. On the surface, some things can look bright and shiny but be filled with rust and corrosion. Know what to look for and ask questions. Remember the age old adage, “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is!”

Hit ‘em good, my friends!


Author: Kelvin Wallace Greenleaf

Editor: Shaylyn Troop

About the Author:

I moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2014. I’ve been playing pool off and on for the last 29 years, though my skills don’t show it. I run 2 weekly tournaments in Mobile, Alabama and have just recently started a One Pocket League. I love the game! I love the aura surrounding the game! I love being around the action in the smoky old pool rooms! I’m not a big fan of what technology is doing to the game, but am learning to accept it. When I’m not working or playing pool, I’m on my motorcycle enjoying the the sights, sounds, and smells of the coast!

4 views0 comments


bottom of page