Popular Bar looking for new pool association | CraigDailyPress.com

Popular Bar looking for new pool association

Ben Bulkeley
Mike Alvarez talks to patrons of the Popular Bar. Alvarez, a professional pool player, was touting the advantages of using the United States Pool Players Association's software to track pool results.
Ben Bulkeley

Like Clint Eastwood, professional pool player Frank Alvarez’s climb to the top started with a fistful of money.

Alvarez, of Phoenix, started playing pool when he was very young as a way to keep entertained.

“My parents would go to a bar and give me a bunch of quarters to play pool,” he said. “I would just hit the balls with my brother.”

On Wednesday, Alvarez, the 32nd ranked pool player in the world, was at the Popular Bar in Craig showing the benefits of the United States Pool Players Association.

Owner Dena Garcia said the Popular Bar, 24 W. Victory Way, was looking for a new association to run the pool tournaments, and the UPA would be the first to present.

The pool associations usually arrange tournaments and national rankings for pool players.

In two weeks, another association would have a presentation, and the Popular’s patrons will vote for the one they prefer.

Alvarez was the first to present.

When Alvarez was with his father seven years ago in Las Vegas for the amateur pool championships, he noticed two pools – the 30 or so professional players and the more than 7,000 amateur players.

“I asked someone, ‘How do you get from the amateur pool to the pros?'” he said. “And he said it wasn’t possible.”

Filled with determination, Alvarez decided to at least try.

“I sold all my furniture for a 9-foot table,” he said. “I practiced for at least two hours every day, then went out and played.”

Six months after purchasing the table, the result was a No. 32 pool player ranking and an invitation to play with the professionals in Las Vegas.

That was 2003, and now Alvarez, president of the United States Pool Players Association, wants to help other amateurs make the jump.

“We’ve just recently developed the League of Champions, by professionals for amateurs,” he said.

The system already has spread through 10 states, Alvarez said, and the reason for the popularity has been the rankings system.

“We use an SSR – a systematic speed ratio – which is what the pros use to determine who you are, how good you are,” he said. “It was developed by pros to objectively determine who everyone is and where they rank.”

The rankings would connect players from Craig to all across the world, Alvarez said.

“You won’t just be able to see how you rank with other players in your town; you will be able to compare yourself with player across your state and across the United States,” he said. “You can even see how you rank on your street.

“You will be able to tell who the best breaker in the United States was in August.”

The ability to track stats and rankings is important as the sport moves forward, Alvarez said.

“Pool is one of the top 10 activities in the U.S.,” he said. “Eventually, we would like to see it gain the popularity of poker, with tournaments broadcasted on ESPN.”

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