What Is It, and Why Should You Play?
American Rotation is a fresh take on a traditional game, created by Joe Tucker. The rules are simple: Strike the lowest ball on the table first, pocketing any called ball. Collect points through each rack, and the first person to reach the agreed upon goal (140 is the current American Billiard Club standard) is the winner. Balls 1 through 10 are worth a point each, and the 11 through 15 are worth two. There are 20 points available per rack.
I asked Joe why he created this game. He told me that Filipino players are some of the best players in the world, and most of them cut their teeth on 15-ball rotation, a very difficult game in its own right. Joe wanted to introduce America to the game to help us catch up and “get us back on track.”
Joe wanted to create a new billiards tour in which players from around the country could compete in a challenging game without all of the politics and in-fighting that seems to be prevalent today. He spent a couple of years testing and perfecting, and has finally unleashed the tour upon us. The American Billiard Club is now in its third season, and seems to be gaining momentum!
Let’s look at what makes this tour different, and why you should consider joining!
The rules were modified in ways to promote fairness, reduce the luck factor significantly, and reward good play.
Rule: Breaker gets ball in hand after the break, no matter what happens: The break can be a big factor in many games, and the outcome of the rack can often depend on where the cue ball ends up on the table. By allowing ball-in-hand, the breaker can focus on getting a good spread of the rack to start her run. To make this rule fair, players lag for the first break, and alternate breaks for the rest of the game.
Rule: Call your shot (ball and pocket), call your safeties: How many times has your opponent missed a shot, but ended up lucking out and leaving you with a difficult to impossible shot? This rule eliminates this possibility by allowing you to give the shot back to him. If he calls a safety, but a ball is pocketed, you can make him shoot the next shot. If you choose to shoot, then the points for the pocketed ball(s) belong to you!
This rule eliminates two-way shots (“if I miss, he’ll have trouble making the next shot”), which some may see as a bad thing. Joe’s thinking on this was to design American Rotation to reward good shot- and decision-making, and put more pressure on the shooter.
Rule: 1 point for balls 1-10, 2 points for balls 11-15: Pressure, pressure, pressure! Joe tested making all balls 1 point, as well as 2 points for 1-5 instead. He discovered that making the last five balls 2 points each put more pressure on the players to focus on finishing their runs. Give up the last 5 balls, and you might end up with a 10-10 tie instead of a 20-0 lead!
Rule: Jumps are allowed only with your playing cue: Let’s face it: Jumping is cool. But with today’s specialized cues, it has become less of a challenge, and has made safety play much more difficult. Joe wanted to reward good safety play, as well as teach Americans to kick better. How many amazing 3-rail kick shots have you seen Efren Reyes pull off? Joe wants us to practice and learn this.
The game was introduced to help make Americans more competitive
Imagine this: You have become proficient at 10-ball, and can run a rack almost 50% of the time. You then sign up for a tournament to play 6-ball. How many racks do you think you’ll run now? Joe’s theory is that that is how many Filipino players, who grew up playing Rotation, feel about coming to America to play 9-ball!
Joe also had this say:
An added bonus of AR is that players appear to get along better with each other. They are focused more on the table and their opportunities, and are spending less time worried about the luck of the break and the luck of their opponent’s misses, which are now received with a smile and “Shoot again”.
Here’s what I want you to do: Go to www.americanbilliardclub.com and check out what they have to say. Download the rules, and get your friends to play a few games. If you like it, consider joining the tour at your local room (you only need 8 players). The fees are nominal, and all of the money paid into it is given back to the players.
I am not being paid to endorse this tour. I am playing in it myself, at Crown Billiards out of San Ramon, CA. I look forward to making it to the Nationals, and hope to see many of you there!
Joe Tucker is not looking to make money on this, either. He wants to create a new tour that is self-sustaining, makes it financially easier on travelling players, and focuses more on developing skill and having fun. They are looking to qualify 32 players, from 32 regions (1 out of every 16 players) to send to Nationals. Every player qualified for Nationals automatically gets $1000.
One last note from Joe:
With the tremendous help and backing of Mark Griffin of CSI and Don Owen of OB Cues, American Billiard Club was born out of love for the game and an effort to make competing on a national level financially viable. We lose many high level players that are forced to choose between leading a sensible and responsible lifestyle or pursue their passion for pocket billiards; ABC offers them the opportunity to stay in the game while leading a responsible life.
Many players have been complaining about the lack of a legitimate tour that isn’t trying to pull the dreams of riches from the players’ pockets. Here is your chance, players, to make something good happen. As Joe himself says: Put up or shut up!
For more information and rules about the American Billiard Club and American Rotation, and to find out how to bring the American Billiard Club Tour to your pool room, visit http://www.americanbilliardclub.com. I will attempt to answer any questions you may have as well. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Joe Tucker at email@example.com.