Fargo Ratings

Click here for an updated list of some local-player Fargo Ratings

Fargo Ratings are a chess-like (ELO) system for rating pool players.   There have been considerable recent developments that we will describe soon.

Below is a description of an earlier system used locally to rate 8-ball players


The “Fargo Rating” is a new approach to rating and handicapping players in the game of eight ball. Fargo Ratings allow beginner players to compete with all skill levels, including experts.

How is the Fargo Rating determined?

Following an initial estimate, a player’s Fargo Rating changes continuously based on actual win/loss record against opponents of known rating. Most new players start with a 400 rating and that rating is automatically adjusted after every league night or tournament. Adjustments happen more quickly for newer players. The more games one plays, the more “robust” his or her rating becomes and the smaller will become the post-league-night or post-tournament adjustments. As of August 2010, there are over 23,000 8-ball games that contribute to the ratings of over 500 players.

How does this affect me?

The Fargo Rating allows us–if we choose–to provide a level playing field for all players. We know, for example, that if a 350-rated player matches up with a 450-rated player, the higher-rated player (the 450) is expected statistically to win two-thirds of the games. We can use this information to create a match between the two players that each has the same chance to win. We use the Fargo Rating system in our leagues and many of our tournaments.


We limit the skill levels of teams in league divisions by capping the combined Fargo Ratings of the teams’ members. For example, teams in the Monday Fun Division have a cap of 1400 Fargo Rating points. This means the average rating of the four people playing a match in this division must be below 350. New players–those who have never played in a pool league–may enter with a Fargo Rating of 300 for the purpose of this requirement. Therefore, although each team might be able to squeeze one or two slightly more experienced players into its ranks, Monday teams consist largely of new players. The Intermediate Division has a cap of 1850 points, and the Advanced Division has a cap of 2100 points. As a result of these rating caps, there are no “stacked” teams in a division and there are no higher-skilled teams in lower divisions. In addition, the top teams in each division will be fairly equally skilled and thus fairly competitive with one another.

We offer several tournaments that are handicapped based on the Fargo Rating system. In a tournament format, the Fargo Rating system is designed to put two players on a level, or at least a close-to-level, playing field for a match. The two players are generally required to win a different number of games to win the match.

Every Sunday, we offer a handicapped 8-Ball tournament. The above chart determines how many games each player must win in order to win the match. For example: Kevin (503) is playing Mary (297). They have a rating difference of 503-297=206. By reference to the “rating difference” column, this means that Kevin must win 7 games of 8-ball before Mary wins 2 games.

For a technical explanation of the Fargo Rating system, please watch the video below.

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