Talking The ABP

Possibly the most flammable subject around pro pool these days is the ABP (Association of Billiard Professionals). The AZB forums show that the fans have an opinion, but that many of the opinions are not based on anything other than viewpoint. There is a distinct lack of information about the ABP and what they do. So AZB has spoken with many pro players and has had the opportunity to sit down with Johnny Archer, the President of the ABP, Dennis Walsh, their attorney, and Joel Pope, the gentleman who suggested the ABP ranking system format. 

The big question we wanted to settle is whether the ABP is truly an American Player Organization or if it is just a club of a few elite professionals who are using the ABP to attempt to carve out a living for themselves in an era when that is becoming increasingly more difficult as sponsorship suffers along with industry sales. Following is the interview with Mr. Archer, Mr. Walsh and Mr. Pope. It is followed by comments from Oscar Dominguez, Shaun Wilkie, Mike Dechaine and Corey Deuel. Other players were asked for comments but refused to go on record for reasons that are their own.  These interviews all took place between October 10 and October 16, 2012.

Jerry Forsyth: Can you provide us with a current, accurate list of paid American members?

Johnny Archer: Well, to tell you how we decided to start the ABP.  Eleven guys got together and we all put up $100 as a start-up fee to try to kick things off.  We haven't solicited memberships.  We haven't tried to get money.  We have asked people to join us and the way we did it in Vegas was I went out and I asked for support.  I went to the players and I said "Will you support me, if you can we'd love you." and so that's how we went out and tried to get membership.  There hasn't been "Will you give us money?"  or this is what the dues are.   We have a list here of current membership.  Basically they are just in good standing they are not paid members.    

Eds. Note: On the ABP Facebook page, their only public presence, the ABP does solicit for paid memberships. This is printed there: 
General Information
$100 per year for ABP Touring Pro Member - Ability to earn points & ranking
$25 per year ABP Member - Listed as a member & ability to play in 1 event
Patron & Sponsor Members - Please email us for details
Mail checks to: Association of Billiard Professionals
120 West Madison Suite 1100 Chicago, IL 60602

Dennis Walsh gave me the most current membership list available. These are the active American players on the list: (We do not include members like CJ Wiley, Art Wiggins, and Nick Varner in this 'active player' list. 

1) Johnny Archer
6) Stevie Moore
12) Corey Deuel
14) Oscar Dominguez
17) Mike Dechaine

Eds. Note: When we interviewed them both Corey Deuel and Mike Dechaine said they were not members of the ABP.

American player-members who are not generally active in National events:

2) CJ Wiley
5) Larry Phlegar
13) Nick Varner

Jerry Forsyth: Please explain your ranking system.  What is the formula for determining whether an event is full points or some fraction thereof?  For instance we do not understand why the US Open10-Ball Event was ranked lower than the Super Billiards Expo Event when both had the same added money.

Joel Pope: The specifics of the US 10 Ball I understand as I was talking of the rankings as I developed the system was based on that the promoter was not willing to utilize the ABP seeding.  So the value was reduced because of that.  The actual criteria as it is finalized, it is still kind of getting feedback from various people.  For example this tournament this weekend there was a player discussion prior to the tournament about doing a call-safety as well as a call-pocket.  The decision was made to eliminate the call-safety and to just go with the call-pocket.  It is the intention of the ABP when it is finalized that the criteria will include the size of the field, the calibre and depth of the field, the prize funds, and the sanction rules and the format.  That will be documented.  

Jerry Forsyth: Can we know what that formula is and how you combine all those things?

Joel Pope:  It will be, yes.

Jerry: But it is not now. 
Joel Pope: It is not finalized at this point.

Jerry Forsyth: Let's go back to that.  US Open 10 ball was ranked lower than Super Billiards Expo because it would not use the ABP rankings for its seeding, but neither did Super Billiards Expo, they used BCA.

Johnny Archer: But we did not have the rankings at the time. What I did was I, well, basically I went to Griffin and asked him if he could seed and we talked with him and asked him just like Allen and Allen went and changed his, whatever rules you guys have voted on we'll play, whatever the cue balls we'll play, and whatever seeding you guys want, we'll use it.  We went to Griffin, I did, went to Griffin and started asking you know about the seeding and he just cut me off cold turkey and said "There will be no seeding. I won't do it."

Jerry Forsyth: But Allen went away from the rules on the 2nd day and the cue ball.  He changed the cue ball and the rules.

Johnny Archer: He didn't go away from the rules.  He had put them in wrong to start with.  Our rules are actually the 2nd day.  The alternate break was supposed to be the way it started.  It was a mess-up the way it started.

Jerry Forsyth: I thought your rules were winner break.

Johnny Archer: Well, whatever it was, the opposite was supposed to be the way to go.  There was a mix-up and so we changed it and we all changed it and went to it the 2nd day.  It was a mix-up.

Jerry Forsyth: How will the ABP help smaller promoters grow their prize fund?  How much will the prize fund will go up each year?

Joel Pope: Basically the ABP wants to get to the point where the player organization brings value to the promoter and sponsors.  And requiring of the promoters to utilize the players whether for a charity event or a pro-Am, meet and greet. For example with a sponsor if you've got Simonis Cloth sponsoring an event or Championship Cloth sponsoring an event it's only fair then that they should be able to identify say their top 2 or 3 distributors to that market and have members of the ABP go do a promo for them. In other words if you are a sponsor you should get some value above and beyond just product placement and your name being advertised so utilize the pros for that so you can get more sponsorship money.  As far as attendance, dedicate time for the pros to do meet & greet cocktail parties, meet & greet VIP, autograph signings, what have you, in order to help generate and promote gate proceeds.  The ABP wants to utilize the pros time which is what the pros have to give.  They don't have money to give, they have time.  That's how you help the sponsors increase their profits.  

Johnny Archer: What we're talking about is what Barry did last year.  We went in for the ProAm. And that is what we did, we tried to push gate, push interest. 
Jerry Forsyth: But for instance in Louisiana, you're having a $7500 added event.  What will the requirement be next year?

Johnny Archer: It's going to go up. It's going to go up after that.  I don't have the structure right now, but it's going to increasingly try to go up, and get back to the 20 and 25 that we had been doing with yourself.  Right now we can't go out and get anybody, especially new promoters, to put up the 20 & 25K.  It's just the market won't allow it.  Poolroom owners can't do it, promoters aren't going to do it for the most part.  So we're trying to see if we can start by going back and hopefully start increasing and help them to where eventually we'll have 15 tournaments at $20000 each.  Hopefully.  It's going to take a few years.  

Jerry Forsyth:  How can players afford to travel to these smaller events? I don't understand how this is good for the majority of pros.  I understand how top pros can afford to go to them because they are going to get the cream but how do the smaller players justify it and I can tell you that I have talked to quite a few middle of the road players and I can't find one that wants these smaller events.  They say: "it's going to break me."

Dennis Walsh:  It is going to be difficult for a lot of players to travel a great distance but this is something we are trying to develop, the game, the tournaments need secondary markets. Hopefully we can get enough of them for different geographical areas and at least in the beginning, maybe pull some California players who can't make it out to Maine, maybe we can get some of the pros geographically close to the smaller events to support that particular one.  Hopefully we'll be able to go on the West Coast and maybe we will have these tournaments, try to develop them in conjunction with other bigger tournaments in the area to make it easier on the pros to get to them. It's not going to be easy and they can't go to all the events. Something needs to be done to try to develop these other venues, develop these other tournaments.

Joel Pope: It also expands professional pool's play, exposure to secondary markets.  Right now if you happen to be in Las Vegas, upstate NY or VA, you get to see high-caliber play.  If you are in Sanduski OH or Detroit, MI, not so much.  So maybe you can achieve that with these smaller regional tournaments and every pro does not have to go to every event.  You can have regionalized events where local people can drive in.  A lot of guys in Florida, I'm from Florida, drove in for this event.  

Johnny Archer: And, we're really looking to, if we can, group a few of them together, a field of events say back to back like this one, and the Louisiana thing, is all good because it's three or four sources of income.  Florida has got 2 events like this.  Here is mine with $7K added.  The U.S. Open, I know we're not piggy-backing the U.S. Open, I'm just saying when you've got 3 events in a row you can offset your costs.  So that's what we would love to do, Hopefully we want to get a few other pros here at a few of them in a row, that gives more chances for more income.  Their expenses are cut down.  With the 3 events together, to me, if I'm going to have $50K added I can go to 1 tournament for $50K added and it's a 8,9 day tournament.  To me, I would rather go play in 3 events at $15K added each, I have more chances, and the cost is pretty much the same.  And I know it ain't going to be exactly the same because they are in different areas but it's not going to be very much different.

Jerry Forsyth: What I am having trouble reconciling is that your point system does not allow anyone to drop an event.  So the guys who can't afford to come to these smaller events fall further and further behind on their points.

Joel Pope: But they are highly discounted. The point value of the regional events right  now is sitting at 25%.

Johnny Archer:  Yeah mine is 25%.  So there's the discount, way down.  

Jerry Forsyth: What promoters have expressed interest in smaller events?
Dennis Walsh: Well, a lot of the Board and a lot of the players.  The officers have been talking to a lot of the players.  It's in the preliminary stages right now.  We don't think it would be appropriate to bring it out until it's finalized.

Jerry Forsyth: But you are fighting the public image that the only smaller events you are having are Dragon events.  Which is the big image that the ABP is fighting right now.
Dennis Walsh: Well, we'll get to that later.  Well, I mean, keep your eyes open we hope to be adding some new ones soon.  That's all we can say right now.

Johnny Archer: We'll address the Dragon one later; we need to talk about that one. We'll get a little bit of that ironed out.

Jerry Forsyth: Why an international membership that prevents any national federation from using your points system for national events?  While several players report that they are being told these points will eventually be used for international events, the WPA and BCA have both said this is not a possibility.  The EPBF does not recognize any player organization outside of their own so what's the future of the ABP points system? Why are you doing it?

Joel Pope: Relative to the points system I have no idea who these several players are but they are completely wrong.  It has nothing to do with international events.  The ABP Points Ranking System ranks American events.  If you look at the BCA Points today it has a bunch of international players on it.  It's no different from that.  There's absolutely no difference.  

Jerry Forsyth: There's a use for the BCA points.  What's the use for the ABP points?

Joel Pope: The use for the ABP points is to provide seeding at rankings for the ABP.  The players have expressed an interest in controlling their own destiny relative to the ranking system and that's the purpose of the ABP but it has nothing to do with the international events.  Like I said, I don't know who is telling you that it is.

Jerry Forsyth: Well, it will be in the article but I can tell you that Mike Dechaine and Oscar Dominguez were both told by Charlie Williams that ABP points would be used for Matchroom events and in the near future for international. 

Dennis Walsh: I can't speak to hearsay between Charlie and Mike, you'll need to speak to Charlie about that.  I wasn't party to that conversation.  Nor were you.  That was between Charlie and Mike, it's hearsay.

Jerry Forsyth:  In the Mission statement for ABP, you talk about working together with players, promoters, and Federations. Nobody called the BCA and said: “we have a problem with your points system, let's work it out so we can have a unified points system.”
Joel Pope: I'm not sure that is true. 
Jerry Forsyth: Rob Johnson who was going to be here this week to discuss things with the players and then it got quashed.  

Johnny Archer: What? Who? Rob Johnson said that?  I never even knew Rob Johnson was coming.  

Jerry Forsyth: Let me re-phrase the question.  Would you be open to having a discussion with the BCA to unify the points? 

Joel Pope: At the request of the Board, I introduced myself and sent an email to Rob, the Executive Director, and Mike, the chairman of the Board of Directors, and said if you had any questions whatsoever, give me a call, I can go through my source documents, the WPA, the BCA, the PGA, the Bull Riders Association, anything, and I never got a response.  I've got the email.  We're more than happy to have a conversation with any organization.  

Jerry Forsyth:  Let's work this out here.  If you have ABP Points Ranking System and you have the BCA Points Ranking System, no event can use both of them for seeding.  So now let's say we use Hopkins.  He says “OK I’m going to use the ABP Points system for seeding my event”.  Then it would no longer be a BCA Points Event.  

Joel Pope: Is that speaking from the BCA's perspective?

Jerry Forsyth: Yes, the BCA cannot use your seedings to rank their event.  They have their own seeding.  Obviously if you are not using their seeding, it's not a BCA event.

Joel Pope: Let me see if I understand.  Relative to the seeding, the ABP's mission is to get seeding done and I think as a first step getting seeding done is more important than anything else.  And in fact if you look at an event like the U.S. Open they use a multitude of things, there isn't a ranking points program in existence that serves all the players that are coming.  So as I understand it between Barry and Jay and they're going to sit down and say we have these guys from the Asian tour and these guys from the European tour and these guys on the American tour let's see if we can come up with a fair way to put them into seedings.

Jerry Forsyth: That's sort of correct.  

Johnny Archer: No, that is correct.

Jerry Forsyth : Well, what Barry is doing is that the top 16 seeds go to the WPA.  He's a WPA sanctioned event, he has to use the WPA ranking so they get the top 16 seeds.  The next 16 seeds come off the BCA ranking that are not duplicates to the WPA.  Then he'll, let's say that that happens to entail 32 different players.  Yet, Barry is going to seed 64 people this year.  But that's where the ABP players who are not on the WPA or BCA rankings will get seeded. 
Joel Pope: At the end of the day the important thing is that the process of seeding occurs. That's the important thing to the ABP. Seeding happens in a fair and open fashion. That's the end of the road. That's what the desire of the ABP is.

Jerry Forsyth:  Well, again, that's really good for your top-ranked players that they are seeded. But how does that help the middle of the packers? 

Johnny: Well, they need to try to fight to get to their seed.  

Jerry Forsyth: They will say the same thing about you, you need to fight the first round the same way they do.

Johnny Archer: Why?

Jerry Forsyth: They all pay the same entry fee.

Joel Pope: Let me take a shot at it.  The measuring stick that the ABP Board is trying to use for any decision or any strategy is: Is it good for the promoter?  Is it good for the sponsor?  Is it good for the fan?  Is it good for the pro?  They ask that question about any strategy or decision.  And if you look at seeding and take it beyond billiards, take it to other sports like tennis, what have you, it behooves the promoters and obviously the sponsors because it helps the fans if your top, your named players, your event builds to a climax of the best players.  They don't want the top two guys getting knocked out in the first round. When the attendance is not up, when the sponsor's product placement is not out there and highly visible, If you look at the PGA tour, it's typically a disadvantage to play in the afternoon, it's typically an advantage to play in the morning, winds are calmer, greens are softer yada,yada,yada, Why do they have the leaders play in the worst conditions at the end?  It's because they are trying to build climax, build excitement. It's the same thing with the seeding.  It benefits the pros because there are a small group of people that pay their mortgage and car payment and feed their kids on pool.  They don't have a job that supports their pool interests.  Pool is how they put food on the table.  And these guys, they've got to write a check to go to work.  And I'm retired now but when I went to work, I knew that every other Friday I was going to get a check.  At year-end if I did good, company did good, I'd get a bonus.  But I didn't have to pay $1K to go see if I did good that week and got a check.  Some weeks I went home with no money and I'm out of pocket.  That's the life these pros have.  Every week if they want to go to work they've got to write a check for $1K to get to work.  And to have 2 guys depending on it, 2 families depending on that, to get matched up early in the beginning there's no benefit to pros, no benefit to fans, doesn't help the sponsors, doesn't benefit the promoters, so why do it?

Jerry Forsyth:  OK, now first, I agree with you, I agree with seeding.  And I think it should be done.  And I agree with the reason you gave that it builds to a better climax but there are a lot of people who disagree with me.  And there are a lot of people who appear to have valid reasons for disagreeing.  One of them being Mike Zuglan, who runs the Joss NE 9 Ball Tour.  He has the Turning Stone Classic twice a year.  Now what that Turning Stone Classic is is all the players in his region which are amateurs or I don't know what you call them semi-pros that come to his tour every week, pay their entry fees to play in the pool room tournaments that he has all year, Turning Stone was originally designed as a reward for them.  They get to come to a nice resort, have 2 season-ending championship events a year and all that.  Well, when Turning Stone started throwing $25 grand at it, obviously the pros wanted to play there.  Mike said, OK, come on and play. But he's not going to seed them.  And the reason is, he doesn't want to put all his players who play all year in his poolroom events at a disadvantage in the year end championship.

Joel Pope: I understand that.  You hit the nail on the head when you started to describe it.  Basically it's a regional tour.  It's a regional tour event that's now attracting national caliber players.  I mean, that's the problem.  It's not a national event, it's a regional tour event.

Johnny Archer: Where Turning Stone would be in my opinion if pool was in a much better state and we had more events like Turning Stone, other tournaments, you can remember when Turning Stone first started happening, it never attracted many pros and still had $25K. We didn't attract many to start with, because it was a regional.  Turning Stone was always looked at by us as a regional, not a real professional event, because of what he does.  He does it for his players so we looked at it like that.  And then times got tougher.  A couple of us started going.  I ended up going, I loved it.  I love going up there.  And some of the other guys started going because the Economy got bad, they needed the tournament money, and they just started doing it.  But they still, to me, look at Turning Stone as a regional event. 

Jerry Forsyth: As it should be. 
Johnny Archer: When they started doing Mosconi Cup ranking, and BCA rankings, and now all of a sudden, guys started needing to go.  Well, they wanted to start asking for seeding.  We didn't ask for very long, for rules, but at least for seeding, because now Zuglan has seen that the casino would like the players there, because he's putting them on the flyers or the posters, I'm sure what gate he does have is drawn by a lot of the pros.  Or he wouldn't put us on the posters.  Or keep doing it.

Joel Pope: The real question for Zuglan is how does he leverage the fact that the pros come because the pros would be more than happy to do more.  To help him even more.  Does he want to do pro-am, does he want to do a meet & greet, maybe he wants to get all his guys together, the top finishers of his various tours for a private cocktail party with the pros, so they can get to know these guys. We'd rather see that relationship expanded.  But to answer your simple question, it probably started out as a regional event, it should be a regional event, it started as a regional event, then all of a sudden you layer on rankings that determine who's going to the Mosconi Cup, now it's not a regional event anymore.  It's mainstream.

Johnny Archer: Even though we would like it to still be a regional event.  We're not forced to go but yeah we need to go if it is a Mosconi Cup ranking event.   Really, the rankings and seeding and points, the only things we players really care about is the Mosconi Cup.  That's what we play all year for.  But the rankings, and we've been doing that for years, look at the rankings, that's really what we are looking at. So you guys look at the BCA rankings, no offense, I don't mean to say this is a bad way.  We look at the BCA rankings and ask what does this mean?  Most of us look at it and say it really does not mean anything.  It's for invitation to go overseas.  But there's only a couple guys anyway that go so that doesn't affect the vast majority of the top players.  So we look at it as, really, what we're looking at is Mosconi.  That means a lot.  You might get invited to the Mosconi Cup.  That's what we are really looking at, the rankings.  Me personally as a whole I could care less whether I'm ranked 15 or 20th or 100th on the BCA system.  As a whole, I'm trying to be candid.  I'm not being ugly.

Jerry Forsyth:  So you say you do not at all represent the ABP points as being something that's used to invite players overseas or to invite players to the Mosconi Cup? 

Johnny Archer: No, as of right now, no. Not to say that later if it gets big enough and all of a sudden this is the one everybody is playing in, I'm not saying that won't happen in the future but as of right now, no, we're just trying to get events is why we want rankings, and why we want seeding.

Jerry Forsyth: Are you putting ABP points on top of any events overseas outside of America?

Johnny Archer: I know this comes up in my event.  I know this is where this was talked about.  

Jerry Forsyth: Are you going to put points on events overseas?

Johnny Archer: No.

Jerry Forsyth: Then why are you an international players organization?

Johnny Archer: We're not. We invite them if they want to join us.  This whole deal was started for America, we wanted to try to help control what was happening and you and I have talked about this a couple of times.  You were the first person I talked to in Vegas.  I went to you first before I did anyone else. We still, we want to do what's here in America.  And then Charlie and I talked, hey, let's talk about some of the guys who play in most all of the American events and see if they want to join us on the Board or membership or anything like that.  And that's where Thorsten Hohman, Mika, that's where them guys kind of got asked.  They said, we play over here so it affects us what happens here in America.  And that's where they decided they wanted to come on and voice with us.  And so this was all made up for America.  We're not looking to go overseas or get any kind of tournaments over there or do anything like that.  I don't know where that rumor got started.  I've heard them too but that is not true, absolutely 100%.  We're not looking to go over there, we're not looking to grab their players and say "You have to be in our organization."

Jerry Forsyth:  Who are your current officers?

Johnny Archer: Myself, President; Rodney Morris, Vice President; 2nd Vice President Shawn Putnam; Treas/Sec Oscar Dominguez; Board members are Thorsten Hohman, Mike Davis, Charlie Williams, Mika Immonen, John Schmidt, Shane van Boening, and Stevie Moore. You got a couple international guys and them are the ones that play over here often.

Jerry Forsyth: And what are their terms of office?

Johnny Archer: There are no terms. We've never had terms or anything.

Dennis Walsh: They were incorporated about 2 year ago, Aug. 2011 and when they were incorporated, that is who the officers were and who the Board was.  There hasn't really been a membership drive really, there hasn't been people signing up, paying their money, things of that nature.  I mean, once, if we do that, and we get new players involved, then we'll get a lot of paid members, we'll have some elections, and maybe there will be new Board members, maybe new officers.  Right now, it's basically just the Board; that's all we have.  

Joel Pope: The Board didn't want to start out by saying we want to form an association, give us money.  (Johnny interjects:  We still don't!) Being the first step out to the general… we just said we'll kick in the money to get things started. And once we get some momentum we'll go out and try to go from a handshake yes you support us to a paid membership.  Frankly if you could have a situation where membership, the organization could be funded by sponsorship or some other fashion, you try to get money to the pros why try to take money from the pros….

Jerry Forsyth: So when do you foresee having elections?

Johnny Archer: Once we get a membership base to where, right now, basically what it is, when I talk to these guys, where this membership comes up, this list I have here, it's come up from the US Open last year.  

Jerry Forsyth: Well, you've already pretty much said that the answer to question 8 is that you don't have a role in international politics.  

Johnny Archer: That's exactly right.

Joel Pope: Expand that, we don't want one.

Johnny Archer: These organizations right here, they deal with the politics, they put the politics out there, we don't want them, I don't want them, nor do these guys.

Jerry Forsyth: Several players have told us they see the ABP as merely an arm of Dragon Promotions as it is organized and run by Dragon players. How would you counter the argument that the ABP is a just tool for Dragon to use to expand?

Joel Pope: Well, keep on going. How do you represent to those that say it's a conflict of interest of Charlie Williams to be in charge of a player organization?

Jerry Forsyth: We can put those two together.

Johnny Archer: I'd like to say Charlie is not in charge.  I go ahead and put that on record; you can quote me in bold terms. Charlie is not in charge. Charlie does a lot of work. He does emails, he does all this stuff trying to keep up all of us going, and we okay everything.  Every email, every press release he sends, I look at, I ok.  Either yes or change it.  Dennis, he makes a lot of changes in them constantly, Joel too, Joel gives us advice what to say.

Jerry Forsyth: The Board of Directors that voted on whether or not to make Louisiana a points event, a ranking event for the ABP, the majority of it, there was a known vote before the vote was ever taken because the majority of the Board is either Dragon or Dragon related.  

Johnny Archer: The Board right now is the 11 guys and that Board voted whether to make Louisiana a points event.

Jerry Forsyth: I understand, but most of that 11, the majority of that 11, are either Dragon players directly or they rely upon Dragon players for their living.  

Johnny Archer: Well, then, that's a fact.  I mean, you know, the top guys then is all Dragon promotions, whether its International top guys or whether it's over here, they are the top guys.  We can't excuse that 11 of the top guys in the world that want to be involved.

Jerry Forsyth: I understand. But you do see that that shows that Dragon Promotions can control what goes on inside the ABP.

Joel Pope: It's the other way around.  These guys create income for Dragon.  They are a value to Dragon, more than Dragon is a value to them.  There should be more concern that these guys can influence Charlie.  
Johnny Archer: You think we get a paycheck from Charlie?  

Joel Pope: Charlie makes money off of them.

Jerry Forsyth: I think Dragon Promotions players are included in events that others are not. Dragon events.

Johnny Archer: Yeah, because there are no other events.  There's hardly any other events other than Dragon events.  How many other events than Dragon Promotion events are there?

Jerry Forsyth: Well, in America, the majority of events are not Dragon events. 
Johnny Archer: We still play in them.  I hope there's 50 Dragon promotions events, if it's Dragon or Jerry Forsyth promotions, or Joel Pope Promotions. I hope there's 50 events that I can choose from.  Right now you've got Dragon Promotions and you've got a few others.  That's really what we've got to play in.  Yeah, we're going to go play in Dragon Promotions whether I'm with Dragon Promotions or not.  When there are events and I think I can make money, I'm going to play, I'm going to go.  And so are the other guys.  It's got to be cost effective.

Joel Pope: One thing you had made a comment before, I'd like to help clarify, we talked about how the BCA events where the players could drop one event.  Again, when you hold it up to that measuring stick of good for the promoters, good for the sponsors, good for the fans, good for the players, the answer is No.  You have to drop one. 1 out of 6, 17-18% of players, so to the promoter, you could have 17/18% of players not even show up to their event, and not even be penalized in any fashion.  These sponsors may not get all the top players.  The fans it's the same thing they may not get to see the top players.  And to the pros, there is a way to look at it, that a guy gets to slough off a bad performance.  
Jerry Forsyth: Exactly. And the way that rule got into effect was that it was put to a vote of the players.  And the players voted unanimously, not a single opposing vote to drop one event.  They all voted for it.  The reason it's in there is that it is what they wanted. 
Joel Pope: That surprises me.
Johnny Archer: I would like to finish this thing with Charlie.  He is not in charge of us.  It's kind of insulting to the other top guys involved.
Jerry Forsyth: But he sends out press releases that you don't even know about.  

Johnny Archer: Well, maybe he does.  I don't know why, I haven't seen anything, I've been trying to keep up with everything the last few months.  And if he does send out press releases that we don't approve, that needs to stop and I'll stop it.  So as far as to let everybody know one time, Charlie does not run it, his expertise is needed, he does a lot of work.

Jerry Forsyth: OK, why didn't you notify Griffin and Zuglan that you were going to put points on their events before doing so?

Johnny Archer: We didn't notify Hopkins either.  

Jerry Forsyth: That shows a lack of communication.

Johnny Archer: Well, the thing is I tried to talk to Griffin, the small bit of communication that we have had with Griffin has not been very good.  At all.  And so every time I have tried to talk to Griffin, Griffin just hammers at me.  Griffin tells me how I'm not supporting the organization, as long as Charlie Williams is involved, I'm not supporting this, so I'm not going to call him and say Please, please.  It's our points, we can put them on what we want. Our points.  If it's ours.  Just like the BCA.  If you choose to sanction a tournament, you choose to sanction J.A. Classic.  I might not be perfect with it, but if you choose to do it, you can do it.  The BCA.

Jerry Forsyth: No, first we ask permission of the promoter and then we put it to a vote of the players whether or not it should be a points event.  The BCA does not decide whether an event is a points event, the players do.
Johnny Archer: But you have your ways to do it, is what I am saying.

Jerry Forsyth: Yeah, we have qualifications.  They have to be playing 8 Ball, 9 Ball, 10 ball, and they have to be adding $25000, they have to reserve the top 20 slots for the top 20 Americans to play in the field, but once the promoter agrees to do that, it's then voted on by the players.  

Johnny Archer: Sure, that's your choice, but you run that criteria.  The BCA is in charge of the criteria to do that.  I say you, I mean BCA, come up with the criteria of how to have an event sanctioned.  This is what the BCA.  Our criteria was, we have no events.  

Joel Pope: If somebody came up to you, and says hey can you tell me who the best players in America are, the best professional players that play in events in America.   I could probably give you an idea.  Let me look at some of the best tournaments out there, see how they placed, and I'll give you an idea of who the players are.  That's what the ABP ranking system is.  We're not claiming possession of any events.  Just trying to analyze results of events and say from analyzing results of events this is how we see how people who play pool in America rank.

Jerry Forsyth: Since we're running out of time, why was this event scheduled on top of a World Championship?

Johnny Archer: I got this one.  The World 10 Ball was scheduled for the mid part of the year when first announced.
Joel Pope: When Dechaine found out it got cancelled from his connection in Japan.

Johnny Archer: What happened was they cancelled it, postponed it, whatever the word was then we scheduled this one, then it came back.  So we at the time had this tournament lined up and then the World 10 Ball came back because I remember talking to some of the players, Shane & Thorsten and all them, and they had committed to play then they called me back and said: "Man, the World 10 Ball just came back on the schedule.  We're sorry, we're not going to be able to come to your event."  And then it got cancelled again; they called me back and said OK now we can come now.  So I remember that's exactly how that worked.  

Joel Pope: WPA booked on top of this event.
Johnny Archer: The WPA actually booked on top of us.  

Jerry Forsyth: At any time in the future do you see the ABP charging promoters a sanction fee?

Johnny Archer: No

That concludes the interview with Johnny Archer, Joel Pope and Dennis Walsh. Following are comments from players. The first is Corey Deuel:

Jerry Forsyth: Are you a board member of the ABP? A member at all?

Deuel: Not any more. I was a board member. I don't know the exact reason. I guess some of the guys didn't want me on it anymore.

Jerry Forsyth: Current added minimum money for BCA points event is $25K.  Should the BCA consider lowering it and if so lower it to what?

Corey Deuel: What would I lower it to? I wouldn't want to lower it. Why would they want to lower it?

Jerry Forsyth: I am not saying they do.  The new announcement from the ABP says ABP ranking events would begin at $7.5 K added.  If players think this is good, then the BCA might consider it.

Corey Deuel: I don't really agree with that.  I think that a few years ago the same guys on the Board would not let a ranking tournament happen if not $25K added.  Really surprises me that all of a sudden they would think differently.  

Jerry Forsyth: The BCA rankings system allows dropping one event during the year.  Do you agree with that policy?

Corey Deuel: Well, funny you ask.  One of the reasons I did not make it on the Mosconi Cup team last year is because I had to miss Turning Stone, which is a ranking event, to go to Matchroom's World Cup of Pool in the Philippines. Matchroom Sport runs both events and I had to miss. I had another low finish too but I had to miss that event. I didn't get any help onto the team and I know a few other players that have gotten a deal where they are just on -  maybe Earl and Rodney, they got a deal where they were just on the team, they didn't have to play in anything. So I would definitely like to see a little better structure when it comes to qualifying for those big events where it is fair for everyone.

Jerry Forsyth: What games should qualify as points events?
Corey Deuel: Well, if you talk to some of the members on the ABP Board, I think it was, you probably remember, when I tried to do the 8 Ball Invitational here in Tampa, I had to switch it to 10 Ball because they didn't want to have an 8 Ball tournament to be a ranking event.  Remember?  Then all of a sudden in the next couple years they wanted to make Charlie's Straight Pool Tournament a ranking event.  Mixed decisions… It just doesn't seem like they are making their minds up very well.

Jerry Forsyth: Have you been told by anybody that the ABP points system will eventually be used to invite players to World events?

Corey Deuel: i have not been told that.   I would think it's definitely the ABP's business if they want to use their events to qualify for their own events that's great.  And if people want to do that it's fine but if they want to qualify for other events, and 2 years ago they wanted $25k added, I think they should stick to their policy.  It's just like the President, they don't change their policy in mid-term.  They try to stick to their policy. Another thing I would like to know is when they are going to have elections.  If there's a president up for re-election and they did the job they did in the last I mean they're trying their best but I'm not sure how many would vote for…, I think a lot of players would like to vote for a new president or a new Board for the ABP. You know these are just suggestions I would have made had I been on the Board.  And maybe the people on the Board did not like to hear what I was saying but I'm just trying to say it for the betterment of the pool players.  We should have the top 64 players vote on a Board. Right now it might as well be called Dragon promotions.  Don't know why they re-named it ABP.  Just call it Dragon Promotions.
We also spoke with Oscar Dominguez:

Jerry Forsyth: You told me you're not currently active in the ABP but you are listed on their Board?  What would the ABP need to do to get you interested in being part of the player organization again?

Oscar Dominguez: It's been kinda like on hiatus for such a long time.  I've gotten to the point like I'm sitting back watching a show, I've taken a back seat and not really active.  I don't know exactly what the objective is anymore.  We haven't had a meeting in a long time…  For me to get active again, probably an objective, something to look at, if they say this is something we want to do, or I have an idea or I agree with it I'll be more active in it.    I'm all for trying to help pool, I don't care about myself.

Jerry Forsyth: Should the BCA consider lowering the minimum added money amount from $25,000 to something lower?

Oscar Dominguez: I disagree (with lowering), should not lower at all.  For example, ABP is having two events. One is $7500 added and Johnny's is 8K.  That's fine if you are on the East Coast.  But if you are on the West Coast like myself, that's terrible.  To break even I have to get 2nd or 3rd, against nothing but champions.  No thank you.  I work for a living so I can win 2nd place back home.  

Jerry Forsyth: Were you involved in developing the rankings for the ABP?

Oscar Dominguez:  No, I was not involved in the ranking, I was mildly involved, probably more so in the 10 ball rules.  As far as the policies of ranking, that was more of a Johnny and Charlie show.
And we talked to Mike Dechaine:

Jerry Forsyth: The current minimum added money amount for a BCA points event is $25,000. Should this amount be lowered and, if so, what should the low limit be?"

Mike Dechaine:  25K is good for an overall ranking event. If they need to go lower it doesn't honor the professional player. We wind up playing for too little money. 

Jerry Forsyth: Are you a member of the ABP? If not, what would the ABP need to do to attract you as a member?

Mike Dechaine: They would need to not be so cliquey at the top and get a much more diverse cross-section of players on the board. 

Jerry Forsyth: What advantages are there in the ABP points system for players? How are they used?

Mike Dechaine: I am told it is for seeding and that these will be used for the World Rankings one day.

Jerry Forsyth: Do you know how the ranking system works? How it is structured?

Mike Dechaine: No.

Jerry Forsyth: Any general comments?

Mike Dechaine: The BCA and WPA could work together better to protect the pros. Our travel schedules are all crazy with trips zig-zagging the world. They need to structure events so we could spend some time in one area before moving to the next. It is crazy now. 
And finally, we got to spend a few minutes with Shaun Wilkie:

Jerry Forsyth:  I just wanted to talk with you about the Association of Billiard Professionals.  I understand you are not a member of it.  What do you know about the group?

Shaun Wilkie: Not too much.  I remember getting a little information about it about 2 years ago around the Turning Stone time.  I got a flyer from one of the players, I don't remember exactly who gave it to me.  I never really looked into it too much myself because I want to see it stabilized.  For right now I don't know too much about it.

Jerry Forsyth: Are you going to go to the events that the ABP is having in Louisiana?

Shaun Wilkie: No, I won't be traveling to that this year. I did get invited but my funds right now, I can't afford it.  I'm saving up to go the US Open this year. It's just a one-time thing, so they have a good turnout every year so I'm going to go to that event.

Jerry Forsyth: Right now the BCA events carry a minimum added money requirement of  $25000; they have to add at least $25000 to the event to be considered a points event.  The ABP is now making points events, although it's only a quarter of the points of larger events, out of these smaller $7500 added events.  Just in general do you think that's a good idea?

Shaun Wilkie: Not really. If it's already standardized to be $25000 for a points event.  I kind of don't understand how they can change unless you know it's like a mass body of players that decided that, do you know what I mean?

Jerry Forsyth: The BCA points have not changed, it's still $25000 added.  It's just the ABP is going to let people add $7500. 

Shaun Wilkie: So you're saying the points will be separate divisions?  They won't be together? 
Jerry Forsyth:  The ABP points is not used for anything.  It's the BCA ranking points that count to be invited overseas and to the Mosconi Cup  and all that sort of thing.  ABP has started their own points system and they just say it's because they wanted a points system to rank their players.

Shaun Wilkie: Maybe they are trying to get a Pro Tour back or something like that?

Jerry Forsyth: They are trying to get more promoters to have events and they're saying that if you will have this smaller event than a BCA event we'll still make you an APB points event. 

Shaun Wilkie: I kind of understand, it's hard to understand.

In conclusion:

The ABP appears to be different things to different folks and they all have their own perspectives on it. My personal preference is for tournament pool to thrive in America. It is not thriving today and I do understand the ABP thinking about lowering the threshold for new promoters. But I disagree with them on that because I want to see promoters work hard enough to raise the $25,000. My past experience is that a lowered threshold in pool never seems to get raised; they just stay low. The WPA allowed the World 9-Ball Championship promoters to lower the prize fund for that event from $400,000 to $200,000 with the idea being that it would be raised again in the future. It is still at the lower figure. The same thing has happened with other majors. Once lowered, the prizes do not go back up.  

Players do not seem very excited about the lower prize funds. 55 players showed up in Atlanta, but many of them said their motive was to honor the namesake of the event, Johnny Archer. At the $7,500 added Championship Cloth Classic in New Iberia only 28 players bothered to make the trip. We are also told that the idea of not asking players for membership monies has been changed. Our information  is that the players were told that if they wanted to be seeded there that they had to be paid members of the ABP.

It is my hope that I have presented the reader with enough information to help them form an educated opinion about the ABP. I also hope that this will lead to a discussion on the forums concerning the ABP as well as the future of pro pool in America. Can tournament pool survive or do we need to look at a 16-man (for instance) "Superstar Show" that might be more appealing to television? Or is pool just destined to be an amateur social activity here? Let us know what you think.