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Fargo Rate Handicap Tournaments and Leagues – An Explainer (UPDATED)

05/07/20 | Chris Lee

So what is Fargo Rate? How does it work? How does it affect me? How will it affect my Pool?

Fargo Rate Handicap Tournaments and Leagues – An Explainer

Fargo Rate is one of World Pool’s, global, player ranking systems. It is used in World Pool Leagues and Competitions, including Leagues like the USAPL. Many competitions use the Fargo Rate system to provide a balancing tool in ‘Race to’ competitions.

Fargo Rate Statement (

FargoRate computes pocket-billiard player ratings called Fargo Ratings that rate amateur and professional players worldwide. Coupling game win/loss data across local leagues, regions, countries, and continents insures players everywhere are rated on the same scale.

Fargo Ratings are as useful for handicapping a small-town league as they are determining top players by country. To achieve its vision of a new era for pocket billiards in which all players everywhere are connected, FargoRate has created a league management system called FargoRate LMS that is available for use by all leagues.

It is a ‘live’ ranking system, that updates in real time, in those leagues and competitions that subscribe to the Fargo system ($15 per year per player).

What is the SPL Doing with Fargo Rate?

Every player that subscribes to the Fargo Rating System enters the system with a ‘Starter Rating’. Over the last 4 months, the League Admin has been working on a project to establish a sound ‘Starter Rating’. This is an upgrade from the ‘Starter Rating’ that was posted at the beginning of the 2020 Season 1 that was based on limited data. The revised Fargo Starter Ratings are built on a player’s playing record over the previous 12 seasons, taking the latest 75 results in 8-Ball as a key indicator.

The Fargo algorithm for adjusting or calculating the rate is a proprietary secret, so the calculations we have generated are working on the best reasoning we can establish, based on some reference data from a previous member that has an official Fargo Rate themselves. All organisations joining Fargo, must go through the same process.

SPL Starter Ratings will be updated for all players with playing records up to 19th January 2020 by the end of July and the data from Season 1 2020 will be added into the data, so that we can provide a revised Fargo Rating for Season 2 by the end of August 2020.

Fargo Rates are not linear, so differences in win rate percentages do not directly translate into a linear rise in a player’s rating.

The difference between two player’s Fargo Rates, provide an expected win percentage or win chance. This is used to determine what percentage of frames a player should win against another player, with either a higher or lower Fargo Rate, and then creates either a balanced ‘Race To’ calculation, or an expected win percentage (that could support odds for betting).

SPL Handicapped Fargo Points System

Think of every match as having 100 points up for grabs, with each player ‘starting’ with 50 points each. Now the winning player ‘steals’ some of those 50 points from the losing player. However, and this is the part that makes it a handicap league, the number of points ‘stolen’ depends on the relative strength of the two players. So if you lose against somebody rated a lot better than you, you wouldn’t have as many of your 50 points ‘stolen’ from you.

Let’s look at an example of how it works:

Let’s take a “20-80” match-up. This is a game where the difference in the Fargo ratings between the two players is exactly 200 Fargo Points. This equates to the weaker player having a 20% chance of victory and the stronger player an 80% chance of victory. (See separate table already issued showing Fargo differences and % win chances).

Suppose ‘Player A’ is the stronger player with win probability 80% and ‘Player B’ is the weaker player with win probability 20%. The points each player would be awarded for each outcome is as follows:

Outcome for player A Probability Fargo League Points Awarded   Outcome for player B Probability Fargo league points Awarded
Win 80% 60   Win 20% 90
Lose 20% 10   Lose 80% 40

The Maths here ensures an expected (i.e. average) return of 50 points to all players who play to their Fargo level.

Those of you interested in the Maths used to calculate the above here it is:

Fargo League Points Awarded for a WIN = ((100 - probability of winning)/2)+50

Fargo League Points Awarded for a LOSS = ((probability of losing-100)/2)+50

So in the above calculation if Player A wins he is awarded (100 - 80)/2 + 50 = 60 Fargo League Points

If player B wins he is awarded (100 - 20)/2 + 50 = 90 Fargo League Points

Although there is a formula given above to work out the LOSING points, the calculation for the LOSING player actually now becomes simple because remember there are 100 points on the table at the start. So in the above example Player A must score 10 if he loses (because player B has won 90) and player B must score 40 if he loses (because player A has scored 60).

A few points about this system:

  • You don’t have to memorise a formula. The League will provide you with a chart to look up the potential Win points for each player. But you can of course calculate these yourself from the above formula if you like a bit of maths!
  • The Win Points available for the two players in a given frame aren’t the same (quite correctly because it’s a handicap league).
  • The Losing Points available for the two players in a given frame aren’t the same (quite correctly because it’s a handicap league).
  • The average points won by all players will be 50 points per frame.
  • 100 points will always be awarded for each frame, which keeps it relatively simple.
  • 1600 points will be available for the whole match, so a winning total is 801 or more.
  • The Fargo Points match could have a different result to the normal ‘race to 9 match’
  • Most matches will be quite close – That is the whole point of a handicap league. (It won’t be that common for teams to score over 900 points out of 1600).
  • Every player will gain 50 more points for winning a frame than for losing it. This is another easy way to calculate your potential ‘Lose Points’
  • All winning points are higher than all losing points (naturally).
  • Even a surprise result for a weak player against a strong player will not (on its own) win the match, as the points awarded for one frame is capped at 100.
  • This is a fair system because if you win or lose a frame, it takes account of how good the player was who you won or lost against, was.
  • For the purposes of Scotch Doubles, the Fargo Rating will be the average of the individual Fargo Ratings of the two players.
  • If you play to your Fargo Rating you will average around 50 points per game
  • If you play better than your Fargo Rating you will average MORE than 50 points per game
  • If you play worse than your Fargo Rating you will average LESS than 50 points per game
  • Every player in the league, no matter what standard, has the same theoretical chance of gaining the highest ‘Fargo Team Points’ per frame. There will be an award for this player.
  • Fargo Team Points accrued in the Scotch Doubles will NOT contribute to the Mid-Season Fargo Adjustments mentioned in the following paragraph.

Mid-Season Fargo Adjustments

After Week 5 of this season, it is our intention is to use the above Fargo League Points system to update individual Fargo Player Ratings using the Fargo League Points accrued as a guide. Fargo Ratings should be subject to occasional updates as should any player rating system in any sport. We felt it best to do this at the midway point of the ‘regular’ season, so this would be after 5 matches in the Premier League and Championship and after 9 matches in the Social division. At this point all teams have played all other teams in their division once, so this seems fair. It would then be done again at the end of the ‘Regular Season’. We are working on the formula for these updates, but it is likely to be related to the Fargo League Points a player accumulates per frame. Over 50 FLP per frame played will see your rating rise and below 50 FLP per frame played will see your rating fall.

Any questions, please feel free to contact either Paul Rispin (Chief Analyst) or Chris Lee (Chief).

UPDATED 23/09/20

Fargo Rate Race To 1 Probability Graph