Four things to know about the state 8-Ball billiards tournament in Rapid City

A Billiards Player Lining Up For A ShotRAPID CITY, S.D.– For decades, billiards players from across the state have been able to meet up and show off their skills in the annual 8-Ball Tournament, which took place at the Rushmore Room of The Monument in Rapid City and ended Sunday, March 12. Tournament Director Joe Sefrna explains more about the event.

What is Eight-ball pool?

Eight-ball pool is played with a cue ball and 15 other balls, which are numbered through 15. Numbers one through seven have solid colors and seven through 15 have a stripe on them. The goal of each game is to get all of your balls into the pockets on the sides of the pool table before an opponent, and then pocket the 8-ball to win the game. “The tournaments have been running for over 40 years. It’s the annual state event that we put on every year. We have Rapid City every other year and then off years, we go back to Brookings. So we rotate from Brookings to Rapid City,” he said. “Just under a thousand ballplayers come to the event. We had a singles event that starts on Wednesday and that ran from Wednesday and Thursday. Team events started Thursday evening and then go through Sunday.”

How do people qualify for the tournament?

In order to be considered for the tournament, all players must first have been sanctioned by the Valley National 8-Ball League Association (VNEA) and have eight weeks of league play in at least the last eight weeks of the league season. “It is kind of the last big event of the season for them to come to the state tournament and they’re playing against each other all season,” Sefrna said. “We have five divisions: AA, A, B, C, and D. And they tested their skills against players from all across the state. So basically it’s an event to get together and have a big tournament event at the end of the season to see who is top of their division.” Players in the lower divisions are able to move up to higher divisions of play and skill depending on how well they do in the tournament.

Is there an age limit to the tournament?

No. According to Sefrna, there is no age limit to the players allowed to play in each of the divisions for both men and women and the league encourages younger generations to develop an interest in playing the sport. “We have got a wide range of players. In fact, we had a 14-year-old win our top division in the 9-ball, Eddie Vonderau,” he said. The goal of 9-ball is for players to sink each ball labeled one through nine into the pockets, regardless of order. Factors such as a miss or foul can end play for a person. The game ends when the 9-ball is pocketed. “We go from 14, now upwards of 80 plus. So we’ve got all ages that are competing in this game.”

Why are these tournaments important?

To Sefrna, it is part of the pool-playing community and brings people together, along with showing off skills. “It is just like any other series of sport. It is a big state event and everybody enjoys getting together, seeing old friends and making new friends. It’s just a big event of the year. And to get together, compete and see how they’re doing against the competition.”

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