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Action Bowling, Originally Posted: 2/14/14; Updated: 8/30/2021

Action bowling is a term referring to heads-up bowling matches for cash money - money on the table, so to speak.

Action bowling is the truest form of gambling in bowling between two players. Action bowling can happen for small amounts of money or for large amounts. The legendary action bowling stories involve relatively large amounts of money.

Action matches normally are between highly skilled players. These heads-up matches against one opponent is what separates action bowling from “pot games.”
In “pot games”, any number of bowlers can place an arbitrary amount of money in the “pot” and the winner is the one who bowls the highest score each game.

Some action matches involve multiple games as series scores to determine a winner. Some matches can be double matches where two-bowler teams compete for the money.
In any action match, the winner gets the money and the loser gets nothing.
Action matches test the limits of a bowler’s ability to perform well under pressure, particularly in big money matches where spectators are present.

In many cases, action matches produce side bets between spectators similar to placing wagers at a racetrack. You pick an opponent and, in some cases, odds are offered by the bettors who “book” the action.

 The bowlers of these Action matches can always negotiate a piece of the action with side bettors watching the match. It is reported that huge amounts of cash have been wagered on action matches where the bowlers compete for more money over a four or five game span of matches than do the modern day professional bowlers on the national tour.

If you wish to succeed as a competitive bowler, bowl action at any level. Bowl action, even it it means only for very small amounts of money or perhaps even for bragging rights.
Action matches do not always follow the USBC rules of bowling. Action matches can eliminate the use of foul lights, or use heavy weighted bowling pins for example. In some instances, the bowlers would use non-compliant bowling balls as set forth by the USBC.

Action matches occur under the rules the players agree to and these rules can be changed at any time by the players.
In nearly every tournament format, there are elimination matches where bowlers compete on a heads-up basis. Bowling action certainly prepares tournament bowlers for the pressure of bowling in tournaments.

There are countless stories of famous action bowlers, usually emanating from the east coast of the U.S. and dating back to the 1960’s and 70’s. It is fun to read about some of the legendary action players of the past.
Action bowling is the acid test of the competitive aspects in bowling. There can be no better method of preparation for serious players than bowling action.
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