From all of us at Legacy Billiards we'd like to sincerely wish you the Happiest of Holidays and a Merry Christmas! We hope your holiday season is filled with good friends, family, and cheer!
Choosing a pool cue is an important part of of your game. The feel, the make, the look are all of paramount importance to let the shooter focus on what they need to be doing – shooting the cue ball. If a cue is warped, or the weight is slightly off, or the length and feel are not perfect – an easy shot can quickly turn into a crucial miss. With the right cue in hand, setting up strategic shots or playing defense against your opponent will come more naturally.
Most professional pool players will have several pool cues on hand. They will have general shot pool cues and perhaps specialty cues such as breaking cues. While there are several classes of cues that will be briefly discussed below, in standard league sanctioned 8-ball and 9-ball play mostly only regular pool cues and specialty breaking cues will be encountered.
Construction & Materials
The basic construction of a pool cue is a shaft of material (in most cases wood) that is on average about 59 inches and weigh anywhere between 18-21 ounces. The length of the cue tapers uniformly from the butt end of the stick down to the tip. There are three main constructions consisting of:
• A solid uniform cue usually found in pool halls for shared use.
• A two piece that is divided by a locking joint in the middle that can be broken down and placed in a cue case for ease of transportation.
• A three-quarter two-piece used by snooker players that is basically a two-piece with an additional joint located three-quarters down the length of the shaft.
The cost for pool cues is almost solely based on the materials used. Most of the higher end pool cues that can run in the thousands and are wooden; however, quality starter cues for under $100 can also be found if you know what you are looking for. Here is a list of materials that might be considered:
• Woods - For higher end, quality cues that can be in the upper thousands a straight-grained hard rock maple is the primary substrate. Other expensive woods used in modern cues include: ebony, red ivory, blackwood, and olive wood among others.
• Fiberglass & Graphite – These are the mid-level cues that are a cheap alternative to wood. These are great for starter cues if the player intends to become serious in improving their game.
• Everything else – Lower quality cues that are generally frowned upon by professional players are made from materials like acrylic, aluminum, and titanium. These are highly prone to warping.
All of the types mentioned below can be purchased in any of the materials mentioned above. Construction may be limited on certain types.
• Pool Cue – Standard pool cues used for playing 8-ball and 9-ball. Comes mainly as a solid or two-piece construction.
• Snooker – Almost always three-quarter two-pieces. These cues are traditionally lighter and shorter than pool cues and come with a detachable butt.
• Carom – Sometimes referred to as the short/stout, while these cues are shorter and lighter than pool cues, their conical design and more radical taper allow for greater handling of heavier pool balls while reducing deflection.
• Specialty – These are the breaking cues. Used by most professionals only on the break. The most notable difference for these cues is the harder leather and resin layers used on the tips to ensure maximum friction between the shot and the cue ball.
Where to find a Pool Cue
In the modern world of pool cues there are literally thousands available online for private purchase, hundreds of custom cue makers, and countless online retail stores. With such a plethora of options available its best to start by researching product reviews on cues you are interested in. A further selling point is a 100% satisfaction guarantee or a reasonable return policy if you are not fully satisfied with your purchase.
See Legacy Billiard's Pool Cues.
As the weather turns nastier, you’ve got more time to spend playing pool… and watching Youtube videos. If you enjoy trick shots, here are a few videos we’ve put together to inspire you to get off of your computer and pick up a cue.
Pool is a game of millimeters, where even the slightest twitch can mean the difference between being a hero or losing. Pool is also a game built upon foundation shots. Having just a few of these basic shots in your repertoire can not only help win games, but make you look good while doing it.
Here are a few basic shots to consider adding to your arsenal:
• The Jab Stroke - This variation on the common draw shot forces the cue ball to retreat backwards after impacting the target ball. Instead of using a long, level stroke through the cue ball (difficult to master), you simply move your bridge hand closer to the cue ball and hit with a quick punching motion, driving your tip down to the cloth as quickly as feasible. It is important to relax your shooting hand and still keep the stick as level with the table as possible or you will cause the cue ball to jump.
• The Force Follow Stroke - Most new players can follow their target ball with top spin but often the cue behavior after impact is unpredictable. To execute, pull the cue tip back almost inside the palm of your plant hand (move plant hand closer than normal to the cue ball) and then punch outward with top English. The cue ball will be forced hard into the object ball but follow slowly in a straight line after impact.
• The Rail Shot - When your target ball is butted up next to the rail, use the rail as a guide and send the target all the way down the table into a corner pocket. This is a crowd-pleaser and easier to execute than it sounds. Simply aim your cue ball (slightly above center) to collide with the target ball and the rail at the exact same time.
One Pool Player’s reflections and advice on entering a pool tournament
Playing in a pool tournament for the first time is always extremely intimidating; intimidation and the feeling that a player is not good enough are why most people never bother to try. My first tournament was a disaster. I walked into the largest pool hall in my area and signed up for a nine ball tournament (a game I had only played a couple of times. I had no idea what the house rules were, who the competition was, and had never played on a nine foot table before). Shortly after I paid my entry is when I came to learn that some of the people playing were not to be taken lightly; there was the in house pro, a couple masters level players, and to top it off- the 1989 9-ball World Champion. It is safe to say I lost, but it was one of the best pool playing experiences I had ever had.
There is a lot of fun to be had sitting around at home or in your local bar shooting pool with friends and throwing beers back. However, for someone that wants to learn more about the game and further themselves as a pool player, tournaments are a key experience. What I learned most that first tournament is that the more skilled players want a challenge every time they step up to the table. They want you to challenge them. Often they will give you tips between matches, or pull you over to a practice table and give you a quick lesson. Making you better simply makes them better.
Truly the only draw back to tournament play is all the down time. Depending on the size of the tournament you may play in the first round, then have to sit around for twenty minutes to an hour before you play again. For the beginner this is a good thing. The down time allows you to learn the game from watching better players; a seasoned player will head to the practice table to stay warm. If this is your first tournament it may be wise to choose one that is held in a local bar.
Tournaments in local bars are generally 8-ball, they only have around 8-16 competitors and all follow the same basic rules. Of course depending on the bar the rules may be changed slightly. It is pretty standard that in any 8-ball tournament you are going to be playing by modified BCA rules. This means that you have to call your pocket (not your shot; if your object ball accidentally hits another ball but goes into the right pocket, it is still your turn). For any foul, such as scratching or hitting the opponents ball first, your turn is over and the opponent gets ball in hand. Ball in hand means your opponent can put the cue ball anywhere on the table.
The rest of the rules are the ones that are often tweaked. Do you win if you get an 8-ball break? What happens if you scratch on the 8? For these rules it is best to show up to the event early and talk to the tournament director. They will explain all the house rules as well as give advice on other players. Like I said, pool players want a challenge.
The biggest difference between bar play and tournament play is by far in the game 9-ball. First it is most frequently only played on nine foot tables (a regular bar table is only seven or eight feet long), second is the level of competition. The rules for 9-ball are always the same no matter who or where you play. It is a rotation game; hit the lowest ball first, if any ball falls it is still your turn, if the 9-ball goes in at any time you win. 9-ball is also always a ball in hand game on every foul. The joy of 9-ball is that those are the rules no matter what bar, pool hall, city, or country you play it in.
The big question here is not if bar room play is more fun than tournament play. Really the question is do you want to take your pool playing to the next level. Any day spent playing pool, no matter if it is a game at home or in an international tournament, is a good day. Playing in tournaments is essential for a pool player that wants to grow as a player; for someone that wants the competition and to see how far this game can take them.
The game of pool has been glamorized in film for decades. In fact, if not for the popularity of certain key films, the game of pool would likely not be nearly as popular as it is today. From gritty dramas to wild action scenes, pool tables are a favorite prop for directors. The game of pool is much like poker, in that it has a sexy image associated with gangsters and hustlers, yet it’s also something that can be found in people’s homes as well, making it a natural fit for the likes of Hollywood. With that in mind, here are our top five pool table scenes in movies.
If playing billiards is all about physics, then theoretically a physicist would be the ultimate pool player. There are definitely times when a knowledge of physics can be useful. For example, when hitting a cue ball, much like when hitting a baseball, there is a ‘sweet spot’ that can be struck so that no friction force develops between the ball and the billiard table. A knowledge of physics can help you determine the location of this sweet spot, enabling you to hit the cue ball deliberately hit off-centre — this is called shooting with ‘English’ — so that it develops backspin or forward spin. Knowledge of physics can also help a player learn faster and feel more confident. It can give the player a new appreciation for why the balls behave the way they do.
Theory is one thing, putting it into practice is another
There are difficulties when applying knowledge of physics to a game of billiards, however. Knowledge of momentum and collisions is useful, but there are a wide variety of variables to consider, resulting numerous potential complications. Balls that slide, roll, or spin will behave differently. Also, there may be friction or irregularities in the surface of the pool table. In the end, calculating what happens once the cue ball is hit can be a very complex and difficult physics problem to solve.
Practice. Practice. And more practice
Overall, knowledge physics alone won’t make a great player — after all, it is possible to overthink a shot. While thought and planning can help before a shot is made, the shot itself should not require a lot of thought - it should be borne of intuition, and this intuition comes from practice and experience. This means there is no substitute for spending a lot of time practicing. Many top players are able to make fantastic shots without any formal physics knowledge — through practice, they've developed their intuition to the point where they ‘just know’ where the ball will go with each shot. An extraordinary amount of practice means that the player will have done a lot of experimentation, thusly will be able to predict the balls’ movement through experience.
Although the terms ‘billiards’ and ‘pool’ are often used interchangeably, the two do not mean the same thing. ‘Billiards’ was originally a term to describe a game called ‘carom billiards’ exclusively, but has since evolved into a general term to describe a variety of games played on a table with balls and a cue stick. While carom billiards and pool are often played with similar equipment, each game is different and thus has different rules. Likewise, snooker is also a game played with similar equipment, yet has its own set of rules.
One key difference is in the number of balls used. Snooker uses twenty-two balls, including a white ball known as the ‘striker’ ball. The other balls used are fifteen red balls, and one each of yellow, brown, blue, pink, black and green. Each ball is 2/16 inches in diameter. Billiards, on the other hands, uses only three balls: one each of white, yellow, and red, with both the white and the yellow able to act as the striker ball. The balls are 2 7/16 inch diameter. In pool, the number of balls can change depending on the variant of the game, however a full set of balls consists of sixteen balls, each 2 1/4 inches in diameter: eight balls of solid color numbered one to eight, seven balls with a stripe of color numbered nine to fifteen, and a solid white ‘cue’ ball.
Most carom billiards and pool games are played on either a seven-foot table (also known as a bar table), eight-foot table (sometimes called a home or recreational table), or nine-foot table (known as a pro or tournament table). Carom billiard tables do not have pockets, whereas pool tables have pockets. For snooker, pocketed tables are used. American tables are typically ten-foot tables, and English snooker tables are massive twelve-foot tables.
Of course, each game has a comprehensive list of rules, including a number of variations. The main idea in a game of carom billiards games is to score points, called ‘counts’, by bouncing one's own ball, called a cue ball, off of the other two balls on the table.
In snooker, the games are organized into frames. The player can win a frame by scoring the most points, using the cue ball to pocket the red and colored balls. The red balls are each worth one point, whereas the yellow is worth two points, the green three points, the brown four points, the blue five points, the pink six points, and the black seven points. Rules govern which ball can be pocketed at on a given turn. Balls that may be pocketed on any given turn are the “on” balls. For example, if a red ball is pocketed, this must be followed by a colored ball, which must in turn be followed by a red ball. If the wrong ball is pocketed, this is considered a ‘foul’ and the player does not receive points for pocketing the ball.
There are many games that can fall under the umbrella of ‘pool’, however in straight pool, players can score points by shooting the balls into the table’s pockets (called ‘pocketing’ the ball). Before the game, players agree to reach a certain number of points to be declared the winner (a typical game is one hundred points, whereas a professional game is usually one hundred fifty points). Players can pocket any ball on the table, and each successfully pocketed ball awards the player one point.
Straight pool is a ‘call-pocket’ game, meaning players must declare which ball they intend to go in which pocket before shooting. For the shot to be successful, the intended ball must reach the intended pocket.
Drinking is a common pastime when playing a casual game of billiards. It’s important to remember, however, not to lose your head. If you want to play effectively, it’s important to be able to remain focused. When you drink beer, for example, do you tend to sip it slowly, or gulp it down? If you choose a drink that you can sip and enjoy over time, it can help prevent you from losing your competitive edge.
Conversely, it can’t really be considered cheating if your opponents consume quite a bit before the game has even started. Serving delicious, easy-drinking cocktails when guests first arrive — and having refills readily available — can give you an advantage once the game has started.
Here are some drinks we enjoy when playing pool. You may want to give them a try:
Guinness Black Lager
Forget everything you know about Guinness. Guinness Black Lager may be as black and opaque as a cup of coffee, but the taste is far lighter than your typical Guinness, and drinks like a traditional lager. Best served cold and from the bottle, the light flavor and dark color may seem at odds with each other, but in the end the taste is delicious.
For a good value, consider an American whiskey, such as Evan Williams Single Barrel 2002, which can be found for $30 a bottle. Big Bottom Port Cask Finished Whiskey is another American whiskey that’s big on taste, but soft on the budget.
With two ounces of bourbon, one ounce of sweet vermouth, a dash of Angostura bitters, and garnished with a Maraschino cherry, the Manhattan Cocktail is another that should be stirred, not shaken. The bitters should not be overlooked, as they’re a critical part of the cocktail — without them, you just have a glass of bourbon and vermouth. If preferred, the Maraschino cherry can be substituted with a brandy-soaked fresh cherry.
With it’s cool, refreshing taste, the Margarita continues to enjoy enduring popularity. While there seem to be endless variations on the recipe, the classic combines one and a half ounces of tequila with half an ounce of triple sec, a dash of lemon or lime juice, three ounces of sour mix, and a lime wedge for a garnish. Salt is traditionally added to the rim of the glass.
Although inspired by the classic James Bond novel, Casino Royale, this cocktail is actually best prepared stirred, not shaken. Composed of gin and vodka in a 3:1 ratio, with added Kina Lillet and garnished with a lemon peel, the Vesper Martini is a great drink for adding a touch of playful sophistication to the evening.
With a style and taste reminiscent of the late nineteenth century, the Old-Fashioned is a great way to help get in the mood for a spirited game. This cocktail combines a sugar cube with three dashes of Angostura bitters, two ounces of rye whiskey, and a splash of club soda.
If you’ve ever watched a game of billiards, you may wonder why the players apply chalk to the end of their cue sticks. Or if you play, you might be curious about how and when it is recommended to ‘chalk up’. The reason chalk is applied to a cue stick is that it adds friction. Chalk adds ‘motion-resistance’ between the cue and the spot
where it hits the cue ball. This prevents the cue from sliding off the ball prematurely, ruining the shot (called a ‘miscue’). Over time, the tip of a pool stick becomes worn and smooth from use. Chalk provides the friction necessary to make a shot. Another less-direct advantage to chalking up is that it forces the player to pace him or herself and spend a little extra time focusing and concentrating between shots.
How frequently should a player add chalk?
The answer can vary from player to player, but generally players chalk up after every other shot. Also, if a player is considering a shot that requires some extra spin on the ball, he or she will likely chalk up right before that shot, as the smaller amount of surface area used on both the cue tip and the ball requires additional friction.
Is there a disadvantage to chalking up frequently?
The only real disadvantage of frequently chalking up is that it adds extra chalk dust to the table and balls. To minimize this, consider gently tapping your cue stick after
chalking, to shake off any loose chalk.
What is the best way to chalk up?
The first step is to understand your cue stick, as they come in different levels of hardness. Softer cue tips hold more chalk, however they tend not to last as long as harder ones. Chalk should be applied like lipstick - lightly, but completely and evenly. Grinding the chalk into the tip will only wear the tip down and shorten its
life, not to mention get chalk all over your clothes! If you can see a large hole in the chalk, this is a good indicator that the chalk should be replaced.