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.
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Before the game begins, it is considered a sign of good sportsmanship for all players to shake hands. Players can flip a coin to decides who goes first.
Shuffleboard is played with weighted pucks, colored red or blue to indicate which player or team they belong to. Players alternate sliding their puck down the shuffleboard table. The main idea is to get the pucks as close to the end of the board as possible, without them falling off the end.
The center of the table is divided from each end by two lines called the “foul lines”. If the puck does not pass the foul line closest to the shooting player, it is considered to be in the ‘illegal zone’ and removed from the table. The table is surrounded by a gutter, called the “alley”. Pucks that fall into the alley remain out of play for the rest of the round.
It is possible to hit the pucks of your opponent when sliding your puck down the table. Ideally, you can hit your opponent’s pucks into the alley, and therefore out of play, while moving your pucks into a higher-scoring position. If your puck passes the foul line, but then bounces off a puck and goes back into the illegal zone, both your puck and the puck of your opponent are removed from play.
Each player slides a total of four pucks to complete a round. At the end of the round, only the player whose puck is closest to the edge of the table can receive points. For your puck to score points, it must be on the table, over the foul line, and closer to the end of the table than any of your opponent’s pucks.
If the puck is overhanging the edge of the table, it scores four points. A puck that sits in one of the scoring zones receives a score of one, two, or three points, according to that zone. If a puck is touching the line, it receives the score from the lowest zone (for example, a puck in the second zone that is touching the line for first zone would receive one point).
In a two-player game, the first player to get fifteen points is the winner. In a four-player game of ‘doubles’, the first team to get twenty-one points is the winning team.
There are certain violations that will cost a player one point. To avoid any penalty points, ensure that you do not, in any way, rub your hands over the playing surface. Also, avoid extending the lower half of your body past the end of the board. Do not hold a playing puck in your hand while your opponent is shooting. While it is permissible to touch the frame, avoid touching the actual playing surface with either hand before, during or after making a shot.
In a singles match, it is permissible to go to the other end of the board to see the position of the pucks. When playing in teams, however, teammates stand on the opposite end of the table and play every other round, shooting from alternating ends of the table. The players are effectively playing two games at once, and combining the team scores. If you want to know about a puck’s position, you must ask your partner. Going beyond the foul line at any time during the round results in a penalty.
While anyone else is shooting— whether it’s your opponent or your partner—touching a puck that is in play is not permitted, nor is touching the playing surface or the frame of the table. Avoid touching any pucks in the gutter until the round is finished. Causing any vibration on the table will result in a penalty, even if the vibration is accidental—for example hitting the table or floor. As a rule, when it’s your opponent’s turn, it’s considered good etiquette dictates to stand far back and give her lots of room with no fear of interference.
Now that you know how to play, consider browsing our shuffleboard table selection.
Players play until an agreed upon score, typically fifteen or twenty-one. It should be noted that scores for each round are not official until the entire round is finished and scores have been tallied.
Only one player scores at the end of each round. The player that scores is the one whose disks are furthest down the table. Only the disks between the edge of the table and the opponents furthest disk are counted. A disk overhanging the edge of the table scores four points. Disks that are completely inside a scoring area (3, 2, or 1) score the point value associated with that area (three points, two points, or one point). Disks that are touching a line receive points from the lower scoring area (for example, if a disk is mostly in the scoring area marked 3 but is touching the line for 2, it receives two points).
For actually recording the score, pencil and paper can be used, or a variety of different “scoring units” are available in different styles. Some are simple sliding beads not unlike an abacus, and others are electronic units.
Shuffleboard is said to have originated in England, descending from a game called *Shoffe-Groat”, where players would slide large, thick coins called “Groats” down a long table.