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Billiards / Pool

  • A Guide to Pool Cues

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    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.

    Cue Types

    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.

  • Three Basic Shots to Improve your Game

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    Introduction

    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.

  • Thinking of Entering a Pool Tournament?

    pool tournament

    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.

  • What sizes do billiard balls come in?

    The standard size for American billiard balls is two and one half inches, or six and seven twentieths of a centimeter, with the white cue ball being slightly larger.

  • Which game of billiards uses twenty-two balls?

    Baseball pool is a game that uses twenty-one numbered balls and the cue ball.  The game uses a special “baseball set”, with special balls numbered sixteen through twenty-one (a normal set of balls are numbered one through fifteen).  The game also uses an oversized rack for proper racking.

    The foot spot where the balls are racked is called “home plate”. The 9-ball is known as the “pitcher”, and is placed where the center of the rack would be in a 15-ball game.  From the racker’s point of  view, the 1-ball is placed at the apex of the racking triangle, the 2-ball is placed in the right corner, and the 3-ball is placed in the left corner.  The remaining balls may be placed randomly.

    In baseball pool, players call their shots before shooting (with the exception of the break).  Incidental balls pocketed may count for the player if the the shot is successful, but must be returned to home plate if the called shot is not successful.  Each player is allowed nine “innings”, which are played in succession.  Each inning continues until the player misses a called shot or scratches, at which point the score for that inning is recorded and the player proceeds to the next inning.  Once nine innings are completed, the balls are re-racked and the next player is “at bat” and may begin the next nine-inning session.

    Players are awarded scores according to the number on the ball.  For example, if a player pockets the 12 and 13 balls in one inning, a score of twenty-five points is awarded for that inning.

    If a player commits a foul, no score is awarded for any balls pocketed on the fouled stroke.  Furthermore, no score is awarded for the immediately preceding pocketed ball, even if said ball was from a previous inning.  Any balls pocketed on the fouled stroke must be returned to home plate.  If a player fouls yet has not pocketed any balls, the very next pocketed ball is spotted at the end of the inning and the score for said ball is not awarded to the player.

  • What does a billiard ball weigh?

    Billiard balls typically weight between five and one half to six ounces, or between 156 and 170 grams.

  • What does billiards chalk do?

    Chalk is applied to the leather tip of the cue to help make better contact with the ball and prevent miscuing.  It is recommended that a player get in the habit of “chalking up” before each and every shot.

  • Legacy Billiards - Our Black Pool Tables Set New Standards For Style

    Typically, pool tables are constructed with brown wood and green felt. Yet there are always those who are ready to break from tradition, and embrace new styles. It is with these people in mind that our special series of black pool tables was developed.

    Heritage - A Touch of Class

    Black tables in our Heritage series are designed with an elegant, sophisticated and understated style. The Mustang pool table, for example, offers a unique, southwestern look with it's beautifully detailed design. Despite its tasteful simplicity, the Mustang is built with careful attention to every detail, making it an excellent addition to your home.

    With a design that is both sleek and contemporary, the Destroyer Pool Table blends modern style with quality construction and unmatched playability. The Destroyer is built with solid wood top rails for added durability, and features a built-in ball storage alcove.

    For those seeking excellent value, the Colt Pool Table offers tremendous style and quality for a very affordable price. Styled in two-toned black wood finish with squared legs and oak rails, the Colt makes no compromises in durability. Finished with black durahyde pockets and a one-inch slate, the Colt is packed with quality details.

    Renegade - For the Rebel in All of Us

    Our Renegade series of tables feature a striking style that is sure to be a conversation-starter on any occasion. The Outlaw Pool Table evokes the image of a leather-clad biker, with its clean lines and distressed Black Pearl finish. With hand-set metal studding, textured inlays on the blinds, and laser etched flames burned on the legs, the Outlaw pool table makes a bold, unique statement. Featuring custom shield pockets and a metal Renegade logo, every inch of this table oozes style and quality.

    Also in the Renegade series, the Reaper Pool Table features a style destined to make an impression. With chain pockets and laser-etched skull-and-flames logos, patent-leather inlays, metal studs, and metal banding on the legs, this is a table designed for an edgy game room, to be appreciated by those who admire innovative game room design.

    Both Renegade tables may be complemented by an assortment of accompanying Renegade game room furniture. Our website features tables, chairs, benches, bars and more that perfectly complement the unique Renegade style.

    Modern and Contemporary

    Also available in a black finish with a variety of cloth colors, the Ella II pool table is styled with curved post legs, an arched cabinet and arched side blinds. With a smooth, polished finish on solid hardwood, the Ella II Billiard Table features a look that is stylish, yet elegant.

    Of course, all of our tables feature our signature high-quality craftsmanship, and are built to last a lifetime. For more information about these or any of our products, visit www.legacybilliards.com.

  • How Pool Tables Work

    Pool is played on a table with a cue and balls, and relies heavily on physics and geometry.  This article will discuss how pool tables work, including the various components of a pool table, and how they work together.

    Most pool tables are made using a large piece of slate.  Slate is a rock that naturally splits into wide, flat pieces.  Most other materials used for making pool tables, such as synthetics (Slatron and Permaslate), honeycomb, or particle board (also called Medium Density Fiberboard or MDF), will warp and are unable to remain completely flat.  Slate, however, is highly resistant to warping and will last for years if not generations.  While Italian slate is generally regarded as the most premium material from which to build a pool table, Brazilian slate has also developed a fan base in recent years.

    Because slate is large and heavy (up to 600 lbs. for a standard-size table), it is typically separated into three pieces.  This reduces the cost of transporting the table and makes it easier to transport.  Most three-piece slates available are diamond-honed matched and registered, which simply means that all three sections were cut from the same slab of slate. Diamond-honing results in a smooth, level playing surface. A professional installer can ensure that all three pieces are assembled in such a way that they match perfectly and the table is completely flat.

    The slate should be larger than the actual playing surface, extending beneath the rails of the table, making the table stronger.  The slate should ideally be framed as well.  The frame is typically made of wood and glued to the bottom of the table.  This way, once the green felt cloth is stretched over the table, it can be stapled to the frame, rather than glued to the slate directly.

    The table cabinet is a large wooden frame, rectangular in shape and made from planks of thick hardwood.  Designs can vary, but typically the slate is supported by one or two cross beams, as well as a center beam.  Metal brackets are used to connect the corners.  The number of table legs will vary from four to eight, depending on the size and weight of the table.  In some cases, instead of standard legs, the table uses two large ‘pedestal’ style legs.  For the best support, the legs should extend all the way up to the underside of the slate, not just to the bottom of the frame.

    The type of wood used to make the cabinet can vary, depending on the quality of the table.  While some inexpensive tables use particle board covered by a plastic or thin hardwood finish, a slate table usually requires a table made from solid wood.  As previously mentioned, as slate tables typically weigh in the hundreds of pounds,  a strong frame is necessary to support it.  Furthermore, solid wood has a much greater capacity for holding screws.  As the table is screwed or bolted together, the table material must be able to hold those screws tightly or the table will not stay rigid. Commercial tables will often have sheets of metal, such as aluminum, attached to the surface of the wood frame for protection.

    Pool tables have drop pockets.  This means there are usually nets under each pocket to catch any balls that enter.  Commercial tables often have a ball return system.  Chutes are connected to each of the table’s pockets, and are arranged in such a way that gravity will roll the ball down to its intended location.   The pocketed balls are sent to a collection chamber, which is visible to an outsider through plexiglass.  When a player inserts a coin, a switch is activated that enables the balls to roll out into the access area at the foot of the table.

    You might be wondering about the cue ball.  If a cue ball is pocketed accidentally, this is called a scratch and the cue ball must be returned to the players.  A commercial table, therefore, requires some way of identifying which ball is the cue ball.  This is accomplished using one of two methods.  One method is to make the cue ball slightly larger than the other balls.  The table then utilizes a mechanism to detect the larger size, and send the ball down a dedicated chute.  Another method is to use a magnet inside the cue ball.  This ball triggers a magnetic detector inside the table, enabling it to be separated from the other balls.

    Both systems have their disadvantages.  A larger ball can hamper the play of some advanced players who are accustomed to using a standard-size ball.  A magnetic ball, however, can occasionally exhibit strange behavior when rolling.  A magnetic ball is also easier to shatter if dropped on a hard surface.

    Rails are found around the edges of the table, and are made from two pieces.  The top piece is typically made from particle board or solid wood.  Solid wood is the preferred choice, and this is because cushions are glued to the side of the rails.  Cushions are made of hard rubber, and after several years they may need to be replaced.  When replacing a cushion, a top rail made from particle board will often chip and crack, making it unusable.  Solid wood top rails, however, do not suffer from this problem.  Also, as the green cloth covering the board is stapled to the rails, solid wood is preferred because it holds the staples better.  Balls also rebound better off solid wood rails, making gameplay livelier.

    With regards to the previously-mentioned cushions, their purpose is to cause the balls to rebound off the rubber while minimizing the loss of kinetic energy.  Good cushions have several important characteristics.  First, the cushions should be K-66 cushions. K-66 is a term used to describe the cushion’s shape and angle, and is the American standard.  Second, the cushion should ideally be backed with canvas, which not only helps adhere the cushion to the rail, but also helps control the action on the table and make it more predictable.  Grade A rubber is also ideal for the best rebound quality.

    The apron, also known as the skirt, is the wood which mounts vertically from the rail. The purpose of the apron is to cover the raw edge of the slate and the staples which attached the cloth to the slate.

    The afore-mentioned cloth, usually green, covers the table.  While it is often called the felt, it is actually a woven material.  A wool/nylon blend is ideal, usually 80% wool and 20% nylon.  This should play well and also wear well over time.  As mentioned previously, however, the cloth will likely need to be replaced after several years of play.

  • Are You Familiar With These Pool Game Varities

    how to play pill pool

    If you are a regular pool player you are probably most comfortable playing 8-ball or 9-ball.  These games are the most commongames played in American homes, bars, and pool halls.  You may not realize, however, that there are many variations of pool that keep the game interesting and challenging for even the most experienced players.

    Straight Pool

    If you’ve seen the movie “The Hustler” you’ve seen straight pool.   Straight pool was the game of choice for decades and in the movie Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason play straight pool for money and bragging rights among other things.  This game is a part of our culture and heritage.

    Straight pool is played with all fifteen balls in the rack.  Players must “call” the ball and designate the pocket they plan to shoot it into.  The point is only awarded if the ball goes in the designated pocket.  A player may continue to shoot until missing or causing a foul.  Play continues until someone reaches an agreed upon point total.

    When fourteen balls are pocketed they are racked again with the fifteenth ball left in its position.  The next player must then sink that ball in a way that disturbs the other racked balls for play to continue.

    One Pocket

    One pocket also uses all fifteen balls in the rack.  Players are each given one of the corner pockets at the foot of the table as the one pocket that will be used through the entire game.  Balls are sunk into that pocket only.  The player or team who sinks the last ball, or in some variations the 8 ball, is the winner.

    Cutthroat

    Cutthroat is a popular pool variation when three people want to play together.  Each player is assigned five of the fifteen balls and play begins.  The game gets its name from the ruthless way the game is played.  The object is to sink all the other player’s balls while one of yours remains on the table.  When a player “scratches” and sinks the cue ball he must place a ball from each other player back on the table.

    Golf

    Imagine going to a pool table to play golf?  Seems strange, doesn’t it?  In this game each player has only one ball and must sink it into the pockets in a designated order.  If a player makes a shot his opponent then “spots” the ball (sets it on the table wherever he wants) and the player may move on to try and sink it in his next designated pocket.

    Pill Pool

    Pill pool is an interesting variation that is even more ruthless than cutthroat.  In pill pool a bottle holding fifteen numbered chips is shaken and each player draws one pill.  The ball with the same number is now the player’s object ball.  To win a player must sink his object ball.

    The complexity comes with the play.  In pill pool the cue ball must first hit the lowest numbered ball on the table as a part of each shot.  Your opponent can “kill” you by sinking your object ball during their turn.  If that happens you must resign from the game.

    The Variations are Endless

    These games are just some of the recognized variations played on a pool table.  Games like these require controlled shots, complex strategies and often a strong competitive spirit.  The opportunities to place bets are equally endless.  Money often doesn’t even change hands since bragging rights are more important.

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