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  • 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.

  • Does a Knowledge of Physics Give You an Advantage Playing Billiards?

    Physics - Legacy Billiards

    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.

  • What is the Difference Between Billiards, Pool, and Snooker?

    billiards, pool & snooker - LegacyBilliards.Com

    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.

    Ball Differences

    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.

    Table Differences

    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.

    Rules Differences

    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.

  • Where did shuffleboard originate?

    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.

  • What are shuffleboard tables made of?

    The best shuffleboard tables are made from hard maple wood, as these are less susceptible to warping over time.  Russian birch and Canadian soft maple are considered good quality materials, and the least expensive tables are made from rubber wood, poplar, or Chinese birch.  When buying a table, it’s important to ask what type of wood the table is made of.

  • When did billiards come to America?

    It is believed that the Spaniards introduced billiards to the Americans in 1565, although the game was not very popular initially.  Between the years of 1878 and 1956, however, the game skyrocketed in popularity, with players becoming famous by competing in annual championships.

  • When was billiards first played?

    The origins of billiards are lost with the passing of time, although early records by Greek traveller Anacharsis indicate that a very preliminary version was played by Egyptians as early as 400 BC, which was then adopted by the Greeks.

    The word “billiard” is derived from French, where the word “billart” means stick, and the word “bille” means ball.  In the 15th century, the earliest record of how the game was made was recorded.  It started as an indoor version of croquet, which could explain why the pool table felt is traditionally green (to represent the grass from outside).  The first billiards table was found among the items belonging to King Louis XI.  The Shakespeare play “Anthony and Cleopatra” makes use of the word “billiard”, suggesting that the term was well-known to people living in the Elizabethan age.

  • Where is the billiards hall of fame located ?

    The Billiard Congress of America, based in Broomfield, Colorado, maintains the BCA Hall of Fame.  The New England Pool & Billiards Hall of Fame is located at 53 Ashburton Street in Providence, Rhode Island.

  • Where is billiards most popular?

    Pool is most popular in America, whereas snooker is most popular in the United Kingdom.  Pocket billiards are also popular in other countries such as Canada, Australia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Ireland, and China.

  • What do you call a billiards player?

    Most billiard players are called exactly that - “billiard players”, or sometimes “pool players” or even “players” when the context is understood.  A really good pool player, however, is often referred to as a “pool shark”.

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