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Enjoying a “Stay-cation” in Your Game Room 0

With rising prices on gas and airfare, many Americans are foregoing the traditional vacation and staying closer to home. If you have a game room in your home, you already have an excellent spot to host a “stay-cation” for your family.

Your game room is already the most fun spot in the house, so naturally it can be the center for your “stay-cation” activities. Your pool table, shuffleboard, entertainment system or video games all serve as sources of entertainment. The return on your investment in a high-quality game room project is the hours of fun you can enjoy with friends and family. So save a little money, and kick back and relax in your own house.

You should plan your stay-cation the same way you would plan a regular getaway. Pick out the dates and pack your schedule with fun activities you can do throughout. You can have a pool or shuffleboard tournament on Tuesday, a movie marathon on Wednesday, and a cocktail night for the grownups on Thursday. It can be everything you’d enjoy at resort without the price tag.

A vacation is not just time spent away from work or school; it’s also a mindset. When you start your stay-cation, declare an embargo on chores and housework. If you start worrying about yard work, vacuuming or doing laundry, relax with a game of pool and a refreshing drink in the game room. Planning your time ensures that you won't let your stay-cation end up being a couple of boring nights in front of the TV.

If you’re a social butterfly, considering hosting a get together in your game room to close out your stay-cation in style. Start by hosting a pool or shuffleboard tournament or play pill pool, a billiards variety that accommodates up to 16 players at once. Take your party to the next level by serving drinks and refreshments at your home bar - an always popular option.

  • Christian Gould
  • Tags: Fun

Are You Familiar With These Pool Game Varieties 0

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.

Interesting Facts and Statistics About The Game of Pool 0

Stats and Facts

  • Pool evolved from a lawn game that is similar to croquet, which is likely why the pool table is green (to represent the grass).
  • The word ‘cue’ comes from the French word ‘queue’. Billiards was originally played with a mace, which made shots difficult if they were close to the guard rail, so players would turn the mace around and use the narrow ‘queue’ (which means ‘tail’) end.
    Pool is considered one of the safest sports in the world.
  • “Pool” is originally a gambling term, one that is still used today — for example, the office ‘football pool’. In the 1800s, a ‘pool room’ was a place for betting on horse racing, and billiard tables were used so patrons could entertain themselves by playing games between races.
  • Wool has been the primary fabric used in making billiard cloth for over four centuries.
  • Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home in Virginia contained a hidden billiard room, as they were illegal in the state at that time. Monticello however, refutes this claim, stating that Jefferson frowned upon activities such as billiards and that they were never outlawed in Virginia while Jefferson was alive.
  • The term “scratch”, when a player accidentally pockets the cue ball, comes from the early days of pool, where the penalty for such an action resulted in a point being ‘scratched’ off the players’ score.
  • In the movie The Color of Money, from 1986, Tom Cruise performed nearly all of his trick shots.
  • At 35.6 years, billiard champions have the highest average age of any sport.
  • In 1873, Billiards became the first sport to have a world championship.
  • The patent for the first coin-operated table was awarded in 1903, which enabled players to play a game for one penny.
  • Before modern plastics such as celluloid were invented, billiard balls were made out of ivory, and needed to be cut from the exact center of a tusk. Only three or four balls could be made from a single elephant tusk.
  • The leather cue tip was invented by Captain Mingaud, who was a political prisoner during the French Revolution. He was able to have a billiard table installed in his cell, and fell in love with the game. When it came time for his release, he asked to remain in prison for a longer duration, so he could continue to play.
  • When Mary Queen of Scots was killed in 1586, the cloth from her billiard table was used to cover her body.
  • The first billiard room was built in England in 1765.
  • The largest billiard hall in the world was built in Detroit in the 1920s. Called The Recreation it sported 103 billiard tables, 88 lanes of bowling, twenty barber chairs, three stands for manicuring, fourteen cigar stands, a 300 seat restaurant, an exhibition room with theater-style seats for 250 guests, and a lunch counter on every floor.
  • The beauty of pool tablesand cues owe a big debt to marquetry, which is the centuries-old art and craft of applying thin slices of wood to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures.
  • Since close to its inception, the Church has been harshly critical of pool, denouncing it as an activity for the sinful and morally bankrupt. In 15th century France, the King and the Church prohibited billiards play. Likewise, in the early days of American history, laws reflected the views of the Church and consequently billiards play was illegal in many areas.
  • The first known billiard table in recorded history comes from a personal inventory of the French King Louis the XI. The inventory describes a bed of stone, a cloth covering, and a hole in the middle of the playing field, into which balls could be driven.
  • The term “behind the eight-ball” is derived from pool. In many pool games, the player will lose if her cue ball hits the eight-ball first. If the cue ball is right behind the eight-ball, this makes for a difficult shot and the player could easily lose the game.
  • When a player makes a shot that bounces the ball off the side rail, this is called a “bank shot”. The reason for this is because in the early days of billiards, the tables featured rails that were flat walls and looked like riverbanks. They were therefore called “banks”.
  • A “masse” shot is a shot made by hitting the cue ball with the cue held nearly vertically, so the cue ball spins around another ball before hitting its intended target ball. Many pool halls have banned this shot because it’s possible to rip the cloth covering the table.
  • An “English” shot is the term used for putting spin on the ball, whereas in Britain this is called a “side” shot. While visiting USA, English players showed the spin shot to American players, hence the term’s use in America.
  • It is said that during the American civil war, billiard results were given more coverage than war news, and that players were so famous, cigarette cards were made featuring them.

What to Drink When Playing Pool 0

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:

guiness black lagerGuinness 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.

American Whiskey

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.

Manhattan Cocktail

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.

Margarita

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.

vesper martiniVesper Martini

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.

Old-Fashioned

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.

  • Christian Gould
  • Tags: Fun