A Guide to Pool Cues

A Guide to Pool Cues 0

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.

  • Christian Gould
  • Tags: Guides
Bank Shot Technique

Bank Shot Technique 0

Bank shots are both impressive to watch and also an integral part of any good pool player’s arsenal. In fact, they are critical to the game when no other shots available. To master them takes patience, practice and a basic understanding of physics and geometry. When considering bank shots in general, the simplest approach is to think of equal angles. With medium force applied, a target ball shot at one angle should in theory rebound off of the side cushion at an equal force and angle. This is but one of the many systems of bank shots. These systems of shot play could also be considered theories because of the many outside factors that influence them, but with practical application those theories time and time again prove to be realistic foundations for practice. Outside Influences on Bank Shots:

• Speed of the stroke. • Application of side-spin (English) • Speed of the pool table (IE: cloth material and rebound of side cushions)

While there are a multitude of systems and theories for banking shots, below is a breakdown of two of the most basic forms: Technique / System Types Mirror SystemsThis is probably the simplest of the techniques used to master bank shots. In essence it is a visualization method used to make the bank shot using input output reasoning. Mirroring can also be broken out into two subsections:

o Equal Angle (angle in equals angle out) – As discussed above, this system operates on the theory of equal force and equal angles to produce an expected result. For example, in this visualization the focus should be on the diamonds running down the side and end rails of the pool table. These diamonds exist for techniques such as this. For this system imagine the cue ball near the rail but two diamonds to the left of the side pocket nearest the player. The target ball is in the center of the table and slightly to the right of the cue ball. To bank the shot back into the side pocket nearest the player, the target ball should be struck to hit the side rail one diamond to the left of the side pocket opposite the player. The result should be a mirrored angle where the target ball rebounds from the rail back into the pocket near the player.

o Ghosting – In this system, a ghost table is imagined parallel to the real pool table with side rails overlapping and pockets set within pockets. This system is the same as the equal angle system only instead of using the diamonds the player visualizes shooting the target ball into pockets of the ghost table. The same results should apply to a similar shot layout as mentioned above.

X System - This method is more advanced than the mirroring system, but tends to be more accurate overall. In this system, considering a similar setup with the cue ball and target ball in the explanation above, imaginary lines are used to find the exact placement of where the target ball needs to hit the opposite rail. Here are the steps:

1. Use the cue stick to find the trajectory from the center of the target ball straight into the side pocket on the opposite side of the table (the pocket opposite from the desired destination). 2. Imagine a straight line from the target ball to the side cushion across the table. 3. From the identified point on the side cushion imagine a straight line back into the center of the destination pocket. (Where this line crosses the cue stick is the “X”) 4. From the “X” imagine a straight line into the side cushion across the table. (This is the exact location there the target ball needs to strike the opposite cushion in order to land in the destination pocket.)

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Why Are Pool Tables Made Of Slate? 0

The first slate table was made in 1826. A man named John Thurston became frustrated with the tendency of wooden pool tables to warp, rendering them difficult to play on. He sought out a different type of material that could be used to make pool tables, one that offered a smooth playing surface, yet was inexpensive and easy to find, and one that would not warp due to moisture or absorption. Slate was the material that met all of these criteria, and is still used in superior tables today.

Slate is a solid rock made of many minerals including quartz, clay and mica with a fine grain. It is ideal for pool tables because it naturally splits into wide, level pieces, and can be easily ground and polished into a perfectly flat surface. While heavier and more expensive than wood, slate ensures that the play surface remans smooth and level. Wood, as well as table tops made from synthetics, can warp quite easily. Because it is so durable and known to last, many manufacturers will provide a lifetime warranty for a slate pool table.

Slate is available in areas all over the globe, however Brazil, China, India, and Italy have become known as major slate exporters. In particular, slate from the Liguarian region of Italy is traditionally considered the highest quality material for use in pool tables, and will typically be marked ‘OIS’, meaning Original Italian Slate. Italian slate is usually softer and therefore easier to work with. While much harder, Brazilian slate is also gaining a fan base, as it is more durable, will endure years of heavy use and is virtually impossible to bend or break. Also, due to its mineral makeup, it has an extremely flat surface. With proper maintenance, a pool table with an Italian or Brazilian slate playing surface can last for generations.

A slate for a typical pool table weighs between 400 to 600 pounds, or roughly 180 to 270 kilograms, and is three-quarters of an once to one inch, or roughly two to two-and-a-half centimeters thick. Therefore, it is not an easy or inexpensive proposition to ship one. To make transportation easier, and to reduce the risk of fracture during transit, a slate is normally separated into three pieces. Of course, when the slate is reassembled, care must be taken to ensure that all three segments match up perfectly and the table is completely flat. While one-slate tables are available for purchase, most buyers prefer a three-segment table because it’s much easier to move it, and a professional installer can make the slate nearly as perfect as a one-segment slate table.

In a quality table, the slate is larger than the actual playing surface, extending beneath the rails of the table and therefore providing them with added resilience. The slate should also be inside a wooden frame so that the felt cloth, once stretched over the slate, can be stapled or tacked to the frame, rather than adhered to the underside of the slate directly.