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Pool & Billiards

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What's The Difference Between Pool And Billiards?

Historically the umbrella term for the sport as a whole was billiards. While
that familiar name is still employed variably as a generic name for all games,
the word's usage has splintered into more inclusive competing meanings among
certain groups and geographic regions. For example, in the United Kingdom,
billiards refers exclusively to English Billiards, while in the United States
it is sometimes used to refer only to carom games and by a minority to
eight-ball (being the only cue game known to many players).

In our time, the two can easily be exchanged and mean the same thing. When
people refer to one, it is assumed the other is also being included. On the
technical side, there is a difference. Billiards is played with smaller balls.
In billiards, only three balls are used white, yellow and red and both the
white and the yellow ball can act as the strikers. Billiards is basically pool
without pockets. Usually the cloth on a billiards table is much faster. The
object in billiards (3 cushion billiards) is to hit the object ball then go
three rails and hit the other ball, or hit 3 rails and hit both object balls
with the cue ball (these are called caroms).

Most of us are familiar with pool and pool tables. Some of us may be aware of
the different variations of the pool game, a few being eight-ball, nine-ball
and cut throat. As stated above, billiards is played on a table with no
pockets. We know that pool tables are constructed with 6 pockets. The game is
played with two sets of balls, each containing seven balls, with one set being
solid colored and the other striped. The two sets are combined into one set and
then completed by a black eight ball. This is a standard set of pool balls, and
can be broken up to play different versions of the game.

Though there are vast differences between the two games, they are commonly
grouped as one and refered to as cue sports. If someone says they're going to
shoot a game of billiards, we all know what they are referring to in general.
It all depends on what style of the game you would like to play. Billiards is a
form of pool. So perhaps in future reference, it should all be covered by using
the term pool, unless you are actually playing by billiards rules and

Where Can I Play Pool?

For those of us not blessed with a table in our home, there are many places to
play pool if you are interested in learning the game or are already an
experienced player. Many towns now have public pool halls where tables are
rented out hourly. These businesses will be listed in phone books or you may 
find them online.

The public pool hall does seem to carry a stigma with it somewhat in comparison
to that of tattoo parlors. The initial thought is of a smoky, dimly lit room
with "shady" characters. That is not at all the case. There are many pool halls
that are non-smoking, very clean and a pleasure to play in. You will have to
seek out a few and see what environment you would like to play in. Many pool
halls are now set up for the family. Some have arcades on one side, and pool
tables on the other, most often connected by a place to sit and eat. You will
usually have access to a bar, so choose wisely if you are bringing children

Most bars also have pool tables. Though there are not as many as you would find
in a pool hall, it is still an opportunity to play. Most times, bar room pool
tables are of lower quality. If you are looking to practice certain techniques,
I would suggest not to play on a bar room table. On the other hand, if you just
want a friendly game, go for it. You should know ahead of time that bar pool
tables are primarily coin operated. This wouold mean once a ball enters a
pocket, it cannot be retrieved. The only ball you will have continuous access
to will be the cue ball.

Many towns and cities also have pool and billiard leagues available for both
men and women. It's best to ask around and get to know the various places in
which you can play. Most leagues will have tournament style play as well as
some trick shooting competitions. Even if you are not looking to join a league,
it is still a great place to go watch and learn from other players.

Finally, if you've had a long week and just don't have the energy, turn to
technology! There are endless web sites that offer virtual pool games. This is
really a great way to learn your angles and practice rail shots. Most sites
will not charge you to play, and offer one, two and three player games. Again,
this is a wonderful way of having a "virtual tutor." Many times, software
programs will have tips to offer and will explain rules as you go along. It
could be a great introduction to the game if you are unsure whether you want to
make the investment.

If you are the lucky owner of a pool table, you will probably progress at a
much faster rate that other beginners. The more you play, the better you get,
and since you will have more access to a table by owning one, your game will
improve much quicker than the player playing on the outside.

How To Be Consistent At Pool

Consistency is the art of being able to perform at will, in a harmonious
connection with our thoughts and actions. Confidence is a prerequisite for
consistency. Confidence is nothing more than having faith in our abilities.
Faith that we can and will achieve a certain task or goal.

Most players are working to bring consistency to their game. After all, if they
could perform the way they are capable of performing, and do this every time,
they would win more games, raise their league average and win more tournaments.
If you are an inconsistent player, you are having problems in your fundamentals.
An inconsistent player does not hit the cue ball the same way every time. And
once you miss-hit the cue ball, your mind begins to play tricks on you. You
start to think you are having mental problem, something is wrong with you, and
then you begin to get down on yourself. You go into a slump. You have no
confidence. Your stroke is unsure and tentative and things can only get worse.
You begin to change your stance, your grip, your style of play.

If you hit the same shot the exact same way every time, you will become a
consistent player. If you can trust yourself to turn in a fine performance, you
will win more games, more tournaments, and raise your league average. In
addition, you will enjoy this game. Consistency is worth working for. And it
takes a professional approach to the fundamentals in order to achieve
consistency in your game.

First of all, you need a good grip. Grip is directly related to a good stance.
You cannot have a good grip with a poor stance. Remember, the true measurement
of a good grip and stance is in the quality of hit. The grip and stance must
work for you.

Your stance must put you in position to see the angle of the shot. If you have
having a hard time seeing the shot, it can be corrected in your stance. It must
be well balanced. If someone pushes you while you are in your stance, you should
not fall over. For right-handers, your right shoulder needs to be in a direct
line with your target.

Once your mind is diverted from the fundamental approach to shooting balls, you
will have problems. It all comes down to the one shot in front of you. Nothing
more than the shot you are facing. And in order to succeed with that shot, your
eyes must be coming right out of your stance. You see the shot, and you shoot
the shot and the ball goes in. Keep doing this until you run out of shots.

Master Your Cue Grip

The most important technique learned and the one that should be mastered first
is the grip. The casual player has a different grip than that of a professional
player, but in either case, if your game is to progress, you must master your
grip. It should be comfortable, relaxed, and remain fairly consistent
throughout the range of the stroke. A relaxed grip is usually best since too
tight of a grip can tense up muscles in the arm that can cause your stroke to
perform erratically. Likewise, too loose and you could lose control.

One way is to play with an all finger grip where all five fingers remain in
constant contact with the butt all the way through the stroke and never alter
except for perhaps a slight squeeze on contact with the cue ball. This method
requires the cue arm to be perfectly vertical at address of the cue ball or the
cue will lift on the backswing causing a scooping motion. This is the most
common way to grip a cue stick among beginners and casual players, and allows
the most control. Do not put your thumb on top of the cue, because this will
lock up your wrist, and it's very important for your wrist to stay relaxed.

Most pros use a different grip, only the thumb and first finger remain constant, 
the others flex open on the backstroke and close on the forward stroke. This
has the effect of tracking the cue and keeping it on line, also greatly
increasing cue ball control and cue power. On the final backswing the little
finger practically comes off the cue altogether, this allows the cue to remain
flat , on the follow through the fingers all close and return to the original

No matter what style grip you use, it is important to keep your grip loose and
relaxed. This will allow you to follow through on your stroke. A proper grip
allows you control and accurate shots. Bad grips will limit your potential for
improvement. At all times, your cue should feel well balanced in your hand. For
normal shots, your hand should be in the center of the wrap. For shots that
require more "touch" and accuracy, try moving your hand forward on the wrap,
shortening the length between your bridge hand and the ferrule. For shots that
require more power, try moving your hand back on the wrap, lengthening the
distance between your bridge hand and the ferrule. Always remember to stay down
and follow through on your shots.

The key to determine your grip is to find the balance point of the cue. To find
the balance point, take your index finger and balance the cue stick on it so
that it teeters on its own. Once it is balanced, take a mental note of the
point on the cue stick where your finger was holding it and use this as your
balance point or reference point. In general, but depending on how tall you
are, you should grip the cue at least six inches back from the balance point
towards butt end of the cue stick. Shorter players should place their grip hand
slightly closer to the balance point we found earlier, while taller players
should put their gripping hand a greater distance away from the balance point.
This process will eliminate the chance of developing a bad grip and will start
your beginners' career off on the right foot.

Aiming And The Dominant Eye

As with many things, one side is stronger than the other. For most people, this
hold true with their eyes, and one eye is much more dominant in seeing
alignments. Normally, right-handers are right-eyed and vise versa for left.
There are cases of being cross-dominant where the right-handed has a strong
left eye, and there are also cases of no dominant eye at all, known as
ambi-ocular. For aiming, locate your dominant eye directly over your cue. If
you are cross dominant, this may call for some adjustments in your position,
but be sure to be aiming when you are lined up and over your cue.

There is a quick way to test yourself. Hold your thumb up, arm extended and
block out a distant object, a lamp or a vase. Don't focus on your thumb, but on
the distant object. Your dominant eye will be in line with your thumb while your
non-dominant eye will be seeing past it. When you close your non-dominant eye,
your thumbs should be completely blocking the object.

Aside from aiming by use of your dominant eye, there is another way to
accurately aim your shot. This other technique for aiming is by the use of your
cue stick. First, you need to determine the line of path of your object ball to
the pocket and point your cue stick in that direction. Next, you must consider
the width of the object ball. Place the tip of your cue stick at 1/2 width from
the object ball. This is your aim point. The last thing you need to do is simply
point your cue stick aim at the "aim" point and stroke.

In order to shoot center pocket, pinpoint aiming is required. It feels nice to
have an accurate shot rather then to make a sloppy pocket and on long shots an
accurate aim becomes more of a necessity. Pinpoint accuracy requires a pinpoint
aim, that is, when determining your object ball contact point do not have a
general area. Make your ball contact point be like a pinpoint, not like the
size of a dime. If your object ball contact point is sloppy, so will be your
end result. It also takes total concentration on that pinpoint spot to not lose
it, in other words, keep your eye on the object ball and not jump back and forth
between the cue ball and object ball.

As you get used to aiming, the process will not be mechanical, your movement
will flow naturally. When you find yourself missing for unknown reasons, go
back to the basics and it is a good chance you will get out of the slump.
Perfecting any aiming technique will take a lot of time, but try not to get
discouraged. Explore the various techniques and see what works best for you.
These are not rules set in stone, just some aiming guidelines to help develop
your aiming style and technique.

The Basic Break

We all know that a game cannot start without the break. A good break will lead
to a good game. There are many factors one needs to consider when breaking the
rack. Often a different cue is used specifically for breaking. It's best not to
get too anxious and try to be a power breaker from the get go. Start with a
basic break until your game progresses. The most important part of your game
will be your break, so be sure you are very comfortable with it. Once you find
a position and stance that is comfortable and you break the balls effectively,
stay with that technique.

It can be particularly difficult for a beginning pool player to break a racked
set of balls. This is a good way to practice and become comfortable with
breaking. Start by putting the cue ball on the head spot. (When you get better,
you can position the cue ball anywhere next to or behind the head spot to make
the break.) After making sure your grip is correct and you have a comfortable
stance, aim the cue ball to hit the leading ball of the rack squarely in the
front. Do not stop your shot when you make contact with the cue. Follow through
with a smooth motion for an extra 6-18 inches. Practicing this now will help you
later as you add speed and power to your break. Always try to hit the cue ball
as hard as you can without your cue slipping off to one side or off the ball
completely. A foul on a break is a very embarrassing way to start.

You will find that once you begin to gain confidence in your break, you will
shoot harder and perform better breaks. Ideally, a good break is one in which
no balls are left touching another ball. The perfect break, when playing eight
ball, would be to sink the eight ball off the break shot, thus gaining an
immediate win! Though this situation arises rarely, it has been achieved and
can be quite a thrill the first time it is accomplished.

The break is probably the most important shot of the game. It will set the
playing field for all the shots to follow. Spend time on your breaking
techniques and styles. Once you are comfortable breaking with the cue on the
head spot, move the cue around to different positions. Moving the cue and
striking the rack from different angles will have a different effect on the
break. Many players have mastered their break so that they sink at least two
balls every time they break. It will take time and patience, but this is a shot
you must master if you ever want to become a decent player. Often, players place
the cue ball in the same position on the table when breaking. After trial and
error and many hours of practice, you will find your own "hot spot" and will
have an effective break almost every time.

How To Choose A Cue Stick

In general, it is difficult to tell if you would like a cue stick just by
reading about it. Even the terms that different people use to describe these
characteristics (hard, soft, harsh, stiff, forgiving, well-balanced, etc.) are
subjective and difficult to quantify. Some of the important things can be
quantified (length, weight, balance point, shaft taper, shaft diameter,
squirt), but they're not the whole story. And if you are a beginner, or
seriously working on your game for the first time, you can expect your own
preferences to change as your game matures.

As a beginning billiards player, most of you might only be using cue sticks
provided by the billiards place where you play. However, if you want to really
improve your game you need to have your own cue so you won't have the problem
of having to adjust to the length of the cue or the weight of the cue or the
diameter of the cue tip. It is important to take note (while you still don't
have a cue stick) the type of cue that you feel most comfortable with.
Experiment with different cue sticks. Examine the weight, the length and the
diameter of the tip. After you've decided on what is most comfortable to you
then you are ready to buy one.

There are some points to consider when shopping for your cue. First, make sure
that the cue stick is straight and not crooked. Although most of the production
cues are not crooked, it's always good to check just in case. You can do this by
rolling the cue stick on a flat surface, if it is crooked then you will notice
it right away. Another way of looking at the stick is to look at the butt end
of the cue while pointing the other end downwards then roll it a few times and
you should be able to notice if it is crooked or not. Second, the weight of the
cue stick. Typically, a cue stick weighs between 18 to 21 ounzes. Find out what
weight is comfortable for you and stick with it. Third, the length of the cue
stick should be dependent the length of your arm. Longer arms, longer stick.
The length of production cues typically starts at 57 inches.

If you would like to customize it a bit, getting a two-part cue will add about
$30 to your price. You can go further and add on leather grips and some
decorations. Rule of thumb is that if you pay more than $100 for a cue stick,
you are paying for brand and ornamentation, not so much quality. A good tip is
probably more important than the cue. Shun a cue that's more than two parts,
has a screw-on tip, is painted in festive colors, or is made in Taiwan. Made in
Japan is OK, the Adam line, made there, is one of the best. Get the best tips
you can, the return on the money you spend is greater there than anywhere else.
Seek good construction over great looks. Be sure to compare the cue sticks
before choosing the one that catches your eye. Feel comfortable with the weight
and the length. You will be using this stick for years to come, so be sure your
investment is just right for your style of playing.

How A Cue Stick Is Made

The most essential piece of equipment for the game of pool is the cue stick, or
simply the cue. It is a tapered stick typically 58 inches long and ranging
between 18 and 21 ounces. They are primarily made of wood, but occasionally
covered with other materials such as graphite or fiberglass. The length and
weight can be altered to create a custom cue for the professional player.

There are three different types of cue sticks. One type is the one piece cue.
These are generally for the casual player and often stocked in pool halls. They
have a uniform taper and standard length and weight. Another type is the two
piece cue. This is usually divided in the middle and screwed together. The two
piece cue makes for easy transport and storage in a case. The third type is
also a two piece cue, but the joint is not in the middle, but further down on
the butt, about 1/3 from the end.

There are different parts or pieces to a cue stick, all of which you should
become familiar with. The shaft is the smaller, tapered end of the cue, and the
butt is the wider, heavier end. When using a two piece cue, the pieces are
attached at a joint which is made up of a screw coming from the butt that is
screwed into the shaft. The joints can be made from an array of materials from
plastic, wood or aluminum to bone or antlers for more expensive sticks. It
serves the same purpose, to join the tow pieces together.

On the shaft, you will find the ferrule and the tip. The ferrule is the piece
of white plastic immediately below the tip. It can be made of different
materials. Most commonly it is plastic for the casual player and brass for the
more experienced player. The tips come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and
can be custom rounded to suit your needs. Tips are primarily made of leather
and are available in different hardness grades.

The butt of the cue is where you will find your weight. Whether you play with
an 18 oz. cue or a 21 oz. cue, the weight is all in the butt. The cue butt is
often the area that is most ornate. Many sticks have carvings, leather grips
and various other inlaid objects that appeal to the eye. They add nothing to
your game but a sense of pride when you pull out your dazzling cue and start a

Lastly, and often the most overlooked piece of a pool cue is the bumper. This
is a round rubber piece attached to the butt. It offers protection when you
place your cue down and also reduced the vibrations that travel through the cue
on impact. On pricier cues, the bumper is made of leather.

Choose a cue that is comfortable to play with, not for it's looks. You want
quality, not a show piece.

All About Regulation Pool Balls

Obviously, one of the major pieces of equipment needed to play pool is the set
of balls. Without them, there would be no game! The balls are designed
specifically for the game and coincide with the physics involved in overall
play. As you read, you will find out how the balls are made, what materials are
used, regulation weights and more. You will soon find that it is not just an
ordinary orb placed on the table, and that much design and engineering is

The earliest balls were made of wood clay. These were used for years until the
use of ivory came into play. Ivory balls were short lived. By the 1800's,
millions of elephants were being slaughtered to obtain the ivory used to make
the balls as well as many other items. Only eight balls could be made from one
elephant! Seeing this as unfit, a new material was sought after.

A composition material was then invented, called cellulose nitrate. It was
later commercially branded Celluloid, also known as the first industrial
plastic to be marketed. Thought to be a great invention for making the balls,
the material was soon not accepted as it caused the balls to occasionally
explode, making these plastic billiard balls impractical. The invention of this
material served many other useful purposes as the use of plastic became more
accepted, but as for the pool game, it was unacceptable.

Other compounds were experimented with until the perfect material had been
found. Today's balls are cast from phenolic resin. This material is resistant
to chipping and cracking and has become an industry standard. It is the only
ball material used today in play by professionals. There are lower grade balls
made of polyester, but use of these result in shorter ball and cloth life.

The balls we commonly see today are made of resin and are regulated by weight
and color. The standard ball has a weight of 5.5 to 6 oz. with the cue ball at
a standard 6 oz. The balls are colored and grouped into solids and stripes and
numbered accordingly. Custom balls are available offering an assortment of
colors and markings and are often used in trick shooting to add visual appeal.

A Brief History Of Billiards

Though it is not known exactly when or where the sport originated, it has been
believed that the earliest form was from France. It was a version like that of
an indoor lawn game similar to croquet. the object of the game was to push a
ball through a croquet-like wicket to hit a peg, similar to the stake in
croquet. Players used a club-like stick, which became known as the "mace".

During the early 19th century, American craftsmen began to make tables.
Billiard tables originally had flat vertical walls for rails, and their only
function was to keep the balls from falling off the table. The rails resembled
river banks, and were even used to be called banks. When players found out that
the balls would bounce off the rails, they began to deliberately aiming at the
banks. That was the invention of the "bank shot". The "bank shot" is were a
ball is aimed, and shot at the wall as part of a shot.Billiards became
associated with pool parlors in large cities. The word "pool" at the time meant
gambling, but it was soon attached to the American form of pocket billiards and
is still commonly known as pool.

As the years passed, the sport became more popular and more developed. Many
variations of the game were created and many techniques developed and mastered.
In America, billiards, or pool as we know it, was becoming an up and coming
sport. Originally, due to the extreme cost of making the table, it was
considered to be a rich man's sport. As other ways to manufacture tables became
known, along with use of different materials, the tables became more affordable
to a wider population and the popularity increased dramatically.

The most popular form of pool, eight ball, was invented in the early 1900's.
This was then followed by nine ball and cut throat. Three of the most common
forms of the game known. It's suspicious and unknown origin may always be a
mystery to us as we continue to expand on game variations, development,
technique and technology. It is a sport and a leisure that is here to stay.
Even today, though we already have our standard variations of the game, we see
different styles and approaches arrise continuously. Professionals are always
eager to take the next step and be the first to make a newly developed shot or
master their own personally created technique.

How To Use A Mechanical Bridge When Playing Pool

First, let's start by explaining what a mechanical bridge is. Many times there
are shots that cannot be reached no matter how much you lean across the table!
That's where a bridge comes in handy. The mechanical bridge, also called rake,
crutch or rest, is an accessory of the billiard sports table and consists of a
stick with a bridge head mounted at its end to support the shaft of the cue
stick replacing the hand bridge during shots difficult to reach. The stick or
handle of the mechanical bridge is very similar in shape to the cue stick. The
bridge head has notches or grooves, usually at various heights, in which the
cue shaft can rest. The contour of the bridge head should be smooth in order
not to mar the cue shaft or rip the threads of the table-cloth when being used.

Many amateurs are hesitant to use the bridge mainly because they don't know the
proper way to do so. Going through the following steps will take away that worry
and help your game in the long run. Taking care not to hit any surrounding
balls, carefully place the bridge on the table approximately 5 inches away from
the cue ball. Now place the cue in the slot (usually 3 or 4 available) that will
allow you to strike the cue ball as level as possible and at the location you

Once you have found the slot you would like to use, place the bridge flat on
the table if you can and hold it down with one hand. Now, grasp your cue toward
the end, leaving the tip to be supported by the bridge. Strike the cue ball with
a straight, even stroke and immediately lift the bridge off the table. You have
now completed a successful bridge shot. As with the rest of the game, this will
take some time to get used to. Parctice different shots and angels and become
comfortable using the bridge. It will be an important part of your game as you

Many aficionados and most professionals employ the bridge whenever the intended
shot so requires. Some players, especially current or former snooker players,
use a screw-on cue butt extension instead of or in addition to the mechanical
bridge. It is suggested that once you have the basic game down pat, that you
begin to experiment with additional equipment such as this. The sooner you
become familiar with it, the more proficient you will become and you will
progress as a player. Practice with the mechanical bridge until you feel you
are comfortable enough to apply it to your every-day game playing. You will
learn that the time spent on practicing with the techniques and angles will not
have been time wasted, but will aid your game immensely.

A Brief Intro To Snooker

Many times, when people hear about billiards and pool, another form of the game
is often mentioned. This game, called Snookers, varies from the American form of
pool. Though it is in the same group as the other cue sports, it actually stands
in a league of it's own. Aside from learning the different variations of pool
play, some people enjoy taking that learning experience a step further and
trying this well known game.

In Snooker, the main object of the game is to score more points than your
opponent. We are not used to the point system when playing billiards or pool,
instead, we are more concerned with the ball count left on the table and the
final sinking of the winning ball. Snooker is an entirely different game, with
different rules, a different table, and, as mentioned, a different objective.

Snooker is generally played on a table much larger than a pool table, measuring
6' by 12'. There are also smaller tables, measuring 5' by 10', in which the game
can be played. The larger size table is the most commonly used. The Snooker
table have cushions that are more narrow than those of a traditional pool
table, and they curve into the pocket openings.

Like pool, Snooker is also a two player game. As mentioned above, the object is
to outscore your opponent. This is done by sinking the balls with a higher point
value. Snooker is played with 22 balls, as opposed to the 15 we are used to.
These balls have no numbers, so the value of the balls are based solely on
color. There are 15 balls that are solid red, six balls of different colors,
and the cue ball. The point values for the balls is as follows. Red balls are
worth one point, yellow is worth 2, green is worth 3, brown is worth 4, blue is
worth 5, pink is worth 6, and black is worth 7.

The rack is much different and the overall rules can take a while to get used
to. There are many sites available online that will describe these things in
great detail. The purpose here was to give an over-view of the game. A more in
depth description of the game and the rules can be found at

What Is English or Sidespin?

English or Sidespin is an advanced technique in pool and refers to spin that is
put on the cue ball. You can apply English or sidespin in a number of ways. It
all comes down to aiming at the cue ball in different spots other than the
straight center shot. You can hit the cue ball on the left side which is
normally called LEFT English or you can hit the cue ball on the right side
normally called RIGHT English. You can also apply the stop (center ball hit),
draw (below center hit) or follow (above center hit) with English. English
applied with draw is normally called low English while English applied with
follow is called high English. The left and right English shots will cause the
ball to spin to either side.

This is commonly refered to as inside or outside English. This technique is
used primarily to alter the natural roll of the cue ball, thus causing it to
curve to the desired side. This can be of use if you have ball interfering with
a straight on shot, or if you are looking to deflect the cue ball in a different

Another effect of english is what is known as "Curve" or "Swerve". When a cue
ball is hit low with a downward stroke using english, the cue ball tends to
curve instead of moving in a straight line. This is a similar effect, though to
a much lesser degree, to the masse shot. The direction of the curve will be the
same as the direction of the spin. That means that if you have a low right
english on the cue ball, it will curve to the left and back to the right. If
you have a low left english on the cue ball, it will curve to the right and
then back to the left.

There is also another effect of english that is known as "throw". When a cue
ball with sidespin hits the object ball, the spin is transferred to the object
ball but in the opposite direction. For example, a cue ball is hit with right
english so it spins to the right or counter-clockwise... upon hitting the
object ball, an opposite spin (clockwise) is transferred to the object ball.
The spin generated by the object ball causes it to be "thrown" to the direction
opposite the spin on the cue ball.

One thing that makes english difficult is that it is hard to estimate the
amount of deflection that you will get on the cue ball. Only with enough
experience will you be able to make a good estimate. Players should concentrate
on the centered shot and have it mastered before attempting to integrate English
shots into their repertoire. Like all shots and techniques, you will need time
and patience to develop your style and become successful at completing these

How To Use Backspin

Let's start by saying any shot that is not performed by a straight on centered
approach will be difficult to master, not to mention hard to control. A shot
that is made by aiming at any point other than the center of the cue, will
cause the cue ball to be projected with a spin on it. Using backspin on your
shot causes the cue ball to draw away from the object ball and return towards
you upon contact with the object ball. It is normally done by hitting the cue
ball below center. This is a difficult shot to master because hitting the cue
ball below center normally creates a "miscue" specially for beginner players.
Many players will "jump" the ball until they master this technique.

The distance the cue ball has to travel before impact with the object ball is a
major consideration when using backspin. Another factor is the type of cloth on
the table. Smoother cloths will have less friction thus allowing the cue ball
more momentum to draw back as opposed to a rougher type of cloth were friction
will hinder the momentum of the cue ball a lot more. Most higher priced tables
are constructed with a smoother cloth, thus enabling players to apply backspin
and English efficiently.

As the distance between the object ball and the cue ball increases, you will
need to put more backspin on the cue ball As stated above, the cloth on the
table surface may cause friction and reduce the speed of the balls and in turn,
reduce the backspin. This is where the difficulty of the back spin comes into
play. Many players find it very difficult to draw the cue ball at longer
distances mostly because there is not enough back spin on the cue ball.

Backspin is a great tool to master when learning your techniques as a newer
player. You will find this technique advantageous in many situations and it
will increase your over-all game. The primary use of backspin is to avoid
scratching when normally the cue would follow through on a shot. Placing
backspin on the ball will allow you to make the shot and remain in control of
the game. It will allow you to "set up" your next shot with a better leave than
if you were to make a follow through shot. Many players apply backspin to their
shots to create a good lay of the ball in preparation for their next shot.

How To Rack For 8 And 9 Ball

A rack is the name given to a frame (usually wood or plastic) used to organize
the balls at the beginning of a game. The most common shape of a physical rack
is that of a triangle, with the ball pattern of 5-4-3-2-1. Racks are sometimes
called simply "triangles" (most often by amateur shooters) based on the
predominance of this form. Triangular-shaped racks are used for eight-ball,
straight pool, one-pocket, bank pool, snooker and many other games. Although
diamond-shaped racks, with an intended pattern of 1-2-3-2-1, are made for the
game of nine-ball, the triangular rack is more often employed in nine ball as
well. There is often argument over whether there is a proper way to rack the
balls for an 8-ball game. While there is no particular method for the balls to
be placed aside from the eight (for an 8-ball game) and nine ball (for
nine-ball game), it's best to follow these simple methods.

When racking for an 8-ball game, set the rack on the table and place the one
ball in the top corner. Place two balls beneath the one ball. In eight-ball,
fifteen object balls are used. Standardized rules state that:

* The 8 ball must be in the center of the rack (the second ball in the three
balls wide row).

* The first ball (traditionally but not mandatorily the 1 ball) must be placed
at the apex position (front of the rack and so the center of that ball is
directly over the table's foot spot).

* The two corner balls must be a stripe and a solid. In theory, this pattern
allows for a more equal chance of sinking both a solid and a stripe because the
two corner balls are the most likely balls to be pocketed on the break.

* All balls other than the 8 ball are placed at random, but in conformance with
the preceding corner ball rule.

* The balls should be pressed tightly together without gaps, as this allows the
best break possible.

In amateur eight-ball play a racking variant that is often followed is:

* The outer edges of the triangle must be in the pattern of solid, stripe,
solid, stripe, etc. (resulting in the two corner balls being either both
stripes or both solids).

* Sometimes, the balls must be placed in numeric order from the top of the
triangle down and from left to right, i.e., the 1 on the foot spot, followed by
the 2 then 3 in the second row, and so on. This always results in the corner
balls of the rack being both stripes (the 11 and 15, respectively).

The game of nine-ball has a totally different system of racking since you are
only playing with nine balls. While you may use the same rack that you do in
eight-ball, they do sell special racks for nine-ball. The balls are racked in
the shape of a diamond. Be sure to place the one ball at the upper point and
the nine in the middle. Some players (most often amateurs) place the balls in
numeric order but for the 9 ball; from the top of the triangle down and from
left to right, i.e., the 1 on the foot spot, followed by the 2 then 3 in the
second row, and so on. However, all balls other than the 1 and 9 may be
randomly placed.

Regardless of what variation of the game you are racking for, it is always best
to make sure it is a "tight rack". This refers to the spacing between the balls.
Ideally, you would want the least amount of space. Now, be sure to roll the rack
so that the 1 ball is exactly in the middle of the pool table "dot" on the
billiard (pool) table. Use all eight of your fingers--not your thumbs--and push
on the back roll of balls, forcing them tight in the 8-ball rack and making sure
that the 1 ball is placed in the middle of the pool table "dot." This is very
important, since it is difficult for your opponent to make a ball on the break
if he's shooting at a "tight rack."

Break Cues - Light Or Heavy?

Starting the game with a good break is extremely important. Ideally, a good
break is one in which the balls scatter and none are left touching another.
Initially, one would expect to use a heavy weighted cue for the break.
Theoretically, that would make sense, to get the most power for your break.
First, one must understand the weights of different cue sticks. The average
weight would be 19 oz. Thus making a light cue 18 oz and a heavy cue 20 oz. or
more. Past experience has shown me that it really comes down to personal
preference. However, many argue that it is all about physics, so let's take a
look at that.

Break cue weight should be based on simple physics. The speed of the cue ball
is what matters when breaking. A simple equation to remember is mass times
velocity. The mass is referring to the object being propelled. In this case, it
would be the cue ball, which weighs 6 oz. The velocity is the way in which we
propel the cue. So what we need to be concerned with is how fast we can propel
the cue ball with the most control, not so much the power behind it.

A heavy cue will result in more force creating more momentum. However, a light
cue will allow you more acceleration. After taking all this into consideration,
they both seem to have their advantages, which once again, leaves it to personal
preference. The force behind your shot will not only be determined by the weight
of the cue, but by the players' style and positioning. Regardless of the weight
being used, the power comes more from a solid contact on the cue and proper
grip and stance.

It would be suggested not to assume the break need to be made with one or the
other. Try them both, with slight alterations in your stance and positioning.
You will find which is most comfortable and effective. The more you experiment,
the more proficient your break will become, whether it's based on the laws of
physics or personal preference. When learning new techniques, always remember
to master the basics first. Find your comfortable position and grip when
breaking and master that approach before attempting to become a power breaker.

What Is A Push Shot?

First of all, take caution when using this term. A push-out is very different
from a push-shot. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms and make sure
you are referring to the correct thing. A push shot refers to a type of foul
committed during play, where as a push out is a technique used during the game.

At pool, a push shot involves a very special kind of stroke and is played when
the cue ball is frozen to the object ball. This stroke is a foul. (At pool it
is legal to shoot towards a ball the cue ball is frozen to, assuming no other
foul, and with a normal stroke.) In a push shot, the tip is brought slowly,
slowly, very slowly up to the cue ball until it is just touching or about to
touch, and then the tip is accelerated for the shot.

There are two examples of when a push-shot is used. The first is when a ball is
frozen to the rail close to a corner pocket. The cue ball is frozen to the
object ball and straight out from the rail. The shot is straight towards the
object ball, with the tip placed on the equator of the cue ball with lots of
side away from the pocket. Once very gentle contact of tip-to-ball is made the
tip is gradually pushed forward and the object ball sort of slips out from
behind the cue ball and goes straight into the near pocket.

The second example is when the cue ball is on the foot spot, and an object ball
is frozen as if it had been spotted; both are on the foot string. A desirable
object ball is in the jaws of one of the foot pockets. A legal way to pocket
the hung ball is to point the cue stick at a point on the foot rail half way
between the center of the rail and the target pocket, and shoot a normal center
ball stroke. An illegal push shot is to elevate the butt of the stick to about
45 degrees, address the cue ball for extreme follow, and shoot a gradual push
shot. In this case the cue ball will nearly ignore the object ball, and go
close to the line of aim, rather than the double "angle" of the first (legal)

So as not to get too confused, try to keep in mind that a "push out" ismost
commonly used when playing nine-ball. The player who shoots the shot
immediately after a legal break may play a push out in an attempt to move the
cue ball into a better position for the option that follows. On a push out, the
cue ball is not required to contact any object ball nor any rail, but all other
foul rules still apply. The player must announce the intention of playing a
push out before the shot, or the shot is considered to be a normal shot. Any
ball pocketed on a push out does not count and remains pocketed except the
9-ball. Following a legal push out, the incoming player is permitted to shoot
from that position or to pass the shot back to the player who pushed out. A
push out is not considered to be a foul as long as no rule is violated.

What Is A Jump Shot?

A jump shot refers to making the cue ball come off the table surface before
making contact with another object ball. By placing extreme spin on the ball
and elevating the butt of the cue while shooting, you can make the cue ball
jump. Beginners often shoot a jump shot by hitting the cue ball very low and
miscuing. The most important factor in making a jump shot is the kind of cloth
on the table. If it is very high quality, thin cloth, jumping will be very
difficult. If it is thicker or maybe rubber-backed, jumping will be fairly
easy. It's best to practice your jump shots with simple straight ahead shots
until you get the feel for the table.

On a jump shot, your cue ball jumps at an angle equal to the angle at which it
is struck. Another words the higher your cue stick the higher the jump angle.
The harder you shoot, the longer the jump. The jump stroke must be shot with a
very loose back arm grip. This allows the cue stick to get out of the way of
the ball so you don't "trap" the ball as it's trying the jump. It is a foul if
a player strikes the cue ball below center ("digs under" it) and intentionally
causes it to rise off the bed of the table in an effort to clear an obstructing
ball. Such jumping action may occasionally occur accidentally, and such "jumps"
are not to be considered fouls on their face; they may still be ruled foul
strokes, if for example, the ferrule or cue shaft makes contact with the cue
ball in the course of the shot.

Unless otherwise stated in rules for a specific game it is legal to cause the
cue ball to rise off the bed of the table by elevating the cue stick on the
shot, and forcing the cue ball to rebound from the bed of the table. Any miscue
when executing a jump shot is a foul.

Everyone like to be a big shot, and nothing makes you look cooler than
executing a proper billiard and pool jump shot technique and pocketing the
intended object ball that nobody thought you could get at. Though this may be
the case, you should remember to consider and assess all other options and
angles for shot options first. If you use the jump shot when you don't really
need to, your opponent and other spectators may regard you as a showboat and
may lose existing respect for your game. Jump shots are not easy to make, and
are even harder to control. It will take you a lot of practice, but more so, a
lot of patience to master your jump shot. Beginners should start with a jump
shot that is not of great height. Get the technique down then try jumping a
full ball. To jump a full ball from one ball away you'll need to elevate to 85
degrees or more. The only way to become proficient at this technique is to
develop your own style and perfect it.

Some Variations Of Pool

There are a few different variations of the game, each with their own rules.
It's the players preference as to which they prefer. It is suggested however,
that every player be familiar with at least the three most common variations,
being Nine-Ball, Eight-Ball and Cut Throat.

We'll begin by summarizing the common Eight-ball game that most of us know.
Many people refer to it as stripes and solids. Beware of your terminology
though. If you go out and play with more accomplished players, you will find
the correct terms would be high and low, not stripes and solids. The rules will
vary depending which skill level you are playing at. To keep it simple, all
balls are racked with the eight ball in the center. Upon breaking, the ball
that goes in first will be your ball. Play is rotated when a shot is missed or
a foul committed. The main object... to sink all your balls and the eight ball
before your opponent. Always remember the eight ball is your last ball to go
in! As mentioned, there are many rules people play by, so be sure to specify
them before beginning a game and make sure all players are clear and understand

The next variation is Nine-ball. In this game, the balls used are 1 through 9
and are racked as a diamond in order of number, with the nine ball in the
center. The idea is to sink the balls in order from lowest number to highest,
starting with the one ball* Any ball that goes in counts as long as the lowest
numbered ball on the table is hit first. For example, if the lowest ball on the
table is the four ball. You can either sink that ball or use that ball for a
combination shot to sink another ball. Just always make sure that the ball you
hit first is the lowest on the table. If you fail to hit the lowest ball first,
it is a foul and the other player will have cue in hand to place and begin
his/her turn. The winner is the player who makes the nine on a legal shot.

The third common variation is cut-throat. This is a common three player game,
better socially than as a test of skill. Each player takes five balls, 1-5,
6-10, and 11-15, and the last player with a ball on the table wins, so the goal
is to sink your opponents' balls. There are several variations. The penalty for
a foul is to bring one of each of the other players' balls back onto the table.
Sometimes this game is played with 3 different colored sets of balls to make it
easier to keep track of who has what.

There are many ways to play pool, all with their own guidelines and rules. Find
the style of your play first, then choose your game. The more you familiarize
yourself with the different variations, the better player you will become.

Why Use Chalk Playing Pool?

There are two types of chalk used during play. One is applied to the cue tip.
The other is rubbed onto the players palm. Both forms of chalking aid the
players' game, and both serve different purposes.

We'll start with the question of why players chalk their cue tips so often. If
you are a beginner, you will quickly learn how and when to use chalk. The
primary function of chalking the cue tip is to prevent a miscue by the tip
sliding off the ball. You will notice that most players will use chalk before
every shot.

On some occasions, more chalk will be applied if the shot being made requires
English or some other type of spin. The application of the chalk will aid in
your initial contact with the cue ball and will help to prevent you from making
a bad shot. This commonly seen little cube of chalk will become your best friend
as you progress as a player. Cue tip chalk is made by crushing silica and the
abrasive substance corundum or aloxite into a powder and using forced air to
achieve the desired consistency. It is combined with dye (originally and most
commonly green or blue-green) and a binder (glue).

Finally, hydraulic press is used to compress the "chalk" into large cakes which
are dried on a rack, and then cut into small cubes, dimpled on the top to
receive the cue tip, and wrapped in paper sleeves. Each manufacturer's brand
has different qualities, which can significantly affect play. High humidity can
also impair the effectiveness of chalk. Harder, drier compounds are generally
considered superior by most players.

The other type of chalk is applies to the hands. This is not seen as often,
unless you are playing at an experienced or professional level. Many casual
players opt to play bare hand without applying chalk or using grip gloves. Hand
chalk can be used to reduce friction between the cue and bridge hand during
shooting, for a smoother stroke. Some brands of hand chalk actually are made of
compressed talc. Hand chalk comes in two forms -- as a solid and in powdery talc
form. The cone-shaped chalk shown below is a popular style seen in many bars and
pool halls. The portion of the bridge hand that contacts the cue shaft is rubbed
across the cone and the chalk transfers to the hand. The use of hand chalk or
talc is entirely up to the player. Where cue tip chalk must be used, hand chalk
is totally optional.

Chalking your cue tip is essential to playing the game and maintaining control
over your shots. Don't ever overlook the step of chalking up before a shot. You
will find that if this is omitted, the majority of your shots will be miscues
and your accuracy will suffer. Hand chalk is a personal preference. Many
professional players prefer to use a slick pool glove over hand chalk or talc
because of the messiness of the powders. Another way to avoid use of hand chalk
is to simply use a hand towel. All three of these things serve the same purpose.
The drier your hands are, the better control you will have over your cue stick.

How To Care For Your Cue Stick

The first thing you should do is invest in a case. This will protect the cue
from humidity and falls or tip damage. Moisture is the biggest cause in your
cue warping. Keep your cue away from moisture and very humid places. This
minimiizes the chances of your cue warping over time. Remember, however, that
since wood is a natural material, there is no foolproof way to 100% guarantee
you cue will not warp at all. They will all warp a little or more over time. A
hard case is better than a soft case, and be sure to store your case upright.
Now that it is safely stored in a protective case, remember to always wash your
hands before you play and several hours after play.

Joint protectors should be considered if you are using a multi-piece cue. These
will halp to prevent moisture from entering by the shaft and butt of the cue.
They screw into either end and will keep the moisture out and prevent warping.
If by chance your cue does get warped, a slight warp is nothing to worry too
much about. Just take caution when you play your game to position the cue the
same for every shot. You want the warp on the vertical plane not the
horizontal. The best way to check your cue for warping is by "sighting". Look
straight down from the butt to the shaft, just as you would sight a rifle. The
warp will be obvious, and you can then decide your positioning for your shots.

If you find the warp to be severe and are unable to bend it back into shape or
cannot adjust your positioning, consider buying a new cue. Remember, investing
in a case will save you these hassles down the road. After taking the
precautions to avoid warping, turn your attention to the cue tip. The tip on
your new cue may be shiney, smooth, and somewhat flat when you first get your
cue. You may shape the tip to desired roundness, but many beginners just play
with it the way it is. In either case, how you play and the way you stroke your
cue will determine the final shape of your tip and constant shaping will wear
your tip down very fast. There is an easy process for replacing tips if you
find you need to do that. There are a few things you will need to have on hand
before you begin. Make sure to have the new tip, a razor blade, glue,
preferably SuperGlue Gel or Duro-gel, Loctite, 60-80 grip sandpaper, 400-600
grit sandpaper and some paper towels.

To start, remove what is left of the old tip using the razor blade. Be sure not
to cut into the wood. Using the 60-80 grit sandpaper, sand the top of the
ferrule (white plastic piece and the end of your cue, sometimes this is a brass
piece). Then sand the bottom of the new tip with the same sandpaper until it is
rough. Now that the tip and surfaces are prepared, you will attach the new tip.
Apply a light coat of glue to both the ferrule and the bottom of the new tip.
Only a small amount is needed on both pieces. Next, carefully center the tip
onto the ferrule and hold in place for about a minute. When the glue has set,
carefully use the razor to remove any excess over hang so the tip is flush with
the ferrule. To finish up, wet the sides of the tip slightly and burnish using
the 400-600 sandpaper. You may also use the same paper to shape the tip to your
desired radius. Allow the glue to dry completely before using for play. You're
ready to go! It is also important to keep your cue stick clean. After playing,
you will notice a build-up of chalk on the tip. If you play using hand chalk,
that will also be evident on the shaft. After play, it is a good idea to
remember to always wipe down your stick. Any experienced billiard shooter will
attest that nothing is worse and harms your shot more than a sticky cue shaft.
There are several techniques that one can use to clean their pool cue shaft,
ranging from a simply dry wipe-down, to and involved pool cue shaft smoothing
and burnishing.

The buildup of sticky residue can accumulate over time if your pool cue shaft
is not cleaned properly. You can help slow the buildup of sticky residue by
always wiping the pool cue shaft down with a cotton cloth after play, as well
as by doing the obvious; ensuring that you play with cleanly washed hands. You
can also use a slightly damp cloth, but it is imperative that you completely
and thoroughly dry the pool cue shaft immediately after wiping it clean to
prevent warping.

How To Maintain Your Cue Tip

Aside from protecting your cue from humidity, the other caution you must take
is caring for your cue tip. Since the tip is active in every one of your shots,
it is of utmost importance to have a good tip at all times. The cue tip is also
very important to keep clean. It's cleanliness will affect backspin, accuracy,
touch, smoothness of stroke, and precision of each and every shot that you
take. When the pool cue is not in use, it should be maintained by by protecting
the cue's tip from any foreign dings, scrapes, gouges, or anything else that may
otherwise be of potential danger. Finally, you must remember that the tip itself
should always be covered when not in play.

The spin/speed ratio on the cue ball depends primarily on the actual tip-ball
contact point. You seldom want to hit the ball right in the middle, you don't
want to miscue, and you want to have precise control of the spin. Therefore, a
rounded tip is better than a flat tip. You shape the tip with a tip scuffer, a
file, a piece of 400-600 sandpaper, and other similar abrasive tools. Most
players like their tips rounded.

In the case of well-rounded tips, miscues occur when the tip slides on the
surface of the ball. Along with other reasons, this happens when the tip
doesn't hold chalk. The tip doesn't hold chalk when it is packed down from
hitting the cue ball and the surface is slick. If you tap the tip to give the
surface some texture, it will hold the chalk better. You can buy special tools
to tap the tip, or you can use a rasp, or a coarse file, or coarse sandpaper
glued to a wood backing can be rolled over the tip surface. Scuffing with
sandpaper also works, but it wears the tip away too fast. For maximal tip life,
tap more, scuff less.

Tips can also mushroom, meaning that the leather bulges at the sides so that
the tip is wider than the ferrule. Most pool players prefer to remove this
bulge. The best way is to use a lathe, but there are other methods too. Fine
sandpaper (600 grit or finer) can be used, but some care should be taken not to
scratch the ferrule. Cutting tools designed especially for this purpose are
available, and pocket knives and razor blades can also be used, but utmost care
should be taken to avoid ferrule damage. After the mushroom bulge has been
removed, the edge of the tip can be polished by wetting the sides and rubbing
the leather edge firmly against the cloth on the top of a cushion or against a
leather pad.

It is also important to maintain not only the tip, but also the ferrule. Over
time, chalk, dirt, and other foriegn substances can build up on the ferrule and
will embed on your pool cue like a tar substance. Cleaning the ferrule and tip
of your pool cue regularly, by simply wiping it down (ensuring that you fully
dry it off) can help to prevent this buildup from occuring. This will make for
a smoother, cleaner, and better playing shaft, which can only serve to improve
your game, and extend the pool cue's life span.

The Masse Technique

Masse is a term used to identify a technique in which the cue ball follows a
curved path. It is used to make tight turns around interfering balls. Though a
difficult shot to master, it can be quite useful in tournament play. The masse
is an extremely complicated combination of physics that requires careful
observation and lots of practice. This shot is not intended for the amateur
player. You can cause severe damage to the surface of the table if the shot is
not executed correctly. Tears and rips will occur and you will also damage the
tips on your cue stick. It is not a recommended shot, but if you are able to
master it, it will come in handy many times over especially for trick shooters,
though you will be rolling the dice in the accuracy department.

With a masse shot, the angle of the cue ball path and shot speed play a huge
role. If you do not have a good feel for the speed and the effects of table
conditions, you will not be very successful with masse shots. To perform this
shot, you will raise the butt of your cue so that it is almost perpendicular.
Many players sit on the rail as they perform this type of shot. Looking down
the shaft to the cue, you will aim your shot. You will be striking the cue ball
on an outer surface causing the spin needed to curve around the object. The only
way to truly perfect this shot is to try it over and over again. This could
prove to be an expensive ordeal as you will be repairing your table quite often.

It is critical to have a stable bridge and an accurate stroke to be confident
with the contact point on the cue ball. The type of cloth can and will have a
big impact on masse action. A high-friction cloth can make it difficult to get
a big curve because the initial impact with the table cloth can limit the
action of the cue stick. Masse shot practice can be abusive to the table cloth,
especially if you are still developing your technique. If you care about the
table you are using to practice on, you should consider using a spare piece of
cloth to limit the possible abuse and future repairs.

There are a variety of shots and techniques players use to navigate around
interfering balls. Masse is one of the more common techniques, but I would
recommend casual players and beginners to steer clear of it and try to focus on
your regular game. The fancy stuff can come later once you have truly mastered
the fundamentals of the game. Of course, it is every pool players dream to be
the next well known trick shooter, but until you have a solid form and
developed techniques, it's best to save the "pretty" shots for last.

What Are Pool Tables Made Of?

The most important part of playing a good game is playing on a good table. The
main table surface should be made from slate. There are different grades of
tables which are reflective in their final price. On the high end of the scale,
the table will be made using 7/8 inch to 1 inch thick slate. The lower scaled
tables will use 3/4 inch slate. In either case, the slate will extend past the
playing surface to the ends of the table, thus allowing extra support for the
rails. The better tables will also have a wood backing for the surface cloth to
be attached. Some lower-end tables don't have the wood backing, and the cloth is
attached with a spray adhesive, which can cause puckering or peeling especially
if moisture and humidity are prevalent. In older tables horizontal holes were
drilled in the slate edges and filled with molten lead; screws running through
the vertical edge of the rail were tightened into the lead-lined hole. In
contrast, rails are attached to modern tables by inserting a bolt vertically
through a hole in the slate and tightening it into the bottom of the rail,
pulling the rail and slate together snugly.

There are many choices to be made when making a custom table. The thickness of
your slate, the color of the cloth for the playing surface, material used for
rails and pockets. Most people who own a pool table in their homes consider it
a piece of furniture as well as a for entertainment, so be sure to get what you
want and what fits into your lifestyle. After deciding your slate, you will need
to choose a color for the table. Often there are more than 30 choices. Surfaces
are a lot like carpeting, coming in various weights. The common preferred
weight is from 20 to 22 ounces. Be sure that it is a good nylon-wool blend. The
cloth used to cover the slate and the rails is designed specifically for pool
tables. Although it is often referred to as felt (a fabric formed by
compressing fibers rather than weaving), it is actually a woven fabric with a
nap (exposed, short, fuzzy fiber ends) on one surface.

Your rails and pockets are all personal choices as far as coloring and
materials. You can go plain to keep the cost down, or have carved rails with
leather pockets, creating an ornate piece of furniture. It's really all up to
you. Your playing surface and felt covering should be the main concern for
quality. Diamond- or circular-shaped sights embedded in the rail tops are
usually made of mother of pearl, abalone shell, or plastic. Pocket irons may be
made of cast iron, zinc alloy, aluminum, rubber, or high-impact styrene plastic.
Traditionally, pocket liners are made of leather (solid or net), but plastic or
rubber is also used.

A table made well will last you years and bring much pleasure. For those of you
wondering the cost, an inexpensive table might have particle board components
that do not hold screws or staples as well as solid wood. Tables vary widely in
quality and cost; a casual player who wants a table for a few years of personal
recreation can get one for around $600. So-called popularly priced tables,
which are well-built, durable, and attractive, may cost $1,600-$3,000.
Remember, your primary aim should be for that of stability and durability.

Pool Table Maintentance

After spending days upon days and dollars upon dollars for your pool table, you
should know how to care for it so it will last a life time. Not maintaining the
table will affect your overall game and cost you a bundle in needed repairs.
Take some small and simple steps to avoid having to pay for repairs on your

If you have a new table, the cloth may interact with the roll of the balls for
the break in period. This is completely normal, but to speed up the break-in
process, it helps by brushing the cloth as frequently as possible. The table,
new or used, should be brushed before and after every game played. Be sure to
always brush the cloth in the same direction and never use circular motions.
The surface may be vacuumed if necessary, again, always in the same direction.
To avoid exposure to humidity, spills and other hazards, it is recommended that
you cover the table when not in use.

Avoid excessive ball build up or storage in the pockets of your table. The
balls will wear out the cloth around the pockets if they cannot drop freely
inside. Stored balls for lengthy periods may also stretch the pockets depending
on what material they are made from. If your table was made with leather used to
create the pockets, ball build up will deffinitely affect the shape of the
pockets over time. This may not happen so much if the material is weaved or
made of mesh, but it is always a good idea not to let the balls build up
regardless of the material used.

If your table has a natural wood finish, it should be dusted and cleaned
frequently. Your investment may be for entertainment, but it is also a piece of
furniture and a possible heirloom. Wood finishes can be restored by using a
non-residue forming dusting agent, such as lemon oil. Never use a cleaner that
contains ammonia as it can chemically damage the finish. Though it is possible
to re-finish the wood if staining occurs, it is best to prevent that as much as
possible. Taking general care of the wood on the rails will lengthen the life of
the table and reduce the possible cost of repairs in the future. Considering the
cost of your investment, it is wise to care for it in a way that will allow you
to enjoy it for years to come.

If you have your table stored in a recreation room where food and drinks will
be present, try to encourage the use of coasters. Never set a can, glass or
bottle on any part of the table. The moisture will cause damage and will also
leave stains. A no food or drink policy is often in place at local pool halls,
and they are never allowed near tournament tables. One final thing to remember,
do not sit or stand on any part of the table. Aside from possibly injuring
yourself, you will affect the table leverage and the balls will not travle as
they should. Always keep unnecessary weight off of the table, both during play
and not.

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