Alright, it’s not so humble. It’s big. It’s heavy. And most Northern California Pool Tables are actually pretty expensive. So maybe humble isn’t the best word, maybe – simple. Yes, I know that they can get as needlessly intricate as money can buy, but the bottom line is that they are functionally pretty simple: a big piece of rock (slate, in this case) covered in felt and resting on some wooden legs. But how complicated we make this simple structure!
Of course, the complications usually come from whoever happens to be losing at the time:
“They just don’t stop rolling!”
“I’m not sure it’s 100% level”
“There’s a dead spot right on this cushion”
“These are pretty tight cushions”
And those are just the complaints! There’s also all of the ‘options’:
What color felt?
What stain color wood?
Material for the inlays?
How intricate of a table?
How fancy should the pockets be?
Here’s my down and dirty take on pool tables, what I think you need, what I think you don’t, and what just really doesn’t matter. Your opinions might be different, but this guide should help you figure out exactly what to look for when you go to buy one, or should at least (if nothing else) save you some money. What’s the first concern?
New or used. Why? It massively affects your budget. Used are cheaper, less expensive, and don’t cost as much. Those are about all of the benefits though. They have more character, and if you’re into antiques or history, that could be a bonus as well. However… They tend to need repairs. Slate cracked, wood chipped, felt ripped, inlays missing, pockets loose… the list could go on forever. So, while these are a cheaper options, make sure that you thoroughly check out the table before you hand over your hard earned cash (or sweat and tears moving it).
The advantage with going with a new table is that you have complete control. You control the style, how much it costs, how big it is, pretty much everything. But that flexibility comes with a price, and any of us that have shopped for new pool tables and looked at the tag and felt a mild panic attack coming on. Plan on the price tag having a comma, or bring an inhaler. But what if you’re comfortable with your budget, what else is there to look at?
The next big factor is style. European royal, American modern, or 60’s craftsman? There’s no right or wrong answers here, just whatever you personally prefer most. If you aren’t sure what fits you, look around your house or apartment. What style is it? What kind of stuff do you have? Chances are, you’re going to want a table that matches what you already own. If you’re married, that might not be true at all (the old “that’s my room, that’s her room” game). Once you’ve figured out your style, the manufacturer will virtually choose itself.
Pool table manufacturers are a lot like car manufacturers; there’s different classes in each style. This is good news for us, because we don’t have infinity dollars to spend. As mentioned earlier, the style you choose will largely determine the manufacturer, and from there you just have to select the class you want. However, there is one critical step that absolutely cannot be skipped:
You have to shoot around on the table before you buy it, no matter what they say. Why? It’s a test drive! There could be so much issues! What if it isn’t level? What if there’s a dead spot in one of the cushions? What if a pocket is loose? Not only would these be very annoying problems, they’re also potential bargaining chips. Think of it like negotiating for a car or a house: if there are problems that need fixed, they need to fix them or charge less, right? Shooting on the table or ‘test driving’ it will ensure that you find out about as many of these problems as possible, and potentially puts more money in your pocket. Oh, and one last thing to keep in mind.
Make sure your table fits in the room before you buy it. Seriously. Yes, it’ll be a funny story down the road, but in the here and now it will make you very very angry. So measure first, then measure again, then measure one last time (just for good measure). It doesn’t just need to fit in the room, it needs to get in the room somehow, so make sure there’s a plan for that as well. Last but certainly not the least-
Enjoy your new pool table! You’ve probably ‘invested’ more than you’d like to in it, but if your like me, the memories and relaxation are more than worth it. If your frustrated that your new table hasn’t seemed to make you any better at pool, consider subscribing to our newsletter for some tips, exercises, and even videos to help you get better. Have fun!