About Pool Tables
Say the words 'pool table' enough and chances are that someday some purist will remind you that the correct term is 'billiard table.' For most people, this is a pretty meaningless distinction--it's the rare player, after all, who asks his friend to shoot a game of billiards. The distinction, however, is important, when you consider the variety of different games that can be played on your average pool (sorry: billiards) table. Pool tables vary in size depending on whether they've been designed for home, bar, or tournament use. At four and a half feet by nine feet, tournament tables tend to be the biggest, followed closely by home tables. Surprisingly enough, bar tables tend to be the smallest of the three categories, measuring in at about three and a half by seven feet, approximately. Of course, anything goes when it comes to pool tables, and it's entirely possible to find tables in square, circle, or even star shapes. By far the most popular, however are the traditional rectangles. They have (again, usually, the specifics can vary but rarely do) six pockets: one at each corner, and two in the middle. They're covered with a standard green felt cloth.Long felt blocks, or 'rails,' placed along each side of a pool table, enable it to keep the balls rolling without too much loss of speed. The wood used to make the table can be pretty much anything--metal tables have even been known to exist, though again, enthusiasts will probably argue for the more traditional wood. If you're considering the purchase of a pool table, it's best to start with the basics. Do you have a room that's right for it? The key with pool at home is having a space where players have plenty of elbow room. Cramming a 9-foot table into a room without the proper space will simply translate to a pool room forever empty of players.For most homes, a 9-foot table is simply too big. Remember that the measurement goes from inside cushion to inside cushion, so the rim must also be taken into account. Then add in the length of the pool cue from any angle and add six inches in just to make a more playable space. Some pool websites offer a handy sizing chart so you can make the best choice for the space available.Once you've decided on a size, it's time to look to individual tables. In general, the heavier a table is, the better. Make sure to bump the table--it shouldn't shake or move in any way. Wider pockets on a table tend to make for more fun games at home, since it's easier to sink the balls. The surface of the table is also extremely important. Make sure that before you buy a table--and a used table in particular--the surface has no tears, scratches, or bumps. The felt should be smooth and taut over the whole table. A pool table is no small purchase so make sure you have a chance to play on it before hauling it home.