May 11, 2016
Congrats! You’ve made a great decision to invest in your very own pool table. What should you look for when buying? Pool tables, pool tables and more tables! A quality pool table is an investment and is a guarantee to improve your game.
We asked Jerry Forsyth from AZBilliards his advice on what to look for when purchasing a pool table. Here is what he had to say…
First, decide what role the table will play in your home. Are you buying a table to use as a baby-sitter to keep the kids closer to home or are you buying a table to be able to build your game to a higher level? Is the table to be the center of social activities in your home or will it be used only occasionally? Are you buying a piece of furniture that must blend in with your other furnishings? And, most importantly, what is the size of the room where the table will be installed? Never try to ‘squeeze’ a pool table into a room that is even a small bit smaller than the chart below requires. Having to raise the butt end of your cue in order to avoid a wall will ruin your chances of developing a consistent stroke!
If you consider yourself a ‘serious’ player who is seeking to do well in competition then you should investigate and discover what brand and size of tables the majority of your competition will be played upon and consider buying that table. For example, if you are a league player you may wish to buy the table that their championships are contested upon. The APA uses Valley tables while the BCAPL uses Diamond tables, both in the 7-foot size. Other major leagues may play on different equipment. Find out before you buy.
If your goal is to play on the professional level you will be looking at a 9-foot table and you should expect to pay up to $10,000 for your table. Most professional tournaments in the USA are now played upon the Diamond Pro-Am table. The other most popular table for pro play is the Brunswick Gold Crown. The Gold Crown is pricier and it is three-piece slate so the set-up is a bit more complex. However, once it is in place it is an excellent table. The Diamond Pro-Am is a single-piece slate top with a leveling system that allows it to be easily adjusted and re-leveled as your house or carpet settles over time.
If you are not picky about playing on the same tables as pros play tournaments upon, then your choices in 9-footers opens up to a wide array of choices. If you still wish to play seriously but also want the kids and the neighbors to be able to enjoy the table, then an 8-foot table may be best for you. An 8-footer is not as intimidating to the casual player and not as frustrating for the devout amateur.
Finally, do remember that you can learn more about a table by looking under it than by staring at it from above. Get down on your knees and check out the framing of any table you wish to purchase. The heavier and more abundant the under-framing the better. If playability is your goal, you will be seeking a heavier table. Bumping a table with your hip should result in the balls on top just jiggling. If they move apart your table is too light for quality play.
Make certain you are positive about the reasons you are buying a table, make your choices based on those reasons, and then go shopping! There are many aspects of a table to consider before purchasing your own... Delta-13 has put together the list below and we hope it will be of help to you!
Best Known Table Manufacturers
Brunswick creates a vast array of billiard tables ranging from Economy Models to Custom Models. Brunswick has easily adapted over the past 170 years in business and is why they remain successful in the industry. You can check out their complete selection at: https://www.brunswickbilliards.com/pool-tables/.
The Diamond Billiards brand has three major positives going for them: their tables are made in the USA, they use solid hardwood and they use Simonis cloth. Their line is not as extensive as many other makers, but they offer the advantage of all playing tops (slate bed and frame) being of professional quality. You can view their choices at: http://www.diamondbilliards.com/.
But here’s the kicker: They have a “no excuse program” which allows customers to make monthly payments opposed to having to pay for a pool table all at once!
Olhausen tables are 100% made in the USA and they offer a lifetime warranty on their products. They use Accu-Fast cushions, the ‘fastest’ cushion you can buy made from 100% pure gum rubber. Check out their product line at: http://www.olhausenbilliards.com/categories/1.
Legacy is a pool table manufacturer that creates a product with fewer pieces, so the assembly is much easier. They are all made from solid hardwood and have a lifetime warranty.
As a plus for many of their customers they use environmentally friendly manufacturing methods in their table assembly. Their entire line may be viewed at: https://www.legacybilliards.com/pool-tables.html.
Presidential Billiards specializes in fine handcrafted tables for the home. While they do make a line of Tournament tables it is their fine furniture line that gets the most attention. Their quality is excellent and any table bought from a dealer has a lifetime warranty. Check them out at: http://www.presidentialbilliards.com/pool-tables.html.
Valley is the oldest maker of 7-foot tables, most commonly known as bar boxes. If you are a serious APA player, this is the table that their Championships are contested upon. You can check them out at: http://www.vdlp.net/valley/consumerindex.asp.
Slate vs. MDF
Slate is the only surface approved for professional billiards. The standard is 1” and the slate can come in up to three separate pieces which are commonly bound in a wooden frame. The cloth is stretched or glued to the surface of the slate to ensure a consistent playing surface.
Here’s the deal: The slate will not deteriorate over time as it is not affected by humidity. It is the most durable option and is the most consistent level wise.
MDF Pool Table Bed
The MDF Pool Table Bed is your most affordable option, but of the lowest quality. This table bed is affected by the humidity, which can cause it to warp overtime.
It gets worse: With this option, your table is not always level, which can cause ball movement when playing.
Ball Return vs. Ball Pockets
This option is mostly used in pool halls and bars (commercial locations) with coin operated tables.
This is a traditional pool table look in homes as each pocket has a net or bucket.
Type of Table
This table type consists of a thin layer of hardwood (?”) with a less expensive wood or particle board underneath.
The solid hardwood is the most durable and best table type as it is pure solid wood.
Thick and heavy and comprised of 60%+ of wool. This is the cloth you might be most familiar with as it is generally on coin operated tables and on tables in homes. The price is considerably lower than worsted wool, but the balls roll slower on this cloth and this felt will “pill.”
Simonis is made from worsted cloth (aka “speed cloth”) and does not “pill.” It is the best cloth on the market and offers the most consistent playing surface. They even have spill resistant cloth available! This cloth will be found on tables where professional tournaments are held and on tables of serious pool players. The second most popular cloth in the USA is Championship and the Asian market has an entrant in the form of Andy Cloth.
You want to make sure you are shopping for the correct size pool table. Check out our chart below to better assist you in choosing the right size table for your room.
Pool Table Size
Cue Size: 48” (rare, known as 'shorty')
7' Tabke- 11' X 14' room
8' Table - 12' X 15' room
9' Table - 12' X 16' room
Cue Size: 52” (rare)
7' Table- 12' X 15' room
8' Table- 12' X 15' room
9' Table - 13' X 17'
Cue Size: 57” (Common)
7' Table - 13' X 16' room
8' Table - 13' X 17' room
9' Table- 14' X 18' room
Now, where are you looking to be at price wise?
We have placed the tables and pricing into four categories with a few pool table manufacturers’ examples in that price range.
- Affordable Models under $999: Mizerak, Minnesota Fats, Fat Cat.
- Basic Models $ 1,000 to $ 1,999: Brunswick, Legacy Billiards.
- Mid-Range Models $ 2,000 to $ 3,499: Brunswick, Olhausen, Legacy Billiards.
- Custom/Professional Models $ 3,500 and up: Brunswick, Diamond, Olhausen, Connelly Billiards, Fusion Tables, Mitchell Pool Tables, A.E. Schmidt, Hurricane Custom Billiards, Legacy Billiards, Presidential Billiards.
Moving and Setting up the Table
Questions to ask: Does the moving and setup of the table come with the purchase of the table? Or is the price separate? If the price is separate, make sure to do your homework to find the best pool table movers!
If the table is used, there will not be a warranty on the purchase unless separately purchased from the manufacturer. If you are purchasing a new table, it is best to ask what is warrantied and the length of time.