Monday, November 7, 2011

Pool Tables - Does Size Matter ?

Does size matter when it comes to a Pool table? 

Well, the game remains the same wherever you play it in the world, or whatever size table you play it on, but the challenges of it, do differ.

In England, the regular size table which you will see squished into the corner of a pub, is a 6’ x 3’ table. These small tables, which Americans may refer to as mini tables, came about in the early 1960’s and the size is relatable to the usually diminutive sizes of the watering holes themselves. Pub sports have always been popular, and so a smaller table was utilised to fit in amongst the card sharks, the darts players and local skittles teams. Because of the limited sizes of Public House establishments, it is only natural that smaller pool tables would be put to use. These small tables are common to England, and are the basis of many local leagues. But because the popularity of American sized tables grew, that is when more and more Pool halls, offering a chance to get on the big tables, sprung up around the country. The growing popularity of the 8 ball and 9 ball formats of the game, ensured that the large tables would stay around in the UK.

American sized pool tables are generally nine by four and a half foot. The size factor to qualify as a regulation table is a ratio of 2:1 from length to width. Naturally the bigger tables mean bigger balls, bigger pockets and bigger cue tips. While players on regular English tables were challenged with squeezing two inch balls into holes barely big enough to house them, switching to American tables offered just a little bit more wiggle room in being able to sink their slightly larger balls. There was of course the challenge of adapting knowledge of angles to a bigger playing surface, and although the angles stayed the same it just felt different because of distances. There were different speed considerations to weigh up, as longer shots needed to be attacked on the larger sized tables. These are the subtle differences to the same game, between the English and American tables. But there is the old argument that a good player can play on any sized table in any condition, and while that certainly counts for a lot, an Englishman challenging an American of an equal skill set in an English pub to a game, will likely have a big advantage, and vice versa.

So American sized pool tables, which are a great bridge between English Pool and Snooker, stuck around. But there is one famous case of an American doing things even bigger. Out in Frederiktown, Missouri, pool crazy Steve Wienecke decided to forego putting a swimming pool in his back yard, and instead opted for a pool table. Nothing unusual about that, you may think, but the size of his table is. We are talking a big 30’ pool table, which took five truckloads of gravel and 250 hours of labour to make. The balls are actually 6lb bowling balls painted up in colours, and naturally because you would need a small tree trunk as a cue to try and play your shots with those, this is pool with a difference. The cue ball is rolled in a Lawn/Ten Pin Bowling action, and Wienecke insists that there is enough grip on the heavy duty felt to execute those Masse shots perfectly. The giant pool table with its enormous cushions and pockets is the perfect display of how pool crazy people can get.

Photo Credit
So whether or not size matters in pool tables, is simply down to a matter of preference. Mr Wienecke is happy playing with his big balls, while Johnny English likes his tight pockets. The American sized pool table is the most common size which you will see across the globe, and does have a certain sense of attraction, because it feels like you have arrived on the big scene. There is a billiards room in the White House and you can’t picture a small English table sitting in there can you? No. So the American sized pool table is where the stars of the game like Earl Strickland, Efren Reyes, Jeannette Lee and Mika Immonen ply their trade; it is the very backbone of the Mosconi Cup. The tables may change, but the game remains the same maybe, but for many, bigger is definitely better.

This is a guest post written by Lee Jackson, Lee is a writer for Liberty Games who supply American pool tables, as well as a number of other cool games room products.