Whether you’re a beginner in the game of pool or you’re already a pro, one key to improving your gameplay is having your own pool table at home. When you do, you have the luxury to play and practice at any time that you want. Moreover, you can easily test your skills by playing a game or two with your family and friends.
Here are some guidelines you can follow when you’re looking for the best pool tables :
Manufacturer or Point of Origin
As with any major purchase, the first step would be to check the manufacturer. Major brands usually install a nameplate specifying the make and model of the table, and where it was manufactured. However, there are other reputable quality manufacturers aside from the main brands, which do not install a nameplate. Thus, just because a pool table doesn’t have a nameplate on it, it doesn’t mean it’s of bad quality.
There are lots of independent makers that produce quality tables that can rival the major brands. You can opt to look for local makers in your area to support the local industry. You can also search for local pool players groups and websites to see reviews and recommendations for good tables.
Standard professional tables are made with a slate that’s 1 inch thick. Consumer and amateur level tables usually use between a ½ inch to ⅞ inches thick slate beds. While slate is the best material to ensure accuracy and consistency of play, there are also other materials that need to be considered, like MDF (medium-density fibreboard) or plywood.
The bed material depends on how serious you are in learning the sport. Casual players at home can start to learn on MDF, but the best pool tables are still the professionally acclaimed slate tables.
Other considerations for bed material are weight and portability. For some table owners, it’s a major concern for them to be able to move and relocate the table in the future. The material of the table bed will factor into this concern.
Modern standard billiard cloths or felt are made from a combination of wool and nylon that’s coated with Teflon. Its quality is usually specified in its weight per unit length, commonly denoted as an ounce per yard. 18 to 22 ounces per yard is a good starting point when checking the felt specs.
While the durability of the cloth is of major concern, you should also check the felt’s effect on speed and traction. Consistently manufactured cloth feels good for the player with its consistency and predictability in terms of ball speed.
The official standard size of a pool table is the 8-foot regulation table, which measures 88 inches by 44 inches. This is measured by taking the length and width of the playing field within the rail cushions.
You may opt to pick the standard size if you want to feel what it’s like to play an official game of pool. However, space sometimes becomes a constraint. There are other smaller sizes like 6.5-feet or 7.5-feet tables.
Check your available space where you want to place the table before searching for pool tables, and see which one is most comfortable and applicable to your available space.
Depending on your requirements and frequency of use, you may want to check the build quality of the tables you’re looking at.
While cheaper tables with thinner supports may work for the casual home amateur player who’s still learning, more serious and frequent play may require a more robust and sturdy table frame and bed. The table’s accuracy and consistency all depend on how sturdy the table is during play.
The constant usage and relocation of the table affect how long it’ll last and how consistent it can maintain the gameplay.
The table bed weighs a lot, especially for slate beds. You want high-quality legs that can support the weight, along with the players who lean on the table during gameplay.
There are many types of legs, some solid in construction and some modular types. Consider how the legs are built and if it can withstand years of continuous play.
The consistency of the slate bed relies on how good the frame is designed and constructed. A lack of support from the frame can result in sagging or cracking slate beds, which will become uneven.
The wearing of the frame can affect the consistency and predictability of shots during gameplay. Nothing is more frustrating than inconsistent shots that are not the player’s fault.
Rails are made of gum-like material that comes from either natural or synthetic materials. This ensures that the bounce of the ball from the cushion is predictable and consistent.
For casual players, you may opt for synthetic materials, but these tend to deteriorate over time, which may result in “dead” rails with lower bounce. For the more serious players out there, you may get the higher-quality natural gum materials, which have predictable bounce and will last the life of the table.
Having a pool table is a wonderful investment for your home or apartment. It’s definitely a good game to play with your loved ones and your friends.
To get the most out of your games, you need to choose the best and most durable pool table. Using the aforementioned criteria can help you make your choice when you go table-shopping.