Other than the size difference, snooker and pool tables look superficially similar, with six pockets, rebound cushions, and a ‘baize’ or cloth covering the playfield. The games however are entirely different in terms of play, setup, rules, and the way in which the cloth is marked. You can play a basic, fun game of snooker on a pool table if you buy an extra set of snooker balls, however.
What should I consider when buying a pool table?
Jamie Sanford, managing director of Liberty Games, shares his expert advice on how to buy the best pool table for you
Check your room size. You should ensure that you have enough space around the entire table to use a 57-inch cue from any direction, without obstruction from furniture. This will dictate the size of table that you can buy and install in your home.
Choose your bed material. There are two main bed materials: wood and slate. Wood bed tables are at the value end of the spectrum and are aimed at families and casual players who don’t need peak performance. Professional and serious players will need a slate bed, made from a real piece of rock slate, machined, and honed to be perfectly flat. Slate bed tables offer much better game quality, but are more expensive and heavier.
Choose between American or British pool. British pool is the version you will likely have played in British pubs and bars on smaller 6ft or 7ft tables. It is a slower, more tactical game played on a wool-based cloth, requiring excellent skill to navigate balls into the tighter pockets. American pool is a faster game, played on larger 7ft to 9ft tables. A nylon-based ‘speed cloth’ on American pool tables makes ball speeds much quicker, with wider pockets and springy cushion rubber for impressive rebounds.
Identify the ball colours. Snooker comes with a majority of red balls, and then single balls of other colors placed around the playfield. British pool is most often played with red and yellow balls (the color is assigned to a player after the break). American pool is played with spots and stripes balls.
Consider a multipurpose table. Some pool tables offer multipurpose functionality. Pool dining tables are a popular trend in recent years – these tables have shallow bodies, allowing people to sit around them on chairs, with lots of leg room. When a set of tabletops are lifted onto the pool table, it is transformed into a dining table for the whole family. There are also ‘multi game’ pool tables aimed at families that can transform into foosball, air hockey or table tennis tables.
Get the right cue size for you and your table. Depending on your height, build and skill level, you should ideally use a 57-inch full-size pool cue. Shorter or younger people may need to move down to a 52-inch or even a 48-inch cue. Children might need to use a 36-inch cue. Cues and other accessories are almost always included with new tables, but you may want to buy extras in different sizes if needed.
How much maintenance does a pool table need? A slate bed table doesn’t need much maintenance. Once installed and leveled, it can be pretty much left alone. The only really vulnerable part is the cloth, as spills, dust, sunlight and pets can damage it. Use a cover or a tabletop to protect it and brush it regularly.
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