Archive for September, 2008

How to Play Rotation Pool Games

Friday, September 26th, 2008

by Ernie Reynolds

The term “rotation” in pool and billiards basically means that the balls in a game must be hit in numerical order, with the lowest being first and the highest numbers last. Because the American-type pool balls are usually numbered, these types of games are naturally played more in the US.
Probably the most popular rotation-style game is 9-ball. After the rack is broken, the first player to shoot begins by shooting at the 1 ball first and follows the numerical rotation upward as he continues on to his next shot. Of course, the object of 9-ball is to be the first player to sink the 9 ball.

Except for the game called strict rotation, where the balls must be pocketed in exact order, most rotation games only require the shooter to contact the next numerical ball first with the cue ball. Any other ball may be sunk, and will count towards the player’s turn and point totals.

The way this works is like so – if the player is shooting for the 1 ball, he may sink the 1 ball and continue shooting. He may also bounce the cue ball off of the 1 ball and carom it into another ball and sink that ball. A third option is to hit the one ball and combination it into another ball and sink that ball. In each case the player continues to shoot as long as he hits the current ball in rotation first with the cue ball and makes a ball afterwards.

Besides 9-ball, some other rotation games include the game actually called rotation or 61, simple rotation and 8-ball rotation.

In rotation or 61, The balls are racked in the triangle rack with the one ball at the head, the 2 and 3 balls at each corner, and the 15 ball in the center. The object of this game is to score the most points by sinking balls and scoring points based on their numbered value.

The first ball to be hit by the cue ball must be the next lowest ball in rotation, but as long as a ball goes in, the player continues to shoot. The first player to sink enough balls to score at least 61 points wins the game. Two players or two teams can play this game. Since the total points of the rack equal 120 points, if the two opponents both score 60 points simultaneously, the last player to legally pocket a ball wins the game.

In the game simple rotation, the object of the game is to sink the most balls. The balls must be hit in rotation order, but no points are given for the numerical value of the balls. The game ends when one player sinks at least 8 balls from the rack.

The game of 8-ball rotation is a combination of 8-ball and rotation. The 8 ball is placed at the center of the rack like the game of 8-ball. Each player or team has either the striped or solid balls, and these must be pocketed in their correct rotation. The player or team that sinks their balls first and then legally sinks the 8 ball first wins the game.

In strict rotation, the object is again to be the first to score 61 points, based on the numerical value of the balls. However, in this game, the next ball in the rotation must be the one pocketed. If a ball is hit into the pocket by the rotation ball and it is not the rotation ball, that ball is removed from the pocket and spotted. Since the first ball to be contacted is the one that must be pocketed, combinations and carom shots are of no use in this game.

Pool Table Construction: Hardwoods vs MDF

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

by Press Room

Prior to the introduction of MDF into the industry, pool tables (as well as snooker tables and billiards tables) had always been made from hardwoods.The term ‘hardwood’ designates trees usually from the deciduous family, and typically broadleaved. As the name suggests the wood from these trees is harder and more durable than that from their softwood relations.

The most common hardwoods used in the construction of pool tables are mahogany, oak, birch and rosewood. The durability of these woods makes them ideal for holding the weight of a slate playing surface, without the risk of warping over time. Not only are these woods extremely hard wearing but the grain and finish of the wood adds to the character of the finished pool table.

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Mahogany was particularly prevalent in the pool and snooker industry up until the early 19th century. When polished it displays a deep red brown finish which darkens over time, and straight grain. While it is still regarded as one of the best choices for larger pool tables, intensive deforestation has increased the cost immensely. The same is true to a lesser extent of other hardwoods, and this has led to the introduction of MDF as a cheaper alternative.

The introduction of MDF to the pool table industry created a wealth of cheaper, less durable models which, for the first time, made pool tables affordable to almost anybody. The main reason for the introduction of cheaper, smaller pool tables was for the domestic consumer market. These tables are not hand crafted/finished as their predecessors were, but machine made.

The main benefit of the wider availability of pool tables, which had once been the privilege of the very wealthy, was that the game of pool was brought to a much wider audience. Whereas before you had to join a club, or be old enough to go to a pub to play, people could now enjoy the game in their own home.

The major disadvantages of using a cheaper, manmade composite like MDF are that it is not as durable as a natural hardwood, and must more susceptible to variations in humidity and temperature. In order to maintain the appearance of a ‘real’ pool table, these MDF bed tables are usually finished with a wood effect veneer (typically of mahogany, rosewood or oak) and domestic quality cloth/rubber.

The use of MDF has also extended to some slate bed pool tables. In a similar fashion to MDF only pool tables, the cabinet and legs of the table are finished in re-enforced MDF. A wood effect veneer is then applied to the MDF to finish the pool table off. The two main benefits of finishing a pool table like this are:

1. Production costs are kept down, as MDF is much cheaper (not to mention environmentally kinder) to produce

2. A much wider variety of finishes can be applied to the table, rather than just a traditional polished hardwood as before

It is a shame that traditional methods of pool table construction have dwindled as the need for cheaper consumer goods to be produced, however as we have seen above it is not all bad news. While reducing the use of hardwoods in pool tables may offend some, it has the advantage of reducing deforestation and preserving the shrinking supplies of hardwoods.


Wanted – A Friendly Pool-Playing Establishment

Thursday, September 11th, 2008


For years I have been going to the same local neighborhood bar to play pool. It’s the kind of place where I know most of the people and many of them know me. It kind of reminds me of Cheers – “where everybody knows your name.”

The place is nothing to write home about. It has been called a “dive” more than once, and the owner doesn’t put much money into the establishment to keep it up. It’s a comfortable place though, and one where you can put your feet up and relax.

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For quite a while now my brother and I have been playing pool there every Friday night. We usually have a table to ourselves, and when someone challenges the winner, it’s usually someone we know and like to play pool with.

In other words, I go there and usually have a good time. Lately though, things have been getting out of hand. My peaceful little local hangout has been changing.

Last Friday, at our usual pool night, a bunch of loud and obnoxious young guys were playing pool on the other table in the place. The alcohol must have been flowing freely for quite a while because things were getting out of hand. Glass was breaking, profanity was flying through the air, and disrespect was the order of the day.

I mentioned to my brother that if these guys were still here in another hour, there were going to be fights starting. Little did I know that it would involve me.

A while later I had to use the restroom, so I opened the door and attempted to enter and take care of business. The small bathroom had about 5 guys in it who gave me a surly look as I opened the door. OK, I’ll wait until later.

About ten minutes later I figured I had waited long enough. I entered the restroom even though there were still 3 guys in there. They were hunched over the urinal snorting something white and powdery. Great.

That’s when the abuse started. They were, I guess, upset that I had the audacity to use the public restroom and invade their little drug party. Insults started coming my way and one of them actually pulled my hair while I was taking care of business and in no position to defend myself. I left the room after returning a little verbal abuse of my own.

Things went downhill from there. Each member of the group of 5 or 6 people took turns coming over to me and hurling abuse and threats. I was repeatedly invited to “step outside and do something about it”. It became impossible to continue playing pool.

Finally my brother and I moved to the other side of the bar to attempt to diffuse the situation, but the idiots wouldn’t quit. More threats and physical gestures continued to be thrown our way. I complained to the bartender, who shut off the drinks to this group. However, it was obvious that they were pretty hyped-up on their drugs and booze and were out for blood.

Luckily for us, there was an older guy sitting next to me who, I guess, was a friend of some of the thugs who were hasseling us. He offered to walk us out of the bar to our cars. We took him up on his offer and walked by the jerks who followed us out of the bar, but only hurled verbal abuse our way and did not do anything physical. Thank you sir.

It really burned my ass to be so outnumbered and unable to make a stand against idiots and thugs such as these. To be told that I “don’t belong in this bar” that I have frequented for over 20 years by some young punk did not sit well at all. Alas, I have matured enough to realize that getting into a free-for-all with these bozos would not have done me a bit of good in the long run.

I got into another argument several months back with another drunken patron of this establishment. He walked up and plunked a quarter down on the table and walked away. He never asked who was playing or if anyone even had the winner of the game, which I did by the way. As I started to rack the balls after the game was over, he started taking a fit over me jumping ahead of him because he had his quarter on the table.

I was in a group of three people who had been playing on that table for several hours previously. We kept mental note of who was up next and didn’t bother placing quarters down on the table. We were informed that, because he had a quarter on the table and we did not, he had the next game, period.

Well, I ended up playing the next game, but not without a ferocious argument though. This guy continued to rant and rave for an hour afterwards. I finally ended up leaving that night in a disgusted mood. Who needs it?

It’s just too bad that you have to be subjected to this kind of abuse when you are trying to mind your own business and just play some pool. I was a young punk at one time, and someone probably had a similar opinion of me once or twice. But I never willingly gave anyone this kind of abuse without provocation. I have never gotten into a bar fight and I don’t want to start now.

So, I have come to the conclusion that I need to find another place to play pool – a place with a higher class of people, or at least less drunks and punks. Hopefully, this will keep me out of the trouble that I am afraid I am headed for, if I continue to patronize my usual place. It’s really a shame that it has to come to this, but as they say, that’s life in the big city.


Perfecting Your Pool Stroke

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Perfecting Your Pool Stroke
By []Jason Marco

Perfecting your stroke is something that all billiards players want to accomplish. It’s something that players can work on for years and years while playing the game and still not get it right. Unless you get some expert advice on how to perfect your stroke, you may continue to tense up and mess up every single time. Everyone has a different stance and you need to find out what’s most comfortable for you when you’re setting up your shot.

Make sure you feel balanced and you can put some weight on your bridge hand to steady yourself as well as you align your head with your pool cue. Hold your cue lightly in your hands and make sure that you’re not tightening up your grip as you move it. If you tighten up as you move your cue then this will cause your cue to go sideways and that’s not something you want to happen. Time your stroke well and again make sure that you’re not tightening up on your follow through. Use only your forearm as you swing through. If you’re using more muscles than that then you’re bound to tighten up your grip and ruin your follow through. Your backstroke should be slow and your cue needs to be pointing straight and level at the ball you’re going to strike; slow and easy, soft grip and slow backstroke. Finish your stroke with your grip hand at your chest.

Watch what the pros do when they set up their strokes. McDermott and Massey didn’t get where they are today by being weekend warriors at the pool tables, so you know this is going to take some time to get it just perfect.

A little wiggle at the back end of your stroke will cause a wobble and a missed shot and you may not even know why. Many missed strokes are caused this way. It’s great to have a perfected stroke so you can run the rack and even make those trick shots. It also helps to have professional level cues to use as you take your shots. A professional cue, whether it is a McDermoot, a Cuetec or a Predator Cue can dramatically improve your game on all levels. You don’t need to spend big dollars for these pool cues, as they can be found at discount pool supply stores.

If your stroke isn’t perfect, make practice shots as often as you can outside of playing billiards with your friends. Imagine their surprise when you beat them with your new and improved stroke when they had no idea you were even practicing!

Jason Marco is an expert on the subject of Pool and operates a discount billiards store where you can get great equipment and []pool cues

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