The date on the following comment is summer 2010.
I recently played at the Brass Ring again. I've played there before, but not before really working on improving my pool skills. The tables there are some very nice Diamond Billiards tables, probably their "professional" table. Darn nice table, and lighting too. It is amazing what you appreciate once you start doing something regularily!
What's the difference between Pool and Billiards? There are two kinds of billiards games -- 3 rail billiards, where the balls are banked around the table to hit other balls, and pocket billiards, where balls are sunk in pockets. Pool is a synonymous term for Pocket Billiards.
Several pool folks, either BCA instructors, or people interesed in pool, have put together some great YouTube YT presentations on billiards. I find that they helped glue together things I already knew by making some nice presentations of the material that were neither too complex, nor too simple.
The BCA's Professional Instructor Program was rebranded as PBIA -- Professional Billiard Instructrs Association in Summer 2012. Same exact organizations, different titles.
Here in the US, almost everyone knows the game of 8-ball, it's almost universal. In British based countries, the same is true of Snooker. 9-Ball is more random and seems regional in nature.
10 Ball is a reaction by better players to the luck factor in 9-ball. It is basically like 9 ball, but a called pocket game; you can't just go wild and hope to drop the 9 ball with random shots. The biggest difference that I see between 9 and 10 ball is the necessity of running an extra ball. To me, this changes the character of the game quite a bit, since it gives a distinct advantage to better shooters. From my POV as an intermediate player, 9 Ball is a great combination of skill, and good shooting with a bit of luck thrown in. 10-Ball forces you to have longer run-outs to have a chance to win, which definitely favors better players over intermediate players. I enjoy the game, but it isn't 9-ball with the luck factor removed. I'ver seen exceelent 9-ball players who don't compete as effectively at 10 ball due to this factor.
I've tried to get people to play some of these games. They are quite challenging, hard to play, and are well worth your time if you want to become better at pool.
The funny thing about it is that so many players say that the feel that playing these is like cheating! They don't get it that you need to do stuff like this to get better -- and you are doing it in an environment just like you shoot in competition:
WI has more cue makers than any other state!? McDermott, Viking, Jacoby, Schon, Pechauer, Sailor, Jackson, Schmelke!?!?!? Go figure -- must have something to do with our long winters!
Shooting on a pool league has moved to its own page.
There is a somewhat confusing selection of rules about pool. Just at a simple short count you have International Rules, European Rules, American Rules, League Rules, Bar Rules, and House Rules.
In my opinion the ruleset to know and love is the BCA, Billiards Congress of America, ruleset. It carves the stupid parts off of the international and european rules which reduce the fun and enjoyment of the game -- while leaving all the really important things there.
That isn't an arbitrary choice. For example the APA rules are IMO, set towards paying money to the APA so you can be in their global handicapping system. There are better handicaping systems which can rank players who have never played against each other, and have NO licensing cost.
If you know BCA rules, you will be set for understanding most other rulesets. Where do most rulesets have differences? They are usually small differneces in Fouls, Legal Breaks, Legal Shots, and Winning Shots, and Cue Ball location on fouls or scratches.
Bar Rules are usually a simplified version of real pool. Cue ball in hand in kitchen aka Ball in Kitchen. Typically there are less fouls (cue ball scratch being about the only foul). Winning may require the 8 be sunk with a bank shot, or be pocketed in the same pocket your last ball was sunk, last pocket. Typically you are stuck with any balls you sink on the break. Often scratching while trying to sink the 8 ball is a loss.
My recommendation is to play standard pool. It will make you a better player, instead a victim of pool sharks. You can go look for bar pool games, but most people who want to play pool are quite willing to play by league or international rules. They are willing to win on their skill, not the rules they use to win.
The easiest way to negotiate and make sure you and your opponent are on the same page when two people play a game of 8 ball is to check the following items:
9 Ball is usually played in sets. The important thing to take care of here is that you are negotiating for two things. The other thing to take care of is that 9 ball games/sets are usually handicapped in someway to make play more equal.
For the individual game
For the Set
There are a number of Performance Cue Shafts on the market. Hi-Tech compared to the traditional solid-wood shaft. The big thing about hi-tech shafts is that they use advanced manufacturing techniques to eliminate cue ball squirt. They do these by laminations, reduced cue shaft end mass, and proprietary techniques. They may also offer innovatvie ferrules, anti-vibration damping, or other secondary features.
Why hi-tech shafts? The big thing here is use of sideways spin or english on the cue ball. When a cue ball is struck with english it is actually pushed slightly sideways by the cue ... so the cue ball doesn't go where you aim it. To make the cue ball travel where you want it to go, you need to adjust your aim.... which can be an inexact science. Aim change depends on cue ball speed, table conditions, ball conditions, amount of english applie, and other factors. The advantage of the hi-tech shaft is that it greatly reduces the squirt (sideways deflection) of the cue ball. This means your cue ball is more likely to hit where you intended.
One thing to note is that many traditional wood shafts are also of a Low Deflection design. I was surprised to find that my Dave Cue (my GW Cue by Dave Pearson) has a lower deflection shaft. It doesn't eliminate deflection, but it reduces the amount you need to offset a shot by. XXX move this. I really like Dave Cues because he puts a high quality maple shaft on all of his cues -- making a good quality shaft accessible to any level of player!
Some of the newer even lower-deflection shafts coming out are of reduced diameter, the Europe Taper instead of a Pro Taper. This helps reduce deflection and let you apply precision english ... but does the shaft fit your hand ↦ bridge? One thing I've noticed playing around with the hi-tech shafts I have access to (Predator and OB) is that you don't feel the hit of the cue ball very well -- it sorta gives mushy feedback to the user.
Many of the major manufacturers deliver hi-tech shafts as either their main product, or as an upgrade from traditional shafts. Predator is probably the most well known of the brands, with OB trailing slightly in name recognition. It turns out that Tiger cues is also a founder of low-deflection technology, even though I don't hear their name spoken WRT to it. Lucasi also has a low deflection HX design, and newer Zero Flex shafts. I believe that Players / Lucasi is also the manufacturer of the low-deflection maple shafts that Dave uses on his cues.
Playing bar pool there is a convention that the person who won the last game owns the table, and anyone in the bar can challenge them for the ownership of the table. The challenger pays for the rack. Winner of the game keeps ownership of the table, sets the rules for the game played, and ... next challenger up. It is a great fun game to play to get and keep ownership of the table against all comers. You can get some quite good pool games this way. You can play world class players for nothing more than the $1.00 cost of the rack -- an awesome cost, even if you lose! If you want to play with some friends, well, you'll have to beat the owner to get on the table -- get your quarter and your friend's quarters up!
In the bar environment, watch out .. sometimes there can be some funny business going on. It can help to sit back and watch what is going on before getting your quarter in the rack. Find out what is really going on with that table. The quarter isn't so much the issue as the time you spent waiting to play that table when something unreasonable is going on. When you could have walked out to go play pool at another venue instead of sitting around an hour to play and then ...
However some people think they really own a pool table because they won the last game on it.. and that no one else can play on it.
In other words, some people who are jerks who do this. To the point that the pool table in a bar is sitting idle because no one can play pool. For example, some friends who want to play pool -- with each other -- not with some jerk, and they can't. In other words, the table is not making the bar or the amusement operators any money at all because of the actions of this person. As a coin operated amusement, the person who puts money in such a device has all the right to use it as they please. If this person hassles you, tell the "owner" politely that you are going to be using the table, but that they still retain "ownership" of the table when you are done with your game. As a player who has been both sides of this, it is a polite way for two different groups of uses to get use of the pool table.
If someone walks up to the table after you put money in it and tells you they own the table... Who knows if they really do or not, or they are just somebody trying to geta free game from you. They need to tell you AHEAD of time that they own the table. if they don't, you don't know bupkus about them. If they are insistent, have them pay you your money back, and they can have the table. If they persist, or act like jerks, or hassle you -- get a bartender or other staff. That person is trying to stop you using an amusement that you legally paid for.
Another form of bar pool scum? They put their quarter in the queue for the table, win, and then switch up the game. Change it to 9 ball from 8 ball. Require a bet to play the game. Suddenly require people to play doubles -- and you don't have a partner. These folks are real scum, they are trying to force people off a table so that they can play it themselves. As a courtesy, don't act like those people! Certainly you can ask if people want to play doubles, or ask if a challenger wants to play for a drink ... and how much exactly that is going to be! Demanding it of peeople who have been waiting an hour on their quarters to play a suddenly different game is wrong.
Pool Ball Colors:
If you are watching tournament pool on TV sometimes the balls are different colors. This is due to "old" analog TV, where the chroma levels on certain colors made them difficult to distinguish from each other. Newer digital TV doesn't have any bias towards colors, and traditional balls show up great. In particular, because of "red" chroma's effect, it is difficult to distinguish the Purple 4 ball and the Maroon 7 ball from the 8 ball. You might still see the older "TV balls" in some matches, so here are the changes:
The cue ball is often dotted so the TV viewers can see the spin put on the cue ball by draw/follow and "english".