We Need To Wake Up!

By Roger Long

Roger Long

Has anyone other than me noticed how many pool rooms have closed in the past few years?  What is the primary cause for this? Should we blame mismanagement, the anti-smoking laws, or the poor economy?  Would you believe it if I told you that none of these are the primary cause for pool room failures?

Before I go on, let me say that the opinions I’m about to express in this article are based on observations I’ve made in my immediate area, and may not be applicable to the entire nation. But, if you do live in my area, and don’t like what I have to say, please don’t blame the owners of this publication.  This one is on me!

Now back to business.  While I know that mismanagement, anti-smoking laws, and a recession can all contribute to poor business in a pool room; none of them can be considered the “primary” cause for a total failure.  As a matter of fact, I don‘t think all of them together are the real problem.  No, the primary cause of most pool room closures today is the pool player. That’s right; you and I are to blame!

Take for example the pool room where I currently operate my pro shop.  The place is great!  It has 42 excellently maintained pool tables that are comfortably spaced in a beautiful facility of eighteen-thousand square feet. This place has more pool players pass through its doors in a week’s time than most pool bars see in a month.  And yet, the owner doesn’t turn a profit off of these players.  Why?

Said owner of said pool room recently confided to me that his dart players – who make up only 20% of his total clientele – are responsible for a whopping 60% of his total revenue.  That doesn’t look very good on us pool players when only 11% of his total floor space (2,000 sq. ft.) is allocated to the dart area.

I’ve heard many of my fellow pool players lament that dart players are a “bunch of drunks,” using that as reasoning for dart players’ expenditures.  I think that reasoning is flawed.  I’ve observed at length both the dart players and the pool players, and the discrepancy exists because there are too many pool players who spend practically no money at all.  In other words, we as a group are CHEAP!  The dart players spend more money on drinks, yes, but they also spend more money on food, their games, and everything else the room has to offer.  And they do it all without complaining about the price!

We need to change our mentality if we want to have any decent pool rooms left in which to play.  We need to quit demanding added money tournaments, cheap tables, team drinks, league shirts, and all the other stuff we’ve been taking for granted.

In short, we need to quit expecting our pool rooms to support us, and start supporting our pool rooms, before it’s too late!

Cue Ball Importance, Part 2

Roger Long

Last month, I talked about the standard specs that cue balls are supposed to be made to, and how those on coin-operated pool tables (“bar boxes”) have historically been manufactured outside of those standards in order to have them return to the head end of the table whenever they wander into pockets.

In that article, I also explained how difficult it can be to control one of those huge and/or overweight suckers.  In fact, one particular type is so ridiculously unresponsive that pool players like to call it the “mud ball.”

This month I’m going to talk about the cue balls that are used on free drop tables (8-ft. and 9-ft. tables that are rented by the hour).

As I said in last month’s article, standard cue balls are supposed to be 2-1/4 inches in diameter, and weigh 5-1/2 to 6 ounces, i.e. identical to the object balls.  Cue balls made to these specs will contact object balls at an equal horizontal line, which is 1-1/8 inch above the surface of the table.  What this does is ensure that the cue ball does not skid the object ball – as it would if the cue ball’s equator is above that of the object ball – or over speed the object ball as can happen with a lower cue ball equator.

And as far as the weight is concerned − equal weights mean equal mass − which means equal reactions between cue ball and object ball.  (That’s a good thing, pilgrim.)

Now here’s an interesting thing to ponder: There are at least 8 or 10 different “standard” cue balls on the market.  Now there’s an oxymoron for you!  How can something be different if it is standard?  Well, most of the differences are in appearance, only.  Some are milky white, while others are opaque yellow.  One has red dots all over it, while another has absolutely no markings at all.  Most, however, will have some sort of logo or other identifying mark of its manufacturer.

And here’s another interesting thing: Even though these “standard” cue balls are all made of the same type of material (phenol resins), and all are made to the same specs; they do not all play exactly the same.  And of these “different” standard cue balls, one stands out as the clear favorite among the advanced and professional players.  That one is: the Red Circle.  It is so called because of the small red circle its manufacturer places on it to distinguish it from other brands.

Now to my knowledge, no one has ever been able to pinpoint the reason the Red Circle cue ball plays better than all the rest; but most players will definitely agree that it does.

And now here’s some good news for you bar table players: A few years back, Diamond Billiard Mfg. developed a coin-operated table that can use a standard cue ball – a Red Circle, even!

I’ll bet you’re going to go check the cue balls in your favorite pool room now. Aren’t you.