Buying a Pool Cue (Part One of Three)
By Bryan Mitchell
If you enjoy playing pool, at some point you are going to want to buy your own two-piece pool cue. And if you already own a two-piece cue, at some point you will want to buy a better cue. Why? Well, there are many reasons to own your own personal cue. And there are just as many reasons for owning a good quality cue.
First it should be noted that owning a great cue is not going to make you a great player. Practice and quality instruction are what will make you a great player. A world class player could use a broomstick and beat most intermediate players. Having your own personal cue will make you a notch or two better than you are today and will also help you as you look to better your game. In fact, as you get better, you may find that there are shots that you will learn which could not have been made with a low quality pool cue. Some of these shots include: 1) a long shot down table using heavy English (cue ball spin.) This shot will deflect the cue ball off course with many cues, but the deflection is even greater with a cheap pool cue. This shot can be pulled off with a low quality house cue, but your ability to execute the shot dramatically increases with a high quality, low deflection cue; 2) long draw shots where you may need to bring the cue ball the length of the table are also possible with any cue, but again you will find greater success with a quality cue; 3) a low follow shot is another example of a shot better taken with a quality cue. There are other examples, but I am sure you get the point by now. On top of these “special situations,” your routine shots will also improve with the use of a better quality pool cue.
If you are going to shoot pool anywhere other than your own home, you cannot trust that the cues you find on the rack are going to be in good condition. In fact, unless you are playing at a serious pool room, chances are greater of finding a problem cue than that of finding a good cue.
Some of the problems you will find with house cues include warping, bad quality tips, sticky shafts, etcetera. Cuetec, one of the leading manufacturers of low to mid-priced cues, seems to be supplying a lot of establishments with decent quality cues these days. But over time you will find that many of the tips have not been maintained and the cues go down in quality very quickly. You have to remember that the people using these cues on a daily basis have no interest in taking good care of them. People drop the cues, use them to reach things, bang them on the tables, hold them upside down with the tips hitting the floor, and just about anything else you can think of doing. Even if you find a good quality cue on the rack, it may still not be the right length and weight to complement your game.
There is not only benefit to having something of quality in your hand, but also something that you are accustomed to using. When it’s time to win the big match, do you want to take those last three shots with something that has a lopsided or mushroomed tip and a shaft covered with bear stains, gum and some substance you cannot identify? Or do you want to take those shots with the quality cue that you have used for over the last 500 hours of your pool playing life?
There are times when you will want to use a house cue rather than your own personal cue, such as when you are breaking. Assuming you have not purchased your own personal “break cue,” which many serious players do, you will not want to use your personal cue to break. The reasons you don’t want to use your personal playing cue to break are many but I will give you two. First, your personal cue probably has a quality tip that can get misshaped or even go flying off if you break with it too often. Also, your personal cue might not be the best stiffness and weight for break shots. There are other reasons that we will cover in later articles about break cues, but for now, limit breaking with your personal cue.
Other reasons for using a house cue during play might be that you are in a place or in a situation where you do not want to show up with your custom two piece cue in a leather case. These reasons might include being on the wrong side of town or camouflaging the serious nature of your game in a gambling situation. But for most situations including league play, tournaments or even casual play at a friend’s house, you will want your quality cue in your hand.
In parts two and three of this article we will look at the many different types of pool cues, prices, quality, weight and more. We will also discuss the types of tips you might want mounted on your cue. This can be as important, if not more important than the cue itself.