Pool, also known as ‘pocket billiards’, is a popular sport/activity/pub game. "Pool" is an umbrella term for many variations of the game including 8-ball, 9-ball and billiards. Being a ‘pool shark’ can be pretty cool, especially if this is achieved with an air of nonchalance. In this article, we will explore pool playing in general and also its different versions.
Playing in private
Watching tutorials As a beginner, one can watch tutorials of people ‘shooting pool’ to improve one’s game. There are many videos (containing trick shots) online, particularly YouTube which returned 451,000 results for a ‘how to play pool’ search. Purchasing your own table Once one has seen the videos, one can get their own pool table in order to start playing. Prices start at around £50 for miniature 3 foot tables, rising in price depending on size and quality to around £200 and above for regulation tables (7-9 foot). Then one can play pool whenever with friends and family. (All prices quoted as correct on 06.05.2011 on Uksportsimport.com website)
Playing in public and different versions
Clubs A slightly more advanced or ambitious player may want to join a local club. This can usually be done very easily with just a few signatures and a fiver, such as in the popular UK chain of ‘Riley’s’ pool and snooker clubs. Such clubs typically contain several regulation pool tables, cues and balls available to hire on a pay-per-usage basis (UK clubs tend to favour 8-ball but often have 9-ball too, as well as snooker). These can have quite an intimidating atmosphere though, especially for children with drinking and cigarette fumes often present. Pubs Of course this is also true of pubs, but for those allowed/happy in pubs, these often have good quality tables and equipment available for hire at set rates per frame (usually 50p, 70p or £1). They also often have teams which compete in leagues against other pub teams, but one usually has to be fairly competent and serious before partaking in such leagues. Different versions 8-ball (or 8 balls) is the version of the game where there is the cue ball, 2 different sets of 7 balls and a black ball. The player must choose a set by playing a pool shot to pot one of that set with the cue ball, then pot the rest of that set with the cue ball and then the black. In 9-ball (9 balls) you must again use the cue ball and eventually pot the black with it, but to get there, both players must pot the numbered balls in ascending order. The winner is the one which pots the black, regardless of previous play.