If your pool game isn't improving, the problem might not be you - it might be your cue. When you're a regular player, and you're serious about upping your game, start by getting away from house sticks. The cues provided by most pool halls are typically poor quality items, designed for casual players at best. They are rarely straight, and are usually far beyond their prime. Choosing your first pool cue can be confusing, and if you're not sure what to look for, you could end up spending a lot of money on a stick that just isn't right for you. To help you avoid the frustration and confusion of blind shopping, we've put together some simple tips on picking out a great billiards cue.
Don't Break the Bank for Your First Cue
If you're shopping for your very first cue, don't go spending hundreds on it. There are plenty of wonderful beginner options that will give you the hit that you're comfortable with. As your game progresses, you'll begin to fine-tune your specific cue preferences, and you'll be in a better position to make a wise investment. There are numerous elements that factor in to a great cue and different players might consider some aspects more important than others. Some insist on a fluid hit, while others swear by a specific type of grip or wrap. As you shop for a new billiards cue though, here are the most important factors to consider:
1. Your Skill Level
While price ranges vary from one distributor or manufacturer to the next, there are some simple pricing guidelines that you can expect to see from one skill level to another. If you're just getting started, you can expect to spend about $100 on a durable starter cue. Once your game improves, and especially once you start competing, you'll want to upgrade to something a little more substantial. Intermediate to advanced players can expect to spend anywhere from $150 - $500 for an appropriate cue. Once a player hits a professional level, cues start at around $500.
2. Weight and Balance
A standard pool cue can weigh anywhere from 18 to 21 ounces. Take a look at a few cues, and you'll see numbers indicating the total weight of the assembled cues. The most popular - and often the ideal weight is 19oz. You may find that you prefer something a little heavier or lighter, but 19oz is a pretty happy medium if you're a beginner. When you're looking at the balance of a cue, remember that your ideal cue balance has a lot to do with your height. If you're shorter than average, you might find that house cues always seem to be butt-heavy. This affects your game more than you might realize. If you're shorter, look for cues that are forward-weighted. Some cues are actually designed to allow weight to be added or removed.
3. Wraps and Grips
Some players want nothing but the clean look and grip of pure wood. Others prefer something a little cushier. One of the most popular options is Irish linen because of its soft, graspable feel. Leather and rubber golf style grips are also popular, sporty options. Try playing with different grips and wraps and see what feels most comfortable for you. There's no "right" or "wrong" here, so find something that makes your hands happy.
4. One-Piece or Two-Piece
You'll find plenty of arguments for both styles, and many players will swear by one or the other. To simplify the decision, remember that a one-piece cue is usually going to provide higher quality for the price. Of course, a two-piece billiard cue is far more portable. If you're setting up a home game room, one-piece sticks might be your best bet. If you play with a league, you may want to opt for a portable two-piece.
Experiment a Bit
The best way to find your ideal pool cue is to try plenty of different sticks and styles. Every player is different, and that's why there are so many different options available. Take time to experiment with a variety of weights, styles, grips, and tips, and you'll eventually find the options that work best for you.