Imagine, if you will, you are in a crowded bar or pool hall. You have had a perfect run on the table and you are about to go for the 8 ball off bank into the side pocket (or whatever shot suits you), you bend over, carefully lining up and relining up your shot. All of a sudden, a face looks down over the table at you and says “You should be able to do this with your eyes closed, don’t choke now!” and they walk off laughing. You try to reline up your shot again, you pull back your cue only to have someone walks up behind you and purposely bump your cue…
If you are anything like me, after the first act of rudeness, I would’ve stood up, walked away from the table, and sat down. I love shooting pool and have no tolerance of others rudeness when playing. Most pool table etiquette is based off of common courtesy and common sense.
Let’s take a look at a basic list of pool etiquette.
- Don’t put your drinks on the table. With everyone moving around the table, other drinkers, pool cues being used, and random bad shots where a ball may fly off a table can knock a drink either onto a table or onto the floor. Getting the pool cloth wet not only can mess up a game, but ruin the cloth itself. If it gets knocked on the floor, it stops the game being played so it can be cleaned up, not to mention makes a mess that someone can get hurt on.
- Never stand in someones line of sight when they are shooting. Distractions in a bar can be bad enough without someone purposely walking around in front of a pocket you are trying to line up a shot with. It considered polite to actually not be in the shooters line of site, but if you can’t help but be in that general area, then stand as still as possible until they have made their shot.
- Don’t yell. There is nothing more annoying than someone at the next table yelling repeatedly every time they make a ball. While pool is only a game to some, there are some of us there to practice or play seriously.
- If you are with a group of people, and they are standing around watching the game, and you notice someone at another table trying to shoot, be polite and call their attention to it so they can move. There should not be more than the number of people playing anywhere near the table.
- If you jump your ball off a table, and it goes under another table, wait until the other table is done with their shot before retrieving it.
- When racking the balls, don’t just drop the balls onto the table. Not only is it disruptive but can damage the table as well.
- When you are finished playing, be polite and put your stuff away. Just propping up a house cue somewhere can cause it to be knocked over. These cues are used by many different people and when they are damaged or the tip is broken off, it makes them hard to use.
- If you and another person are shooting at the same time and bump each other, make an apology and offer them to go ahead. Let them make their shot and then make yours. If you are polite to them, if it happens again, you may find the politeness returned to you.
- If you accidentally bump someone who is down to shoot, be courteous, apologize, and move so they can make their shot.
- Keep your attention on the game. Nothing is more aggravating than have to chase down an opponent when it’s their turn to shoot.
- It’s just good form to congratulate your opponent on a well-played game, whether you win or lose. It costs nothing to do, shows good sportsmanship, and will earn you respect.
- Avoid putting your quarters down on a table where someone is shooting. This can break their concentration and will not likely be appreciated.
- Don’t lean on or put the cues over your shoulders and wrap your arms over it. This is how cues get warped.
- Avoid coaching other players on how to play. We all have our own style and find it rude for you to tell us how to play if we haven’t asked you.
- If we are calling pockets, and you hit a slop shot, don’t try to act like you meant to do it. I know that you banking the cue ball off four rails and into any random pocket was not what you planned. If it was, you would have called it that way. If it’s slop, admit it and save us both the embarrassing comments that may follow.
So there we have a list of common Pool Etiquette. Depending on where you play, different bars have different rules, as does Billiards rules. And I am sure there are many more rules out there, these are just the ones that I find tend to annoy me the most. As I stated before, most of these are common sense and common courtesy.
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When you or and opponent is racking the most important this is always, always, always, let the racker clear before breaking a rack. First of all the noise of the rack can scare or startle the person who just rack a nice set of ball for you. And the second best reason is that if it’s a wild break you do not want to hit your opponent, especially in the face, with the cue ball this may create a little aggression towards the breaker of the balls.
Personally if someone broke a rack while I was still barely leaving I might have to give them a warning asking them nicely to not do that again, the second time a chair may be thrown.
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In recreational pool or billiards there is always a few select individuals who need to come up to me and tell me what I am doing wrong on my pool shot or my shot selection, this is ridiculous. There is a personal bubble space that I need to complete what I am doing whether it is just playing a game of pool for fun or practicing. I call these guys the “Yoda Effect” because most people who need to share their pool information to you, usually think in their head they are better than you right off the bat. If you are a female someone coming up and giving information you don’t need freely is more likely using this as a ploy to get your attention and the possibly sleazy “hit on” process.
The proper etiquette for helping someone in pool and billiards is first the contact of name, and then ask if they want help before spewing information. And if someone does need help unless you are a paid professional player or pool coach is to use words such as “it’s my opinion” and “I believe that” or “it may help if” because when it comes to pool not everyone is that same and not everyone is comfortable with your opinion on shot selection or how to stroke a cue. And to be as self-centered so much that you think you way is the only way is ignorance in itself. Here is an example of bad pool speaking etiquette:
“You should have taken the 2 ball instead of the 7 ball because now you have blocked yourself.”
Here is the same sentence using etiquette:
“Would you like some help? In my opinion if you would have taken the 2 ball instead of the 7 you might have lined up your next shot better.”
The first sentence was a blanketed I know what I am doing, and what you did was wrong. Versus the second sentence which was really trying to give an honest help tip, after asking if that pool player wanted help if they agreed then you could have honestly helped them, instead of a harsh fact statement that could possibly hurt another players feeling, or put them defensive. Me personally I play completely different in a recreational game of pool where I am only shooting for fun or practice versus a tournament or league play so to assume I would have made the same shot during league is pretty ignorant.
If you receive such advice from someone who give it in a brutal manner the best way to reply is “Thank you for your help, but I really don’t need it right now.” and go on your way, some people can not be changed and it’s best not to get defensive and to start friction. Just shake it off, and allow them to be douche bags some where away from you.
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One of the most moronic things people have done to me intentionally and unintentionally is walk right next to the table in front of me while I am in mid stroke of a shot. A lot of pool players do that when they feel vulnerable during a game and they want to mess you up on purpose. They believe if they do this you will track them and not the ball you are shooting at. In some cases this may work on amateur player but an above average player will usually ignore it but this still does not make the situation any more fair or proper.
The correct pool etiquette is to be aware of your surroundings if you are in a pool hall, bar, or place that even has pool tables the best way to walk towards your objective but make sure the tables you walk past no one is shooting. If there is someone shooting and you need to walk in front of them pause and allow them to shoot, once they are done shooting quickly walk past and on the way back from your destination do the same tactic. If you need to walk behind someone shooting make sure you allow them enough room to pull back on their stroke. If there is not enough room please wait until they are done. If it is a player standing and looking at a table and blocking your path just use proper regular etiquette and use words such as “excuse me” and “pardon me” to get past, some people take non-manners to heart and it’s the basic thing most people should be doing anyways.
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