Tools, Gizmos, Gadgets...what do you need?

Inspector Gadget

Uncategorized on April 27th, 2010 No Comments

Everyone loves gadgets. So what’s in your cue case? There are so many different gadgets for Shaping, Scuffing, Trimming, Smoothing, Polishing, Cleaning, Chalking, Burnishing…OK OK You get it! How can you possibly know what to carry? What is needed? Not needed? I know players that carry so many gadgets their case looks like a mechanics tool chest!  Here is a brief guide to what you should carry with you, what you don’t really need and what you can’t leave home without.

Tip Shapers: MUST HAVE. As mentioned in a previous blog post, the tip is the most important part of your cue and having it properly shaped is just as important. There are many different types of shaping tools but some of the best are: Ultimate Shaper, Porper’s Shaper/Tacker, Willards, TruTip, Cue Cube and my favorite is the all in 1 B.A.T. Shaper from The B.A.T. Shaper is a Bridge, Aerator, Tapper and Shaper built into an all aircraft aluminum tool. There is nothing like it on the market. Check out their website for more details and photos.

Slip On Bridge: MUST HAVE: There are only a couple types on the market but I suggest you carry one. Almost every time you play you will inevitably approach the table only to find you can’t reach the shot. Having a bridge head that easily slips on to any cue will solve this dilemma. There is an inexpensive gadget commonly referred to as the moosehead bridge or as mentioned before the B.A.T. Shaper either will take care of this situation when it comes up in your next game.

Shaft Conditioner: SHOULD HAVE.  You should carry some type of cloth, or mild abrasive papers to smooth your cue shaft. Q-Wiz, Q-Smooth, Tiger Shaft Smoother and my recommendation SHAFT-M8 by The best part about SHAFT-M8 is it’s an actual cloth with micro abrasives woven into the material mounted on a soft foam core. It is the equivalent to 3200 grit sandpaper and will not harm your cue. It is washable and re-usable and will last for years. These type of shaft conditioners will keep your shaft silky smooth and feeling great while you play.

Pocket Chalker: MIGHT WANT. Having some type of personal chalker isn’t really needed but they are nice to have. Most places provide chalk but if you don’t like the brand of chalk at your local bar or pool hall it is very easy to bring some of your favorite chalk with you. If you are one of those gadget loving people like myself you can look for the TiP STiK or ULTiM-8 Chalker on CUE-TOOLS.COM. They both have needles built into them to aerate your tip to hold chalk better and on the ULTiM-8 the part that goes into your pocket has machined shapers to scuff and properly shape your tip to hold chalk better.

Cue Holders: MIGHT WANT. There are several types of cue holders you can use to keep your cues from falling over between turns at the table. Q-Claw, Qlaw, Cue Caddy and my favorite Cue It Up which is a light weight clip that clamps on to most pub tables or drink rails in the bar and allows you to rest your cues in notches on the clip to help protect it from getting knocked over while you aren’t using them.

Hand Powder: NOT NEEDED. Unless your hands are very very sweaty stay away from powder. It isn’t good for your cues and it will make a mess of everything in your case.

If you are wondering where to get any of the items mentioned in this blog feel free to contact us at  (714) 379-1850

Next post we’ll take a look at cloth and why it is one of the most important part of your pool table.

Until next time…. Keep Your Tip Shaped, Your Balls Clean and Don’t Forget to Chalk Up!

Is League play right for you?

20,000 Leagues

Uncategorized on February 26th, 2010 No Comments

If you’re like me and you love competition but don’t want to go out and hustle pool for a living or you feel that you’re just not good enough to play in tournaments yet, then I have a great solution….Leagues! That’s right….just like in bowling there are amateur pool leagues everywhere.  The first thing I always hear when I mention pool leagues is… “I’m not good enough” Well, worry no more! The American Pooplplayers Association Pool League or APA as it is know is the largest pool league in the world.  It didn’t get that way by recruiting only good players. They are so successful because as they say “Everyone Can Play…Anyone Can Win!”  The majority of their league (75%)  is made up from average to below average skilled players. It is one of the only leagues that requires a balance of all skill levels on each team and with their Equalizer Handicap System it really is true that anyone can win.  Each player has a handicap rating from skill level 2 (Absolute beginner) to 7  (Very highly skilled) and everything in between. So for example if you are a skill level 3 and you have to play a skill level 6 you would be required to win 2 games before your opponent won 5 games. This levels the playing field dramatically. The APA also is the only league that offers over $1,000,000 in prize money at it’s National Championship events that are held several times per year in Las Vegas.  The best part about how their league is structured is the “23 rule”.  What this means is out of the 5 players that play on a given league night their total handicap (skill level ratings) cannot add up to more than 23.  This makes it impossible to stack a team with all 6’s and 7’s and requires each team to have some lower skilled players (2’s, 3’s etc.) in order to play. What this means to you is… APA League Teams need you if you are a lower skilled player.

Let’s take a minute to talk about some do’s and don’t about pool leagues.

Do: Ask your local bar or pool hall if they offer leagues and which ones.

Do: Form a team with a group of your friends. Most leagues will place you on a team if you don’t have enough friends to form your own team but it is always more fun to play on a team with people you know.

Do: Choose a league that suits you and your ability. There are many types of leagues and we will discuss some of those later.

Do: Go out to a league match and watch them play before joining to make sure you know what to expect before diving in to the deep end of the “pool”

Now for some things you shouldn’t do or worry about when considering league play.

Don’t: Worry that you are not good enough. There are many league that want and need players of every skill level. All you have to do is find the one that is right for you.

Don’t: Be concerned that people will laugh at you if you don’t play well. Even the best player in the world remembers when he or she played just as bad as you! Besides you’ll probably be having so much fun laughing at yourself that you won’t care what that [email protected] on the barstool is doing!

Don’t: Expect to win every match. Just have fun.

Don’t: Get mad if someone shows poor sportsmanship. Remember…you’re playing pool in a bar! It’s gonna happen…there are sore losers out there. Not like bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster…Really! I have seen real live sore losers with my own eyes and many of them play pool in bars and join pool leagues!

Dont: Hesitate to ask questions. There are many resources online that can help you decide which leagues offer what and if you’re reading this you probably already know someone that plays in a league.

So, now you want to know which league is right for you?

The Nationally sanctioned leagues out there are APA, Billiards Congress of America (BCA) Valley National 8-Ball Association (VNEA) and a few other smaller leagues not worth mentioning. Then there are zillions of local bar leagues that are not sanctioned and usually are ran by an individual and have no affiliation with any national organization.

The APA is clearly the largest league with over 250,000 members nation wide it has more members than all of the other national leagues combined. With their handicapping system and huge national tournaments it offers more to it’s players than the other leagues. It does however have some drawbacks… In order to play in the championship events your team must qualify by winning your local division play-offs then in some cases an end of session tournament with all of the local winners followed by a local championship that has all of the winners of each league season (3 seasons per year) playing off for the opportunity to play in the National Championship in Las Vegas. This is no easy task and many teams play in this league for years and never qualify. But, I can tell you from experience the APA Nationals are a sight to behold! 200 pool tables and 10,000 players all playing the exact same rules that you play at in your local bar on league night. It was something I will never forget even though we only won 2 matches and were promptly knocked out of the tournament!

The BCA and VNEA leagues are geared more towards the better players. They allow you to stack your team with all of the great players you can find and because of this you see the same teams winning year after year. With no handicap system it teaches you to swim with the sharks or get eaten by them. If your desire is to become a great player and pool is more than a recreational hobby for you then these are great leagues to join. You don’t have to qualify for the Nationals all you usually need to do is play 1 season with your team and you can go. Also they allow you to adjust your team roster and go to the championship with ANY players that have completed a league season. These events you just sign your team up, pay your expenses and you are in the big time!

There are several other types of leagues. Bar leagues that… you guessed it…. play in bars. Most bar leagues are travel leagues which means they travel from one bar to another depending on the schedule and which locations host teams.  Then there are In-House leagues that…no,  don’t play in your house…it means they play at one location only for the whole season. You also have money leagues that just play for the cash payout at the end of the season. Another fun type of league is the “Trip” league where everyone that participates gets to go on a fun trip to Las Vegas, Laughlin or some other fun place to hang out with your teammates at the end of the season.

A typical league night goes a little like this:

Show up at the host location walk in order a drink…. practice a little and warm up. …Have a drink…wait for your turn to play your match…have another drink while cheering for your teammates….get nervous when it’s your turn to play a match…have drink to calm your “nerves”… play your match… hang out with your teammates while the other matches finish have another drink….pay your league dues…take a cab home and go to work the next day hung over!  OK… that is a typical league match for some of my teammates but you and I would never drink before our match….right???

Next entry we’ll talk about pool gadgets…what every player should carry in their case and why.

Until next time…. Keep Your Tip Shaped, Your Balls Clean and Don’t Forget to Chalk Up!

Everything you'll ever need to know about TIPS

Just The Tip

Uncategorized on January 31st, 2010 No Comments

Some of the most frequently asked questions we get are…  What kind of tips do you have and what is the difference? Well, I could go on and on about tips for hours but I will keep it brief and easy to understand. The tip is the most important part of the pool cue…PERIOD! You can have a $10,000 custom made cue and if you have a cheap poor quality tip on it it will play bad. Conversely, if you have a $29 Walmart cue with the best tip you can get, it will play much better. The reason for this is because the tip is the only part of the cue that makes contact with the cueball. Imagine if you have the fastest race car in the world but you put old worn out bald tires on it…do you think you can win a race against similar cars (even if they are not as fast) with great tires? When you play pool and need to apply english or spin and your tip isn’t shaped properly or is worn down you run the risk of a miscue. Even more critical than that is if every time you have to make an important shot you are worried about how your tip will react you won’t have the confidence to execute the shot with the correct amount of force…. Now you know why the tip is so important and why it is in my opinion the most important part of the cue.

About the different brands, types and materials of tips and the main differences:  There are several brands of tips. A few of the most popular are…. Moori, Kamui,  Tiger, Le Pro, Wizard, Diamond, Elkmaster, Triangle and Tad.  The material most often used is leather. More specifically cow hide and pig skin. The best tips made are laminated layers of pig skin. Moori and Kamui are hand made in Japan and are the choice of many professional players. They are 11 layers of pressed pig skin and will hold their shape, grip the ball better and last longer than standard 1 piece cow hide tips. Because these tips are not mass produced in a factory they are made available in several hardness catagories  (super soft, soft, medium soft, medium and hard) to suit any playing style.  Some manufacturers like Tiger or Tweeten make several different kinds of tips marketed under one main brand.

So how do you know which tip is right for you? I always recommend trying different kids of tips and choosing the one that feels best for your game. There is no right or wrong it is purely a matter of what YOU like. If you are not sure what kind to try you can hit some shots with a friends cue and if you like it you can ask what kind of tip they use. Any good cue repairman can also make recommendations based on price, your ability or league handicap ranking, whether you use a lot of english and whether you are a hard or soft shooter. Orange County Billiards has a complete cue repair facility on site and carries almost every type of tip on the market. In most cases tip repair is done while you wait and can range in price from $15 – $40 per tip installed. If O.C. Billiards recommends a tip for you to try and you don’t like it… just come back in within 7 days and they will put any other tip of equal value on at no charge! If at that time you wish to upgrade to a higher quality tip simply pay the cost difference and get any tip you’d like.  For more information about tips please visit their showroom and ask for Robert.

Next entry we will talk about Pool Leagues…Do’s and Don’t…Which leagues to join and why…What to expect on League night….Is league play right for you?

Until next time…. Keep Your Tip Shaped, Your Balls Clean and Don’t Forget to Chalk Up!