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Playing on a Bar Table Versus a Big Pool Table

An article from Jim Barr on the differences between playing pool on a small pool table vs playing on a bigger pool table e.g. playing on a 7-foot bar box vs. a 9-foot professional pool table. The article was originally published in 1997 under the title "Bar Table Versus Big Table".

Playing on a Bar Table Versus a Big Pool Table

I was inspired to write about bar table play for several reasons. The main reason is there doesn't seem to be too much information on the subject. The reason for this could be there is not a lot of difference in bar tables versus big tables. Most rules of thumb apply to both tables, but when these difference come into play, they are important to know to play well. Another reason is that I believe there are more bar table players than there are big table players. There are 240,000 plus BCA and APA league players and both national tournaments for these leagues are played on bar tables.

There always seems to be that discussion of which table is the hardest to play on, so here's a few of the differences.

Playing on a Bar Table e.g. 7 Foot Pool Table

  1. The bar table is easier to make balls on since the pockets are larger and the ball has a shorter distance to travel.
  2. The bar table is harder in the since that it requires more ball control to maneuver around clusters of balls and breaking out these clusters when it is time to do so.
  3. Safety play is easier on the bar table since the balls are more congested and there's often a cluster to hide behind.

Playing on a Big Pool Table e.g. 9 Foot Pool Table

  1. Big tables require a better stroke. If you go from the bar table to the big table and you don't have a good stroke, you will notice these imperfections as the balls must travel further and hit a smaller pocket.
  2. Draw on the big table is easier.
  3. There is less chance that you will find your self hooked since the balls are more spread out.

There are some adjustments that need to be made on the tables, but I believe the biggest difference between the two tables are the balls, mainly the cue ball.

When I first started playing, I learned on a 7 foot Fisher with a very large cue ball. We use to call this ball Fat Albert. There are two types of bar table cue balls. Some are oversized and some are weighted with metal to work with a magnet. Both of these cue balls are designed to work with the ball return system on coin operated tables and both are heavier than the cue ball on the big tables.

I recently bought a copy of Play Your Best Pool by Phil Capell, and although the book is based on playing on either size table, there is one page that covers special considerations for playing on bar tables. Mr. Capell says on the special considerations page that on follow shots on the bar table be prepared for the ball to travel further. I wish he would have explained this because this is true, but somewhat deceiving. It is true that the heavier cue ball will travel further on the bar table after contact with the object ball, but it also requires you to hit the ball harder when shot. In other words, it takes a harder hit for the heavier cue ball to get up to the same speed as the lighter cue ball. Then it takes longer for it to stop. Think about it in this exaggerated example. If you were to use a bowling ball for a cue ball, you would have to hit it much harder to get it up to the same speed as the real cue ball. Once up to the same speed it would require more time for it to stop.

My experience is that, with the same speed hit on the same shot, the lighter cue ball will travel further on a big table than the heavier cue ball on a small table. The rails on a big table are usually livelier and the cloth is almost always faster. Both of these conditions will help the lighter big table cue ball travel further.

Going from Fat Albert to the smaller ball was a learning experience that I struggled with for months. One day a player told me to reduce the amount of english on the smaller cue ball by one half. So if you are going from a big table to a bar table, shoot a little harder and increase the amount of english. I believe that you can use more english on a bar table, with less negative effect. This is because of the shorter travel distance, and the extra weight of the cue ball will help keep it on a straighter path. If your going to the big table, try reducing the amount of english in half and shooting easier. When you need to draw either of the bar table balls aim a little lower and shoot a little harder.

Aim will also need to be adjusted for the big cue ball and you will need to aim for a thinner hit on cut shots. One of the toughest shots with the big cue ball is when the object ball is froze to the rail. It is a difficult shot because the best way to cut it would be to have the centers of the balls make contact with each other when both balls are parallel with the rail. With the oversize cue ball, this is not possible with a normal shot. There are two ways to make this cut shot. You can shoot hard enough to compress the cushion to make the correct contact, or you can throw the object ball with english. Both of these are shots that should be practiced if you are using the big cue ball.

Other aim considerations for bar tables would involve the other balls. Most of the time the balls on the big tables will be clean and the balls on a bar tables will be dirty. So you will need to allow more for throw on the bar tables as dirty balls will throw more than clean ones. You will also almost always find better quality balls on the big tables. Both of these mean that you will get a more true shot on the big tables and adjustments will need to be made on the bar tables.

With a little practice and keeping these things in mind, it will make it easier to go from one table to the other.

Playing on a Bar Table Versus a Big Pool Table

  • Title: Playing on a Bar Table Versus a Big Pool Table
  • Author:
  • Published: 1/1/1997
  • Last Updated: 3/28/2017 9:24:49 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)

Playing on a Bar Table Versus a Big Pool Table

The Playing on a Bar Table Versus a Big Pool Table article belongs to the Billiard Fundamentals and Basics category. Pool playing tips for the beginner. Get started with these fundamental billiard drills

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