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The Etiquette of Pool

Posted by : Liz Ford

The Etiquette of Pool:
Mind Your Sticks, Balls and Holes


The pool room can be an intimidating place if you are not familiar with its unspoken code of conduct. This short guide will help you learn the basics of proper behavior in order to avoid embarrassment, thrown drinks, glove slaps or worse. Playing in a bar with your friends doesn't call for the same sense of decorum as playing in the World Championships, but proper etiquette is important to becoming a better player and to increasing your enjoyment of the game.

Here are the top ten ways to play it cool, fool:

1. Find a seat and sit in it.

Unlike in "The Color of Money", where there were no chairs at the pool tournament and both players stood at the table, serious pool is played with only one person at the table at a time.

2. Watch the small talk.

If you're a chatterbox and you're getting monosyllabic responses or the stink-eye from your opponent, chances are he or she would rather play than listen to your commentary.

3. No drinks, butts or buttocks on the table.

Want a sure-fire way to get kicked out of your local establishment? Just spill your soda, burn the cloth with your cigarette or treat the table like a park bench and a bouncing you will go.

4. Chalk with class.

The proper way to chalk is to hold your cue in one hand, gently swiping chalk onto the cue tip with the other. Don't twist or spin the chalk on the cue or vice versa. Make sure to put the chalk back on the table business side up - if you don't, the rails will be covered in blue dust and so will your clothing.

5. Easy on the white powder, Lindsay Lohan.

Talcum powder is an excellent way to keep your hands dry so that the cue stick moves smoothly, but if you're leaving white residue on the table, you're using too much.

6. Mind your stick.

Please don't be "that guy." You are not Tom Cruise and a pool cue is not a Samurai sword, a baton or a baseball bat. Make sure to rest cues in a secure spot; Cues propped up against the side of the table will fall over.

7. Know the rules of the game.

If you are playing in a league or tournament, take the time to familiarize yourself with the official rules. If you are playing casually, make sure to agree upon the rules before hand to avoid conflicts later.

8. Be on your best behavior at leagues and tournaments.

We pool players take these things very seriously. Be extra careful not to move or talk while your opponent is shooting.

9. Chill out.

Deal with your anger management issues in therapy - don't vent your spleen in the pool room or no one will play with you.

10. There is a difference between losing and being a loser.

There's no crying in pool. Everybody loses from time to time but only losers badmouth opponents, refuse to shake hands, or break their cues. Don't break your cue, send it to me instead so I can sell it on eBay.

Liz Ford is a professional pool player on the WPBA tour and a teacher in New York City. Liz has been playing pool for 15 years and has represented the United States in tournaments around the world. In addition, Liz has appeared on TV nationally as a billiards expert including an episode of "Time Warp" on The Discovery Channel.