If you want to be able to call yourself a pool player, it's not enough to just sling a 1x1 case holding a fiberglass cue over your shoulder. Many players start with this equipment, and that is ok for recreational players who don't want to improve their skill level, but once you decide you want to be a real player there are certain essential items you must carry at all times.

1. One piece of quality chalk. Whether you like Master, Kamui, Triangle or Blue Diamond you should always have at least one spare cube in your case. If you go from bar to bar, you don't know what kind of chalk they will have so its best to arrive prepared.

2. A wood cue with a low deflection shaft. I know they don't come covered in skulls or emblazoned with half naked ladies, but a real pool player needs a real cue. Great, consistent play starts with a low deflection shaft, and almost all of the top players use them. There are many on the market, and all the big cue companies make them. My personal fave is the Lucasi Hybrid Slim.

3. A tip shaper/scuffer. After many hours of play your tip will become flat and smooth, and you will start to miscue. There are some great multiple purpose tools out there. Three of my favorites are the Cuetec 3 in 1 Bowtie tool, the It's George tip tapper/shaper, and the Kamui gator grip tip tool.

4. Burnishing papers. Your cue is bound to fall or get nicks from general use. To get rid of the roughness until you get it to the cue repairman you can use burnishing papers. Some good ones are the Q Wiz Cleaner/Polisher, and Nick's Edge burnishing papers.

5. Shaft conditioner. When you play in places that are hot and humid, you'll find that your cue won't slide smoothly between your fingers and it will affect your stroke. If you're not into wearing a glove, then get yourself a good shaft conditioner. I carry my bottle of Cue Silk everywhere I go, and it has saved me numerous times.

6. A spare shaft. Remember that low deflection shaft I was talking about? Well get two in case one loses a tip mid game.

7. A jump/break cue. I highly recommend breaking with a different cue, and if you're going to carry a second cue, you may as well be able to jump with it. I have a Lucasi Purex that actually breaks into three pieces for variable lengths when breaking or jumping.

8. A quality tip on both of your low deflection shafts. There are all different kinds of tips out there, and it may take some experimenting to find the one that is right for you. I play with the Kamui Super Soft Black.

9. A bridge head. I can't express the importance of this one. Most bridges offered at pool halls and bars are fairly useless when shooting over balls. I would recommend a London Bridge or a Moosehead that you can slip onto your break cue in a pinch.

10. A cue extension. I use the Longoni cue extension because there isn't a big flare where it attaches to the cue. That means it won't disrupt my stroke on shots that I can't quite reach. Another popular one is the QXtender.

All of your new gear should fit nicely into a 2x4 case, and then you will be prepared for anything. Welcome to the world of pool.