What Is a Pool Cue?

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Your friends have been raving about how much they enjoy playing pool at their local billiards hall. You know they’re not talking about swimming, but otherwise, you’re kind of clueless. What is a pool cue?

A pool cue is a piece of sports equipment necessary for playing pool. The cue is a long stick that you use to hit the cue ball or the white ball. The average pool cue is 57 to 59 inches long, although they are available longer.

Your buddies invited you to the pool hall this weekend, and you don’t want to embarrass yourself. You need lots more information on pool cues, and we’ve got it. Keep reading to learn more about the parts of a pool cue as well as how to use the cue so you can sound like an expert in no time! 

What Is a Pool Cue?

Let’s begin with the basics.

A pool cue is also referred to as a snooker cue, billiards cue, cue stick, or even just the cue. If you hear your friends using any of those terms at the pool hall, they’re still talking about pool cues.

Although it’s technically sports equipment, a pool cue doesn’t look anything like a soccer ball or a football. Instead, the cue is a long stick, on average between 57 and 59 inches long. As we touched on in the intro, should you want to buy a longer pool cue that’s over 60 inches, you have that option, but we’d consider those specialty cues.

Pool cues are designed to weigh less, although they come in different incremental weights to suit a wider variety of players. The most lightweight cues are 16 to 19 ounces. When using such a cue, you increase the travel speed of the cue ball but decrease the speed of your object ball. This will cause the object ball to reach the pocket at a much more decelerated rate.

We’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but for pool players who feel like the cue ball is misbehaving, consider playing with a heavier cue. That ought to help you regulate the cue ball since your pool cue will produce less snap.

A heavier pool cue, by the way, weighs 19 to 21 ounces or over. Now your object ball will move faster but the cue ball goes slower. Lightweight cue balls when played with a heavier cue tend to lose control.

Besides pool, players will use cues for games like carom billiards and snooker. Carom billiards or carambola is a cue sport like pool, but the billiards table has no pockets. The carom cue is also a lot shorter compared to a pool cue. As for snooker, the goal of this game is to hit various snooker balls, but in a specific order to earn more points.

We’ll be talking about pool cues from here on out, as that’s the game you’re playing. Even still, try mentioning snooker or carambola to your pool friends. You’ll probably impress them with your knowledge! 

What Do You Use a Pool Cue For?

Let’s rewind for a second, because you’re probably wondering what the difference is between a cue ball and an object ball. Well, that all has to do with why you use a pool cue: to play the game of pool.

Pool is a cue sport much like snooker and carambola. The table features six pockets throughout with rails for each ball to be deposited into. Now, pool is a rather general term, as there are more specific games that fall under the pool umbrella, any of which your buddies might want to play. These are bank pool, one-pocket pool, straight pool, blackball pool, and seven-ball, eight-ball, nine-ball, or ten-ball pool. Here’s an overview of each pool game.

Bank Pool

In bank pool, you declare a ball that you’ll bank toward a called pocket or cushion. A bank shot is one in which you hit the object ball into at least one rail (ideally two) before it reaches the pocket or target.

Let’s define the object ball now, since we know you’ve been wondering what it means. An object ball is any ball besides the cue ball. The cue ball itself is the ball you hit with your pool cue. Unlike the other balls in a game of pool, the cue ball is often white so you can clearly differentiate it.

One-Pocket Pool

The game known as one-pocket pool entails the use of two pockets. Why call it one-pocket pool then? Well, that’s since each player has their own pocket they’re supposed to use. The player who reaches a score of eight wins, and they do that by pocketing more object balls than the other player. 

Straight Pool

Another two-player pool game is straight pool. Utilizing a billiards table, the goal of straight pool is to pot a ball. In other words, you want to send the ball into a pocket as much as you can. You also must avoid fouls, which in pool are rule violations.

There are all sorts of ways to play a foul, such as:

  • You did a push shot, which is when your pool cue tip connects with the cue ball for too long.
  • You make contact with the object ball when holding the cue ball when setting up a shot.
  • The ball jumps or falls off the billiards table.
  • You touch any ball besides the cue ball.
  • You do a double-hit, which is making contact with the cue ball twice in one shot.
  • You hit the cue ball again while the object balls are still in motion.
  • You scratch or pocket the cue ball.
  • You make contact with the object ball after shooting but don’t pocket a ball.
  • You hit the cue ball into any other ball besides an object ball.

Blackball Pool

Hailing from the United Kingdom, blackball pool uses 16 balls, with 15 of them object balls and one cue ball. The pool table is smaller than in traditional billiards, but it does include six pockets. This game is much like eight-ball, which we’ll discuss in just a moment, but with a UK flair.

Seven-Ball Pool

The game of seven-ball pool is a rotational game with seven object balls in total. When playing, you can only shoot into certain pockets, so make sure you pay attention! Seven-ball only came into existence in the 1980s when William D. Clayton dreamt up the concept.

Eight-Ball Pool

Next up is eight-ball pool or eightball. This pool game has 16 balls just like blackball pool. Yes, once again, there’s one cue ball and the other 15 balls are all object balls. Each object ball has a number on it. The balls between 1 and 7 are a solid color, the balls between 9 and 15 are striped, and the eight-ball is black. That’s why the game is also known as spots and stripes or solids and stripes.

When playing eight-ball pool, you’re supposed to take a break shot to send the balls all over the table. Then you hit either a striped or solid ball group and have to pocket them. Only then can you try to pocket the eight ball in what’s referred to as a called pocket.

Nine-Ball Pool

Long before seven-ball pool existed was nine-ball, which was invented in the United States during the 1920s. You use a rectangle-shaped pool table that has at least four pockets. Hit the cue ball into the numbered billiard balls (1 through 9, as you probably could have guessed), but do so in numerical order. Then you have to pocket the nine-ball!

Ten-Ball Pool

The last type of pool game you can play with your cue is ten-ball pool. The rules are the same as nine-ball with one noticeable difference: there’s a tenth colored ball, which is the money ball. It’s called that since when you pocket it legally, you win ten-ball.

What Are the Parts of a Pool Cue?

Now that you know more about what a pool cue is and the many fun ways you can use it, let’s talk about the parts of a pool cue. We’ll start from the back of the cue, which is the thickest part, and work our way up to the top.

Bumper

The bumper at the very back of the pool cue is for impact absorption. When you make a shot, the cue will reverberate less since the bumper is there. Many pool cue manufacturers choose rubber for the bumper, but it can be made of other hardy materials as well.

Butt Cap

The butt cap is one component of the weight bolt system. Depending on how heavy your cue’s weight bolt system is, your pool cue can feel nice and natural or unwieldy in your hands.

Butt Sleeve

The butt sleeve may feature overlays, or decals atop the wood, or inlays, which are etched into the wooden sleeve. The butt sleeve is more than just for looks, as it’s what houses the weight bolt system.

Wrap

Now you’re midway up your pool cue. The wrap is for gripping and comes in all sorts of materials, including real leather, faux leather, Irish linen, or nylon. If you’d rather wrap up your own pool cue, then buy one that’s unwrapped.

Forearm

Above the wrap is the pool cue forearm, which is also decorated with overlays or inlays. The design of these overlays/inlays will be the same between the forearm and butt sleeve. This wooden component includes a layer of gloss coating to extend its usage against wear and tear.

Butt Collar

Is your pool cue a two-piece cue? If so, then it will have a butt collar. Single-piece cues will not though. The butt collar is often stainless steel but comes in other metals as well.

Joint Pin

Part of the butt collar is the joint pin, which helps you open or close the butt collar. Some joint pins are radial, which you have to twist, and others are Speed-Loc style, which can turn far faster.

Joint Collar

The joint collar keeps the butt collar and joint pin attached. It features ringwork, typically silver, and may otherwise be black. Thanks to the joint collar, you can shoot with stability and power. Thus, if your shots aren’t coming out right and you’re sure it isn’t the weight of your cue, then check the joint collar. It may need replacing.

Shaft

The shaft is the tapered part of your pool cue that shrinks when following it from the bottom to the top. This shape of the shaft provides greater consistency from shot to shoot. Shaft materials differ depending on your budget, but your options are fiberglass, graphite, and wood, especially maple wood. Cheaper wood alternatives are also available.

Ferrule

Now that you’ve almost reached the end of your pool cue, there are only two parts left. One of these is the ferrule, which keeps the cue tip steady and strong. You also have fewer vibrations thanks to the ferrule, this time at the top of your cue.

Tip

The last part of your pool cue is the tip. Although it’s the smallest, it’s the most important, as you’ll use the pool cue tip to hit the cue ball. You have your pick of pool cue sizes, from 11 millimeters to 14 millimeters in the radius of a dime or a nickel. We just wrote an in-depth post about pool cue tips that you should definitely go back and read!

Conclusion

Now that the mystery of pool cues has been solved, you can go out and play a game (or several!) of pool with your buddies without worrying about making yourself look bad. Listen to their advice, keep practicing, and you may just find that your pool skills increase!

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