People enjoy indoor games for a good reason. Seriously, the time for casual enjoyment has been running dangerously short as of lately.
Is there a better way to burn these couple of free hours enjoying friendly competition with our friends and family?
If you agree with me, then you need to read this article. Here, I will quickly cover some of the best pool tables on the market and try to help you find the best fit for your game room.
Why pool, you might ask?
Well, in the world of indoor fun, the pool is considered a sort of royalty.
It's exclusive enough for even the most pristine parlors in the world but simple enough so everyone can learn the basics within minutes.
It’s casual enough so you can have a pleasant chat, but competitive enough to keep the conversation spicy.
To put it simply pool is awesome.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at some of the most popular sets you can currently by and quickly breeze through some of the most important considerations you should make before spending your hard-earned money.
Best Pool Tables Currently on the Market: Top 7 Recommendations
So, here they are – the 7 pool tables that caused the biggest chatter in pool lover circles, casual and professional alike.
Just one more thing before we take off – the entries below are sorted from best to worst so you can get a pretty good idea where my allegiances are.
If you think that a pool table is only as good as it’s able to pull-off that glamorous parlor look, this beautiful piece of casual fun will blow you out of the water.
Seriously, this unit isn’t called Bellagio for no reason. Move it into your game room, and you’ll get all the class you can imagine.
First and foremost, the frame and the rails are both made from solid wood while the legs were hand-carved by professional artisans. These ingredients produce a combination of style and endurance that is truly hard to match.
When it comes to the playing surface, things don't get any worse – on the contrary.
The Bellagio features a high-quality 3-piece slate that lends the table additional structural integrity as well as makes sure the playing surface won't bend under any reasonable circumstances.
The slate is covered with high-quality cloth that represents the mix of natural wool (75%) and nylon (25%) and manages to marry the best of both worlds. The material is smooth, but also incredibly easy to maintain.
And if you are not happy with the stock red option, you can choose green, blue, and camel surfaces as well.
So, the table is perfectly fine. What about accessories?
Well, the package includes virtually anything that can cross your mind. The only things that are missing are the racks where you can keep all this equipment.
That wouldn't be an issue if the table wasn't so expensive.
I am perfectly aware that the package, as it is, warrants such a hefty price tag, but throwing in a few more goods would definitely sway more hesitant customers.
Barrington Springdale 90" is a pool table that manages to accomplish something very few tables from this price manage to pull off. With its classy look, you can easily confuse this unit for a professional unit.
However, with the price just under $800, the table is still affordable enough for most casual users.
The template set here is designed for success.
You have your massive wooden frame, and, your enormous legs - just like the regular full-scale table.
This time, though, the legs are made from plastic, which cheapens the entire idea a bit, but they, at least, look good. The overall craftsmanship is not that bad, either.
Still, if you are careful enough, you will be able to find some small imperfections.
Speaking in terms of durability, the things bode similarly.
Just don't make the dangerous mistake of confusing this unit for a full-scale professional table and put too much pressure on it – the danger of breaking the frame and bending the legs is clear and present.
As for the playing surface, the polyester cloth may not be as smooth and sophisticated as wool but does its work surprisingly well.
You won't experience any problems when making your shots, and maintenance and ease of maintenance make the whole thing even more appealing.
Take into consideration the very extensive set of accessories, and you will get one very appealing package that may be just too expensive to be genuinely mid-range, and too sloppy to be called a premium.
And now, for something completely different.
Well, not that different – portable pool tables are not that uncommon these days. But, in a world of products that desperately try to look massive and parlor-like, getting a bit of convenience doesn’t have to be all that bad.
Especially when that convenience doesn't come too much at the expense of durability. Does this table manage to strike that perfect balance? Well, it definitely seems so.
For a start, the playing surface hits the length of 6 inches, which officially ranks it as a table where you can play serious competitive games. Well, at least with a bit of ingenuity, skill, and imagination.
The second thing I really liked is that, in spite of the reasonably lightweight, the unit feels very robust. Even if you apply some pressure on it (which is absolutely necessary for some more complicated shots), you won't lose support or damage the table.
And, honestly, the sturdy black frame gives this table a very appealing industrial look without sacrificing much of its portability.
On the contrary, the frame features quite a few adjustment options so you won't have any problems adjusting the table to your height.
Throw into the mix the basic two-player accessory set, and you will get everything you need for hours of casual fun.
Is there anything to take away from this story? Honestly, not that much. Once again, the low price makes me very forgiving for some minor issues.
Still, I would like to point out the fact that the chrome-looking elements are plastic so they can scratch reasonably easy.
Consider yourself a passionate pool player? Want to share your love with your younger family members?
If the answer to these questions is YES, you’ve come to the right place – Playcraft Sport Bank Shot comes as close to a perfect way to hook your kids to the good old game of pool as it gets.
The reason why this unit feels so appealing is that, although we are talking about the toy table, this small puncher looks and feels like a full-scale professional pool table.
Well, at least to an extent.
Slab surface and solid wood frame would blow the price of this package out of proportion, but the MDF/laminate surrogate you get here is not that bad.
As a matter of fact, in terms of build quality, Bank Shot doesn't lag behind most of the full-scale entry-level units.
And you know what?
The cloth that covers the playing surface actually feels very nice. Of course, nothing here feels too fancy (keep in mind that this unit costs like some quality pool table covers), but, even in that in mind, the cloth does its job perfectly well.
If you manage to lower your expectations and scale down your skills, you will be able to get a couple of decent pool games out of this small wonder. And honestly, 40 inches are not that small.
But, this is the point where price and size limitations start kicking into high gear.
First and foremost, side pockets are too small and feel horribly unfinished. These two facts alone will make even the most relaxed shots a chore. The rest of the equipment feels equally sketchy.
But, you get what you pay, and this package costs too little to be ignored.
As we’ve when I covered Fat Cat Trueshot 6’, portability can go hand in hand with some pretty good stamina.
Well, it doesn’t take more than a passing look at HLC 55’’ to see that manufacturers have decided to swing the pendulum far into the lightweight side.
Some people who like their pool tables strong and heavy may find this whole setup too fragile.
Still, this is one of the nimblest and most lightweight pool tables I have ever tried.
Finished the game? Just fold the slim aluminum legs and but the whole thing behind the wardrobe. Yeah, it’s that slim.
The playing surface that, at the same time, makes the most robust and heaviest part of the table. Its size may be just a bit shy of a professional table, but with nearly 5 feet of length, you are safely out of the toy zone.
The cloth that covers the playing surface is not that bad, either. Everything runs easily and smoothly. And you do get all the necessary accessories.
So, what are the faults?
Well, it doesn’t take more than a brief look at this table to notice durability is not one of its biggest strengths.
And truly, fiberboard never translated to endurance and quality. Also, for a unit this simple, this small table is incredibly hard to put together.
But, all these things are typical for the pool tables this cheap. Besides, the table is so light and portable I'm willing to forgive it a lot of things.
As we’ve already seen when I reviewed Fat Cat Trueshot, this manufacturer knows very well what tradeoffs need to be made to keep the target audience as wide as possible without sacrificing the quality of the product.
Reno 7.5’ follows the same philosophy. At first glance, you can easily confuse it for a far more expensive premium table.
Is it perfect, though? No. But, let us start with the positives.
As I already mentioned, with its beveled legs with cherry finish and a maple wood veneer, the table does look incredibly stylish and wouldn't look out of place in some big-budget spy movie.
I am happy to say that this good impression translates to durability. Even if you put a lot of pressure on the table, you can expect this bad boy to endure quite a few years.
The rest of the materials are equally as satisfying.
I would like to give a special shout-out to playing surface burgundy cloth that feels soft and smooth. For better or for worse, but here, you'll have no excuses for your bad shots.
As for the accessories, the package is not entirely barren, but Santa hasn't been all too generous this year – you get your standard two 57" 2-piece hardwood cues, set of 2-1/4" billiard balls, a resin triangle, and one rail brush.
And now – the drawbacks.
Well, in spite of the quality materials that were used for the build, I have to admit that my unit felt very sloppy in places. Some wooden surfaces felt rough, the screw holes were sometimes off the mark and things like that.
Also, the legs are needlessly hard to install. I've spent too much time putting this thing together.
Mid-range pool tables are a curious beast.
Their primary audience usually consists of more modest customers who don’t want to invest too much money into their setups. Their price usually entails a fair share of compromises.
That, however, doesn’t prevent mid-range tables from looking as classy as their budget allows them.
EastPoint Sports Masterton is the perfect example of this practice.
The table makes a lot of small compromises but tries to hide them behind the classy look that, honestly, appears way out of this price range.
This strong visual impression is primarily helped by the fact that the wood the frame was made from feels pretty nice and durable.
Throw into the equation the sleek, shiny finish, and you won't have any problem convincing your friends that you paid the table a couple of hundreds of bucks more.
The content of the package is not great, but it includes all the basics and some items I was very pleasantly surprised to see. Seriously, table brush is something I would like to see much more in bundles like this.
And now, let us proceed to the compromises. Well, the classic parlor look of this table may deceive you for some time but not forever.
Some of the screws on this thing do not align, which makes assembly a pain in the neck, the craftsmanship is not always that great, and the legs may look like solid wood, but they are actually clunky plastic. You know – the usual midrange stuff.
But, as long as you stay aware of what you're buying, EastPoint Sports Masterton makes a very interesting purchase.
The Things You Should Consider When Buying a Pool Table
So, now that we've gone through the 7 most popular heavy hitters you can currently find on the web, it is time to take a quick look at a couple of important considerations you should make before choosing your unit.
You see, the term “pool table” is very broad and means a lot of different things to different people.
The level of enjoyment you’ll get from your future pool set will largely depend on how well it will suit your needs.
1. Room Size/Dimensions
Pool tables usually come in these sizes.
You should seriously consider which one (if any) of these sizes will fit your future game room.
But, fitting the table inside the room is far from your only problem.
If you want to have any semblance of an enjoyable game (especially if you are playing with several other people), you will need to have some spare space around the table as well.
2. Type and Design
In regards to the type of the table, I have already mentioned one away to sort them out – by their size.
The other important separation we can make is by their pockets. Here we can find only two basic types.
As you can probably guess, pockets with ball return systems are far more convenient to use, but also more expensive and harder to maintain.
Finally, we have sorted out pool tables according to their place of origin, or to be more precise game rules: Here, we have.
3. Materials and Stability
These two things are mutually dependent – the stronger the materials are, the pool will be more stable. If the pool is poorly put together and prone to rocking, the materials will wear out much faster.
So, in regards to the latter problem, always look for the table that features top-notch craftsmanship.
As for the frame materials, if you are looking for quality, you can never go wrong with solid wood, supported by cross-breams. Engineered wood is probably your second best option.
f, on the other hand, you prefer your table to be portable, you'll get the most luck with lightweight but durable materials like aluminum.
Speaking of portability, not every one of us has the privilege of setting up a dedicated game room.
If you consider yourself one of these people, the good news is that portable pool tables do exist. They are usually built of lighter materials, and their legs can be folded for easier storage.
But, as you can guess, such a setup features some noticeable drawbacks.
First of all, you will need to say goodbye to all advanced features like pockets with a ball return system.
Also, in spite of their locking mechanism, portable tables can't support too much weight, so you won't have so much room performing more complicated shots.
And by surface, I am, of course, speaking about the playing surface.
Here, the things pretty much boil down to slate (solid rock made from minerals like quartz and clay), which allows optimal durability, and increases the table's stability by adding some pretty well-distributed.
On the downside, slate tends to be quite expensive, so it's rarely featured in more affordable units.
Other, more affordable alternatives to slate include the likes of polished wood (better option), and synthetic materials like Slaton, and MDF (worse option).
The main issue with both these types of surfaces is that they tend to lose their shape as time goes by.
The cloth is the material that covers the playing surface and allows the ball to roll more smoothly across the playing field. Therefore, you should look for smooth materials like wool and nylon.
Out of the two, wool represents more quality and expensive option, but nylon offers far simpler maintenance. So, choose your poison.
Of course, some of the cheaper tables won't feature a cloth cover at all, which is something you should actively avoid.
If the ball moves on hard surfaces, it lacks traction and tends to behave quite erratic.
Finally, pool tables are rarely sold separately. In the worst case, the package should include at least one complete ball set and two cues. But why strive for less?
You are going to spend a considerable pile of cash on your future game room. Do your best to squeeze out as much value for that money as possible.
So, what are the items that are usually included in pool table bundles? Well, things like:
Finally, it's time for me to proclaim the winner of this roundup.
This time, the job is made a bit more difficult by the fact that all these pool tables have something to offer, each in its own right.
But, when all is said and done, the fact remains that Harvil 8-Foot Slate Pool Table - Bellagio represents the best piece of pool hardware I had the opportunity to try out for quite some time.
Sure, it’s price may be hard, but it’s a price well earned.
However, if you are looking for a more affordable or portable alternative, I would suggest that you take a look at Barrington Springdale 90" Claw Leg Billiard Table Set and Fat Cat Trueshot 6’ Pool Table, respectively.