Does your pool cue matter? The Truth About Modern High-Tech Billiard Cues

I started playing pool at the young age of 7, during the winters growing up in northern Maine, when the temperature reached minus 50 degrees and it was too cold to ski. The recreation room at Loring AFB had a couple of pool tables, and when I was a very athletic kid I had a natural curiosity about the game, and after watching a few games, one of the airmen invited me to play with him. He showed me how to hold the cue and make a bridge, and he got me a small wooden box to stand on so I could reach the table. I soon became addicted to the game and soon invited my friends to play. We spend many cold winter days inside that rec room, playing for hours, making up our own rules and games, and finally even gambling nickel bars on the outcome. Yes, we were big spenders!

When summer came, we put aside the signs and played baseball all day. My dream, since I was 5 years old and saw the Dodgers play in Los Angeles several times before my dad was transferred to Loring, was to be a professional baseball player, and I finally got a baseball scholarship to college in Texas, where my dad retired in 1966. Over the years, every free hour I didn’t spend practicing baseball was spent in a pool hall, and after my baseball career ended with a broken shoulder as a pitcher, billiards fell apart. became my number one interest. I won my first tournament when I was 17, in a bar where my sister worked, and I won a taco for first prize. I was incredibly excited, until I screwed the stick in and rolled it on the table. To my horror it rolled like a corkscrew – it was so deformed it couldn’t be played! Let’s go back to playing with a bar stick!

For the next 20 years, I rushed to work in the pool wherever I was working at the time. I drilled oil wells across the country and made as much money pushing thugs after their shift as I did from my salary. As a mud engineer, I was responsible for checking many different teams on a daily basis, meeting and playing against hundreds of different pool players each year. Moving around the country to different areas annually, I was able to stay under the radar and remain a stranger, so it was never a problem to start a money game. I don’t think I’ve ever met a bully who didn’t play pool, and most of them had a pretty high opinion of his game. That usually changes when it’s time to pay!

In 1989 I put the Alexander brothers on a golf course in Dallas. Nick, a lawyer, had founded Clicks Billiards many years before, and now owned a total of 20 billiard rooms from Phoenix to Florida, with his original billiard room right there in Dallas at Abrams Rd. And Northwest Highway. Greg, his brother, was the General Manager and responsible for hiring managers for the 20 pool halls. By then I had retired from the oil business and was making a living on the golf course and in the pool halls every day. Greg and Nick were members of the Sleepy Hollow Country Club in South Dallas, where I played golf every day. Greg had a handicap of 3, and after I played him 3-4 days a week for several months (and took a lot of money from him), he asked me if I played pool. Hahaha. “A little bit,” I told him, and that night he took me to the original Clicks pool, to try and get some of his money back.

After he paid off the hundred I earned from him that night, he offered me a job as deputy director of the original Clicks. I knew he had never worked in a bar before, but he assured me that he would pick it up quickly and that it would be a perfect fit with the pool players who made up his main customer base. Was he ever right? I took it like a duck in the water and ended up meeting most of the best pool players in Dallas and some of the best in the country. Clicks had several exhibitions, including one by Grady Matthews and another by Ewa Mataya, the Striking Viking. Clicks was also where I met CJ Wiley, the visiting player who won the ESPN Ultimate Nine Ball Challenge in 1995 or 96. There were many, many top-tier pro players at Clicks, with many $ 1,000 one-pocket games every day and night. , with many top Dallas bookmakers funding much of the action, and dozens of sweaters on the rail, just watching … or praying, hahaha.

CJ entered Clicks in 1990 and proceeded to terrorize local professionals. He was an instant legend, crushing every major player in town. The guys who scared me a lot didn’t even touch CJ when he offered them the 5 and off. His reputation grew, and so did his ranking, eventually reaching number 4 or 5 in the Pool world. Working there, I quickly became friends with CJ, and when he opened his own room in Dallas, CJ’s Billiard Palace, I eventually left Clicks and went to manage CJ’s place. When it opened, 90% of the action and professional players went with it. It had 12 gold crowns, unlike 4 de Clicks, a kitchen, and it was open 24 hours. The action never stopped.

So what, you ask, does all of this have to do with the subject of the title? I bought my first cue, a Thomas Wayne model, in 91, and while it was beautiful, with lots of beautiful inlays, and very responsive, it really did nothing to improve my game. I played with it for 3 years until it was stolen from me and I loved the cue, but I could play just as well with a bar cue, as long as it was the right weight and had a good tip. I spent $ 700 for the taco, but I really didn’t need to. It didn’t give me any advantage over a house sign.

I had a serious back injury in 1994, which caused me to stop playing golf and billiards. I didn’t want to risk an operation, and it wasn’t until 2008 that I received a non-narcotic medication from the VA that allowed me to bend over the table again without excruciating pain. At the time, Predator Cues had come out with a 10-piece shaft that was hollow at the tip, significantly reducing the deflection of the cue ball on impact … or so they claimed. Having been out of the game for 14 years, I had read little about these signs and was intrigued to say the least.

For those of you who read this and don’t know what cue ball deflection is, here it is in a nutshell: when a cue ball is hit on either side of the vertical axis … the center line … the cue the ball. it will drift or “gush” in the opposite direction. So if you hit the cue ball using right ‘English’ … you hit the cue ball to the right of the vertical center line … the cue ball will drift to the left, and vice versa. The amount of deflection varies, depending on the speed of the shot, the distance from the center line (or tip offset) that the cue ball is hit, and the mass of the tip. In other words, the more English you apply, the stronger the stroke and the greater the mass of the tip … all of these factors will increase the amount of deflection or squirt. This jet needs to be compensated for when aiming, or you will miss the shot quite often.

This is where Predator technology comes in. With a small hollow space at the tip end, the reduced mass dramatically reduced the amount of deflection by allowing the cue ball to push the shaft out of the way on impact, rather than the shaft pushing the cue ball out of the way. . The 314 shaft immediately became very popular with professionals, and the Z axis further reduced deflection by reducing the tip size from 12.75mm to 11.75mm. A shorter ferrule also helped reduce mass and thus further reduce deflection. Independent tests have the Predator Z² axis and the Predator 314² axis as the # 1 and # 2 axes in the world causing the least amount of deflection. More than half of the top 40 professionals, 3 of the top 5 professional women, and more than 35,000 players worldwide use Predator signs and arrows, according to the Predator website. These professionals are not paid to touch these signals. They play them because their life depends on their ability to play, which is enhanced with this high-tech equipment.

Since Predator broke ground in the mid-1990s, many companies have joined the tech revolution. Lucasi Hybrid Cues offers the Zero Flex Point axle on all of their hybrid models. This axle has technology similar to the Predator axles to dramatically reduce deflection. They offer these shafts with many types of gaskets to fit most cleats made today. World champion Thorsten Hohmann from Germany now plays with Lucasi Hybrid.

The OB-1 and OB-2 axes also offer low deflection technology, and John Schmidt recently switched to the OB signal. He said he ran over 400 balls playing pool, the second day he used the OB axis.

I had to try one of these cues myself, and I must say: I absolutely love the new high-tech pool cues. I play a Predator 5K3 and despite not having played in 14 years, my game has risen to a much higher level than ever before. The reduced deflection makes hard hits in English much simpler, by reducing the amount of compensation per jet.

In summary, advancement in technology has shortened the learning curve for beginner and intermediate players by reducing cue ball deflection and requiring much less compensation for the jet effect. And the professionals who make a living off a taco? Almost everyone plays some type of low deflection shaft. Why shouldn’t they? If they don’t, your competitors (which they all do) will get the money.

While Predator is still the low deflection benchmark, they aren’t cheap either. The retail price for a Z² axis is almost $ 300, but the new Lucasi Hybrid Cues, with similar technology (and also new grip technology to reduce impact vibration) are a good lower-priced alternative. For less than the price of a Predator Z² axle alone, you can get a great Lucasi hybrid [] which has advanced low deflection technology and plays fantastically well. If a world champion like Thorsten Hohmann is playing a Lucasi Hybrid, you KNOW it’s an exceptional cue.

So think carefully when buying a new cue. If you don’t use a cue with modern low deflection technology, your opponent will likely. All things being equal, a modern low deflection cleat or an old cleat with a new low deflection axle will win the vast majority of the time. The vastly improved precision will do so.

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