All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. The importance of this proverb cannot be stressed enough. We all need some recreation time to rejuvenate our mind, catch up with buddies, and there’s no better way to do this than playing pool.
However, for you to enjoy playing this amazing game, you will need a proper table. But with the extensive variety of pool tables in the market, it’s easy to make a costly mistake, especially if you don’t know what aspects to consider when making your choice.
To give you an edge and help you make an informed decision, I have round up some of the best pool tables in the market and prepared an overview of what each has to offer. These pool tables are built to great quality and will certainly enhance your pool game experience whether you are just starting out or have been playing for a while.
But before we jump into the reviews, you need to know some of the key factors that makes up a great pool table. With this in mind, you will be more adept at evaluating the quality of different tables that you are considering and be in a better position to choose the best option. Be sure to set a budget for your table, as with most things in life… you get what you pay for. This is especially true for pool tables. So, without further delay, let’s get started.
Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Pool Table
Quality of the Frame
The frame binds together all the other components of a pool table, thereby this is one area you want to be extra vigilant when doing your evaluation.
These days, pool tables are made from a wide range of materials. High quality tables have frames made from slate with solid wood body, while low end tables have either plywood or honeycomb frames.
However, most tables you will find in the market have fiberboard (MDF) frames which is the most common material. Slate tables are very strong and durable plus they offer high levels of accuracy when playing which makes them more expensive.
On the other hand, MDF frames are also very solid. Game play on an MDF surface is good but not as good as on a slate frame.
Whether you are going for slate, solid wood or MDF table, make sure to check the thickness because they come in different thicknesses. You should go for the thickest because the thicker the frame material the more durable and stable the table. You would want to consider a thickness of not less than 1-inch.
The next thing you should check is the legs of the table. This might seem less significant but it’s not. The legs hold the whole weight of the table and you will be leaning on it when taking shots which means it will have to support your weight too over time.
So, they must be constructed well. You should consider tables with thick legs made from a solid wood as they provide a firm base allowing the table to remain very sturdy when playing.
Rigidity between the legs and the frame is also important as far as stability is concerned. Therefore, if you can find a table with thick legs which is further reinforced with cross beams or heavy duty panels then you’ve hit the jackpot. There will be no movement at all. The table will remain totally solid when playing.
The felt or cloth of the pool table can affect game play even on a table that has a hard and thick play field. You want to choose a table with a cloth that’s strong, smooth and can be cleaned easier.
Here you have two options. You can go with worsted or woolen cloth. Between the two, worsted cloth is the best because it has a high-wool count, so it’s tough, fast and very smooth. It provides excellent game play and it’s easy to clean as well.
Woolen cloth is also not that badly off. However, it’s not that effective as the worsted cloth. It tend to slightly affect the ball roll over time and requires a little more maintenance.
Either way, if you are getting a table for your home rec room, then both types of felt will do just fine but if you want quality and durability then the worsted cloth is a better choice.
Cushion, Rail, and Pockets
Rebounds are critical during a game of pool and as such you should assess the quality of the cushion and the rails of the tables that interest you. The cushion covers the inner sides of the rail and its purpose is to cause the balls to rebound off it while maintaining their momentum.
It’s an important part to consider as well as the rail if at all you want to experience and enjoy pool game the way it’s supposed to. Therefore, you should ensure that the cushion of the table is made from a quality rubber to allow the balls to bounce easily against it.
The rails also affect the response of the billiard balls, thereby you want to make sure that they are made from solid wood and properly bolted into place. When they are firmly in place, then the cushioned edges will provide excellent response.
The pockets on the other hand can vary significantly in size and shape depending on the table size and manufacturer. There are tables that have fairly large pockets to allow for easier pocketing of the balls while you can find some where the pockets have been shimmed so that it’s more challenging to pocket the balls.
Furthermore, the design of the pockets can vary depending on the manufacturer. There are those that feature a leather mesh, plastic caps or cloth bags to catch the balls and there are others that have a ball return system where the balls are channeled into a collection chamber located on one side of the table.
Generally, the choice of pockets is a matter of preference but I would like to mention that pockets with cups or bags have a disadvantage.
If you put too many balls into the same pocket then the receptacle will be filled and no more balls will go in that pocket. So, you will have to manually remove the balls out of the pocket before shooting again.
In this case I would highly recommend getting a table with a ball return system rather than bags or cups. Ball returns make life so much easier. Re-racking is fast and effortless allowing you to enjoy the game without much interruptions.
Size of the Table
The size of the table will depend on the amount of space you have in your rec room. If it’s very spacious, then you can go for standard sized table but if it’s quite limited then a smaller pool table might be a better option.
Here you want to ensure that you get a table that will fit right in your man cave which means once installed, there should be enough space to allow players make their shots comfortable whether using a long or short cue stick. The space should also be enough to allow them move freely around the table.
In general, the proper way of determining the quality of a pool table is by examining its parts, to confirm how well they’re built and what materials were used in building them. If you are able to do this then you will not throw your money down the drain.
Even if you can’t do it physically, you can always inquire about the construction of the table from the manufacturer before making a purchase.
Our Top 5 Pick
The Fat Cat Frisco comes at a very modest price but when you look at it, it seems to cost much more. Well it should because incredible attention has been paid to every little detail that make up the whole table.
To start off, the design of the table is very catchy. The warm maple finish on its beveled legs and frame combined with the hazel wool-blend cloth gives the table an astonishing classical look.
The leather pockets with braided strands embellish the classic appearance of the table even much more. Generally, the Fat Cat Frisco is designed to catch attention and will complement well any rec room décor.
When it comes to build quality, the table does not disappoint. The frame and rails are made of solid wood while the legs are thick and robust made from a sturdy hardwood. The whole structure is basically very solid and considering that the table weighs more than 300 pounds, it won’t move an inch when playing.
Aside from stability, game play on this table is equally good. The playfield is 1-inch thick and it’s made of an MDF Accuslate material. This is an artificial stone that’s almost similar to natural slate, so it not only provides a smooth playing surface but will also last for quite a long time.
The felt on the other hand is a woolen blend. It’s somewhat thicker than that of most other tables but the quality is good. Balls might run a little slower on it but that’s not really a bad thing.
Like I mentioned above, the rails are solid wood and the balls bounce against it just as expected. You will have no problem leveling the table because the legs have leveling pads that will help to adjust the table to achieve an even playing surface. The levelers are hidden in the legs, so they are not that obvious.
To sum it all, the Fat Cat Frisco is a solid, well-made billiard table. It looks very classy and game play on it feels almost equal to a high end model. It’s a table that can offer years and years of play.
I would strongly recommend it for anyone who doesn’t want a regulation size table but rather just a good quality table that can withstand both recreational and competitive play.
- Fairly priced
- Attractive classical look
- Firm construction
- Very stable
- Great playability
- Fast and precise rebounds
- Can last many years
- Leg levelers included
- Very heavy and hard to install
- Re-racking might be a bit cumbersome
Our #2 Pick
The Maverick is a versatile table. The unit consists of a 7ft pool table and a Ping-Pong playing surface that can be fitted on top of the table.
Unlike the Frisco, this Hathaway table has quite a stylish modern design. The silver laminated top rail and frame blends well with the chrome plated corner cap. The playing surface has a striking red color which adds quite a beauty and elegance to the overall look of the table. The blue tennis playing surface also looks beautiful when fitted on the table.
When it comes to construction, the Hathaway Maverick has a very sturdy structure. The frame is made up of laminated particleboard and it’s of good quality. Combined with the pedestal style leg and a weight of 252 pounds, this table will provide sufficient stability when playing even during aggressive games.
The playfield is a 0.75” thick MDF bed. It’s not top of the line but will do just fine for casual-level play. The tablecloth is not equally bad. It’s a durable high-quality felt that can withstand regular competitive games.
The legs can easily be adjusted to keep the table steady and levelled on uneven floors. I can comfortable say that the Hathaway Maverick is built to great quality for the price, and it’s quite suitable for both beginners and experienced pool players.
With its compact size (measures 7 feet) it can fit into almost any rec room. The height is also comfortable for adults as well as teenagers.
One thing to like about this pool table is the manufacturer’s idea of adding a Ping-Pong playing field. If you are tired of the tactical pool match you can shift to a more adrenaline-charged table tennis game.
The tennis top is exactly the same size as the pool playfield, so you can easily put it up for a quick game change. No doubt, this Hathaway Maverick model can be a great fun for both big families and a small group of friends.
It’s definitely not a regulation size table but just like the Fat Cat Frisco above, it can handle both casual and competitive game play. The best part is that you also get to play table tennis on the same table. Generally, this is another good table that I can recommend to anyone looking for a quality and solid table for family recreation.
- Well-built frame and playfield
- Stylish modern design
- Very stable
- Offers smooth game play
- Features a table tennis play field
- Very durable
- Fairly priced
- Very heavy
- Not regulation size
Our #3 Pick
Like the other two tables above, the Mizerak Dynasty is a table for everyone. This a table designed for use in tighter quarters which I believe it’s good because not everyone has enough room to install a regulation size pool table. It measures around 6.5 feet which is a perfect size for a small game room.
The whole unit weighs 200 pounds once assembled, and the frame seems firmly constructed, so the table is very stable once it’s up. Plus the cross supports between the legs enhance the rigidity of the whole structure hence there will be no wobbling at any time even when you sit and lie on it in an attempt to make a perfect shot.
A substantial weight of this table comes from the play bed. It’s a double-sealed MDF board with a thickness of 0.75”, so it’s good quality and will allow balls to roll smoothly. The green nylon cloth looks durable and is warp resistance. It will last through years.
The cushioning around the edges of the field seems to consist of a good quality rubber. The rebounds are fast and accurate when the balls strike the edges.
The Mizerak Dynasty features an automatic ball return system and this is a big plus as far as re-racking the balls is concerned. You get to retrieve the balls very easily and start a new game quicker.
The design of the table is also something worth mentioning because the bamboo laminate exterior complimented by the green colored cloth and black corner caps and posts gives the table an awesome look that’s likely to fit with almost any décor.
In total, the Mizerak Dynasty has everything you need in a pool table to enjoy a nice play every day. It’s not the best for competitive or rather professional play, but it’s a great option if you are looking to have just fun with friends and family.
- Effective ball return system
- Solid construction
- Flat, smooth playing field
- Very stable
- Leg levelers included
- Beautifully designed
- Very heavy
- Somewhat difficult to set up alone
Our #4 Pick
Barrington pool tables always seem to win the hearts of many pool lovers and this is mostly due to their quality construction and exquisite styling. This model does well to maintain that reputation.
The distinctive burgundy color cloth combines well with the PVC laminate finish on the exterior and the pedestal wood leg design, giving the table a classic arcade look. The table looks like an authentic standard billiard table that can perk up any game room or man cave.
Along with the nice looks, the table is also very sturdy and plays great. The playing field is made of ¾” particle board with a very strong wooden deck support.
The legs on the other hand are ½” thick wood and have been reinforced with equally thick panels. So, the whole table will remain very solid once you set it up.
The polyester velvet felt that covers the play field is hard and flat. It will allow for smooth and consistent ball rolls every time. The best part about this table is that it as well features K-818 specification cushion guards which means you will enjoy precise ball bounce during play.
Generally, when you look at the design, materials and structure of this Barrington Billiard table, you can tell that it’s indeed built to great quality for the price range. This is a table that I believe can suit both experienced and armature players.
- Well-built with sturdy structure
- Steady and smooth ball roll
- Complete panel leg supports
- Precise ball bounce
- Can last for quite a long time
- Fairly priced
- The felt seems somewhat cheap
Our #5 Pick
Closing our top 5 list is another Fat Cat table, the Tucson model. While the classical style has always been the proper trend, this Fat Cat table brings a fresh breath of air with its modern sleek design that’s bound to be in perfect harmony with any modern day home décor.
It has a very strong and sturdy construction. The frame and the playing field are made from a hard MDF material with standard thickness that ensures durability and hardness.
The table will remain steady on any surface. While most tables have four legs, this one has two large legs. The arcade form of its legs extends its steadiness and stability. The rubber feet is another wonderful addition as far as stability is concerned. They hold the table firmly in place, so you are guaranteed zero movement during play no matter how aggressive the game gets.
The table cloth covering the playing field is a low-friction sapphire-toned polyester material. The field and the cloth are perfectly flat, so the balls will move smoothly and swiftly. The rubber cushions on the field surface also offer fast and precise rebound of the balls which is a big plus as it will make the games more challenging and more enjoyable.
Another thing to appreciate on this Fat Cat table is its ball return system. The balls go to the ends of the table. All it takes is pressing a button to release them and you don’t have to run around the table to collect them.
To sum it all, the Fat Cat Tucson indeed strikes a good balance between price and quality. It rock solid and provides a decent gaming experience. This is a table for anyone who desires a well-built full-sized table with a stylish contemporary design.
- Stylish modern design
- Strong and sturdy construction
- Has great stability
- Will provide wonderful gaming experience
- Effective ball return system
- Fairly priced
- A little bit hard to assembly
- Will need some leveling
There are so many different types of pool tables to choose from, but you can only end up with the best table when you are smart and careful. The information above, particularly the guide can certainly help you determine the quality of any table you are interested in before proceeding to make your final decision.
However, if you don’t want to go through all that trouble, then you can consider one of the options on our top 5 list. You can still find many other good options in the market but the one we’ve listed above offer the best quality for the money. Once you’ve bought a table the next item you’ll need to invest in is a quality pool cue.