Pool Synergy – 10 Things I Love/Hate About You

Samm always comes up with the best Pool Synergy topics.  This time around, the topic is “10 Things”.  We are to make a list of our favorite 10 things in pool, 10 things we do to get ready to play, 10 drills, etc.  You get the idea.  Since you all know that I’m not great at following directions, I decided to take 5 things that I both love and hate about pool, which technically gives me my list of 10, although it is a bit of a bastardization of the topic (sorry Samm!).  So here are the 10 things I love and hate about pool:

Why I love it: Vegas has become the ultimate foodie paradise. Because the billiards industry loves to spend so much time in Vegas, I get access to the likes of Rick Moonen, Hubert Keller, Tom Colicchio, Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken and the list goes on and on. The best chefs in the world have eateries in Vegas, so you can go their 5 times a year and never eat at the same place twice.

Why I hate it: Simply put, because I have to go there on average about 5 times per year. See, the billiards industry has this love affair with Vegas, so every event seems to be held there. Because most pool players can’t afford to stay at the ultra swank hotels, I spend way more time than I’d ever care to at The Riv, drinking at the center bar and eating mediocre English grub at the Queen Victoria Pub.  By the way, if you’re going for APA nationals, feel free to look me up (I’ll be the bald guy in the PoolDawg booth).

Skeletons, Dragons and Points
Why I love it: Ever wonder why we carry so many pool cues look the same? Because they sell. Anything with bones or a dragon on it will sell in the billiards industry. Same can be said for traditional points, notched inlays and windows. This of course makes it extremely easy to pick products to carry, as almost anything that follows the basic formula gets solid inventory turns, making my job much easier.

Why I hate it: They are such an easy go to. So much so that they completely hamper creativity. You rarely see anything that is truly unique looking in this business because everyone knows what works. No one swings for the fences, because the risk/reward ratio is not strong enough. As a result, you end up with a bunch of stuff that looks exactly the same.

Why I love it:  League players represent the vast majority of our customers.  They also represent the largest contingent of regular pool players and are vital to the health of the industry.  They are passionate about the game and their gear.  With the housing bust, a steep decline in pool table sales followed, making the guys who go out to play every week all the more important to the industry.

Why I hate it:  There’s too much fighting between leagues.  They fight over rules, territories and of course, the players.  With the estimated number of league players hovering around 400,000 and an alphabet soup of different league options, you have a lot of companies fighting for the attention of a very limited audience.  Instead of finding new players, league operators seem more focused on recruiting players from other leagues to join theirs.  Stories of league operators telling bars they’ll pull business if the bar hosts more than one league and trashing other leagues to said bars and players is not unheard of.  Ultimately, this leads to a declining market instead of an expanding one.

Why I love it:  New tech drives sales.  When a new shaft is introduced, players upgrade.  When there’s a new tip, players upgrade.  When there’s a new tool, players upgrade.  Hell, when there’s new chalk, people upgrade.  Just like with any sport, players are looking for whatever advantage they can get.

Why I hate it:  There’s no solid data to back up any of the tech.  There is no Consumer Reports for testing these products, which means that in most cases it is impossible for us to give definitive answers to questions like “how much will this improve my game”.  Each manufacturer has their own reports and stats, but having the manufacturer state that their shaft is better than everyone else’s just doesn’t carry much cred, especially when every piece of tech seems to make the same claims.

Pool Halls
Why I love it:  They have character.  They have characters.  Every great pool story seems to originate in a pool hall.  They are one of the few places that serious players can go to play.

Why I hate it:  The stigma.  There are some absolutely beautiful pool halls.  Fargo Billiards always comes to mind.  House of Billiards down near where I grew up is a nice one too.  But for every nice pool hall, there seems to be 20 that carry the old school “den of thieves” vibe.  One only needs to subscribe to a blotter feed to see how much crime happens at pool halls.  I’ve ranted about this ad nauseum in past iterations of this blog, so I’m not going to again beyond saying that lots of these places need to clean it up.

So there you have it.  Don’t forget to visit my buddy Samm Diep’s blog to check out all the other PS posts (I hear there’s like 20 total this month).

Posted in Pool.

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