What Temperature Is Too High For A 5 Year Old Does Your Pool Cue Matter? The Truth About Modern High Technology Pool Cues

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Does Your Pool Cue Matter? The Truth About Modern High Technology Pool Cues

I started playing pool at the young age of 7, in the winters growing up in northern Maine when the temperature would reach 50 below zero and it was too cold to ski. The conference room at Loring AFB had a couple of pool tables and as a very athletic kid I had a natural curiosity for the game and after watching a few games I was invited by one of the airmen to play a game with him. He showed me how to hold the stick and make a bridge and put a small wooden box for me to stand on to reach the table. It didn’t take long for him to get addicted to the game and I soon invited my friends to play. We spent many cold winter days inside this recreation room, playing for hours, making up our own rules and games, and eventually even betting candy nickels on the outcome. Yes, we were big spenders!

When summer hit, we left the signs and played baseball all day. My dream, ever since I was 5 years old and saw the Dodgers play in Los Angeles several times before my father transferred to Loring, was to become a professional baseball player, and I eventually got a baseball scholarship to college in Texas, where father retired in 1966. Over the years, any spare time I didn’t spend practicing baseball was spent in a pool hall, and after my baseball career ended with a torn pitching shoulder, pool became my #1 interest . I won my first tournament when I was 17, at a bar my sister worked at, and I won a stick as first prize. I was incredibly excited, until I screwed up the stick and rolled it onto the table. To my horror it rolled like a corkscrew, it was so warped it was unplayable! Back to the game with a stick!

For the next 20 years, I went to the pool wherever I was working at the time. I opened oil wells all over the country and made as much money from the morons after their shift as I did from my salary. As a mud mechanic, I was responsible for controlling many different rigs every day, and I met and played against hundreds of different pool players every year. By moving around the country to different areas on a yearly basis, I was able to stay under the radar and remain relatively unknown, so starting a money game was never a problem. I don’t think I ever met anyone who didn’t play pool and most of them thought very highly of their game. This usually changed when it was time to pay!

In 1989 I met the Alexander brothers on a golf course in Dallas. Nick, a lawyer, had founded Clicks Billiards many years before, and now had a total of 20 billiards from Phoenix, Florida, with his original pool hall right there in Dallas on Abrams Rd. and the northwest highway. Greg, his brother, was the General Manager and responsible for hiring managers for all 20 of their pool rooms. By this time I had retired from the oil business and was making a living on the golf course and pool halls every day. Greg and Nick were both members of Sleepy Hollow Country Club in south Dallas, where I played golf every day. Greg was a 3 handicap and after I had been playing with him 3 or 4 days a week for several months (and making him quite a bit of money), he asked me if I played pool. Heh heh heh. “A bit,” I said, and he took me that night to the original Clicks Billiards, to try to earn some of his money back.

After paying the hundred I hit him from that night, he offered me a job as assistant manager of the original clicks. He knew I had never taken a bar tutorial before, but he assured me I would pick it up quickly and fit in with the pool players who made up their core customer base. Was he ever right! I took to it like a duck to 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 one by Ewa Mataya, Striking Viking. At Clicks I also met CJ Wiley, the street player who won the ESPN Ultimate Nine Ball Challenge in 1995 or 96. There were many, many top pro players at Clicks, with many $1,000 single pocket games going on day and night, with many major dallas bookies funding much of the action, and pullovers on the rail by the dozen, just watching…or praying, lol.

CJ joined Clicks in 1990 and proceeded to terrorize local professionals. He was an instant legend, rolling over every major player in town. Guys who scared the dickens out of me wouldn’t even touch CJ when he offered them the 5 and walked out. His rep grew, and so did his ranking, eventually reaching #4 or 5 in the Pool world. Working there, I became fast friends with CJ, and when he opened his own room in Dallas, CJ’s Billiard Palace, I eventually quit 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, as opposed to 4 at Clicks, a kitchen and was open 24 hours. The action never stopped.

So what, you ask, does all this have to do with the topic of the title? I bought my first cue, a Thomas Wayne model, in ’91, and while it was beautiful, with lots of great inlays and very responsive, it really did nothing to improve my game. I played with it for 3 years until it got stolen, and I liked the cue, but I could play just as well with a bar provided it was the right weight and had a good tip. I spent $700 on the slogan, but it really wasn’t needed. It gave me no advantage over a house motto.

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

For those of you reading this article who don’t know what cue ball deflection is, here it is in a nut shell: When a cue ball is hit on both sides of the vertical axis…the center line…the cue The ball will be deflected or “launched” in the opposite direction. So if you hit the cue ball using the right “English”… hitting the cue ball to the right of the vertical center line… the cue ball will deflect to the left and vice versa. The amount of deflection varies, depending on the speed of the stroke, the distance from the center line (or offset of the tip), the stroke of the cue ball and the mass of the tip. In other words, the more English you apply, the harder the hit and the greater the mass of the tip…..these factors will all increase the amount of deflection or squirt. This squirt must be compensated for when aiming or you will miss the shot quite often.

This is where Predator technology comes into play. With a small hollow space at the end of the butt, the reduced mass drastically reduced the amount of deflection, allowing the cylindrical ball to push the axle out of the way at impact, rather than the axle pushing the cylindrical ball out of the way. The 314 shaft became very popular with professionals right away, and the Z shaft reduced distortion even further by reducing the tip size from 12.75mm to 11.75mm. A smaller ring also helped reduce mass and therefore reduce distortion even more. Independent testing has the Z² axis and the 314² axis from the Predator as the #1 and #2 axes in the world that cause the least distortion. Predator components and shafts are used by more than half of the top 40 pros, 3 of the top 5 female pros and over 35,000 players worldwide, according to the Predator website. These professionals are not paid to play these signals. They play them because their lives depend on their playing ability, which is enhanced by this high-tech equipment.

Since Predator led the way in the mid-90s, many companies have now joined the technological revolution. Lucasi Hybrid Cues offer the Zero Flex Point shaft on all of their hybrid cues. This shaft features technology similar to Predator shafts to drastically reduce distortion. They offer these shafts with many types of joints to fit most indications made today. World Champion Thorsten Hohmann from Germany now plays the Lucasi Hybrid.

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

I got to try one of these items myself and I have to say: I love the new high-tech pool cues. I play with a Predator 5K3 and even though I haven’t played in 14 years my game has gone up to a much higher level than I ever played before. The reduced deviation makes hard shots using English much simpler, reducing the amount of squirt compensation.

In short, advances in technology have shortened the learning curve for beginners and intermediate players by reducing cue ball deflection and requiring far less squirt compensation. And the professionals, who make a living with a slogan? Almost everyone plays a low-distortion shaft of some sort. Why didn’t they? If they don’t, their competitors (who all do) will take the money.

While the Predator remains the benchmark for low deviation, they don’t come cheap either. The retail price for a Z² shaft is almost $300, but the new Lucasi Hybrid Cues, with similar technology (and also new grip technology to reduce shock vibrations) are a good alternative at a lower price. For less than the price of a Predator Z² shaft alone, you can get a great Lucasi Hybrid [http://www.poolsharkcues.com/product_info.php?cPath=6&products_id=78/] which features advanced low distortion technology and plays fantastically well. If a World Champion like Thorsten Hohmann plays a Lucasi Hybrid, you KNOW it’s a great cue.

So think long and hard when buying a new stick. If you don’t use a cue with modern low drift technology, chances are your opponent will. All else being equal, a modern low-distortion cue, or an older cue with a new low-distortion axis, will win most of the time. Much improved accuracy will make it so.

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