Pool Hall ~ Six Billiards ~ Lakewood, WA

The area between Tacoma and Olympia, WA boasts only one actual pool hall, Six Billiards in Lakewood. Located in a strip mall filled with ethnic businesses, Six Billiards is small but boasts an impressive collection of three-cushion and pocket billiard tables. Located not far to the west of I-5 near the intersection of 88th Street and South Tacoma Way, it’s a clean and neat no-nonsense Asian-style billiards hall.

At least half if not more of the 15 or so tables are three-cushion tables. In the United States the most popular game is known as pool or alternately pocket billiards. This is what you’ll find in nearly every pool hall or pool bar you walk into – a table with six pockets. Americans typically play either 8-ball or 9-ball, although there are other games for pocket billiards tables such as one pocket, straight pool and 10-ball.

But elsewhere in the world three-cushion remains very popular. A three-cushion table has no pockets at all. It’s played with only three balls (as opposed to 8, 9, 10 or `15) and the size of the table can vary just as it does in pocket billiards. It’s a form of carom pool, which means the object is to drive a cue ball off of one ball and into the second one. Points are scored only when the shooter successfully causes their cue ball to hit a first object ball and then a second object ball, with the cue ball also making contact with two or more rails at least three times, usually in between contact with the first and second object balls. It’s an extremely challenging game more popular in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I’ve played it only a few times, but knowing how popular it is in Asia I look forward to playing more of it in the future!

The pocket billiards tables at Six Billiards were all Kangaroo brand, one I’m not familiar with. However the tables were some of the fastest I’ve ever played on. The lightest touch could send a ball the length of the table with ease. I had to severely adjust my typical playing style to compensate. That was amusing to a certain extent.

This is not a bar – no alcohol was for sale and perhaps not even a vending machine for sodas. Cues were of a variety of styles and conditions. Table time ran $15/hour per table, with a timer at each table to keep track of your time. Any amount of time over an hour would incur additional charges, though it wasn’t clear if that would be another whole hour or calculated on a fractional basis. There were four or five other folks in the place at about 3pm, most gathered around to watch or play on one table. The radio station was playing a selection of classic rock and roll. As with most places these days it seems, it was a non-smoking facility and with the current Covid situation, masks were required at all times while inside.

I’d love to go back in the evening to see how busy this place is and try to strike up a game with someone. If you’re a pocket billiards player be prepared to reduce the power in your shots dramatically. But I’d encourage you to give three-cushion a try. It’s a fantastic game for improving your skill in controlling the cue ball instead of focusing simply on putting balls in pockets.

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