Archive for the ‘Pool Hall’ Category

Pool Hall – Don Lounge, Hanoi Vietnam

January 13, 2023

Located just outside the eastern edge of Old Town Hanoi, this pool hall is located on the third floor of a shopping center. Even arriving later in the evening after the other shops had closed, security directed me to an elevator. There’s a club next to the pool hall and you can feel and hear the reverberations of the music until you enter the pool hall. The name of the club is what pops up in a Google search, not the pool hall. The only way I knew about this place was my young opponent at Monaco Billiard Game Club told me about it when I asked him about other places to play.

This is a nice place. Posh, I think is not an inappropriate word here. They don’t serve hard alcohol but they do serve a variety of fruit drinks that are actually works of art as well as delicious. The tables are in good condition as are the balls and cues. The place was almost entirely full when I arrived and snagged one of the few remaining open tables. They have a plethora of table attendants to rack the balls at the end of each game.

There’s a peculiar diversity on this side of the world about how to rack the balls – or more accurately, the position of the rack on the table. Standard competition rules in the West have the head ball even with the second marker strand on the table. However here they are fond of racking the center ball on that second marker line. This makes breaking a lot less challenging. However, when I politely correct them, they’re happy to adjust to my way of doing things. I’ve yet to determine if this is a real difference between Eastern and Western pool-playing styles, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s just improper training of the employees.

I would definitely go back here to play. It’s pleasant, there’s a better selection of refreshments, and the staff is attentive. While I’d still prefer to sip on a Jack and Coke while I play, it’s not a necessity. I do plan to keep looking for such a place in the future, though!

Pool Hall – Factory 47, Hanoi Vietnam

January 12, 2023

This is not pool hall. It’s a bar/club with a pool table on the second floor. I knew that before I went, but I wanted to enjoy a drink over a pool table and the last spot couldn’t provide that (though it provided far better pool equipment!).

Pool tables are one option in Southeast Asian bars to help them stand out with tourists. They provide a way of keeping customers busy so they stay longer and purchase more drinks. Arguably no different than anywhere else in the world in this respect. Factory 47 sits at the northern edge of Old Town and the primary tourist hub of Hanoi. It’s steps away from famed Ta Hien street, noted for it’s bars and revelry.

As such, don’t be under any illusions about Factory 47. The table, cues and balls are all in about the condition you’d expect in a club/bar catering to tourists and not to pool players. It was dead the night I visited (also part of the plan), but the techno/electronica music was still at a deafening tempo.

I won’t go back, but it was good to have a drink over a pool table, even if I was the only one playing!

Pool Hall – Monaco Billiard Game Club, Hanoi Vietnam

January 11, 2023

This is the place I visited with my buddy over six years ago on my first trip to Hanoi. It hasn’t really changed at all other than it no longer serves alcohol, just near-beer which was pretty much undrinkable to me. It’s located in the East Lake area, on the eastern side of Ho Tay Lake, just a little South of the Hanoi Club. The street is full of restaurants and at least one club. But this place is about pool.

It has ten 8′ tables. The tables, rails, and cloth are all in very good condition even though they cater to a wide range of players from novice to advanced. I played a few games against a young Vietnamese man home from studying at university in Australia. House cues are in decent condition and if you want to pay 30,000 – 50,000 Vietnames Dong (about $1.25 – $2.15 at current exchange rates) you can rent cues in better condition. Basic house cue tips weren’t fantastic but were workable. They definitely keep their equipment in good condition.

It wasn’t very busy early in the night when I showed up – maybe three other tables in use. They had nothing to drink other than fake beer – no sodas, no hard alcohol. Though it’s air conditioned it’s still very humid and having something cold to drink is practically a necessity. I probably won’t return here simply for that reason. Which is too bad because it’s an otherwise great place to play.

Pool Hall – Nine Ball Pool & Bar, Medan

December 23, 2022

Finding pool halls is an interesting thing. I rely on Google Maps and simple queries for billiard, billiards, billar, and other variations by language. Searching for pool brings a mixed result in some places where swimming pools are a thing. So it is that I discovered a new pool hall in Medan, Indonesia by accident when searching for another place with nine in the title.

Nine Ball Pool & Bar is on the far north side of town in a giant complex known as Cemara Asri (beautiful/lovely cypress/evergreen in Bahasa Indonesia). It was a 40-minute ride through town (at rush hour) to get there, and to say it was disappointing would be an understatement. I suppose in many ways though, it’s a blessing. It would be problematic to have a great pool hall located so far away from me!

First off, the use of the word bar in the title is misleading. This is not surprising in Southeast Asia where English words are often used without a full knowledge of their context. There is no bar here. Not even a counter. There is a small cooler with a few iced teas, Coca Colas, and approximately six bottles of Heineken. Don’t come too thirsty or you’ll clean out their inventory pretty quickly.

There are eight-foot tables here, about five of them. None of them appear to be in very good shape – warped bumpers, worn felt, etc. The cues are pretty typical for a place that doesn’t take care of the tables – they’re pieces of wood and have tips on them but their condition is rough to say the least. Worse, although there were four-five air conditioning units in the place none of them were on, so it was Southeast Asian hot and humid. There was one other table in use when I arrived.

There aren’t many places to play pool on the north side of town so it’s a shame this one is lackluster. On the plus side, on the ride home we passed another pool hall I’ll have to check out, which should only be about a 20-minute drive away. No danger to switching my preferred haunts for now!

Pool Hall – 時代撞球飛鏢概念館 , Chiayi City, Taiwan

December 7, 2022

If Google Translate is to be believed (and that’s always an open question), the name of this place translates to Times Billiard Darts Concept Hall. Which to be fair is a pretty accurate description of this place, literally. It’s a 24-hour pool hall, with plenty of bright lighting and close to a dozen tables on the first floor – I didn’t get a chance to check out the upstairs. Tables and cues are in good condition and it was pretty busy on a late Tuesday afternoon.

Staff was friendly and bemused. No English spoken beyond what Google Translate could provide, but also no real need for it. Playing pool is not complicated in terms of indicating what you want (it ought to be pretty obvious!) in terms of a table. Food and drink was limited to cans of pop – didn’t see any food options. I think they provided tea & cups at each table but I didn’t try it.

Definitely a good place to play pool in Chiayi City, and not simply for being one of perhaps only two options. I tried to find a second pool hall and was unsuccessful (even after going to the fifth floor of what turned out to be a residential apartment building – I think). Maybe on future visits I’ll be able to find it. For now, this is the go-to place.

Pool Hall – Forte Billiard, Singapore

December 6, 2022

This is another pool club located on the second floor of a mall, not too far from Clique. And it was pretty similar. A lot of tables and virtually no one playing mid-afternoon on a Saturday. Here there were more snooker tables than pool tables. Tables were in good condition, cues were decent. Staff was busy on a mobile phone and not very attentive, but there wasn’t much to attend to other than checking tables in and out. No food or drinks that I saw, and at most it would be a vending machine. There are restaurants elsewhere in the mall that I presume you could bring food or drink in from.

The ambiance here didn’t please me as much as Clique, but that’s a somewhat arbitrary judgment. As I was leaving a mother came in with her two pre-teen sons and was teaching them. It’s a good place for that sort of thing. Clean, brightly lit, and equipment in good condition.

Pool Hall – Clique Billiards, Singapore

December 5, 2022

I’m grateful there are pool clubs that are (relatively) sanitary and brightly lit and don’t serve alcohol. I’m glad these places exist so families can play pool together and kids can learn the game. But I don’t particularly care to play in them myself. There’s no shortage of tables to be sure, they’re in great condition with clean, new felt. Cues could have better tips but are somewhat straight. Staff is friendly and attentive, at least as much so as speaking a different language allows. It’s located on the third level of what appears to be a mall/family activity center.

The place advertises snacks and drinks but this appears to consist of Indomie and a few sodas. There were a handful of other people playing mid-afternoon, with a dozen 9-foot tables to choose from as well as 2-3 snooker tables. Definitely a great place to bring the kids and teach them the game!

Pool Hall – Chevy’s Bar & Bistro, Singapore

December 4, 2022

You wouldn’t know this bar/restaurant had a pool table unless you took the time to walk in and all the way back in the narrow, cramped, and dimly red-lit atmosphere. Which I did. And there, glorious, was a bar table. The place was hopping on a Friday night, but I was able to find one of the last seats at the bar. From there I had time to survey the action on the table. A quartet of fellows was playing and one guy was beating them all. Their accents were likely Aussie, but might have been New Zealand – my ear isn’t good enough to distinguish yet. I put my name up and waited my turn.

Then I beat them all.

That got their attention – and their respect. I learned a bit about their lives as transplants to Singapore working in various businesses. They’ve shot pool together for years and competed together as a team in some sort of SE Asian tournament similar to the BCA Championship I competed in back in the States. But Covid had taken them from being teammates to being brothers, and their close bonds with one another were palpable and beautiful.

Once established as a serious pool player I was accepted into the merry band and we spent the rest of the night shooting pool together.

Chevy’s is not a pool hall or even a pool bar. It’s a bar with a pool table. It’s serviceable, as are the cues. It’s located in a hip area of Singapore one street over from the hip and kinda Bohemian vibe of Haji Street. There are dozens of little bars, clubs and restaurants (as well as at least that many shops) in the general area. I picked Chevy’s at random and am grateful I did. The staff is friendly and quick with both food and drinks. Plus, the music was a constant stream of classic Western rock and roll, something I haven’t heard much of in months.

There’s a good rotation of folks that play there, including competitively. I will DEFINITELY be returning on future visits to Singapore, hoping to improve not just my game but the possibility of unlikely friendships in a part of the world I’ve only heard about all my life.

Pool Hall – 5ive Star Billiard, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

October 13, 2022

This is a hopping place with plenty of pool tables and a bar, although when I visited the only drinks the bar served were beer and hard cider, despite multiple shots showing a full bar posted through Google Maps. It was a busy night in late August when I stopped by. There was a 30-minute wait for a table. Fortunately I scored one in a back corner so I only had one other table alongside me.

Still, that proved to be enough. Concepts of personal space and awareness differ by culture, it seems. In the course of an hour I was stepped on twice as I was already down on a shot. I decided at that point to just leave rather than get angrier at the adjoining table’s inattention.

Tables were in reasonable condition, felt wasn’t new by any means but obviously replaced more regularly than many places, and the cues were definitely well-worn. I will probably try this place again on my next time through KL, but the initial irritation with inattentive patrons definitely left a bad taste in my mouth. Hopefully it will improve on a future visit.

Pool Hall – Shoot.Resto.Bar.Club

August 17, 2022

I suspected this wasn’t really a good place to shoot pool but I like to be thorough. Sometimes. So I headed out to check it out. It’s close to my house which is a bonus.

As with many things in Medan this is a separate building tucked behind several other buildings and not visible from the street. Arriving after dark I was nervous at first but the large parking lot didn’t have any sort of sketchy feel. The thumping of music could be heard as I went up a few steps and entered the place.

This is first and foremost a club and bar. You enter into a large main area fronted by a bar. My growing language skills are still more than inadequate at times, especially when I can barely hear the other people for the music. Beyond the bar are lots of bar tables and seating leading up to a stage sitting under an elevated area where a perky DJ was pumping out a mostly American dance hits mix. Though it was sparse when I first arrived just after 8pm, people were coming in and it looked like a band was setting up on stage. Lighting was typical club – dark with lots of flashy bits coming from the huge LCD screen over the DJ stand. I thought at first you had to buy bottles of liquor (like a bottle of whiskey) as opposed to having individual drinks, but this turned out to be a misunderstanding on my part.

Sort of like the misunderstanding that this is a place to shoot pool. Google has pictures posted of this place showing two nice tables. However I was shown to an upper alcove with a single table in an un-airconditioned area of the club. I decided I wasn’t going to stay. But I clarified first that you can order individual cocktails, though they seemed to be out of a lot of things as I perused their menu. Probably quite a popular spot with the younger folks, but not a place to shoot pool.