Archive for the ‘Pool Hall’ Category

Pool Hall – The Rack Lounge, Scottsdale, AZ

July 14, 2021

This is not a pool hall. It’s not even a pool bar, despite the fact it has over a half-dozen seven and eight foot pool tables and a well-stocked bar. It’s a pool club, really. Like a dance club, but instead of a dance floor there are pool tables. It’s a club for people who either don’t want to dance, are preparing to go dancing, have just come back from dancing, or otherwise want to see and be seen.

That being said, this is probably if not definitely the closest thing Scottsdale has to a pool hall. But it’s a lot different than your typical pool hall! There was another place called Stardust 30-some years ago located just a short ways south of here but that’s been closed and gone for a long time. Tables are all right. The felt on mine was decent but well-worn. Spacing between tables is good overall but at times you need to wait for the person on the other table to finish their shot. Drinks were good – the bartender knows how to do more than squirt Coca Cola into a glass with rum. I had a La Paloma and the bartender did a very admirable job with it.

The place is very noisy with the thumping music you’d associate with a club. The clientele is somewhat varied but at least when I arrived was heavy on the overly-made up, skin tight outfits for women and the well-muscled, good-looking club boys. The vibe overall seemed customized for people looking to meet up, and pool was secondary. The double-entendre of a place called The Rack is not lost here. Like a club drinks are pricey but you have a better selection than you do in many bars.

I won’t go back to this place. I knew that’s how I would feel about it and I wasn’t wrong. Located in the trendy Old Town Scottsdale area, right off Scottsdale Road, I can’t imagine how much they’re paying in rent! They’ve been around since at least 2017 though, which is impressive for that area of town.

Pool Hall – Big Willies, Salt Lake City, UT

July 12, 2021

After the disappointment of my stop in Clearfield, I decided to make the drive down to Salt Lake City. It’s all freeway and only about a half an hour away. I was grateful I did. The first place I tried to go, a place close to downtown called The Spot was inexplicably closed until the following evening. However just a few blocks away is one of the only legitimate pool halls in Salt Lake City (as far as I can tell) – Big Willies.

This place has the distinction of having at least six Diamond bar-boxes (coin-op or by the hour) as well as a snooker table. It’s a full bar and restaurant with real food. I distinguish actual food from the typical microwave or toaster oven/deep fryer faire many pool bars are limited to. The pool tables are located in one room, while the restaurant and bar are in another. This is very convenient as they were having some sort of amateur comedy night in the restaurant that I didn’t have to listen to, and I’m sure it makes karaoke much less painful than many other bars with pool tables!

Tables were in good shape, there were plenty of straight house cues with decent tips. The place was clean and orderly (a sign as you entered strictly forbids drugs and fighting, which is a nice touch I suppose!). The waitress was attentive without being annoying and there a variety of TV screens to watch games, etc. I highly recommend this place if you’re in the SLC area and looking to shoot some pool. It was pretty quiet on a Monday night.

Pool Hall – Crown Billiards, Clearfield, UT

July 12, 2021

The only pool hall proper in the greater Ogden area, this is definitely a place you can skip. Pictures would not do it justice, in that they couldn’t adequately convey the disarray and general disheveled nature of this place. I think I saw someone with a glass of draft beer but I’d be hard pressed to tell you where they obtained it. There was nothing identifiable as a bar in the traditional sense of taps, wells, etc.

There are two rooms, and perhaps the difference is one room is smaller coin-op bar boxes and the other room (the one you’re likely to enter into) has bigger tables for rent by the hour. It’s clearly a family place as there were couples with small children or infants hanging around.

I’ve played in a lot of pool bars and I pride myself on trying to be fairly conciliatory about reviewing them. This one appears safe, and the tables are in better condition than in other more traditional bars. House cues appeared to be straight and tipped which is not always the case! But in terms of ambiance, this place lacks a lot. More like playing in someone’s garage (albeit with air conditioning). If you go there with that expectation you’ll probably do just fine.

Pool Hall – Mill Avenue Cue Club, Tempe, AZ

July 8, 2021

Mill Avenue Cue Club has been around since at least 1994 and I remember when it launched. At the time I found it too trendy and almost always too packed to even get a table. After visiting once or twice, I never considered it an actual place to shoot pool. Fortunately Tempe boasts several other options, and has for a long time!

So I went here not expecting to like it, but wanting to see it again. I think they’ve done some interior redesign since the 90’s. The front half of the place is dedicated to the bar, with bar stool seating as well as a few club-style booths. The pool tables are all in the back of the place. Probably close to ten tables total, 8′ footers. The felt is slooooowww, and the rails are not terribly responsive. But given that this place draws heavily from local university students, I’m sure the owners (and patrons) don’t care much about that.

It has a certain club-style vibe to it. Thumping music played loudly. Lots of university students and people in their 20’s. A lot of dressing to impress. Prices are steeper than a typical pool hall both for table time as well as drinks, but still manageable. The La Paloma I ordered was a bit more dry (bitter) than I prefer but at least it was available!

This is not a place for shooters, but it’s a great place within walking distance of dorms and a slew of new apartments and condos and so it’s naturally a busy place. I had to wait about 15 minutes at 10pm to get a table. Go to enjoy the view, but if you’re really wanting a good game of pool on a good table, or a reasonable chance of finding someone to match up against, this probably isn’t your place.

Or mine.

Pool Hall – The Corner Pocket, Sioux City, IA

June 24, 2021

Located on 5th Street and Fairmount on the northeast side of Sioux City, this appears to be the main pool hall in town, at least for bar-sized (7′ x 3.5′) tables. I’ve played a lot of places but this place is unique so far in terms of what it costs.

Essentially, for every drink you buy (whether a $3 bottled water or a $5.50 Jack & Coke) you can play pool and/or darts for an hour. I’m not sure how closely they watch the clock. I bought two drinks and played for at least two hours.

The tables appear to all be bar tables. The felt is pretty coarse – no Simonis felt here and no Diamond tables for that matter! Some were coin-op bar boxes but at least one looked like an old-school carved leg table. It was easy to find a straight cue with plenty of tip on it.

The bar stocks pretty basic stuff. I didn’t see tequila (my personal favorite) but they had Jack Daniels and other basics and bottom-shelf options. This is not the place to come for a cocktail or a top-shelf drink – come here to shoot pool or throw darts.

I played a local guy who assured me this was the only (and cheapest) place to play pool in town. At least a casual Google search showed he was right. Leagues are in town, but they don’t play out of Corner Pocket (allegedly because the league president also owns all the coin-op tables in town at the various bars, but doesn’t own the tables at Corner Pocket).

A nice place to shoot if you aren’t looking for top quality tables. Heavy country, rap, and Hispanic music on the juke box. Inexpensive but basic drinks.

Pool Halls – a Travelogue

June 24, 2021

I’ve been playing pool since I was 18 or so. I can’t remember how I got started, other than my best buddy and I discovered the game and fell in love with it. It is a love maintained for me over decades. And in the last decade, a love I have started to document. As I’ve had the opportunity or necessity to travel in the United States or around the world, I’ve begun to make a priority out of finding local places to play pool, if only briefly.

Part of how I document my travels and experiences is in acquiring t-shirts from the places I’ve played. But not everywhere I’ve played sells t-shirts. So I’m going to start documenting here. As opportunity and memory permits.

I’ll go back and fill-in through this blog as close to chronologically accurate as possible those places I remember. I’ll try to use the title Pool Hall as a way of easily searching through (for myself more so than for others), so if you’re interested you can search for that and pull up all the related entries. Maybe it will be helpful to others who love the game and are looking for places to play. More than likely, it will just be a fond way for me to remember places I’ve played.

Pool Hall – Musette Bar, Omaha, NE

June 23, 2021

As mentioned earlier, I was referred to this place by a shooter at Big John’s who said there were plenty of people here who would be interested in wagering. It’s in a trendy little district called Benson and there were plenty of people out and about still. It doesn’t look like much from the outside.

Inside things are just about as low-key and undistinguished. There are six tables – good quality but I don’t remember if they were Diamonds or not. When I arrived about 10:30pm it looked like league play was wrapping up, with three tables or so still with active matches on them. It’s a cash bar only. There are dart boards and shuffleboard as well in case you get tired of pool.

Most people were headed home when I got there so I didn’t stay long. A mixture of older players as well as younger university students. I’m sure it probably got busy again a while after I left, and I assume Fridays and Saturdays are probably also busier. Definitely a good place to check out if you’re willing to back your skill with a little cash!

Pool Hall – Big John’s, Omaha, NE

June 23, 2021

I stopped by this place in between errand running. It was quiet in the middle of the day. Tables are beautiful and plentiful and only a few other folks were in the place. I noticed a sign advertising in-house BCA league play on Wednesday nights. I called the number, briefly explained that I play BCA league in California and offered my services as a substitute for that evening’s matches.

I played a gangly red-headed guy who requested I call him Sparky. At that point the league operator texted me back to let me know they did need a substitute. Fantastic! For the first time since March of 2019, I might actually get to play an official league match!

I arrived back about 7:30pm. League play was already in swing and the person I was supposed to sub for showed up so they didn’t need me. I beat the league director at a couple of games, who then passed me off to another shooter. Shooter is parlance for someone with some skill at the game rather than a random person knocking balls around. He and I shot for a while and when it was clear I was above his game level he told me about a place in town to go if I wanted to wager on the games I was playing. It was a place I had driven by earlier in the day and some online searching had indicated had multiple pool tables. It was nice to get a firsthand reference, though!

Big John’s is huge. Lots of tables, both bar boxes and 8-foot tables, probably some 9-footers as well. Lots of pinball machines as well. There is plenty of additional seating near the bar and the bar is well-stocked. The pinball games offer a nice diversion if you get tired of watching or playing, and everyone I talked to here was friendly. Definitely the place to go in Omaha, unless you’re looking to play for money. In that case, you need to go to the Musette Bar, apparently.

Pool Hall – The O Lounge – Norfolk, NE

June 18, 2021

I went here with a colleague of mine who told me this was one of the few places in town with pool tables. While we had intentions of visiting another place called The Mint, we didn’t get around to it. So, for Norfolk, Nebraska, the O Lounge has to represent.

It is less than a stellar representation!

In a word, don’t come here unless you’re really desperate for a game. While the bar itself wasn’t bad, the tables were atrocious, and that’s not just because of the grey felt. It’s because of the ripped, torn, and worn grey felt. The tables looked like they had been used as tee-off spots for a local golf course. Eight-foot tables but really, really worn and badly kept up. Cost was $1 per rack, on your honor (a bin under each table where you could deposit a dollar – no coin-op arrangements).

This is primarily a bar. Apparently they have league play for shuffleboard but not for pool. Some rough characters but my buddy (who is *not* rough) didn’t feel at all ill-at-ease playing there, and indicated he had been there regularly for shuffleboard. In fact, he indicated the bar had undergone a bit of a facelift at some point in the past few years that had improved the quality of clientele in direct proportion to the better indoor lighting.

Not a pool player’s place, but if you’re in Norfolk and need a pool fix, you can go here! Though I might suggest you check out The Mint or another option first!

Pool Hall – Time Out Lounge – Tempe, AZ

June 8, 2021

Although this place apparently came into existence about the time I started shooting pool, I never knew about it and never visited it until moving back to Phoenix caused me to dig a bit deeper in terms of places to shoot.

This is located almost caddy-corner from The Q and Brew, but you’d probably not know it because the Q and Brew is hidden completely from street view and the Time Out Lounge is at the end of a strip mall and you’d need to be looking for it to see it.

Three tables. Basic bar-box tables with bar-level felt. Nothing fancy here. It’s a fairly small bar, at least post-COVID. Most folks are at the bar itself. There’s room to spread out throughout the room, though. A low-stress, neighborhood bar vibe. Most of the folks at the bar seemed to know one another and the owner. Nothing fancy and a bit rough around the edges perhaps by some standards, but a good chill place to relax and shoot. Bar-boxes are all coin-op tables though pool is free during the afternoons most days. A variety of plaques and trophies indicate leagues have played there in the past but I’m not sure if they still do.

The guy I shot against assured me that on Friday and Saturday nights all three tables are booked constantly with friendly games and wagering. I haven’t been back to test his assertion but I don’t have a reason to doubt it.