In the process of becoming a better shooter over your lifetime, you will find yourself exposed to the bar boxes. These 3-1/2 x 7 foot tables provide their own challenges unique to their size and locations.
Bar boxes are commonly found in bars (hence the name – duh). These are places where people drink adult beverages with the intention of finding clumsier ways to move and becoming less understandable as the evening progresses.
In this environment, the bar table sits, ready to be used by any person with the requisite number of coins to get the balls out of the box. The mutual opponents then proceed into 8 Ball battle (usually) according to locally acceptable rules.
Walking into this playing environment means that competitive conditions are a lot different than pool hall tables or home tables where you usually compete. Here are a few tips that help you out:
- In bar tables, pool pockets are always larger. Any slow moving ball that rolls close to the pocket will drop. To make this work, don’t slam the balls around. A consistent medium speed works.
- The cue ball needs more speed than a good table, sometimes twice as much. This is necessary because a slow-moving ball will be affected by various conditions (cloth, debris, dried drinks, chalk dust and chunks), as well as table levelness. (Soft & Softer is NOT a good idea on a bar table.)
- For pattern selections, chose those that require the least amount of cue ball roll to get onto the next shot. NEVER turn the cue ball loose without KNOWING where it will go.
- Find and identify the dead cushion areas in the rails. On any given table, there will be an average of at least two feet of bad cushion. Avoid banking into those areas. These areas are also useful to reduce cue ball speed.
- Position play only requires being on the correct side of the next shot. There are no tough long shots, so distance shots are not difficult. You can use more of the table to set up the next shot.
- The smaller table area means ball interfere with each other. Punch your ball into these other balls to make carom shots. The bigger pockets makes carom and combination shots easier.
- A good spread on the break is more important. Therefore - inspect the racked balls before shooting. Make sure at least the front three balls are touching.
- Only shoot to side pockets when you are near straight on.
- Shorter bridge and shorter stroke will help your cue ball control.
- Shooting off the rail is a required skill. Practice it until you can play it as a normal stroke with no elevated stick.
- Although not often needed, make sure you have practiced different kinds of shots with the mechanical bridge. That skill will ensure you can shoot long shots.
- Practice shooting over another ball. You will be well rewarded with more wins.
- More finesse and thinking through the shot and the next two or three is a necessary pre-shot analysis.
- KNOW your opponent's weak shots (off the cushion, over a ball, long shots, banks, etc.). When you don't have an easy to the win, play defense with these weaknesses in mind.
If you are competing in a bar box tournament - and your practice table is an 8 or 9 foot table, scatter the balls over half the table and work from within this spread. It will be a good approximation of bar box reality.
There is no need to practice long table shots. Concentrate your practice efforts on various angle shots and getting shape on the next ball. Work on your positioning skills. Spend a little practice time on honing your tangent line cue ball control (on a bar table, this skill gives magic powers).
Some bar table cue balls are different from the object balls either in size or weight. If this is the case on the table you are playing on, make adjustments. If you come to that table often - replacement cue balls can be purchased online for your practice table.
There are a few places with bar tables that have proper pockets, cushion, cloth, and construction. In such places, the owners themselves have a serious respect for the game and want their patrons to compete on good quality tables. When you do come across such a place - make it a point to thank the owner/manager for their consideration to players.
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