(FAQ) Why are some bar table cue balls different?

(About the Author)

There are a variety of cue balls with different sizes and weights. When you are playing on a coin-operated table, and a ball goes into the pocket, it stays down until the next set of coins is inserted. To be able to return the cue ball to a player after a scratch, it has to be different from the object balls.

Larger cue ball. When it goes through the sorting mechanism inside the table, it is shunted aside and returned via another tunnel. The same thing happens when the ball is heavier.

Heavier cue balls. The mechanism has a trap that is opened by the weight of the ball and shunts the cue ball away from the regular path. These are very difficult to apply reverse spin (draw). The effort often leads to miscues. Follow sends the cue ball much further than you would expect. After contacting an object ball, the tangent line is difficult to calculate.

Magnetic cue balls. These are usually similar in weight to the object balls. The quality level can vary. Some balls have problems with balance and will slow roll with a slight wobble. Usually, the balls have steel grains mixed with the ball material.

In an attempt to solve these problems, the latest tables do not adulterate the cue ball to return it to the shooter. Several cue balls are provided with the balls. If a cue ball scratches, the incoming shooter grabs one of the extra cue balls and the game continues. If, through horseplay, all the cue balls are scratched away into the pockets, the game gets called on account of "no balls".

When you are in a location with coin operated tables, ask one of the regulars what type of cue ball is used. Always watch a few games before playing yourself. This is not only to understand the local rules, but also to see how the regular shooters adjust their shooting to the cue ball.

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