When you come into a pool room you've never been in, you need a way to quickly figure out how the table rolls and whether the rails are in decent shape. You also need to know any roll offs and the slowest speed that will overcome the problem.
A lot depends on how much time you get to spend with stick in hand. You don't want to be at a disadvantage against an opponent who knows the table and its problems. It’s irritating to try something that works on your regular table but comes up short on the new table.
Here are a standard set of actions on coming to an unknown table. Lag the cue ball to the foot rail and back until you can get it to stop on (or close to) the head string. This also tells you if the table rolls off in one direction or another. The lag can be considered to be your standard shot. From that test, you can adjust all of your other shooting speeds accordingly.
At each corner, place the cue ball about an inch out from the cushion and shoot it down parallel to the rail. This tells you if there are any grooves in the cloth that suck balls against the rail.
Shoot the cue ball slowly diagonally corner to corner. Repeat this from each of the four corners.
Set the cue ball in the side pocket and slow roll it to each of the two opposite corners. Repeat the process at the other side pocket. Then shoot the cue ball from each corner to the side pocket.
Walk around the table, pushing each rubber cushion down. You don’t need a lot of pressure, just look for any softness. Check all six cushions at about three or four locations each. Any soft areas will be dead spots to avoid banking for any banking.
You may not have enough time to identify every table faults. You may not be offered any time. If so, spend the first few innings playing safeties to get a feel for the table. Do some slow rolls over various distances. Try out some cue ball spins and watch the results. Then, you can make necessary adjustments and get on with the business of playing your best.
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