Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
Ryan knows everything when it comes to gaming, both online and offline. Since his early years he’s been in love with arcades, air hockey, and foosball. Finally, he’s given the opportunity to share his knowledge and opinion on the hobby of his life (and even get paid for it!).
Last updated: June 03, 2021
Rec Room Pick is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Playing pool at your home is not only a cool pastime, but it can also become the ideal environment in which to train for competition. In addition, it’s a great way to bond with family and friends. The best pool table has the dimensions and features of a professional billiards table, allowing you to practice at the same level of gameplay as the pros.
For our review, we considered the unique features that determine how good a pool table is. We looked at things like the frame and stability, playing surface, slate, rails and cushions, and pockets, all of which contribute in making a usable final product. Later on, we’ll look at each of these features in greater detail and explain the qualities that make it tick.
We spent weeks exploring the different pool tables in the market. We had first-hand experience with some of the more popular models, and we also got the chance to try out tables we’d never used before. We engaged pool players with different expertise, from beginners to expert players, and learned their preferences, what they liked in each table, and what they didn’t like. We present all these findings below, and include a comparison table, in-detail reviews of each product, and a detailed buying guide. With this information, you’ll be better placed to choose a billiards table that is right for your level of play or one that can meet your changing gameplay aspirations.
The first thing you notice about the Hathaway Mirage is its beauty and presence. The black and silver melamine coating, extra-wide top rails with white inlays, and chrome-plated corner caps all mesh to create an aesthetic table that draws the eye right from the doorway. It’s easy to picture this pool table in any interior, be it a spare room at your house, the empty space in your garage, patio, or even the office.
The table is made using engineered wood and will no doubt maintain its form and looks over the years. To preserve the wood, a melamine coat is added, ensuring the wood frame stays as good as new and adding a modern touch to the table.
The play field is 18mm, wide enough to provide a gentle ball roll without being encumbered with extra, unnecessary space that could make the game a pain to play.
The manufacturer has added leg levelers on each leg to keep the table stable and evenly propped up on the floor.
This pool table is in every way tournament-ready, complete with K818 bumper cushions. It comes with a 180-day warranty. For a table with an asking price of over $700, it would have been nice to have a longer warranty period. Nonetheless, you should have more than a feel of the table in the 6 months covered.
The all-aluminum construction on the Playcraft Extera will have you high-fiving in delight because it means you’re looking at decades of reliable play and durability. The playfield is constructed from high density fiberboard resin encapsulated in fiberglass. The manufacturer designed this to be the unrivalled indoor-outdoor pool table, and their choice of material is proof of this. The felt, available in blue only, may need replacing with time, more so if you exclusively use the pool table outdoors, but it is replaceable. The manufacturer recommends replacing it with a weather-proof cloth of your choice. You could also contact the company to get a replacement cloth that is similar to the original felt if you so wish.
It comes complete with all accessories, including cues and balls. But it is quite heavy. It needs at least 3-4 people to turn it over once you’re done assembling it. Leveling it is easy, though, and the adjustable aluminum legs make it possible to get it into a stable position even if your floor is uneven. The wide, tubular design of the legs also contributes to the table’s stability.
Included is a cover, which you should leave on whenever the table is not in use if keeping the table outside. It will certainly help keep the table in tip-top condition. As you’d expect, the cover will be among the first accessories to wear out, but you can replace it with any other weather-proof cover.
Mizerak Dynasty is designed to bring the fun of playing pool to the indoors, thanks to its compact design and shape. The frame is made of bamboo laminate, its sleek wood finish a perfect complement to any interior. This is further complemented by black corner caps and posts to give the table a classic look. The playfield is made from double sealed MDF, a material that’s guaranteed to last through years of use. This is covered with a green nylon cloth. This cloth is probably going to be the first thing you replace, its synthetic fibers notwithstanding, particularly if you’re a heavy player. Another advantage in using MDF to make the play bed is that it does not warp, and, combined with the rubber cushions that are strategically placed around the table’s perimeter, ensures speed and consistent roll for the balls.
On each leg are disc-style levelers that allow you to adjust the legs independently, ensuring that you obtain a level playing surface even if the floor is uneven. Between the legs are cross supports that increase the table’s stability, further helping keep the legs steady.
This pool table under $1000 has an automatic return ball system that quickly gathers the balls from the rail pockets and returns them for speedy game resetting.
It comes with all playing accessories, including billiard balls, cues, blue cue chalk, triangle, and a brush for the nylon table cloth.
The Barrington Claremont Slate Billiard Table Set is representative of everything glamorous. From the solid wood rails and Queen Ann legs, to the leather rail drop pockets, this table oozes class and style. The manufacturer goes all out to deliver a sturdy and durable table by piecing together a 3-piece slate system comprised of a premium 1″ slate and solid wood rails and aprons.
If there ever was a pool table that so effortlessly merged beauty and functionality, it is the Barrington Claremont Slate Billiard Table Set. At every corner are details that stand out for their practicality as much as for their aesthetics. Take the legs, for instance. Their short and tapering mold delivers support and stability, all the while drawing you in with their elegant Queen Anne design. Or the leather drop pockets, whose richness of fabrics does not compromise their role as the caretaker of the balls during a game. Or the luxurious wool cloth on the play bed that gently urges the balls on, ensuring seamless motion during game time.
The manufacturer recommends that you contract professionals to assemble the table for you since it requires delicate handling and care. It’s an extra cost for you ,but you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you didn’t risk damaging this artifact, for it is indeed a work of art and expensive, too.
The Hathaway Spartan, with its pool and table tennis tables, is a top choice for board game enthusiasts who are fans of more than one game. It’s also a good choice for families with growing children who are looking to build their expertise in multiple games. In this case, they get to learn how to play table tennis and pool without the expense of buying an additional game table and accessories. To switch from billiards to table tennis, simply place the tennis table over the pool table and you’re ready to play. Remove the tennis table to revert back to the pool game.
It’s made from a poly-sealed melamine material, with the play bed covered in gorgeous burgundy felt. K819 cushions are sprinkled around the perimeter to ensure smooth, fast play.
The table is 6 feet long, an ideal size for indoor use where space is limited. The tennis table, too, is smaller than regulation-sized tables but excellent for indoor use.
This pool table comes with a range of accessories. Actually, all the accessories you need to play either pool or table tennis are included. You get a billiard ball set of 16, 2 48-inch cue sticks, 1 ball rack, 2 pieces of chalk, brush, table tennis table top, post and net set, 2 table tennis paddles, 2 table tennis balls, and a game table.
The Costzon Billiard Table is perfect for kids and beginner adult players. Not to say that seasoned players cannot use it, but if you’re an expert, you’ll find its small size limiting – the cue stick is only 36 inches long. But you’ll enjoy playing with your kids for fun or as you teach them the game. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something affordable that you can indulge in and decompress after a long day and don’t mind the miniature size, it’s an okay table.
It only weighs 33 pounds, meaning you can transport it with you whenever setting out for outdoor adventures. It’s also foldable and does not take up much space either in the car or in the house, which makes it a great portable pool table. The legs fold fully, leaving you with a 47-inch (L) by 25-inch (W) board to store or carry.
The board is expertly constructed using MDF, with leather trimming around the edges; with careful handling, it should last you a good number of years. The play bed is covered in a green nylon cloth. The pockets and screws tend to fall off, though, so be ready to retighten every now and then. Alternatively, you may try replacing them with bolts which will hold better.
It comes with all the accessories you need to start playing, including cue balls, a triangle rack, 2 pieces of chalk/powders, 2 cue sticks, and a brush for the table cloth.
Let’s now look at the different features that make a great pool table and show you how to choose one.
Why to purchase a billiard table for your home
Having a billiard table in your home simply means you can enjoy the game whenever you feel like it. You’re no longer restricted to only playing while at the bar. Again, it’s a great way to bond with family and provides yet another way to have fun with friends when they come over.
Effective billiard playing tips
a) Work on getting the bridge right. Here’s how to create an open bridge: Keep your (open) palm on the table and press your thumb against your index finger. Aim to move the cue stick between the thumb and the top of your hand.
b) For the closed bridge: With your palm on the table, place the cue stick between the thumb and index finger. The two fingers and the middle finger should touch, with the middle finger and the remaining two fingers touching the table. Then circle the cue ball.
c) Practice the ridge bridge.
2. Work on your stance, where you step back, line up the shot, then go in with one foot forward and slightly bend and the other straight. Now, take your shot.
3. Keep your head directly above the cue to get a brilliant aim.
4. When going in for a shot, keep the arm forming the bridge slightly bent.
You can watch the following video to observe the proper ways to play pool:
The best pool table can be found by the following features
Pool tables are as different as they are many. Knowing the features that set each table apart will make you knowledgeable about these tables and put you in a position where you can confidently choose a billiard table to purchase. Below are the features to consider:
Frame rigidity largely depends on the materials used to make the frame. Durable materials like wood, aluminum, and some poly materials produce remarkably stable frames. The more durable the material, the longer your pool table will last without breaking. So remember this when choosing a pool table. The expertise used in putting together the table can also impact frame stability. Therefore, look for signs of sturdy constructed when buying a table. Loose screws, wobbly legs and loosely fitted boards are indications that it won’t be long before you have trouble with the table, so avoid these.
The playing surface is the area where you strike the balls. The play bed dimensions vary depending on the pool table size. On average, they range from 70-74 inches by 35-37 inches for a small, 6-foot table to 100 inches by 50 inches for a regulation-size table. Many pool tables that are 8-9 feet in size have a playing surface that’s 74-92 inches long by 37-46 inches wide.
Rails and cushions
Rails are small pieces of wood that are attached around the edges of the table. They are made up of two pieces of wood, the top part of which is made in the same hardy material as the rest of the table, with the bottom part mostly made of lower quality material. The cushions are a type of hard rubber that is responsible for giving the ball bounce and consistency. They are fastened onto the rails using glue. For consistency, K66 rubber cushions, as in the Barrington Claremont Slate Billiard Table Set are used. In some tables, like the Hathaway Mirage, K818 cushions are used. Others, like the Hathaway Spartan, will use K819 rubber cushions. Anytime you notice that your balls don’t roll with speed when you strike them, it may be time to replace the cushions.
Slate is a type of rock that is formed when clay sediment hardens in layers. These layers are naturally flat, even, and do not warp, making slate desirable in making the pool table play bed. The downside to using slate is that it’s quite expensive and heavy. Pro pool table makers prefer it all the same, because it provides a durable, flat surface on which to take a shot. If you’re buying a pool table for recreation, you can choose tables with alternative materials for the play bed, which tend to be cheaper and lighter. MDF is one of the more popular durable, non-warping, and affordable alternatives.
Six pockets (also drop pockets) are located around the table, and their main role is to catch the balls that fall into the pocket from the play bed. In tables with a ball return system, the pocket is connected to the ball return system, whereby once a ball falls into the pocket, it rolls along the guide towards the ball return, where the balls collect until the release lever is triggered (usually when a new game is starting) and the balls all roll into an open area at the foot of the table from where they’re gathered.
Most pool tables come with all the accessories needed to play pool. Examples of such tables include Playcraft Extera, Mizerak Dynasty, Hathaway Spartan, and Costzon Billiard Table. Accessories include balls, cue sticks, chalk, a triangle, and a table cloth brush. Some models have only a few of these accessories, so always check what’s offered before buying to know in advance whether you’ll need to buy anything separately. That said, some of the accessories can be of poor quality, especially cue sticks, and you may need to replace them with better quality ones.
Pool table brands
The best pool tables are made by renowned brands. Brands like Mizerak, Hathaway, Playcraft, and Barrington have established their presence in the pool table market and continue to bring us premium pool tables, and while the quality of their construction is undebatable, the price is equally high. If looking for a pool table that you can use for decades, turn to high-end models from these brands because they hardly disappoint. If you’re searching for a beginner pool table, choose one of their cheaper models. Then you can upgrade to a more expensive model with time. Some smaller brands also have affordable tables which will only set you back by a few hundred dollars.
Pool table prices range from as low as $300 to as high as $2,000 or more. It all boils down to size and the features included. Most of the expensive models like Playcraft Extera or Barrington Claremont Slate Billiard Table Set are also high-end, with a good number of them made to tournament-quality standards. The cheaper tables are generally smaller and feature less premium materials, but they are just as reliable and deliver superb gameplay. You can also check out our list of best pool tables under $1000.
Billiard tables are expensive. Make sure you get a manufacturer’s warranty when you buy one, then you can be assured of the manufacturer’s support for a reasonable duration. For such an expensive product, the warranties tend to cover a rather small period. Hathaway Mirage comes with a 6-month warranty, for example, while the Playcraft Extera comes with a 1-year warranty. The good thing is, with premium models, they’ll remain in good shape long after the warranty period has lapsed. What you can do to get the most out of your warranty is pay attention, take note of any anomalies and bring them to the attention of the manufacturer before your warranty expires.
Pool table maintenance advice
The part that requires the most attention on a pool table is the felt or play bed cloth. You’ll need to brush it regularly to get rid of lint, dust, and any fuzziness that may prevent your balls from rolling well. Use the provided cloth brush for this, applying just enough pressure for all the bristles to make contact with the cloth. Do this every 100 games or once a week.
Brush the cloth in one direction to help the fibers lie in a uniform direction. In this way, you reduce the likelihood of the balls getting constricted by the tangled fibers.
Look out for wear in the cushions and replace when need be to maintain the speed and consistency of the ball roll.
No. Although pool tables are heavy, they can be safely used on most floors without causing any damage to the floor. The only time you may need to consider replacing or repairing your floor before placing a pool table on top of it is when you have damaged hardwood floors. All other floor types, including tile, linoleum, and concrete can withstand the weight of a pool table.
Yes. Before placing your pool table outside, ensure that it is built for the outdoors. Otherwise, it could be damaged by the elements. There are a number of pool tables designed for outdoor use. An example is Playcraft Extera.
Wrapping It Up
Our top choice is the Hathaway Mirage, easily the dream billiard table for lots of folks. It’s the aesthetic looks, the use of quality materials, and the premium build that have us swooning. The premium K818 bumper cushions, delivering accuracy and consistency by the ton, are another excellent feature. We like that it is well-balanced and all-around a premium product.
Our second choice is the Playcraft Extera, an indoor-outdoor beast that is optimized for harsh weather conditions. The rust-proof, weather-proof, all-aluminum construction, and weather-proofed features are stellar. We also like the adjustable legs and the fact that it comes with all playing accessories.
Our third best pool table is the Hathaway Spartan. We like its small, compact build and the 2-in-one design. We also like that it comes with all the accessories you need to start playing. The colors blend exquisitely to give an extravagant look even though the price is very pocket friendly.