Is billiards declining in popularity?

I like to play pool sometimes and I’ve noticed that in my area there used to be several good pool halls but now nearly all of them have closed. The last decent one is on the 4th floor of a building with a Gold’s Gym occupying the 1 - 3rd floors.

<MINIRANT>What is up with the assholes who drop their weights on the floor? I seem to recall (when I was young and explored working out at a gym) being taught never to drop weights on the floor. Now it seems to be a way to show off, like grunting, and everybody does it. I happened to see a Crossfit competition on tv not long ago where every competitor was doing that, so it seems to be “a thing”.</MINIRANT>

So we’re playing pool and the floor is always shaking with audible thuds and clangs when the asshats drop their weights down in Gold’s. It’s annoying when you’re playing pool and I’m guessing it doesn’t do much for the tables, either. I suspect they have to have them re-levelled more frequently than normal.

And the other bad thing about this last remaining decent pool hall: they have a smoking lounge on the 5th floor which apparently shares the ventilation ducts. It smells nasty in there, on the 4th floor.

I guess this might belong in the Pit. But my query really is, have you guys noticed that it’s hard to find a good pool hall where you live too?

Based on your last sentence, I reported the thread for move to IMHO.

Moved to the Game Room.

General Questions Moderator

The decline has been going on for a while. I suspect the price per square foot of available space is a factor. Last place I used to play was a bar with a single pool table, which they recently removed to add three more tables for eating and drinking. Each of those new tables easily brings them $20 to $50 an hour in revenue while the pool table was bringing in maybe $3.

I’m not sure about billiard popularity overall, but in my city we too have lost at least 5 dedicated pool halls in the last ten years (and only opened one new one). From what I’ve heard third-hand, most of them were doing okay, but just couldn’t afford the rent increases, and another one lost their liquor license for unrelated reasons.

Our leagues still seem to have all the same players we ever had, it’s just that now we’re stuck playing in pool rooms attached to bowling alleys and on little coin-op tables in bar corners. It stinks because we’re usually crammed into those places like sardines on league nights. And the bar boxes are a sorry replacement for a good nine-foot table.

It could be coincidence, but I noticed that the closing trend coincided with when our state passed laws making smoking indoors illegal (mostly). For some reason I’ve never understood, smoking and billiards have always gone hand in hand. Perhaps pool halls are hurting because people who just wanted to smoke and chill had to find other places to go?

Because it’s Trouble with a capital T.

When I was younger I used to go to bars to play pool. Now I have a table in my basement so I actually have no idea how many local places still have tables.

I really enjoy pool, but I’ve seen it decline significantly myself, I have a few thoughts on it, but first…

Experienced, or at least non-asshole experienced lifters, generally don’t drop weights unless it’s necessary or part of the exercise (at which point plates designed to be dropped should be used). The problem is, there’s always new people who don’t know or don’t care, and there’s always douche bags who just want attention drawn to them, so it’s always going to happen. And even for me, where I hate it, sometimes it’s just unavoidable in some situations. I would agree that the popularity of cross-fit seemed to increase this sort of behavior, but it’s largely died down as I’ve seen the fad die out.

This is actually part of the problem in general. Pool is a mainstay in a lot of bars, and in the last several years many states have passed laws about smoking indoors. This has definitely affected people going to bars in certain areas. When that law was passed here, I certainly saw less people showing up regularly at the place I went to play. Presumably, they went to another place that had the money to put in the extra ventilation.

I think this is the other part of the problem, cost. I would play at a place that would let us play free as long as we bought lunch during the day, but if we went at night, it would be something like $20 per person per hour. When it was $5-10, it wasn’t so bad, but it discourages me from wanting to play when I’m there. And the problem is they HAVE to charge that much because the floor space is valuable. If one or two people are using a table, particularly a popular place, that space has to be subsidized by loss in food and alcohol sales. Worse, pool tables aren’t cheap to buy or maintain. Re-felting, re-leveling, repairs, etc. All of this adds up. Even places I know that get a lot of pool players, the space just always seems packed and many removed a few tables to get more floor space.

Thanks for the move, moderator. And sorry, it’s not like I’m a newbie here, but I so rarely post in TGR that I didn’t think of it now. Derp me.

Regarding the weight training, I suppose if you’re throwing 100+ pound weights around nobody is going to tell you off. I really don’t care, but these guys are doing it on the 3rd floor of a building and it shakes the entire building. That crossfit tv show I mentioned seeing that one time, I was astounded to see them raise the weights over their heads and drop them from there. That can’t be good form!

I understand what you mean about the food subsidizing the pool. That’s a shame, though. Personally, I don’t like eating while playing because bar food is usually finger food and I like having dry, clean hands when handling the cue. I imagine they don’t want people getting the equipment all oily/sticky, either. Oh well.

I played frequently between high school, college, and post college, a period spanning about 10 years. In my experience, the sport never really was popular. Even when tournaments would be shown on ESPN, it’s not like any players were known outside anyone who followed the sport. I remember Ewa Mataya and Mitch Laurance and the “Black Widow” Jeanette Lee, but few others do.

I live in LA and only played here once, so I don’t know if the place is still around. Back home in Hawaii, one of the places I used to go to is still around and seems to be doing well. The other is gone for many years now. The places were pretty shady, thick with cigarette smoke, and served only vending machine food – not exactly friendly to people interested in checking out the game.

Are you talking about billiards or pool? I can’t recall billiards ever being particularly popular during my lifetime. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a billiards table in person.

I thought I’d chime in here as both a pool fan and a weightlifter - there are a number of lifts where very heavy weights contacting the ground on each rep is actually the preferred, good-form, safe way to do it - deadlifts and the olympic lifts of clean, snatch, and clean and jerks in particular all end with rather heavy weights contacting the floor from thigh, shoulder, or overhead height after each rep. You use rubber-coated bumper plates for these, but when you’re dropping several hundred pounds from a height, it still tends to make a lot of noise, so apologies for any disruption, but it actually is safe good form to drop them.

On the lack of good billiards places, my girlfriend and I have noticed it ourselves in multiple areas of the country now - the places that are affordable have the mini-size tables and the tables and sticks are beat up, and the places with nice tables end up costing you $20-$30 an hour. It’s a real shame.

Granted this is only my experience but there’s a billiard/pool hall I frequent not far from where I live and the tables almost always seem to be in use. Of course, this place is also a sports bar which has about 33 craft brews on tap and has a section set aside for dancing on the weekend.

Some confusion here:

Billiards is played on a full sized table with only three balls (two white and one black).

Snooker is played on a full sized table with 22 balls (one white, 15 red and one each: yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black.

Pool is the game played in bars with a smaller table and comes in many varieties from three balls like billiards to nine balls, more like snooker.

Yeah, I’ve played casual snooker and casual pool. Never played or seen anyone play billiards. So literal billiards in my experience has never been particularly popular. Pool tables are still very common in pubs in Australia but you normally have to go to a dedicated snooker hall to get a game of snooker on a full size table.

Same in the UK. I can think of about 6 pubs within walking distance with pool tables and 3-4 snooker halls within about 10 miles.

I think billiards in the USA means cue sports in general usually, but in the UK billiards is a very specific cue sport that is played on a billiards table (which is what snooker is played on and signifcantly larger than a pool table) and has a reputation for being esoteric, antiquated and very hard. I think I may’ve seen a couple of guys playing billiards in the snooker hall once and in Turkey I saw a variation of billiards played on a pool table.

In the UK snooker is still popular (it is a devil of a game to play, but it also is one of the most watchable sports full-stop - if you like pool, but fancy wtaching something a bit more substantial and strategic I highly recommend catching the World Snooker Championship which is taking place at the moment). Pool is even more popular to play in the UK, though I think publicans see pool tables as double-edged swords - they bring in a bit of business, but not necessarily the right kind of customers.

Yep. The place near me actually has “Billiards” in it’s name, but doesn’t have anything as described here:

It has all 8- or 9-foot tables with six holes and come equipped with 8-ball sets (stripes and solids and one white cue ball).

Pool tables are commonly found in pubs, but they are gradually disappearing. The “wrong sort of customers” are the ones who play games all evening that don’t involve drinking large quantities of beer.

Same for Canada. When I was in my teens/twenties, my buddies and I would rent a table at the “Crosstown Billiard Academy,” but the only games ever played there were snooker and pool. Never saw billiards played, as bob++ described it.

I used to love playing snooker. Pool too, but I liked snooker better.