Should I buy a used pool table?

Back when I was a young whippersnapper, I worked at at community college that had a pool table, and I spent some time playing on it. Over the decades I’ve gone to pool halls occasionally with friends, and always enjoyed it. Although I’m not particularly good, I’ve always thought it would be nice to play more and develop my skills, but I’ve never had the option of owning my own pool table.

However, we just finished the basement of our new house, and a pool table would fit perfectly. (I even had them wire in an outlet and switch for a future hanging lamp to go over the table.) And somewhat to my surprise, my wife hasn’t categorically ruled out the possibility. :smiley:

For fiscal reasons, the option of buying a new one is not on the table (heh). But I suspect that pool tables are kind of like acoustic pianos: a lot of people have them but don’t use them anymore and would be happy to be rid of them. Some searching on Craigslist a few months ago seemed to bear that out. Quite a few were available for relatively low prices. (Unfortunately, it seems there were a lot more before Christmas than there are now.)

Of course, like used pianos (and as Sturgeon pointed out, like everything) most used pool tables are crap. So I realize that I’ll have to take my time to find a decent used one at a price I’m happy with. But that’s okay, because I’m not in any particular hurry.

My budget for the table itself is around $500. Moving and setup will cost me around $300, according to the Web site of a local specialist in moving pool tables. I may need to buy new balls, cues, racks and other paraphernalia. So maybe ~$1,000 all in to start. If I really get into it, I may spend more on a decent cue down the pike

What do you think of my plan? Is my budget reasonable? Is Craigslist the best place to look? Are there are other resources? Do dealers in new pool tables sell used ones in my budget range? Any suggestions on what to look for in a table, or what to avoid? (I’ve read several online guides and know it has to be real slate.)

Another concern I have is less financial than practical: the possibility of buying a table, then losing interest after a while and having a white elephant on my hands that I have to try and sell on Craigslist. After thinking about that for a while, my wife and I decided that before we buy anything, we’ll go to some local pool halls and play a little to see how much we enjoy it, to get a sense of whether we’re ready for this commitment.

So I’m interested in hearing from anyone with experience in this area, too: how can you tell if you’re going to stick with a hobby like this? Do you have one and play regularly and are happy you own it? Did you get a table and then lose interest and sell it?

Make sure the slate top is not cracked. If you can find someone to disassemble, move it to your place and reassemble it for $300. Then yes go for it. My experience is that they are more than $300 to relocate them. Also, I would add some expense to have them refurbish the bumpers on the table when they reassemble it. The bumper action is what tends to go, as the tables age from use.

That’s what I was thinking. For a total of a grand, you can’t go too wrong. You could sell it in 5 or 10 years if you don’t use it and probably get back most of that.

Once you get up into the full size, 1000+ pound table that costs multiple thousands of dollars, then I’d suggest hiring a mover first and have them come along to inspect the table before you buy it. They’ll be a much better judge of the condition of the slate, if the bumpers need to be replaced, if they can reuse the felt when the reassemble it etc.

And, with all that, if it were me, I wouldn’t be overly worried about the condition or color of the felt. It’s going to come off to move it, it won’t be a big deal to refelt it when they put it back together. But it could, and should, still be used as a bargaining chip.

Also, as long as all the balls are there and appear fine, I wouldn’t think you’d need new ones, at least not to get started. Same for the rack. New cues (and a rack to hold them), I’d count on. Even if you just get a set of cheap ones with the intention of buying one or two good ones for yourself down the road if you stick to it.

And, if you entertain…buy a ping pong table to throw over the top of it. It doubles both as a game more people are likely to play and gives people a place to put things instead of on the felt. You’ll be running around picking up drinks and plates off the table all night otherwise. But it’s no big deal if they set them on the ping pong table.

There are Youtube videos on moving a pool table, if you have a few strong friends:

No. Just no. Albatross, millstone, whatever you want to call it, save the money for something else. My wife surprised me with a table many years ago. Was not worth it. Used it five~ten times a year for ten years, otherwise it was an expensive book-stand. Didn’t get anywhere near the cost back despite it being in near pristine shape. Unless you’re a lot more social than I am (an exceedingly low bar) you’ll tire of it pretty quickly.

Used is the only way to go, IMO. I’ve had about four in my lifetime. New tables depreciate considerably. I bought a $4,000 Olhausen table for $900 that only had about ten games on it and only about 3 years old at the time. Kept it about five years before selling it for $1,000. Even 100 year old pool tables can still have excellent level beds.

When we arrived in Dallas to pick this one up, and seen his home, we knew why nobody would buy it. The pool table was upstairs, it wasn’t your average two story home, the 1st floor must have been 16’ tall for some reason, and to get to the table upstairs we had to climb about a 25’ spiraling staircase. Even being a 3 piece slate, each of those were extremely heavy for two people going down the stairs. Your fingers felt like they were able to be pulled from your sockets by the time you got all the way down.

Found mine on Craigslist, and sold it on Craigslist. I only had one call on it, had it priced at $1,800 because I knew they were going to get me down, and they also knew how hard it is to sell these things, so he got it for $1,000. With Atlanta, you should have lots of choices.

You won’t have any trouble getting a decent slate table for $500.00. I know of a few that have given away really nice tables, often wife wants it the hell out of the house. In my case, his wife wanted a nursery, and the table had to go.

I’d recommend staying away from bar size with coin slots, those are nice, but tend to have different size cue balls compared to object balls, and you won’t quite get the english and other shots going quite as well with those. I understand some may have a magnet in the cue ball, which would give it the same size, but I haven’t had any experience with those.

I had actually made an offer on another Ofhausen at the time of $500 before I bought the one I did. Guy stuck to $600 and I would have really liked to have it, but I know people that have tables have nine kinds of hell selling them. So, thought I’d wait him out. About two months later he calls me and asks if I was still interested in the table, he’d go ahead and let me have it for $500.

There is an old man that has an excellent video on YouTube on how to level your own table. With a machinist level, Durham’s water putty , and that video, you can do a very professional job. They are ridiculously easy to disassemble and reassembly. I won’t play on a table that is not level.

They are fun, but be careful who you actually invite. Family members and close friends probably best. Some working buddies, especially combined with alcohol, they can be fun also, but sometimes they never want to leave.

Best of luck.

Be sure to buy one to fit your room size. It requires more space than you may think. We had one when I was young and the room was about a foot too short of the sides, we had to short use a short 48" cue or do some unplanned trick shots. After a few years, the novelty wore off and we gave it away.

My brother boght a table about 40 years old about 40 years ago. He bought an expensive model with beautiful but beaten up wood siding. He re did the wood himself and had new bumpers and felt installed and after 40 years and every day use it is still beautiful. Research the models and get the best one you can find old tables are cheap.

IIRC, we paid $300 5 yrs ago to have folk disassemble and haul away the old table that was in the house we bought. Their company specialized in refurbishing and selling old tables. They observed that the bumpers on our table were shot and would need to be replaced, along w/ the felt. I’d be kinda surprised if you could get someone to disassemble, move, and set up for $300, but I wasn’t looking for that.

In light of that, I’d suggest newer used, rather than older.

Also, this particular table was a BITCH for these experienced guys to disassemble and haul away. Not all tables are made equal.

Over the years, I’ve been offered at least 3 nice pool tables for free - if I’d haul them away. I never bit on such an offer. Personally, just knew I would not use it enough. But I’ve personally known at least that many people who have had trouble GIVING AWAY pool tables.

When we wanted to get rid of this one, we initially posted it FREE on Craigslist. We pulled the ad after the first several yahoos saying, “I’m in my car right now! Can I use your tools? Will you help me move it?” My homeowner’s insurance ioos good, but I don’t need to risk having those bozos testing it! :wink:

Start by assuming that you won’t get a penny back, when you are ready to get rid of the table, and may well have to pay to have it removed. (Relatives just sold their house, down sizing, and left their table in the basement, by agreement with the new owners. I bet it got used less than 100 times in about 30 years, even with a teen age boy living at home for part of that.)

If after that it still seems like a fun thing to have, and you have the cash and the space, go for it.

Show of hands - of the homes you’ve known that had pool tables, how many of them got used regularly? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Occasionally when company came over?

In 8th grade we used to bang around on the table in my friend’s basement, but other than that, all the tables I’ve known have gotten pretty little use. I think the ping pong tables I’ve known have seen more regular use.

Home and billards are two contradictory things. People go to billiard halls in order to get out of their homes.

Thanks, all, for the thoughts.

One of the online sites I found that offers advice on how to choose a good used table showed how to make sure the bumpers are in good shape. I don’t want to buy a table only to have to pay for a lot of extra work on it right away.

I’m certainly not looking at it as an investment.

I want a full-size table (8-foot min, 9-foot if I can find one), so my plan was to look at a few and if I find one I think is the one, get an expert opinion as a condition of the sale.

I’ll look in to re-felting, which I understand is a lot less expensive than getting new bumpers, but I’m hoping not even to have to do that, unless, as you suggest, I can get the purchase price lowered.

Good idea, thanks.

Thanks for your thoughtful and informative post, Razncain

I’m a self-employed sole proprietor, so no worries about drunk cow-orkers. :smiley:

We definitely have room. The space available is over 17x14 feet

This is my biggest quandary at the moment. I *think *I’d enjoy having it and would play frequently enough to make it worth the trouble, but with things like this it’s hard to be sure how long one’s interest will last.

For instance, in 2000 I came into a pretty substantial windfall and bought myself a $30,000 Yamaha Disklavier grand piano. I’m not a great player, but I’d always wanted one, and I thought that having made the investment I would have the motivation to take lessons. I did take lessons for a while, but eventually realized that I didn’t really want to learn to play piano, I wanted to know how to play the piano, and I didn’t like practicing enough, and didn’t see improvement fast enough, to keep going.

I kept fooling around with the piano for years, but it was sometimes as frustrating as it was enjoyable, because I knew how bad I was at it. It looked really nice, though, and being a Disklavier it could play itself, which was sometimes fun.

I took it with me as I moved three times in the next 13 years, but for the last couple of years before our move back east last year, I hardly touched it at all, and my already weak playing skills deteriorated even further. So before the last move I sold it for $12,000. I had been hoping for few thousand more, but I was glad to get that much, since there was really no room for it in the new house before the basement was finished. So if it had come here, it would have had to live in the garage for at least six months until the basement was finished, and then I would have had to pay to have it moved from the garage to the basement. All for an instrument I was barely touching.

That said, I don’t regret buying the piano, and feel that the use and enjoyment I got out of it for almost 20 years was worth the net expenditure.

So as I mentioned in the OP, to try to avoid getting stuck with a white elephant, I’ve decided to visit some local pool halls for a while to see how interested in playing I really am. The closest one offers free pool with lunch, so if I can stand the food, that might become a regular thing for me.

And if my wife will join me sometimes, we can judge whether she has any interest. Her allowing me to have a pool table is one thing, but if she enjoys playing, too, that would be a better sign for its long-term viability.

Sounds like a very sensible approach.

I am all about spending $ on trying new hobbies - even if they don’t last. But bringing a pool table into your home is in the higher end of initial investment required.

(A nice bristle dart board would be much cheaper, and take up less space!) :wink:

OTOH, if you have the space in your basement or rec room, and no other plans for it, a pool table LOOKS nice even if it isn’t used much. Just make sure that is a $grand or 2 you don’t really want to spend elsewhere.

In my experience pool tables are like pianos; lots of people want one enough to get one but 90% never use it for long and begin to regret the purchase. That being said I would go used but follow the same tactic I would with a used car; get someone who actually knows something about the construction and function to go along and examine it for me. A friend if at all possible for free - a qualified mover/refurbisher if I’m going to pay. If its the guy/gal I’m going to use to actually do the work they may just consider doing it for free.

(In wanting a player piano at one time the man I had arranged to do the work actually came along to look at three. We found one he thought was a really good deal and had the bones needed for what I wanted; I got that one.)

(A year later I was tired of it and broke even on the sale. Better than most friends who basically had to figure a way to trash theirs.)

We had a pool table and found it to be a great place for folding and stacking laundry on.

Be sure to get an exercise bike too, for those items that need to be hung up.

We got our pool table for free from a neighbor who didn’t want the trouble of moving it.
The first thing we did was build a nice wooden top for it so we didn’t have to worry about the cats tearing it up. Bonus - we had a fun wood project to do!
We did play daily for a short time, and then it became a large piece of furniture which we never think about, although, as has been said, it’s pretty awesome to have come laundry day.

If you want to relocate to the San Francisco Bay Area I know a house in Marin county that has one–you’d have to buy the whole house though. See, my family bought the house brand new circa 1965 or thereabouts and my dad wanted a pool table. Only place to put a pool table was in the gigantic upstairs family room and the only way to GET one in there was to remove the entire frame of one large window and have it winched up over the roof, through the hole in the wall (which fit with about a quarter inch tolerance on either side) then replace the window frame in the hole. Which he did. I got really, really good at pool for a seven year old. Then we moved away. About twenty years ago I was driving past the house on a tour with a friend of ancient stomping grounds and the owner was out tending the front garden. I stopped and asked if the pool table was still up there and sure enough, nobody had ever gotten the energy together to move the bloody thing (and knowing my dad I bet it was the most toppest of the top of the line pool table available and likely recommended by Playboy) so basically anyone who buys that house gets really good at pool. Sure, the house probably goes for a couple million these days but hey, free pool table! :smiley:

I purchased my pool table shortly after we moved into my current house about 20 years ago. It got a lot of use for the first few years. After that it tapered off, and stuff ended up getting stacked on top of the pool table. Now, every couple of years we’ll clean the table off and we’ll play it for a month or two, and then everyone loses interest and sooner or later stuff gets shoved on top of it again.