Every pool hall has a rack of 'house cues' that any player can use. These cues are usually solid and adequate, and will do nicely for players who play casually or are not too concerned about consistency in their playing. But if you are serious about your game, even if you are not a professional, you should own a cue and take it with you to the hall. Playing with your own cue and playing with it every time can usually double your score, not to mention increase the quality of your game. Using the same cue every time allows you to be consistent in aim, weight, balance, and dimensions. Also, you will have a slight mental edge to your game if you are shooting with your own personal cue.
The price you pay for a cue should fit within your lifestyle, your game requirements, your budget, and how important consistency is to you. For a quality cue, you can expect to pay at least $100, although some cue manufacturers offer acceptable cues for less. A high-quality cue can even cost thousands of dollars. But, if you are not a professional or tournament player, you will be spending your money for decoration, rather than paying for a cue that increases the playability of your game.
One of the most important considerations is to decide what weight is appropriate for you. You can purchase heavy, medium, or lightweight, depending on your needs. For beginners, a 20-ounce or 21-ounce billiard cue will stay on line longer and give you a straighter stroke. The added mass of the stick may also make it easier for beginners to get additional spin, but a heavy cue can also increase the chance of miscues and inadvertent English spins. A 19-ounce cue demands a more skilled, accurate stroke from the player, but a lightweight cue makes it easier to control the speed and accuracy of the cue ball. The majority of intermediate players use a cue stick that is 19-ounces or lighter. Many professionals have even gone to 18-ounce cues recently.
Another issue to consider is whether to buy a hard or soft tip, and what width the tip should be. A soft tip will give you added feel throughout the shot, but a hard tip will last longer and better retain its rounded edge. Most professionals choose a hard tip for its durability, unless they have easy access to a repair facility for replacing damaged tips. The legal range of sizes for cue tips in the United States for professional players is 11 to 14 millimeters. Beginners usually want 13 millimeter tips, and after they gain some experience, or if they have large fingers, they change to a 12-millimeter tip.
Most cue sticks have a nylon or linen wrap, which makes them more pleasant and comfortable to hold, rather than bare wood. Some use leather, cloth, or an exotic material for the wrap. Beginners should 'test drive' a cue before buying, to see which type of wrap suits them the best. Leather may be the best option for players who perspire heavily. Every cue has a balance point―the point where the cue will balance on two fingertips. The balance point can vary from one cue to the next, so once you locate the balance point, you should shoot with different sticks to see whether your preference is for the balance point to be toward the front of the cue or the rear. Most cue sticks have a weight inserted into the butt of the stick, and this weight can be removed or altered to change the balance and weight of the stick.
Once you have determined the structural design that best suits your needs, you must decide whether you want to purchase an ornate cue, or a simple design. A decorated cue stick will be more expensive, but will not increase the quality of your game. In fact, if too many modifications are made to the stick simply for decorative reasons, they may lessen the feel of the natural wood, and therefore impact the quality of your game. A brightly colored ornate cue stick may be fun, but it may also attract unwanted attention at the pool hall. No matter what kind of cue stick you eventually decide upon, be sure to protect it by carrying it in a hard or soft case. The softer the cue case, the lighter it will be to carry, but the cue will not be as secure and protected in a softer case.
No matter what your skill level is, the success and enjoyment of your game depends primarily on the cue you are using. Take the time to try out different cues, and then purchase the best one for yourself. You'll be a pool shark in no time.