If you’re a reader of this blog you know we are lovers of most games room games. However, if I had to choose my favourite it would be a very close run thing between pool and ping-pong, with pool just edging it. So today we will be discussing what, in our opinion will be the best pool tables in 2017.
Of course we won’t just list what we think is the best pool table if money was no object, we will provide pool table reviews based on different age group requirements, budget, available space and location and skill level. And as usual we will identify what we consider the best for each category. Below is a quick guide summary of some of the billiards / pool table reviews we have provided. After you will find more detailed pool table reviews, a buying guide, and a list of maintenance tips.
Best Pool Tables
1. Best Mini Pool Tables (4ft and below)
2. Best Folding Pool Tables (4.5ft and above)
3. Best 7ft Pool Tables
4. Best 8ft Pool Tables
5. Best Pro and Coin Operated Pool Tables
6. Best Pool Table for the Money
7. Pool Table Buying Guide
8. Pool Table Maintenance
Best Mini Pool Table
A mini pool table is a great way to introduce someone to the game of pool and billiards. They tend to be aimed at young kids however they are great fun to play whatever your age and skill level. When looking for a mini pool for home use you will need to consider the size you require, whether you require legs or for it to sit on a tabletop or floor and the budget you have available. The definition of mini pool (for us) is a table that is 4ft in length or less. Below are some of the best mini pool tables, including table top, free-standing and folding versions for your consideration.
Trademark Games Mini Pool Table Review
Our top pick budget mini pool table is The Trademark Games Mini Pool Table. This is perfect for small kids or if older kids / adults just want a quick bit of fun. It comes with a ball retriever on both sides, two cues, balls, a triangle and chalk. This version is small, in fact it’s really small, compared to some other mini models.
Fancy a quick game? At just 20″ you can set it up almost anywhere very quickly – as long as the surface is flat, you can start playing immediately. Don’t want to leave it out when not in use? No problem. Because of its size, it takes up very little room so can be stored away in the closet or cupboard. So who do we think this is aimed at? In our opinion it’s a great gift for young kids. Older kids and teenagers will probably want to play on a larger table.
Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch Pool Table Review
Our Top Pick Table Top Mini Pool Table is the Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40″ Pool Table. If you are looking for a mini pool game but require something bigger than the 20″ Trademark Games mini pool game then the Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch Pool Table could be the answer. At 40″ it’s twice the size of the Trademark and it comes with a choice of three colors for the cloth – Red, Green or Blue. It comes with two cues, a triangle, chalk and pool balls. When it arrives, you simply add the four small legs and then you’re ready to play.
It costs a little more, but you get a lot more for your money. In our opinion, if you have kids from 4 to 8 years olds, and you are limited on space but can fit a 40″ game on a table top or on the floor, then we would go with this one over the 20″ Trademark.
CHH Games Mini Folding Pool Table Review
The CHH Games Mini Folding pool table is exactly that, a mini billiards table on legs that folds away for simple storage. It’s also very easy to move about if you want to play pool in different rooms or areas. At 44″ it’s slightly bigger than the Playcraft and does have a bigger feel to it. The folding pool table will arrive fully assembled and also comes with 2 x 42″ pool cues, chalk, a triangle and some good pool balls.
We suggest this is great for up to 8 years olds, or if you have limited space. Of course older kids / teenagers and adults will also have a great deal of fun with this, but as their pool skills develop they may benefit from a larger version.
Bello Games New York Deluxe Folding Pool Table Review
The Bello Games New York Deluxe Folding Pool Table is a top-end folding model. This is made from strong hardwood and it has really responsive speed cushions which are very responsive. It really is a quality small pool table. It comes with an expensive feeling green wool blend cloth and is ready to play – no assembly required apart from unfolding the legs.
Some adults have mentioned that they have enjoyed playing on this as much as their kids and grand kids.
Voit 48″ Billiards Table Set Review
The Voit 48″ Billiards Table Set is a great 4 foot freestanding pool table. This is the perfect gift for older kids especially if you want them to enjoy some free time away from PC or games consoles. The cushions are very reactive which will allow for some great bank shots. The Voit will arrive with everything you need to get started.
We would definitely recommend this if you are after a small free-standing option that is a little bit bigger than the mini pool / billiards versions but still does not take up a lot of room.
Best Folding Pool Table Reviews
You get the best of both worlds with a folding pool table. It’s a good size, to really enjoy a game of pool but it still can be folded away for storage, so it not permanently in the way. It’s also portable so you can set-up at different locations. I have not included mini folding pool tables here as they are included above under the ‘mini’ section. Below are tables that are above 4ft in length.
Hathaway Fairmont 6 ft. Portable Pool Table Review
The Hathaway Fairmont 6 ft. Portable Pool Table is one of our favourite tables. It combines the portability and store-away capabilities of smaller fold away versions with the quality of a good 6ft pool table made for home use. It also looks fantastic. Although it’s not a full size tournament model, you soon forget this once you start playing.
Another great point is that not only do the legs fold-away, they also have levellers if you set-up on a not so even surface. The cloth is a good quality although some purchasers mention it plays a bit slower than a professional table. That’s not a problem for beginners and intermediate players. You will also receive a polyester bag to keep it in or transport it when not in use.
HLC Folding Space Saver Pool Table Review
The HLC Folding Space Saver Pool Table is a good option if you require a pool table that is a little larger than a mini game but do not have the room for a 6ft plus table such as the Hathaway Fairmont. This is a great starter table for kids to play on. You are not going to get that arcade pool experience but you are going to have a lot of fun with it. I started with a very similar table to this and loved it.
This will arrive fully assembled, apart from the legs and pockets so you can have it set-up very quickly. The size is 4 1/2 feet long so it will store away easily under a bed, flat against a wall or in a closet. It arrives with 2 cues, balls, triangle, brush and chalk and therefore everything you need to have some family billiards fun.
Best 7ft Pool Table
As the size increases, so do a lot of your options. You are now getting to the area where you can choose between a slate bed or a wood / board bed table. The slate versions tend to be more expensive and play more like the professional billiards tables if the cushions and frame are built to a good standard. Below are 3 different types of 7ft options to consider based on price and bed material.
Barrington 7ft Pool Table Review
In our opinion the Barrington Clifton Pool Table is a really good budget 7ft table. It’s not going to break the bank but this will be reflected in the table quality. It would not be fair to compare this to a high-end model because it’s a different market. What we like about the Barrington is it’s a great size at 7ft, customer feedback says it’s relatively easy to assemble and it has a distinctive red cloth for visual appeal.
MD Sports 84″ Arcade Pool Table Review
If you are after a medium priced 7ft non slate bed pool table then the MD sports 84″ arcade style billiards table is a very good option to consider. This version looks like an arcade style game. With steel construction and scratch resistant pvc laminated top and side parts this looks great and is built to last.
It comes with adjustable leg levellers to ensure you achieve a true roll. Like with all non-slate bed tables, the roll tends to be a bit slower, but purchasers have commented that although slightly slower than a slate bed its plays really well. For the price – this a great choice.
Fat Cat Frisco ii 7.5ft Pool Table Review
Unlike some of the models above, the Fat Cat Frisco 7.5ft Billiards Table has a far more traditional feel. From its color – Cherry / Brown, to the tassels on each pocket. It certainly adds to the ‘old school’ look to it. The bed on the Fat Cat is not slate, nor is it MDF / Wood. It’s accuslate which is a mixture of particle board coated with a pvc material. It comes with a 7 year non-warping guarantee. So is it as good as slate? for us, no, but it does offer a very good playing surface ‘similar’ to slate with a non warping 7 year guarantee. Similar to MDF beds, the balls will not roll as fast or as far as a slate bed.
This is not cheap when comparing it to say the MD Sports however it is made for different materials and has a different look and feel. This table is heavy and will require 2 to 4 people to assemble so ensure you have plenty of support when it’s delivered.
Best 8 ft Pool Table Reviews
When you reach the 8ft pool tables you have a lot more options for a slate bed. You can still purchase MDF bed tables and there are some really good models to choose from. Below are three options for your consideration.
Hathaway Hustler 8ft Pool Table Review
The Hathaway Hustler comes in both a 7ft and 8ft option. It has the look of a pool table that you will find in an arcade or bar. Nothing to fancy, but still good-looking. In our opinion this is more of a budget 8ft table. The bed is MDF, so definitely not a slate bed. The cushions however respond really well to rebounds and bank shots.
It comes with a ball returner so the balls will not get stacked up in the pockets. Although one purchaser did comment that the ball opening could be a little wider. Like with many pool tables, the cues could be a better quality, but, no doubt as your game improves, you will purchase a new cue.
Mizerak Donovan ii Pool Table Review
If you are looking for a very reasonably priced 8ft billiards table that comes with a slate bed option then you will like the Mizerak Donovan ii pool table. If your budget can’t stretch to the slate option, then the Mizerak Donovan also comes with a slatron option. Personally, if you can stretch the couple of hundred dollars more, I would definitely choose the slate bed option – it will play better and will feel like a pool hall table. It will also last longer as Slatron can be susceptible to warping over a period of time.
The Mizerak Donovan ii has a very cool design with its stand-out red cloth, black glossy sides, chrome looking corners and leg Levellers. The metal frame provides stability and will take a lot of play time. The cushions are made from K-66 rubber and 3 5/8 deep the cushions will react very well to bank shots and rebounds. it should be noted, that this will take some time to put together as it comes in quite a few parts. It’s not a quick job. It should also be noted that there is no ball return, however the pockets are deep to hold several balls.
Best Pro Pool Tables
When it comes to pro slate bed and coin operated tables there are several brands that stand out such as Brunswick, Olhausen, and American Heritage. Many pro players rave about Diamond tournament tables. These are obviously are fantastic which come with an appropriate price tag. However you may be able to grab a used deal off the internet. Some other options are below which are based on coin operated tables but not quite as expensive. Shelti also have coin operated versions if required and they can all come in 7ft and 8ft options depending on your space and the size of table you are used to playing on.
Shelti Pool Table Reviews
Shelti have been making professional and pub pool tables for many years from Bay City, Michigan and they are a member of the Billiard Congress of America. it’s safe to say that these guys know a thing or two about making great billiards and pool tables. Shelti have two main categories – their coin operated tables and their Bayside home / office use pool tables. Basically these are similar to the coin operated tables except they don’t require a coin operation to play.
Both models come with separate cue ball returner. If you grab yourself one of these tables you really will experience professional tournament and bar/arcade table conditions – because that’s what they are. As well as the two types, you also have a choice of two sizes – 7ft and 8ft. They are built for constant heavy use and will take hours and hours of home use play time. It may look like a contemporary of traditional piece of art but it will play fantastically well. If you are serious about pool and your budget can swing to it, this is a great choice for a home use pro table.
Best Pool Table for The Money
We know this is subjective. If you don’t want to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars, any of the mini or 4 ft versions will be fine. However, we wanted a bit more than a mini game, but we didn’t want to break the bank. Therefore we have chosen our best pool table for the money based on the following criteria:
- Size – It has to be of a size to feel like you are experiencing a game of pool on a decent sized table.
- Game Quality – It has to be of such a spec that when playing a game of pool it feels authentic and not like a cheap imitation, with good pool ball control.
- Build Quality – Although it has to be reasonably priced, it also has to be a good build quality that can take regular usage / games of pool.
- Available space – not everyone has the room to fit an 8ft pool table so this was also a deciding factor.
- Storage – Similarly with space, not everyone has the available space for a pool table to be permanently in situ.
- Price – Of course price was a major criteria or it wouldn’t be, in our opinion the best pool table for the money.
So the winner that scores high in all of the above is…
Hathaway Fairmont 6 ft. Portable Pool Table
Lets see how the Hathaway Fairmont scores against each of our criteria.
- Size – It’s 6ft, so large enough to enjoy a great game of pool.
- Game Quality – Although it’s not a slate bed, it’s a great alternative, allowing you to use an array of cue shots whilst controlling the cue ball.
- Build Quality – It’s really well made for the price you pay.
- available Space – At 6ft this can fit in most rooms in a house whilst leaving room for the cues.
- Storage – The Hathaway has folding legs so you can store it away and change locations.
- Price – For everything the Hathaway delivers, it comes with a very reasonable price tag.
Pool Table Buying Guide
There are a few things you should consider when buying a pool table. After all, they are a not cheap so you want to ensure you are receiving value money.
So what are the things you should understand and look out for? Below is a quick guide of what we believe are the essentials when buying the best pool table for home or the office.
One of the most important things to consider is your available space. It’s no good buying a pool table if you don’t have enough room to play the game because you forgot to consider ‘cue room’. A cue comes in many sizes but the standard ‘large’ size is 58 inches so if you leave enough room for this size cue you will have plenty of room if you opt for smaller cues. It’s better to have a smaller table that fits the room and leaves enough cue action than have a bigger table that requires the use of a smaller cue or awkward cue stances.
Mini Pool Tables
Mini pool tables can fit in almost any room of the home. As their title suggests, they are mini tables and usually range between two to four feet in length. Some models will be tabletop models so you can place them on the floor and a table, others will come with legs. The versions with legs may also come with foldable legs which makes storage a lot easier. Simply store the tables under the bed or in a closet or garage.
Also, an added benefit on the table top and fold away legs versions are their portability. You can set the table up in different pasts of the home, take it outside on clear sunny days or take it to a friend’s home to play. So if you are limited on space and want quick and easy storage, the mini billiards table could be the best fit for your needs.
Larger Pool Tables
The larger the table, the more space you will require, but how much room do you need? There is small difference of opinion by some of the large pool table providers on the exact space requirements however they are only an inch or two different so below is a rough average of the space require around the table to be able to use the cue effectively.
Table Size Cue Size – 58″
7 ft 13ft x 16 1/2 ft
8ft 131/2 ft x 17ft
9ft 14ft x 18ft
You will also need to take into account any pillars or other obstacles that may be in the way. Of course if you use a small 52″, 48″ or 42″ cue you will need less room, however we enjoy pool the most when playing with the full size .
The bed is what the playing surface is what sits below the cloth. There are generally two types – natural stone or man-made options. Below is a description of the more popular bed materials.
The tables you will play at the pub or arcade will be slate bed tables. Slate is a natural stone product. These are more expensive than man-made wood based tables because of the price and weight of slate. However, in our opinion, and that of many pool players, slate also plays a lot better. The average player will have better cue ball control playing on the slate bed tables. Plus it’s the surface that it used for all tournament play sanctioned by the Billiards Congress of America (BCA). Slate is the preferred option to other materials because it can provide a perfect level surface once finely honed. It will not warp or deteriorate over time and the ball runs faster.Slate beds can come in various sizes, but if you can afford it, go for a 1″ bed. Also, the slate will not deteriorate with time, you simply replace the cloth that sits on it.
Slate bed pool tables tend to either come with a 1 piece bed or a 3 piece bed. The benefits of a 3 piece slate bed is that it is easier to transport due to the smaller pieces and therefore lighter weight. This is why a lot of on-line slate bed pool tables will be 3 piece slate tables.
MDF, Accuslate and Slatron
These tables are for the home use market. MDF is short for medium density board. Accuslate is made from high compressed fibre board which reduces the chance of warping. Slatron is another artificial slate option which is compressed wood. They are not slate but try to mimic the feel of slate surfaces. They cost less to make and ship to customers, they are lighter and can be quickly mass-produced. This also means they cost less to buy. However, although you can buy some excellent non-slate tables for home use, they will not ‘play’ quite the same as a slate bed table. If your budget does not allow for a slate bed table, just remember that the materials may be prone to warping over time if left in damp or moist environments.
The Frame or Casing
Opinions differ as much as the materials used – traditional tables are made from quality woods, where as many of the home use versions will use MDF / Particle boards. There are also a number of high-end contemporary pool tables that are made of metals and plastics. In the end it comes down to personal choice and budget. A slate bed table will need to be supported by materials that are strong enough to keep it together. In our opinion solid wood is what we would look for in a more expensive table and particle board will be fine in a less expensive table.
Rails and Cushions
Each table is comes with 4 rails – The 2 side rails, a head rail – the end where you break and the foot rail – the end where you rack the balls. The rails need to be solidly attached to the table and bed so they do not move when you hit shots against the cushion. Many of the more traditional tables will use a solid hardwood, but the budget tables will use MDF/Particle board Rubber is attached to the rails to make the cushion
The cloth, sometimes referred to as felt is what sits on top of the slate or board and the rails / cushions and is the actual playing surface. The professional tables tend to have a faster napless weave and the pool tables for home use tend to have a slower less expensive wool blend.
There are usual two types of ball retrieval.
Drop Pockets / Ball remains in the pocket.
The cheaper options will have either a string netting or a plastic cup that holds the balls in place. The issue here is the netting can break over time, or if the balls all end up in one pocket and you need to keep emptying the pocket so that future shots do not bounce back out of the pocket from the balls that are already in the pocket. The more expensive drop pocket tables will come with a leather pouch or metal runners that catch and hold the balls when they have been potted.
A ball returner is where you pot the ball and the ball returns either to the end of the table or in some cases the middle of the table. It is returned to a small box like area for you to pick up when re-racking a new game. If you have ever played on a coin operated table you will understand how this works. When you put in your coin and press the lever, the balls appear at one end for you to collect. This is the same principle without paying for the game.
Pool and billiards tables can come in various shapes and sizes. The lower end models can all look pretty similar. However as your budget increases, so do your design options. There are traditional style pool tables, arty pool tables, contemporary style pool tables and pool tables that can have multiple uses such as a dining table. If your budget can stretch it may be worth looking at multi use tables – especially if space is limited and you would like it do double up as a table.
Installation / Set-up
This will depend on the size and quality of your pool table. Obviously a mini or fold-away table will require minimal set-up time. The larger tables, especially slate tables are a 2+ person job to set and install. Remember this if you are going to set-up the table yourself.
Self Returning or Coin Operated
This is easy to explain – The coin operated pool tables are the tables you find in bars and clubs. You pay for a game of pool by inserting the appropriate fee into the slot and pressing the button to release the balls. You can purchase coin operated pool tables to use at home or in the office. Self returning tables are tables that do not have a coin operation.
The price of pool and billiards tables vary significantly due to all of the above factors. Mini pool tables can start as low $20 depending on the size and quality of the materials used. The larger the table, the more materials are required. However, you can get circumstances when larger tables are cheaper than smaller tables if the smaller tables have used premium materials and / or comes with a slate bed. Our advice would be to choose a size that fits your available space and go for the best table you can afford that fits your budget.
The above reviews should help you find a pool table if you are searching for the:
- best pool table under $100
- best pool table under $200
- best pool table under $500
- best pool table under $1,000
- best pool table under $1,500
- best pool table under $2,000
Pool Table Maintenance
Once you have purchased your pool table is a good idea to keep it properly maintained and looked after. Especially if you have made a large investment. There are several things you can do to keep you billiards table up together..
Keeping the cloth clean
The cloth will pick up dust particles, hairs and of course chalk dust for the cue tips. To help clean the cloth, most tables will come supplied with cloth brush. When you use the brush, always brush in the same direction, not in circles and aim to brush the dust into the pockets where you can clean it out. Brushing the cloth one way only also puts far less stress on the cloth than brushing in multiple directions.
Another solution is to ‘lightly’ use a vacuum to clean the dust using a vacuum brush attachment. Like with the manual brush solution, always vacuum brush in one direction only, from top to bottom. Remember to be very careful and you do not want to rip the cloth by being heavy-handed.
Keep drinks and food away from the table. I have often seen drinks rested on the edge / frame of the table and then get accidentally knocked over the cloth which can be very difficult to get out.
Regularly clean the balls
All joking aside – you should regularly clean the billiard balls with a polish and cloth, a specialist pool ball cleaner or a simple micro fiber cloth. The reason for this is the balls will pick up dust as they roll across the table and of course the white ball will pick up dust from the cue tip when it is struck.
Personally, I like to play with a well chalked cue which is not the best for the table. If you chalk the cue a lot, make sure you do it away from the table so excess chalk dust does not settle on the cloth.
Sun or strong light damage
Avoid placing your pool table in an rea where it will be bathed in sun light or strong lighting. Continued exposure to strong lighting will fade the coloring and dry out of the table cloth. If it must be stored in a sun room, make use of a good pool table cover when it’s not in use.
The materials used for your table will determine the optimum humidity levels. If the table is made of wood, you certainly would want it a hot / dry room and likewise you wouldn’t want it stored in a humid or damp room. A common sense approach is required with humidity levels.
It’s not a chair
Never sit on the pool table, this can damage the structure of it and affect the level.
We want to make this post as comprehensive as possible so it helps you find the best pool table for your needs. If there is anything you would like us to cover or expand on please let us know in the comments below, or even if it’s to say you enjoyed reading our best pool tables review information, let us know below, it will be appreciated – Thanks for reading.