Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PoolSynergy: Fav Pool Hall

Hello everyone, and welcome to the February 2011 edition of...
PoolSynergy is a blog carnival where several pool bloggers join together and write about a common topic on the 15th of every month.

This month, our host... the most awesome G² asked us to write about our favorite pool hall, and I'll admit that I struggled a bit trying to decide what I'd consider to be my 'favorite' pool hall. There are hundreds of pool tables scattered throughout Las Vegas, but most of them are located in what I would consider to be bars more than pool halls. We do have a few halls, though.

The Las Vegas Cue Club is, as far as I know, the largest pool hall in Las Vegas. I haven't counted the tables there, but their website says they have 39 tables so I'll run with that number. They have a decent mix of Valley type bar boxes, Diamond bar boxes, several nine footers, a full size Snooker table, and even a funny-looking table that doesn't have any pockets.

This is the place we usually end up for larger tournaments due to the number of available tables, and I can't say that I mind playing there but I won't say I'm crazy about it either. The tables are fairly well maintained for the most part... although I've noticed some problems here and there. The overall room is pretty dark in places - enough so that many of the regulars have gotten in the habit of bringing lighted pens, flashlights, or clipboard lights for keeping score.

There is a small 'attached' snack bar that serves things like wings and sandwiches. The attached or adjacent grill/snack bar phenomenon is common amongst the bars in Vegas due to smoking laws that were passed a few years ago. I don't claim to be an authority on the law... but my understanding is that if a place sells food, it's supposed to be smoke free. Most if not all bars continue to cater to smokers, however, so they deal with the law by having a separate eating area. There are also a couple good restaurants within easy walking distance of the Cue Club (Mexican and Thai are two examples).

Mickey's Brews and Cues is one of the better halls in town... they have 24 tables total: ten 7' Diamonds, five 9' Diamonds and nine Gold Crowns. All tables are covered with Simonis cloth, use Aramith balls, and are well maintained. This is the largest pool hall near my house, so I've been there many times. Downsides here are they don't serve any food and the bar is limited to beer and wine. When hunger strikes, there is a pizza place and a couple other fast-food type joints within easy walking distance.

Pool Sharks is over on the west side of town - a bit more of a drive for me, so I don't get over there unless there's a tournament or other reason to go. I'm not sure how many tables they have, but I'm guessing it's similar in size to Mickey's. Last time I was there for a tournament, I did run into some issues with the tables - bad rails, and so on (others have noted problems as well). They don't offer much in the way of food there, but have several menus on hand from local eateries that deliver. Last time I was there, I walked to a nearby Asian Market to grab some lunch in between matches. [2/19 update - I just had a tournament here today, and there are 27 tables (maybe 28). I didn't do a careful survey, but I believe they had seven bar boxes (two of them were Diamonds)... I saw at least two 9' Diamonds, and the rest looked like 9' Brunswicks.]

As far as I know, that's about it for the "pool hall" category in Las Vegas. There are several bars that land in the 'in between' category because they have fewer tables than what I would call a 'pool hall,' but more than one or two... and it's clear that they're serious about pool and cater to more than just drunk ball bangers by the way they maintain their tables and support the league players.

Putter's Eastern has four well-maintained bar-sized Diamond tables, decent food available from the adjacent Angelina's Pizzeria (a waitress gladly comes over when requested to take your order and deliver your food). I've played league as well as tournaments there, and it's definitely one of my preferred locations in this category (this was the location I chose for the interview I did last monthy).

Rum Runner's hosts a number of local tournaments, has a dozen or so well maintained tables, and has some pretty darn good food available from an 'attached grill.' I've always had a good experience playing there. Their website lists more than one location, but the one I'm referring to is the Tropicana Avenue location.

Dealer's Choice has five tables, and I have to admit I haven't been there yet - I'm only listing it because it seems to be a popular place in town that hosts some decent teams.

Aces and Ales is another place I've heard good things about but haven't been to yet. I'm including it to round out the map of Las Vegas with some coverage up on the Northeast part of town.

While all of these are decent places, I couldn't single any of them out as being my favorite. Instead, I found myself comparing each of them to another hall I played at on the road a few months ago... and while the ones listed above definitely have their good points, they fell short of this one in one way or another. I found myself repeatedly saying "gee, I wish we had something like that one in town."

And so, I reveal my pick for favorite pool hall:

My first experience at Bullshooters was at an APA Regional Qualifier last fall. At 19,000 square feet, it's a bit bigger than The Cue Club. It has 45 tables: thirteen 8 footers, sixteen 9 footers, and sixteen 7 foot bar boxes.

I played on several of the tables (of all sizes) and found all of them to be well maintained. But running a great pool hall takes more than just throwing a bunch of well maintained pool tables into a big room and I get the feeling the owners (Mike & Julie Bates and Leonard Orlando) understand that. The tables were spaced well enough that I didn't feel overly crowded. The lighting was good. Smoking was confined to a patio area near the front of the hall. Music was good. There was a reasonable amount of seating (chairs and tables) scattered amongst the pool tables to give players, scorekeepers, and onlookers a place to sit, drink and eat.

Beyond just playing pool, I enjoyed the atmosphere there because I didn't feel packed in like I've felt many times in tournaments here in Las Vegas. The food was great and the service was genuinely friendly - they made me feel like family. Beyond the regular menu, there were a few nice 'extra touches' available on the counter such as homemade beef jerky and rice crispy treats.

As my tournament played into the later hours in the semi-final and final rounds, a very sizable crowd started filtering in. Again comparing to Vegas halls, I was a little surprised to see such a crowd! But it became apparent that they weren't just coming for pool, because Bullshooters isn't just another pool hall. It's a place to hang out, have food and drinks, play darts, pool, karaoke, and more. They've really found a good mix and it shows.

I recently found out that I'll be returning to Bullshooters for another APA Regional Qualifier in a couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm hoping I do as well in 8-ball as I did in 9-ball last fall!

Be sure to check out the other PoolSynergy postings.


  1. man, you gave a directory gary! sixshooters is a nice place. very roomy. :)

  2. oops. i mean bullshooters! it's been a long time. :P

  3. LOL - yep, used to be Sixshooters until the current owners took over and opened up on May 6, 2008. Kinda cool how you allowed me to segue into that bit of trivia.

    But wait, there's more! What else is significant about May 6, 2008 you ask? It was my last wedding anniversary before, yanno, I stopped having wedding anniversaries. ;)

    Now pardon me while I go fix an evil copy-and-paste error I see lurking in the article.

  4. So much great information about Las Vegas!!! I'm gonna update my post to let them know how much great info you provided about Las Vegas! Thanks for contributing this month!

  5. What else is significant about May 6, 2008 you ask? It was my last wedding anniversary before, yanno, I stopped having wedding anniversaries. ;)


  6. No worries, dude. It's a good thing. If it wasn't for her getting all the living room furniture, I wouldn't have room for the pool table. And if it wasn't for having my own pool table, I'd suck more than I do now. :)