There are tons of “pool cue buying guides” online that focus on what makes a pool cue good, and how to select one that’s right for you. Without a doubt, this is very useful information for anyone looking to buy their first cue. But as a beginner, when exactly should you make that purchase? This is a great question that a lot of beginners ask, but very few guides seem to address.
While there is no “set in stone” answer, most new players should wait at least 2-3 months before buying their first pool cue. This is typically enough time to get a feel for what you like and dislike in a cue and decide if you’ll play enough to justify the investment. Because cues are highly customizable (material, weight, length, tip, wrap, etc.) and each variation feels different, its best to know what you prefer before making a purchase.
If you’ve been thinking about buying your first cue but still aren’t sure if its time to pull the trigger, keep reading to learn more.
What are the Benefits of Owning Your Own Cue?
If you’ve ever played with house cues at your local pool hall, you know first-hand just how bad they can be. From warped shafts, to missing tips and cracked ferrules, house cues are notorious for being used and abused. This is why most players use the house cue to break with and shoot with their own cue.
When you have you own cue, you get to avoid these issues. You know that your cue is well maintained and is going to give you the same experience every time you use it. This is a huge plus to anyone looking to improve their skills as a pool player.
But when you’re just starting out, using a house cue is perfectly fine. After all, you’ve got to learn the basics. And until you do so, buying a new cue really won’t be of tremendous benefit to you. So unless all the house cues are warped in the shape of a rainbow, I would recommend using them for at least 2-3 months while you go down the 6-point checklist we’re about to cover.
But before we do, here’s a list of benefits of owning your own cue.
- Consistency – When you pick up a house cue, you never know what you’re going to get. Using a cue of your own will give you the same experience every time you use it.
- Portability – Consistent practice with consistent gear will help improve your game. Having your own cue means you can use the same cue no matter where you play.
- Higher Quality – Most pool halls stock their racks with the cheapest 1-piece cues available. Any decent starter cue will outperform house cues every time.
- Customizable – All house cues are pretty much the same. But when you buy your own cue, you have the option to choose from different materials, weights, tips, wraps, etc.
- Well Maintained – Just by looking at the cues on the rack of a pool hall, you can tell they aren’t being serviced regularly. When you have your own cue, its easy to keep it in excellent playing condition.
- Better Playing Experience – Playing with a run of the mill house cue just doesn’t get most people excited. Personal cues, by far, provide a more enjoyable game and a better playing experience.
6 Things You Should do Before Buying Your First Cue
Any time we pick up a new hobby or find something we enjoy doing, its easy to get carried away and go at it full steam ahead. Whether that means binge watching relative YouTube videos or buying products associated with your new interest. And although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to a lot of impulse buys and leave you with a lot of stuff you don’t really need, or gear that you later find out isn’t a good fit for you.
This happens regularly in pool where lots of newcomers are tempted to believe that purchasing their own cue will help improve their game exponentially. And while it is true that consistent practice with consistent gear will make you a better player, there are some things you should do prior to buying your first cue. Let’s talk about them now.
- Learn the Fundamentals – As I just mentioned, its easy to be tempted into believing that a new cue will improve your game. But even the best cue ever made can’t help you if you don’t have the basics down. This means learning proper shot form, stroke consistency, cue ball control, etc. before you decide to invest in a cue. You don’t have to master these areas of the game first but having a basic understanding of the fundamentals will go a long way towards getting the most out of your new cue.
- Read a Buyer’s Guide – A good pool cue buyers guide should cover pretty much everything you need to know about what makes a pool cue good and how to decide which one is right for you. Because there are so many options and variations of cues to choose from, the information obtained from a buyer’s guide can go a long way in helping you figure out exactly what you need. If you’re new to pool and need help figuring out what’s what when it comes to pool cues, check out my article The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Perfect Pool Cue. It’s definitely worth looking into if you’re serious about finding a cue that’s right for you.
- Try out Different Cues – No matter how great and thorough a buyer’s guide may be, it can’t substitute for real life experience. Handling and playing with cues of different materials, tips, weights, wraps, etc. is really the best way to get a feel for what you like. It’s similar to buying a car. There’s just no way to know for sure if it’s the one without taking it for a test drive. Play with as many different cues as you can before making a purchase. Doing so will keep you from wasting money on a cue that isn’t a good fit for you.
- Do Some Research – Once you’ve gotten a feel for what you like and you’ve homed in on a few potential cues, its best to do some in-depth research on them, especially if you’re buying online. Skim over the product description and focus mainly on user reviews. Because user reviews typically come from people who actually own the product, they’ll often be able to provide details about it that can’t be found anywhere else. Sometimes a single review is all it takes to determine if a cue is right for you.
- Consider the Cost – When using a house cue, you don’t have to worry about the cost involved with broken tips, cracked ferrules, or warped shafts. After all, you don’t own them. But once you buy a cue of your own, these are expenses that will come out of your pocket. Not to mention the cost of a nice case, cleaning products, tip tools, etc. However, most of the expenses incurred with owning a cue are relatively minor. The most expensive item you buy for your cue will probably be the case. All in all, there isn’t a ton of money that has to be spent after buying a cue, but it is something worth mentioning.
- Justify the Investment – Most good quality starter cues will run you around $100 or so. That being said, it would be a shame to buy a nice cue and then lose interest or never have time to play. Before you drop any cash, make sure playing pool is something that you really enjoy and that you’ll be able to play enough to justify buying your own cue. Nothing is more frustrating that spending money on something and then never having time to use it.
Now that we’ve covered what you should do prior to buying a cue, you may still be wondering…..
How do You Know When it’s Time to Buy?
Once you have some playing time under your belt, know exactly what you want, and have went through the 6-point checklist, I’d say you’re ready to buy your first cue. By know you should have a pretty good feel for what you like in a cue, and if you’re going to be able to play enough to justify the cost.
If you’ve rolled up on the 3-month mark and still aren’t sure what you want in a cue, then by all means take some more time and figure it out. There’s nothing that says you have to make a choice by then. Its better to take some more time and learn what you really like than make a purchase prematurely and be stuck with a cue that’s not a good fit for you.
All in all, any cue you buy will be better than a house cue. But by using house cues first, it gives you the benefit of knowing the difference between a good cue and a bad one. And by taking the time to learn the basics with a house cue, you’ll be one step ahead when you decide to invest in a cue of your own.
Learn the basics, go through the checklist, wait until you see some improvements in your accuracy and consistency with a house cue, and then I give you my blessing in buying your first cue!
I hope this article has helped you decide when you should buy your first cue. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out or check out our other helpful articles for all of your billiard related questions.