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Oh boy, what kind of stuff people have said about pool. Everytime I tell people that I’m a pool player, clichés are starting to fly. Here are my top 6 🙂

[Disclaimer: This applies mainly to my experience in Germany. It might be different where you live. Glad to hear from your perspective in the comments.]

No. 6: You can impress the ladies with it

Well, who of us doesn’t have the wet dream of hustling the bad guy while the girls are admiring our pool skills? Well, I did. I’d be lying if I denied that my main motivation when I started playing pool at the age of 14 was to impress the ladies.

I did get some attention from female spectators in my 20 years of playing – maybe every five years. At some point you might be a good player; but that doesn’t change the fact that average pool halls have a men ratio of maybe 90%. Sorry, my friend, if you’d like to impress the ladies, you should better become a yoga teacher or the house poet in a vegan coffeeshop in Williamsburg.

No. 5: You hustle people

Of course everyone imagines that speakeasy where shady characters are betting their shirt on a horse. “The Hustler” and “The Color of Money” are responsible for that, but probably also every boring TV show where you can see a pool table.

The truth looks different: Of course there are some people gambling for money in Germany. Most of pool players, though, play pool in a club house, play in a team and at singles tournaments in the highly regulated sport system. There are no smoky speakeasies, but no smoking club houses and pool halls where the players dress up in a fashion mix of prom night and golf wear with black suit pants and a polo shirt. Think more Steve Urkel than Tom Cruise.

No. 4: We’re always running around in black tie

That’s the opposite of the speakeasy cliché: We’re always wearing black tie. Ok, in snooker the vest is still mandatory. But you can already see the wildest haircuts, and in pool we’re wearing that already mentioned combination of black suit pants and a more or less tasteful polo shirt. You can think about it what you want – I do.

No. 3: Bad players rip the cloth

Louis de Funès is to blame that thousands of beginners are s**t-scared of ruining the cloth. Fact is, professional players are dragging their break cues over the cloth that old Louis would turn blue in the face. Modern pool cloth is very durable, it can’t actually break. Unless it hasn’t been changed in ten years, and in this case the bar owner doesn’t deserve better.

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No. 2: You do trickshots and quirky moves

Every amateur who thinks he’s good plays at least one shot per game with the cue behind his back. Every second shot is a bank shot, balls are hitting other balls and if something accidentally drops in the pocket, of course it was intended.

The truth is, pool gets less spectacular the better it is played. Professional players are so good at putting the cue ball in an easy position for the next shot, ideally they always have easy shots set up. Moreover, their fundamentals are so well developed, there’s nothing moving besides their arm. Perfect pool relates to trickshots and quirky moves as politics relate to Donald Trump: It’s entertaining, but nothing good will result from it.

No. 1: You have to be good at maths and physics

Yes, that’s always the first line we get: “You play pool? You must be a genius at maths and physics, because of all the angles and stuff, right?” That’s like expecting a chef to be good at chemistry. This image works in another way: It certainly helps to have that knowledge, but it’s not at all neccessary to be good. On the contrary: You don’t actually have to be very smart at all to be a good pool player.

Good pool results from your body intuitively knowing what do. A lot of pros wouldn’t be able to explain to you what exactly they’re doing right. Or they could explain it, but nobody would understand. That’s why most practice videos from pro players are less useful than you think.

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