I’ve dabbled in other table sports: ping pong, air hockey, even bumper pool, but nothing really compares to proper and true “pocket pool” or billiards to me. I love it enough to frequently subject myself to a headache-inducing sound and closeness of bars just to play with friends and buy my own overpriced pool cue just because I knew I’d get used out of it.
I’ve long wanted to own my own pool table, and have done frequent and repeated research on which ones to buy, mostly through window shopping.
Along the way, I’ve come across quite a few great tables, and I’m going to share some of the best I’ve found for you. We’re going to start by going over what makes a great pool table, and then we’ll look at some top notch ones you can buy on Amazon.
In A Rush? Here’s Our Top 3 Tables For Home Use
I assume that most of us want a pool table we can use at home.
There are three basic “types” of pool tables for home use: the top of line nice ones, the ones we get to teach our kids the game, or ones that save space because we just can’t fit them where we live right now as a full-time display (my current predicament, actually).
All three of these tables are ones I’ll go into much further detail down below, but I’ll give their names so if you’re in a hurry, you can just stop now.
Here are my top 3 picks by use:
Playcraft Bank Shot
Complete Buying Guide:
A pool table’s top is made up of two primary components: the slate, and the cover (or cloth).
The slate is the hard surface that makes up the base of the playing field and gives you a level, smooth playing surface. T
he highest quality slates are literally made of slate (a hard, smooth rock) and diamond smoothed, though cheaper tables can be made of anything from “slatex” to plywood.
I suggest always going for slate unless you have severe budget limitations; it’s always going to be better than the alternative. Likewise, you want to make sure it’s an inch thick if possible for the best playing surface.
A good secondary alternative is “slatron”, which is a particle board or fiberboard (either medium density or high density) that is then coated in plastic, resin, or fiberglass (or often a combination of the three). While not as good as the slate (it has a tendency to sag in spots over time, particularly the middle) it’s a great middle ground between cheap and quality and will do for mid-range pool tables.
The cloth is the cover of the table, and what you usually see. It’s usually made of a blend of cloth and nylon, coated in Teflon. This varies only slightly even among cheap tables since that blend gives the right balance of smoothness and waterproof-ness. The main thing that changes is the weight and thickness of the cloth: you want HEAVY, about 18 to 22 ounces per yard of cloth.
Strong legs are one of the most important things to look for. Good pool tables are very heavy, and 90% of that weight is going to be directly supported by the legs. Add people leaning on the table, the weight of the balls, and other uses and misuses and the weight add up even more.
Solid legs are preferable, but multi-part legs secured by strong anchors to the tabletop are also good. Just stay away from anything with a weak single anchor, those types of legs will loosen over time and make the table unstable.
These are the bands around the table you bank your balls off of. High-quality tables will have an interior of natural gum resin, while others will use synthetic materials (usually clay).
In the short term there’s no real difference, but over time clay will usually dry out, losing its bounce. Then you’ll end up with a “dead rail” that doesn’t bounce your balls properly, and banked shots become harder (or impossible).
Look for the terms “K66” or “100% gum rubber”: both mean roughly the same thing (that the rails are good).
Like I said above, most good pool tables are heavy. This isn’t just coincidence, it’s also design.
Higher quality materials are naturally going to add weight, as solid wood and (especially) slate is extremely heavy materials. However, this also makes the table more sturdy and able to stand up to the standard abuses (like people leaning on them to get a better shot, some of whom are quite heavy themselves).
Don’t be shocked at weights that start in the low hundreds and climb from there. Unless you’re looking at a portable table it’s going to be sitting in one room most of the time anyway.
Generally speaking, a pool table is half as wide as it is long. There are about five common sizes for pool tables (two of which are considered regulation tables):
- 6 foot or “space saver” pool tables are made for home use, specifically, those who have a little less space in their home or apartment that would be required to play a larger table. The main thing to look out for is width: many space saver tables are still about as wide as a 7-foot table would be, making them a little wonky to play on.
- 7 foot or “bar tables” are what most people are used to playing on. This is what I’d consider the standard size for a pool table and what some tournaments in the UK use as regulation size. In short, 7 feet by 3.5 feet is the “normal” size for a pool table for our purposes.
- 8 foot and 9-foot tables are “regulation tables”; 8 x 4 and 9 x 4.5 feet are the only recognized pool table sizes for Olympic pool and other international pool tournaments. I find 9-foot tables are far less common than 8 foot, but I’m listing both as both are technically regulation size.
- 10-foot tables are “billiards tables”, and the normal size for carom billiards. I don’t have enough experience in the differences between pool and billiards to go in depth here, but suffice to say they are somewhat different games (similar to the difference between, say, Texas Hold ‘Em and Five Card Stud poker) and if you want to play billiards instead of pool, get a 10 foot by 5 foot table.
There are other lengths (one of our tables comes in 11 foot and 12-foot lengths), but those are usually used for snooker, which I know even less about than billiards. Suffice to say they are very uncommon sizes and leave it at that.
Pool tables are not just a game table, they are furniture. What this means is (like all furniture) there is no real upper limit in pricing on a pool table. Spending more money will get you ever higher quality materials, aesthetics, and craftsmanship.
Buying a pool table is more like buying a new dining room set, or cabinetry, or dresser than buying a game table. In short: you get what you pay for.
You can get a cheap pool table that is serviceable enough for under $100, same as you could get a cheap dresser made of plywood and particleboard for the same. You could also end up paying $2000…$5000…$10000 for ever more expensive and high-quality tables.
We’re going to avoid going much above $5000 here, but be informed that $2000 is roughly the MINIMUM for a high-quality table with all the desirable features (slate, real wood, solid single piece construction, etc.) and anything under that is going to progressively sacrifice more and more in quality, to reach that price.
That is not to say these tables can’t serve certain purposes and that price is the sole indicator of quality, just that under $1000 I’ll be making sure to point out what level of quality is acceptable (such as using an MDF tabletop instead of slate).
Best Choices For Every Budget & Purpose
|Display Piece Under $3000|| Brunswick 8-Foot Danbury Pool Table|
|For Kids Under $100||Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch Pool Table|
|Space Saving||Hathaway Fairmont Portable|
|Outdoor Under $2500||Playcraft Extera|
|9 Foot Table Under $5000||Kaldera Ranch Rustic Pool Table|
|Combination Pool and Ping Pong Table Under $600||Hathaway Maverick 7-foot|
|Combination Pool and Dining Table||Barnstable Dining|
|Under $200||CHH Mini Folding|
|Under $1000||Fat Cat 7 ft. Tucson|
Our Top Reviews
Top Choice – Hands Down:
I’ll get into the specific details later (three entries down, if you’re curious), but suffice it to say that this is everything I look for in a table. The look calls to me, and the quality backs it up. It is a world class table in every possible way and deserves your consideration.
Brunswich 8-Foot Danbury
Top Outdoor Choice:
A quality table, in addition to being outdoor friendly.
I’ll admit, the thought of an outdoor pool table never really crossed my mind until I started doing research on tables. It simply didn’t occur to me that this was a thing that COULD (or should) exist.
But in hindsight, now that my ignorance has been shattered, it makes a lot of sense. Pool tables require a lot of space for you to play properly, space which most professional establishments struggle to provide, not to mention trying it in your own home.
Moving the fun outside is a logical solution to this problem.
While it isn’t pretty, this is a very good table even setting aside the outdoor stipulation; the only reason I wouldn’t recommend this as an indoor table is the look of it, it simply would look ugly in any home.
Still, it has quality printed all over it. Constructed primarily of aluminum with an anti-rust coating and covered in a waterproof, UV resistant material (that second part is the more impressive bit; most high-quality cloth covers are reasonably waterproof already even for indoor tables but UV resistant is hard to find) it can weather pretty much anything nature throws at it.
The playing surface itself isn’t slate, unfortunately (not so odd given the relative fragility of slate along with its weight) but is made of high-density fiberboard coated in resin and sealed with fiberglass (also known as “slatron”); it’s a smooth, sturdy playing surface in its own right that can stand up to a lot of abuse.
The rails are even proper K66 rated rails for the perfect bounce.
All told it’s a great table in general, and pretty reasonable on the price too: somewhere in the ballpark of $2300 from most sellers (the aluminum saves on manufacturing costs as opposed to wood without skimping on the overall quality of play).
If you lack a lot of indoor space but have a back patio or unused garage, definitely check this one out. As long as you keep it out of the direct elements it can weather any kind of humidity or the occasional leak, and it’s hard to beat this level of quality for the price in ANY kind of pool table.
Playcraft Extera Outdoor
Top 9 Foot Choice:
Much like the Texan ranch this table evokes, everything about it is big.
9 feet by 4.5 feet is a slightly uncommon size for a pool table, though still falls into international regulation size. This table actually comes in any length from 6 to 12 feet with a width to match, but 9 x 4.5 and 10 x 5 (for classic billiards, rather than the pool) are the best lengths.
Pretty much everything else about this bad boy is customizable as well: from the coloring of the felt to the type and shade of wood finish. As you might imagine though, this table needs to be custom ordered.
The only non-negotiable part is the quality of the materials and construction. This table is big, heavy, and sturdy with top quality materials in every regard. Inch thick Brazilian slate for the table top, Championship felt covering (most official pool tournament tables use this), K66 rubber rails for the perfect bounce…everything about this table exudes quality.
As you might expect though, it also exudes cost: this beauty can run you from about $4500 to about $5000, making it the most expensive table on this list.
For what you’re getting through, that’s more than fair. This is a top quality table for top quality players, and you should expect to pay AT LEAST this much for a table this good that can be custom ordered in so many different ways. If you have the time and space (and the aesthetic is pleasing to you), seriously consider buying this.
Kaldera Ranch Rustic
Top 8 Foot Choice:
Like I said at the very top of the list, when looking for a home pool table, you generally want one of a few things in addition to a good playing field: a nice display piece, something to play with the kids, or something you can easily put away.
This is the first option, a great parlor piece with solid construction and a great playing field.The tabletop is made of three piece slate, 1 inch thick, which is the perfect playing surface. The heavy cloth covering is likewise great, leaving the playing surface nearly perfect.
Also perfect are the legs, one piece of solid wood that can sustain the table’s weight.It almost goes without saying that this table is beautiful, made of mahogany wood and burgundy cloth, one of my favorite combinations.
This will run you close to the highest end of pool table costs, but that makes sense as it runs close to the highest end of pool table quality as well. This will run you around $3000.
More than worth it for the quality.
Brunswick 8-Foot Danbury
Top Combination for Pool and Ping Pong:
In this case the table is a little larger than 7 feet by 3 feet, a good compromise. This DOES make it a somewhat awkward ping pong table, but it is still serviceable in both regards for its primary audience: children.
This is not a table made for adults, and an adult will likely find the table too small and not challenging enough to play on in both regards.
Still, Hathaway did not skimp on the quality of materials or construction for this table in the least. The ping pong tabletop is solid with a good bounceback, and the pool table has a tough table and proper K66 rubber cushions.
Considering it will cost you in the ballpark of $600 to $700, this is to be expected, but Hathaway should still be commended for not cutting costs on either end. If you absolutely need a space saving table for two games, it’s hard to go wrong here. Just don’t expect it to outperform most competition as either type of table.
Hathaway Maverick 7-foot Pool & Table Tennis Multi Game
Top Combination Pool And Dining Choice:
Dual purposing things is often a great way to save space. The issue is when manufacturers feel it is okay to make something that is deficient in one or both aspects when selling it.
This is the case for many of these combo tables of all sorts, both the multi-game tables and conversion top tables like this. It was hard to find one that didn’t severely compromise in one or more important aspects, and this is close to all there was in that regard.
Thankfully, save one minor deficiency (it’s a little too wide for its length) this is good pool table, and a nice looking dining table.
Three piece slate (inch thick, as it should be), K66 rubber rails, and sturdy construction…this is everything I look for in a pool table at the base level. At close to $3300 I feel it is fairly priced for what it is: a high quality table that doesn’t look out of place in your dining room.
Top Folding Choice:
If you have a need to save space this is an excellent choice, though it will run you between $200 and $600. Like the Playcraft table this one also make a great learner table for children but does a better job growing with them and not being boring or frustratingly small to play on for an adult.
As a bonus, it comes with a set of smaller than average pool cues (though the balls are normal size) to help with your space constraints and be more kind to smaller hands, which is nice.
All in all I like this one and may consider getting it for my own home, which lacks the free space for a larger, nicer table like the one at the top of our list.
Hathaway Fairmont Portable 6-Ft Pool Table for Families
Top Choice For Kids:
This is a great table to play with the kids.
It’s a little under half the usual size of a pool table, which is perfect for the little ones to learn on without having to pick up bad habits like sitting on the table to make shots or over-relying on a bridge.
While not the highest quality around, it does have relatively good materials for the price. It’s primarily made of MDF (medium density fiberboard) with a thick particle board tabletop and fairly standard billiard cloth.
For a little over $70, this is about as good as you can expect. It’s durable enough to stand up to some abuse, and cheap enough you can replace it if any particularly unfortunate incidents happen.
Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch
Top Options By Budget:
All right, here I’m going to break down several price categories and the best pool tables in that general price range. There will be some familiar faces and some fresh new ones, so let’s get to it!
Top Cheap (Under $100) Choice: Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch
For what it is, this is an excellent table. Yeah, it’s small, but for less than $75, it’s only fair you get around 40% of a full size table.
If you’re buying for your kids this is a great buy. Cheap, small enough for their convenience, and easily replaceable. If you’re buying for adults, well, we’ll get to you soon, but…
Top Under $200: CHH Mini Folding
This is a nice little folding table. At 44 inches long it’s actually a little bigger than the Playcraft one above.
Since it’s a folding table it has a few advantages and disadvantages. On the good side it can afford to be just a bit bigger while still being easy to fold up and store out of the way if need be. It’s also made of overall better materials (solid hardwood, decent felt).
The downside is it’s naturally going to be less steady, and that’s a problem since kids can be rough. rough plus unsteady equals “Whoops, my billiards are rolling all over the house!”.
Still, I think it’s a quality enough table for what it is that the price (about $150) is well justified, and I think it actually looks pretty nice all things considered. I wouldn’t put it on display, but I wouldn’t be ashamed for it to be seen in my house either.
A solid option.
Top Under $600: Hathaway Fairmont Portable 6-Ft
6 feet (closer to 7) is only a bit smaller than a bar table (which is what most people play on anyway) and so still feels satisfying to play on while shaving space where it can to fit in easier and make it more portable.
My only real gripe is that it slight weight is a double edged sword: it makes it easier to move, but far less steady. Still, at 110 lbs it’s not likely to fall over just from somebody sneezing near it, so that’s overall a minor complaint.
Top Under $1000: Fat Cat 7 ft. Tucson
While obviously not for professional players or aficionados, for those of us who like a good relaxed game of pool, this will absolutely do the job. It has a pretty good ¾ inch MDF tabletop and polyester cloth. This leaves the top a bit thin but not drastically so, and the ball rolls well enough on it.
Given it will only run you close to $700 I can’t complain about any of the material choices, and the construction itself is pretty good. The arcade style legs give it a nice, somewhat unique look, and while it’s not a display piece it would fit in well in any “man cave” or game room you could care to populate.
It needs a bit more space than our space saving entries, but 7 feet isn’t all that huge either, and gives you the full proper length and width for a bar pool table to play with friends and guests wherever you happen to put it.
Not my favorite entry on the list, but for a reasonably low budget for someone who has the dedicated space for a pool or general game room, this is a great cheap table.
Top Under $2500: Playcraft Extera Outdoor Billiard Table
This took my spot for best outdoor table, and it also takes this spot: it just sits at the perfect intersection of value and quality. While some may balk at the concept of an aluminum table, the fact remains that for the price this is an excellent table that plays well and provides more versatility of storage than other pool tables.
It’s made for outdoors, but for the price range it’s hard to find a specific indoor table that can perform better. And while you may hesitate to put it indoors since it is…aesthetically unpleasing, let’s say, it CAN be used there, and that kind of versatility is a definite plus.
As I said above, I never really thought about the concept of an outdoor table before this, but this table brought me around on the concept. If I had the proper place to put one (a nice little porch area or a gazebo perhaps) I’d be powerfully tempted to pick this one up. It would give me a reason besides gardening to go outdoors, at least.
Top Under $3000: Brunswich 8-Foot Danbury
To be fair, “under $3000” is only TECHNICALLY correct (though almost not in this case), but I particularly like this one.
In terms of sheer quality it is the second best table on this list; in terms of a mix between quality, aesthetics, and pricing it is hands down THE best.
I’m a sucker for dark woods, and mahogany is no exception. The burgundy (or “merlot” as the manufacturer puts it) coloring is beautiful, and perfectly complements the wood. The claw feet are something you don’t often see any more, and likewise complement this table’s almost antique style.
If you have the money, get this table. It has everything I look for in a pool table (including some customization in regards to coloring; it looks VERY nice in classic green as well) save a range of sizes available for purchase (8 feet is perfect for my purposes, but billiards games use 10 foot tables, and everyone has a preference).
Top Under $5000: Kaldera Ranch Rustic
If it weren’t for two things I’d say this is the best table on the list, hands down. The first is its aesthetics. It’s definitely a great table, but in terms of looks it only fits in a very specific type of room in a very specific type of house. If you own an old ranch house in the Midwest or cattle country somewhere, this might just fit right in.
Anywhere else? It’s beautiful, but simply DOMINATES a room and looks as out of place as a bull in a salon.
Closely linked is the price. Don’t get me wrong: $5000 is MORE than fair for the quality of materials you’re getting. It has an impeccable play surface. But for the price you could also conceivably get a table custom made to fit your aesthetic tastes better with the same overall quality.
Top Choices By Brand
In this last segment we’re going to go down the line of common, prominent pool table brands and discuss their best product, along with why or why they didn’t make my list of the best tables overall. A few of these faces will be familiar (like Brunswich), but others will be ones that I haven’t talked about today for one reason or another.
Let’s get to it!
American Heritage: American Heritage Athens Classic Billiard Collection
This table is one of the major reasons I decided to do a “tables by brand” section in the first place. It’s quite good, on par with the Brunswich Danbury in terms of quality, and in roughly the same price bracket (it’s around $3500).
It just missed a spot on the list due to a few circumstances, primarily because I wanted to include a wide range of prices and specialized types of tables rather than just large, expensive tables. As a result, it was a primary contender for two categories: the 8 foot table slot, and the spot for “best table hands down”. In both spots it competed with the Danbury, and in both slots it (in my opinion) lost out for one primary reason:
I don’t think it looks as nice.
In terms of sheer quality they are comparable. High quality slate (diamond honed), great cloth, solid wood (in this case maple, one of my favorite woods actually) construction, and just all around very good as both a display piece and a playing space.
Make no mistake this is a GREAT table, among the top 3 best tables on the whole list, easily. If you find it more aesthetically pleasing than the Brunswich you should absolutely get this table. It’s a good price for a great table.
Olhausen: 8′ Blackhawk
Similar to the America Heritage table, this one has primarily kicked off the list due to the Brunswich, though for more reasons than simple opinion.
This is an excellent quality table, once again sharing most basic specification with the Brunswich and American Heritage: high-quality slate, 100% gum rubber (usually referred to as K66 rubber, though Olhausen calls it “AccuFast” rubber), nice wood body (tulipwood, in this case). I even find it very aesthetically pleasing, the matte black coloring goes very good with the brown balls in the claw feet and just about any cloth coloring you could think of.
No, my main gripe with this one is price: it’s almost $4500. Comparing it to the American Heritage and Brunswich tables it is of roughly identical quality but far more expensive. It runs closer in price to the Ranch table (which is of noticeable higher quality in some ways than all three of these tables) for little reason I can discern.
As a result, it was bumped from the running for the 8-foot table and best overall table categories by both the American Heritage and Brunswich tables, which the Brunswich eventually took.
It is still a very fine table, mind, and if the pricing seems fair to you (it’s not exorbitant, simply not competitive with others of similar quality) by all means get it, but I feel other tables perform as well while being significantly less expensive (and nicer looking, in the case of the Brunswich), so this remains a strong runner-up rather than a winner.
Mizerak: Mizerak Donovan II 8’ Billiard Table
Sadly, it’s got issues. On paper, this table seems pretty good. It has a slate tabletop (or slatron, if you want to skimp a little – slatron is particle board covered in plastic, like the Extera outdoor table) ad looks…okay. I’m not thrilled by the looks, but I do look at other factors first before letting that be a decider.
Mizerak table has a good size and all as well, but unfortunately, it seems to have a slew of issues almost everybody that purchased it noticed (even the customers who gave good reviews).
Problem the First: it’s hard to assemble. The most consistent thing about this is that the table was time-consuming and tedious to assemble, at least one person reporting an around 7 to 8 hour assembly time. Others had to slowly and carefully sand down their own pieces of slate because the slate didn’t come level.
Problem the Second: the felt is, apparently, very cheap. Another consistent complaint is that the felt is already peeling up when it arrives, or it starts to do so soon after. It’s also very easy to poke holes in. This means you’re going to need to buy and install new felt on top of the base cost of the table.
Problem the Third: the slate often comes cracked or broken, and getting replacements is a pain.
Not to mention that doesn’t include professional installation, like most of the higher end tables on this list do.
All in all that puts the final price of this table at close to or a little over $2000…putting it squarely in competition with MUCH better tables like the Extera outdoor table and for a bit more the Brunswich and American Heritage tables, which it simply does not come close to competing with.
It’s really too bad. If it didn’t have those glaring quality control issues, it would be a good table for the price, and likely would have made it onto the top list. As is though, I can’t help but say to give it a hard pass.
Brunswick: Brunswich 8-Foot Danbury
To be honest, this is a much closer race than I’m used to. Generally, when I make review lists there’s some sort of clear frontrunner, a product that just clearly outperforms the competition in some important way that I can say “This is it. This is the winner”.
In this case, that judgment came very hard to me. While I did eventually settle on the Brunswich Danbury table as the hands-down best, that largely come down to my personal aesthetic tastes than any objective measure. The American Heritage Athens, Olhausen Blackhawk, and Kaldera Ranch tables ALL are strong contenders as well, that could be considered just as good or better by someone with different tastes than mine.
Any of those four tables would be excellent furniture pieces that could look great in certain homes, and all reach a level of quality that only incrementally gets better from there. Essentially, it just comes down to an opinion on looks and favorite kind of wood; I feel mahogany beats out pine, maple, and tulipwood, but others may feel differently.
Additionally, there are a bunch of other good tables that win out for various specialized categories or function, the Extera outdoor table being the primary standout there. While lacking in overall quality compared to those top four it’s still a good table that plays well.
Basically, you can’t go too wrong no matter what you choose, which may make things a little harder on you, but it’s a great dilemma to have.