In general terms, all cue sports, specifically to me the version referred to in the US as pool. The proper name for pool is “pocket billiards”, as the classic game of “carom billiards” from whence it is derived does not make use of pockets.
Most adult males have at one time or another fancied themselves a fair pool player, this is partly to blame on the Hustler, which stands as the finest pool-based movie ever made. Paul Newman was top notch, and he just made pool seem too cool for words; this was only reinforced by the later film, The Color of Money”.
I messed around a bit with pool when I was in my teens, but like many other things it wasn’t until college where I really started to pay attention to the game. My roommate was a member of the school’s billiards club, and would play regularly with a few of our other friends. One of those friends would end up becoming Mrs. Ahab – and my attraction to her was a significant motivator in learning to play pool well. My first game against her was something of a blow to my ego, I had no idea exactly how good she was, and filled with my typical hubris assumed that my sub-average skills would be more than enough to take her down.
Boy was I wrong. When she was done kicking my ass all over the table, I was thoroughly humbled, but also equally determined to increase my skill at the game. Increasing my skill meant that I spent a lot of time playing against people who were a lot better than me, and watching what they did, asking for pointers from my friends who were excellent players, etc.
I did eventually get better, to the point where if I was playing well I could play at the skill level of some of my friends; more importantly I had leveled (for the most part) the playing field with Mrs. Ahab. After we got married and purchased our new home, one of our first purchases for the new home was a beautiful 9 foot pool table for the downstairs area – I’d like to note that it was my wife’s idea in the first place. On that note, yes, I know I married the coolest woman ever.
There are about a jillion different games of pool, the notables being straight pool, 8 ball, and 9 ball. A fun short game that I like to play is called 7 ball, it’s similar to 9 ball but adds a twist to keep the game different.
Fun pool facts
Just for fun, I’ll post the House Rules that govern the table in the house of Ahab.
- Respect the felt – don’t do dumb shit on my table.
- I’m not kidding about rule 1.
- No slop. You don’t get better by getting lucky.
- If you aren’t good at pool, don’t act like you are. I tried that. I just ended up looking like a tool.
- Corollary to rule 4 – don’t be a tool.
- While not a requirement, it is strongly encouraged that you consume alcohol while playing.
My only regret with my billiards experience is that I didn’t use the Mrs. to hustle enough people. Having been subjected to it myself, I always took a tremendous amount of enjoyment from watching some poor slob think he was going to kick her ass, and then sit there dumbfounded as she mops them up. It was great, I mean truly great.