No matter where the rec room, man cave or pub might live, it’s never complete without a pool table. Whether you prefer billiards or its more aquatic synonym, this centuries-old game played atop a mix of felt and wood with six pockets, 16 balls and pool cues can serve as home to everything from family fun to big wager drama. Pool can play as a corrupting force on the silver screen and as a reliable source of friendly amusement. It all depends on how you point your cue.
Standard pool tables in the U.S. run to eight feet long, four feet smaller than the vast snooker tables that dominate the U.K. billiards scene. For those spaces that can’t accommodate eight feet of lumber and stone, manufacturers offer playable models down to five feet with all the proper accouterment. That being said, the best pool tables are full-size tables with sophisticated craftsmanship and a smooth felt top.
A pool table can be made of a mix of materials and in a variety of build qualities. You’ll find on this list a series of suggestions for different spaces and budgets, but it still all comes down to how the balls roll.
1. Brunswick 8-Foot Glen Oaks Pool Table
There are few names in the billiards world more storied and famous than Brunswick. When not making bowling balls or golf practice tools, the company makes a wide range of pool tables, cues, balls, etc., in various sizes and materials. The Glen Oaks sits high on its product tree, made of a blend of hardwoods. The surface felt can also come in various colors. In this case, all of that history and quality comes at an admittedly considerable investment of almost $5,000.
2. Barrington Hawthorne 100-Inch Billiard Table Set
BEST ALL IN ONE
Barrington makes an entire line of games for the family rec room, but the Hawthorne 100-inch is not your average cheap pool table. While it is one of the best pool tables under $100, it comes with the sophisticated aesthetic of a much more expensive table. The iconic claw-foot wood base supports a smooth felt tob. Best of all, this table comes with the balls, pool cues, rack and everything else you need for game night.
3. Imperial 8-Foot Outdoor Pool Table
FOR WARM WEATHER PLAYERS
Players who live in the right climate can put a pool table next to their actual pool with the Imperial Outdoor model. The eight-foot setup arrives in finished, weather-resistant aluminum, and its playing surface is covered in waterproof cloth. While the table is designed and built to live outside, it’s still recommended the owner keep it under protection and to apply a table cover when not in play.
4. Rack Scorpius 7-Foot Pool and Table Tennis Table
BEST 2-IN-1 PICK
This Rack Scorpius seven-foot unit is a solid, $1,700 design with good built quality and legit materials. When you’re done playing pool on its quality felt surface, you can lay the foldable table tennis court over the billiards space. The included kit includes the necessary cues, balls, net, paddles, etc. Of course, the ping pong top layer can also serve as a cover to preserve the delicate felt underneath.
5. Fat Cat Original Three-in-One Game Table
BEST FOR REC ROOMS
You could argue that the Mount Rushmore of rec room and tavern play would hold pool, ping pong, air hockey and foosball. Darts might work its way in there, but we were thinking table-based games. This Fat Cat design serves up three of the big four tabletop contests in a seven-foot design. Selling for about $1,150, the creation turns and folds into pool, ping pong or air hockey. The shipment includes all of the accessories needed for the three games.
6. Playcraft Wolf Creek 7-Foot Pool Table with Dining Top
BEST FOR HUNGRY PLAYERS
A clever design ready to serve double duty in any rec room space, this $1,600 Playcraft Wold Creek creation arrives with a two-piece, matching wood-finish removable top that transforms the pool table into a dining space. Rather than just rely on that gimmick, the Wolf Creek playing surface is a wool-blend fabric laid atop an MDF wood plain. Playcraft offers varying wood finishes in the same dining design.
7. GoSports 6 or 7-foot Portable Pool Table
BEST FOR PLAYERS ON THE GO
Pool might not seem like the kind of game that travels with you, but there are portable pool tables out on the market. The GoSports line includes six or seven-foot versions allowing you to take the game with you or store it away at home if you need more room in you rec space. The design folds out like any card table with steel joints and hinges. The weight is manageable for transport, and the kit includes the necessary game bits and bobs. The only challenge is making sure the whole playing surface is level out there in a crooked world.
8. AirZone Play 40-Inch Table Top Pool Table
Understanding that billiards lovers always want to play the game even where there isn’t enough space to do so, plenty of manufacturers make table top versions of the game for kids and adults. This AirZone Play example runs 40 inches by 20 inches and looks like the real thing. It assembles quickly and includes the necessary accessories such as two cues, a rack, chalk, balls and a cleaning brush.
9. Barwench Games Executive Mini Desktop Pool Game
BEST DESKTOP TABLE
Playing pool is more fun than working, and this desktop version allows you to prove it right at your desk. Only 8.5 inches by 5 inches, the Barwench mini-game includes the felt-covered table, the required 15 colored balls, the cue ball, a metal cue stick, a brace and a rack — all sized for irresponsible amusement sure to properly distract from important business. It also comes with a book on games you can play. Be warned: Reading is also less fun than playing pool.