Pool Table vs Shuffleboard Table: What should I get?
The two largest and most expensive games you can add to your game room are either a Pool Table or a Shuffleboard Table. While many families have both games, for most it is a decision of one or the other. In Maryland Pool Tables are still king, but Table Shuffleboard is catching up quickly. In Northern Virginia Shuffleboard Tables have a slight edge in popularity, possibly reflecting a southern influence. Here is a quick break down of pros and cons of both owning a Pool Table or a Shuffleboard Table.
What kind of space do I need?
A pool table will take up most of even a large room because you need to try and allow 5' or more around the play surface. The smallest home slate pool table we recomend is 7', or 78" by 39" on the play surface. This means your room should be at least 16 1/2' by 13' for just the pool table and surrounding area. For many this means taking up an entire room in the basement or losing other entertainment activities like a big walk behind home bar or full size home theater setup. Table shuffleboard has a definite advantage in space because nice quality tables can be as little as 12' long and 3' wide. Unlike a pool table, table shuffleboard can be put right up against a wall, in a hallway, or even up against the back of a sectional couch. You just need a couple of feet at each end to stand. The exception to this is a full 22' shuffleboard table. If that is your desire you had better have a huge room and most importantly, a way to get the thing in!
What is the family going to be happiest with?
If at least two adults in the house enjoy playing pool then if makes sense to get a pool table because they can introduce the game to everyone else. The problem with pool is that there is a bit of a learning curve for beginners, so if Dad is a shark and no one else has played before it is not going to be fun for everyone. One big advantage shuffleboard has over billiards is that almost anyone of any age or ability level can start playing right away. Unless there is an extreamly skilled player in the house, shuffleboard is a very beginer friendly game. This fact alone is pushing many buyers into getting a shuffleboard table because not everyone wants to spend time practicing so they can beat "dad" on a regular basis.
What is going to get the most use over the years?
Both a quality home pool table or a shuffleboard table will be around for decades. These are extreamly long term purchases, unlike almost anything else you can get for home entertainment. Most of us are concerned, however, that after we buy one of these games it will just sit around and collect dust because the family has grown tired of it. The key to avoiding this schenario is setting up our entertainmnet spaces for multiple activities and using the equipment we already have in new and interesting ways. Shuffleboard tables can be converted easily to shuffle-bowling tables with a simple set of wood bowling pins. Pool tables have a definite advantage for multiple use because there are so many differnt games that can be played on an American Pocket Billiards Table. Here in Maryland Billiards is dominated by 8 ball and 9 ball games. Some players are shooting hybrid games like 7 ball, one pocket, or even straight pool. There are even special ball sets that can be used to create all new versions of pocket billiards. Over all, the most popular alternative use of a pool table remains putting a ping pong conversion top on the table and getting two games in one!
Finally, what is going to be the best value for the money?
This is the big question: should I spend all of this money on a pool table or a shuffleboard table and what is this thing going to cost me up front and in maintanance over the years. Pool Tables have the advantage in up front cost as a decent quality three peice slate major manufacturer pool table can be purchased new or used for under $2,000. After that expect to spend around $300 to $500 every ten years in Maryland or Virginia on Pool Table recovers. Good quality cues, balls, and accessories are only a few hundred dollars and should last at least 15 years. Shuffleboard Tables are a larger up front investment. Expect to pay at least $3,000 for a good quality 12' home table, and at least $5,000 for a 20' wide tournament play surface table 16' or larger. There are cheaper tables out there but the warranties are shady and the manufacturers have no credibility. After the initial purchase a shuffleboard table requires no maintanance and only a few dollars worth of shuffleboard powder and silicon spray every year.
In the end most people are going to get the game that they played growing up and think friends and family will enjoy the most. While both of these games represent a major investment in dollars and space, as long as they get used it is always worth it over time. That is why generation after generation families in Maryland and Virginia have been passing on the tradition of entertaining around home pool tables and shuffleboard tables.
- Patrick McGarity