News — buyers guide

Best Pool Tables 2019

Best Pool Tables 2019 0

The Olhausen Gabriel Pool Table was our best selling residential pool table design for 2018 and will continue to win over customers who do their "homework" in 2019 before buying a pool table.
Dining Pool Table Buyers Guide

Dining Pool Table Buyers Guide 0

At Robbies Billiards we have spent decades helping buyers decide what size, type, and style of pocket billiards table works best for their individual needs and budget.  One of our fastest growing and most misunderstood categories is Dining Pool Tables.  Most people think of the Beverly Hillbillies and their "fancy eating table" when I bring this up, but little do they know there is a special category of pocket billiard tables specifically designed to double as full time dining tables.  This category of pool tables is ideal for customers who want to put a game table in an upstairs room like a study or dining room and be able to use the game table to eat and entertain as well.

The most common misunderstanding about dining pool tables is what makes a dining pool table different from a pool table with a dining top.  That sounds a bit odd but it makes all the difference in how the table is used on a day to day basis.  For example, here is a very popular luxury rustic style American 8' pool table called the Carmel shown here with and without a leaf style dining conversion top.presidential carmel pool table with dining top and benchpresidential carmel pool table
You can definitely see the appeal of a trendy luxury farmhouse style furniture pool table like the Carmel as it would look GREAT in just about any home.  The dining top and bench seats allow the pool table to be used as a dining table as well, but there is a catch!  According to the Billiard Congress of America pool tables need to have a uniform height of the slate play surface of 29.25" to 31".  The pool table rail ads another 1.25" to 1.75" of height plus the dining top sits on risers or pads on the rails for an additional .75" to 1" rise.  With a dining conversion top American pool tables with have a height of 33" to 34" or more depending on the table design and how far off the floor it is shimmed for leveling purposes.  Standard dining table height is 29" to 30" Max to accommodate your typical dining chairs putting any pool table 4" to 5" too high to eat comfortably!

Many customers I talk to see this or similar pool tables online and think they can replace their existing dining table without issue but that height difference makes ALL the difference in sitting comfortably and enjoying a meal, especially for kids.  This is why you often see custom height dining benches offered with this style of pool table/dining top combo, you really don't have many options finding dining chairs tall enough to work with a pool table featuring a dining top.  Bench seats built 3 to 4 inches higher than standard help but the table still hits petite diners mid-chest.  Another issue can be the shape of the pool table legs allowing foot space under the table itself.  Bulky legs will interfere with seating and this varies from one pool table design to another. 
robbies billiards custom dining pool table rockville maryland

This brings me to another dining pool table design feature:  legs pushed all the way to the corners.  Take a look at our best selling Robbies Custom Dining Pool Table design and you will see that the legs pushed to the corners allows for more room to place dining chairs and diners' legs under the table when eating.  The table is still 33" high with the top installed, but we are getting closer to true dining table functionality and appearance with these style pool tables.  Unfortunately with the pool table slates weighting around 600 pounds this creates major issues engineering a stable and true playing pool table so you diffidently want to demo this style of table before considering a purchase and make sure the installer has long term Guarantee of Level.

A common question we get is "why don't they just cut the legs down a bit so the table is lower with the dining top?"  This is a great question with an easy answer:  If you do that you would not have adequate room to get your legs under the frame/rails, they would be too close to the ground!  Next question is usually, "then why don't they make the frame thinner on the sides so you have room for your legs?"   Another great question with a more complex answer:  In order to support the weight of the pool table slate the frame must be beefy enough to not sag, so to thin up the table frame you have to reinforce the frame with metal beam construction.  Metal beam construction is a critical feature of true "dining pool tables" that are built at 29" to 30" heights with thinner profile frames so your legs will fit underneath when eating.

So I explained why a pool table with a dining top is not truly interchangeable with your existing dining table but thankfully there do exist true Dining Pool Tables.  The fundamental feature of a true dining pool table is that the table is either built at or can be lowered to standard 29" to 30" height with the dining top installed.  The most popular true dining pool table of the 2000's is the Aramith Fusion table pictured here.

aramith fusion dining pool table black lacquer

aramith dining pool table fusion walnut

The first thing you notice about this table is the incredibly thin profile of the steel frame and legs.  Many residential customers and commercial designers buy this table simply for the look as it bears little resemblance to a traditional pool table and makes a statement just sitting there being admired.  The legs are pushed all the way to the perimeter of the table frame to create a more sleek modern profile and allow maximum leg room under the table when dining.  The key design element to the Fusion Table however is the patented ability to rise from 29" to 32" in height using the patented numismatic risers in the legs.  There are definitely some trade offs in playability with this engineering (you can read all about it on our Fusion Table Review) but if you need an every day dining table this is very hard to beat. 

Another table that features a hardwood frame built at 29" high with steel reinforcement beams is the Canada Billiard La Condo dining pool table.  This is another best seller because it can be custom built in dozens of woods and finishes in anything from 6' to 9' size options.  The trade off with this table is the fixed dining height of the table, but as a premium three piece tournament slate design it is a necessary trade off if you expect perfect roll and rebound during billiard play.
canada billiard la condo dining pool table lacquer finish
The first question I ask customers visiting our Rockville Maryland pool table design showroom when they inquire about using a pool table as a dining table is "how often do you plan on eating at this table vs playing pool on it?".  If the answer is occasional dining with the table primarily used for billiards I recommend just about any regular high quality three piece slate pool table with a dining top or even a ping pong conversion top.  This will be fine for overflow seating or "buffet" table use a few times a year. 

However if the answer is that it needs to be an every day dining table I strongly recommend customers consider getting a real Dining Pool Table like the Fusion or the La Condo.  Because of the fine materials and extra heavy duty steel beam construction real Dining Pool Tables are often much more expensive than standard three piece slate home pool tables.  For a buyer who really wants both it is well worth the additional investment long term to get the right table the first time.

As always if you have additional questions about the different pool table and dining pool table options available please shoot us an email at, call 301-331-7024 to talk to an expert, or plan a visit to our Rockville pool table design showroom to see these tables for yourself.

Top Five Pool Tables and Game Room Trends for 2016

Top Five Pool Tables and Game Room Trends for 2016 0

As we approach the end of 2016 here in the Maryland, Virginia, and DC area it is pretty clear what the best pool table and game room furnishing trends are this year.  With our new Pool Table Design Center location in Rockville Maryland opening earlier this year feedback from the local design community in DC has been eye opening.  Here is a list of the biggest trends for 2016 coming to a game room near you!

Number 5:  Made in the USA Pool Tablesolhausen chicago pool table with modern rails

We have seen a huge demand for pool tables and furnishings Made in the USA for 2016.  Home buyers who have done their homework on manufacturer quality, warranty, and resale value come from all over to see real USA hand made pool tables and come up with custom designs.  Companies like Olhausen Billiards, Plank and Hide, and California House dominate not only our residential sales but also our commercial sales to designers who require something custom and with a heavy duty commercial warranty.  "You just can't get parts down the road from China, so Lifetime Warranties can have very nebulous meanings" as one industry insider recently quipped.

Number 4:  Lacquer Wood Finishesbillards toulet broadway dining pool table grey lacquer

In 2016 our best selling custom wood finish was Black Lacquer for the first time ever.  The natural wood finish has been replaced by the contemporary and very European filled/uniform lacquer process.  Companies like Billards Toulet in France do over 70% of their tables in lacquer finishes so this trend has made its way to the USA.  Mid century modern style tables, contemporary clean lines, and transitional tables all look great in lacquer finish options ranging from Blacks to greys in most cases.  This trend has been picking up for a few years but has finally peaked in 2016

Number 3:  Built in Hidden Accessory Storageolhausen ellianna pool table with drawer

The pool table storage drawer has been around for many years but it has never been more popular or available on so many different pool table designs.  Contemporary, rustic, or traditional everyone is adding built in drawers when available to the pool table.  Bench seating with built in storage and clever or unique accessory storage on the floor has taken the place of "on the wall" accessory racks in most homes.  Nine out of Ten buyers in 2016 have opted for a built in storage drawer or a floor rack they can hide away over a traditional on the wall rack display.  The trend to de-clutter the living space and open things up leads this trend and really can be considered the norm going forward into 2017

Number 2:  Matching Shuffleboard Tablesolhausen grace pool table with matching york shuffleboard table

Very recently major Pool Table Manufacturer's like Olhausen added custom built to match shuffleboard tables and this category has taken off unlike anything in years.  In 2016 one out of five of our custom pool table customers ordered a matching shuffleboard table to go with the pool table.  With the most popular size being 12' in a transitional style and dark finish, many companies are scrambling to get on board with this trend.  Based on current sales the shuffleboard category may surpass billiards in many US markets inside of the next three years

Number 1:  Dining Pool TablesMBM Biliardi Cabochon Dining Pool Table

Wow, what a strong trend for 2016!  More and more buyers both residential and commercial are looking at pool tables that will double as dining or conference tables with finished wood or glass conversion tops.  Demand for this category is so great we show FIVE types of dining pool tables in our Rockville location for Winter 2016.  The price range and styles are abundant and varied, but the main questions buyers have is 7' or 8' and at what height, 29" for dining chairs or 32" for billiards?  Few dining pool tables do both so many times compromises are necessary, but the end result is the same:  A pool table that gets used more than most tables ever do because it is upstairs and front of mind!

Top 10 Pool Table Designs for 2015 3

Home remodeling season is heating up and many home buyers have a pool table in mind for that nice finished basement or entertainment space.  In Maryland and Virginia Pool Tables are still the benchmark for family fun in upscale homes.  Table designs have come a long way in recent years and many contemporary looks have gone main stream.  Dark wood finishes are still king, but distressed and reclaimed wood are becoming more popular by the day.  Here is my Top 10 Hottest Pool Table Designs for 2015:

#10  The Alexandria by Olhausen Billiards
Hand built in Tennessee from solid hardwood the Alexandria is a showpiece pool table custom built for Robbies Billiards in Maryland, Virginia, and DC.  The sweeping modern lines and eye catching custom options make this look unlike anything in the market right now.

#9  The Brixton by Brunswick Billiards
One of the first tables to use a reclaimed beach wood look combined with modern elements like brushed steel, the Brixton is a hot table in the Northern Virginia design community.  They are selling out nation wide but this table is worth the wait.

#8  The Black Light by Billiards Toulet
What is there to say about this high end art table from France other than WOW!  Robbies Billiards is currently the only company distributing the Blacklight on the East Coast so if you have deep pockets and a desire to own one of Europe's most award winning pool table designs then we should talk.

#7  The Nicholas by Olhausen Billiards
Another custom table only available at Robbies Billiards and created for our local designers.  The transitional modern style works in many different spaces and the price is a bargain compared to most modern style pool tables.

#6  The Newport by California House Furniture
This company has come a long way with their pool table line and the Newport puts the design community on notice.  The sweeping leg design and contemporary flair of the Newport is bound to be copied for years to come

#5  The Infinity by Adler
Another pool table with an aspirational price point and for good reason:  This table is unlike anything in the world right now with an MC Escher inspired "infinity" loop in the base and bespoke wood trim everywhere.  Another example of pool table as art that can be appreciated even if you can't afford one.

#4  The Ellianna by Olausen Billiards
Our best selling custom table is going strong for 2015 and still gaining in popularity.  With the timeless traditional arched cabinet carved leg look combined with the ability to "built it your way" the quality of this American Made table leaves an impression on everyone who sees it.

#3  The Ashbury by Presidential Billiards
Created as a Dining Table the Ashbury really works better an  just a pool table for one very good reason:  It is too pretty to cover up with a dining top.  Pictures do not do justice to how pretty this table is in person and it is very affordable as well.  Of course you can still get a dining top if you insist.

#2  The Toledo by Bilijardai
This is the most requested look in the DC Northern Virginia and Maryland area right now because it looks nothing like a pool table!  Available in 6' through 9' sizes, everyone wants a pool table that they can use as a dining table or poker table and this look nails it. 

#1 The Breckenridge by Olhausen Billiards

The Number One best selling custom table in the country this year is the Breckenridge.  Reclaimed barn wood is HOT right now and the Breckenridge is the perfect combination of contemporary lines with the heavily distressed look made popular by companies like Restoration Hardware.  Add the legendary Olhausen reputation for the best built pool tables in the world and a mid range price point and you have the Hottest pool table design for 2015.

Brunswick vs Olhausen Pool Tables part 2 2

The most common question I receive on a daily basis from customers is still "who makes the better pool table Brunswick or Olhausen?"  I attempted to answer this question in my previous blog Olhausen vs Brunswick Pool Tables but since that was written Brunswick discontinued the Camden model that I used to compare the manufacturers.  The point of using the Brunswick Camden vs the Olhausen Santa Ana was to compare two middle price point tables with all the top of the line construction bells and whistles.

Today I am going to compare two tables designed to appeal to a much broader customer base and specifically engineered to hit a lower price point.  The majority of slate pool table sold in the US fall between $2,000 and $2,500 so lets compare Brunswick vs Olhausen Pool Tables in this more affordable price range.  Over the last 10 years we have two pool tables that are all time best sellers in this category.
The first table I would like to offer for comparison is the Brunswick Allenton.  This table is marketed under the Contender Line and is available through Costco, Sears, and some other mass merchant sellers.  The Allenton can still be purchased through the authorized Brunswick dealer network for the time being.  To compare I have our Olhausen Grace Pool Table.  The Grace by Olhausen is only available at Robbies Billiards Home & Patio and carries our Exclusive Lifetime Guarantee.  I am comparing these tables because they are very similarly priced, have a similar style, and are very popular for residential 1st time pool table buyers in Maryland, Virginia, and DC.  The finish on both tables is very consistent and durable.  Olhausen has a catalyzed lacquer finish with a matte texture and very smooth hand.  The Contender Allenton has a high gloss multi stage finish with a plastic like clear coat top layer for added durability.  If you like a more natural wood look the Olhausen finish is superior but the Brunswick finish may be more durable over time.
From an engineering standpoint the Brunswick Allenton and Olhausen Grace are very different.  The Allenton is made in Vietnam from South East Asian Hardwoods and Veneers, Plywood, and features Tru-speed cushion rubber (not Super Speed).  The base frame is shipped disassembled and must be built and squared on site in your home.  Brunswick builds a great knock down product but it is obvious the Allenton is not built to the same standards as the Brunswick Collection Tables that it imitates.  From the hardware to the packaging you can tell this table was built to hit a price point.  The Allenton features the same 1" tournament slate at the Brunswick Collection Tables but that is the only component of the Contender series shared with the higher end tables.

The Olhuasen Grace is a simple table with a solid Fruitwood cabinet and legs (better known as Poplar) and real Accu-Fast tournament cushions.  The rails are only 5" wide vs the 6.5" or wider rails on higher end Olhausen tables but they are real North American Rock Maple rails.  The cabinet is factory squared and pre-assembled but can be knocked down if needed to get into a tight space.   The slate is the same 1" tournament Brazilian slate that Olhausen uses on all of their pool tables and the entire table is built by hand in Tennessee.  Unlike the other Olhausen tables, however, you cannot custom build a Grace any way you like.  The Grace only comes in 7' or 8' and in Traditional Mahogany or Original Cherry wood finish options.  This is a concession to the price point and a great example of how an American company can stay competitively priced against China and Asian manufactured pool tables.

The verdict here is simple.  The Allenton is not a bad table by any means but is does not compare to the Brunswick Collection tables it apes.  If you are in the market for an import pool table you are still better off with the Contender line than other China made products. The Olhausen Grace is clearly a baby Olhausen but it still features everything that makes an Olhausen table special.  From the cushions to the hand built solid hardwood cabinet, you are still getting a real Olhausen when you buy a Grace.  If Made in the USA is still important to you then the debate is over.

Pool Table Reviews 0

Over the years I have written pool table buyers guides from the perspective of a local family retailer in Maryland since 1954.  The pool table reviews include tables from Brunswick Billiards, Olhausen Billiards, and many other companies and are kept in our Blog page.  Here is a full list of our pool table reviews so you can compare and shop some of the best selling pool tables in Maryland, Virginia, and DC right here at Robbies Billiards Home & Patio.  There are also links to our most popular buyers guides, enjoy!
Olhausen Americana Pool Table Review

Aramith Fusion Dining Pool Table Review

Brunswick Tremont Pool Table Review

Cuszoom Pool Table Review

How much room do I need for a pool table?

Pool Table vs Shuffleboard Table:  What should I get?