There is no doubt that subject to space, a pool table for the man cave is a must have.  If I had to choose my favorite table game it would be a very close run thing between pool and ping-pong, with pool just edging it.

So today we will be discussing what in our opinion are the best pool tables for the money when looking to add a table to the man cave or games room.

We will provide pool table reviews based on different age group requirements, budget, available space, location and skill level. And as usual we will identify what we consider the best for each category.

Below is a quick guide summary of some of the best pool table reviews we have provided. After the table summary we go in to the good and not so good points of each table, provide a buying guide with key areas to consider before you buy a pool table, and a handy list of maintenance tips.

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Mini Pool Tables

A mini pool table is a great way to introduce someone to the game of pool and billiards. They tend to be aimed at young kids however they are great fun to play whatever your age and skill level.

When looking for a mini pool for home use you will need to consider the size you require, whether you require legs or for it to sit on a tabletop or floor and the budget you have available. The definition of mini pool (for us) is a table that is 4ft in length or less.

Below are some of the best mini pool tables, including table top, free-standing and folding versions for your consideration.

1. Trademark Games Mini Pool Table Review

Our top pick budget mini pool table is The Trademark Games Mini Pool Table. This is perfect for small kids or if older kids / adults just want a quick bit of fun. It comes with a ball retriever on both sides, two cues, balls, a triangle and chalk. This version is small, in fact it’s really small, compared to some other mini models.

Mini Tabletop Pool Set

Fancy a quick game? At just 20″ you can set it up almost anywhere very quickly – as long as the surface is flat, you can start playing immediately. Don’t want to leave it out when not in use? No problem. Because of its size, it takes up very little room so can be stored away in the closet or cupboard. So who do we think this is aimed at? In our opinion it’s a great gift for young kids. Older kids and teenagers will probably want to play on a larger table.

  • Beginner pool / billiards game for kids.
  • Great first mini table if you’re on a budget.
  • No assembly required – unpack and play.
  • Easy set-up and storage.
  • Size – 20 inches x 12 inches x 3.5 inches.
  • Older kids and teenagers may get bored and require a bigger version.

Trademark Games Mini Pool Table is a really good choice if you have young kids who want to experience the fun of playing pool, especially if you have very little space and a limited budget.

2. Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch Pool Table Review

Our Top Pick Table Top Mini Pool Table is the Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40″ Pool Table. If you are looking for a mini pool game but require something bigger than the 20″ Trademark Games mini pool game then the Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch Pool Table could be the answer. At 40″ it’s twice the size of the Trademark and it comes with a choice of three colors for the cloth – Red, Green or Blue. It comes with two cues, a triangle, chalk and pool balls. When it arrives, you simply add the four small legs and then you’re ready to play.

Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch Pool Table

It costs a little more, but you get a lot more for your money. In our opinion, if you have kids from 4 to 8 years olds, and you are limited on space but can fit a 40″ game on a table top or on the floor, then we would go with this one over the 20″ Trademark.

  • A great gift for 4 to 8 year olds.
  • Solidly built and good value for money.
  • Quick to set up and store away.
  • Size – 40 inches x 20 inches x 9 inches.
  • Older kids may have more fun with a larger model.

The Playcraft Sport Bank Shot 40-Inch Pool Table is our tip pick mini table top pool game. This is very reasonably priced and you can play this on the floor, on a table or on a counter. Solidly built and just the right size for a great bit of fun for kids and adults alike.

3. CHH Games Mini Folding Pool Table Review

The CHH Games Mini Folding pool table is exactly that, a mini billiards table on legs that folds away for simple storage. It’s also very easy to move about if you want to play pool in different rooms or areas. At 44″ it’s slightly bigger than the Playcraft and does have a bigger feel to it. The folding pool table will arrive fully assembled and also comes with 2 x 42″ pool cues, chalk, a triangle and some good pool balls.


We suggest this is great for up to 8 years olds, or if you have limited space. Of course older kids / teenagers and adults will also have a great deal of fun with this, but as their pool skills develop they may benefit from a larger version.

  • Arrives fully assembled and ready to play.
  • Folding legs make it very portable and easy to store.
  • Good solid construction for the money.
  • Great fun to play.
  • Size – 44 inches x 24 inches x 29 inches high.
  • A bigger model maybe better if your kids are 9+. However, this is a great table for kids and adults.

The CHH Games folding mini pool Table is a great mini version that has its own legs, but still can be packed away quickly. The folding legs are a real space saver. This can easily be stored under a bed or at the side of a closet. Well made for the price you pay, this a great buy if you’re looking for a small pool table that has folding legs.

4. Bello Games New York Deluxe Folding Pool Table Review

The Bello Games New York Deluxe Folding Pool Table is a top-end folding model. This is made from strong hardwood and it has really responsive speed cushions which are very responsive. It really is a quality small pool table. It comes with an expensive feeling green wool blend cloth and is ready to play – no assembly required apart from unfolding the legs.

Bello Games New York, Deluxe Folding Pool Table Extra Large 44

Some adults have mentioned that they have enjoyed playing on this as much as their kids and grand kids.

  • No set-up required – simply unfold the legs and start playing.
  • Solidly built and looks great.
  • Fun for adults and kids.
  • Fold-away legs for easy storage.
  • Size – 44 inches x 24 inches x 30 inches high.
  • A few customers stated that the cues felt a bit light for older players.

The Bello Games New York Deluxe Folding Pool Table is a quality built mini fold away billiards game that will provide hours of fun for kids and adults. It can be stored away under a bed, in a closet or behind a closet. Set-up time is really quick and it looks and plays great.

5. Voit 48″ Billiards Table Set Review

The Voit 48″ Billiards Table Set is a great 4 foot freestanding pool table. This is the perfect gift for older kids especially if you want them to enjoy some free time away from PC or games consoles. The cushions are very reactive which will allow for some great bank shots. The Voit will arrive with everything you need to get started.

Voit Billiards Pool Table with Accessories, 48-Inch

We would definitely recommend this if you are after a small free-standing option that is a little bit bigger than the mini pool / billiards versions but still does not take up a lot of room.

  • Quick to set-up and start playing.
  • Made from sturdy wood, plastic and metal.
  • Very competitively priced.
  • Enjoy hours of fun.
  • Adjustable legs to ensure a level playing surface.
  • Size – 48 inches x 27 inches x 31 inches high.
  • A few customers stated that the packaging could be better.

The Voit 48″ Billiards Table Set will be a great addition to any family home. This can be enjoyed by older kids, teenagers and adults alike. It’s a free-standing, sturdy pool game for a very reasonable price. This would make a great gift for a birthday or Christmas – just remember to let the kids have a game!

Folding Pool Tables

You get the best of both worlds with a folding pool table. It’s a good size, to really enjoy a game of pool but it still can be folded away for storage, so it not permanently in the way. It’s also portable so you can set-up at different locations.

I have not included mini folding pool tables here as they are included above under the ‘mini’ section. Below are tables that are above 4ft in length.

6. Hathaway Fairmont 6 ft. Portable Pool Table Review

The Hathaway Fairmont 6 ft. Portable Pool Table is one of our favourite tables. It combines the portability and store-away capabilities of smaller fold away versions with the quality of a good 6ft pool table made for home use. It also looks fantastic. Although it’s not a full size tournament model, you soon forget this once you start playing.

Hathaway Fairmont Portable

Another great point is that not only do the legs fold-away, they also have levellers if you set-up on a not so even surface. The cloth is a good quality although some purchasers mention it plays a bit slower than a professional table. That’s not a problem for beginners and intermediate players. You will also receive a polyester bag to keep it in or transport it when not in use.

  • Looks and plays great.
  • Solidly built.
  • A lot of table for your money.
  • Folding legs and portable
  • Adjustable legs.
  • Size – 76 inches x 43 inches x 32 inches high.
  • The cues could be a better quality.

The Hathaway Fairmont 6 ft. Portable Pool Table is one of our favorites. It mixes style, performance and portability into one great package. Large enough to feel like a full size model but small enough to fold-away or fit in an average sized room. Yes the cues could be a bit better, but this is a minor point and if you play regularly you will upgrade your cue soon enough. So to wrap it up – if space and budget is a concern but you require a table that is larger than 4ft and plays really well – this could work for you.

7. HLC Folding Space Saver Pool Table Review

The HLC Folding Space Saver Pool Table is a good option if you require a pool table that is a little larger than a mini game but do not have the room for a 6ft plus table such as the Hathaway Fairmont. This is a great starter table for kids to play on. You are not going to get that arcade pool experience but you are going to have a lot of fun with it. I started with a very similar table to this and loved it.

hlc 55

This will arrive fully assembled, apart from the legs and pockets so you can have it set-up very quickly. The size is 4 1/2 feet long so it will store away easily under a bed, flat against a wall or in a closet. It arrives with 2 cues, balls, triangle, brush and chalk and therefore everything you need to have some family billiards fun.

  • Great starter table that’s a little bigger than the mini versions.
  • Sturdy and well-built for the price.
  • Fold-away legs for easy storage.
  • Adjustable legs to level the surface.
  • Size – 55 inches x 29 inches x 31.5 inches high.
  • The cues and balls are small – but what do you expect!

The HLC Folding Space Saver Pool Table is perfect if you are tight on space but require something that is larger than a mini table. It’s big enough for young kids to have a really fun time enjoying this great game. It’s sturdy and good value for money and would make a great gift.

7ft Pool Tables

As the size increases, so do a lot of your options. You are now getting to the area where you can choose between a slate bed or a wood / board bed table.

The slate versions tend to be more expensive and play more like the professional billiards tables if the cushions and frame are built to a good standard. Below are 3 different types of 7ft options to consider based on price and bed material.

8. MD Sports 84″ Arcade Pool Table Review

If you are after a medium priced 7ft non slate bed pool table then the MD sports 84″ arcade style billiards table is a very good option to consider. This version looks like an arcade style game. With steel construction and scratch resistant pvc laminated top and side parts this looks great and is built to last.

MD Sports Billiard Table Set - Available in Multiple Styles

It comes with adjustable leg levellers to ensure you achieve a true roll. Like with all non-slate bed tables, the roll tends to be a bit slower, but purchasers have commented that although slightly slower than a slate bed its plays really well. For the price – this a great choice.

  • Great quality for the price.
  • Modern arcade style design.
  • Plays very well for both skilled and beginner players.
  • Adjustable legs for level playing surface.
  • Sturdy and scratch resistant build quality.
  • Size – 84 inches x 48 inches x 31 inches high.
  • MDF rather than Slate bed – but the price reflects this.
  • No automatic ball return.

If you are looking for a modern style pool table to enhance your games room that won’t cost the earth and plays very well for a home table – The MD Sports 84″ Arcade Pool Table fits the bill. Due to its design it will take a lot of play time whilst not being susceptible to scratches like other models can be. Both experienced and novice players alike have commented on how well the MD plays as well as looks. This is one we would be happy to own.

9. Fat Cat Frisco ii 7.5ft Pool Table Review

Unlike some of the models above, the Fat Cat Frisco 7.5ft Billiards Table has a far more traditional feel. From its color – Cherry / Brown, to the tassels on each pocket. It certainly adds to the ‘old school’ look to it.

Fat Cat Frisco 7.5’ Pool Table with Classic Style Billiard Pockets and Contemporary Straight Legs, Oak Finish with Bronze Colored Cloth Playing Surface

The bed on the Fat Cat is not slate, nor is it MDF / Wood. It’s accuslate which is a mixture of particle board coated with a pvc material. It comes with a 7 year non-warping guarantee. So is it as good as slate? for us, no, but it does offer a very good playing surface ‘similar’ to slate with a non warping 7 year guarantee. Similar to MDF beds, the balls will not roll as fast or as far as a slate bed.

This is not cheap when comparing it to say the MD Sports however it is made for different materials and has a different look and feel. This table is heavy and will require 2 to 4 people to assemble so ensure you have plenty of support when it’s delivered.

  • Traditional looks and style.
  • Accuslate bed with 7 year non-warp guarantee.
  • Hidden adjustable legs for level playing surface.
  • Tan cloth for a rich, opulent feel
  • Size – 89.5 inches x 50.5 inches x 31 inches high.
  • Pricier than other non-slate options
  • No automatic ball return.
  • Cues could be better quality.

With its classic, opulent looks and feel, the Fat Cat ii Billiards Table will look the part in any traditional games room. Yes this is pricier than some of the other modern looking pool tables but if you’re after this style, then it’s a good fit. Personally, I like the more modern looking options available, however, this is just my opinion. Many customers have been extremely happy with the Fat Cat ii and how it plays, so from a fun perspective, it’s a winner.

8 ft Pool Tables

When you reach the 8ft pool tables you have a lot more options for a slate bed. You can still purchase MDF bed tables and there are some really good models to choose from.

Below are three options for your consideration.

10. Hathaway Hustler 8ft Pool Table Review

The Hathaway Hustler comes in both a 7ft and 8ft option. It has the look of a pool table that you will find in an arcade or bar. Nothing to fancy, but still good-looking. In our opinion this is more of a budget 8ft table. The bed is MDF, so definitely not a slate bed. The cushions however respond really well to rebounds and bank shots.

Hathaway Hustler 7’-8’ Pool Table with Blue Felt, Internal Ball Return System, Easy Assembly, Pool Cues and Chalk

It comes with a ball returner so the balls will not get stacked up in the pockets. Although one purchaser did comment that the ball opening could be a little wider. Like with many pool tables, the cues could be a better quality, but, no doubt as your game improves, you will purchase a new cue.

  • Modern and functional looking .
  • Ball returner.
  • 6″ Leg Levellers for a level playing surface.
  • Good response cushions.
  • Size – 96 inches x 56 inches x 32 inches high.
  • Non slate bed.
  • Ball return opening could be bigger.
  • Cues are light weight.

The Hathaway Hustler 8ft Pool Table is at the budget end of the 8ft market. You will need to pay more if you want a good quality slate table. So if you’re looking for a fun, home use 8ft table that is reasonably priced, the Hathaway Hustler could be a great fit.

11. Mizerak Donovan ii Pool Table Review

If you are looking for a very reasonably priced 8ft billiards table that comes with a slate bed option then you will like the Mizerak Donovan ii pool table. If your budget can’t stretch to the slate option, then the Mizerak Donovan also comes with a slatron option. Personally, if you can stretch the couple of hundred dollars more, I would definitely choose the slate bed option – it will play better and will feel like a pool hall table. It will also last longer as Slatron can be susceptible to warping over a period of time.

Mizerak Donovan II 8’ Billiard Table

The Mizerak Donovan ii has a very cool design with its stand-out red cloth, black glossy sides, chrome looking corners and leg levellers. The metal frame provides stability and will take a lot of play time. The cushions are made from K-66 rubber and 3 5/8 deep the cushions will react very well to bank shots and rebounds. it should be noted, that this will take some time to put together as it comes in quite a few parts. It’s not a quick job. It should also be noted that there is no ball return, however the pockets are deep to hold several balls.

  • Great looking pool table.
  • Slate Bed Option.
  • Very competitively priced for a budget slate bed.
  • Distinctive red cloth.
  • Very good cushions for authentic pool play.
  • Size – 99 inches x 55 inches x 31 inches high.
  • Assembly will require several people and time.
  • I would prefer a ball returner.
  • Chrome corners are plastic.

The Mizerak Donovan ii Pool Table provides you with a 8ft slate bed pool table option for a price that other brands charge for a non-slate bed option. There will be a compromise or two such as the plastic chrome looking corners, however once the table is set-up you will not notice this. And if they were made of metal, you would pay more money. It comes with quality cushions so if you’re looking for a slate bed table on a budget that plays really well – this is a great option to consider.

Professional Pool Tables (Luxury Models)

When it comes to pro slate bed and coin operated tables there are several brands that stand out such as Brunswick, Olhausen, and American Heritage. Many pro players rave about Diamond tournament tables.

These are obviously are fantastic which come with an appropriate price tag. However you may be able to grab a used deal off the internet. Some other options are below which are based on coin operated tables but not quite as expensive.

12. Shelti Pool Table Reviews

Shelti have been making professional and pub pool tables for many years from Bay City, Michigan and they are a member of the Billiard Congress of America. it’s safe to say that these guys know a thing or two about making great billiards and pool tables. They offer two main categories – their coin operated tables and their Bayside home / office use pool tables. Basically these are similar to the coin operated tables except they don’t require a coin operation to play.

Shelti Bayside Home Pool Table

Both models come with separate cue ball returner. If you grab yourself one of these tables you really will experience professional tournament and bar/arcade table conditions – because that’s what they are. As well as the two types, you also have a choice of two sizes – 7ft and 8ft. They are built for constant heavy use and will take hours and hours of home use play time. It may look like a contemporary of traditional piece of art but it will play fantastically well. If you are serious about pool and your budget can swing to it, this is a great choice for a home use pro table.

  • A pro table built pro table builders.
  • Coin operated or non coin options.
  • Very competitively compared to other pro tables.
  • Choice of colors.
  • pro table experience in your own home.
  • Size – 8ft and 7ft Options.
  • No cons to consider that we can think of.

With the Shelti Bayside or Coin Operated tables you will experience playing pool the same as when you play on a pool table in a pub, arcade or tournament. It will play better than an MDF table, the build quality is better, it will last longer and you will improve your game. This type of table costs at least double that of the MDF type tables, but you’re not comparing like with like. If you can afford it and the design fits, go with a pro table. It’s perfect for your games room or man cave.

Best Pool Table for The Money

We know this is subjective. If you don’t want to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars, any of the mini or 4 ft versions will be fine. However, we wanted a bit more than a mini game, but we didn’t want to break the bank. Therefore we have chosen our best pool table for the money based on the following criteria:

  • Size – It has to be of a size to feel like you are experiencing a game of pool on a decent sized table.
  • Game Quality – It has to be of such a spec that when playing a game of pool it feels authentic and not like a cheap imitation, with good pool ball control.
  • Build Quality – Although it has to be reasonably priced, it also has to be a good build quality that can take regular usage / games of pool.
  • Available space – not everyone has the room to fit an 8ft pool table so this was also a deciding factor.
  • Storage – Similarly with space, not everyone has the available space for a pool table to be permanently in situ.
  • Price – Of course price was a major criteria or it wouldn’t be, in our opinion the best pool table for the money.

So the winner that scores high in all of the above is…

Hathaway Spartan 6′ Pool Table

The spartan 6-ft pool table instantly creates a stylish gaming center in your game room. Designed with style and versatility in mind, this table has the perfect combination of quality features and a compact size to easily fit in any room.

Hathaway Spartan 6' Pool Table, 72

  • DOUBLE THE FUN – Save space with this gorgeous, mid-size pool and table tennis combination table. Its lightweight tennis table top easily installs over the table frame, keeping the fun rolling at a crisp, competitive pace.
  • QUALITY CONSTRUCTION – The Spartan stands up to the toughest competition with a poly-sealed playing surface and beautiful blended felt. K819 rubber cushions ensure smooth, quick action that will last for years.
  • KID-FRIENDLY – Eliminate boredom with two classic games of skill. This 6-foot pool table is the ideal size for kids looking to grow into the game. Adults will love its premium features, stylish design and space-saving functionality.
  • STUNNING DESIGN – Black melamine and modern, burgundy playing surface create a dazzling look that will wow your friends and family. This modern style is matched on the Bandit’s jet-black, removable table tennis top.
  • The set includes 1 pool table, 1 pool ball set, 2 cue sticks, 1 racking triangle, 1 table tennis table top, 2 paddles, and 2 table tennis balls.
  • DIMENSIONS – Product dimensions: 72-in L x 38-in W x 31-in H; Pool Table playfield: 64-in L x 30-in W; Table Tennis playfield: 64-in L x 30-in W. 4 in. W top rail with inlayed sights and chrome-finished corner caps

An included table tennis top adds another dimension of competitive fun within the same space. Includes all the accessories you need to play pool and table tennis. Certain to provide hours of competitive gaming fun for you, your friends, and family.

Pool Table Buying Guide

There are a few things you should consider when buying a pool table. After all, they are a not cheap so you want to ensure you are receiving value money.

So what are the things you should understand and look out for? Below is a quick guide of what we believe are the essentials when buying the best pool table for home or the office.

Available Space

One of the most important things to consider is your available space. It’s no good buying a pool table if you don’t have enough room to play the game because you forgot to consider ‘cue room’.

A cue comes in many sizes but the standard ‘large’ size is 58 inches so if you leave enough room for this size cue you will have plenty of room if you opt for smaller cues.

It’s better to have a smaller table that fits the room and leaves enough cue action than have a bigger table that requires the use of a smaller cue or awkward cue stances.

Mini Pool Tables
Mini pool tables can fit in almost any room of the home. As their title suggests, they are mini tables and usually range between two to four feet in length.

Some models will be tabletop models so you can place them on the floor and a table, others will come with legs. The versions with legs may also come with foldable legs which makes storage a lot easier.

Simply store the tables under the bed or in a closet or garage.

Also, an added benefit on the table top and fold away legs versions are their portability. You can set the table up in different pasts of the home, take it outside on clear sunny days or take it to a friend’s home to play.

So if you are limited on space and want quick and easy storage, the mini billiards table could be the best fit for your needs.

Larger Pool Tables
The larger the table, the more space you will require, but how much room do you need?

There is small difference of opinion by some of the large pool table providers on the exact space requirements however they are only an inch or two different so below is a rough average of the space require around the table to be able to use the cue effectively.

Table Size Cue Size – 58″
7 ft 13ft x 16 1/2 ft
8ft 131/2 ft x 17ft
9ft 14ft x 18ft

You will also need to take into account any pillars or other obstacles that may be in the way. Of course if you use a small 52″, 48″ or 42″ cue you will need less room, however we enjoy pool the most when playing with the full size .

The Bed

The bed is what the playing surface is what sits below the cloth. There are generally two types – natural stone or man-made options. Below is a description of the more popular bed materials.

The tables you will play at the pub or arcade will be slate bed tables. Slate is a natural stone product. These are more expensive than man-made wood based tables because of the price and weight of slate.

However, in our opinion, and that of many pool players, slate also plays a lot better. The average player will have better cue ball control playing on the slate bed tables. Plus it’s the surface that it used for all tournament play sanctioned by the Billiards Congress of America (BCA).

Slate is the preferred option to other materials because it can provide a perfect level surface once finely honed. It will not warp or deteriorate over time and the ball runs faster.

Slate beds can come in various sizes, but if you can afford it, go for a 1″ bed. Also, the slate will not deteriorate with time, you simply replace the cloth that sits on it.

Slate bed pool tables tend to either come with a 1 piece bed or a 3 piece bed. The benefits of a 3 piece slate bed is that it is easier to transport due to the smaller pieces and therefore lighter weight. This is why a lot of on-line slate bed pool tables will be 3 piece slate tables.

MDF, Accuslate and Slatron
These tables are for the home use market. MDF is short for medium density board. Accuslate is made from high compressed fibre board which reduces the chance of warping. Slatron is another artificial slate option which is compressed wood.

They are not slate but try to mimic the feel of slate surfaces. They cost less to make and ship to customers, they are lighter and can be quickly mass-produced.

This also means they cost less to buy. However, although you can buy some excellent non-slate tables for home use, they will not ‘play’ quite the same as a slate bed table.

If your budget does not allow for a slate bed table, just remember that the materials may be prone to warping over time if left in damp or moist environments.

The Frame or Casing

Opinions differ as much as the materials used – traditional tables are made from quality woods, where as many of the home use versions will use MDF / Particle boards. There are also a number of high-end contemporary pool tables that are made of metals and plastics.

In the end it comes down to personal choice and budget. A slate bed table will need to be supported by materials that are strong enough to keep it together. In our opinion solid wood is what we would look for in a more expensive table and particle board will be fine in a less expensive table.

Rails and Cushions

Each table is comes with 4 rails – The 2 side rails, a head rail – the end where you break and the foot rail – the end where you rack the balls. The rails need to be solidly attached to the table and bed so they do not move when you hit shots against the cushion.

Many of the more traditional tables will use a solid hardwood, but the budget tables will use MDF/Particle board Rubber is attached to the rails to make the cushion


The cloth, sometimes referred to as felt is what sits on top of the slate or board and the rails / cushions and is the actual playing surface.

The professional tables tend to have a faster napless weave and the pool tables for home use tend to have a slower less expensive wool blend.

Ball Retrieval

There are usual two types of ball retrieval.

Drop Pockets / Ball remains in the pocket.
The cheaper options will have either a string netting or a plastic cup that holds the balls in place.

The issue here is the netting can break over time, or if the balls all end up in one pocket and you need to keep emptying the pocket so that future shots do not bounce back out of the pocket from the balls that are already in the pocket.

The more expensive drop pocket tables will come with a leather pouch or metal runners that catch and hold the balls when they have been potted.

Ball returner
A ball returner is where you pot the ball and the ball returns either to the end of the table or in some cases the middle of the table. It is returned to a small box like area for you to pick up when re-racking a new game.

If you have ever played on a coin operated table you will understand how this works. When you put in your coin and press the lever, the balls appear at one end for you to collect.

This is the same principle without paying for the game.


Pool and billiards tables can come in various shapes and sizes. The lower end models can all look pretty similar.

However as your budget increases, so do your design options. There are traditional style pool tables, arty pool tables, contemporary style pool tables and pool tables that can have multiple uses such as a dining table.

If your budget can stretch it may be worth looking at multi use tables – especially if space is limited and you would like it do double up as a table.

Installation / Set-up

This will depend on the size and quality of your pool table. Obviously a mini or fold-away table will require minimal set-up time.

The larger tables, especially slate tables are a 2+ person job to set and install. Remember this if you are going to set-up the table yourself.

Self Returning or Coin Operated

This is easy to explain – The coin operated pool tables are the tables you find in bars and clubs.

You pay for a game of pool by inserting the appropriate fee into the slot and pressing the button to release the balls.

You can purchase coin operated pool tables to use at home or in the office. Self returning tables are tables that do not have a coin operation.


The price of pool and billiards tables vary significantly due to all of the above factors. Mini pool tables can start as low $20 depending on the size and quality of the materials used.

The larger the table, the more materials are required. However, you can get circumstances when larger tables are cheaper than smaller tables if the smaller tables have used premium materials and / or comes with a slate bed.

Our advice would be to choose a size that fits your available space and go for the best table you can afford that fits your budget.  The best pool tables under $1,000, may not come with a slate bed, depending on the size.

The best pool tables under $2,000 should come with a slate bed and I wouldn’t purchase a pool table that exceeds $2,000 if it didn’t come with a slate bed.

Pool Table Maintenance

Once you have purchased your pool table is a good idea to keep it properly maintained and looked after. Especially if you have made a large investment. There are several things you can do to keep you billiards table up together..

Keeping the cloth clean

The cloth will pick up dust particles, hairs and of course chalk dust for the cue tips. To help clean the cloth, most tables will come supplied with cloth brush. When you use the brush, always brush in the same direction, not in circles and aim to brush the dust into the pockets where you can clean it out. Brushing the cloth one way only also puts far less stress on the cloth than brushing in multiple directions.

Another solution is to ‘lightly’ use a vacuum to clean the dust using a vacuum brush attachment. Like with the manual brush solution, always vacuum brush in one direction only, from top to bottom. Remember to be very careful and you do not want to rip the cloth by being heavy-handed.  When not in use, keep you table safe with a good pool table protective cover.

Avoid Spillage

Keep drinks and food away from the table. I have often seen drinks rested on the edge / frame of the table and then get accidentally knocked over the cloth which can be very difficult to get out.

Regularly clean the balls

All joking aside – you should regularly clean the billiard balls with a polish and cloth, a specialist pool ball cleaner or a simple micro fiber cloth. The reason for this is the balls will pick up dust as they roll across the table and of course the white ball will pick up dust from the cue tip when it is struck.


Personally, I like to play with a well chalked cue which is not the best for the table. If you chalk the cue a lot, make sure you do it away from the table so excess chalk dust does not settle on the cloth.

Sun or strong light damage

Avoid placing your pool table in an rea where it will be bathed in sun light or strong lighting. Continued exposure to strong lighting will fade the coloring and dry out of the table-cloth. If it must be stored in a sun room, make use of a good pool table cover when it’s not in use.


The materials used for your table will determine the optimum humidity levels. If the table is made of wood, you certainly would want it a hot / dry room and likewise you wouldn’t want it stored in a humid or damp room. A common sense approach is required with humidity levels.

It’s not a chair

Never sit on the pool table, this can damage the structure of it and affect the level.

More information…

We want to make this post as comprehensive as possible so it helps you find the best pool table for your needs. If there is anything you would like us to cover or expand on please let us know in the comments below, or even if it’s to say you enjoyed reading our best pool tables review information, let us know below, it will be appreciated – Thanks for reading.

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