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Best Pool Cues for Beginners [2021 Review]

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If you’re starting to enjoy playing pool, one of the first steps towards mastering the game is buying your own pool cues. However, since there are too many options to consider, you might not know how to get the best pool cues for beginners. Don’t worry, this guide will help you get a pool cue that is the best fit for you. 

Our Top Pool Cues for Beginners 

After doing plenty of research on several of the top models available in the market, we have identified the following pool cues as the best options for people looking to face their first pool games. 

Best Overall Pool Cue for Beginners: Players HXT15

While professional players can still enjoy a good game with the Players HXT15, we find it to be the overall best choice if you are just starting out. There are a few features that make this pool cue beginner-friendly. 

Pool Cue PureX HXT15 Technology Series 19 ounce by Players

To begin with, it is a fairly affordable option. You don’t want to blow your budget if you are just buying your first pool equipment. So, while this the most expensive option in our guide, it is still quite affordable compared to other pool cues with similar features. 

This is also a low-deflection cue. Most beginners struggle with cue ball deflection and accuracy. If you get a high-deflection pool cue, you will struggle to master accuracy and your overall performance might stagnate. However, since the Players HXT15 has a low-deflection shaft, you will be able to master ball control faster. 

The cue is also available in different weights. Since you are just getting started, you might not know which weight is best for you. This gives you the opportunity to tinker around until you find the one that offers you maximum force, accuracy, and speed. 

We also found the Players HXT15 to be one of the most durable for this price point. This is good for you as a beginner since you are most likely to expose the stick to damage. Fashioned from 100% premium North American rock maple, the shaft is stiff and can withstand excessive force and avoid breakage. 

What we Like 

  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Low-deflection shaft
  • Different weight options 
  • Lifetime warranty 

What we Don’t Like 

  • The soft tip might wear off after some time

Best Pool Cue for Beginners for the Money: Players C-960 

Players is a big name in the billiards market. Most of their cues are beginner-friendly and the Players C-960 is no exception. Just like the Players HXT15, this is a fairly affordable option and packs some features that make it a good pick for beginners. 

Players C-960 Classic Crimson Birds-Eye Maple with Triple Silver Rings Cue, 20-Ounce

One of the things that most pool newbies struggle with is getting a good hold of the cue. If you find a slippery stick, it will easily slip off your hand when you make a shot and make it hard to attain accuracy. The Players C-960 phases off this problem by using a double-pressed linen wrap to provide a firm grip on the cue. 

This helps to improve both accuracy and ball control. The pool cue consists of high-quality maple hardwood and just like the Players HXT15, it also comes with a lifetime warranty. This will allow you as a beginner to play confidently without worrying about getting a defective pool cue and having to buy a new one. 

Additionally, the cue also has a Nelsonite coating to protect it from harsh climatic conditions and boost its durability and firmness. 

Unlike the Players HXT15, the C-960 has a hard oak leather tip that can hold its shape for a longer period. The hard tip will also help you master ball control faster and makes for a consistent play. 

What we Like 

  • Durable 
  • Lifetime warranty 
  • Affordable 
  • Offers a firm grip

What we Don’t Like 

  • Prone to warpage if not maintained properly 

Best Cheap Pool Cue for Beginners: McDermott Classic Pool Cue Kit

As a beginner, we don’t recommend that you spend a lot on a pool cue. As you develop your skills, you will naturally want to get more professional cues. However, even though you are looking for cheaper options, you should get one that doesn’t sacrifice functionality too much. The McDermott Classic Pool Cue is that option. 

McDermott Classic Pool Cue Kit

The pool cue kit comes with a soft case, a tip shaper, a chalk holder, and 2 billiard chalks. This is basically everything you will need as a beginner to take on your first game. The McDermott brand is known for producing top-quality pool cues and they definitely put their best foot forward with this Classic pool cue. 

The stick is very durable thanks to the 3 element butt construction and manual gluing of the inlays and rings. We are not fans of its color selection and most people might find it a bit dull. However, if you don’t care about the design and just want a stick to get started with, this one will not disappoint. 

The cue also has a wrapless shaft with a 13mm top-quality tip. This tip can take on hard shots without any risk of breaking. However, in case of any damages or warping, you have a three-year warranty to take care of it. 

What we Like 

  • Affordable 
  • Comes with additional accessories 
  • Durable 

What we Don’t Like 

  • The weak joint might affect balance and ball control 
  • Dull design

Best Durable Pool Cue for Beginners: Viking Valhalla

As we have already mentioned, amateur pool players are more likely to expose the cue to damages than professional players. For this reason, durability is paramount when selecting a good stick for beginners. 

VIKING Valhalla 2 Piece Pool Cue Stick with Irish Linen Wrap VA111 (18oz, Black)

Although there are quite a number of options when it comes to durability, we believe the Viking Valhalla is the best durable option for beginners. This is a two-piece pool cue with an Irish Linen wrap to provide a firm grip while playing. This ensures that you are comfortable and confident when making your first few hits. 

If you are just learning the perks of the game, you will find this cue’s alluring design and durable shaft welcoming. The 58-inch pool cue consists of high-quality materials to enhance durability and deliver a powerful hit. These include a Canadian maple shaft and leather tip. 

Wrapped in Irish linen, the handle offers a firm and comfortable grip. There is also a Urethane finish to offer additional protection while giving the cue a stylish and radiant look. The solid wooden core does a great job at preventing the cue from such defects as warping, dings, and scratches. 

Finally, you can get this pool cue in up to 7 different color options and 4 weight options. That is 18-21 ounces. 

What we Like

  • Attractive design 
  • Durable 
  • Affordable 
  • Great playability for beginners 

What we Don’t Like 

  • The tip could be improved 

Features to Consider in a Pool Cue for Beginners 

Getting started with billiards is not as easy as it sounds. There is so much to learn beyond hitting a ball with the cue stick. For beginners, getting the right cue can be the difference between mastering the game quickly and never getting off the ground. 

Here some features you should look out for. 

Size and Weight

Mostly, size and weight circle back to personal preferences. As a beginner, you might find that you click better with heavy or light pool cues. Usually, pool cues come in about 55 to 60 inches and 18 to 22 ounces. 

Depending on what you prefer, you can tinker around with different weights and sizes until you find one that is the best fit for you. However, based on our research and experience, we think 19 ounces is the best weight for beginners. Most cues come in this size and are also budget-friendly. 

Man aiming for the cue ball

So, if you don’t already know what is a good weight for you, 19 ounces will be great to start with. While heavier cues can deliver more power, they make it difficult to spin and control the ball. On the other hand, lighter cues are easy to control although they afford less power. 

Material

Based on our experience, harder high-quality materials achieve more powerful shots compared to soft ones. Most pool cues are fashioned from maple so you will most likely come across them when buying your first stick. 

Maple wood will accord more control and at the same time allow you to exert maximum force on the cue ball. They are also very durable and ensure that you use the stick for long enough before getting your next one. 

Durability is a good thing especially if you are still clumsy with the stick and more likely to expose it to damage. 

Tip

Being the most abused part of the pool cue, it is only fair that the tip should be good enough. Cue tips can either be of leather or phenolic material. Either way, we recommend that you go with harder tips as opposed to soft ones. 

This is because hard tips are less prone to damage and bring out the best impact when striking the ball. You will also find cues that have layered leather tips with medium hardness. Layered in this case means that they are constructed from different thin strips of leather. The strips are pressed and glued together. 

In this case, the tip will last much longer compared to those with single leather tips. They also hold their shape better and require less maintenance. So, unless you are looking for a specific tip or working with a tight budget, we recommend you consider those with layered leather. 

Wrap

As a beginner, learning to control the cue is just as important as getting a good hit at the ball. As easy as it sounds, getting a good hold of the cue is frustrating. It’s even worse if you are using a stick with a bare maple finish. 

Wraps are used on the butt of the cue to ensure that you get a good grip and be confident and comfortable enough. However, all wraps are not the same. The best wraps consist of leather. However, these are expensive and might not be good for beginners. 

If you would rather go with the cheaper options, we recommend Leatherette wraps. Leatherette is a synthetic material made from either plastic or vinyl. You might experience some sweating. The same happens with leather so that is pretty inevitable. 

Otherwise, we think the Irish linen is the best option for beginners. There is little sweating and doesn’t cost a fortune. 

Man in white tank top playing billiards

Joint 

The joint is where the upper and lower part of the cue connect, that is the butt and the shaft. This is common with two-piece cues that need to be separated during transportation or storage. The best joints are flat to the cue shaft with the pin centered on the butt level. We don’t recommend unpolished or glued joints. 

Although joint pins won’t significantly affect your gaming capabilities, it is important that you get something that won’t come apart in the middle of the game. There are different types of joint pins. However, most cues for beginners will have either a 3/8 x 10 or a 5/16 x 18 pin. 

These two allow you to upgrade the shaft in the future based on your preferences. There are also other types of joints like Uni-loc, Mezz united, and wavy locks. 

Shaft

The shaft is at the epicenter of the pool cue, especially the upper part. It mostly determines the quality, price, and other features of the whole cue. 

When talking about the shaft, we mostly focus on the deflection. Deflection is when the ball doesn’t follow a vertical axis when hit on the center. While it might not sound like it, the shaft mostly determines deflection. 

So, when shopping around for a pool cue, look for a shaft with standard or low deflection. This allows you to confidently control ball speed, direction, and afford more accurate shots. 

In terms of material, look for hard rock maple shafts. They are durable and very flexible to use. You might also find some carbon fiber shafts. These are more expensive and might put you off if you are operating on a budget. However, they are of high quality and offer great performance. 

Warranty 

Some of the pool cues like those from Players and the Viking Valhalla come with a lifetime warranty. Others like the McDermott Classic Pool Cue have up to three years warranty. Mostly, the warranty is a sign of the kind of confidence the manufacturers have in their products. 

So, the longer the warranty, the higher quality the cue probably is. As a beginner, you are probably looking for a cue that won’t come apart after a few shots. This is especially if you are on a budget. Make sure that you have solid protection on your purchase by ensuring the product has a good warranty. 

Conclusion

Understanding the perks of billiards as a beginner might seem daunting at first. However, with consistent practice and the right tools, you should be on your feet in no time. Hopefully, this guide will help you find a pool cue that clicks with your budget and personal preferences and needs.