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Top 5 Best Pool Tables | 2017 Reviews

June 26, 2017
Top 5 Best Pool Tables

Top 5 Best Pool Tables | 2017 Reviews

Picture a shabby early-to-mid 20th century storefront with a thick haze of smoke hanging beneath harsh lighting, and a group of shady-looking characters and ne’er do wells unproductively whiling away their days and nights. Now visualize an impeccably-decorated mansion with servants bustling to and fro, serving refreshments to well-dressed and well-coifed ladies and gentlemen enjoying their leisure time and each others’ company, while gathered in a large room designed for entertainment.

There’s only one furnishing which would fit perfectly into each of those “low-end” and “upper crust” settings – and that’s a pool table.

Pool (and its older cousin, billiards) has been played in the Western world for hundreds of years. Pool’s popularity has declined a bit over time, particularly among those who enjoy a friendly wager or two and have taken up tournament or online poker. But there’s still no piece of indoor sports equipment that’s more desirable than a pool table, whether it’s as the centerpiece of a home game room, a man cave, or the “rumpus room” in that impeccably-decorated mansion we mentioned a moment ago.

High-quality pool tables aren’t cheap. In fact, they’re quite expensive, although you can certainly pick up functional models or portable tables for a few hundred dollars which will be just fine for the kids to use in the basement. Those aren’t the ones we’ll focus on in these reviews, however. We’ll be looking at the top 5 best pool tables, which by definition means full-size tables with slate beds, rather than inexpensive beds which are cheap to manufacture and easy to move but prone to unsatisfactory play and long-term degradation.

That doesn’t mean you have to fork over anything close to a year’s salary for the models in our rankings. Each manufacturer that’s represented has an enormous range of pool tables in many price ranges; we’ll try to focus on ones that exemplify the best qualities of each brand, while still providing an affordable selection you can choose from.

​You may want to read our Best Pool Table Buying Guide here.

Rack ‘em up.

Quick Comparison Table

Olhausen Huntington Pool Table

Brunswick Bridgeport Pool Table

Connelly Billiards Catalina Pool Table

Imperial Pool Table – The Westwood

Mizerak Donovan II 8-Foot Billiard Table

Olhausen Huntington Pool Table
Brunswick Bridgeport Pool Table
Connelly Billiards Catalina Pool Table
Imperial Pool Table – The Westwood
Mizerak Donovan II 8-Foot Billiard Table

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

7, 8, 8½, 9 feet

8 feet

8 feet

8 feet

8 feet

Hand-crafted solid wood

Solid wood, two finishes

Solid wood, two finishes

Solid wood, three finishes

Laminate, black

Olhausen Huntington Pool Table

Olhausen Huntington Pool Table

Ask any unbiased player or pool table dealer and their verdict will be unanimous: Olhausen makes the best pool tables in the world. The company produces ten different lines of tables encompassing dozens of different models, including standard and non-standard sizes and offering a mind-boggling array of customization options to choose from.

What’s uniform among Olhausen tables, though, is their quality. They are completely hand-crafted and assembled by master woodworkers in the firm’s American manufacturing plant (many companies that assemble in the U.S.A. purchase components from China), and they all have slate beds and are built from solid hardwood (except for the three models in the brushed aluminum series and those in the modern series which can be upgraded to aluminum).

We’ve chosen the Huntington, one of the eighteen models in Olhausen’s Signature Series, as our best pool table; that’s because we think it represents everything that’s exceptional about the tables produced by this family-owned and operated business. The classic Huntington design draws on influences from the 19th century, but has been updated to fit perfectly with modern decors.

The Huntington is produced from solid wood, of course, and the most popular option chosen by customers is a strong maple table with hard maple rails. However, it can also be ordered in solid oak, walnut or cherry. Whichever you decide on, this is a durable and dense table. There are numerous finishes you can choose (for example, there are 22 finishes available for maple tables), from light colors such as matte champagne or butternut, to dark ones including cherry, ebony and onyx. Naturally, you can also select the color of premium felt you prefer to complete the look.

Olhausen uses its highest-end components for pool tables in the Signature Series, and the Huntington is no exception. That includes the company’s tournament-quality, proprietary Accu-Fast cushions, made from the highest grade of rubber treated with chemicals that ensure accurate and consistent play while preventing the rubber from softening over time. There are also large leather shield pockets and thick support columns on every Huntington table, completing their elegant yet modern look and guaranteeing a table that will remain in the exact same position and state for years.

We’ve left the best for last, and that’s Olhausen’s play surface. The one-inch backed, diamond-honed and matched three-piece slate bed plays fast, plays accurately and plays uniformly. There’s no chance you’ll be left staring at the table and wondering why the shot you never have a problem with veered off a little this time; the Huntington is rock-solid, predictable and a pure pleasure to play. You can buy this table as a standard nine-foot model, and also in 7, 8 and 8½ versions; prices will run well north of $3500, but you’ll have to work with an authorized dealer (who will usually offer prices below list).

In the spirit of full disclosure, we have to admit that we didn’t have to do extensive research and testing to sing the praises of this pool table; we bought one a number of years ago after doing our own personal research and testing, and we love it just as much today as we did the day we brought it home.

Details of the Olhausen Huntington Pool Table

Sizes

7, 8, 8½, 9 feet

Table

Hand-crafted solid wood (choices: maple, oak, walnut, cherry), 35 finishes

Bed

Slate, three pieces

Cushions

K-55

Warranty

Lifetime

Brunswick Bridgeport Pool Table

Brunswick Bridgeport Pool Table

Remember that mansion we mentioned at the start? There’s a good chance there was a Brunswick table there, since the company has been making extraordinary pool tables since the late 19th century. Today they still make exquisite and extremely expensive models, as well as lower-level entry models and everything in between. We’ve chosen the Bridgeport as the second entry on our list of the top 5 best pool tables, because it’s the least-expensive Brunswick model to feature the high-quality we expect from a table – even though it may actually cost you a bit more than the Olhausen Huntington with fewer features to choose from.

This is another rock-solid table with a touch of the old-school look but owing more of its design to modern aesthetics, able to blend with almost any style of room. It is made from “select” solid wood (they don’t specify the type of wood used) with either chestnut or espresso finishes available, hardwood rails and distinctive, thick square legs. Some of the materials do come from overseas, but assembly is done in America and the construction is impressive with details like galvanized steel leg plates, dovetail joinery connecting the frame and high performance plates attaching the rails to the slate.

Speaking of the slate, it is diamond-honed, precision-machined one-inch cured slate which has been double-checked for flatness four times during machining and curing to ensure reliable and accurate play. The Bridgeport has drop pockets which match the look of the table, many choices of championship-level felt, and the same acclaimed SuperSpeed cushions Brunswick that has been using for more than seventy years which provide accurate rebounds and an extremely consistent rail. The extra touches include mother-of-pearl rail sights and optional accessory drawers built into both sides of the table.

The Brunswick is only available in an eight-foot model, but if you’re not married to a tournament-sized nine-footer, it’s a wonderful pool table that plays like a champ.

Details of the Brunswick Bridgeport Pool Table

Sizes

8 feet

Table

Solid wood, two finishes

Bed

Slate

Cushions

K-55

Warranty

Lifetime

Connelly Billiards Catalina Pool Table

Connelly Billiards Catalina Pool Table

Many aficionados (and pool sharks) swear by higher-end Connelly tables, believing they play even truer than Olhausens and Brunswicks. We think they might be onto something because the Catalina (again, one of the lower-priced slate tables offered by Connelly) is a joy to play on. We rank it at #3 because the tight fits of the pockets, the incredibly heavy body and complicated hardware make it a bear to install, and you’ll definitely need to call a pro to do it (and may have to convince him to do it once he knows it’s a Connelly).

This table is American-made and crafted from solid wood, in your choice of maple, oak, pine, cherry hickory or walnut; you can choose from nine different stains (with seven matching color options for the scroll leather pockets and just as many options for the cloth and its colors, plus four styles of carved, claw-style legs. It’s available in 7, 8 and 9 foot models.

As for construction and performance, the Catalina is a winner. The tournament-grade slate is 1¼ inches thick, there is a four-bolt rail system (industry standard is three bolts) with its six-inch “aerospace” cushioned Rapid Rails making play a delight, and the slate bolts directly to the frame. The cabinets and crossbeams are thicker than the competition as well, adding to the table’s weight but also its stability and durability.

This Connelly model is priced similarly to the first two models on our list, and plays exceptionally well. If you’re ready to tackle the hassles of transport and installation, it’s an outstanding choice.

Details of the Connelly Billiards Catalina Pool Table

Sizes

8 feet

Table

Solid wood, two finishes

Bed

Slate

Cushions

K-55

Warranty

Lifetime

Imperial Pool Table – The Westwood

Imperial Pool Table – The Westwood

We’re well aware that not everyone has $3,000, $4,000 or $5,000 to spend, so we’ve included two less-expensive slate tables to close our list of the top 5 best pool tables. They’re not as exceptional as our first three entries, but you’ll find these tables play well above their prices.

You can figure on spending about $2000 for the Westwood (although the felt has to be purchased separately), and for that price you’ll get a solid wood body and routed post legs with a chestnut finish (antique walnut or mahogany are also available from some suppliers), classic yet modern design with leather shielded drop pockets, and solid performance. One reason for the nice play of this Imperial table is the one-inch K-pattern backed slate bed, along with K66 rubber rails for true rebounds.

This is a well-manufactured pool table, albeit without the hand-crafted attention paid to detail seen on some of our higher-priced selections. There is uni-body construction that makes assembling the Westwood easier to assemble than many similar models, and strong crossbeams support the slate well and add to the stability of the table.

Let’s be honest; Imperial tables aren’t the equals of Olhausens. But at half the price, what you’re looking for is a strong slate table that will stand up to wear and provide great play. That’s exactly what you’ll get with the Westwood, and you can order it online without having to haggle with dealers.

Details of the Imperial Pool Table – The Westwood

Sizes

8 feet

Table

Solid wood, three finishes

Bed

Slate

Cushions

K-55

Warranty

Lifetime

Mizerak Donovan II 8-Foot Billiard Table

Mizerak Donovan II 8-Foot Billiard Table

Our second less-expensive option is the Donovan II from Mizerak, which sells for a little over $1,000 (you can get it for less if you opt for a “slatron” bed made of particle board and plastic instead of slate – but don’t) and can be purchased from big box stores or Amazon. Don’t expect solid wood cabinetry or rails at this price level; the materials used are laminate for the cabinet and rails and metal for the frame, and there are reinforced pedestal legs with chrome levelers. The red wool cloth works well with the black table, chrome accents and drop pockets for a contemporary look.

The reason we’re comfortable including this Mizerak table on our list (other than the fact that it has a slate bed for a bargain price) is that the playing experience is much better than we would have ever expected. The K66 nose rubber on the rails isn’t top-quality but it provides consistent, predictable rebounds, the felt is more than satisfactory, and the table is level and sturdy.

Pro-level players wouldn’t be caught dead playing the Donovan II, but you’ll be very happy using it in your playroom – and even happier looking at your credit card bill after you buy it.

Details of the Mizerak Donovan II 8-Foot Billiard Table

Sizes

8 feet

Table

Laminate, black

Bed

Slate

Cushions

K-55

Warranty

90 days

Originally posted 2016-06-07 03:00:14.

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