Ric Croney, Florida Pro-Tour player, has some beef with pool room owners. We agree with him. Here’s what he has to say:
Problems With Billiard Rooms and Pool Halls
Problems With Billiard Rooms and Pool Halls
I wrote this article for one reason: I just want these ridiculous pool room owners not to be so biased in the clientele they cater to.
What I don’t understand is they turn over their business to the lady bartender, who is only concerned about how much tip money they will get tonight, and then she turns up the jukebox too load just because the one table of head-bangers requested it. I then see the older crowd breaking down their cues and leaving. For some reason the owners either don’t see this happening or they don’t care about the older crowd. The under-35 crowd today dominates any pool room with their terrible music and it needs to stop.
Problems With Billiard Halls and Pool Rooms Today
I can remember 40 years ago when I walked into a poolroom and heard the clicking and racking of pool balls as well as the frustration coming from a player who just missed an easy shot. I can look back and still see players sitting at the counter ordering a hot dog and a coke while waiting for a game to walk in the door. The moments of tension as a player is playing for a dollar a game and his girlfriend is sitting in a chair cheering him on to win every game. Some of the best times I ever had were watching my dad play three cushion billiards at Kleins poolroom in Baltimore as he was winning three games to one.
I never quite understood the game of angles without pockets. But what even more amazed me were the players sitting in their chairs watching this match go on and on with complete silence and only a whisper when a great shot was made. The loudest sound made was the opponents cue butt gently hitting the floor several times to let the shooter know he acknowledged the shot. At times like this you get the feeling of admiration for the game and to the difficulty to play it well. Yes this was considered a gentleman’s game and was not for anyone else. What I hear now when I walk into a poolroom at night are tables full of people yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs trying to get their point across about absolutely nothing. People throwing trash on the floor, butts sitting on the tables and most irritating of all, people standing between tables interfering with the shooter at the next table. People running around the tables chasing each other while knocking drinks on the floor and spitting chewing gum on the carpet as well.
What I finally figured out was, the reason they were screaming so loud was because the jukebox was turned up so loud that you couldn’t hear a word from your buddy sitting next to you. A woman sitting next to me asked me a question which I still thought was something like a sound of desperation coming from her mouth. I thought she was trying to pick me up but in reality she was just trying to figure out what the title of the song was that was ringing in my ears. I replied, I can’t I’m waiting for a friend. I think she said something like “I never heard of that song”.
To this day I just sit and wonder, “What has happened to pool rooms today”. I just don’t get it. These poolroom owners invest a lot of money to startup a poolroom in a strip mall and fill it with expensive pool tables and a nice big bar. Oh yes, let’s not forget that stupid jukebox. The eight wonder of the billiard room. The money maker of all poolroom owners. If someone has a poolroom than why do they turn up the jukebox so loud that you can’t hear yourself think? I thought that the name of the game was billiards and not horseplay and raising cane with your buddy next to you. How can anyone play pool in this type of atmosphere? I have heard some poolroom owners state that they don’t make money off of pool players. Well than why did they open a poolroom in the first place? I thought that pool rooms were for pool players. When did I get hit in the head with a cue ball because I just don’t understand this mentality or the reason they run any poolroom this way.
Now the poolroom owners sit and cry because their business is not doing well anymore. Well could it be that they catered to the wrong crowd and it backfired? They had their fun and have gone on to other things in their lives and left you standing at the door waiting for them to return. In the meantime the loud music has irritated most serious players to the point where they don’t even want to walk into a poolroom at night for fear of getting their ears blasted apart. It’s not only the loud music but the type of music that’s being played. Heavy metal, Rap and Head banger can at times be very demanding to the ear. I talk with a lot of people who dislike it and don’t want to hear it either. Well the poolroom owners don’t care. They say crank up the volume and let the balls fly. As long as they are making money off of that stupid jukebox their as happy as Donald Trump.
Now when they cater to one group more than the other group, how can this be a formula for success? I sit here with cue in hand and no decent place to play at night. I just wonder if all pool players that thought the way I do would start visiting the poolroom at night would it help the dying business? Of course the jukebox would have to take a dive for the worst. Somehow I don’t think this will ever happen. Once ridiculous habits and opinions are formed you just can’t change them, can you?
We caught up with Ric to ask him some follow up questions to the article:
Billiards Forum: I think your article makes some valid observations about the state of pool halls today. They are more like night clubs than they are like the traditional pool room. You mention that pool room owners create this atmosphere because they think it is the key to financial success of the pool room. If it isn’t, then what can they do to monetize their pool rooms as such that they don’t go out of business in 12 months?
Ric: The pool room owners need to think about their customer base and support everyone that steps through the front door not just the ones that put money in the jukebox. The atmosphere should be created for all to enjoy not just the coin droppers. Turning up the jukebox so loud that you have to yell at someone to get them to hear you is not smart business because you never know who the loud music will offend. Not everyone enjoys loud music but they like to drink and shoot pool and have a good time. You don’t need loud music to keep them there.
Billiards Forum: Should pool room owners be more strict about who they allow in their establishment?
Ric: Only if they are creating a problem. Pool room owners need to have strict rules of behavior for their room and have employees enforce them severely. Too many pool rooms let their young or drunk customers get out of hand with the horseplay and bad language as well. These type of customers can be trained just like any other animal. Correct them one day and let them come back another day with a warning. They will soon change how they act eventually.
Billiards Forum: If pool room owners eliminate some of the problems you referenced, they may have to raise table fees. Would you be willing to pay increased table fees for a better atmosphere? Honestly?
Ric: I don’t see why changing a bad situation like we have today should increase prices. If pool room owners would create a stable and consistent type atmosphere with moderate level music, then the word will get around and the steady customer base will eventually take over. Modern pool room owners are so desperate to make a good profit that they think that they are forced yield to the bar room atmosphere. I’ve always stated to everyone that knows me, “If you want a bar then open a bar and not a pool room”. The two are not related in any manner. Owners need to understand why people go into a pool room in the first place. To shoot pool and have a few drinks. The enjoyment gets lost when you have to put up with noise on top of noise.
Billiards Forum: What about a segregated pool room? A front room that caters to the casual players looking for a good time and loud music, and a back room, perhaps VIP, that caters to the more experienced and serious players.
Ric: This has been done in many pool rooms that I have been in across the country with great success. It is probably the only answer to the noise situation of the modern pool room. They don’t have to have a completely quite room because I like 70s and 80s rock myself but not loud. When I’m in a pool room that has the Eagles on the jukebox and it’s not turned up loud I start humming along with it. The level has to be moderate and not loud.
Billiards Forum: What other advice do you have for pool room owners out there who are looking to be financially successful, yet keep a respectable establishment
Ric: My advise is for the modern pool room owner is:
Keep the tables super clean and brush them off and wipe them down after every use. Customers appreciate this and will respect you for it. Germs.
Keep the restrooms extra clean and serviced everyday. Put in a deodorizing system with a pleasant fragrance. Very important.
Clean and polish each set of balls every day when you open. Everyone I know complains constantly about this problem. Dirt is dirt.
Spend occasional money on your room to keep it updated with comfortable chairs and bar stools with armrests. New counter tops and carpet is a must.
Least but not last, keep that jukebox at a moderate level at all times and don’t let your employees run the business for you by turning it up loud. After all it’s your business not their’s. This is what’s happening too much today. The owner leaves for the day and the bartender turns loose with the volume and out the door some of the customers go. And for some reason the owner never hears about this because their not there are they. You have to know what’s going on in your room or you may loose some of your business. Try to keep an atmosphere that appeals to everyone not just the noisy crowd that runs the quite crowd out the door. In a lot of cases I’ve seen this situation many times and it’s not good for anyone’s business. I repeat, “If you create a loud atmosphere for your pool customers, your almost doomed for failure eventually”. To loose even one customer because of noise is a cancer that can spread throughout your business because people will talk to other potential customers and sway them to ignore your place. I hear it all the time” That place is too noisy for me”.
Enough of my noise. You guys take it from here.
Title: Problems With Billiard Rooms and Pool Halls
I absolutely hate (c)rap music, otherwise known as crap. I would not go to a room where it played constantly.
Fortunately the rooms I go to don’t play music too loud and the other doesn’t have a jukebox. Neither pool room has a bar. At the one I go to that has the jukebox, most of the kids are playing some fairly decent music, or some new modern soft wussy stuff, or classic rock which I love. I found it hard to believe that much classic rock was playing with such young kids. Their explanation is that they often grew up listening to their parents playing it and that the jukebox had a quite a large classic rock collection on it.
My point would be that if the owners kept the music from blasting you out and controlled the music selection, the jukebox would still be played, and a profit would be made from it. It wouldn’t drive out more serious players.
I know of bar owners that played the music that brought the crowds in, but once they started to see some regulars leave because of the riff-raff that was now coming in, they changed the music selection which drove the garbage out and brought back the regulars.
I play in an APA pool league on Monday and Wednesday nights and most of the match locations are in Bars. They play the music so loud that I wear earplugs and it is still too loud. My wife can’t stand it if the jukebox isn’t playing, but she also doesn’t like it too loud.
Our league operator acts like we are crazy when we complain or stop a game and demand a toning down of the roar. There are a lot of times when friends of the other team are the most distracting and the other team captain will not control them. As people get drunk the tiny hairs in their ears that pick up sound relax and lay over. That is why the later it gets the louder the music gets. Most of the league players here in southeast Texas think it’s just another night to get drunk and rowdy.
I know of one thing that would help is the quality of the music. Get rid of the internet jukebox and you can control what music goes on the jukebox. There are some bars that are so bad that I just end up sitting out or go and play early, play, and leave.
I just wish it was more about the game than the buzz.
BANK-DA-8 from La Crosse, WI on 4/23/2011 10:26:13 AM
So you think the noise is bad in the pool rooms?
How about the dress code in pool tournaments now?
It’s a good thing that Vegas has got a dress code.
I remember when you had better have a nice set of duds to participate in ANY pool tournament. Now the kids don’t care what they look like, and pool has lost a lot of the panache it had when I was growing up.
Watch the Hustler just once and you will know that what Jackie Gleason is wearing is what the look should be. Or watch the trick shot tournaments on TV and you will see how great these guys and girls look.
Come on folks, let’s respect the game and respect the look.