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View Full Version : What is happening to the Pool &Billiard Industry??



joewihit
04-02-2005, 08:13 PM
Hello All,
Over the past several months I've noticed that many pool halls have seen a drastic decline in business and playing pool is no longer popular. I've asked around and many people think that the TEXAS HOLDEM game is taking over and driving folks out of the poolhalls into the poker rooms. I've also read about decade old poolhalls closing up and
others just going out of business overnight. I hope this trend is short lived and people again begin to flock back to the poolhalls.
Does anyone know of a new poolhall opening up?? I would like to hear from you. and Does anyone know a poolhalls closing because of slow business? I feel that the pool industry is struggling from the leagues,
cue makers, table repairs, and professional players. Is this poker thing going to be a fad or long lived hobby?

What are your thoughts?

Sincerely,
Joseph Whalen
pool.trickshots at juno.com

Popcorn
04-02-2005, 08:41 PM
There may in fact be an economic sound barrier that pool will hit. People will only pay so much to play and at a point that will be it. With property values going up so much and the amount of good quality space required for a pool room, there may be a time in the future when it will just be priced out of the market. You will not be able to afford to run a pool room. I had a guy say recently, "well then you just have to own your own building". Truth is, If I own a building I can rent for say $7000. or $8000. a month, why would I want to be wasting my time running a pool room in it myself. The classic pool room just by it's very nature may in fact be doomed. I don't foresee any real decline in the recreational playing of the game, just pool rooms. Bar room play makes up the largest market already anyway.

thepoolnerd
04-02-2005, 10:02 PM
The poker tour has done a superior job of marketing their psuedo-sport than pool has. The only change in pool on TV that I've seen in 10 years is the pocket cam. The problem with pool on TV is that the most popular game is 9 ball, the pockets are not very tight, the tables have (not recently, albeit) been shrunk from 10' to 9', the advent of jump cues has leveled the playing field. Anybody in the top 100 can win any major event. Not interesting to the public. I don't like golf but I will watch the Masters because of Tiger and Phil. Can Tiger get his game back? Has Phil gotten the monkey off of his back and will he be in contention in the 4 majors this year? There are no storylines like this in the world of nine ball today. In the UK, snooker is the 2nd most poular TV sport, behind soccer. The first time I went to England, it was during a major snooker championship and people were watching it like March Madness. I watched 5 straight hours. It's because snooker is so difficult that the true talents rise to the top. Name recognition is the key. In 30's and 40's billiards used to be front page news. Not front sports page news, but front whole damn paper news. Hoppe, Greanleaf, Mosconi, Crane then maybe Sigel and Mizerak. Then came pro 9 ball. For the top players, it's just a breaking contest. It would be the equivalent of having the Masters on a par 3 course.

Just my 2 cents.

houseman
04-02-2005, 10:10 PM
I have been in this business 12 years and this was the slowest winter I ever had. No waiting list every night as in the past only fri and sat nights. I made my quota but hardly any extra to help with the coming slow summer season.

Popcorn
04-02-2005, 11:29 PM
Quote
"The poker tour has done a superior job of marketing their psuedo-sport than pool has."

You can't really look at poker and compare it to anything. They are little more then info-mercials for the hosting casinos. I doubt they in reality draw that much viewership, It's cheap advertising for them. There is nowhere to get that kind of money for pool and why should there be, no one is making any money from pool. Except for a few of the larger cue or table manufactures, most everybody in pool related businesses are just hand to mouth barley making a living. It is just an amateur past time and not really a professional sport, regardless what some would like to believe.

Billy_Bob
04-03-2005, 09:25 AM
Could be the economy / gasoline prices.

I know a lot of people whose money does not go as far as it once did.

What has happened is prices for food at the grocery store have been going up, up, up slowly. Nobody notices these small increases. Also they are putting less food in packages and making smaller packages, so you need to buy more. It is a packaging design contest to make it appear as though there is a lot of food when in fact there is very little. (Large flat tray with the food barely covering the bottom, boxes half full, smaller cans/bottles.)

Then the price of gasoline is taking people's money. Especially those with poor gas mileage vehicles. This also causes the cost of shipping to go up. The prices for everything go up since everything needs to be shipped.

And the cost of energy - electric, oil, natural gas. A big money drain for many people.

My situation: I was spending a lot of money going out every night paying for the table and drinks. I also had a poor gas mileage vehicle. I bought my own pool table to practice on and this really helped to reduce my costs. I was also limiting where I played pool because the price of gas was too expensive. But I recently bought a good gas mileage car, so now distance is no longer a problem. Also I have done things to my house to reduce heating/electric costs and buy food in bulk when possible rather than name brand packages.

Unfortunately, I am a rare case - someone who will reduce their costs so they can continue playing pool. I think most people will just cut out entertainment when money gets tight.

I have heard other players say they can't play at distant tournaments because the price of gasoline is too expensive. They are having their spending money drained away just traveling back and forth to work.

If this is in fact the problem, may want to try having a discount night one night a week. Tables 1/4 price, drinks and food at reduced price. If this draws in a lot of people, then may want to re-evaluate your prices. If it does not change anything, then I guess it is poker.

[For bars, try having a free pool night once a week.]

Popcorn
04-03-2005, 10:10 AM
Quote
" I bought my own pool table to practice on and this really helped to reduce my costs. "

Although that may have solved your problem with practice costs, it is also less dollars back into the pool economy and the cycle continues. Those who can't own their own tables just play less and economically for the room owner the result is the same. The real problem is there is only a finite amount of money in the pool community. In other words, if a room owner lowers prices to encourage play. The player still spends the same amount, they just get to play a little more giving the impression the room is busier and making more money when it really isn't. It could give him a little competitive edge price wise if he has competition, but it won't bail out a failing business. He will still end up making the same money since he is still drawing from the same well and if he is having trouble making ends meet, nothing will change. It's an illusion like the guy buying oranges for $4.00 a box and selling them for $3.99 a box. When you ask him how he does it, he says, "I make it up in volume".

Room owners can't just depend on the pool to bring in the dollars, they need a bar and food but they still have the problem of the customer only having so much money in their pockets to spend, there is no way to get around that. I don't know if poker has really done that much to hurt pool but changes do have an effect. I owned a pool room and bar at the time cable TV was first coming out. I swear to God I saw such a drop in business it was hard to believe. Instead of hanging out with me and having a beer and playing some pool all night, they would pick up a six pack at the supermarket and go home to watch HBO, cable TV became a national addiction and small bars became empty over night. many I am sure went out of business and could point directly to the coming of cable. Today, I wouldn't invest in opening a pool room if you put a gun to my head.

christopheradams
04-03-2005, 10:29 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> Quote
" I bought my own pool table to practice on and this really helped to reduce my costs. "

Although that may have solved your problem with practice costs, it is also less dollars back into the pool economy and the cycle continues. Those who can't own their own tables just play less and economically for the room owner the result is the same. The real problem is there is only a finite amount of money in the pool community. In other words, if a room owner lowers prices to encourage play. The player still spends the same amount, they just get to play a little more giving the impression the room is busier and making more money when it really isn't. It could give him a little competitive edge price wise if he has competition, but it won't bail out a failing business. He will still end up making the same money since he is still drawing from the same well and if he is having trouble making ends meet he is still going broke. It's an illusion like the guy buying oranges for $4.00 a box and selling them for $3.99 a box. When you ask him how he does it, he says, "I make it up in volume".

Room owners can't just depend on the pool to bring in the dollars, they need a bar and food but they still have the problem of the customer only having so much money in their pockets to spend, there is no way to get around that. I don't know if poker has really done that much to hurt pool but changes do have an effect. I owned a pool room and bar at the time cable TV was first coming out. I swear to God I saw such a drop in business it was hard to believe. Instead of hanging out with me and having a beer and playing some pool all night, they would pick up a six pack at the supermarket and go home to watch HBO, cable TV became a national addiction and small bars became empty over night. many I am sure went out of business and could point directly to the coming of cable. Today, I wouldn't invest in opening a pool room today if you put a gun to my head. <hr /></blockquote>

Pool money may be in a limited supply but the die hards usually go where the cheap pool is.
Your average joe who walks into a pool room with their wife or Girlfriend to play pool on a Saturday night for an hour really doesn't care if he is paying $5 an hour or $15 hour, its entertainment and they usually can't play more than an hour or so anyway without getting bored. They usually get a few drinks and have a good time and maybe do it again next week.
Your die hard pool fanatic will play 3 or more times a week for multiple hours when they play. That adds up and is not just an entertaining weekend. More pool halls need to cater to this type of player, lets call them the league player, tournament player, or serious player. They do care if they are paying $15 an hour for pool. Why not give them a deal. Pool players are a funny bunch and will be very loyal when a pool hall treats them right and caters to their needs. I see more pool halls catering to the once a week player. They have loud bands, smokey rooms, under maintained tables, and high pool prices. I seen a hall in Massachusettes area charge $3.00 an hour for pool. The place was beautiful and had over 30 tables with 6 bar tables and the rest 9 footers. Place was packed when I went there. People were buying food, getting drinks. They got bleachers by the pool tables so you can sit and watch the action, nice little square block type tables by all the pool tables so you can rest your pool stuff on them and sit while your waiting for your turn at the table. Great place! They have tournaments all the time, Joss tour, and other and this place really caters to the pool player, not the weekend date players. And I think they are and will be rewarded. Need more places like this.
Kinda like the bars in the depression era. They would give away free nuts. They couldn't afford to give away free nuts and pretzels but they did because they knew people would go to the bar to get something free to eat. And when they did the saltyness would make them thirsty, and what money people had back then, a little would go for a couple drinks to quench their thirst.

Popcorn
04-03-2005, 10:48 AM
You don't really get it. If everyone goes to the place with the lower prices what does that do in general for the pool economy, the same amount of money is still being spent. What are the other rooms to do now, lower their prices and start a price war. They are all drawing from the same well and there is only so much to go around. Pool rooms are also limited by their very nature. You can work out on paper how much a place can make on maximum. There are only so many prime hours in the day and so many days in the week and so many tables you have for people to play on. Most of the hours of a 24 hour day in the pool room no one is playing. People don't play at 3 am or 9 am, even big rooms are limited. It is not like other business where you are selling retail and all you have to do is carry more stock, you only have so many hours a day of pool to sell and that is it. For a pool room as costs go up they can't increase their incomes except by raising prices and that could have an even added negative effect. They are caught in a catch 22.

onepocketchump
04-03-2005, 11:19 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> Quote
"The poker tour has done a superior job of marketing their psuedo-sport than pool has."

You can't really look at poker and compare it to anything. They are little more then info-mercials for the hosting casinos. I doubt they in reality draw that much viewership, It's cheap advertising for them. There is nowhere to get that kind of money for pool and why should there be, no one is making any money from pool. Except for a few of the larger cue or table manufactures, most everybody in pool related businesses are just hand to mouth barley making a living. It is just an amateur past time and not really a professional sport, regardless what some would like to believe. <hr /></blockquote>


I beg to disagree. My ex-wife, who is a writer and is familiar with the billiard industry's woes will sit down and watch the poker shows. She made a comment that if pool had a way to portray it's characters the way poker does then it would be more popular. Pool homegenizes it's players on TV. Has anyone here ever seen any kind of profile or real interview with a pool player on a pool tournament telecast? I haven't. Yet when I watch the WPT and the World Series of Poker there are plenty of profiles and mini-interviews about the players as well as interesting facts relayed by the announcers throughout the broadcast.

I know for a fact that more people are staying home and playing poker because of the popularity and acceptance of poker now. In the poolrooms the hardcore players are turning to poker tournaments, formal and informal to get their gambling fixes. It's cheap and you get to play for a long time AND you can blame losing on bad cards or bad beats. Playing pool means that you are confronted with getting outplayed and playing poorly in every game.

A lot of poolrooms are starting to offer poker tournaments to keep traffic and I think it is a great idea. Poolrooms used to be places where all kinds of games could be played. Cards, dominoes, pool are all games where people can get together, bet something and have fun doing it.

Pool should embrace poker as long as it is popular. What are people going to do when they go out of the poker toutnament? Play pool until the next one if they are in a poolroom. They will be consuming food and drinks the whole time.

John

christopheradams
04-03-2005, 11:23 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> You don't really get it. If everyone goes to the place with the lower prices what does that do in general for the pool economy, the same amount of money is still being spent. What are the other rooms to do now, lower their prices and start a price war. They are all drawing from the same well and there is only so much to go around. Pool rooms are also limited by their very nature. You can work out on paper how much a place can make on maximum. There are only so many prime hours in the day and so many days in the week and so many tables you have for people to play on. Most of the hours of a 24 hour day in the pool room no one is playing. People don't play at 3 am or 9 am, even big rooms are limited. It is not like other business where you are selling retail and all you have to do is carry more stock, you only have so many hours a day of pool to sell and that is it. For a pool room as costs go up they can't increase their incomes except by raising prices and that could have an even added negative effect. They are caught in a catch 22. <hr /></blockquote>

Yes, true about not helping overall pool economy.

I think if pool owners got more involved did things like host tournaments, take care of their equipment, provide clean facilities, and similair small things it might take steps towards improveing the overall pool industry. As more people get interested in pool, and more people have fun playing pool, it gets more into the mainstream.
Not just pool owners but other people in the pool industry. Allen Hopkins is a good example of someone who is helping the pool industry. With his skins tournament and Super billiards Expo.
Someone else on AZ posted about straight pool being dead. I think to many people underestimate the general audiences that watch pool and say that no one will watch straight pool on tv because its too slow. Well theres one guy here who will watch every single match televised and I'm sure theres a lot of others who would watch. Theres money right there thats not being made off the billiard industry and I'm sure there are other areas that are yet to be look at. Televised tournaments seems to the one of the biggest areas that needs improvement.

Popcorn
04-03-2005, 11:25 AM
Quote
"She made a comment that if pool had a way to portray it's characters the way poker does then it would be more popular. Pool homegenizes it's players on TV. Has anyone here ever seen any kind of profile or real interview with a pool player on a pool tournament telecast? I haven't. "

So who is to pay for all this face time on TV? Like I said, there is no money to start with in pool, nothing like a casino has. Takes money to start a trend. My point before regarding the poker was that unlike other TV shows, it's presents on TV is not an indicator of the popularity of the shows themselves but the casino advertising dollars behind them. By shoving it down peoples throats though they have increases the popularity of poker. Hell, people paid $50.00 a pair for platform shoes they couldn't even walk in. The public is easily influenced evidenced by Saturday Night Fever and the boom of disco and Urban cowboy and the boom in every idiot wearing a cowboy hat. The public are sheep. Even the COM did it for pool and it lasted a long time we are still feeling the influence of it. As far as pool rooms adding poker rooms, that says nothing for the state of pool. You own a pool room because you want to be in the pool business. Maybe they should also add groceries and a pharmacy, In fact, maybe remove the pool tables altogether.
The poker by the way can in no way be self-sustaining. The moment it drops from TV, and it will, it will die down quickly. I see it's seemingly immense popularity as a very short term fad for the public in general. The shows are not on because of pokers popularity, it's popularity is due to the shows being on.

Billy_Bob
04-03-2005, 04:25 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote christopheradams:</font><hr> ...Someone else on AZ posted about straight pool being dead. I think to many people underestimate the general audiences that watch pool and say that no one will watch straight pool on tv because its too slow... <hr /></blockquote>

I bought a DVD in the U.K. called "History of Snooker". Anyone interested in making pool a big thing on TV here should buy this DVD and study it. (Has clips of various televised snooker matches.) It is interesting that people in the U.K. will watch a snooker tournament. It takes forever as compared with a 9-ball game. Yet you sit there glued to your seat watching to see who will win.

Either they are doing something right to attract such large audiences and big non-billiards related sponsors or the people in the U.K. are different from Americans. I don't know. Watching snooker did seem more interesting to me than watching 14.1. I think it was the sheer size of the table and needing to get lined up to shoot a colored ball.

Note that one guy on this video "ran the table"! He ran a snooker table! (They call it getting a 147 or whatever.) I call it amazing...

Popcorn
04-03-2005, 04:38 PM
Legal betting, they have betting windows at the tournaments.

video
04-03-2005, 05:31 PM
What I see is that places that have good food and cater to 'anyone' who is renting a table, as in dedicated daily pool players or weekend warriers, either or.... will be fine as long as their table rent is not too high during the week.

Most places in my area have very inexpensive annual membership offers available to those interested in shooting a heck of a lot more than your average Joe.

Those that are not members as in weekend warriers pay more when they come in and as stated earlier by another BD Member in this thread, don't mind paying more because they are only there for something to do that particular night.

Problem I see at 2 beautiful pool rooms I frequent is the service stinks less you're there on a friday or saturday night.

During the day they have 1 person on duty normally to handle everyone in the joint. No table service, forget that.. and if ya DO decide to order food it takes an hour to get it.

That's nuts!

Both places should be bending over backwards to the people they see walk thru the door during times when their places are normally empty.

Heck, If if the owner of the joint ever came by my table and called me by my first name or something, I think I'd just flop on the floor of a heart attack.

READ THIS POOL ROOM OWNERS
Go OUT OF YOUR WAY to say Hi to those that are in your place putting money in your pocket, especially if you see them there 3, 4 times a week. If they're annual members of your establishment you should have their name cross refrenced with an account number. Look up their name, go over to them and say HI JOHN how ya doing today?

Most large establishments I see just fill their joints with tons of equipment, nice carpeting, a few young babes and sit back hoping everything is going to be humpty dory.

Man are you people wrong.

Success is, and will always revolve around good service, reasonable prices and a friendly enviorment.

and once you've established that much..

Get at least 3 IN-EXPENSIVE organized tournaments going per/week on the off nights and STICK WITH EM. Think of ways to award 1st 2nd and 3rd prizes so more people come out a winner.

The 2 joints I have been mentioning have tournaments but the KITTY is $50 bucks per/person to get in. That's coo coo for those who live paycheck to paycheck. Lower the goofy KITTY to $10 bucks a head and watch how fast the crowd grows.

Think about it..
I personaly watched a very small Bar and Grille with 2 7 footers get packed on thursday nights after starting an el-cheapo pool tournament.

1st week they started the thing only 4 people showed up and yet they still had the tournament. $10 per/person.
Winner took $30
2nd place took $10
..the bar and food end of things did ok for who was there..

2nd week 11 players showed up to compete and brought wives and friends with them..
3rd week 22 players with some wives and friends.
4th week 20 with some wives and friends.
and the rest is history.

Good food, cold drinks and fast service was served to those who were there.

After the second week,
The joint had to put extra waitress's on for thursdays just to keep up.

So please - those establishments who are crying the BLUES need to stop pouting and put your thinking caps on.

Take extra good care of the midweek players.
Get your 3 tournaments going no matter what it takes.
Take the time to talk to your customers by first name.
Get an email mailing list going to stay in touch with your customers...

If you do most of the above, I honestly believe your profits will grow on a steady basis..

The only thing I see as ruining the Pool Industry is those who focus only on the almighty dollar rather than what is necessay to create a great place to play pool. /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

my 2 cents

jjinfla
04-03-2005, 06:12 PM
The trouble with bar tournaments is that the pool players don't spend any money. Tie up 5 tables and all they drink is soda or water and maybe one beer. Too many DUI arrests. The local bar has a 9-ball tournament on Saturdays for $5 where he gets over 20 players each week. A lot of the top players show up too. But I doubt the owner is making much money selling beer and pop. He also rents the tables from noon to 5pm for a dollar an hour. But he doesn't get many takers. Seems the pool players are working at that time.

A couple pool rooms are moving toward the dance club route. Much more money there. They charge $10 - $20 admission fees and sell a lot of hard liquor at $4 a shot.

And I did hear of underground Texas hold em poker nights where the buy in is $250.

Jake

video
04-03-2005, 07:24 PM
How's the food at that place you speak of?
Is his service good?
Does he have someone on the floor catering to the players every 15 minutes minimum on tourmament day?

Does he have a burger cooking on the grille with those delicious smelling fumes going thru the whole place even if no one ordered one? /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

I know it's not a must do thing, but sexual oriented females sell more drinks.

What type of floor people does he have?
Maybe he should get a couple of young chics in there with pretty smiles to wait on the players.

There are 3 hole in the wall pool bars (no where near the main drags) in my state that I know are doing TONS of business 4 nights a week with 'no' tournaments at all, and no female floor girls or bar tenders.

The place just loads up after 5pm with people because the place has a very friendly atmosphere. The people who work there tell you they're glad to see you at the door and ask your name if they couldn't remember it.

and honestly, when I get in a place I could care less if someone calls me by name. I just want to shoot pool, but it 'does' make me re-think the place when it does happen.

I really do believe it's a ton of little things that keeps these places on the map. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Video

BlindPlayer
04-04-2005, 12:06 AM
Cudo's to a lot of the comments I read regarding what's happening to the Pool Business. To add to the list of things that can be done here are my thoughts about marketing:

HORRIBLE BEGINNINGS - Pool halls ought to offer one Saturday a month a clinic for beginners / intermediate players. These kids (and potential life long patrons) start to play with no instruction, develope bad habits, get frustrated with their game and don't even know why. It's no wonder they are a flash in the pan and end up moving on to another sport or interest. I hear this from young people all the time and they have money to spend.

A free (or low cost) clinic would help teach the basics starting with determining dominant eye through to the stroke and beyond with follow-up at perhaps a resonsable fee once their hooked.

I echo the sentiments of one writer that sees an obvious absence of the owner or manager connecting with the patrons. The one in charge should be so familiar with his regulars that he recognizes new players and introduces them to the next clinic where they can get the help they need and offer other services.

I teach the sport and the first step is un-learning before learning can begin. Once a player dabbles in pool for several months without even basic instruction the damage is already done and learning is more difficult but alas...not impossible. Just look at our games now!

It would be so easy to provide a "booklet" (not a 200 page book) but a succinct book for .99c with basic diagrams to help get the ball rolling on their new sport.

INSPIRATION: Once a quarter or twice a year a hall should bring in someone like "Fast Larry" Guninger or other highly recognized trick shot artist to inspire players by watching the possibilities. His show really inspired me in the 80's.

One pool hall in Modesto, CA put up a purse and invited two top ranked players, Kim Davenport and Nick Varner, to come and have a 1 on 1 match. What an incredible night of watching the pros at work! Standing room only.

CLEVER MARKETING OF PRODUCTS - I was in England one summer and took a taxi to the best pool hall in town. Due to limited space to display their wares - each table was a different brand and style; each light fixture was different and all the cloth displayed all the colors available including black. In essence the tables we played on were a showcase of the products they sell.

And on it goes. Pool halls have historically been a difficult business to make a lot of profit from. Main problem - there's not enough "out of the box" thinking going on out there.

I used to travel in business and have played pool in halls from CA to N.Y.; from England to Romania and it's same-o, same-o everywhere I travel (with few exceptions). Kinda cookie-cutter.

Some owner's need a consultant before another pool hall goes under.