A gameroom in this budget is going to be your straightforward, no-frills billiards room. The pool table is central and pretty much the only activity. Going in this direction is ideal if the available space for your gameroom is limited (a 12-by-15-foot room or other similar dimensions). It also might be the way to go if pool is all you're really interested in anyway.
TABLE: The table itself will take up the bulk of your budget, at least 75 percent. "With that sort of budget, I'd steer the guy toward the $1,500-$1,700 tables," says Graven. "It's still a high-quality table with one-inch slate and a decent accessory package. The cost of the table starts to go up when it gets more decorative, furniture legs, furniture panels, that sort of thing. But if all you want to do is play pool and you don't care about the style elements of the table, a $1,500 table is solid and plays just as well as the higher-end models."
Of course, if you're willing to up your budget by just a few hundred dollars, you can get the same table with more of a furniture look. The more detail and overall attractiveness of the table, the higher its price. Something to consider, too, as Graven's son, Gunnar, points out, "the more curves, the more frills, the more perceived value there is to that table," he says. "And if you think you might re-sell the table to someone else sometime in the future, that's key."
ESSENTIALS: Even with just a small room with a table, there are certain pieces that are essential. You'll want lighting over your table. Graven recommends a simple three-shade brass bar fixture in the $200-$300 range, which would go with most decors, especially a simple, no-frills design.
Greg Peterson, owner of Peters Billiards in Minneapolis, warns about sticking with the existing lighting. "Some people put in very nice recessed lights in a basement rec room," he says. "And that can look all right in a larger space, but if you're focusing in on the table itself as the centerpiece, a nice light overhead is key."
Seating for spectators and opponents is another essential and you have many options. "I sell a lot of barstools in the $200-$300 range that double as spectator chairs," says Peterson. "That tends to work out really well if you have limited space or an existing bar in your room." If more traditional spectator chairs are your desire, though, Graven sells a simple spectator chair with a lacquered seat for $219. Regardless of the style, you'll want to make sure you budget for at least two chairs.
For your final essential, you'll need a cue rack. If you don't care what it looks like, you can find decent racks for under $100.
ADD-ONS: After your table, lighting, seats and rack, you're pretty much out of money so don't expect to purchase any other games. Instead, look to add wall decorations and maybe a dartboard piecemeal at a later date.
Since 1978, Billiards Digest magazine has been the pool world’s best source for news, tournament coverage, player profiles, bold editorials, and advice on how to play pool. Our instructors include superstars Nick Varner and Jeanette Lee. Every issue features the pool accessories and equipment you love — pool cues, pool tables, instruction aids and more. Columnists Mike Shamos and R.A. Dyer examine legends like Willie Mosconi and Minnesota Fats, and dig deep into the histories of pool games like 8-ball, 9-ball and straight pool.