27 Sep 2004 03:23:18
Ty Woodward
Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

Searched this NG and couldn't find something to print out.

I was always informed that waxing billiard balls isn't a great thing for
game play. After asking around, I found out all the pool rooms in my area
have been waxing their balls (I love saying that) I understand there's a
debate on this, but no one of integrity has come out and said, it's good or
bad. I need some input from some experienced players on which way to go.

IMHO I'd say it's ok to use a little wax to make the balls look pretty, and
this would be important for a pool room with kids and such playing in it.
But as far as game play, I prefer unwaxed clean balls, or slightly dirty
balls. The debate started last night after I was in a small money match
with a guy in which I'm giving him enough weight to win, but would still
have to play decently good. We played 4 sets, I had him stuck, we took a
break got some food, and when we came back, the pool room moved us to
another table with balls that hadn't been used all day (hadn't been used
since they waxed them the night before) I noticed alot of throw shots, and
cut shots just weren't working out as well as I thought they should have. I
asked as a joke, if the kid behind the counter waxed the balls or something,
and he said yes, freshly waxed with carnuba car wax. And continued to tell
me they wax the balls every few days, this never made a difference for me,
since I normally play later at night, and the balls are now dirty enough for
me not to notice. I made adjustments as best as I could to accommodate for
the shiny slippery balls but I ended up loosing the next 2 sets pretty bad
(which got the guy even and I quit).

He claims Aramith told him it's good to wax the balls, and it wouldn't make
a difference to how they play, but I strongly disagree. But since I just
play pool, and don't care about the petty nuisances I didn't really have any
ammo to battle him in a debate and allowed him to believe he was right.
It's still bothering me though. Am I wrong in believing that balls
shouldn't be waxed at all or waxed very little, and the only reason to wax
is to make them look pretty?

Also guys, understand I'm very open minded to people's opinions, but I'm
looking for player's opinions. Which is why I posted in here. There are
pool room operators, and employees that will have their own opinion on the
subject but the basis I'm looking for is for gameplay, not appearance. Also
if it's true that waxing balls is good, why? What advantages does waxing

Thank you very much for reading all this and adding your opinion.

27 Sep 2004 13:03:38
Patrick Johnson
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

Ty Woodward wrote:

> ... Am I wrong in believing that balls
> shouldn't be waxed at all or waxed very little, and the only reason to wax
> is to make them look pretty?

It's a matter of personal preference. The practical reason to wax the
balls is that it makes them slide more easily (against the cloth and
against each other), as you noticed. Some players like that. You can
do some things with clean, waxed balls that you can't do with "normal"
dirty ones (and vice verse).

Pat Johnson

27 Sep 2004 07:18:50
dead fred
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

My personal preference is to have them shiny(slippery). At home they are not
clean and shiny and they are therefore very "throwable". While this is very
handy at times it can also be detrimental on some shots. Bank shots can be
adjusted a lot, but cut shots must be shot with outside english or you'll
sometimes get the dreaded skid shot and miss from the balls sticking
momentarily on contact. Sometimes even a soft straight in shot will
"skid/bounce" instead of roll. I think the bad overides the good.

Is it my imagination or do waxed balls have a "crisper" sound when they are
smacked together?

27 Sep 2004 07:16:03
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

TY: we make our living knowing how balls throw and react off of each
other so in this area we are the experts on this issue period.

You never ever wax object balls, that is insanity. Every thing will
change and you will not be able to make a ball after you do that.

Pat's answer is bull she-yit, the only thing you can do with waxed OB's
is miss. Who in the hell other than Pat would want his object ball
sliding on the cloth, oy vey.

You want the balls normal, they are not dirty, but I rarely clean mine
unless they get a spot on them. What I call dirty balls you would
assume to be clean. I don't want them dirty, I don't want them cleaned
with windex, either of these is very bad.

I am against putting my object balls in a ball polisher for the same
reason. I want them to stay the same every day.
If the room is running every set through a ball polisher every day that
is OK as you then are having them the same and you will learn and
adjust to those throws and clings, but when you go to a new room and
the balls are un polished the throws and cut angles will be changed and
you will not play as good there. The balls wont grab each other, cling,
and the cuts will change on you.

When I ran the world trick shot championship I would not even use brand
new balls for that same reason, they were too slick, I did not want
them sliding. I would put out balls that had been broken in. Only my
cue balls were brand new. Nothing was done to them and they were
discarded and replaced after each session of play so each time up you
had a new fresh cue ball.
I do wax and highly polish my cue ball for my shows so I can get more
action on it because I get on some really slow house cloths. If I am on
new Simonis then I use a new cue ball and do nothing to it. The object
balls I do nothing to. Most of my trick shots are done with 15 year
old crowns or Rashigs for the above reasons.

When I first came into this business Willie Jopling a trick shot writer
in billiards digest told me the story of a show he did where he
appeared and did the early show making all of his shots. He went out
to dinner with the owner and came back to do the evening show and
missed the first 10 shots he set up. Highly embarassed he apologized
to the crowd and asked did any body do anything to the balls when I was
gone and the desk man said, we'll I waxed them up for you so they would
look real pretty.
Willie changed the balls, continued with his show and began making
everything once more.

This is why I travel with my personal set of Rashigs, crowns,
Centinneals and TV balls, so each time up, my balls play the same as
they did yesterday. If I leave for dinner, I put them in a case and
lock them up so nobody can mess with them.

Every time I try and explain this to people, I get 19 morons who jump
in and try to explain it to me back how I am wrong and how they know
everything and they don't know sye-yit and could not make a 3in3 to
save their soul. It becomes real up setting. Listen to me here, I
know. Do not listen to the bozos and you already had the head bozo
weigh in on this.

Jake the wonder doggie

27 Sep 2004 17:32:01
Bob Jewett
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

Ty Woodward <tywoodward@nospamcomcast.net > wrote:

> Searched this NG and couldn't find something to print out.

It has been discussed before, but maybe the needed search terms
were obscure.

The problem with waxing the balls is exactly what you have
noticed. As the wax wears off, what the balls do changes.
If you're tuned into the current state of the balls, I suppose
you would have an advantage over an oblivious opponent.

Mosconi was said to carry around his own set of highly-polished
pool balls. My opinion is that he would have had a harder time
playing as well as he did if he had to play under a variety of
ball conditions. I imagine that most of his exhibition opponents
were not used to such equipment.

As far as Aramith's advice, I think their advice is to use the
polish they sell. My understanding is that in some rule sets
(especially for carom billiards) is is specifically illegal to
apply wax (or substitutes, such as silicone lubricant) to the

Personally, I think it's fun to wax up the cue ball and watch
it slide, but as an amusement and not for real play. If you
are playing a game with a lot of banks, I think wax is a bad
idea. And as you noticed, it also affects how much the balls
throw on all shots.

On the other hand, if you want to trap someone at bank pool or
one pocket, try waxing just the odd balls. After missing a few
critical banks, your opponent will be unable to bank either the
even or odd balls. Of course, it would be unethical to do this
in a money game.


Bob Jewett

27 Sep 2004 10:48:48
Alex Kanapilly
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

> Thank you very much for reading all this and adding your opinion.

I think it's really just another variable that you have to figure into
the mix, like cloth condition. The guy who adjusts quickest has an
advantage. It's pretty easy to tell after a few shots if the balls are
waxed or dirty or somewhere in between.

Once after seeing that Sayginer trick shot video I armoralled my set
and they played really weird for a few days, it was fun to watch the
cueball though.


27 Sep 2004 19:01:59
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

wd 40, jake da wonder doggie...

27 Sep 2004 22:20:35
Dana Bufalo
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

Most room operators that really care about their customers and equipment use
automatic ball cleaning & polishing machines because they easily and safely
remove chalk, hand oils, dirt, grime and scuff marks while restoring luster,
shine and beauty. This can be achieved without using an automotive wax that
can build-up on the balls. There are products available which were specially
formulated to be used with these machines that contain advanced cleaning &
polishing agents that will not build-up on the balls. Properly maintained
billiard balls roll fast and true with less "skid" and clean billiard balls
are known to extend the life of pool table cloth.

I agree with a recent post by Alex Kanapilly that stated;

"I think it's really just another variable that you have to figure into the
mix, like cloth condition. The guy who adjusts quickest has an advantage.
It's pretty easy to tell after a few shots if the balls are waxed or dirty
or somewhere in between".

Conditions vary from room to room and table to table and as players, we must
adjust to these conditions but I would surely rather play with a clean,
polished set of billiard balls than a oily, dirty, scuffed set. I will also
add that I would rather play on clean, properly maintained cloth.

Dana Bufalo

27 Sep 2004 22:29:12
David Hakala
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

"Bob Jewett"
> On the other hand, if you want to trap someone at bank pool or
> one pocket, try waxing just the odd balls.

Ooooo, BOB!! I *like* that one!

David Hakala
who just loves to mess with people's heads

28 Sep 2004 09:28:00
Re: Waxing Billiard Balls Debate

Jewett said:
Mosconi was said to carry around his own set of highly-polished
Pool balls. My opinion is that he would have had a harder time
playing as well as he did if he had to play under a variety of
ball conditions. I imagine that most of his exhibition opponents
were not used to such equipment
As little as 12 Years ago the tolerances on balls were all over the
place. In a set of Centinneals one ball might be 3000th and the next
one 9000th, the 3rd one 20,000th, there was little consistency.
Finding this out I went through 20 sets and put all 20 one balls on an
industrial micrometer and the ball that had the tighest spec became
mine. I would then measure all 20 of the Two balls and then the best
one went in my set. I repeated the process through all 16 balls until
I had my perfect set. I can only assume Willie did the same thing or
the Albany ball company did it for him. Today that is not necessary
for when Saluac bought out and assumed Rashig they learned the secrets
of how to make perfect balls from the Germans and today all of their
top end balls have really fine and tight tolerances. You can measure a
set today of their balls and they are all real tight and right. This
is why I tour with a 15 ball set of Rashigs also. They are the worlds
most perfect balls, too bad they went out of business.

Willie did not play with his own set of Centinneals to beat his
exhibition opponents; none of them could beat him any way. He could
have beat those bums with a broom from the back room. For over a
decade, the guy was virtually unbeatable. He also hand picked the 2 or
3 people that would play him to insure he had the high run and the
other guy did not. Willie did not always want to play the top stick in
town, it was the Willie show and he had no problems reminding you of
this if you did get on a roll against him which happened to me once.
Willie then and I now carry around our personal set of balls, which
means we know the throws, clings and cuts and they don't change from
day to day, that was the main reason for that. I never ever play with
house balls even on a bar box.

Every tournament Willie did play in for him to enter, they had to allow
him to use his personal set in every match he played which really
pissed off a lot of players. If you did not give the prima donna his
way he would not come and play and being the main draw for your gate,
what are you going to do. If Tiger woods today would say nobody on
Sunday can wear a red shirt but me or I don't enter and play, bet your
ass he gets that.

Yes he got a little edge there, it caused the opponent mental problems
and was like a damn shark but any equipment advantage was slight as the
other competitors were playing with new sets of centinneals any way and
the only difference was Willies rolled better so that would help both
players equally. Hell when Willie walked up to the table and gave you
that little smirk your ass was sharked any way.

It does not matter if they are highly polished or dirty as I prefer. I
keep my new set of TV balls hand towel wiped and clean that I play
people with out in public. With this being a new set the balls they
are highly polished. The premium crowns I make my trick shots with are
old and dirty and all the polish is worn off so they throw more. They
are dull looking and 25 years old. I want them to grab each other and
not slide. Brand new slick balls do not throw well at all.

When I play a serious match of 8 ball, I use my dirty Rashigs which
have numbers on them which has a high polish on them as well but I
rarely clean them or do anything to them. To you they look polished and
new even though they are 15 years old, but to me I know they are dirty.
It's this definition of what dirty is, that causes me all these
problems with other players. If I play a serious game of 9 ball you
have to play with my Rashig 9 ball set and all those balls are dark in
color and none have any marks or numbers on them. Snooker balls in
Europe have no numbers on them as well but American snooker balls do.
You see Europeans can remember 1-9 and Americans it seems can not.
This gives me a serious advantage which is why I do it. It throws the
other guy off badly.

I was taught a long time ago, never play another mans game. Find out
what his best game is and never play it with him. If he's a one holer,
you begin there and lose badly throwing off and then offer to double or
triple the stakes if you switch to 9 ball or 14.1. If you are a great
9 ball player, I will only play you 8 ball. If you are a great 8 ball
player, I will only play you Cribbage or Rotation. Always change the
game and find some unfair advantage you can shark the other guy with.
Who were those teachers of mine who taught me this, Minnesota Fats and
Omaha Fat, so what do you expect from the two top hustlers of all time.

There is your pool thought of the day, never play another mans game.

It was insane to play Willie 14.1, you had some chance at 9 ball or one
hole, but usually he just kept going 8 and out, 8 and out and he did
not even know or understand the game.
How do you beat somebody who does not miss?

Willie's main attraction was to come out and you would usually see him
run over 100 balls. I saw him do that a 25 times, saw him run well
over 200: 5 times, over 300 once. That is what you paid to see. You
went to the ball park in that same era to see Mantle hit a homer, not
bunt and get on first. Ty Cobb bunts, not Babe Ruth. If you wanted to
see a technical game played correctly with safeties you watched Crane.
If you wanted to see balls ran you watched Mosconi. He was the
greatest ball runner there was, there ever has been, there can ever be.
When he would hit a century the joint would go wild with applause and
Willie would hit a new gear and begin to trot around the table like the
thoroughbred race horse he was. He would speed up and almost be running
from shot to shot.
All he wanted to do next was run 200. It was electric, it was like
being in the stands and Mantle homers with the bases loaded, been
there, done that, there is a crowd reaction to greatness that is
special. I am standing behind 15 at Augusta and AP rips a one iron on
in two stiff for a gimmie Eagle, you could hear that crowd roar 3 miles
away. You could actually tell the AP crowd roar from any other, his
army was fanatical. Been there, done that at Augusta. You could be
sitting under the Oaks at the club house knowing AP was on the back 9
and hear the roar and you could tell the sound from a birdie roar from
a eagle roar. You are a mile away and you know what his score is and
when it changed. The hair would stand up on your neck literally.

On my exhibitions I put on a brand new 760, Willie did the same which
was simonois #1 which was the same speed as 760. I do it so I am
playing on the same cloth every day and have the speed down, plus my
draws and follows have more power and it makes me look better.
This would cause an opponent who is not used to this very fast cloth
and never getting on a brand new fresh cloth which is always super
quick to run by his positional marks and by the time he adjusted Willie
would be long gone. You only got 1, maybe 3 shots any way and then
you spent the rest of the match on your butt in your chair watching him
run out.

Many of Willies exhibitions were in high school gyms and other places
Brunswick would set up a brand new table for him. Then on 3 rail banks
they would come in a diamond short. New rubber, new cloth, always banks
very short. When you add all that up it would throw off the normal
club A player.

Greenleaf who was the big star before Mosconi would gimmick the
opponent by putting out a billiard cue ball which was larger and
heavier than the smaller pool cue ball and it was ivory also. He liked
it because being heavier it would go into the stack and spread the 14.1
balls around better. The draw would be a different technique and
harder to suck back the heavier ball. Ralph practiced with it and had
adjusted to the ball so it was normal to him. That would usually render
the local hot shot that had ambitions of beating Ralph into totally
confusion. In his later years he stopped doing this, probably because
he kept hocking the cue ball to buy booze or dope. The guy became
pathetic. He once was as beautiful of a man you could find and the
same could be said about his game. Devil rum did the boy in. Most real
pool players go out bad and real ugly. Make me vote for the greatest
pool player of all time, Ralph gets my vote, not Willie.
Jake da Wonder Doggie