Father of an angel, house painter, and billiards enthusiast.
The best pool cue that money can buy
is a topic that is widely debated by pool and billiards enthusiasts everywhere. There are so many cue makers and types of cues that it really is a matter of opinion, for the most part. With that being said, there are definitely some notable names and reputations that are repeated over and over when anyone in the know discusses which pool cue is the best pool cue. Balabushka, Szamboti, Ginacue, Black Boar, Predator, and OB cues are always included in the conversation, so I'll go over those in specific.
George Balabushka's cues are legendary in the world of cues sports for their quality and ability to strike the ball. The craftsman who these cues were named after was so good that he was known as the "Stradivarius" of cue makers.
Born in Russia as Gregori Balabushka, he arrived in America at the age of twelve and was renamed George by the customs officials. His accent to cue maker stardom started at that early age, as he was soon employed making hand crafted wooden toys. Over the years, his ability to manipulate a piece of wood into something beautiful grew, as well as did his love for the game of straight pool.
By 1959, he and a partner had purchased a pool room in New York, where his actual cue making career took off. At first he used old Brunswick house cues, followed by the blanks they were built from, blanks from Burton Spain, and lastly blanks from Gus Szamboti. The way the wood was spliced was particularly important to George Balabushka, and he seemed to think there was something special about the Burton Spain and later on the Gus Szamboti.
Ginacue - Ernie Gutierrez
Ginacue is the brand of legendary custom cue maker Ernie Gutierrez. His cues are some of the most sought after cues in the billiards industry. Hand crafted to precision, Ginacue cue's are widely recognized as a contender for the best cues ever made. Not only are they milled to perfection, the cues are works of art rarely seen in the world of pool sticks. The man has been known to use the rarest and finest quality materials the world has to offer, which he then turns into a work of art fit for a king.
Ginacue has been producing cues for more than 30 years, and have been in the hands of some of the most famous men of this century. The list of previous owners of his work is impressive indeed, with the likes of Willie Mosconi, Minnesota Fats, Dean Martin, and even Frank Sinatra owning one of Mr Gutierrez's cues.
The path to greatness wasn't without pitfalls, though, as Mr Gutierrez found himself in trouble with the authorities this year for smuggling ivory. In July, he was charged with aiding and abetting illegal exportation as he sold two people 41 sections of cues containing ivory for somewhere between $75,000-85,000. That hasn't affected the value of his cues, though. They will likely be collectors items for many years to come.
I recently attended the US Open in Chesapeake, VA, and met a man named Tony who makes pool sticks. He began to describe to me the steps that each cue he produces goes through. I must admit, some of it was over my pay grade. The pain staking process that is gone through building his sticks is remarkable. Black Boar cues go through an unheard of amount of scientifically designed procedures to create a magnificent work of art. Their beauty and elegance is something very special to behold. From the insane number of points, to the best quality of strike that money can buy, these cues stand out from the rest. The materials and the arduous process used during production restricts this artisan to produce only 12 units per year. They are highly sought after by billiards enthusiast, and availability is extremely limited. With a base price comparable to a used Mercedes, owners of this stick are part of a very exclusive group.
Predator is the new kid on the block in the world of top notched pool cues. They haven't been around nearly as long as the others on this list, and they aren't even hand crafted. The Predator brand is one of the rare exceptions in the world of production pool cues. The company makes incredibly well built cues with having to spend 200 hours building each individual pool stick. They have also been one of the leaders in developing technology in the billiards equipment industry for going on 20 years now.
At it's conception, Predator unlocked one of the greatest advances in billiards equipment by building a fully spliced 8 piece shaft. The original 314 shaft was so good, that it nearly took over the industry in the early 2000's. The design reduced the "deflection" imparted on the cue ball at impact, which instantly improved the pool game of almost anyone who used it.
Since then, the company has continued to improve on their original design in order to stay ahead of their competition. With each passing year, they find some new way to push the envelope of billiards technology and continue to be one of the leaders in the industry.
If Predator is the new kid on the block, OB is the elementary school student of billiard equipment. They haven't been out that long, but, boy oh boy have they found something special. OB started their company in 2005, when they came out with their first shaft, the OB-1. It was a new twist on the spliced shaft. Instead of the pie wedge design Predator used, the guys at OB found a way to interweave curved pieces of wood. At the end of the day, that innovation created an even more dynamic strike with even less deflection. I wouldn't call it better than a Predator, though, just different. The change in design has a noticeable affect on the amount of energy imparted into the ball at impact. It produces less spin and more thud.
In the years since 2005, OB hasn't sat quietly. They have developed newer versions of their design as well, some better than others. The OB-2 is one of the better products they have come out with since then. It comes in a variety of builds to accommodate any player, from novice to top touring pro. The OB-2 Plus is particularly nice. It comes with the wood ferrule, the pro taper, and all the other goodies you've come to expect from the guys at OB. They are finely crafted goods, that's for absolute certain.
Comments and Questions
Matt on August 08, 2019:
rice on July 26, 2019:
viking cues are some of the best ,or the best!
Jim Krouse on February 18, 2018:
Now I use a Joss cue, and sometimes I use a Tim Scruggs, both are better cues than I am a player. I play in tournaments and place high in standing (most of the time)
Robert Clinton (author) from Greensboro, NC on March 21, 2017:
I did a bit of research. I'll be adding a section on Mr Szamboti eventually. And, I love predator cues, Dave. Always have, always will. I play with one of their shafts myself.
Dave Galarneau on March 20, 2017:
Have a 1st edition Predator I bought in 1995. At first I didn't like the hit. The dealer who sold it to me suggested I continue using it for awhile. That was in June 1995. In April 1996 I took 3rd in a regional tournament drawing players from 2 States and Canada. The following year I won that same tournament. I still use that cue. New Predators are made in China, mine was made in the USA. Enough said.
Dave on September 08, 2015:
You left out gus szamboti..He belive he made the blanks for balabuska.I put him right up there with balabuska