DAY 215: Playing pool like a pro

3 Apr

THE problem with being a louche, snake-hipped debutante is it makes you innately rubbish at playing pool. It’s all about the stance, as Tino Fulgenzi, proprietor of the ultra-chilled Red Triangle in Fitzroy, explains with great patience.


I’ve always kinda leaned on a pool table like I’m telling a good yarn, with the cue sawing around somewhere off to the right. This is incorrect.

I’m to imagine a line drawn from the ball through my body. My right foot (I’m right-handed) needs to sit at 45 degrees on that line. The left foot comes forward and sits parallel to the line.

“Lock your back leg and put your weight on it,” says Tino, trying to find a solution to my bendy back problem. (Hey – I’m great at backbends.) “Then bend your front knee, keep your hips facing forward, and you’ll find your body automatically aligns straight on with the cue.”

Like magic, I hit the ball and pot it in the far corner. Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk: I pot the entire lot. Okay, I’m not hitting another ball en route, but trust me, this deadly aim is a vast improvement.

It takes me a while to get used to my new stance, so I’m Shakira-ing my hips around the table for a good half hour. It’s zumba time!


When it comes to cueing the ball, Tino offers the analogy of a karate chopper aiming beyond a stack of wood so that his hand is still accelerating when he makes contact. I follow through with the cue about four inches past the white ball’s original position. “You can tell the difference in the sound,” Tino says. “That sounds much nicer.”


Tino bemoans the way most people chalk their cues, burrowing the tip into the bluey nook and swivelling it like they’re trying to start a fire. This both fails to chalk the sides of the cue tip, and starts creating holes in the chalk cube. Instead, you should hold the cube at an angle onto a tip, rotate the cue with one hand and dust the tip with a sharp downward movement. Stylish. You particularly need to chalk your cue when you’re hitting the ball anywhere but dead centre – if it’s up against a cushion, for example.


I’ve been holding my cue all wrong – Tino tells me to shorten my grip and widen my bridge. He means the ‘bridge’ that’s the distance between the pool tip and your hand, rather than the ‘bridge’ that’s your hand. Confusing.

“Lower your bridge,” says Tino, referring to the latter now – and I flatten my hand like a limbo dancer. This is to stop me hitting the ball too high and cease the seesawing motion. In theory.

“Hmm,” he says, circling me critically. “Something is not right. What is it? Aha! We’ve found the culprit. Your elbow drops dramatically. Why would it do that?”

I love the way Tino sees my mis-cues as an interesting, mathematical conundrum, rather than the actions of an uncoordinated idiot.

To stop me dropping my elbow when I quit aiming and actually take the shot, he tells me to lock my shoulder and elbow and only swivel my forearm. It works a bit, but all goes to hell as soon as he introduces a second ball. Time to call it a day.

“Walter Lindrum’s dad only let him use the white ball for a year,” Tino reveals with a misty expression.

Keeper? I’m keen to try some trick moves, but in the mean time, Tino offers to lend me a cue. “Go home and practise aiming into an empty, plastic milk bottle on the kitchen table,” he advises. “Without touching the sides.”

One Response to “DAY 215: Playing pool like a pro”

  1. nickdoeshockey April 5, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    “I love the way Tino sees my mis-cues as an interesting, mathematical conundrum, rather than the actions of an uncoordinated idiot.”

    Gold. 🙂

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