Best pool halls

Other than Barbershop Lounge, Tim "Trickshot" Chin, a professional billiards player, shares his other top pool halls: "I enjoy playing in the league at Jillians ( It's a fun time just to go out and relax with some friendly competition and share the joy of pool with other enthusiasts. Admittedly it caters more to the social crowd though, so for a more serious pool player's pool hall, both Silver Cue in Woburn  ( or World Class Billiards in Peabody (82 Newbury St, Peabody (978) 535-7000) are great, if you can get out to them. One of the perks of being a student though is I get free pool at the tables at the dorms, for when I need some quiet practice time."

Trickster tips

“For general play, I'll carry around an X-breaker jump/break cue and a Layani playing cue, both of which are difficult to find these days,” says
Tim “Trickshot” Chin, a professional billiards player. “I used to play with a McDermott cue, which is a popular production brand. For trick shots, I have specialty cues for jump shots and masse shots (where the cue ball curves unexpectedly). I have too many jump cues to list and I have two masse cues from my sponsor Crown Cues. I like to carry around my own Masters chalk so I don't have to worry about the quality of the chalk at the pool hall. My biggest splurge was on the Tiger Paw cue holder after I got jealous seeing one of the other trick shot competitors with it, so I can rest my cues on a classy holder now.”

Wanna be a trickshot, too?

“If someone's serious about learning pool, I highly recommend getting an instructor or coach, says Tim "Trickshot" Chin, a professional billiards player. “You can learn basic concepts from a book, but a person will be able to provide immediate feedback. Most pool halls have a house pro who will offer lessons. Small group or private lessons will help build your fundamentals quickly before you develop any bad habits. For a more social aspect, joining a league is always fun, and there's always people who will be happy to show you a shot or give you tips on how to get better. In fact, I was teaching one of my teammates how to execute jump shots just a few weeks ago. Either way though, practice is also key, not just playing games, but dedicated drills that will help improve aspects of your game. Trying out trick shots can also teach some basic principles of the game.”


Pool culture

“I enjoyed Poolhall Junkies and The Color of Money for their entertainment value, says Tim “Trickshot” Chin, a professional billiards player. “I even put some variations of a shot by Christopher Walken in Poolhall Junkies on my website.
( The Hustler's also a classic and some of the shots featured in the movie are ones I have to shoot in trick shot tournaments. The last pool book I read was Running the Table by L. Jon Wertheim. It's a biography of 'Kid Delicious' Danny Basavich, which delves into the glamorized pool culture of hustling and making a living on the road. Books by Robert Byrne or Phil Capelle are great for instruction, especially for the beginner but they also provide some advanced concepts. For trick shots, you have to start with Mike Massey's World of Trick Shots book.”


Time to play ball

“If someone's looking for a regular pool tournament, I would encourage players to jump right in, Tim “Trickshot” Chin, a professional billiards player. “Certainly they shouldn't expect great success immediately. Many pool halls will put on small, weekly tournaments and the skill levels that show up tend to be quite varied. Some will even be handicapped to help level the playing field. Then you can move up to bigger tournaments after a few good showings. I've played in tournaments where I've played deep into the brackets and others where I've crashed out early on. Sometimes, it's just luck of the draw. But it helps to gain experience and know what to expect so you can be better prepared for the next time and look to improve. Trick shot tournaments are different since there's a program of shots that you must shoot. It's easy to score your practice sessions and compare how you would have fared at a given tournament. Just be sure to practice on different tables, since they all play a little differently. There's also amateur tournaments organized by 'Dr. Cue' Tom Rossman ( that feature an easier program. I know many players who have started there and moved into the professional ranks.

Trickshot Tim’s tips

“There's a mystique about pool being played in dingy, smoky pool halls with
tons of money floating around, and it would be naive to think that doesn't
exist anymore,” Tim “Trickshot” Chin, a professional billiards player. “But
there are plenty of establishments offering pool in a fun, social atmosphere. It's easy to stay away from the dive joints. If that is more attractive for you though, remember there's a difference between hustling and gambling!”

Trickshot’s stash

“I end up buying most of my stuff online,” says Tim “Trickshot” Chin, a professional billiards player. “The classifieds at are great if you know what you're looking for and want some higher end stuff. Getting feedback from the online forums can help narrow down what you might like and can also provide good deals on used equipment. For general accessories though,,,,, and are all worth a look. Some good deals can always be found on eBay too, of course. Pool cues can be difficult to pick though, because you don't get to try them out before buying. Most friendly players will let you try out their cues, so you can try to get a feel for your preferences (such as weight, balance, tip, and stiff or soft hit).”

He’s a tricky, tricky guy

This Monday, June 15, from six to nine in the evening, the manliest of men will be on display at the swanky Barbershop Lounge, Boston's own testosterone-zone cigar bar, hair-care haven and pool hall ( to celebrate with Boldfacers all things macho - fine dude hairstyles, cigars, eight know, guy stuff. And it's all to benefit "Music Drives Us," an organization created by Ernie Boch Jr. that promotes music education.

Tim "Trickshot”"Chin, this week's Boldfacer, will be cued up to play Celtics and Bruins and other special surprise guests. Tim is a double whammy kind of guy. By night, he's "Trickshot" Tim, a nationally ranked billiards wizard. By day, he's an MIT PhD candidate in material science, in the middle of writing a dissertation titled "Electro Chemical to Magnetic Energy Conversions." He's nerd meets cool, Armani with pocket protectors, and he can whip out head-spinning moves like you've never seen.

Tim grew up in Richland, Washington, the son of a scientist. He learned physics and quantum mechanics, and headed east to Cambridge. Lithium-ion batteries that change shape fascinates him—they have a lot to do with his dissertation—as do the mysteries of the felt table. In 2002, the science whiz kid saw a TV show called “Trick Shot Magic” that turned on the egghead to the physics of the cue ball. He started practicing and soon perfected such shots as “The Butterfly” where six balls go into six different pockets, and “Just Showing Off” where six balls go into five pockets. He can make a ball hop over other balls, and bend shots steeper than Manny Del Carmen’s curveball. Once Tim hit college, his MIT buddies soon realized he was the man to bring to a pub, so he started playing a lot at Jillian’s, Flattop Johnny’s, and the retro Sacco’s Bowl Haven, in Somerville. The “Artistic Pool and Trick Shot Association” has ranked him twenty-first in the country but, sadly, he may never reach number one. Although he uses his scientific acumen to determine just the right spin and angle to put on his shots, he figures he’s going to put billiards on the backburner soon in order to put science first.

So introduce yourself to Tim this Monday night. Surrounded by the hoopla, the dudes, and the scene, he’ll be the quiet, pool Zen master in the middle. Challenge him to a game! No worries if you lose – it’s all for a good cause.

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