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Sunday, 21 July 2013


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Agree wholeheartedly with "pro"; it's the same in tools. In most cases, the truly top-shelf tools are for amateurs. A true professional "X" will know what they are looking for, regardless of label. The "pro" label is for up-selling wanna-be's that don't know the product enough to chose based on actual needs, so they buy "the best" (highest margin per marketing). I don't buy "pro" label items, it makes me feel dirty (sorry Fuji, the x pro is great) Though I shoot Pentax, which seems to cater to the knowledgeable amateur's needs, and often eschews providing workhorse tools for professional photographers, which I have no real interest in as an amateur.

It's funny - I'd never thought much about pocket size. Here in the UK, typical pool tables that you might find in a pub are much smaller in general than a US table, and the pockets are much tighter. I guess because the balls are smaller too. I used to play a bit of snooker when I was at university, and we would play pool when we were just relaxing. We used to play American pool when we were hungover and couldn't hit a barndoor with a shotgun ;)

Looks like "Air" has the edge over "Pro" as TOP Mobile HQ's lapdog, after this post?

As a kid growing up in Westbrook, Maine, there were two pool halls. One was owned by my mother's uncle and the other was owned by my father's brother.....

I don't like dogs. They drool, they smell bad, they piss all over themselves when they get excited, and I've known quite a number of them to eat cat poop. Yuck! disease-carrying pests like houseflies and cockroaches also eat poop!

Cats are so much more intelligent. My grandpa's cat used to terrorize his big dog by standing on top of his cage and reaching in to claw at him. She was nice to him when he wasn't locked up, because then he could fight back. She was evil, yes, but smart.

As I said a pro is a person not an inanimate object or else I'll buy a pro camera and send it out to do papparazzo shots of Kanye West (who has a verry healthy dislike of impertinent papparazzo's I tend to share). Now back to pro cycling in the clothing moments of the Tour de France. Same applies there, have ridden a Willier Carbon bike and found it to be a tad nervous for my tast so I opted out and went for my old and trusted Passo di Gavia instead. Build in the early 90th out of Columbus steal, bought dirt cheap but it rides like silk spun in heaven.

Greets, Ed.

•To be a professional piano player, you pretty much have to spend your days playing and practicing piano.
•You can't make a living playing piano. Well, a few people can, but it's really hard.
•Then there's that seamy underside. Dueling Pianos.
•Try this on for size: "Dad, Mom, I've decided to quit college in order to follow my dream. I really want to be a professional piano player."

But you can probably get started with a nice Yamaha Digital Piano and Yamaha Pro Series Headphones. The Steinway will come later.

Well, there are pros and cons to consider.

So, should I get the IMac instead of the Mac Pro?


Most truly "professional tools" achieve that status because someone buys them and pays am employee to use them because the tools are so dangerous, difficult, unpleasant or maybe simply boring to use.

It seems to me that a "professional grade" truck implies at least a driver with a class C commercial drivers license and maybe 3 axles, air brakes, and 18 speed split transmissions.
(although in California if you put farm plates on it, a 14 year old kid could drive such a truck with 3000 gallons of fuel, or carrying a Caterpillar tractor on the highway with no licence or registration)

For instance the term "professional car" applies to ambulances, hearses, limousines, and flower cars.

The funny thing is how little being a pro has to do with the gear in use...

In an inheritance I had my choice of a Porsche Boxster or an auto-x and rally prepared 914/6. The Boxster does a wonderful job of keeping idiot drivers alive and allowing mediocre drivers to drive pretty fast without incident. The 914/6 was pretty much the opposite, had no heat or radio, was deafeningly loud at highway speeds even with the engine off (I was curious) , and had a nearly endless list of ways to catastrophically end a quick drive in the country.
I of course chose the 914/6.

Huh; never would have occurred to me that these variations in pool table pocket size or rail configuration even existed. And now that I know, it's just wrong. These things should be standardized, so you don't get in bad habits.

I've tried playing billiards/snooker a few times in my life. I get a few beginner's luck shots in the first half hour and that always sucks me in. I then continue to spend another frustrating hour or two missing even easy shots and end up hating the game, until next time.

@speed: not everyone can be concert pianist.

you can be a prof piano player as there is many other exit eg teaching. even get a master degree. not for pool. music is a much better indistry that sport or photography.

do not know us but in little hk, 1m kid has 140k compete in music competiton every year. q a big industry.

good living but may be not great.

after all beethoven is also a piano teacher.

I always heard that Professional Comedians are actually pretty depressed people in their normal lives. And I've never heard of governments of countries being described as "Professional". So what does it all mean? Beats me.

A home pool table used to be something for people with deep pockets.

It's always amused me that "professional" or "pro" gets added to only some job titles.
It's like a justification. Used as a defensive mechanism rather than with the comfort that comes with truly being professional.
"I'm a professional actuary," sounds fairly amateurish doesn't it!?
"I'm a professional comedian," just sounds funny.
"I'm a professional doctor," sounds terrible.
Meanwhile I know enough people who like to pull the wool over people's eyes but I think con artist doesn't need anything added.

Makes one wonder if there might be pro cons.


My incredibly faulty memory tells me that in my pursuit of my degree in Mathematics Reductio ad Absurdum was a proof technique used that allowed you to prove the truth of a supposition by proving that the negative of the supposition yielded a contradiction.

I am sure that all of you have been waiting most of your lives for this pithy explanation.

Recently I was playing the usual stripes/solids 8-ball with work colleagues at a home table of one of our executives.

The comments as I was racking up the wins were "how are you getting so lucky with the next shot." I finally answered:

"I played 9-ball 2-3 times a week in college."

They didn't understand (thinking it had to be easier), until they played a couple games. At that point it just wasn't fun anymore ;-)

Nah... actually damned few home tables have tight pockets... but those few tend to be owned by the sort of skilled amateur wannabes who will take to the internet and yammer incessantly about them. Nonetheless, your point about the utility of more forgiving pockets is spot-on.

I can't say the same for your assessment of cloth, however. Simonis 860 plays like a dream once you become accustomed to it. I wouldn't have anything but a fine worsted cloth on my home table. It allows the player to draw or follow the length of the table even if he doesn't have a monster stroke. It also allows for a full range of position options while hitting at no more than "pocket speed" (i.e. somewhat softly). As such, position play becomes easier than it is on slower cloth. If you're getting a home table, you will do yourself a great disservice if you don't go for a premium cloth. It's really an essential part of the modern game.

On-topic or not, there are a few of us out here who really like your pool-related posts. Keep 'em coming!

So, how would you describe the pockets on this table we found in Queensland?

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/42362981@N08/9339330333/]IMG_20130519_194046.jpg[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/42362981@N08/]Flash Gordon Photography[/url], on Flickr


This is a professional tool: Steinel Combicheck tester

It measures voltage, (approximately) continuity (are these wires connected, is this fuse blown) and whether I'm measuring alternating or direct current. That's it. No geegaws or gimmicks.

With this tool I have diagnosed nearly every electrical problem I have come across, and there have been some beauties.

Since one probe and the readout part are combined, I only have to concentrate on one hand at a time, helping greatly to avoid electric shocks. There are no aspects of the design which drive you crazy under repeated use, and a certain amount of specialised knowledge and experience is required to get the best out of it. Best £48 I ever spent on a tool.

My uncle CAT (big cat big letter) made matters clear with the young doberman. When it came to invetigate the cat, she jumped on the dobermans neck and made good use of it's hidden armament. Years later she could lie comfortly in the open doorway thus prohibiting the dog from getting out the house. She in fact outlived the doberman. Yeps the doberman was (as was the mansion, the rest of the family and the household staff) by the cat. Cat's are the smartest parasites known to the planet Terra and probably the most dangerous too. The BBC made a great horizon documentary about cats in a small village. The owners of a particular cat thought she was a nice and freindly house dweller, while the little critter was in fact terrorizing all the other cats in the neighbourhood via breaking and entering and grand theft food. How they got to grips with the furpawed villan.....they equiped the cat with a new necklace, containing a smart little camera and a GPS tracking device.

Greets, Ed.


GMC trucks are really sort of upscale Chevy trucks. Usually more nicely accessorized and more expensive, especially in the GMC Yukon line vs Chevy Suburban/Tahoe line. Guess "professional grade" means more nicely appointed.

Even when I was a "professional grade" photographer, I wanted to be an amateur. Being professional meant having to work at it, being an amateur meant enjoying it.

The other side of `pro' that occurs to me, particularly in photography, is `preparedness to tolerate hardship' - a consequence of an attitude that "I don't need all those buttons & features, it's all ISO+shutter+aperture at the end of the day" - come on, let in a little joy.

Don't get me started, Mike. I recently bought a house that had a Viking cooking stove. The seller's agent presented it to me as a huge plus; I mean, just imagine, "it's a pro stove!" I asked her if there was any chance I could buy the house without the stove and she looked at me like I was mad. "But...it's a professional stove..." she stammered.

I'm no professional cook, but I know a pain-in-the-arse stove when I see one. It features open burners, which means if I spill hot liquids, there's a good chance they'll drop into the hole around the burners...where the electric wiring for the sparkers is. Those cast iron grates are as heavy as they look, and if I want to clean the stove I practically have to take it apart. In the "Features" section of the specs, Viking say:

Removable Grates

Cleanup is a snap thanks to easily removable burner grates, grate supports, burner bowls, drip trays, drip pans, burner caps, and knobs.

Did you get that? It's a snap once I remove and dismantle the heavy as hell grates, supports, bowls and caps (times 4 for the 4 burners), the center grates, and the drip pan. It takes me 20-30 mins to clean the damn thing. How long does it take me to clean an electric flat-top stove? 1 frickin' minute! ONE! And it would cost me maybe 1/2 as much.

This is like building a camera that, in order to change the film, you need to pull it apart. Or to change the battery and SD card you need to dismantle a bottom plate or something. Who would make such a camera???? Nobody, I'm sure. But if they did, I'm willing to bet they'd call it "pro" and charge an arm and a leg for it, just like Viking do.

You might be able to tell this is a sore subject with me. I don't want a pro stove, or camera, or anything. I'm doing just fine with my amateur stuff, even if nobody takes me seriously with it.

"This is like building a camera that, in order to change the film, you need to pull it apart. Or to change the battery and SD card you need to dismantle a bottom plate or something. Who would make such a camera????"

That's it, Miserere wins the Internet for today. Everyone else, thanks for participating.


So, are you telling me that this is NOT a pro blog?...

[Most definitely not! We would ride our staff a LOT harder if things were done in a professional manner around here, for one thing. --Mike the Overbearing Ed.]

My definition of a professional pool player is one that can play well without the support of a few beers.

Like most amateurs I play in bar/pub pool halls and find I have a sweet spot between 2 and 4 pints. Before that I am nervous and too tensed up, by the time I finish the fourth I can see two queue balls and don't know which to hit....

Having said that, on the plateau I have managed quite a few clearances. Sober, not a one.

Okay, I feel the intense need to try to clarify a few big pool misconceptions here.

First, Chaz L has it exactly right on the "YES" fast cloth and "NO" tight pockets. Tight pocket tables are not regulation (which means you can't quite get two standard balls in side by side vs. two balls will just go on "regulation pocket" tables) and are NOT desirable if you are in a match at a poolroom with a player comparable to yourself. Fine if you want to practice on your home table, but IMO, won't help your game as much as reading "The Inner Game of Tennis".

Just to elaborate a little more on the fast cloth - Simonis 860 or 760 is NOT fast cloth, it is NORMAL cloth! That cheap, dark green, wet sod crap used in so many non-serious, date-only pool rooms where a real game has never taken place is what you have been lead to believe is the standard, or 'non-Pro' norm. Don't you believe it! If you ever want to learn to play pool, which means you've graduated to Nine-Ball and the light has come on about what position play really means, you will be on an uphill climb (and you will never really understand english) if you avoid "fast cloth".

Ditto for the wrapped pockets or whatever. I'd never head of that, but that's probably because Brunswick Gold Crown tables don't have that other open kind of pockets. Stick to the real thing and it'll never be an issue.

And last, the real point of my longish soon to be even longer commentary here - 'cause I feel I need to say so: The 'seedy underbelly' of the game, portrayed by the two great Pool Movies, isn't how it really really is.

Granted, the Pros on the Circuit don't earn the great money and purses as their Snooker playing bros across the Pond, where their best players are much more revered then over here. But there are those who make modest livings from the game and they're not necessarily "Hustlers" in the movie sense either. More like professional gamblers really.

Nine out of ten big money games that take place in established pool rooms (The likes of which are NOT named "Clicks") where both players know exactly what they're getting into and what the risk is when they play. Doesn't mean one guy might not think he's better than he actually is! Real pool is more like a poker game where you WILL get found out if you can't walk your talk!

These matches, which are almost always Nine-ball and are almost always played in races to some number, as in tourneys, often see quite a few hundred or even a couple thousand change hands in a match. Very rarely is this done in the form of a hustle or con, as is portrayed in the movies, or common perception. It's more likely the "Road Player" coming through town is eagerly anticipated and several high stakes games/players are ready and waiting to give the guy a try for the glory. Often the road guy is really just an incognito circuit pro, augmenting his income 'on the road'. The point is, there isn't much "hustling" going on in matches of this type - playing at this level there isn't much utility in it.

So, to sum it up: If you really wanna be a pool player, you must learn to play Nine-ball upon the regulation table until it becomes your new religion. It is along the path to (unattainable) mastery of Nine-ball that all other things pool will become clear to you. As long as you remain mired in the parochial and neophylitical game of "8-Ball", you will never truly understand the meaning of, nor reach your full potential in, the game of pool.

Now go forth my friend and good luck! (And walk softly and carry a Joss cue.)

Probably no field puts the kibosh on the 'pro' moniker faster than cooking. None of the best pans, for instance, are ever found in restaurant kitchens. The only thing a hobart mixer has over a countertop cuisinart is scale. Even knives tend to be cheap and utilitarian (in the sense of 'easily replaced when worn out') in real-world pro kitchens. Let's not even start on the relative scarcity of counter space in pro vs enthusiast kitchens.

I wouldn't give up my le creuset or fancy knives for anything.

Otoh, there is no question that there is a grade of gear, in most any field, which simply can't hack serious or sustained use. And it is worth avoiding that dreck.

The prefix 'pro' used to describe an activity is used when that activity is mainly associated with non-work, e.g. pro golfer. The prefix pro is used to label stuff when they are trying to fool the masses into believing something the item is better than it really is. Note that Nikon don't call the D4 a pro camera, they don't have to.

I actively prefer photo equipment which is not suitable for professional use.

I do not need a worldwide service network, and don't want to subsidize the upkeep of one. I want a small, light system optimized for my style, not a big, heavy rig capable of everything. Et cetera.

A piece of "pro" equipment should help the pro get the job done. It should be reliable and durable under the pro's usual working conditions. The equipment should be as ergonomic as possible. If it simplifies or speeds up the work flow while maintaining the desired quality of work, the equipment is worth buying.

I think the public hears "pro" and thinks "high quality" equipment. So far as I am concerned, there are a lot of cameras out there giving image quality that would have been considered miraculous 10 or 15 years ago. The marketers are hard at work trying to get the public to prefer one piece of excellent equipment to some other very similar piece of excellent equipment.

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