Choosing the Right Pool Cue Case
If you ever plan on leaving the comfort of your home game room to play pool, you will need a pool cue case. Pool cue cases come in a wide array of sizes, are made from a variety of materials, and come in many different styles.
First, let's get some of the terminology out of the way.
1x1, 1B/1S or 1 butt 1 shaft all mean the same thing: this case holds one complete cue or 1 cue butt + 1 cue shaft. For example, we will use a 4x8 case. The first number refers to the number of cue butts the case holds; the second refers to the number of shafts. In this case, the case holds 4 butts and 8 shafts or 4 complete cues with 4 extra shafts.
PVC, polyform, plastic tube, rubber mold, cushion tube, EVA foam and polypropylene tubing all refer to hard cases and what kind of protection they offer. Hard cases are generally made out of some sort of plastic outside; be it PVC, polypropylene, or other type of plastic tubing.
Inside is where hard cases differ.
Some cases have dividers for your cue butts and shafts and are lined with silk or other moisture-wicking material. These cases give you a little more room to insert your cue components. Others have narrow cue butt and shaft openings that are lined with some sort of foam. These cases offer the most protection, don't allow your cues to easily spill out, and some materials (like polyform) are so strong you can even park a car on top of them without damaging your cues. I wouldn't recommend this of course, but it has been done.
Finding the right size.
Now that you know just what the heck people are talking about, you need to figure out how big your case should be. The first question to consider is how many cues you plan on carrying on a daily basis. If you are a beginner, a 1x1 or 1x2 case should be big enough. You have space for your regular playing cue, and if you go the 1x2 route, an extra shaft. Many beginning players just opt to break with a house cue instead of carrying a dedicated breaker around on their backs.
If you're a tournament player, you might want to go a little bigger – maybe a 2x2 or a 2x4. This will give you the option to carry an additional playing or break stick, as well as some extra shafts. Most of these cases also come with a jump cue pocket, so you can have a special jumper on hand at all times.
"Always keep in mind that the larger the case, the heavier it will be. A fully loaded case can top 15 pounds, which is a lot to carry on your shoulder, especially if you have to walk a long distance"
Most companies also offer larger cases – 3x6 and 4x8 are both popular configurations. Cases with this large of a configuration allow the player to be amply prepared for any situation. Jump cue? No problem. Breaker? You betcha. You'll have room for extra shafts for everything and a little bonus room if you carry a friend's cue or if you like cues with different weights. If you go with one of these, make sure to get one with a padded strap. Cases can get heavy quick! Always keep in mind that the larger the case, the heavier it will be. A fully loaded case can top 15 pounds, which is a lot to carry on your shoulder, especially if you have to walk a long distance (like around Vegas during a big tournament).
Hard VS Soft.
After you have the size figured out, you need to think about whether you want a hard case or a soft case. Hard vs. soft is a matter of preference – do you travel a lot or not have much storage space at home? Go for a soft case. Soft cases make great flying companions – not only are they easier on the shoulders, but a 2 pound soft case will eat up much less of your 50 lb. checked baggage weight restriction than a 12 pound hard case. They won't give you as much protection, but some players are willing to sacrifice protection for light weight.
If you only travel around town and compete in local tournaments, a hard case gives you better protection and can often stand up on its own so you don't have to lean it against a chair or the wall. Not having to worry about the case holding your expensive cues sliding down the wall and crashing to the ground is a great thing.
Time to consider the extras.
Once you have the size and style selected, it's time to think of little extra things like how much storage space you would like, what material you want, and what kind of straps would work best for you.
Most cases have some sort of small pocket, even 1x1 cases. This pocket is generally large enough to hold the bare bones basics – a cube of chalk, chalk holder and a tip tool. If you like to carry extras like a towel to wipe chalk off your hands or something to clean your cue with, this might not be enough room. If you like to play with empty pants pockets, you might also want to think about choosing a case with a larger accessory pocket.
I can't stand playing with anything in my pockets, and put a change purse with coins and wallet essentials, my phone, a small packet of tissues, some antibacterial gel, my tip tool, a bridge head, chalk, chalk holder, cue cleaner, lip gloss and a hair clip in mine.
I also like having a large jump cue pocket, and a lot of cues come with one. I can fit a jump cue, and also a small microfiber towel in the pocket to wipe away chalk dust.
The material a case is made out of can be a big factor in how long it stays looking nice. I love the look and feel of new leather, but it scuffs really easily. A lot (most) brands use leatherette in their cases, and this scratches much less easily. It's harder to find a nice-looking leatherette (I'm really picky), but it can be done.
Pro Series makes a bunch of cases aimed at women with cool handbag-inspired colors and textures and they also just came out with a whole line of heavy-duty grey, black & brown cases in a really nice-looking lizard print leatherette. They're not gaudy or too girly and are great looking in person. I would recommend one for men or women. That same brand also makes some really cool looking golf-inspired cases out of waterproof sporty fabric that feel really nice. They look much more expensive than they really are and most come with cool touches like turn-lock closure and super padded straps. Some other brands have models with the tooled leather look, which is also pretty cool.
Or you could always go old school and get a box case. Box cases don't generally have a carrying strap and not usually a lot of storage, but nothing beats them for cool factor. Especially the silver kind that looks like something James Bond would carry.
Finally, a little about size. Most cases on the market are sized to fit a standard 58” cue. If you have a cue that is longer than that, or if you like to store your cue with a joint protector, ask your dealer if the cue will fit. Some cases have extra room in the top that will allow a joint protector, some do not. If in doubt, you're better off asking.
I hope this answers the bulk of your questions about pool cue cases. When in doubt, always remember you can ask a dealer. Dealers love to talk pool and should have no problem steering you in the right direction.