If you play billiards often and are starting to play in leagues and tournaments, you may eventually ask yourself if it is time to buy a dedicated break cue. The answer depends a lot on your circumstances, and your budget.
If you regularly play 8-ball, you will be breaking a full rack of 15 balls, compared to a smaller rack for 9-ball. Also, as you begin to increase your competitiveness, you will find that you are smashing the break quite a bit harder than you used to. This can lead to wear and tear, and even damage, to your cue.
Save My Playing Cue
If your immediate goal is to save the wear and tear on your playing cue, you may want to purchase a dedicated break cue or simply use a house cue for breaking. This will allow you to play without fear of damaging your playing cue. This can be especially true if you have just bought your first cue, or have spent a lot of money on a new playing stick. Using a house cue for breaking will help you minimize the damage to your playing cue, but may not be the right help you need to continue to improve your game.
Be More Competitive
Once you start getting serious with your game and start playing in your local leagues, you may start to find the a good break can make the difference between winning and losing. You may start to find that without sinking a ball on the break and running the table, you have just left the table open for your opponent to finish off. This is where a dedicated break cue really starts to make sense. With a specialty cue like this, you can get the design and features that are more appropriate for the job. For example, you may like a softer tip on your playing cue for feel and control, but you definitely want a rock hard tip for breaking. Some break cues come with a phenolic tip that is basically as hard as the ball you are hitting. This allows for maximum transfer of energy from the cue to the ball for that solid break. You may also want a heavier cue to break with, and play with a lighter weight. Again, this is personal preference.
At some point, you will need to address this critical part of the game. Rather than simply hitting the break as hard as you can and crossing your fingers, you will want to start gaining consistency and proficiency with this opening shot. Remember, a solid break will open the table for you to show off what you have learned on individual shots, and open the door to run the table.
What Break Cue Should I Buy?
There are a lot of choices on the market today for dedicated break cues. McDermott and Viking make solid cues and have great dedicated cues at affordable prices. There are others out there as well. A word of caution about break/jump cues. When you buy a combination cue that is designed to perform two different functions, many times it is not the best at either function. As with anything in Life, you get what you pay for. Don't expect to get a $30 specialty cue for breaking/jumping and have the best tool at hand for the job.