When you first started playing pool, chances are you used ordinary house cues.
Yes, those are the plain-looking pool cues made from regular wood that usually comes in one piece, with low-quality shafts and tips.
But soon you learn that it’s better, and definitely way cooler, to have your own pool cue – even as a beginner.
That is why it makes a lot of sense to invest in a pool cue even when one is just starting out.
As your level of skill in playing pool progresses from a Beginner to Intermediate, you will begin to develop your own style and become more confident in your ability to play.
It’s important to have the right pool cue because it can definitely affect your game without realizing it.
With your pool skill constantly developing with consistent play, it may be time for you to consider an upgrade with the most important tool in pool.
But with so many brands and products in the market, it’s not easy to choose which pool cue may be the right one for you.
Is price always the basis to ensure that you get the best quality, or are there really pool cues that provide high-performance without putting holes in your pocket?
Let us introduce you to some of the pool cues that we think deserve consideration for Intermediate players who have already outgrown their pool cues.
Have you ever asked any of these questions?
- Is a low-deflection cue really important?
- Is it time to upgrade my pool cue or add to my collection?
- What brands are the best “bang for the buck?”
- Can I just upgrade my shaft?
If you have asked yourself even just one of the above questions, chances are you are ready to take your game to the next level.
But before you go out and head to the nearest sports store, or click “add to cart” and make that online purchase, read on and let us help you make a better-informed decision.
Here is the list of different brands of pool cues that we highly recommend for Intermediate pool players.
This shortlist highlights each product’s unique features, build quality, and price:
Kicking off our list is a two-piece pool cue by Players.
Players Technology Series HXT15 is crafted from premium grade, hand-selected, 100% North American hard rock maple. You can choose from an 18 oz. up to 20.5 oz. for a better feel and handling.
The HXT Shaft drastically reduces cue ball deflection through a high-tech ferrule increasing the power and accuracy of every shot. It’s treated with a Patented Stabilizer called Nelsonite that protects it from atmospheric changes ensuring that you will get to enjoy this quality cue for a long time.
This is a well-balanced pool cue, and the low deflection creates a precision English comparable to higher-priced brands.
The only issue but certainly not a deal-breaker is the tendency of the shaft to give off a slight vibration or feedback when you hit the cue ball with force. Other than that, this is a pool cue that is definitely worth more than its selling price.
- Proprietary HXT Low Deflection Ferrule is one of the best in the market
- Features advanced technology that is usually found in higher-priced cues
- Shaft tends to give off a bit of vibration upon ball contact
This sleek and simple Lucasi Custom Mystic Black is a top-notch pool cue for intermediate to advanced players, especially with its Zero Flexpoint Solid Core Low Deflection Technology Shaft professional taper.
Whew, isn’t that a mouthful?
While you may think that’s a lot of words to say just to describe a shaft, it’s actually well-thought-of and aptly describes what it’s all about.
It’s backed by years of research and development enough to convince a three-time World Champion in Nine-Ball by the name of Thorsten Hohmann to collaborate with Lucasi for the design.
If this pool cue is good enough for the German Pool Champion known as the “Hitman”, then it should be good enough for us ordinary mortals.
Aside from this feature, this Lucasi also comes with a quick-release Uni-Loc® joint and a premium Tiger Everest Tip preferred by most professionals for its superior ball control. Added to this is the 4-piece butt construction for a solid hit and increased durability.
The design is elegant and this beautiful pool cue does stand-out from the crowd. But if you want a pool cue with simple design and has a great playability like the Lucasi Custom Mystic Black, you may check the Lucasi Sneaky Pete.
It’s a bit pricey compared to the Players HXT15 but it’s totally justified with the technology built around this product. Add to that is the seal of approval from a German World Pool Champion and price should no longer be an issue.
- Low Deflection Technology is one of the best in the market
- A solid, well-built pool cue
- A bit on the expensive side, but in my opinion, it’s all worth it
The Predator Sport 2 Ice Sport Wrap is a high-performance and top-quality cue. This pool cue is another great option for intermediate to advanced players.
It comes with a four-piece hard maple butt construction, which reduces vibration and increases shot accuracy. The Z3 Shaft is an upgrade to the Z2 and the difference in strength and in deflection can be immediately noticed by those who have experienced playing with both.
This particular model has a SportII grip rubber handle with a five-zone grip. You can feel the different traction as you rotate it making for a firm and tight grip.
It’s patented with a Uni-Loc® Weight Cartridge System, which allows you to alter the feel and performance of the cue. It also comes paired with a world-renowned Predator Z-3 low-deflection shaft that features the light and stiff V-Tek ferrule, the strong and tactile V-Tek Fiber Tip, and the Vault-Plate that make up the shaft component of the cue.
This is one pool cue that is also steeped in technology.
It also boasts of a Tiger Everest tip that is known to combine the control of a soft tip, the strikes of a medium tip, and the durability of a hard tip.
Overall, the Predator Sport2 Sport Wrap Pool Cue is a solid and well-built piece of equipment that is sure to up your game.
Not surprisingly, this also lands in the higher price range in our list because guess what – it’s a very high-quality cue.
If you are willing to spend a few hundred dollars more for the design, quality and technology that comes with this particular product, then this could be just the right pool cue for you. Besides, you can never go wrong with a Predator.
- Highly accurate Z-3 low-deflection shaft
- Has a great balance
- Be ready to shell out some serious money
Cuetec is known for the way they bond fiberglass into their cue shaft which makes it one of the most durable brands in the market.
The Cuetec Graphite Series cue incorporates a patented Super-Slim Taper® (S.S.T.) which is a power bonded shaft, that is super smooth and highly durable. For others, this may take some getting used to as the slim design is a bit thinner than the standard cue.
This is the kind of cue that you would not worry too much in terms of dings or scratches when it gets knocked over. If you are a bar pool type player, this should be your go-to cue to have that extra peace of mind.
The Veltex Grip ensures that this will be firmly secured in your hand while making every shot especially when breaking.
The adjustable weight bolt system allows for quick and easy changes to suit your preferred weight and feel for the cue. It also comes with a Tiger Everest Multi-Layer tip with Polycarbonate ferrule that helps in the accuracy of your shots.
Over-all this is one beautiful piece of design built with high durability at a very reasonable price that will not break the bank. Also, the Cuetec brand is known for its durability and high-performance.
- Signature power bonded shaft makes it highly durable
- Powerful cue for break
- The fiberglass can easily pickup your sweat
The McDermott Lucky L65 Leprechaun is one of the lower-priced cues in the McDermott line and on our list. But don’t let the price fool you because this is a well-constructed pool cue that is comparable to higher-priced brands.
Made out of a hard rock maple wood, its signature graphic sleeve overlay is easy on the eyes. This particular cue comes in Leprechaun Graphic Green design, which may appeal to adult with playful personalities, kids and teens but definitely not for old-school players.
It comes with an Irish Linen wrap which is the standard in the industry. This gives the cue a nice feel and playability. It shoots great and rather smooth.
This cue made our list for its reliability, head-turner design and excellent price for an Intermediate cue.
- One of the least expensive cues in its class
- Unique Leprechaun graphic design
- The tip is a little hard
Another high-performance cue that employs good technology is Pure-X. This particular model with its Kamui Black Tip and Custom Sneaky Pete design is solidly built and is a value-for-money pool cue.
This 2-piece cue comes in an 11.75mm or 12.75mm Shaft HXTSN size and a wider weight range of 17 oz. up to 20.5 oz. for a more natural feel and better handling.
Kamui Black Tips are made from high quality, specially selected pigskin. The leather is tanned by a special moisture-proof tanning, giving it the black color, hence the Kamui Black.
It’s “humidity-resistant” adding more elasticity to the tip which is ideal when hitting the ball.
The low-deflection shaft with lightweight polymer core drastically reduces cue ball deflection resulting in a high-performance cue. It is not the same as the higher end models of Predator and Lucasi, but you can definitely put enough English to your shots with it.
You are guaranteed peace of mind when it comes to warping since this cue comes with a Lifetime Warranty from Pure-X.
- Low-deflection shaft delivers great playability
- Has a very solid hit
- The Sneaky Pete design is not for everyone
Finally, for those who may just want to buy a shaft only, this Predator Z 3rd Generation may be just the right one for you. Buying a shaft is a great option than buying a whole cue if you already have a cue butt that you’re familiar with.
It has a V-Tek ferrule that is an improvement in terms of strength compared to its predecessor so it’s not easier to break. It also has a silencing pad underneath the tip so it has a solid feel when hitting the cue ball.
It is lighter and stronger than the Predator Z2. It has a great power and hitting the cue ball will result in a more accurate and solid hit. This shaft is definitely worth the upgrade based on its performance.
It also has a lower deflection than its predecessor the Z2. In fact, it has probably the lowest deflection among all the Predator cues.
The Predator Z3’s pricing is just about right considering the performance it can give you. If you are looking for a great shaft to partner with your cue butt the Predator Z3 can deliver the high-performance that you need to improve your game.
- Fiber ferrule is stronger and almost impossible to break with normal usage
- Has a solid hit and highly accurate
- I honestly can’t think of any
Things to Look for in Choosing A Pool Cue for Intermediate Players
After giving you the list of choices for what we think are currently the best pool cues in the market for intermediate players like you, you now have an easier way of deciding which one may suit you best.
With the different price range, designs, and specific features unique to each brand, you should be able to determine what can help you with your game depending on your style of play as well as your current skill level.
And to further help you decide, let’s do a quick recap on what are the things you need to bear in mind in terms of a pool cue’s important features.
The shaft may well be the most important part of the pool cue stick. This is because it’s the main thing that determines how a pool cue stick behaves and performs.
The standard diameter size ranges between 11-13 mm and only you can best determine what is the right size for you.
Low deflection shafts are vital for making skill and precision shots, and the higher-priced range brands such as Predator Z3 with its ferrule made out of fiber ensures high accuracy. Also remember that all low deflection shafts and cues are not created equal, there are some differences on how low they can deflect the cue ball.
You may have noticed that pricier brands tend to have more complex technology incorporated in their products which results in better performance.
A great tip allows you to get precision and solid hits whenever you take aim on the cue ball. There is nothing more frustrating than hitting a relatively easy shot only to be let down by a substandard tip of your cue.
You’ve probably read the Kamui Black Tips a number of times in our review, and the PureX Low Deflection Technology is a great example of a well-made cue tip.
Built from high-quality pigskin, it adds toughness and elasticity which are both ideal to hit the ball with precision and accuracy.
The Tiger Everest Tip is just as great, and a lot of professional pool players prefer this tip as well. One can never go wrong with any of these tips so it eventually will boil down to one’s personal preference.
This is also important because a cue is only solid as its joint. The Uni-Loc® quick-release joint is a reliable and highly recommended joint for its solid built.
The standard size for most 2-piece cue taper is between 12-14” mm. There are two types of cue taper: Conical and Pro.
Conical is what you will usually find in house cues that smoothly tapers from the fat end to the skinny end, like a cone.
The Pro Taper means that the shaft is one constant diameter from the tip back around 12-14” mm and then begins to cone out towards the joint.
It allows the player to have a bridge that doesn’t interfere with the stroke or the tip position at impact that’s why it’s important that it’s in the right shape and size.
The standard weight of a pool cue typically ranges from 17 oz. up to 21 oz.
There is no hard-fast rule in choosing the weight of your cue. Normally a common weight starting point is 19-20 oz, so you may have to consider this when making your purchase.
Bear in mind that the weight affects how you make your shot as a heavier cue will tend to create more cue ball speed for a given stroke effort.
A lighter cue is normally used for skill-shots where accuracy and precision are more important.
The pool cue design seldom interferes with the pool cue’s performance if at all. It’s really more for aesthetic appeal than anything else.
Most of the brands featured here incorporate great designs in their products, and it will depend on one’s taste and style in choosing what works for him or her.
The Lucasi Mystic Black with Cocobola and Snakewood Banded Rings is worth looking at when it comes to design.
A pool cue’s balance point is its center of gravity, which is the point at which you can balance it (e.g. if you support it on a finger).
The point of balance of most 58-inch custom cues today (which has become the standard) is between 15 1/2 and 20 inches from the bottom of the butt plate.
A well-balanced cue will have an ideal tendency to make a player grip the cue further back, allowing less room for side sway, resulting in a better shot.
Most of the manufacturers featured in this review provide a standard warranty on their products.
The warranty usually covers all manufacturer and material defects upon purchase and subject to the terms and conditions of these companies.
When purchasing your pool cue, it’s important to request for the manufacturer’s warranty to determine the specific coverage of the product.
Once you’ve decided on which pool cue to purchase, you have to consider purchasing additional accessories such as a carrying case, a glove (especially for sweaty palms), chalk, and the like.
Your pool cue comes in a regular carrying case. A carrying case is very important in order to protect your investment so you may want to consider buying a more durable and solid built case for your cue sticks.
Most of the brands featured here sell their own carrying cases so you may want to stick with the brand name of the pool cue you’ve decided to buy.
Prices usually range from less than a hundred dollars to thousands depending on the brand and quality.
There are many pool cues worthy of attention that are not included in our list. But we wanted to give you a diverse range not solely based on price.
Each pool cue has its own unique features and characteristics. The technology incorporated into some of them such as the ones in the Predator Sport 2 Ice Sport Wrap, and the Lucasi Custom Mystic Black ensure top-notch performance.
And then, there are the below 200 hundred dollars such as the Players Technology Series HXT15, and the McDermott Lucky L65 Leprechaun both of which are surprisingly well-made and top-notch considering the low-price.
Whatever you decide, you will never go wrong with any of the pool cue on this list. In the end, any choice you make will only compliment your playing style, and take your game to the next level.
Because you’ve worked hard to improve your skill and take your game to the next level, it’s only fitting that you reward yourself with a high-performance pool cue that you will surely enjoy in the years to come!