Once you become familiar with the game of snooker and start to play it more regularly, you’ll notice that a number of things are needed to support playing time. Chalking a cue tip, checking the bumper cushions, and cleaning the table felt from chalk and residue are all factors that need to be considered.
Something you might not be aware of though is the temperature that the game should be played at…
Something you may have noticed is that snooker tables often come accompanied by a digital thermometer which is occasionally shown during a live game as the camera pans around the table and playing area. So, are snooker tables heated?
Snooker tables are heated to reduce the amount of friction when playing on a slate table. If a slate table becomes too cold and builds up too much friction and slows the ball down during shots. This means that most snooker tables have a heater set to 45°F to 50°F on world championship tables.
Below I’ll cover why snooker tables are heated, how it affects the ball and playing surface, and also whether or not you should heat a snooker table if you have one at home.
Are Snooker Tables Heated
When watching a professional game at a World Championship, you may have noticed that there is a digital display underneath the table. I know a number of spectators have noticed this as you can see here
Heating snooker tables is crucial. If you ever see a professional game, you’ll notice a small digital display at the bottom of the table. It often reads between 45°F to 50°F (7°C and 10°C). This is the table’s thermometer, indicating how warm the table is.
Heating a snooker table provides a very important function: it reduces the amount of friction that develops on the slate of the table. If there wasn’t any heat on the table, it will become too cold and potentially too damp to play on.
Friction Creates Moisture
This is because of the heat that results from the friction created by balls rolling on the table along with players leaning, breathing and running sticks over it. Once it cools, condensation builds up between the material and the stone slab beneath it.
The time between games would force condensation to build up under the rock comprising the slate. This makes for an undesirable surface. A heated snooker table keeps it dry for optimum gameplay. This also helps the ball roll smoothly across the surface and gives the movement consistency.
When there’s too much friction, it may mean that players have to hit balls with more force than they otherwise would. Alternatively, they may have to play at a disadvantageous angle in order to make a shot. This can put more wear-and-tear on balls and cues while also creating the potential to harm the table’s material.
Severe Changes in Temperature
Constant changes in temperature will cause the surface material of the table to change its texture. This can severely affect the way a game flows. Things like micro bumps and overstretching can result. These can disfigure the slate or material, rendering the surface difficult to play on.
It may seem like 50°F would be far too hot for a table. But, because of the mechanism heating the table, only 20% of the heat generated disperses to the material on the table.
If the table gets warmer than 50°F, this can also change the texture, feel and performance of the ball on the slate. The point is to keep the table warm enough to prevent friction while maintaining an even playing surface.
Why You Should Heat Your Snooker Table
In the case you have your own snooker table, you should definitely keep it heated. A good snooker table costs a couple thousand pounds/dollars and you want to keep the slate in good condition for as long as humanly possible.
Low-Cost Ways to Heat a Snooker Table
Unfortunately, heated slates for a snooker table cost quite a bit of money. So, local bars, pubs and clubs don’t often keep a heater attached to their snooker tables. They iron the tables to keep them smooth, warm and dry.
If getting a heater installed into the table isn’t feasible and getting a table with a heater built-in is out of the budget, you can do several things to keep the table warm. There’s always the route of local bars and pubs, where you can use an iron to keep the table warm and dry. You can run it before, during and after the game.
You can also use an overhead lamp that gives off enough heat to keep the table between 45°F and 50°F. It may be a good idea to get a stick-on thermometer, like the ones you find for fish tanks, and keep it in an indiscreet spot on the table.
Using a Space Heater
You can have a space heater nearby and leave it on for the entire time you play. Allow it to stay on for about an hour afterwards so that all possible moisture evaporates. In the case of slate, it’s not advisable to keep portable space heaters under the table. Just nearby and monitor the temperature throughout the course of the game.
Under Table Heating
The most common way that snooker tables are heated is with under table heating. This is the method used in the World Championships, however, it’s not necessarily the cheapest solution. This requires professional installation in most cases and will need constant monitoring and regulation to ensure the heater doesn’t cause damage to the table.
Wooden Snooker Tables
It’s worth noting that you only have to keep slate tables warm, not wooden tables.
Wooden snooker tables require slightly different care. These are more ideal for personal billiards at home because they are somewhat easier. If a chip or crack happens to slate, this can be expensive to fix. Wood tends to hold heat in a little better than stone.
You only perform a light ironing on the table before and after play. This keeps the cloth flat and warm. But, you don’t want to use too much heat on wood as this can cause it to misshape and warp.
You will also have to be sure to store the table in a cool, dry location. Never allow the table to come into contact with moisture, it will be disastrous to the wood and the table’s surface. Plus, it will be nearly impossible to dry it out.
Something many people don’t know when playing snooker is that there’s a very good chance that you might be playing on a heated table.
This is surprising to many people/players because pool tables are not heated as both are billiard sports, so why are snooker tables heated?
Snooker tables are heated in order to reduce friction as the balls move across the table.
Without heating, the game wouldn’t be playable as intended and shots that you’ve practiced consistently would not be as efficient when played on a cold table.