Have you learned how to hold a pool stick? You can tell a lot about a person by the way they hold their pool stick. You might not be able to tell what their political affiliation is or what kind of ice cream they like but you can definitely tell how long they've been playing. Watching an experienced pool player is like watching art in motion. It's cool and impressive. Seeing the expertise of a great player as they flow seamlessly from one shot to the next, their stroke effortless and steady, is like watching jazz master Charles Mingus.
The Classic Way
The classic way to hold a pool stick is by placing the cue end (the skinny end) in your non-shooting hand so it rests gently on your thumb. Next, wrap your index finger around the stick, lightly so the stick glides easily in and out of your hand. The remaining three fingers should be used to balance and steady your hand. Picture Paul Newman from the movie The Hustler. Newman used this method to hold the stick. Your shooting hand should be placed at the end of the pool stick (the thick end) a few inches from the bottom and on top with the palm facing down. This ensures a smooth stroke and prevents you from rolling the hand when striking the cue ball.
His Hair Was Perfect
Another way is to rest the cue end on the thumb, but instead of wrapping the index finger around the stick, it is placed between the index finger and middle finger. Here, all four fingers are angled slightly from the table to keep the hand balanced and steady. The shooting hand placed at the thick end of the stick a few inches from the bottom, on top, palm facing down. Picture Tom Cruise in The Color of Money.
Watch the Greats
Yet another but more flexible way is to pinch the thumb against the index finger creating a small "V" shaped wedge. This technique is good for creating a high angle for when the cue ball is close to another ball. The other three fingers are used as height adjusters as well as balance. The shooting hand placed at the thick end of the stick a few inches from the bottom, on top, palm facing down. The late, great Willie Mosconi used this technique.
Four-ball billiards is less common in the United States, but European and Asian versions are extremely popular. Learn about these variations and their scoring.
The history of billiards is a long, rich subject. The billiards game you play today has come a very long way from its origins as a lawn game in France.