Break Cue vs Playing Cue

  • By: Rob
  • Date: May 12, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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In the game of pool, there is not much that separates opponents, the only variables are the skill of the players and the cues they use. Most casual players do not care to use multiple cues and they might not even know why pro players do it.

So then, is it necessary to use different cues and what are the differences between a break cue vs playing cue?

The difference between a break cue and a playing cue is that they are constructed differently for their different uses. The breaking cue takes a lot more force so it is stronger, shorter, thicker and heavier. The playing cue on the other hand is the opposite, it is used for soft and tactical shots.

There are many differences between a break cue and a playing cue and it is important for a growing player to understand them well. Read on the see exactly how they differ.

Break Cue Comparison

The two break cues compared in the table below are the two break cues I talk about in this article and the two I recommend if you are considering buying.

Table could not be displayed.

Break Cue vs Playing Cue

All playing cues are not made equal, they have the same basic parts, but the way in which these parts are designed and constructed makes a big difference. These are the main ways in which the parts of a break cue and playing cue differ:

The Butt

The butt is the heavy end of the pool cue. For a break cue, a lot of people want as much weight as possible to give their shots more power while a playing cue will be lighter to give more control and feel.

The Shaft

The shaft is the part of the cue that will absorb the most impact. You will find break cues with a much shorter and thicker shaft to be able to take the force without breaking. A playing cue on the other hand will have the opposite properties.

The Tip

The tip is the part that will make contact with the ball. This part is also very important because it has a direct effect on how the ball behaves. For playing cues you want the tip covered with soft leather to retain chalk and to get more spin and control on the ball.

For the breaking cue, you want a hard tip that does not wear out quickly and that can put speed on the ball.


Do You Really Need A Break Cue

Most amateur or social players have never considered using a breaking cue, they normally play with the house cue and then they break and play with the same old cue.

This is perfectly fine if the goal is just to have some fun. But if you want to really take your game to the next level then it becomes almost essential to have both a playing cue and a breaking cue.

As discussed above, there are many differences between a break cue and a playing cue and if you want to play a good game you need both. A good playing cue will cost a bit of money so the last thing you want to be doing is damaging it by using it for powerful breaks.

Starting a pool match is a great advantage, if the breaking player can make a good first shot they have the opportunity to go on a streak right from the start. For this, you need a good powerful break and then you need to follow up with precise and accurate shots.

Although you don’t really need a break cue to smash the pack with, repeated breaks using a playing could damage the shaft and will harden your tip, therefore it’s recommended to use a break cue when breaking as break cue tips are extremely hard.

What Is The Best Breaking Cue

There are many breaking cues to choose from and it could even become a bit overwhelming when looking for the right one.

To save readers the hassle we have consulted with many experts and reviewed all the different cues on the market. We have come to the conclusion that the Purex HXT-P1 is one of the best break cues you can find.

It might be a little bit expensive so we will also recommend the Rage Heavy Hitter as an alternative to the Purex. The Rage Heavy Hitter might be just as good, but a lot more affordable. It must be said that the Rage Heavy Hitter is not allowed in all tournaments.

Also, you can check out my list of the Best Break Cue to help you make a more informed choice.

Can You Break With A Playing Cue

Technically you can break with a playing cue, but it is not a very good idea at all! Any decent playing cue will be designed for playing, not for breaking. This means that the impact of a power shot will do significant damage to the playing cue.

There are pool cues that are somewhere in the middle of a break cue and a playing cue, these cues can be used for both. In most pool houses there will be low-quality pool cues that players can use for free, these ones are used for breaking and playing.

As soon as you want to start playing decent pool though, you need a good playing cue and then you do not want to be using your playing cue to break.

By using your playing cue to break with you will not only damage the cue its self, but you will flatten and harden your tip, which will affect the way your playing cue performs while playing. 

If your playing cue has a soft tip, the constant force put into breaking the balls will damage your tip faster than it would with a harder tip. Break cues have very hard tips to help transfer energy, a softer cue tip, such as one used on a playing cue wont be able to transfer the same energy.

I have a list of the Best Pool Cue Under 200  and  the Best Pool Cue Under 500 that might help if you are looking to take your game to the next level.

Are Break Cues Worth It

The short answer is that break cues are definitely worth it. A pool player cannot take his game to the next level without adding the break cue to his case. At this intersection it will separate players that go on to become really good and players who stay at a social level of play.

The break in pool is such an important moment in the match, if the breaking player gets an advantage from the start, the game can be over before it even began.

With the right break cue you can make sure to get maximum power behind your shot getting the balls to spread well so that the table is open and easy to play on. A good break can also sink multiple balls giving more advantage to the breaking player.

A good player also needs a high-quality playing cue, these are not cheap and they should be looked after well. If you know you do not need to break with your playing cue you can invest more money into your playing cue and you can also get much softer leather for maximum control and spin.

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Rob is an avid player and fan of all cue sports, particularly 8-ball, and snooker. He has competed in a few local 8-ball tournaments and although he is not a professional, he can compete with the best of them.