Chris’s Billiards: A Chicago Classic


Change is inevitable.  Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad.

But as Chicago has morphed from an industrial city to one full of sanitized restaurants, chain stores and condominiums over the past forty years authentic experiences have become harder to find.

Chris’s Billiards, at 4637 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Jefferson Park, is one such experience.  You get the clear impression nothing has changed in decades.  There are photos showing winners from pool leagues in the 1990’s and framed newspaper articles from the 1980’s.

The hall has some notoriety in the film world.  Tom Cruise and Paul Newman’s 1986 pool hustling drama the Color of Money used it as a shooting location.  You can find autographed materials from that movie on the walls.

Forty-one tables are available across three rooms. That means most times it is not a problem to play.  There are seven foot and nine foot tables to choose from.

One employee described the front room as being “for more serious players.”  There are no jukebox speakers in the front for one thing, creating an atmosphere that feels more professional.

Also available are Snooker, Carom Billiards, and Ping Pong.  Several gambling machines and a boxing machine can be found here and there.  For a few dollars you can load up the digital jukebox with your favorite songs while you play.

Liquor is not served.  But it is BYOB and there is a liquor store within easy walking distance.  A variety of non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are available at the  front counter.

On occasion there can be trouble.  Recently a group of intoxicated late night patrons got into a brawl that sent several people to the hospital.

But that is not a regular occurrence, and in today’s politically correct world it is in some sense refreshing to hang out in a place where a fight can happen.

Tournaments are held regularly.  A handicapped 9 ball event takes place Sunday nights.  Wednesday night brings an 8 ball event that is not handicapped.  Both start at 8 o’clock, have a $20 buy-in and are double elimination.

Leagues also find their way to this hall.  These are multi-week events that move from one location to another.  Organized by the American Poolplayers Association, details can be found on their Chicago Area web site.

There are sometimes special events.  Find out more on those by visiting the Chris’s Billiards Facebook page.

Pool table rental is $5 per hour.  Combine that with the cost of refreshments and maybe a little music and it makes for a very affordable night of entertainment.

Chris’s Billiards is a winner.

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