Best Place to Play Pool

Winfield's Bar

You can go one of two ways: Go to a hall and play by the hour with your partner. Or shoot on a down-and-dirtier coin-op table at a bar. This year we're going with the latter, because there are so damn many of them, and they're where most people, bush leaguers and hustlers alike, play. Joints with one, maybe two tables, crammed in a corner. Overdose on beer, peanuts and secondhand smoke and play some eight-ball. Winfield's is a nondescript corner bar in south St. Louis, equipped with one pool table. Costs a buck in quarters to play. But unlike most such places, Winfield's devotes an entire room to its table, and there's more than enough stick space -- nothing worse than having to cram -- for an equitable, leisurely game. It's like you're in a friend's house. The room has its own TV set and cigarette machine. And as a bonus for the guys, women in need of the powder room parade right by on a regular basis. The room is within eyesight of the bar and the miscellaneous mischief. You can still hear the jukebox cranking the KSHE classics, still spy the Keno monitor. But in essence, you've got your own pool room. Don't get us wrong -- hitting the halls, staking out the perfect felt, dazzling them with your $200 cue and mastery of the rail makes for a near-perfect evening, but sometimes you gotta go low-tech to see the high action.