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14 April 2024

The Dh1m game of billiards

By Reena Amos Dyes



Even though billiards has always been considered an elitist game played by gentlemen of leisure, most of the time these gentlemen hardly ever take a leisurely moment to admire the woodwork of the table they are playing on.


However, if you are playing on a table built by world-famous manufacturers Blatt Billiards, even the most single-minded player cannot help but notice its breathtaking grandeur and beauty.


Each customised table built by Blatt Billiards is hand-crafted in rich woods like maple burl, red tulip oak, macassar and ebony, and decorated with marquetry, colourful inlays and carvings and are works of art – not to mention appreciating investments.

With solid oak frames, cabriole legs, and rich walnut rails, some tables weigh as much as 1,090 kilograms (2,400 pounds).


Add to this the 150-year-old technique of joining the T-rail to the two-inch thick slate and you have a winning combination of art, individuality and durability.


Apart from making tables in traditional and contemporary designs, Blatt Billiards also restores antique tables and it has the largest collection in the world with nearly 3,000 being housed between its showroom in New York City and warehouse in Hillburn, New York.

Talking to Emirates Business about his beloved gaming tables, Ron Blatt, the president and fourth-generation owner of Blatt Billiards said: “We have been building billiard tables for four generations now since 1923.


“We make hand-crafted, customised tables for clients from all over the world and our tables start at Dh92,000 and can go up to Dh1 million, depending on what the client wants.


“We manufacture just 50 tables in a year as it takes around eight months for us to make one table. This is because all our tables are hand-crafted and we dedicate one craftsman to a table from start to finish. There is a waiting list of 12 to 16 months, once the design of the table has been approved.


“Right now we are busy building a table that will set its owner back Dh919,000.

“It’s being made in teak with a rosewood top rail with African and Aztec motifs in ivory and mother of pearl inlays. There is no limit to what we can do,” he said.


Giving an example of what his company is capable of achieving, Ron Blatt added: “As real estate in New York is very expensive, space is at a premium and very often people ask us to design tables that will double as a dining table or a bed.


“Once we had a client who wanted to own a billiard table but wanted the room in which the table was going to be kept to double as a ballroom. So I worked with a set designer from Broadway and we created a platform for the table that would sink into the floor when the table was not in use and then the gap would be covered with a replaceable floor.

“It took us one-and-a-half-years to accomplish this but we did it. While the table cost him Dh275,445, the replaceable floor cost him Dh367,260 extra. But in the end the client was very happy.”


It is no wonder then that Blatt Billiards has clients that range from Middle Eastern royalty to Hollywood actors such as Dustin Hoffman, Will Smith, Michael Douglas, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and corporate bigwigs like Malcolm Forbes.

The president of the company added: “The list is so long I can’t even remember all the names. We have been building tables for four generations now and the who’s who of the world are on our list of clients.”