During weekends, billiards clubs are often busy and tables are hard to find.
According to Google Maps, there are currently around 410 billiard centers in Ho Chi Minh City. Most of these are located in densely populated areas such as District 1, District 8, District 10, Binh Thanh District, Tan Phu District, Tan Binh District, Phu Nhuan District, and Go Vap District.
In the affordable segment, rental prices for pool tables range from VND30,000 (US$1.24) to VND100,000 ($4.12) per hour. Modern-equipped places charge between VND120,000 ($4.94) and VND300,000 ($12.36) per hour.
Rental fees for pool cues are not included in the prices mentioned above. It costs at least VND50,000 ($2.06) per person.
In addition, there are many Facebook groups for billiards enthusiasts with thousands to hundreds of thousands of members, such as ‘Cong Dong Bida – Chia Se Dam Me’ (Billiard Community – Sharing Passion), ‘Dam Me Bida’ (Passionate about Billiards), and ‘Cong Dong Bida Sai Gon’ (Ho Chi Minh City Billiards Community).
These pages aim to connect players for friendly matches, share skills, and promote this sport in Vietnam.
According to Van Anh, the manager of a newly opened billiards club on Au Co Street in Tan Phu District, customers of different age groups, mostly between 18 and 30, have been enjoying the facility.
She mentioned that the busiest time is from 7:00 or 8:00 pm onwards, especially on weekends when tables are usually fully occupied.
A sense of community
Billiards seems to be a game that brings people together.
This sport piques the curiosity of young people and tempts them to try it, even though it is often associated with both good and bad stories, according to Anh.
Many entertainment channels that influence young people, including Schannel, share information about famous billiards players, which inspires more young people to learn about this sport, she added.
Tran Duc Anh, 22, a resident of Tan Binh District, said he and his friends often go to billiards centers three to four times a week. It has been three years since he first tried playing billiards.
“I find billiards trendy and recreational, especially when playing it with a group of friends,” Duc Anh said.
“Before starting the game, we often agree that the loser will pay for the group’s billiard fees. This small competition excites our moods and adds more fun.”
For Thanh Chi, 18, billiards is more than just a game.
“This sport is appealing because participants need to calculate the strength of their shots and the direction of the balls to win a match. Additionally, billiards provides a great opportunity for friends or colleagues to gather around,” Chi said.
Usually, Chi and a group of four to six coworkers meet at a billiards club once or twice a week.
In the past, there was a general perception that billiards is an unhealthy game due to its frequent association with alcohol, gambling, and prostitution. This led many people to believe that this sport should not be encouraged.
Nowadays, billiards is becoming more openly accepted because it is not only an entertaining sport but also a strategic game that requires careful calculation and high skills to win.
Moreover, billiards is included in various domestic and international sports tournaments.
Le Diem Hanh, 21, a senior at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City, disagreed with the prejudice, even though she is not a fan of billiards. She said that billiards is a healthy game as there are many widely covered billiards competitions within and outside Vietnam.
According to Hanh, negative connotations associated with billiards are assigned by humans themselves.
She also mentioned that billiards is a socially recognized profession.
Tran Mai Chi, 26, a resident of District 8, agreed with Hanh.
“It depends on each person’s purpose when playing billiards. If it’s just for stress relief with friends or colleagues, there’s nothing bad about it,” Chi said.
Interaction and learning
As the mass sports training movement continues to grow, billiards has attracted a large number of amateur players due to its unique appeal.
“Billiards is gaining the recognition it deserves in the public’s eye today,” affirmed Huynh Truong Thinh, also known as Thinh Kent, a renowned Vietnamese professional billiards player and the director of the Thinh Kent Carom Academy.
Large-scale tournaments are organized with a focus on interaction and learning rather than winning or losing.
Participants in these tournaments share a common passion and come together to motivate each other and lead more positive lives, Thinh Kent said.
Billiards is expected to thrive and attract a large number of participants, making fitness, sports, and local entertainment activities more diverse and exciting.
In addition, many talented billiards players have been discovered, contributing to Vietnam’s sports scene and promoting the country’s billiards strength internationally, he added.