For pool players, we live in a day and age where there’s a plethora of varying products for the billiards enthusiast to choose from. We have low deflection shafts, phenolic tips, jump cues, break cues, cue extensions, billiards gloves, layered tips, etc. With all the gear to select from, it can be hard to determine what’s the best choice for the individual. In most cases (pun intended), players are proud to show you what’s in their cases.
Many players I’ve seen have expensive cues in beat up, tattered cases. What about the case itself? You know, that thing everyone sees when you first walk into any pool hall.
John Barton, or JB for short, has played pool ever since he was 12, growing up in Oklahoma City. At 16 he was hooked. His business is JB Custom Cases. He is pool personified.
Barton has lived in Oklahoma City for the last 3 years; he moved there from China, where he lived for several years. He is one of the top 50 players in Oklahoma he tells me, as I get a little into his background in pool, and also he’s rated 612 on the Fargo system used to rate pros, which John tells me Shane Van Boening is an 820.
Also, John likes one pocket, what many call the chess of pocket billiards, and I’ve seen him play some one pocket matches he’s streamed live on Facebook, and he plays very well from what I’ve seen. Of one pocket, JB says, “It’s really frustrating for me, it’s so deep, but I really like it because there’s so many opportunities to be creative, and to do things that you’ve never really done before on the pool table in any other game…You can combine every game into it. You can combine your caroms, your kicks, your banks…you’ve got to be able to come up with things you’ve never even seen anybody do before.”
What’s in John’s personal JB 3×6 case? He’s got a Jerry Olivier, and a couple of Andy Gilbert’s — custom cues no doubt. Also, he has custom made cue extensions. I think JB loves custom made. Also, he has a “Hammer Head” jump tip for his Glibert jump/break cue. And he crams all that gear in a 3×6! That case is at maximum capacity.
JB Cases are warrantied for life. If you ever have a problem with your case, you are covered.
I wanted to see what it’s like to get a JB Custom case, so I went on line to John’s website at https://jbcases.com and proceeded to design my own case, a 4×8 case with backpack straps. Easy to design, and fun to set up your case in a way you like. You pick the material, you can upload custom art or your own logo. You can have your name in bold letters on your case. You can have all leather, a 1×2, a 2×4, 3×6, 4×8, and bigger. It’s your life, whatever you want, however you want it — that’s how they build it at JB Custom Cases.
Custom Cases come shipped in 4-6 weeks depending on the case. Also, they have many prefabricated cases to choose from.
In 2006 John converted his living room in China into a cue case manufacturing hub. He hired his mother in law to sew for him, and began making some top notch custom cases. He then hired a “tooler” to do leather cases, and said that’s how they got started.
Now, JB Custom Cases are distributed out of Oklahoma City, with manufacturing done in China, where much of John’s family resides.
“The cases we are known for now are the nylon, rugged cases,” John tells me, “You know, the lower priced case that appeals to a broader range… before that, I was just doing high-end, leather custom cases…now we can do a lot in the 150-300 dollar range… I have hundreds of ideas that I started to build our built prototypes in crude form and left them because I played out the idea and didn’t want to go farther with it. Those ideas are alive and waiting for when and if I want to continue. I now know more about how each one works in reality, how easy or hard they are too build, cost, practicality, etc…” “Life is not about how to sell more cases it’s about selling enough cases to be able to make a positive difference in the world somehow.” — JB. “I would like to give a lot of credit to my wife…The business should really be called Karen Barton Cases at this point. She left her university career to work full time at JB Cases and now she is literally the linchpin that holds our company together. She does a lot of the designing and coordinates all the of the projects and she sources all the materials. And in addition she is a full time mom, semi-pro dancer, and costume designer. She is my inspiration and idol.” — Barton.
From what I’ve gathered about JB, he’s a very cerebral individual — but not too lofty — he can talk with kings and commoners alike I’d imagine. Indeed, JB and I have had many philosophical debates, and while we may not always agree, we can always agree to disagree — a characteristic I look for in all my friends. Barton does what he does not just to make a profit, he obviously loves it, and honestly wants to give back to the game. Of course he intends to make a living doing what he does; no one works for free.
JB Custom Cases has a case for all billiards aficionados. Leather custom, nylon, design-them-how-you-want-them cases. You gotta love it!
With his mother in law running the Chinese side of the business, and John Barton maintaining home base in Oklahoma City, JB Custom Cases is yet another cool option for today’s billiards enthusiast — a yin-yang business where East meets West.
“The last thing I want to say is that I am really grateful to all of customers who have allowed me the opportunity to be involved in the billiard industry and travel around the world to a lot of events and see the stars in person. Pool is filled with amazing people who really do stick with it for the absolute love of the game.” — John Barton.
Author: Patrick Sampey
Photo provided by: John Barton
Editor: Shaylyn Troop