Fun & Games
Bar diversions have a storied history, and Maui has some great places to partake
Bulwarks like billiards, darts and table shuffleboard may be cardinal to the bar landscape–but at face value, pub games are counterintuitive. Drunks wielding domesticated weapons in the lust of competition? Genius.
Really, though, it is genius, in that these diversions can turn a passerby into a patron, a buyer into a barfly.
The history of how these frivolous tests of skill became immemorially linked to our houses of inebriation is both convoluted and contested. One thing is for sure–no matter your game of choice, booze has a way of bringing out our sporting nature.
Let’s explore a little of the history and how-to behind these games–and which Valley Isle hubs offer playing fields and peeps to play with.
Cue sports were born of lawn games like the English’s croquet and the Italian’s bocce, brought indoors while players weathered winters. There are dozens–neigh, hundreds–of ways to play with these balls, but for our local-centric purposes, I’ll touch on a pocket billiards game variation called “Honolulu.” The general rules of pocket billiards apply, but according to Billiards, the official rules and records book edited by the Billiards Congress of America, Honolulu is “a unique and fascinating [game] that confronts the player with an unending kaleidoscope of strategic and shot-making challenges. Essentially [a] game of one-rack call-shot… the critical difference being absolutely no ‘straight-in’ shots are allowed,” meaning that every legally pocketed shot must be achieved in an indirect fashion (i.e. banks, combinations, kisses, etc.).
The game of darts is said to have originated as a version of close-quarters archery, says preeminent dart historian Patrick Chaplin, Ph.D. Other historians add that it began with soldiers tossing arrows (a synonym for darts to this day) into upturned tree stumps or barrel bottoms, the natural cracks and crevasses lending to the standard dartboard’s twenty, pie slice-shaped divisions (each with two “single sectors,” that earn a “sector score”–or number associated with the area–plus one “double area” and one “treble area” sliver, which earn multiples of the sector score).
According to the World Darts Federation, when situating a dart board, a plumb line from the center of the bullseye to the floor should measure 5’ 8”, with the throwing line (known as “ochie,” pronounced “okkey” in dart speak), that must be at least 2’ wide) positioned at a distance of 7’ 9.25” away from the outermost edge of the dart board. These specifics are often adjusted to fit a venue’s layout, but regardless of the setup and house rules, the federation says that most importantly, “a game of darts always starts, and ends, with a handshake.”
Table shuffleboard is played with pucks in hand, whereas deck shuffleboard is played with cues manipulating the pucks. Silicone beads, sometimes referred to as “shuffleboard cheese,” are spread atop the table to reduce friction. Scoring can be tracked on large abacus-like beads mounted at the sides of the table, with players or teams of players taking turns shoving pucks down the length of a table, toward scoring sections that denote possible points. However, players can thwart an opponent’s progress by choosing to knock their pucks out of scoring-range or out of play into what’s called the “gutter” or “alley.” Though stringent rules exist in multifarious forms through various organizations, it’s generally a relatively informal game; the number of points you play to–usually 21–and the exactness with which the points are achieved are up to you.
WHERE TO PLAY
On the South side, Diamonds Ice Bar (1279 S. Kihei Rd.; 879-9299) is home to a sampling of each of our featured pub games, with the owners going so far as to seek out a sleek table shuffleboard from makers in California. Pool is priced at a buck a game, and inspires impromptu tournaments among die-hard players. Darts and shuffleboard are free to play–just ask your bartender for the Tupperware container of pucks or wooden box of steel-tipped house darts. Their sister location, Dog & Duck Irish Pub (1913 S. Kihei Rd.; 875-9669) is a darts hub, too. Plus, regulars there are often seen playing checkers or cards out back. Meanwhile, friendly hubs like Kahale’s Beach Club (36 Keala Place; 875-7711) and Mulligan’s on the Blue (100 Kaukahi St.; 874-1131) will happily let you bring along cards or boardgames, if that’s your sort of thing.
Central Maui is home to a few notable places to rack ’em up. Sports bars like the Kahului Ale House (355 E. Kaahumanu Ave.; 877-9001) and Green Leaf (1088 Lower Main St.; 244-4888) are a good go-to, with the Ale House offering free pool on Wednesdays (regularly $1.50 a game), and Green Leaf hosting pool tournaments on Tuesdays. Take a cue from the regulars at Tiffany’s (1424 Lower Main St.; 249-0052), who drop Pidgin while showcasing some mean English.
West-side billiard-lovers have Lulu’s Lahaina Surf Club and Grill (Lahaina Cannery Mall; 661-0808) and Sly Mongoose (1036 Limahana Pl.; 661-8097) to choose from, and Upcountry/North-shore folk are bound to Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon (142 Hana Hwy.; 579-9453). Also, I’d be remiss to not mention appropriate-for-all-ages arcade games–the best locale for which can be found upstairs at the Wharf Cinema Center’s Cool Cat Cafe (658 Front Street; 667-0908).