A very common question is what is the difference between pool and billiards?
Over time, both names have been used to describe each game, with billiards often being used to describe a game of pool when in fact they have evolved into different games – but both remain under the Billiards Cue Sport family umbrella.
An easy way to explain the difference is to provide a brief description of how each game is played and then talk about how they differ.
A form of billiards dates back to 15th century France when it was a form of croquet and over the next centuries it evolved and developed into an extremely popular game in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Unlike pool, true billiards only requires 3 balls. There are different versions/games to play but the main object of billiards is to hit one ball against the other two balls by either hitting the cue ball into both balls or the cue ball into a second ball that then hits the third ball. There are also points scored if you hit a specific number of cushions (banks shots). Billiards is played on a full size snooker table (12ft x 6ft).
Pool was also originally known as pocket billiards and. in some areas, mainly North America, it is still referred to as pocket billiards. It is called pool because billiard tables were often set up in pool halls (gambling halls) for patrons to play on whilst placing and waiting for bets to come in. The name stuck and the game developed into one of the most popular games played around the world.
There are several different types of pool games you can play on a table but two of the most popular are:
8 Ball Pool:
In eight-ball you start with a cue ball, seven striped coloured balls, seven solid coloured balls and one black ball (16 balls in total). The players are assigned one of the two groups of coloured balls after they have been scattered with a break shot and someone sinks one of the two variations of balls. The end objective is to legally sink the eight ball (black ball) and this can only be done after the player has sunk all the coloured balls from his group.
9 Ball Pool:
This is played with a cue ball and 9 numbered balls. Very simply, the object of this game is to pot the balls starting from the lowest number first. The winner is the person who pots the final 9 ball.
So you can see, billiards and pool started as one and the same many centuries ago and have evolved over time. They still share many similarities – they are played on a slate bed table, and you hit a cue ball against another ball with a cue.
NOW, what about the game of snooker?
Snooker is another popular cue sport played on a table that is 12ft x 6ft. Snooker is played using a cue and 22 balls that are worth different amounts of points, these balls are as follows:
- 1 white (cue ball)
- 15 red (1 point each)
- 1 yellow( 2 points)
- 1 green (3 points)
- 1 brown (4 points)
- 1 blue (5 points)
- 1 pink (6 points)
- 1 black (7 points)
When starting the red balls are placed in a triangle, with the other coloured balls being put on marked positions (“spots”). Players are awarded points by sinking red and coloured balls in the correct sequence. They can also gain points if the opposition player makes a foul.
A player wins a frame by scoring more points than the other player and wins the match when a predetermined number of frames have been won.
A variation of the game can be played on a smaller table with smaller balls and only 10 reds.