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Billiard vs Pool

While many people may think that billiards and pool are interchangeable terms for the same sport, they couldn’t be more wrong. They have a few similarities but it’s easy to distinguish which one is being played based on where it’s being played as well as what equipment is being used. In this article, we’ll take a look at both sports as well as discuss the differences so you know exactly how to tell them apart from one another! Let’s get started…

General info

Billiard Congress of America considers billiard to be “any game in which a ball is driven or caromed into pockets”, and so also encompass pool, snooker, English billiards, and Russian billiards.

However, World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) defines the pool as “playing with five object balls…and cue ball” only, and thus excludes the games of snooker and English billiards.

In both tabletop variants of the Swiss traditional game rhauban, players score points by sending marbles through strategically positioned scoring hoops. The difference between these games and regular pocket billiards is that instead of balls there are just these marbles moving on premarked tracks towards the center of each table where they have to pass a scoring ring.

There is also a huge number of other games that use either pool or billiard balls and may be classed as “billiard” in the broadest sense of this term, such as table shuffleboard, pinball, etc.

In American English usage, both “pool” and “billiards” were correct past tense forms at least up to the early 20th century. Although many sticklers hold that only “billiards” was the correct form until about 1920, some evidence shows that both were used interchangeably until then. The use of “pool” comes from the phrase “…where they have a pool of water…” describing where the game (lengthened from earlier ‘Poole,’ from the French ‘poule’) was played.

There is also a misconception that “billiards” is named after billiard cushion, meaning any game played with cue stick and balls on a table with pockets (so-called pocket billiards), which eventually evolved into the pool, snooker, eight-ball, nine-ball (see Billiard Ball), ten-ball (see Ten Ball), etc.

However, this theory would not make sense if billiards were originally known as “pool”, since pool comes from “pocket” in reference to the pockets on the table for holding the ball; without pockets, there could be no such thing as the pocket billiard games.

For more than 400 years, the word “billiard” has been used to refer to many different games played with cue sticks on a table covered with cloth or felt that are targets of various sizes and shapes.


Both billiards and pool involve skill, judgment, accuracy, and artistic flair. Both require hand-eye coordination, the pool also requires highly developed power, timing, quickness of action, emotional poise under pressure (in this case often extreme pressure), and other physical attributes.

Balls for game

The difference lies in the number of object balls involved: In the pool, the object is to pocket only eight balls (out of 15) whereas in most forms of billiards there are 16 object balls that must all be struck one way or another before any are potted. This makes billiards a ‘shorter’ game than the pool (by the number of total shots required to clear the table) and is why pool players step up in competition for money games usually only when they reach a professional level.

Billiard balls vary from game to game in size, material, and color. The billiard ball sets used in most pool games consist of 16 balls: an unnumbered white cue ball and fifteen numbered object balls ranging from 7 to 15 inclusive, all but the 8 ball colored according to their point values as on a traditional non-pool scoring table with one point per ball using solid colors, two points per ball using stripes and so on up to 15 points per ball using solid. The colors must be bright enough to be easily distinguished from each other.

In some sets for table pool, the 8 ball is colored red instead of green as shown on most illustrated score sheets. In eight-ball and related games where position play is crucial, the 8 ball must be distinct from all other balls including the cue ball through the use of a non-standard marking on one or more sides; any cue ball that might be confused with the 8 ball will give a serious disadvantage to a player who attempts to use it.

Pool balls are sometimes not perfectly spherical due to a slight manufacturing defect which does not affect their gameplay (for example, if there is an air bubble trapped inside) but this should not affect their correct positioning during gameplay, they may roll slowly along an uneven surface while remaining in contact with each other or while following the slope of the surface.

The smaller numbered balls are generally called “solids” and the larger ones are called “stripes”, irrespective of their physical coloring on most modern sets. The solids are colored either solid red, blue, black, or some combination thereof (generally alternating red-blue or red-black), and stripes of yellow and white (with usually a contrasting stripe color like green, pink or brown in between).

Difference in color and design

Modern sets often use spotted or striped designs instead of solid colors; both to aid pool players who cannot easily discern shades of colors from balls at distance under normal room lighting conditions and to make it less easy for an to predict which ball will be used. However, both solid and striped patterns have been used.

The common convention among American pool players is as follows: The object balls from 1 to 7 are solids and 9 to 15 stripes; while those numbered 8, 10, and 12 (as well as all bar pool games) should be called at first by their non-number name (e.g., “the blue” or “the big red”); finally reserving the term “stripes” only for the yellow and white ones.

Some people reverse this convention when playing nine-ball so that it becomes easier to refer to the location of the various balls. In most parts of Europe, however, it is usual to call them with number names in ascending order (reds, yellows, and greens), followed by the colors: e.g., 11 (yellow) and 10 (green).

Pool balls are 2-1/4 inches (57.15 mm) in diameter and weigh more than their cue ball counterparts; each ball weighs 6 ounces (170 g). Some pool halls use smaller balls to 7.75–7.9 inches (197–200 mm) which can be struck with a common shaft-weighted. Another example of a pool ball is the international standard for tables which has a diameter of 52.5 millimeters (2 1/10 inches). It weighs 5 oz (141 g) and has a density of 0.918 grams per cubic centimeter.

Pool balls have been the subject of controversy for many years because they are made from a material that is easily scratched and marked, which can lead to cheating if a player is able to take advantage of the resulting distortions. A number of companies have developed products that attempt to retard or eliminate this problem; Sun-Sniper, Predator Victory Ball & Cue Ball Cleaner, and Master Chalk Ball were all designed to be scuff-resistant (although none was found during any professional testing process). However, the only successful product to ever reach production was produced by Tweeten Fibre Company in 1938 under U.S. Patent #2184644. This product also enhanced playability by reducing static electricity build-up on pool balls, though it is primarily used today as a material for cue ball construction.

Another controversial issue surrounding pool balls concerns the use of phenolic resin, which has been banned by some amateur leagues. Phenolic resin balls are more durable—lasting up to 500 times longer than regular celluloid balls—and do not warp extensively when exposed to sub-freezing temperatures, unlike celluloid balls. This type of ball is commonly used in Europe and Asia, but its cost impedes widespread usage in American pool leagues.

The rules

Rules in billiard and pool require that the balls be of equal size and weight within a set. Specific sizes and weights are sometimes prescribed in professional, league, and tournament rulesets. The world standard for pocket billiards is nominally 55 mm in diameter (measured across the with a tolerance not to exceed +/- 0.05 mm) and weighs. For snooker, the 2-inch center spot dimension must also exactly match this latter measurement.

In the United States, Amateur Billiard Competition Committee (ABC) play, where pool players compete to move up through an established hierarchical system of skill divisions while referees enforce strict rules about player conduct such as proper attire, proper language between opponents during matches, etc., the center spot is only 50.5 mm (1 15/16″). The “APA standard pool ball” has the same diameter, mass, and balance point as the UPA’s, but with a slightly softer plastic composition to achieve its resistance to scratching; it also has much higher topspin drag after impact than any other hard resin cue ball on the market.


While the game of billiards has been around for hundreds of years, the first documented pool halls came about in the mid-19th century. As time went on, more and more people started playing this popular game to develop a better skill level. The popularity grew even larger when the first professional players began competing against one another during billiard tournaments around 1873. One known player, Willie Hoppe, made his name widely recognized over time as he became famous not only for his skills but also because he competed against other professionals who were known for their talents too.

Pool’s increasing popularity allowed it to evolve into various different variations today with English billiards being one example where it is played certain tight parameters that can take years to master. The pool is also popular in many different parts of the world where it has developed its own set of rules for play, some of which are more suited to international level competition. Other variations include eight-ball, nine-ball, snooker, and one-pocket.



They are among the most popular events to watch during the world’s largest stages of billiard tournaments. Players must abide by all rules and regulations that are set forth for this particular tournament. The International Pool Tour hosted by Matchroom Sport has produced numerous world-class pool tournaments that garner viewers from around the globe.

This sport is played with a cue stick, which is used to hit a ball across a billiards table containing 6 pockets. Each pocket corresponds to one point on the score sheet, making scoring very simple. Once you have scored your 14 points (in rotation), you must call shots. If your opponent gets past 14 points before you do or wins, then they win. There’s also a 15th point known as “the hill”, which allows the player to win by one point.


They are held all over the world today. During these competitions, players must abide by certain rules set forth for their league of play. The International Pool Tour hosted by Matchroom Sports has produced numerous world-class pool tournaments that garner viewers from around the globe.

Final word

The difference between billiards and the pool is the size of the ball. In billiards, it’s smaller measuring 1 15/16″, whereas in the pool, it’s larger at 2″. Pool balls are heavier than their billiard counterparts, often weighing 16 or 18 ounces.

This billiard variation measures 1 3/4″ and this makes this type perfect for young players as well as beginners because it is smaller than others; it also means that they can learn how to play earlier – learning control and getting used to playing – without any problems whatsoever.

One thing is also clear, however: pool is a lot more popular than billiards.

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