The difference between the game of pool and billiards has been the source of much confusion over the years. The words are often used interchangeably, and whilst they are both cue games, pool and billiards are very different.
Let’s first look at the history of the game to see how the different games evolved. It is thought that billiards was first played in medieval times. The game was very different as it was played on the ground and had more in common with modern croquet than the game of billiards that we recognize today.
Sometime around the 1400s players realized that it may be a whole lot easier if the game of billiards was played on an elevated table. The game became very popular with the aristocracy including Louis XI, Mary Queen of Scots and Marie Antoinette.
Both pool and billiards developed from this original game – but now they are distinctly very different. They are both cue games, but the rules, tables, balls, cues and objectives are not the same.
The modern game of billiards is known as Carom Billiards. The table for billiards does not have any pockets and the game is played with three or four balls. The object of a game of billiards is to hit the balls in a certain sequence. The game is played in the US, but has gained more popularity in other parts of the world particularly Asia, Latin America and Europe. Many people think that billiards will one day be recognized as an Olympic sport.
The game of pool is derived from billiards, but it has many differences. A pool table is usually larger than a billiard table and it has six pockets. Pool was originally known as pocket billiards. The game which we now know as pool was developed in the United States. This game uses the now familiar fifteen balls and one white ball.
In the early 1900s the game of pocket billiards became very popular in the United States and many tables could be found in places where patrons could also bet on horse races. This betting was also known as a pool. These pool houses were mostly places with a bad reputation, but the name “pool” stuck and became the more accepted way to describe the game previously known as pocket billiards.
There are differences not just in the rules of pool and billiards, but also in the size of the tables, cues and the balls. The standard size of a billiard table is 9.3 feet by 4.7 feet. Sometimes in the United States a billiard table can also measure 10 feet by 5 feet. The size of a pool table can also vary. A standard size pool table is 9 feet by 4.5 feet, although you can also find them at 4 feet by 8 feet and, less often 10 feet by 5 feet in size.
There is also a difference between billiard cues and pool cues. Usually a pool cue is around 2 inches longer than a billiard cue and is narrower at the tip.