The Difference between Billiards And Pool: Which One to Choose?

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Billiards and pool are two different games. Billiards is typically played on a table without pockets, while pool is played on a table with pockets.

Billiards has a long and interesting history beginning in the 15th century, while pool, also referred to as “pocket billiards,” originated in america in the late 19th century. Despite the differences in table design, both games involve using a cue stick to strike balls and earn points.

While billiards is typically played as a professional sport, pool is more often a casual game played in bars and homes. Additionally, there are variations of both games, such as snooker and 9-ball pool, which can make for exciting and competitive gameplay. Regardless of the game of choice, billiards and pool are both enjoyable and challenging pastimes for players of all skill levels.

The Difference between Billiards And Pool: Which One to Choose?


Understanding Billiards

Explanation Of Billiards

Billiards is a game that is played on a table with no pockets. The objective of the game is to hit one of three balls with the cue ball, which is the white ball, and score points. The three balls come in different colors – red, yellow, and white.

The game is played with two players, and each player takes turns hitting the balls with their cue stick. Here are the key points to remember about billiards:

  • Billiards is played on a table with no pockets, which is what sets it apart from pool.
  • The objective of the game is to hit one of three balls with the cue ball and score points.
  • The game is played with two players, and each player takes turns hitting the balls with their cue stick.

Differences Between Billiards And Pool

Billiards and pool are two games that are often confused with each other. Although they are similar in nature, there are several key differences between the two. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Table size: A billiards table is larger than a pool table.
  • Number of balls: Billiards is played with three balls, while pool is played with 16 balls.
  • Cue sticks: Billiards cue sticks are shorter and lighter than pool cue sticks.
  • Scoring: In billiards, you score points by hitting one of the three balls with the cue ball. In pool, you score by pocketing the balls into the table’s pockets.

The Origin Of Billiards

The game of billiards dates back hundreds of years, and its exact origins remain a mystery. However, it is believed to have originated in europe during the 15th century. It was initially played as an outdoor game and was later moved indoors.

Over time, the game evolved into the version we know today, with the first indoor billiards table being built in france in the 1700s. Here are some key facts about the origin of billiards:

  • Billiards is believed to have originated in europe during the 15th century.
  • It was initially played as an outdoor game before being moved indoors.
  • The first indoor billiards table was built in france in the 1700s.

Pool: An Overview

If you’re a fan of table games, you must have heard of the two popular games – billiards and pool. While they share some similarities, they are two distinct games with differences. Pool, also known as pocket billiards, is a type of cue sport that’s been around for centuries.

Let’s take a closer look at pool and understand the game in-depth.

Explanation Of Pool

Pool is a cue sport that requires players to hit a ball and move it around the table. The game is played on a large table that’s approximately 9ft in length and 4. 5ft in width. The goal of the game is to pocket all the balls, including the eight-ball, before your opponent does.

But to do that, you need to hit the balls with a cue stick and use different techniques to get them into the pockets.

Evolution Of Pool

The history of pool can be traced back to the 15th century in europe. At that time, the game was known as ‘billiard’, and it was played without pockets. The table was much larger, and players needed to use a mace to hit the ball.

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Over time, the game evolved and pockets were added, giving rise to new variations, including pool. As the game became more popular, it spread across the united states and eventually became a staple in pubs, bars, and pool halls worldwide.

Differences Between Pool And Billiards

Though pool and billiards share some similarities, they are fundamentally different games. Here are some key distinctions between the two:

  • Table size: Pool tables are smaller than billiard tables, measuring roughly 9ft in length, while billiard tables can be up to 12ft long.
  • Number of balls: In pool, you have 16 balls – 15 coloured balls and the eight-ball. Billiards, on the other hand, has only three balls – two white cue balls and a red object ball.
  • Rules: The rules of the two games are different. For instance, while you’ll lose in pool if you scratch on the eight-ball, there’s no such penalty in billiards. Also, in pool, you have to hit the lowest numbered ball first, while in billiards, you can hit any ball without penalty.

Pool is an exciting game that’s enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. It’s a game that requires skill and strategy, making it fun to play and to watch. Whether you play it competitively or just for fun, pool is a game that’s sure to entertain.

Factors To Consider

Billiards and pool are two common cue sports that often get confused with each other. Although they may look similar, there are differences between the two, and it is essential to consider certain factors before choosing which one to play.

Skill Level

When it comes to skill level, billiards is considered more challenging than pool. Billiard balls are larger and heavier, and the pockets on the table are smaller, requiring more accuracy. Billiards also emphasizes strategy and finesse, while pool relies more on power and shots.

If you are a beginner, then pool might be the better option as it’s easier to learn, and the rules are more straightforward. However, if you want to improve your skills and challenge yourself, then billiards might be the way to go.

The Size Of The Space Available

The size of the space you have available is a crucial factor to consider before deciding which game to choose. A standard billiards table is nine feet long, four and a half feet wide, and requires a lot of space.

On the other hand, pool tables come in different sizes, ranging from seven to nine feet. If you have limited space, then a smaller pool table may be a better option.

Cost Implications

The cost of a table depends on the material, size, and brand. Generally, billiards tables are more expensive than pool tables. They are made of high-quality wood, and the felt on the surface is of better quality. However, if you are on a budget, you can find affordable pool tables that are still of good quality.

It is essential to consider the long-term investment and choose a table that will last for many years.

The Type Of Game Preferred

Choosing between billiards and pool ultimately comes down to the type of game you prefer. If you enjoy playing a slower-paced game that requires more precision and strategy, then billiards is the game for you. However, if you prefer a faster game that relies more on power and trick shots, then pool may be a better option.

It is best to try both games and determine which one you enjoy playing more.

When choosing between billiards and pool, it is vital to consider your skill level, the size of the space available, cost implications, and the type of game preferred. By taking these factors into account, you can make the best decision and enjoy playing either game for many years to come.

Strategy And Techniques

Unique Strategies For Pool And Billiards

Pool and billiards may seem similar, but their gameplay is different. Each game requires unique strategies to win. Here are some strategies for each:


  • Controlled power: In pool, players use controlled power and finesse to take shots accurately. They focus on hitting the ball softly and precisely to make it go where they want it to go.
  • Safety shots: A safety shot is a play where a player aims to hit the cue ball in a way that the opponent can’t take a shot. It’s a defensive technique that allows the player to gain an advantage.
  • Pocket selection: Unlike billiards, pool has pockets that vary in size. Players need to choose the pocket they aim for, depending on the size, to ensure the ball goes in.
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  • Positioning the balls: In billiards, players need to think about the positioning of the balls. The aim is to make it easy to take subsequent shots. Players pay attention to where the balls end up after every shot and how they can position them to make the next shot easier.
  • Three-cushion shots: In billiards, players need to make three cushion shots. This means the cue ball has to hit at least three rails before it hits the second ball. It requires players to possess excellent hand-eye coordination and knowledge of the table angles.
  • Safety shots: Like pool, safety shots are significant in billiards. However, in billiards, it’s more difficult to execute. Players may use it to buy time or send the cue ball to an area of the table where it’s challenging for the opponent to get an excellent shot.

Tactics And Techniques For Playing

Apart from strategies, playing pool and billiards require essential tactics and techniques. Let’s take a look at some of them.


  • Stance: A proper stance is crucial in pool. Players need to keep their feet shoulder-width apart, keep their body centered, and their head down.
  • Grip: The grip on the cue stick is another critical element. Players usually hold the stick with three fingers and their thumb.
  • Bridge: The bridge is the position of the hand that supports the cue stick. It’s essential to form a v-shape with the index finger and thumb to make the shot accurately.


  • Stance: A proper stance is essential in billiards too. Players need to stand at a distance where their body does not block their view of the table or their hand.
  • Bridge: Similar to pool, the bridge in billiards is crucial for making accurate shots.
  • Follow through: Players need to make sure they have a proper follow-through to have good shots. It means the cue stick needs to travel through the ball and continue moving after the shot.

Importance Of These Skills

These skills are essential in pool and billiards. Good players have mastered these essential skills to make accurate shots. Proper tactics and techniques, coupled with the right strategies, form the foundation of a good game. They make winning the game a lot easier.

Choosing The Right Equipment

When it comes to cue sports, choosing the right equipment is critical to enhancing your playing experience. Both billiards and pool require distinct types of equipment, which are not interchangeable. In this section, we will explore the differences in equipment between billiards and pool, recommended equipment for each game, and maintaining and caring for your equipment.

Differences In Equipment Between Pool And Billiards

Billiards and pool tables differ significantly in size and the number of pockets. Billiard tables are larger, with no side pockets and six pockets at the table’s corners. Whereas pool tables have six pockets, three on each side, and are smaller than billiards tables.

Here are some other differences to note:

  • Billiard balls are larger and have no numbers, while pool balls are smaller with numbers that distinguish the balls.
  • Billiard cues are slightly heavier and shorter, with a smaller tip diameter compared to pool cues.
  • Billiard chalk is much finer than pool chalk, with a wider range of color options.
  • Billiards uses a combination of carom balls and pocket balls, while pool uses only pocket balls.

Recommended Equipment For Each Game

The right equipment is an essential aspect of honing your skills in billiards and pool. Here are some equipment recommendations for each game:


  • Billiard table: A 9-foot table with six pockets and a wooden frame is recommended.
  • Cue: A one-piece cue with a 12-14 mm tip diameter and a length of 56-59 inches is adequate.
  • Balls: Standard carom balls measure 61.5mm, and a set of three is used. Pocket balls are typically used in combination with carom balls.
  • Chalk: Blue is a standard choice, but there are other colors to explore to find one that matches your preference.
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  • Pool table: An 8-foot table with six pockets and a slate playing surface is standard for casual play, while a professional 9-foot table is recommended for serious players.
  • Cue: A two-piece cue measuring 58 inches with a 12-13 mm tip diameter is considered ideal for most players.
  • Balls: Standard pool balls measure 57.15mm in diameter, and a set of 16 is used.
  • Chalk: Green chalk is the most common type, but again, there are other colors to choose from.

Maintaining And Caring For The Equipment

Billiards and pool equipment can be costly, so it’s essential to care for and maintain it properly to ensure its longevity. Here are some tips to keep your equipment in top shape:

  • Regularly brush and vacuum the table’s felt to prevent dirt and grime.
  • Keep the balls clean and free from dirt and chalk residue. Use a ball cleaner for deeper cleaning.
  • Wipe cues after use to prevent chalk buildup and rot.
  • Store cues vertically to prevent warping.
  • Keep cue tips in good condition by using a cue-tip shaper and rougher.
  • Use a cue case to protect your cue’s finish and prevent damage.

Choosing the right equipment is essential for improving your billiard or pool game. Apart from selecting the right equipment, it’s essential to take care of it properly to prevent damage and ensure a quality playing experience.

Frequently Asked Questions Of The Difference Between Billiards And Pool

What Is The Difference Between Billiards And Pool?

Billiards and pool are both cue sports that are often confused. The primary difference between the two is the number of balls used and the table size. Billiards is played on a table without pockets, while pool is played on a table with six pockets.

In billiards, only three balls are used, while pool can be played with 8, 9, or 10 balls.

Can You Play Billiards On A Pool Table?

Yes, you can play billiards on a pool table. Billiards and pool are similar games, and the tables are generally interchangeable. Although some differences exist, transitioning from playing pool to billiards on the same table is possible with some slight adjustments.

What Is The Difference Between A Pool Cue And A Billiards Cue?

Pool cues, also known as american pool cues, are shorter and heavier than billiards cues. Billiards cues are longer, thinner, and lighter. Pool cues have a thicker tip, while billiards cues have a smaller tip. The type of cue used is specific to the game being played.

Is Billiards Harder Than Pool?

It is challenging to determine the game’s difficulty level since both billiards and pool require different skill sets. Billiards requires careful planning and a good understanding of spin and position play, while pool requires quick decision-making and precise shooting. Both games require a great deal of skill and practice to master.

What Are The Different Types Of Pool Games?

There are several types of pool games, including eight-ball, nine-ball, ten-ball, straight pool, and one-pocket. Eight-ball is the most popular pool game in the united states. Nine-ball is played with nine balls, while ten-ball is a newer game played with ten balls.

Straight pool and one-pocket are less common games that are often played by more experienced players.


Billiards and pool are both table games that have a lot in common, but they also have some key differences. While pool is the more popular choice among recreational players, billiards is seen as a more refined and skill-based game that requires a higher level of precision and focus.

The rules and equipment in each game are also somewhat distinct, with billiards having more variations and opportunities for customization than pool. Ultimately, both games can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels and offer a fun and challenging way to pass the time.

So, whether you’re looking to play a round of pool with friends or dive deeper into the world of billiards, there’s a game out there that’s perfect for you.

Dave Mueller

Hey, I'm Dave. I like to write about things that interest me. I'll write about anything from current events to personal experiences. I hope you enjoy what you read and please feel free to leave me any feedback.