What is the Difference Between Pool and Billiards?

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One common misconception is that pool and billiards are the same games. Just like table tennis and ping pong people assume more competitive people refer to the game as billiards and less competitive players call it pool. However, there are actually quite a few differences between the two.


Although very similar, the traditional equipment used to play both of these game are very similar. Pool tables are felt covered with cushion on the sides of the rails to help the balls bounce off better. These rails are separated by pockets where players aim to get the balls into.

Billiard tables are very similar but are still a little different. These tables have both the felt top and the cushions but the rails are not separated by anything. There is no need for pockets in traditional billiards but in modern day they often take use of the pockets so that they don’t have to purchase two separate tables to play these two games.

Another difference are the balls used in these two games. A pool set has a total of 16 balls; 1 cue ball, 1 8 ball, 7 solids, and 7 striped. They are about 2 ¼ inches in length of their diameter. They’re made of phenolic resin and can change in design depending the request of the customer or the manufacturer’s preferences.

Billiards however only uses a total of 3 balls; 1 white cue ball, 1 yellow cue ball, and 1 red ball. The color and design of the two cue balls can vary depending on the manufacturer as long as they differ from each other and they aren’t red. These balls are about 2 7/16 inches in length of their diameter and are also made out of phenolic resin.

Not everything is different when it comes to the equipment used for these games. Almost all games played on a ‘pool’ table use cue balls as well as cue sticks. You can use any type of cue stick for any of these games.

The Game

There are many differences when it comes to how you play the games pool and billiards. For billiards there is only one game that you can really play with these three balls but variations of the rules and the point system depend on who plays the game. However, there are a couple of different pool games players practice.

The most popular pool game out there is probably 8 ball. The goal of 8 ball is to get all of your object balls (either stripes or solids) into the pockets of the table and then shooting the 8 ball in last before your opponent does.

Another popular pool game played today is called 9 ball. 9 ball only uses the pool balls labeled 1-9 as well as the cue ball. The goal of 9 ball is to get more balls in the pockets then your opponent does. However, the trick of 9 ball is that you need to first hit the lower numbered ball first with the cue ball. You don’t need to sink that ball just hit it first.

Billiards can be a very simple game but can also take very long. A lot of people have changed the rules of billiards to include the pockets of the table. However, traditional billiards uses a point system. The order in which a player hit the red ball and their opponent’s cue ball gives them a certain amount of points. The goal is to get more points then your opponent.


Another very similar game to both pool and billiards is a game called snooker. Snooker uses the same type of pool table with pockets and cue sticks but includes a completely different ball set. The balls in this set represent a different amount of points.

Snooker ball sets include 15 red balls, 1 white cue ball, 1 pink, 1 yellow, 1 brown, 1 blue, 1 green, and 1 black ball for a total of 22 balls. Red balls are 1 point, yellow are 2, green are 3, brown are 4, blue are 5, pink are 6, and black are 7.

For this game you need to be able to keep track of the amount of points each player has received. At the end of the game the player that has the most points is the player that wins the game.

Related Questions:

Why is it Called Pool?

Pool is a betting term. Back in the day, pocket billiards (or pool) used to be played in the same room as poker and other such betting games as well as a place to bet on horses. Because every game and sport you could bet on was in one room this was known as the pool room. Now, places that are referred as pool rooms are rooms that hold pool tables.

What Happens When you Scratch on Your First Hit in Pool?

In 8 ball, the first hit you could possibly scratch on is the break. There are a couple of ways you can scratch on the break. The first way is by pocketing the cue ball and the second is by pocketing the 8 ball.

If you sink the cue ball your opponent gets to start off their turn with cue ball in hand. Typically when you sink the 8 ball you automatically lose. However, during a break if you sink the 8 ball the ball is spotted and the other player starts with ball in hand.

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