What is the Difference Between Billiard and Pool?


Billiards and pool are two cue sports enjoyed by millions of players around the world. While they share similarities, they are distinct games with unique rules and equipment. If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between billiards and pool, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of each game, exploring their histories, rules, and equipment. By the end, you’ll be well-informed and ready to impress your friends with your newfound knowledge.

Billiards: The Origin and Basics

In this section, we’ll explore the origins of billiards and the fundamental aspects of the game.

A Brief History of Billiards

Billiards, also known as carom billiards or simply carom, has a long and illustrious history. It is believed to have originated in Europe during the 15th century. Initially played on the ground, the game evolved to be enjoyed on a table. As the sport gained popularity, different variations emerged, including straight rail, balkline, cushion caroms, and three-cushion billiards.

How are Billiards Played?

In billiards, players use a cue stick to strike their cue ball and make it contact with two other balls on the table: the opponent’s object ball and the cue ball’s partner. The objective is to score caroms by hitting both object balls with the cue ball in a single shot. Players earn points for each successful carom.

Pool: The History and Basics

In this section, we’ll delve into the history of the pool and the essential aspects of the game.

A Brief History of Pool

History of Billiards
History of Billiards

Pool, or pocket billiards, traces its roots back to the late 18th century in the United States. As European settlers brought billiards to America, it evolved into a variation that involved pocketing balls, leading to the birth of a pool. The game’s popularity skyrocketed in the 20th century, becoming a staple in bars, clubs, and homes across the globe.

How is Pool Played?

Unlike billiards, the pool is played with six pockets on the table. Players use a cue stick to pocket their designated object balls (stripes or solids) and, finally, the 8-ball to claim victory. The game requires skillful positioning, strategy, and ball-pocketing abilities.

Key Differences Between Billiards and Pools

In this section, we’ll break down the main distinctions between billiards and pools, helping you understand their unique characteristics.

1. Table Size and Dimensions

  • Billiards: The standard billiard table is larger, usually 10 feet in length.
  • Pool: Pool tables come in various sizes, with the most common being 7, 8, and 9 feet in length.

2. Number of Balls

  • Billiards: Played with three balls—two cue balls and an opponent’s object ball.
  • Pool: Typically played with 16 balls, including one cue ball, seven solid-colored balls, seven striped balls, and the 8-ball.

3. Pockets

  • Billiards: There are no pockets on a billiard table; players aim to score caroms.
  • Pool: Pool tables have six pockets where players aim to pocket their designated balls.

4. Scoring System

  • Billiards: Points are earned by making successful caroms.
  • Pool: Points are not awarded individually; the game is won by pocketing the 8-ball after clearing all of one’s designated balls.

5. Cue Stick Selection

  • Billiards: Players typically use lighter cue sticks due to the precision required for carom shots.
  • Pool: Cue sticks used in pools are often heavier, aiding in powerful ball pocketing.

6. Game Complexity

  • Billiards: Known for its intricate and challenging shots, appealing to those who enjoy a cerebral game.
  • Pool: While still requiring strategy, pool is often seen as more relaxed and accessible to players of all skill levels.

7. Popular Variations

  • Billiards: Common variations include straight rail, cushion caroms, and three-cushion billiards.
  • Pool: Popular pool game variations include 8-ball, 9-ball, and straight pool.

8. Cue Ball Handling

  • Billiards: In billiards, the cue ball must contact both object balls during a shot.
  • Pool: Pool players can strike any ball on the table with the cue ball.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, we’ll address common questions about billiards and pool.

Q: Can I use the same cue stick for both billiards and pool?

A: While it’s possible to use the same cue stick for both games, it’s essential to consider the weight and tip size. Billiard cues are typically lighter and have narrower tips to accommodate precise carom shots, while pool cues are heavier and more suitable for pocketing balls.

Q: Are billiards and pools considered professional sports?

A: Yes, both billiards and pool are recognized as professional sports, with numerous international tournaments and leagues dedicated to each game.

Q: Which game is more suitable for beginners?

A: Pool is generally considered more beginner-friendly due to its straightforward rules and the availability of various pocketing games, making it an excellent starting point for newcomers to cue sports.

Q: Do billiards and pool have different playing strategies?

A: Absolutely. In billiards, players must focus on precision and carom angles, whereas pool requires strategic ball positioning and pocketing skills.

Q: Can I play billiards or pool on any table?

A: While billiards requires a specialized carom table, the pool can be played on various types of pool tables, such as those designed for 8-ball, 9-ball, and other pool variations.

Q: Is there an international governing body for billiards and pools?

A: Yes, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) governs billiards and pools, ensuring standardization and regulations within the sport.


In conclusion, billiards and pool are both exciting and captivating cue sports, each with its own unique set of rules and characteristics. Billiards, the ancestor of cue sports, focuses on carom shots and precise angles, while pool, a popular pocketing game, requires strategic thinking and ball pocketing skills.

Whether you prefer the cerebral challenges of billiards or the more relaxed and accessible nature of pool, both games offer endless hours of enjoyment. So gather your friends, choose your cues, and let the games begin!

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