Billiards and pool are very competitive sports. However, they are also very social sports that can engage people of all ages.
So What's the Difference Between Billiards and Pool?
Billiards is the set of all games that are played indoors with cues and spherical balls on a flat surface. The goal is to drive the cue into a ball so that the struck ball may hit other balls in order to accomplish the objective of the game. American pool, snooker, carom billiards, and English pool are all considered "billiards".
Billards comes in two major varieties: pocket billiards and carom billiards. Pocket billiard games are played on tables with pockets, whereas carom billiards games are played on tables that have no pockets. In pocket billiards, the objective is usually to pocket balls. In carom billiards, the objective is to move the object balls around the table with the cue ball in a particular fashion.
Pool refers to a set of pocket billiard games played with with one cue ball and 15 object balls on a table with six straight-edged pockets and knife-edged rails. The table size ranges from 3 feet by 6 feet to 5 feet by 10 feet. The current professional sized table is 4.5 feet wide by 9 feet long. These are largely found in North America, mostly in the United States.
Pool games include 8 ball, 9 ball, 14.1 or straight pool, and one pocket. Billiard games which are not pool include snooker, English pool, 3-cushion billiards, Russian billiards, and Italian 5-pin.
The History of Billiards and Pool
Billiards was born in the 15th century. It began as a lawn game similar to croquet that was played in Northern Europe during the 15th century and has evolved into the game we see being played in bars, pool halls and people's homes. The game moved indoors to a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass.
Most of our information about early billiards comes from accounts of playing by royalty and other nobles. It has been known as the "Noble Game of Billiards" since the early 1800's but there is evidence that people from all walks of life played the game.
What are Pool Cues?
When pool was initially brought indoors, the balls were shoved, not struck with wooden sticks called maces. The cue stick was developed in the late 1600s. When the ball lay near a rail, the mace was very inconvenient to use because of its large head. The players would turn the mace around and use its handle to strike the ball. The handle was called a "queue" from which we get the word "cue."
Someone used chalk to increase friction between the billiard ball and the cue stick which improved their performance. Around the turn of the 18th century in Europe, the leather cue tip was developed, which allowed a player to apply side-spin, topspin, or even backspin to the ball.
The Pool Table
Pool tables originally had flat walls for rails and their only function was to keep the balls from falling off. They used to be called "banks" because they slightly resembled the banks of a river. Pool players discovered that the balls could bounce off the rails and began deliberately aiming at them, and therefore the "bank shot" was born!
The Game of Pool
In Britain the dominant billiard game from about 1770 until the 1920's was "English Billiards," played with three balls and six pockets on a large rectangular table. The British billiard tradition is carried on today primarily through the game of "Snooker", which is a complex and colorful game combining offensive and defensive aspects and played on the same equipment as English Billiards but with 22 balls instead of three.
In the US, American 4-Ball Billiards was the dominant American billiard game until the 1870's. It was usually played on a large (11 or 12-foot), four-pocket table with four billiard balls - two of them white and two red. Points were scored by pocketing balls, scratching the cue ball, or by making caroms on two or three balls.
What is a "Carom"?
A "carom" is the act of hitting two object balls with the cue ball in one stroke. With many balls, there were many different ways of scoring. American Four-Ball produced two offspring, both of which surpassed it in popularity by the 1870's. One of the games which used simple caroms played with three balls on a pocketless table was something known as "Straight rail". The other popular game was American Fifteen-Ball Pool, the predecessor of modern pocket billiards.
The word "pool" means a collective bet, or ante. Many non-billiard games, such as poker, involve a pool but it was pocket billiards where the name became attached. Another interesting fact is that the term "pool room" now means a place where pool is played, but in the 19th century a pool room was a betting parlor for horse racing. Pool tables were installed so patrons could pass time between races. The two became connected, but the "pool room" came from the betting that took place there, not from billiards.
Eight and Nine Ball
Eight-Ball was invented shortly after 1900 while straight pool followed in 1910. Nine-ball developed around 1920.
While the term "billiards" refers to all games played on a billiard table, with or without pockets, some people take billiards to mean carom games only and use pool for pocket games. Through the 1930s, both pool and billiards, particularly three-cushion billiards, shared the spotlight.
From 1878 until 1956, pool and billiard championship tournaments were heldalmost annually. There are two boards (The WEPF and BCA) who have come together to decide the rules, but some specifics may depend on the tournament.
Cue Up at The Grille
If pool sounds like a compelling sport for you, then come down to The Grille in the Ville and play some pool on one of their Diamond tables. The Grille in the Ville hosts players through the Suffolk Long Island TAP League, a league for players, run by players. On Monday and Wednesday evenings, the Grille hosts 8-ball pool tournaments. On Thursday evenings, they host 9-ball tournaments. Click to learn more!
"Great food, great entertainment and excellent staff!!!! Hip atmosphere · Open late · Great pool tables - Local favorite." David E.