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Are Billiards and Pool the Same Thing?

Ever wondered about the difference is between Pool and Billiards?  To the casual observer both games appear to be the same.  The concept is similar.  A player uses a long stick with a white tip, known as a cue stick, and strikes the cue ball.  This white ball hits the other balls on the table.

Players lean over the table to line up their shots.  They consider the angles and distance between the balls on the table and consider the best possible way to strike the white cue ball.  The goal, of course, is to hit one of the colored balls and push it into the pocket.  At least, that appears to be the goal, but is it?

Billiards – The Gentleman’s Game

Historically a gentleman’s game, Billiards was developed in the 19th century as a game of skill for men to play and wager on while enjoying a cigar in a private club.  Billiards involves a cue ball for each player and a red “striker” ball.  The object of the game is to use your cue ball to push the striker ball into your opponent’s cue ball.A billiards table does not have pockets.  Instead the table is surrounded by bumpers that allow balls to ricochet and move around the table.  Points in billiards are scored by striking your opponent’s cue ball and vary based on the difficulty of the shot.  Rather than the white cue ball found in pool, cue balls in billiards are colored to make it easy to tell your cue from your opponent’s.

Pool – Similar, Yet Different

The game of pool developed out of billiards and was originally considered a common man’s game.  A pool game has a single white cue ball and fifteen additional balls of different colors.  Balls are numbered and are either solid or white with a colored stripe.  There are several variations of pool, but the objective of all of them is sinking your balls in the pockets before your opponent can.

Pool tables have a pocket at each corner as well as a pocket at the center of each of the long sides.  Just like the game of billiards, pool players consider the angle of each possible shot.  Using techniques with names such as English or Masse’ players hit the cue ball to create spin, curve or velocity and hit a specific ball or series of balls on the table.

The Importance of a High Quality Pool Table

Pool and billiards both depend on a high quality table for the best possible game play.  High quality tables have a playing surface made of the finest and smoothest felt stretched over a level piece of slate.  The quality of the felt affects the way the ball moves across the surface after a player’s shot.

In the same way that a golfer rolls a ball over the putting green before planning his shot, players will roll a ball over a pool or billiards table and check for defects in the felt.  The level of the table is important also.  Even a slight slant can affect the roll of the ball and the accuracy of a shot.  Skilled players can spend several minutes assessing a table before making their first shot.

If you want to learn either game, invest in a high quality table and a cue stick that is balanced and comfortable in your hands.  No matter which game you choose, you and your friends will enjoy hours of friendly competition as you develop your skills.

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