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  • What is the Difference Between Billiards, Pool, and Snooker?

    billiards, pool & snooker - LegacyBilliards.Com

    Although the terms ‘billiards’ and ‘pool’ are often used interchangeably, the two do not mean the same thing. ‘Billiards’ was originally a term to describe a game called ‘carom billiards’ exclusively, but has since evolved into a general term to describe a variety of games played on a table with balls and a cue stick. While carom billiards and pool are often played with similar equipment, each game is different and thus has different rules. Likewise, snooker is also a game played with similar equipment, yet has its own set of rules.

    Ball Differences

    One key difference is in the number of balls used. Snooker uses twenty-two balls, including a white ball known as the ‘striker’ ball. The other balls used are fifteen red balls, and one each of yellow, brown, blue, pink, black and green. Each ball is 2/16 inches in diameter. Billiards, on the other hands, uses only three balls: one each of white, yellow, and red, with both the white and the yellow able to act as the striker ball. The balls are 2 7/16 inch diameter. In pool, the number of balls can change depending on the variant of the game, however a full set of balls consists of sixteen balls, each 2 1/4 inches in diameter: eight balls of solid color numbered one to eight, seven balls with a stripe of color numbered nine to fifteen, and a solid white ‘cue’ ball.

    Table Differences

    Most carom billiards and pool games are played on either a seven-foot table (also known as a bar table), eight-foot table (sometimes called a home or recreational table), or nine-foot table (known as a pro or tournament table). Carom billiard tables do not have pockets, whereas pool tables have pockets. For snooker, pocketed tables are used. American tables are typically ten-foot tables, and English snooker tables are massive twelve-foot tables.

    Rules Differences

    Of course, each game has a comprehensive list of rules, including a number of variations. The main idea in a game of carom billiards games is to score points, called ‘counts’, by bouncing one's own ball, called a cue ball, off of the other two balls on the table.

    In snooker, the games are organized into frames. The player can win a frame by scoring the most points, using the cue ball to pocket the red and colored balls. The red balls are each worth one point, whereas the yellow is worth two points, the green three points, the brown four points, the blue five points, the pink six points, and the black seven points. Rules govern which ball can be pocketed at on a given turn. Balls that may be pocketed on any given turn are the “on” balls. For example, if a red ball is pocketed, this must be followed by a colored ball, which must in turn be followed by a red ball. If the wrong ball is pocketed, this is considered a ‘foul’ and the player does not receive points for pocketing the ball.

    There are many games that can fall under the umbrella of ‘pool’, however in straight pool, players can score points by shooting the balls into the table’s pockets (called ‘pocketing’ the ball). Before the game, players agree to reach a certain number of points to be declared the winner (a typical game is one hundred points, whereas a professional game is usually one hundred fifty points). Players can pocket any ball on the table, and each successfully pocketed ball awards the player one point.
    Straight pool is a ‘call-pocket’ game, meaning players must declare which ball they intend to go in which pocket before shooting. For the shot to be successful, the intended ball must reach the intended pocket.

  • 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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